I started a new series this year to encourage me to 1) put a little more effort into my photography again, and 2) notice and acknowledge some of the many wonderful things that are all around me on a regular basis. Each month(ish), I’m challenging myself to take at least five pictures of beauty, as well as document five specific experiences or things that have brought me delight, pleasure, or joy. To see past editions of the series, click HERE.
Since the last post in this series, I teetered dangerously close to burnout as my flower farming season reached its peak, until an out-of-the-blue panic attack finally forced me to slow my pace waaaay down. After about a month of my mental health feeling a bit out of whack, I finally turned a corner about a week ago so that I’m now feeling much more normal and back to my usual self. Below are some of the things that both helped me to get back to a better state of mind, and that a better state of mind helped me to also appreciate more.
Note: There are affiliate links to any products or books specifically mentioned below.
i. “picnic hikes”
Over the past couple of months, Matt and I were starting to notice a strange pattern — Sundays, which should have been our most restful and peaceful day as we didn’t have work or flower farming stuff to deal with and in which we always start off the day well with church at 9 a.m., were somehow turning into one of our most stressful days.
After awhile, we finally figured it out:
Once church was out at 11 a.m. and we’d finished with lunch, we then had an extremely long stretch of time (approximately 7 hours) until we started the bedtime routine, with virtually no plans the vast majority of Sundays. While Matt and I were HOPING that we could use a few of those hours for long, luxurious naps and restful recharging, what actually was happening was that the kids would start to get restless after several hours inside playing, and they would start to pick fights, which would interrupt those long-awaited naps, which would mean that pretty soon, everyone was feeling pretty grumpy.
If we lived closer to family, we would definitely use Sundays to go on family visits, but as that’s not an option most of the time, we had to make other plans. So in addition to using Sundays as an opportunity to drop off treats or extra flowers to some of our neighbors a few times a month, we’ve also started using Sundays as a chance to drive up to the canyon that’s right by us (and which we’d never even been in until this last month) and go on “picnic hikes.”
Now, these are not true “hikes” in the traditional sense of the word, but are rather a glorified walk out in nature that are relatively easy and short and that culminate in sitting down by some empty campsite and splitting a few string cheeses and protein bars. They take minimal planning and preparation, but they have proved to be enormously effective at chasing away the Sunday scaries that were happening so frequently before.
Each time we’re out and I’m taking in deep lungfuls of the pine-scented air, I can feel my shoulders finally relax, and it’s much easier to finally switch my mind over to an easier gear.
ii. the smell of ripening apples
Our backyard has three huge apple trees, all of which are laden down with fruit this year. We also have branches dipping over the fence from the neighboring property, which are also laden down with apples. Last year, we didn’t get a single edible apple. This year, we’ve got hundreds in the trees, hundreds rotting on the ground, and hundreds that have already been fed to our chickens.
Every time I go into the backyard to check on our high tunnel or harvest flowers, my nose is hit with the smell of fully ripe apples in the trees mingled with the over-sweet notes of apples rotting on the ground. It smells like autumn and harvest time with a hint of winter decay, and I’m all here for it.
iii. finally finishing books
I finished one book in the craziness that was August and early September. Now that things are finally slowing down with the flower farm, I’m finishing books right and left, and it feels SO GOOD. In fact, I’ve been working on a Loving and Learning Lately post for weeks that includes all my recent reads, but I keep being unable to finish it because I keep finishing books!
I also got several much-anticipated books for my birthday, and I have been devouring those. I’m especially loving The Flower Hunter and From Seed to Bloom, both of which have gorgeous photography and are by floral designers who I find to be utterly inspiring. Last year by this point, I was basically praying for the frost to come because I was literally starting to hate the sight of flowers, I was so burned out. This year I almost reached that point in early September, but then by giving myself a few easier weeks, I’ve since fully embraced that the frost hasn’t come yet, and I am LOVING growing dahlias. I’d never grown them (successfully) before this year, and they have completely renewed my enthusiasm for the flower farm right now.
As it is, I’m fine if the frost holds off for a few more weeks yet!
If you read my birthday reflection post yesterday, you’ll know that our first couple years in this area have been a real struggle in some ways. We had a difficult time establishing a feeling of community and support, and it got so bad at one point not too many months ago that we seriously started making strides towards moving away.
However, things have started drastically shifting towards the better over the past two months, and one of the key things behind that has been our opportunity to build friendships here by giving service. The service has come through babysitting, making meals, clearing weeds, and bringing treats over, and it’s given us plenty of chances for repeated conversations with people, which is largely a key part of what building friendships is all about. And in return, we’ve had people reciprocating with service back to us, which has also been very appreciated.
Slowly but surely, we are finally building a sense of belonging here, and it feels so good.
Nearly four years ago, I severely injured my back. I went from being an avid runner and gym-goer to someone who could barely lift my kids, much less exercise. Ever since, I’d been looking for ways to finally fix my back so that I could be fully mobile and functional again. Luckily for me, I found the answer in a specialized rehab massage therapist who I’ve now been seeing for over two years.
When I first started seeing him, I tried right away to get back into exercise, only to keep re-injuring my back over and over again. Finally I stopped trying altogether and counted flower farming and the occasional longer walk as enough, and I was thankful every day to even be able to do those relatively pain-free.
However, after seeing him around once a month for the past year or so, I have now started running again, and not only that, running without fear of injury. Sure, I’m so much slower than I ever used to be, and I definitely get super tired after only about a quarter or a third of a mile and need to stop to walk. BUT I’M RUNNING AGAIN.
And I can’t tell you how good it feels.
Now it’s your turn! Comment below with five things that are bringing joy to YOU lately 🙂