A year ago, my spouse and I decided that in the summer of 2020 we would take a cross-country trip in our Airstream. Up until now, work and family-rearing responsibilities hadn’t allowed for extended time away together. Our plan was to spend a week in Yosemite in between two California work-related weekends in June, so at exactly 7 a.m., January 15, we were poised in front of our computers, ready to click “Reserve” the moment the reservation system opened up. (For anyone who has tried, campsites in Yosemite fill up within minutes six months in advance.) “Yes, we got one!” we cheered, and the planning began, knowing that outside of those two weekends we would be free to roam wherever our whims and fly rods took us.
Then COVID-19 hit. Then national parks and campgrounds closed. We weren’t sure if venturing outside our quarantined lives would be wise, but when stay-at-home orders were lifted and the country began to slowly open up, we decided to hit the road. We were hopeful that Yosemite would open in time, and besides, we craved some new scenery and could work remotely from anywhere for as long as we liked.
We left on Memorial Day, returned on the Fourth of July weekend, and every day in between was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Being in nature from the moment we woke up until the moment we laid our heads down was exactly what our COVID-weary souls required. Most of our days were spent on rivers where negative ions are generated in large quantities, entering our bloodstream and producing increased levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress and boost daytime energy. Trust me, it worked!
Hiking alongside Nevada Falls, in Yosemite, was absolutely majestic, but Jonah Paquette reminds us in “How Awe Can Transform Our Lives” on page 18 , that any moments that make us go, “Wow!” can be the very moments that lastingly change our lives for the better. Many of my “wow” moments came while sitting quietly listening to the birds or trying not to move in fear of scaring off a deer that nonchalantly ambled into our campsite.
Since re-entry to everyday life, I have experienced a sort of whiplash from its daily chores and responsibilities, media exposure and COVID rules and regulations that we were fortunate to get a break from while living in the woods. I recognize that while in nature it’s much easier to slow down, listen and just be; our “Mindful Walking” article, on page 14, teaches us that even a meditative walk on a high school track can help calm our spirits, too. In it, spiritual teacher, Carolyn Sinclair, in Houston, shares that “walking meditation allows us to be in the world, but not attached to the chaos and drama.” With chaos and drama at an all-time high right now, any opportunity to detach from it gets an enthusiastic welcome from me until I can pursue my wanderlust again.
Have an awe-some month!
Nancy Somera, Managing Editor