Last night we went for a lovely walk along a canal that's ten minutes down the road from us. I had a to do list that was as long as my arm but we were all in desperate need of some quality time in the great outdoors. It was Family Night anyway, so we decided for our activity, that we would get out and play. This particular canal is one I used to walk along with my parents and sisters a lot as a child. I loved watching the narrowboats go by, listening to the music of the birds in the trees that canopied the canal, and making wishes as I blew the seeds from dandelions. Good times.
Anyway, as this is a walk I'd done many times before, I should have known which direction to lead us in, to get to a group of picnic benches, so we could have our treat (Flapjacks made by Dinoboy). However, I have a catastrophically bad sense of direction, so I took us in the opposite direction and we walked for quite a while before I realised my mistake. Whilst walking, we saw a mother duck with her three little ducklings, a wild rabbit (or hare, we're not 100% sure because it was really big), and an really impressive heron, that we even managed to capture a video of in flight. Nature seemed to be putting on a show for us; it was amazing. In addition to the wonders of nature, we were able to see loads of narrowboats and say hello to some of their occupants; we all picked our favourites (narrowboats not occupants).
(Sorry the image quality is rubbish, forgot my 'proper' camera.)
The kids complained a little that they were tired and hungry, so eventually we turned around to walk in the right direction. On my way back Dinoboy said, "Mammy if this is not the right way now, it'll be your fault" (don't you love the diplomacy of kids). I was quick to ask if he had enjoyed seeing the duck, rabbit, and heron, to which he of course replied that he had. Then I reminded him that, had I taken us the right way, we wouldn't have seen those wonderful animals and he agreed that it had been worth the unintended detour (All you imperfect Mums out there, that's how you cover up a mistake. Lol!).
This experience and the teaching moment I had with Dinoboy, really came to my aid this morning, as I felt completely overwhelmed by anxiety. This past week, Stephen has been informed that he has to resit one of his teacher training placements, which he will do in September. We both handled it so well initially as we felt that whatever God's plan for us was to be, we would be happy with it. We both feel a little bit different today though, some of which is probably exhaustion and feeling like it should be Saturday already! Not to trivialise the feelings we have, because we've both been looking forward to Stephen getting a teaching job in September and finally having some kind of financial security, not to mention Stephen doing a job that he both enjoys and is brilliant at (just needs to jumps through more hoops to get there).
I bet you can see now, why the canal walk experience is was brought to my attention. Very often in life, things do not go to plan. We are on this journey and sometimes, we end up on a path that we didn't expect or want but the lessons we learn because things didn't go to plan, and the sometimes invisible beauty of this new route, blesses us in ways we couldn't even imagine and don't always end up realising.
When things don't go to plan, I often, as is quite normal for me, dwell on all the things that have gone wrong in my life or all the times what I've wanted to happen, hasn't happened, which as you can imagine is not super helpful for improving my mental state. I'm working on this and this time around, I'm trying to catch myself doing it and call it what it is... fear of losing control. "Oh, yes, I know you, you're the voice that likes to convince me that I need to have everything go the way I think is best or I can't cope." Being aware of these feelings and accepting what they are, is another of the tools I learnt from my therapist, who taught me ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).
Despite being super nervous that I had imagined the existence of a picnic area, we did eventually make it to the picnic benches, and exhausted and hungry, the flapjacks and juice went down really well. We played "What's your Favourite...?" which is game we've played for years and love because there's an underlying competition to see who can ask the funniest question or give the most random question.
Anyway, I should go now because that arm-length to do list that I mentioned at the beginning is still as long as it was yesterday. I probably should be doing laundry and not tapping away at the keyboard, but I had to share my little epiphany. Just another slice of my reality.