I was born in Alaska, but I always say I "grew up" in Texas. My childhood was spent outside in the thick heat, climbing trees with my best friend, swimming, eating honeysuckle, riding horses, and generally terrorizing the neighborhood. My dad would emit a strong, high-pitched whistle to signal to my brother and I that it was time to come in for dinner because my dad was never sure where we were.
As a teenager, we moved back to Alaska and the move (and my raging hormones, I'm sure) caused me to internalize my emotions and I became a homebody. I retreated physically inside for safety, my introversion quietly emerging. As I settled into the only two seasons we seemed to have, the cold and snow drew me out for skiing or fort-building or sledding because of the padded shell of warmth winter clothes provided. But eventually, outside became just the way to get from one indoor place to another.
I've changed my mind about being outside.
This year, the outdoors have enveloped me during my discovery process. I've taken walks every day, regardless of the weather. I stopped caring about my hair and makeup, drenching my clothes in sweat, the sun tanning my skin. Breathing fresh air, slowing down, and being present soothes my soul.
Being outside reminds me of my creativity. I started reading books about women who have taken solo journeys as a means to find themselves. I decided I wanted my own. During the summer, I took a 22-mile walk to see what a single day of a 1000+ mile walk might feel like. When I woke up the next day, I surprised myself by wanting to do it again.
I want to bring my Texan childhood to life again. I want to go hiking, to pull my hair back and get dirt on my face, to run and sweat, stopping only for food and water. I can count on one hand the number of times I've tent camped so that's my next venture. And I'd like to celebrate my 40th birthday by taking a couple months to just walk, so I'm researching a route.
Being outside has tested my introverted tendencies and ignited my nomadic spirit for adventure, spontaneity, and external connections to my soul.
Being outside has reminded me who I am inside.