into the woods

With rare exception, the 23rd of May has generally found me away on vacation. I could probably count on one hand, with fingers to spare, the number of times I’ve been at home on this date in the past 28 years.

My anniversary. An event we decided 27 years ago to continue to recognize as “us time”, regardless of what else was happening in our lives.

For the first 25 years, our trips generally found us on an exotic beach, sipping tasty frozen concoctions, and doing a whole lot of nothing. Occasionally we would mix things up, seeking something a bit more culturally stimulating, with trips to various European locales.

2 years ago, having made a commitment to leading a healthier and more active life, I started to plan vacations around the physical adventures my body had grown to crave.

Anniversary #26 involved climbing the 2nd highest mountain in Southern California, Mt. San Jacinto.

Having to one-up myself, #27 last year saw us hiking The Bright Angel Trail. You all remember that one, don’t you? We hiked from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, down to the Colorado River and back. And my profanity-drenched YouTube video captured the event in all it’s painful glory.

May 23, 2015 loomed ahead of me in flashing neon: IT’S YOUR ANNIVERSARY! YOU NEED TO PLAN SOMETHING! YOU NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE!

In a perfect world, absolutely, giddy up. I’d be all over it. I already had a list of 10 places, with challenging hikes, fully planned.

But sometimes the universe has other ideas.

I spent much of the month of April in a cage match with my killer gallbladder. Work took the brunt of that battle. Could I have taken vacation? Yes. Would I have felt good about it? Nope.

So, May 23rd rolled around, and I found myself at home.

I felt a twinge of sadness that I couldn’t do something grand that day. Pouting seemed a shitty way to spend my anniversary, so I laced up my hiking shoes and took my husband of 28 years to the forest.

Turns out, life is pretty grand, after all.

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from. ~ Seth Godin


The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. ~John Muir


I’m always astonished by a forest. It makes me realise that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn. ~Gunter Grass
But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. ~Alan Watts
A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love. `Max Muller
Sometimes you can see the forest for the trees.
Keep moving.
xoxo nancy

63 thoughts on “into the woods

  1. Sometimes a walk in the forest is the perfect getaway to a place of magic. It sounds like this one was one of those times. You changed your tradition that first time you went on a hiking adventure. This was just a variation on that theme 🙂
    Congratulations and best wishes ❤

    • Thank you kindly, Joanne. I was very impressed with the Long Sault Conservation Area (my first time). 18 kms of trails – and it’s virtually all under this thick canopy of foliage! Beautiful!

      • I’m glad you were able to appreciate its beauty. Long Sault is on the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail and we hiked it last fall. My reaction was ‘meh’. I think I’m still stuck on the Bruce Trail and I keep comparing everything to the Bruce. Mistake! Mistake! Mistake! I hope I’ll eventually snap out of it.

  2. Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from. ~ Seth Godin

    Yes! Great quote. Here’s to embracing the beauty in our own backyard so we no longer need to “get away” in order to have fun in the sun (or shade).

    Happy Anniversary! Looks like you found a magical place to celebrate!

    • I’ve seen Seth present in person a number of times. He really is a fire cracker – and a brilliant marketing mind. Have loved this quote since I saw it shared on Facebook a couple of years ago. It resonated deeply, which is how I knew I was on the right track to leading the life I wanted to live!

      This place was truly magical, NH. I kept expecting fairies to come flitting around. 🙂

  3. Sometimes a stay-cation is the best and that walk in the forest looks perfect. Happy Anniversary and I’m sure next year you’ll have something epic planned. Although I’m not sure you could top that Grand Canyon venture 🙂

    • Rim to rim (North rim to river then back up to South Rim) was on the books for sometime this year, but now that we’re into June, it’ll have to wait until October. I learned my lesson doing it at the end of May last year. You really do put your life in the hands of the Canyon taking on an 18 mile hike in those hot temps. 🙂

      I’m trying to work some magic in my work calendar so that I can get a couple of weeks in Vegas this month. If so, I’d like to do a side trip to SoCal to take on Mt. San Gorgonio (the only peak taller than San Jacinto). That one will be a killer. Not sure I’m ready for it, given my largely inactive April. 🙂

      • Rim to rim? Yep, October sounds like a much better time of year for that. And then there’s always Colorado in the summer with 14er’s to tackle. Long’s Peak anybody? That’ll kick your a*s…. hehe!

      • I keep meaning to get back to CO in the summer, but with the nice weather here at home in the summer months, and such a short pool season, we try to spend as much time in Toronto as possible between Jul-Aug. One of these days I’ll plan a girls trip there to visit the Russian Princess again rather than making it a whole family trip thing.

    • It turned out to be a pretty fabulous day, Bev. The hike in that magical forest followed by a lovely dinner at a French restaurant nearby. No complaints!

  4. That note about building a life you don’t need a vacation from is one that is frequently repeated in my head! I’m learning to let go of useless and repetitious thoughts, but that one I find very, very helpful! It’s a good reminder for me that the life I have is one I make, and to make the best of it!
    I’m so glad that you guys stayed home and you found pleasure in your own back yard… so to speak! 🙂 Happy Anniversary!

    • Thanks Kate! I first saw that quote on FB around 18 months ago, and I totally clocked it and tried to burn it into my memory.

      After reading it that first time, I thought back to my early 20s and into my late 30s; how my vacations increased in # of times per year in accordance to the more money I made (and the more stress I had). At one point I was on the “quarterly” program: i.e. I was at an all-inclusive beach resort vacation once every 3 months! Craziness.

      How about living a life that you don’t have to escape from with a million vacations??!?

      This quote helps me realize I’m so on the right path these days. xoxo

  5. Hi Nancy! Happy Anniversary! For some reason I didn’t realize that your anniversary was the same day as my birthday! Definitely a connection. And i absolutely LOVE all the quotes you’ve included. And while I do love to travel, those quotes prove that we don’t have to go far to experience something amazing and meaningful. You’ve certainly had an “interesting” spring so your experience this year was likely the very best adventure you could have. ~Kathy

    • Definitely would have been questionable to have tackled a mountain, Kathy. 🙂

      I think I remember your bday and my anniversary being the same day, now that you mention it! I think we discovered this last year or the year before!

  6. How nice you were able to find a way to make your day special while sticking close to home. I bet it will be an anniversary you’ll remember forever because of it. And I love that Seth Godin quote.

    Happy Anniversary!

  7. Lovely post, sister. I especially love the Godin and Watts quotes. Actually, I’ve been trying to act on the former’s advice for some time now. Peace, John

    • Thanks John. I feel like, finally, I am seeing progress on the happiness/contentedness front because I generally feel like I’m living that quote (most of the time).

      p.s. Glad you landed on this one, because my last one was a wee bit of a rant. 🙂

  8. Oh, Nancy, I’d like to gobble up all these quotes and pictures, and burp a big thank you. They’re gorgeous! Boy, those forest floors are my kinds of places and the sage speakers are my kind of people. It all resonated so personally for me.
    Congratulations on making 28 years together! Wow. You obviously both picked really well. And I’m so glad you were able to make something so sweet of a potentially sour situation.
    I wish you both many, many more years of happiness together.

  9. Wow your local forest is breathtaking! I like that quote about living somewhere you don’t need to escape from . Eric and I live in a really beautiful part of our country and if you walk down the street you feel like you are in a holiday destination. It is all palms and beachy feeling. Eric travels way less now and he says why would he when he lives in one of the best places in the world? I do agree with him however we also have the luxury of saying that because, like you, have traveled a lot. It’s all about balance. Glad you found the beauty in your own back yard. xx

    • I think Seth’s quote was less related to where you physically live and more related to a state of contentedness. If you’re living a happy and contented life, you don’t need to feverishly plan the next escape.

      I was bitten by the wanderlust gene early in life, so I’ll never stop wanting to see new places. The difference for me now is that I’m [generally] happy wherever I am – not only when I’m escaping/out on vacation. That’s a huge win for me! xoxo

    • Thanks Maggie! I thought it was a beautiful area – and relatively close to my new home in Whitby. Might be a wee bit of a trek for you though! (Then again, you’re on/near the Bruce Trail, so I won’t be feeling too sorry for you!)

    • Aw, thanks Lynne! I’m so glad I’ve grown to the point that I truly felt I had a beautiful and special day, despite not having jetted away somewhere. Progress!

  10. I find the woods more peaceful than the beach. My house is surrounded by woods, and in the spring the trees create a natural green wall of privacy. I agree with the quote in your post, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” ~ Seth Godin

  11. Love that first quote – it’s how I feel about Berlin 🙂 Glad you’re feeling better and sorry I haven’t been around for a while! I’ll be better in future 🙂 And I remember that video very fondly!

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