A People-Pleaser’s Hike

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I feel it when we’re home. A wash of guilt comes over me, leaving me soaked, cold and shivering as waves do in the mid of Winter. For every wave, there’s comes a demanding question to my head, and another and another:

”Why haven’t I still proposed a new date to this person whom I failed to meet two months ago?”

”Wouldn’t it be easier to just say yes to my sister’s request and be done with it?”

”How come I never answered that letter she sent to me almost three years ago? Or just sent her a message that I wouldn’t be answering anymore?”

To every question, I would just love to yell back ”Because I don’t f**king want to!”

Those are hard words. They aren’t even completely true. But they are a natural response to the thoughts – I feel so trapped, so selfish and so in conflict with myself that this is what I end up with. A mess.

We decide to drive to the national park which is one hour away from our home town. It’s a hike of nine kilometers for intermediate hikers. We pack some light snacks, fill the water bottles and start driving.

In the car, I’m silent. I have nothing to say, only thoughts running around my head. A few of them I try to write down – an effort to clarify my thoughts to myself so that I could maybe present them to someone else as well.

When we get into the woods and start the hike, I’m still in my own thoughts. I take steps on the soft ground covered with pine needles, and every step is fueled by the negative energy in my body and mind.

We come to a lake where we step on a small ferry. It has a rope we have to pull in order to get to the other side.

We pull the rope together. But we do not pull it together – not in synchronized movements, not in cooperation with each other. My mind is still wandering and annoyed by all the requests, demands and expectations other people and myself have on me.

However, slowly, as time goes by and our steps take us further into the forest, my mind starts to relax. The thoughts, previously on other people and their expectations, start to wander in a different way. I’m able to let go of the previous thoughts – not only of the accusations other’s have pointed at me but also the one’s I’m pointing at myself. Instead, I wonder why they changed the intro music of Seinfeld in the third season.

I see, feel and breath in the mossy green forest air. I breath out stress, frustration, negativity. We talk about hikes we both did in Scouts when we were younger. I observe a tiny brown frog that crosses the path the same time with me. My partner looks at my eyes and says they seem to be glowing, that the great outdoors has its effect on me.

The freedom of being out in the woods, outside of everyone’s reach except myself and my partner, feels wonderful. My phone has been in my backpack the whole time, untouched. I don’t need it. I don’t have to be available, not here.

I do not have to answer any calls, or messages on Whatsapp. I do not have to, I simply cannot do any favors at the moment. And even if someone asked me to do something for them, I’d have to check my calendar first which is at home. So, sorry, can’t be there for you right now even if you’d want me.

I can only be here for myself – because I’m out of town.

And I’d like it to be more like this forever.

Still Life Sunday: Morning Swim

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4 Morning Swim

I open my eyes and recognize the familiar wooden paneling, the white curtains with small flowers on them that let in the light in the mornings. I lay in the guest bed of my parent’s summer cottage.

It’s a wonderful place to stay at in the summer. It’s placed on the highest point in the area with a steep hill down to the private beach with a dock and a small terrace. When I was little, the small terrace was the place where my grandparents wanted to drink their afternoon coffee if the weather was fine. Me, who didn’t drink any coffee at the time, got some homemade juice and cookies. It’s one of the best memories I have.

The dock again got burning hot during the warmest hours of the day. If you wanted to go for a swim from the dock, you had to be quick – otherwise the hot wood would burn your feet. So what me and my sister usually did was that we ran from the terrace to the dock and jumped right into the water. It was one of the most entertaining things to do during the day, especially when our father joined us in the water. He was a good swimmer and especially good at diving. He used to dive deep and tried to catch our feet. It made me and my sister giggle.

This morning, I get up from the bed that is placed in the room next to our wood-burning sauna. It is our guest room but since we rarely have guests at the cottage I have made the place into my bedroom.

The weather is fine as the sun shines and a gentle wind sways the leaves in the birch tree nearby. I put on my sandals, open the door and let the cool morning air brush my face and my naked body.  I grab my towel and walk down the steps to the ground where large stone steps take me to the dock.

I am heading for my morning swim.

I love mornings at the cottage. I am usually the first person to wake up and I enjoy the calmness and the quietness of the nature. I walk down to the dock, observing the birds and the calm shushing of the leaves that fill the air.

The towel finds it’s usual place on the bench that is fastened with screws to the dock. I place my feet on the metal steps that lead down to the water. I brace myself and take the first step down. The water feels cold. But I take another step, and another. Goose bumps run through my whole body. I know this feeling from before and what it leads to, therefore taking another step and getting deeper into the water.

When halfway in the water, I turn my back to the dock and face the water. Taking a morning swim requires self-discipline, almost some sort of sadistic willpower. And I embrace the shivering coldness, take a huge breath of air and lower the rest of my body into the water. I let go of the steps and take a few powerful breast strokes, leaving the dock behind me.

The water feels light on my body, welcoming me to a new day. My heart pumps blood and oxygen to my body, invigorating my arms, my legs and back, filling them with energy. I feel the sea weeds against my legs and my stomach, a somewhat uncomfortable but at the same time tickling sensation.

I swim a few meters one way, then turn and swim the other way. After that I return, pull myself up the stairs and on to the dock. The world feels new, and I feel fresh and ready to embrace a new day. What a great way to start my day.

 

 

Today I Quit My Job – Part III

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This is the third and the last check-up post where I reflect on quitting my job which happened two weeks ago. Two weeks already! Or only two weeks – hard to say which one feels more right.

Well, above you can see a picture of me, taken a few days ago. It’s Friday morning, and I’m enjoying a strong cup of coffee on the stairs of a big house me and my partner are staying at for one and a half weeks. We are taking care of a dog – you can see her in the photo as well.

It was mostly a spur-of-the-moment decision, to volunteer as care-takers for a dog and a house. I saw a friend’s post on Facebook, asking if someone had the time to take care of her dog while she was away, and we decided to take up the challenge.

The house is a 25-minute drive away from the city in the middle of the beautiful nature of Finland. Comparing to the life in the city, this place is a whole other world. In the morning you hear two roosters crowing in different directions and in the evening the crickets dominate the world of sounds. The nearest food store is at least five kilometers away which means we seldom leave this place, only when we must.

The calming, simple way of living does good for my soul and mind. I feel relaxed, calm and free from stress. It feels great, and it definitely feels like something I’ve been needing for the last few months.

For the last week, I have been focusing on sleeping, cooking, analyzing reality-tv-competitions (how you can guess the winner and the looser of the episode by watching the interviews they show during the episode) and taking care of the old labrador lady who loves food and proper belly rubs.

As you might guess, I’m feeling pretty relaxed (although sometimes it feels like my dog allergies are getting the better of me).

And what do you think, how do I feel about quitting my job? You might guess that I’m still feeling good about that. And my friend – you guessed right. I am feeling good. I feel like I’ve actually shown respect towards myself. I still feel like I did the right thing. I did do the right thing.

We are returning back to the city on Sunday. On Monday, it’ll be a proper start on my writing routines. But for now, I’ll just enjoy myself and the company of my partner and the dog.

See you on Thursday!