Finding Balance In a Busy Life

Reader Contribution by Karrie Steely
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This time of year is busy and full of work. At any given time, there are several projects to be done at once. Farmers are bringing crops in, food needs to be preserved from the gardens, we continue to work on building the house, and jobs on the computer keep coming in, in addition to all the chores and daily duties. When I was younger, I ran myself into the ground because I didn’t know how to balance things. I pushed everything to the point that I didn’t enjoy it anymore because I was exhausted and no fun to be around, and couldn’t even stand myself.

I like to think that I’ve accumulated a little wisdom along with the wrinkles over the years. We women tend to nurture and take care of everything around us and forget about ourselves. I’ve learned to check in with myself every so often to make sure I take care of me, too. My way of nurturing myself is to take time to do nothing. Just be still and do nothing for awhile.

This Labor Day weekend, we headed to a remote wilderness area far away from the crowds. I looked at a few maps and decided that we should find a secluded camping spot in the Medicine Bow Forest, just north of the Colorado state line in the Wyoming mountains. Rain was in the forecast, but we weren’t going to let it ruin our weekend.

To make a long story short, we found a remote, extremely rugged 4-wheel drive road down a side canyon onto the banks of the North Platte river. No one else was crazy enough to attempt it that weekend. It was lush and quiet, forested with lodge pole pines and aspen. There was a beaver pond not too far from where we camped. And it rained.

We knew that we wouldn’t be able to drive back up the rocky and washed out track until it stopped raining, but that just made it a little more exciting and adventurous. A big rubberized tarp pitched over a line over the pickup bed made a warm cozy tent (and a heater didn’t hurt either). The cook stove and ‘kitchen’ was set up on the tailgate, under the tarp as well.

We didn’t bring books to read or games to play. So what did I do? Nothing. Spending a day doing nothing is quite a full day.

I watched the embers burn in the fire that we lit when it wasn’t raining. I watched drops of rain fall off of the edges of the tarp. I watched water form rivulets and channels as it ran down the slope to the river. I listened to the river, and watched mist raise up off of it in the morning. I listened to the trees whisper and crack in the wind, and watched the tall lodge poles sway, marveling at how flexible they were and how far the tops moved. I sat on the bank of the beaver pond several times, watching ripples in the water and waiting to catch sight of one.

We visited the pond at different times of day, and saw a whole family busily working on storing branches at dusk. I watched as chipmunks and birds stuffed themselves with seeds in preparation for the soon-to-come winter. I pondered beaver teeth marks on the aspen saplings. I observed rocks and plants, noting colors, shapes, textures. I watched the dramatic clouds plow past the mountain top above us. I smelled campfire smoke and pine and rain. I touched bark and plants and stones, taking in their feel.  

We snuggled and napped in the blankets while the rain pattered on the tarp. We made s’mores and cooked steak over the fire when the rain paused. We talked and also sat in silence for hours. We went on short hikes, and observed sign from elk, deer, moose and bear. We breathed it in deeply.

And when we were done with all of this, just on cue, the clouds parted in the evening and it stopped raining. We drove out the next morning after the sun had dried the road out enough to 4-wheel out. Coming back down to the real world, we felt refreshed, rested and content. Most importantly, ready to jump back into the busy swirl of the late summer harvesting time. 

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