The thing about the Great Outdoors is that it always lends perspective. One recent week, I was having a hard go of it, mentally. I fought feelings of anxiety relentlessly, but unable to shake them. Hot baths, lavender candles, reading and listening to music all proved fruitless. So, I went to my favorite place to set my mind at ease: the outdoors.
It worked. Something about climbing atop a giant overlook and viewing the world — seeing how vast it is and how small everything seems from a higher vantage point — dwarfed my nervousness and reminded me that my problems were temporary. I say “problems” facetiously because I’m blessed beyond belief. Each day I count those blessings, and those “problems” simply arise with the day-to-day of managing all I have to be thankful for: a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood; taking care of two darling, rambunctious pups; a wonderful job I look forward to every day; making the effort to spend quality time with my fiancé (we got engaged in late September!); seeing friends; and catching up with family. My heart is overflowing, and the anxiety I felt had nothing to do with anything. But it was there, and I needed to find a healthy way to quell it.
I trekked out to Ute Valley Park that day. It was painted in shades of green, rust red and varying tinges of gold. It was abuzz with wildlife, runners, walkers and bikers. When I got out of my car, I immediately felt a sense of calm and ease.
I walked off-trail into a more secluded spot, paying special attention to my ankles so I wouldn’t walk through cacti. Anxious thoughts were silenced. I mused on my loved ones and all the other times I felt nervous or scared about new blessings on the horizon — the responsibility that accompanies them — and remembered how I’ve always gotten through to the other side. I thought about my friendships and made new resolutions there. I thought about what I’m looking forward to in 2020 and let myself feel excited rather than panicky.
And then, I brought myself back to that exact moment. I consciously felt the dirt underneath me, took a deep drag of the warm afternoon air, looked up at the cornflower blue sky, and smiled. I gave a silent thanks for the fact that I was there in the park right at that moment, safe and secure. I thought about the vast amount of open space and parks there are to enjoy in Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak region and across our beautiful state, thanks to the dedicated work of so many who keep them clean, usable and safe. I thought of the immediate and long-lasting touch of nature.
I thought, “I am thankful.” And I meant it.
Breeanna Jent is a multi-beat journalist who has reported previously in California and across Colorado’s Front Range. She has lived in the Pikes Peak region for four years and joined the Pikes Peak Newspapers team as editorial assistant in January 2018. Drop her a line or send your calendar events and community photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.