Anxiety Is A Woodland Creature

I have been a runner for over twenty years and in that time, I have experienced and been witness to, some amazing things. I’ve seen shooting stars and full moons, countless sunrises and a few sunsets. I’ve run through freshly fallen snow, freezing temperatures and a few ice storms (yeah that wasn’t as fun).

When I wake up way before dawn and put on my running shoes, I never know what I might see or experience. Most of the time there is nothing worth mentioning. But every once in a while, something pops up when I least expect it. When that happens, I’m always glad I got out as it is often the highlight of my day. Over the years I have spotted (in no particular order) coyotes, deer, snakes, foxes, cranes, herons, pheasant, ducks, geese, turkeys, muskrats and lots of rabbits, squirrels, turtles and toads.

This past week I was running down my usual route at 6 am, minding my own business. It was very dark and I had my headlamp on bright. I was running on a path near a pond when I saw a rustle of grass next to me. Because I scare off so many rabbits I didn’t give it much notice. 

Until an animal lumbered out of the grass, directly in front of me. My brain tried to adjust as I screeched to a halt, “What is it? A raccoon? A skunk?” 

Nope.

It was a beaver.

My screams woke people for miles as I narrowly avoided stepping on it’s flat tail as it lumbered across my path, unimpressed.

Never, in my wildest dreams did I EVER think a beaver (A BEAVER) would walk out in front of me.

Not the actual beaver that I saw

THIS is a metaphor for COVID-19 (and my anxiety).

Let me be clear, in this case nothing bad happened. But it was so outside the realm of possibilities and the reaches of my imagination. In fact, I spent the next few days playing a guessing game with every person I talked to, “Guess what I saw on my run? You’ll NEVER guess.” And they never could because, it was a beaver! It’s also possible that because of the pandemic, my life is so devoid of excitement that I found extra entertainment from this encounter.

In my life I have worried about many things. I worry about things that have happened in the past and I worry more about what might happen in the future. Most of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. How many hours of my life have been spent worrying about something that never, ever, EVER happens?

What gives me a lot of comfort (especially these days) is this:

You can worry about what might happen but chances are, it never will. Instead, something else will happen (because it always does). 

Okay, I realize that doesn’t sound entirely comforting but I can’t be entirely comforting because we all know from our own experiences that weird and terrible things DO happen. And the things that happen are often outside of our control or our imagination.

Which is why we worry, because we would prefer to be in control and plan ahead (or is that just me?). Right now, we are being confronted daily (hourly) by the cold reality that we are most definitely NOT in control.

My anxious brain can spin out countless scenarios that might happen to me, my family, my friends, and this country. Just when we think 2020 couldn’t get any more weird, terrible, frightening, (I don’t know, fill in more adjectives here), it DOES! AND, we can control very little about it. Terrifying!

This pandemic is a woodland creature unexpectedly walking across our path. Although with this metaphor I suppose the woodland creature should have barbed wire on it’s tail and laser eyes or something. 

But, BUT, I am going to continue to practice how I respond. I’m going to continue to find joy in life when I can, rest when I can, and practice the self care that I need when I can. I’m going to entertain myself for DAYS over weird encounters with woodland creatures, because that’s all I can do.

Also, I will choose joy in what has become our new normal (and other days, I’ll be kind to myself when I don’t feel joy and I hate everyone) because that’s all we can do.

Why yes, I did buy booze at the apple orchard.
Covid puppy, because, why not?

Hang in there friends, and watch out for beavers!

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Julie Jensen is a mom of five boys and one girl. She is a runner, biker, yoga instructor and socializer. That about sums it up. Believe it or not, she really does enjoy the soccer, cross country, swim team, track, dance classes, basketball, and theater her kids are involved in as long as she has another mom (or dad) to talk to during these events. Julie is starting a new adventure going back to school to get her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Edgewood College. You can follow her on Instagram at @out_numbered_mama6

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