Find Your Space to Bring Out Your Best Self
Every year we take the kids to the Adirondack Mountains in New York state.
We live in Michigan so it’s a bit of a drive. But we go anyway because spending time in a place we love so much is good for our souls. I know I’m a better person when I’m in those woods. The kids absorb my relaxed vibe and as a family unit, we’re at peace with each other and the world.
It’s in this space that we are our best selves.
For so long I have been trying to figure out what it is, exactly, that makes my senses come alive when I enter the Adirondacks. Why do I breathe easier? Why do tears sit just beneath my lids, ready to burst forth with the slightest provocation? Why does all the stress in my world melt away, leaving me calm, centered?
It could be the air. It simply smells better up there. It’s a cross between damp earth and pine needles, moss and stream beds.
It could be the majestic beauty of the place. All around me are soft mountains with varying hues of green and brown, backlit by a blue sky with puffy white clouds perpetually drifting across my hilly landscape.
Perhaps it’s the quiet of the forest. Every now and then you hear the caw of a crow or the pitter patter of a chipmunk, but for the most part, you hear just a whisper of the wind blowing through the trees.
Feeling small, yet so fully alive, is a gift I give my children by taking them to the ADK’s. There’s a precious relationship to be forged between an individual and the planet earth. I believe that respecting the ground beneath your feet leads to an awareness of life and all the living, breathing organisms in our care. And spending time in nature forces my kids to feel a part of something much bigger them themselves. They intuitively know that by respecting the smallest of things around them, they are respecting themselves and their place in our shared world.
After seeing one of the little critters that run rampant through the forest, they offer up a fully formed life story for our new friend, including its name, brothers and sisters, social activities, and plans for dinner.
I think that’s what moves me, too. I love bearing witness to my kids creative minds as well as their kindness to each other, to me, to the massive dock spider crossing their paths, to the fish they catch and throw back into the lake, to the old lumbering black bear, to the beaver dam and the red spruce lean-to. I love their wide-eyed look when they learn something new about their natural surroundings.
We aren’t alone in our love for the ADK’s. The place we visit during the same week of every year, the amazing Covewood Lodge on Big Moose Lake, is in a traditional Great Camp style from long ago. For 10 years, my family has been sharing our beloved surroundings with the same 8-10 families from around the US and Canada. I’m sure in the real world we are all quite different. But in our perfect world in the ADK’s, we are one. We come together out of our shared love for our “camp” and for the people who own it. And we come together to share our families traditions of camp-fire singing and s’more making and Walter-the-Bass catching and favorite trail hiking. We come together and celebrate each other’s victories of the day, the year, our lifetimes. These people make us feel good as we stand a little taller in each other’s presence and we put forth our best selves.
Lying in bed at night, I know that the families around me smell the same musty, damp towel scent I’m breathing in and are comforted by it because it means we are Here. They hear the eerie and doleful loons call out over the lake. Our kids are sleeping soundly after a day of water skiing and running around, free and unencumbered. Being here means we are all retreating into our pensive selves and giving thanks out into the universe for sharing her beautiful gifts with us. For one week out of the whole year, we are all at peace.
My special place in the Adirondacks feeds me in a way that nothing else does. It’s where I go to reconnect with all my truths that define me and inspire me and make me feel whole.
Wherever your special place is, I hope you can make time to check in at least once a year.
More often if you can.