So since my last surgery I’ve been itching to get out and get back in shape and get out with the dogs more. The past few months have been rough, since several of the kids, the husband and myself have all gotten sick. Repeatedly. With the little one in school now, she is bringing home some type of ick every other week. School is out for everyone but the little one (they run a summer program at her school), and she loves her school, so it works out well since she and my ten year old drive me batshit crazy when they are together. Too much kid noise. Ugh. I plan on signing up the 10 year old for summer camp as well as swim lessons and the oldest is at his father’s for the summer, so in addition to shuttling everyone around and running normal errands, I am hoping to have time to get out with the dogs and get everyone–including myself–into shape.
I started a local hiking group on facebook called Central Florida Hiking With Dogs Meetup Group. The idea is to get together a few times a month in the Central Florida area for hikes with our dogs, and then to do one trip a year a bit further away with different scenery. The Fiery Gizzard Trail in Tennessee was recommended to me by members of another hiking group and it looks like a great place. There is no doubt that myself as well as my dogs would need special prep for this type of adventure.
I haven’t camped since I was a kid. Florida is so sticky and hot and full of mosquitos, the idea of voluntarily camping out in it certain times of the year is just gross to me. But when it’s nice and cool out, I can’t get enough of the outdoors. It is my hope to go on this excursion when temps are decent; perhaps in the 70’s during the day. The terrain is rocky, so the dogs’ pads will need a bit of toughening up and I’ll need to buy some better hiking booties for them, as well as other equipment such as better packs and bear bells. I’ve begun a list of items I’ll need to gather over the next several months, along with skills I’ll need to acquire as well.
I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I have to try and make things happen that I want to happen, instead of sitting back and expecting that a better time will one day arrive. If there’s one thing I have learned for certain, there is rarely a better time. You have to just do things. Mentally I have been in a rough place for quite a while. The decision to be a stay-at-home mother was one I made of my own free will, and I do still believe that there is no more important job, but it still doesn’t change the fact that when I was younger I had so many dreams that I just kind of pushed aside or forgot about because I felt my kids or my husband deserved everything I had to give, and whatever I needed personally was not as important. As a woman over 40, I now know this is the fastest way to lose sight of yourself and end up with a spirit so squashed you barely know who you are. You cannot keep giving and giving of yourself–mind, body and soul–and not put anything into yourself. I feel that my children deserve me as a happy mother, not just a tired, cranky, always-dreaming-but-never-doing mother. It is common for us as mothers to put everything we want or need aside, to neglect ourselves to the point where we are so depressed and so full of self-loathing and longing for that adventurous girl of our youth, that we are unrecognizable to ourselves when we look in the mirror.
As with everything in life, there must be balance, but I want my children to know that just because you choose to be a parent, you don’t cease being a person. I haven’t felt like myself in a very long time. I have just begun to reclaim things about myself and to seek new adventures; to try and get those things accomplished that I’ve always wanted to accomplish. And above all, to stop apologizing. To stop apologizing for the laundry not being done, for the dishes in the sink, for wanting to pursue my love of dog breeding, for it not being a pursuit of money, for not remembering something someone was supposed to bring to school, for not being the 110 pound woman I was before my first child or even the 125 pound woman I was after my second child. I have tried for the past 16 1/2 years to be all things to all people and I just can’t do it anymore. I think it is a combination of my age and the abnormal mammogram and resulting mastectomy and two years of reconstructive surgeries that have made me want to get out and enjoy life before I am too old to do it or something happens and my number is up. You just never know.
I have also realized that the time will be coming very soon that my oldest son will be leaving home. He likes outdoorsy things, and my relationship with him has been strained as of late. He has expressed interest in doing the Tennessee hike, and I think it would be good to try and re-connect with him before he goes out into the world. I have not yet decided whether or not to take the ten year old. He is not outdoorsy at all and–bless him–he is so whiny on hikes all I can think about is calling someone to get him. He has, however, expressed an interest in going camping. I feel I need to run with this. Obviously I want my kids to have an appreciation for nature, so I will keep trying with this kid.
I’ve started a list of things I will need, including skills (thank goodness I know some camping experts!), and I am looking forward to preparing both myself and the dogs for this excursion into the mountains. I haven’t decided which dogs I will take, since I obviously can’t take them all. I know I will take Rama, as she is always bursting at the seams to run and move and she loves water. She will love the streams and waterfalls. If she is not showing toward her Grand Championship, I would probably take Sassy, too. They are both older, love getting out and about and their hips and joints are all solid. They are also very reliable.
It is my plan to hammock camp. I would love to hear from any of our readers who have done this. All tips and suggestions are welcome. I have done a lot of reading, watched videos, etc, but first-hand accounts are always good. You can never get too much information. I will post soon on the equipment I am eyeballing. I’d love to hear if anyone has tried any of them and what they thought. I would especially love to hear from folks who have done this trail with their dogs and what their experiences were.