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  • Writer's pictureRachael Scarr


Updated: Mar 22, 2021

{ Listen to this post here }

I haven’t been well.

As time goes on and we settle into this new normal, this new routine, I find myself often very sad and anxious, and that my mental health has been severely struggling.

What is truly happening? Will this ever end?

It’s very…unsettling.

In these moments of upheaval and uncertainty, I’ve found it important to find the ground beneath me - literally.

I’ve talked on here before about the importance of routine. I’ve talked about exercise, meditation, journaling, prayer. All of these things are so great and so incredibly helpful. But what do you do if you don’t even have the energy to do those things? What happens when even the thought of routine is overwhelming? What can help you then?

My answer? Walk it out.

I cannot tell you how freeing and calming it has been for me to simply walk. Anytime I’m feeling scattered, I walk. Anytime I’m feeling anxious and claustrophobic, I walk. Anytime I’m feeling sad or upset, I walk. Walking feels like a solution. It is an actionable item that I can do to take steps (literally) in the right direction.

Not only does it help to move my body, but it allows me to clear my head, focus on my breath, and get out into the fresh air and (hopefully) the sunshine. (For non-sunny days, check out my post on sun lamps!) It can either be a familiar walk where I pass the same stoops and stores and zone out, or it can be an exploratory one, where I’m constantly discovering new buildings and scenery. Walking helps me to feel centered.

During my walks, which have been happening pretty much on the daily recently, I have many options. I’ll call a friend or family member and catch up on life with them, I’ll listen to music and let it inform the lens with which I’m seeing the world, I’ll pull up a podcast and zero in on the topic at hand, or I’ll remain unplugged and let nature (and strangers) become my playlist. Whatever my current headspace needs that day.

I’ve enjoyed the familiar lately. If I’m pressed for time, I’ll turn left out of my building and venture around the park across the street. If I have more time on my hands, I’ll turn right and head south towards Central Park. However, no matter which direction I go, in both of these locations, I have found landing spots.

Let me explain.

I’ve always had a fascination with rocks. Not collecting them, but climbing them. I have a few theories to the origin of this.

Growing up, our choice family vacation was camping. My parents love the outdoors (have you seen their gardens?) and from a very young age they instilled in us a sense of comfort and peace in nature. In simplicity. In exploration. (I think I hiked my first mountain at the age of five.) We would kayak and swim and make fires and cook and hike, and my brother and I always loved exploring and playing in the woods near our site. We would climb rocks, play with sticks, make up games, meet the other kids at the campground. We had a blast. Something about the different sizes and rock formations was appealing to me. Each one unique and intricate. Each one its own challenge to tackle.

They were our playground.

Similarly, my brother and I grew up on a lake in upstate NY. We lived at the top of a circle, a little community of houses, and at the bottom of the circle was our community’s very own private lakefront. We’d spend hours and hours playing in the sand, splashing in the water, and running around on the green grass. I have so many fond memories of those times and am still creating more to this day! (I love my hometown so much.) To the right of the swimming dock there was a pile of small rocks that led out into the water. (It’s a bit disassembled now.) It was playful and inviting. The peaks and valleys of this rock compilation offered our youthful selves another playground on which to climb and create. Even as I got older, I would spend many a day (or night) down there with a friend, with my brother, or even just by myself, pondering and gazing out onto the blue horizon and the boats passing by. It was calming. It was centering. And I felt truly home.

There’s just something about rocks. They are literal creations of the earth, compounded grains of minerals, and a substance of natural occurrence. They are, by definition, grounding.

My affinity for rocks started young, and hasn’t wained. On a rock, I feel like myself. On a rock, I feel closer to God. On a rock, I feel grounded.

So, when I say I’ve found landing spots on my walks…by that, I mean rocks. My outdoor sanctuaries.

To the left, a large rock alongside a stairway overlooking the northern tip of the park and the cross streets ahead. A semi-populated spot, mainly by the squirrels that rustle in the leaves, that’s more amusing than distracting. Up here, on this overlook, I feel powerful, I feel hopeful, and I feel safe.

To the right, a descending rock formation alongside a running waterfall looking onto an arched pathway and tucked into the crevices of Central Park. There is many a rock to choose from here, and there’s no sign of the city in sight. In this little haven, this nature nook, I feel calm, I feel heard, and I feel strong.

If I can make it to either of these landing spots during my day, during my walk, my mood is infinitely better - whether I’m there for a minute or sixty. It is on these rocks that I get to pause. I think, I journal, I pray, I watch, I ground myself in the solid, the concrete.

When everything else around us seems to be uprooted, I think the remedy is rooting ourselves. Finding the solid ground beneath us - because it is there. Even when it feels shaky, even when it feels far away, there’s always a base on which to stand, a rock on which to ground, and a home base on which to garner strength. Just take a step, and find it.

Nature, for me, is a centering tool. A space to easily clear my head. To release. To speak. To listen.

What is your centering tool? What helps you when you’re not feeling well?

Unwell times are normal. They’re unavoidable. And they are okay. I encourage you, if you’re ever feeling a similar type of way, to just simply take a walk. No agenda in sight. Just let yourself move and breathe and wander. Just take a step in the right direction: forward. Sometimes that’s all we can do. And sometimes, that’s just what we need.

Maybe you’ll even find your own outdoor sanctuary along the way!

To the left: To the right:

If you’re curious, here are a few of my recent favorite podcasts:

- former Real Housewife and skinny marg aficionado interviews entrepreneurs who “started from the bottom, now they’re here”

- this Broadway performer discusses creative pivots, pathways to purpose, and using art to heal with a variety of creatives

- two wildly successful influencers discuss everything from authenticity to marketing strategies to productivity hacks

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1 comentário

Trudy Raveaux Scarr
16 de dez. de 2020

This brought tears to my eyes. Memories of being with family in the outdoors are some of my favorites💕I have always loved the open space of wooded areas. Exploring, feeling, sensing, smelling...taking it all in.. then finding my own little space to just sit. Time, well life, moves so quickly. We should all take the time to walk feet planted to the ground...and sit... grounded on a rock, to contemplate, pray, journal, remember the good things and just 😊. 💕💕

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