Friday, April 17, 2009

The Joy of the Outdoors

I’ve been meaning to write more about all the joys in my life, but then I got too sick to post much for a while. I’m able to work at the laptop again, so I’ll try to tackle a joy or two a week.

The boys were on spring break this week, so I decided to plan a short getaway doing one of our favorite things – camping. We just returned from two days at a state park in Maryland, enjoying the beautiful spring weather (after days of torrential rain!), and camping in our pop-up camper. We also took the boys kayaking along the Chesapeake Bay – something I’ve been wanting to do with them for a long time.

Spending time outdoors is one of the greatest joys of my life. Ken and I bonded while camping and hiking when we were dating, and when we had kids, we pledged not to give up our favorite activities. Jamie and Craig each went along hiking with us at 6 weeks old, and we took each of them camping before they were 6 months old. They’ve grown up with an emphasis on outdoor fun, and they love the outdoors as much as we do. (That's me in the photo - pre-CFS, carrying Craig, with Jamie in the foreground, on top of Bubble Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine, Jamie's first peak hike).

It brought me such joy this week when we were packing for our camping trip, and I overheard my sons telling their friend (who came along) all about what to expect. They were so excited as they told him about all of our traditions and favorite things to do while camping. When we got home today, Craig gave me a huge hug and told me he had a great time. It means so much to me that we’ve imparted this love of the outdoors to our kids and that they still enjoy spending time with us outdoors.

My 9-month (and counting) bout with Lyme disease has made me a little freaked out about being in the woods, but we made sure to cover ourselves with bug spray all weekend and do nightly tick checks. I refuse to let this nasty illness ruin something that brings me so much joy.

Obviously, when CFS hit seven years ago, it put a damper on my outdoor activities, but we have never given up on spending time outdoors. When I’m at my sickest, I pull a lounge chair out onto our deck, and the fresh air and sunshine revive me emotionally, if not physically. When my stamina is poor (as it is currently from my Lyme treatment), I can still camp with my family, even if I can’t go along on hikes. I spent a lot of time this weekend reading in a lounge chair in the sunshine. When we went kayaking, Ken and I shared a tandem kayak, so he did most of the paddling work for me. Being out on the quiet water at sunset, watching osprey fly overhead, and seeing our sons paddle around like old pros filled me with joy.

Being outdoors lifts my spirits. It renews me. Being away from phones, TV, and, yes, even my beloved laptop, helps bring a sense of peace that I could never get resting at home. And when I’m feeling better, I still love to take short hikes. When I dream about someday being well again, I dream about hiking, backpacking, and canoeing without restrictions.

You can read more about our outdoor adventures at my Outdoor Family website, and I have a photo essay on my Travel Family website about our favorite outdoor activities in Arkansas (we travel through every summer on our way to visit Ken’s parents in Oklahoma). In fact, I need to start planning our annual summer road trip/camping trip soon.

Need a pick-me-up? Go sit outside and breathe that fresh air!


Pamela said...

Welcome back! I'm glad you are feeling a little better :) I love that you are writing about joys ... I too enjoy the outdoors and just haven't figured out how to add it back in. I need to follow your inspiration.

Renee said...

We used to have a camper like that too :) Sounds like you had a good time and your boys especially. You are braver than I am to be out and about with all the ticks. Hope you did not have any issues with herxing more.
I like your dreams! May they come true!!!!!!!!!!!

me/cfs warrior said...

How wonderful to go camping! I'm hoping that I can go by Fall.

Thanks for the reminder!


Shelli said...

Some of my happiest memories are of family camping trips. I haven't done much of it since I've been married, though. Thanks for sharing the fun!

Anonymous said...

Hooray for camping! It is also what my partner and I dream of being able to do when we are healthier. Last summer I spent a huge amount of time resting out in the yard and though I was still very tired, it made me really happy to be out in the fresh air.


Sue Jackson said...

D -

Yes, we love camping - being outdoors just takes away all the stresses of daily life, doesn't it?

Maybe sometime you and your partner could rent a camper and try camping again. It's just so nice to be out there. I hope you get to the point where you can do that. Meanwhile, enjoy the yard and this wonderful spring sunshine!


Anonymous said...

I think we might do that. There is a lovely ocean beach that is only a ten minute drive out of town on the gravel roads and has good amenities, and is surprisingly uncrowded!

I hope your trip to Louisiana will be great as well!