Once upon a time I would have told you I loved being in a busy, frenetic environment. I’m a city-girl, born and bred, and wore that identity like a badge of honour. Living in the country side? No thanks! Give me crowds, give me excitement. Then something changed.
The other weekend I decided to tackle the town centre on Saturday. Not any ordinary Saturday either, this one happened to be the first one in December aka Christmas Shopping bonanza. The day started well, I anticipated that the town would be busier than usual and I got there nice and early. I went to my favourite little coffee shop, soaked in their lovely Christmas display and sat down to mentally prepare my plan of action. I was excited, since I love the festive season and look forward to all the lights and pretty trinkets to peruse.
Three hours later though, I was a stressed out, overwhelmed mess who was seriously contemplating crying in the middle of the street. I couldn’t believe the dramatic turn my day had taken. And I certainly didn’t recognise the person I saw in the window. As I took a moment to calm myself down I realised something: crowds really overwhelm me. It was a sudden moment of blinding clarity. This feeling of frustration and anxiety that wells up inside of me when things are too busy…that was my mind’s way of telling me to find a little calm somewhere.
Embracing the change
For some people, the buzz of people dashing here and there is invigorating. I have always just assumed that was me too. Maybe it was, once, but we all grow and change. So, I made a beeline for the bus queue and shoved my headphones on to block out the world a little bit. I found myself craving a country walk. Which made me laugh, since I’m not usually one for pulling out the hiking boots.
Still, as the thought took hold I found myself really cheering up. Quiet in the wild with lots of fresh air was exactly what the doctor ordered. That evening I started googling places that were not too far away from me that I could visit the next day. Luckily, Belfast is fully of parks and green spaces so I had plenty of choices. I settled on a country park that promised ‘spectacular views of Belfast’ and went to sleep looking forward to the next day.
Quiet in the wild
The next morning I set off on my little adventure. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but also strangely pleased with myself for stepping foot outside of the city. Hey, it’s the little things I guess! As soon as I got there, I knew it had been a perfect idea. As I set off, taking the route which promised to be easy and meandering, I took a deep breath in and exhaled all the stresses of the day before. It might sound cheesy, but I could almost feel my shoulders relaxing.
The wind burned my cheeks as the cold, December air whirled around me and I climbed to the top of the hill to see the view. Admittedly it was a little lacklustre, but then I hadn’t really come to see the city. After climbing the hill I wasn’t quite ready to go home and when my friend suggested we explore the woods at the top of a little bit I agreed.
I felt almost childishly happy at the prospect of a morning spent rambling in the woods. Memories of similar walks with my mam came flooding back to me. To top of the secret seven vibe of the walk, after getting (actually) lost in the woods for an hour we stumbled across the ruins of an old country estate. It was brilliant. I went home grinning like a Cheshire cat and probably mentioned what a lovely day I had about a million times.
It’s funny how we spend so much time rushing from one thing to a next. Often we forget to take time to slow down and appreciate what’s around us. I know that’s the case for me. On the surface that Sunday Walk wasn’t much to write home about. Sure, we saw a buzzard which was cool. And yes, I might have done a happy dance when I spotted two squirrels chasing each other around. But it was really the simplicity of it all that made the difference. Taking time to step away from the day to day in order to reflect and recharge.
It might sound cheesy or cliché, and I have hesitated to write about it for that very reason. But, I always wanted this blog to be an expression of the things I love and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. So it felt right to share this with you. I think at heart I will always be a city girl. But now I know I can balance that with little escapes to the countryside. I’ve finally learned that sometimes the best way to spend your time is to find quiet in the wild.