A Story of Grief & Depression; & Magic Found In Nature

As my worn dusty hiking shoes curved along the mountain trail switchback, a speck of light caught my attention. I turned to look at the source behind me, and realized a rainbow was proudly arched from mountain top to mountain top along this early summer morning hike in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Roy G Biv” I thought to myself as I double checked to ensure the colors lined up correctly. Followed by my second thought, “I love Arizona” and began to feel deep grateful for being right here at this exact moment.

You see, getting here…right in this moment was a huge struggle for me.

Grief & Depression

For the past few weeks, I’ve been setting my alarms day after day to get up and go hiking. And day after day, I hit the “dismiss” button, flop back onto my side and close my eyes. 

In fact, it hasn’t been for just a “few weeks”. It’s really been more like a year and half…

Ever since Corona Virus hit home and I’ve become accustomed to being obsessed and outraged at the news.

Ever since my mom died in May 2020 of cancer.

And now most recently my dog Scruffy, who unexpectedly passed away five weeks ago from today.

the author and her very good dog, Scruffy

My energy is lower than higher. My eyes are heavy. My muscles and bones are sluggish. Walking into the kitchen from my bed in the morning, feels like a victory.

I Know What to Do

I’ve been telling myself that I need to hike. I know my soul needed it. There’s a special awakening that internally happens when walking in wide open spaces as the sun begins to rise. The newly awoken birds still hidden comfortably in their nests greeted the new day with songs. The cool breeze softly gliding against my dewy skin.

Pushing forwards, step after step until reaching the top of a mountain. It’s satisfaction at it’s greatest. Inspiring and awakening my soul with every step.

These are things I know about myself and my soul.

But Doing It…Is a Whole Other Story

Although, actually awakening under the spell of the early morning brain haze seems impossible. I don’t want to wake myself up. I’d rather slowly bring up a blank Word document and start journaling away. Writing down all my overthinking and over analyzing self-thoughts. Spiraling down, further, and further into my own thoughts and feelings to share with myself how unfair my world is.

To sit there, with pajamas still on, no bra and cup after cup of coffee keeping me company, until I look up and notice it’s already time for work. All these self-loathing, fear induced mindset before breakfast…and it made me feel as if I was healing myself.

Deep down inside, I knew this was just an easy way out. I’m in my own head. And even though, for the moment it might feel comforting, I also knew it wasn’t good.

Taking the First & Second Step is the Hardest

I don’t know what actually made me step out of bed. I don’t know what made this day a bit different. But when my alarm went off, I actually woke up. I told myself to not think, and just go. So, I slapped a sports bra on, made a coffee and drove to the trailhead. As I took a step onto the dirt path on this cloudy summer morning, the soft orange glow of the sun was beginning to rise.

Stop Thinking & Just Move

A layer of puffy hot pink cotton candy clouds rose from the horizon, swirling upward in hues of tangerine and yellow as the clouds scattered across.

Behind me, to the West, was darkness. Hazy grey clouds moving towards the Estrella Mountains, just a bit further out. I turned back around, inhaled the crisp air and continued walking forward to the light show ahead.

You Are Exactly Where You Are Supposed to Be

I was 45 minutes into the hike, when the light caught my eye and I turned around to see that rainbow. I’m not as egotistical to think the universe created this rainbow just for me. But, I do feel like the universe put me right in that spot….so that I could see her rainbow.

I thought about how better the view must be from a top of mountain. I began to negotiate with myself questioning if I should push myself to quickly get to the top, in hopes of getting the better view. However, I knew it would be about another 15 minutes to the top, I would become anxious and that I would likely miss the whole thing together.

So, instead, I stopped.

And I took it all in.

Expectations

There is a quote I read on Instagram about having anxiety. I can’t fully remember the exact words, or who said it, but it goes like this; when you have anxiety you expect the worse, but what if you flipped it and expected the best instead? How could that flip change your life?

I thought of Scruffy. Of my Mom. And all the other people who have left this world. And, maybe this rainbow is a sign, that it’s okay. They are safe.

I can be sad and I can miss them.

But, I can’t assume that the worse thing has happened to them.

The Takeaway

I watched that rainbow until it began to fade away as the sun rose higher over the horizon. And, then I walked forward to the top of the mountain. By the time I made it up there, just an ever so slightly portion of the rainbow remained, hazy vapers, until I watched those too vanish.

I left that trail, feeling more comfort and peaceful than I had in over a year and a half. This is the magic that nature provides for us. Although, it’s not easy to take the first step on the trail it’s ultimately the only way to feel better.