This weekend in northern Michigan, I spent some time at our cottage, a small place on the banks of Wixom Lake. After what had been a stressful week teaching my students, grading homework, and orchestrating parent-teacher conferences, I was feeling a bit frayed around the edges. The last thing I wanted was to sit on I-75 in Friday night rush hour traffic for 3 hours as my husband and I wormed our way north. The weather was cold, snow flurries were forecast, and I was thinking of all the work I had packed into my school bag to complete over the weekend.
Later that day, my husband and I ventured outside to hike a familiar trail through the aspen and oak woods. The walk through the forest was meditative and serene. I noticed the squishy moss underfoot, the breeze rustling the few leaves that still clung to the trees, and the sparkling sunshine that lit up the day. I was not thinking of all the “must-dos” that had been on my mind yesterday, but only of the old fallen tree I needed to navigate, the animal den we stumbled across, and the berry bushes where robins and cedar waxwings were gorging themselves. It was serene, meditative, and healing. The tension evaporated from me as my concentration focused on my surroundings, not the ever-present voice of obligation in my head.