Leaning into the change and learning to breathe once more


Natalie Mix

Kat and I on the trail with our trail snacks

We were fashionably late for our own endeavors. 

A line spewed from the passenger seat of Natalie’s replacement car—a blue Chevy that has been dubbed Marina—by Katarina who shared in my hesitation when the idea for a hike was first spawned; yet, we somehow both found ourselves with red noses and shivering fingers.

But first, we stopped for trail snacks.

The gas station lights were dingy at best, yet the luminescent lighting was the perfect brightness for our sleep-deprived eyes as we searched for pistachios and teas with screw on caps for the trail we were going to conquer. 

We aimed to reach the trail at 3:30 p.m., yet after my haphazard navigational skills and far too long deciding on snacks, we arrived closer to 4 p.m., and the temperature had dropped from a questionable 40 degrees to a disagreeable 37, causing Kat and I to zip up our coats and follow Natalie, walking boot and all, through Seidman Park. Embarking on our first official “Self-Care Sunday” this past Monday because no one makes the rules but us once we walk far enough into the woods.

Immediately, the holes in the bottom of my Converses began soaking up the snow as it melted, causing my socks to remain soaked for the rest of the day. 

Regardless of the fact that no one has seen mountain lions in Seidman Park, we were terrified that we were going to have to interact with one, turn around on the icy path, and run. We jumped as high as one would for a mountain lion though when a woman and her dog seemingly appeared out of thin air.

I finished our amateur hike cold, miserable, and happier than I’ve been in a while.

Thankful for friends of friends that’ve become trusted companions, cats named after Mario Kart characters, and the stillness that fills every person that walks those frozen trails.

Natalie looking for a tea to enjoy in the woods (Emma Zawacki)

Because for the first time in a while, I didn’t feel like my lungs were being crushed, didn’t feel like I was sinking, watching all of my friends swim above me while I sank lower and lower into the ocean.

I instead felt like the trees around me: steady. Solid in their decisions, flourishing with the cards they were dealt, the dirt they were allowed to inhabit. 

Winter is for clean slates, wiping the tally board of all past misdemeanors, preparing for the new birth of spring, the new buds that’ll bloom. 

Trail snacks are for half-walking, half-laughing hikes through silence on the first okay day we’ve seemingly had in a while. True, irreplaceable silence, the only feelings registering were my wet feet and my stomach that hurt from giggles and my rosy cheeks that were a gift from Mother Nature. 

Self-Care Sundays are for preparation. For soaking up the old and soaking up the new. For wisdom passed down in the form of metaphors as if they were family heirlooms in a family of nymphs. They’re for celebrating the good and indulging the bad before releasing the tension in my shoulders. For drinking my comfort tea and giggling as I prepare to face the next week.