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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
The rain is plopping onto the patio table again, just like it has been what seems like non-stop since a few evenings ago. How is it still raining? No idea, but it is.
Maybe that’s how you’re feeling wherever you are about the weather, too. Maybe it’s raining. Or maybe you’re in one of these places that has been ridiculously hot. Or maybe it’s the bugs for you. How in the world are there so many? Here in Alaska it’s a big bug year, and it’s really been testing the limits of that mantra I have to get me through buggy times. I like to say “Im here, and the flies are here, and we’re all here together and it’s fine.” Except that sometimes, as it turns out, it is simply not fine. It has crossed a line long, long ago. In the words of Joey Tribiana — the line is a dot to you.
OK so here we are, dealing with the stuff we don’t really like no matter what it is, and still trying to create an outdoor habit. We’re still trying to go outside every day. We’re trying to do it not just because we know that it’s helpful, but because we also know that we like it.
And we do like it. But sometimes that’s hard to remember.
As part of my practice of heading outside no matter what, I’ve had to learn to overcome discomfort or less than ideal circumstances. I loath spending time in the rain, but if rain is what we have, out I go. I cannot abide bugs buzzing next to my ears. But if bugs are what is there, I find that head net and deal with it. Some of you might hate, hate, hate that hot sticky feeling you get when it’s roasting outside. But if that’s what you have, then roast for awhile you must.
We figure out a way to deal with it. We move through it. We’re usually glad we did.
But does that mean you have to seek that unpleasantness out? When is it a good idea to give you in to the dislike and avoid the thing you dislike instead of pushing through?
This is something I’ve been thinking about for me during this season of very questionable so-called summer weather. Between the bugs and the rain, living my best life is a challenge.
I’m still getting out there anyway, but I’m trying to figure out where the line is between out there and glad I did and out there and not at all glad.
I wish I had an instruction manual to tell me where that line is. Instead, I’m trying to remember some advice from one of our past podcast guests, Sarah Histand, and listen to my body and intuition. Can I hear it saying “we can deal with this today and move through it?” Or can I hear it saying “nope nope nope absolutely not no way nope?” And if it’s the latter — why?
I don’t want to be a prisoner to my testy nervous system when it’s flying off the handle on things we could simple work through. But I DO want to respect it when it’s saying that something is simply unnecessary.
Here’s a real life example. As I mentioned, we’re having a very buggy year. Getting eaten alive by mosquitos is not really my favorite, so I’ve been doing what I can to avoid it while still getting outside and not fully avoiding the really buggy places. That means wearing bug spray, using a bug net over my head or spending time in the least buggy parts of the buggy places. The areas around lakes and streams qualify as that, so I’ve been making quick work of getting onto the lake on my paddle board, but still going instead of just staying home.
Now, I had a tentative plan to meet up with Sarah this summer for a canoe trail trip in what is verifiably a very buggy place. Canoe trails are part paddling, part carrying your boat through the bushes. And it was going to include at least one night of camping. On a regularly buggy year, that can be a challenge. But this year? It’s just asking to go to a dinner at which you are the main course for the bugs.
Does skipping that adventure mean I’m not being bold enough to work through outdoor challenges? Or does it mean I’m listening to my body, understanding what I can handle, and just being smart?
I feel like it’s that last one.
The truth of the matter is that the only person who can decide if something is a bridge too far for you is you. And it could change day-by-day, too. If I’m stressed by a lot of other life stuff, I’m going to have a way lower tolerance for adding challenging weather or tons of bugs to my life. But in other situations I might have more capacity for that stuff.
As part of my dislike of rain, I avoid doing things I know Ill love anyway because I’m laser focused on the problem, not on the experience. That includes getting in my hot tub, a daily summer morning ritual. I just don’t like the idea of rain on me while I’m in there. It doesnt sound that fun.
On my most recent work day, I looked outside at the rain and though argh, I am not dealing with this in the hot tub. Today after a few extra hours of sleep, I thought- you know what, sitting in the hot tub in the rain wouldnt be so bad, so I put on a hat and went out, even lingering on the porch in my swimsuit.
That’s a day-by-day decision for me, apparently, and that’s ok.
No matter what, we must remember to be kind to ourselves, view how we’re feeling about outdoor adventures big and small without judgment, and just do our best wherever we are in that moment. Heading outside isn’t supposed to be a constant gauntlet. It’s supposed to be a good thing that we want to return to because of all the benefits it brings. Let’s remember that.
You can see photos of all my daily outdoor time — challenging or perfect — on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. Share yours too with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.