Last week I had the opportunity to head to Montana to a remote cabin in Paradise Valley to spend time with my family for my father’s birthday. Having not seen my parents in the longest span since I was born, plus the anxiety of the pandemic, words fall short to express how excited I was. In true fashion, my father, even if it wasn’t a pandemic, rented a spot with maximum nature access and minimal humans.
As an active family from Vermont, we were determined to cram as many activities and outside time as possible into the six days we were together. I was more ready than ever to reset, recharge, and forget about the world for a while, which was a huge privilege during these trying times.
Our days were filled with fly fishing the Yellowstone River right outside our cabin, hiking in nearby canyons, and watching animals in Yellowstone National Park. Honestly, this was the perfect social distancing trip.
I knew it would be great to get away, but I always try to hone in on what I take with me emotionally from an awesome trip that makes me feel good inside and go back to work more ready than ever to apply myself with a fresh brain and perspective.
Here are three little things that I thought of on my seven hour drive back to Salt Lake City, which made me smile and feel as though my cup overflows:
1. Peace: I thought about how lucky I was to be able to go fly fishing so often with my family on that trip. (I just want to preface this with how NOT good I am at fishing. I do everything right, practice my cast, and I’m still so incredibly bad at it.) Anyways, I know it may be cheesy to say, but fishing is such a genuine and reliable way to clear your head. People say that for a reason. People fish for that reason. Every single time, no matter how poorly my results are, I always feel really calm and grateful after. The fresh air, the quietness, the excitement, it’s the perfect combination to keep you present the entire time and that is something that is a rarity nowadays.
2. Fear: On my dad’s birthday, we headed out on a hike in hopes of seeing animals (from a safe distance) and taking in the epic views that Montana is famous for. Fifteen minutes into our hike, we passed a couple on the trail and asked them if they’d seen any animals yet. They said they did the entire six-mile trek seeing nothing. This felt like a gut punch because all I wanted for my dad was for us to see something crazy exciting so he would feel special and stoked on his birthday. We said bye to those people and headed from the fields into the woods and that’s when it happened. My dad hit us with his classic, “Who has a KIND bar? I’m hungry!” so the four of us stopped as he was grabbing a snack. All of a sudden my dad and I both caught movement in the corner of our eyes. Thirty feet away, down in a little ravine, was a grizzly bear. It was laying on its back like a human, with its legs straight out. I can’t express enough how much of a human it looked like laying like that… It was hilarious and terrifying at the same time. He was just adjusting during his nap and didn’t even see us. That moment is another one I am immensely grateful for. Nothing humbles you more than realizing how vulnerable humans are without guns when it comes to nature. I think humbling experiences make you a better person because, well, you’re pretty much put in your place.
3. Reflection: On our last day all together, my family went into the park and found a spot up on a hill to safely watch the hundreds of bison graze in Lamar Valley. We’d gone in the evening before sunset in hopes of seeing the wolves that had been reportedly hanging out in that area. Watching the massive herds of bison is such a beautiful feeling, I couldn’t help but get nostalgic for something I’d never lived through. I thought about how there used to be millions of these animals, how humans totally destroyed their population. How Native Americans know how to use all of the animal leaving no waste. I thought about how humans went to great lengths to save the bison population and how far it’s come. I realized that there are so many lessons to learn from things I wasn’t even alive during or a part of. Reflecting on mistakes, learning from them, watching humans act when it’s almost too late and succeed, it made me emotional. It’s necessary to reflect on these thoughts even if they aren’t your personal experience because it can open your brain up to new ideas and perspectives.
That trip was unbelievably beautiful, fun, and necessary. Family time always fills me up. Nature time always refreshes my brain and brings me back to earth. The perfect combination of both allows for me to have experiences that benefit my mind and soul and allow me to come back to work buzzing, more creative juices flowing, and ready to apply myself in more ways because I am HAPPY. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take time away to do things you love and recharge. You can’t work your hardest or best if you’re not feeling motivated, inspired, and energized.