I love it when a bad mood changes in what seems like the blink of an eye. Feeling tired and overwhelmed after work, like I just wanted to take a nap, I decided instead to tackle a couple of seemingly big decisions to get them over with. One of them was what to have for dinner. The other had to do with a complication in my daughter’s college financial aid application. After being on hold for about 15 minutes with the financial aid application help service lady who was patient and nice, but would not give me a clear answer, I presented both issues to my husband and daughter outside on the back deck.
The financial aid issue actually took less time than the decision to go get a couple of pizzas, because we had to decide on the toppings. What initially seemed like complicated issues when I was tired worked out easily when I got outside.
Two things helped in solving what were really minor issues. Asking the two people I love the most for their input made perfect sense since they would be affected by the decisions. (Having been a single Mom for over 10 years, I occasionally think I have to figure everything out myself.)
The other thing that helped, which I think is more profound because it was less obvious, was that I got outside. Our wonderfully overgrown yard was lush with greenery in the late afternoon sunlight. The trees start to take over in the summer because they know I love them. The mimosa, which some people call invasive, provides a tropical-like canopy with its feathery pink flowers. I have long dreamed about having a little house in the forest. For now, I have brought a bit of the forest to my little house.
Sometimes when I get home from work, I’m feeling so tired from sitting and typing at a computer inside an air conditioned office bundled up in my sweater where I work as a counselor, listening compassionately, and at the same time, objectively trying to help people change their thoughts and actions, all I want to do is take a nap. Sometimes I do take a nap. Naps are great when you are old enough to feel refreshed by a twenty minute snooze instead of feeling groggy like when you were younger.
But sometimes I go out in the back yard and my whole perspective changes. I get energized and refreshed just by being outside among the trees and listening to the music of the birds and insects. I usually start by doing something practical like picking up dog poop which can be surprisingly satisfying in its simplicity. You don’t have to think too hard about it. You just have to watch where you step. Then, if I allow myself the time, I get to puttering. I could be trimming back a bit of overgrowth, saving the young magnolia I should have moved when it was smaller from the grapevine, or moving a seedling or a “weed” I find attractive to a better location. Once I get to digging in the dirt I am in the zone. I’m only vaguely aware of the mosquito and perspiration on my arm as I breathe the cleansing smells of the earth. There is something about the benevolent influence of nature that nourishes me on a spiritual level and brings me back into balance. When I finally come inside to wash my hands, I look in the mirror. My hair is a mess, my nostrils are slightly flared and my eyes are bright. I smile at myself feeling alive.
My mood changed drastically for the better just by going outside and being in nature. So, tell me: what can change your mood like that?