I turned 45 last week.

I took the day off work to be alone.

Reflect and set new goals for myself, even though I woke up feeling anxious, as I always do on my birthday.

So, to combat the feeling of dread that was taking over my heart, I decided it was best to get outside, visit mother nature and go for a walk through the forest.

Fresh snow had fallen the night before and it had been mild the last few days.  I mustered up as much positive energy as I could and headed out.

The opening to the forest was inviting and the snowy path was well worn from previous visitors. I entered with the feeling I always get as I start my walk.

Thankful.

Thankful that I got off my butt and out of the house and into the woods.

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My walk started out with me having to navigate each step with care as the ground changed from snow, to mud, to gravel.

My heart rate was up and I could feel my cheeks were rosy.

With my endorphins at their peak and my mind full of ideas and creativity, I was jolted to reality when the ground came away from under my feet unexpectedly and without any notice I came crashing down.

The path before me had changed from soft snow to sheer ice.

Still in shock I found myself lying in a puddle of water, thorns embedded in my hands from grabbing onto a nearby bush to soften my fall.  By brain is frazzled and shaken from the impact, and I notice warmth between my legs as I guess the force of the fall made me pee my pants!!!

The joys of being 45 with a weak bladder!

I sat there for a few seconds to gather myself. Taking in my surroundings. All of a sudden feeling very alone and far away.  All my happy thoughts gone.  Realizing that I told no one where I was, and of course my mind went straight to me dying alone in the woods.

Shaking my head, I realized that the problem with falling, is you gotta get up.

And sometimes are easier than others.

For me, this time getting up was comical. Like your typical cartoon reel of any character you can think of trying to steady themselves on ice.  This would pretty much mirror how I looked.

This attempt at getting up did nothing but make me feel that 45 was old! And at this moment I was thankful that I was alone.

At this point in my journey through the forest I had a decision to make.  I either turn back or continue on, with the road ahead more difficult than the path behind.

I decided to keep going.

And just like the last time, without any notice my butt met the ground again.  This time the ground was harder and my butt cold and hurt.  I didn’t have anything to grab onto and I sat there with the cold ground coming through my pants.

But getting up was slightly easier.

Now I am walking with trepidation and the joy of the walk has completely evaporated.

With one foot in front of the other I know there isn’t much farther to go, but the forest decides to take me down one last time.

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This time as I sit there, I start to laugh.

How ridiculous!

Sitting alone on the forest floor.

The trees all around me.

I decide before I get up this time to really look at what was around me.

I normally don’t have this view of the forest.  I am never this close to the ground.

Silence.

Beauty.

Hard snow on my hands, no longer soft but now sharp and painful.

The smell of the pine needles.

Moss.

Dead leaves from last fall.

Fallen trees that didn’t survive the last wind storm.

The sound of something small running through the bushes.

Cold air filing my lungs.

And my beautiful dog, waiting patiently for me to get up.

 

I couldn’t help but think of this walk as a metaphor for my life. The world around me beautiful and brutal all at the same time.

As much as it offers, it takes away.

The path always changing, no matter how confident you are in the direction your going.

Often times when you least expect it, the rug gets pulled out from under you and you’re left scrambling to put the pieces of your life back together.

We will fall many times.  Sometimes harder than others.  But it’s how we get up that matters.

It’s how we chose to move forward that counts.

We MUST get up.  We MUST continue on.  We MUST never give up.

Sometimes after a fall it takes us longer to get up. That’s ok. Take a moment.  Catch your breath.  Look around and get a lay of the land. Make your plan.

But you must get up.

So, I do.

As my walk comes to an end and the woods open up, my heart is full again.

I take in the sunshine that was hiding from me while I was in the thick of the woods. Knowing that if I hadn’t gotten up, I would be missing the brilliant rays of sun that are now caressing my face. Shining its warmth over me. Confirming that out of darkness there will always be light.

So, on this birthday I tell myself that the day will continue, with or without me.

Enter each day with gratitude for the good and the bad.

And no matter what, always get up.

Every time.

The days are yours and whether it’s your birthday or not, each day is a gift.

We only have one life.

Rise up and live it.

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