As I write this, I’ve just returned from a quick rendezvous to our favorite local park, Jay Cooke State Park. There is nothing quite like squeezing in some last minute hiking just before the sun goes down. Watching the sunset amidst the vast, vulnerable and bare trees bracing for the cold winter months ahead was the best moment of my day. I didn’t even pull out my iPhone for a quick snap, instead I forced myself to fully embrace the moment and be grateful for the time to hike.
My five-year-old daughter, Clara, read my mind as we entered the trail saying, “Wow, it’s so quiet out here.” I readily agreed with her. It was almost so quiet that the quiet felt loud. This quietness was a stark contrast to our busy household with the TV on, the washer and dryer rumbling, and the neighborhood kids chattering away upstairs. Despite being thankful for the kids in our precious neighborhood bubble, I’m equally thankful for this peaceful nature retreat.
This time of year, nature is most certainly busy getting prepared for what’s ahead; there were almost no birds and no signs of animals. I’m sure they were somewhere, unseen by us humans, burying precious nuts and sustenance in holes or in in downed trees. It’s amazing to me what I don’t understand about nature and never will. In my second life, I would absolutely become a park ranger or some sort of conservationist. Every time I learn something new about this precious resource we call Earth, it humbles me beyond words.
The vulnerability of our bare trees remind me of the vulnerability of our current state of life. Like so many others, I’m bracing for the winter months ahead, the uncertainty with COVID, school schedules changing, the tumultuous presidential election, and not knowing the next steps to addressing systemic racism.
Despite not being in control of many of these things, I am choosing to embrace what I can control, which is a lot. I can control the food I eat, the things I purchase, the places that I go, the ways in which I move my body, and so much more. There is a lot to be grateful for this month, despite not being in control of some parts of our lives.
I challenge you to start a practice of gratitude for November. Write down five things you are grateful for daily, whether it’s in a physical notebook, on a post-it, or a few words in your notes app on your phone. Perhaps it will give you a boost of joy and energy to get through your long mama to-do list each day—plus, you may feel inspired to pass it along to those around you.