Last week, my husband and I spent a few days in County Donegal. We took Annie, our German Shepherd with us, and rented a cottage in a remote area called Gweedore. The cottage was very close to vast, unspoiled beaches and I was so looking forward to experiencing the wilderness effect.
The weeks leading up to the trip had been extremely stressful. Work had been nightmarish and between running my nutrition group and trying to get ready to start teaching Zumba, it was all systems go (as usual!) I felt completely exhausted. It was to the point that I went to the doctor for blood tests. I was convinced there must be something wrong with me. Surely it couldn’t be “normal” to be so bloody tired all the time. I was spending all day dragging myself around. Dying to get to bed at night, only to lie there looking at the ceiling instead of being asleep.
Thankfully the blood tests came back all clear. I am the picture of health, if only I felt it!! The only thing the fatigue could be down to was either a hormonal issue (a change in pill was prescribed to try rule that out,) or stress/burn out. The week of the trip my mouth erupted in cold sores. A sure sign that I was run down. I felt fragile and tearful. I can honestly say, if I had had to last another week in work without a break, I may have had a break down!
Finally, the departure day arrived. Even packing seemed like such an effort. I made the decision to leave my make-up bag and hairdryer at home. I claimed this was a nod to minimalism, but it was more that I couldn’t be bothered trying to sort that out. It was all I could do to throw some clothes in a bag, grab my doggy and hit the road.
No sooner were we on the road, when I felt myself beginning to unwind. A whole wonderful week lay ahead of me with no work, no gym, no housework or responsibilities. Imagine, an entire seven days with no schedule to keep. The thought of it made me giddy, or it would have if I hadn’t been so drained!
We arrived at the cottage just as dusk settled. Stepping out of the car, taking a big stretch after the long drive, I took a deep breath. As air scented with turf fires and sea salt filled my lungs, I began to wonder when was the last time I had done that? When was the last time I had really allowed myself to breathe?
The few days we spent in Donegal were pure bliss. Waking naturally, enjoying a leisurely brunch while planning the day’s adventures. We spent hours tramping the beaches with Annie, watching her running through the surf. Laughing at her jumping into boggy water and seeing her delight at how dirty she was getting. We spent a lovely afternoon in Glen Veagh National Park, wandering and exploring. We walked for hours every day, my FitBit was on overdrive. The evenings were spent just hanging out, watching movies we had already seen, and enjoying not having anywhere to be. I slept better than I had in months.
We drove up to Donegal in the rain, and we drove home in the rain. In between journeys we were blessed with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. We couldn’t have asked for more. The sea air and wild terrain were such a tonic. As the days wore on, I felt like a weight was being lifted off me. I began to feel myself relaxing for the first time in I don’t remember how long. For the first time in ages, I was content just to sit and do nothing.
The best part of the trip, for me, was seeing how much fun Annie was having. As a 35kg German Shepherd, there aren’t too many places we can let her run wild and free. But along the deserted coast lines we were able to do exactly that. It was amazing to see her come to life and embrace her new found freedom. It made me realise that I am not entirely unlike her. I spend all my time restrained and restricted. Adhering to schedules and rules. Just like my puppy, I am beginning to understand that I too need time to be wild and free.
Coming back to reality this week, I have made myself a few promises. Firstly, I have vowed to never go that long without a break again. I have also promised to be more aware of the signs of overload and to take steps to avoid ending up feeling the way I have recently felt. I am committed to exploring more of this beautiful country of ours and to take advantage of the wildernesses on our doorstep.
The trip away has proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered. In the isolation, I was able to find my way back to myself. I love being around people and would consider myself very social. I had forgotten just how important time spent alone and quiet can be. I didn’t even miss my make-up. Be well xxx