“Nature Trail,” the sign read. I turned my car around to go find this nature trail. I was on my way home from running errands and time in nature sounded like just what I needed. I found myself at the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, which has miles of hiking trails. I was not wearing hiking clothes, as this was an impromptu trip into nature, but I had on a comfortable dress and decent boots, so I decided to go ahead and explore a bit. I drove to the end of the road and found a beautiful old mill, the stones supported by steel beams to keep the whole thing from falling down.
I explored the mill, listening to the sounds of birds and the nearby stream, taking in the scents all around me and, of course, taking yoga photos.
After spending uncounted peaceful minutes in the mill, I followed the sound of the creek and found a little path leading down towards it. The path ended at a wall of rock that was the only thing between me and the creek. A little voice in my head said, “Don’t do it, Angie. You’re alone, you’re not wearing climbing shoes. What if you fall?” Sometimes that little voice is right, but most of the time, it’s only holding you back from your full potential. I always enjoy a good bouldering challenge, so I scrambled my way up the rock and over the other side, finding my own private swimming hole calling my name.
The little voice piped up again, “You don’t have a towel, what if there are snakes in the water, what if it’s slippery or too deep? You’re all alone.” I grew up in the country, in the mountains, right next to a creek, so I know how to be smart and safe in this environment and I knew that little voice wasn’t coming from a logical place. So I waded into the water, relishing my solitude and the gentle, refreshing current of the creek.
And everything was okay. I was okay. I didn’t slip. I didn’t drown. I didn’t fall off the rocks. I had a magical time by myself, reconnecting with nature and my goddess within. That little voice inside me didn’t want that to happen. That’s the voice that pushes us to always choose the “safe” option, to follow not our hearts, but what others and society expect of us. That voice tells us to be “good.” Especially as women, we’re taught from a young age to be cautious, polite and cooperative. That’s what good girls do. I’m here to tell you that choosing the “safe” option strangles your soul. Letting yourself, your “bad” self come out to play is one of the best things you can do for your body, mind and spirit. Maybe you’re not ready to quit your job, pack up and move to a tropical island. That’s okay. But everyday, try doing something that scares you, that makes that little voice pipe up, but instead of listening to that anxious voice, take a deep breath and listen to your heart. Go on a hike somewhere new. Take that turn down a back road you’ve never explored. I promise you’ll be rewarded with a happy heart and a satisfied soul.