Remember when you and your brothers spent 20 minutes arguing over who go to use the red legos, simply because they were better than yellow legos at the moment? And remember Mom yelled “get outside, now!” just as her eyes were starting to cross? No? That only happened in our family? Yea…I doubt that! It wasn’t always a lego argument but whenever us kids started to get a little whiny and stir crazy Mom would kick us outside. We thought it was to give her space [probably true] but looking back it gave us a place to work out some of our energy and issues.
I grew up on a family-sized dairy farm, meaning we were surrounded by cats, dogs, cows, pigs, chickens and an assortment of other farm animals as well as acres and acres of corn fields, dirt and forests to explore at whim. Sure, we had daily chores that involved getting dirty and sweaty but we had a lot of free time to be kids, too. And kids we were.
We got really good at stripping off our dirty clothes to “wash” them in mud puddles. My brothers built a legit tree house in a backyard tree. We caught tadpoles in the sandpit pond then watched them grow [and subsequently die, sorry!] in a jar back home. Laundry day involved building forts in the sheets on the clothes line that we would sit inside of to eat our lunch. Grandma only lived a mile away on the road but more often than not we’d hoof it through the cow pasture and hay field just to show up at her doorstep covered in mud. We were really good at being kids…when we were outside.
Inside, things got dicey. There were walls and breakable things and no one really appreciated it when we brought calves or frogs or kerneled field corn [for our tractors to tote around] into the house. The indoors were restricting! The outdoors were free.
While I have grown up enough to lose the desire to bring all the animals into the house [thankfully!] the need to get outside and be free has not left me. If anything it has ingrained itself even deeper into my life. If I’m having a long day at work or a rough day dealing with real life I’m usually faced with two options — restlessly fiddle around indoors or head outside. Luckily, I live in a state where getting outside is easy. I mean, truly getting outside into the wilderness.
But, the wilderness isn’t really a requirement when it comes to regaining a little sanity after an overwhelming day! Just walking out the front door and roaming the neighborhood is calming. Heck, the other day after a fight with a cellphone carrier [yes, I’m mature enough to fight with a cell phone carrier, don’t judge] it was the walk back to the office in the heart of downtown Denver that gave me just enough freedom to return to work without punching anyone.
I started out with some serious RBF and an angry gait but as the blocks ticked by I got out of my grumpy head and started taking in the world around me, the people I was sharing the sidewalk with and the storm clouds rolling in. Somehow all that calmed me down and put the stupid, incompetency of the cell phone carrier into perspective [but I’m going to harbor this grudge against them for a while longer, because my problem still isn’t fixed!].
Basically, if you’re having a rough day or feeling the stress of life or trying to cope with some uninspired restlessness “get outside, now!”…because mom said so! Go ride a bike or run a trail or wander a neighborhood. Take a minute to look at the world around you and forget about your immediate problems, just for a moment. It’ll work wonders on your blood pressure and stress levels, I promise!