I recently booked onto a last minute writing retreat in the gorgeous Shropshire countryside. I thought I would use this as an opportunity to get some reading and writing done away from the distractions of the city, work, and children. And have some space from some relationships.
The weather seemed to match my emotions, when I got here a few days ago. At first there was constant drizzly rain. The kind you can’t really see from inside but when you go out you get soaked.
When I first ventured out the tracks as the rain subsided on the second day, I felt nervous and anxious walking along deserted roads myself. There seemed to be constant rustling noises from the bushes and I almost screamed when 1, 2, then 3 squirrels (yes squirrels!) leapt out through the air in front of me landing expertly on some trees to the side of the road. After that I started to walk along clapping my hands in warning for another other unseen rustler ready to jump out.
As I walked on through the winding road through the countryside I started to take in my surroundings. My anxious mind was still fretting over things at home that were out of my control, but with each step I took I felt braver. I was no longer clapping or jumping at unusual sounds.
The following day after doing some writing in the morning, I decided to walk in the opposite direction and head up into the forest on the hills behind the writing centre. I’d felt more confident and capable in myself after the walk the day before and although I was used to walking with others, it felt good to do this by myself.
There is something that stirs my soul walking through the forest as the sunlight catches on the leaves and trees. At one point the sun shone straight through to the forest floor highlighting a lone buttercup. It was perfection. I then walked round a path past some crazy tall redwood trees. Their height and presence caught me by surprise. And the bark was surprisingly soft, almost furry. I could feel tears in my eyes as I carried on past them, somehow feeling that I wasn’t alone.
At certain places there were crossroads and I sat and drank some water at one, contemplating which way to go. It resonated deeply with where I am in my life at the moment. I’d already walked up quite far and had tried to memorise the route back. But I still felt I had options here. Somehow knowing this was enough. I sat looking at all the trees surrounding me and I felt embraced, like they were sending back the love that I was sending them.
After a while I headed back down the path, following the route I’d already come up and I was ok with that.
Today I woke up after a sleepless night, chastising myself for not writing enough, for wasting time just reading or ‘googling ‘stuff’. Even though I have written ideas, finished a short story and submitted to a few places and obviously done some walking.
Why this need for self- punishment?
So I again took myself off for a walk. Today I felt instantly at home walking the rough tracks, stopping to watch butterflies and just being in awe of this beautiful planet. Then I started to be kinder to myself. Going through periods of change calls for it.
I may not have knocked out a novel or anything like it since being here but I’ve listened to myself, sought comfort and found personal strength in nature, and I know I’ll be ok no matter what.
As one door closes, another opens.