Thoughts on a Weekend in the Woods

Tents at Project Woods

Like many Cape Codders, at the end of the summer I am absolutely exhausted after two intense months of work, play, and crazy traffic on our roads. This was why I decided to join Project Woods on their weekend 'Girls Gone Camping' retreat in the Catskills - to get away, check out, and bug off of work for 48 hours.

Getting outside is a necessity for my soul, my brain and my mental health. However, I am not what one would call "outdoorsy." I don't camp often. I'm not super into not washing my hair for a few days. I can build a fire, but don't know how to cook over one. And I am never dressed appropriately for "weather," and never have the right gear. I don't have a Patagonia; I have a trench coat. I don't have wool socks; I have novelty socks. I don't have warm sweatshirts, I have fashion sweatshirts. All that aside, my intention for the weekend was to step outside of my comfort zone, be surrounded by a different landscape, and hopefully gain some insight and perspective on what has been going on internally and externally with me these past few months, as well as some lessons I may have forgotten whilst in the frenetic summer energy. 

On being outside
Like I said, the outdoors are my soul food. And being outside in Andes, NY did not disappoint. The air was clear and crisp (I slept soooooo well). Seeing deer in the woods, hawks flying over head, and trees blowing in the wind filled me with childlike wonder that never ceases to bring me joy.

On moving my body
Yes, being outside is wonderful, but it was f%@#ing freezing on Saturday morning and I, of course, was dressed inappropriately. But I knew that moving my body would bring feeling back to my fingers and toes, so I very happily joined the foraging workshop that was offered, where we learned to make friends with the landscape and how to identify various plants that are indigenous to the area and good for animals and humans. Not only did I warm up but I learned what Yarrow looks like and that it can be used to make a poultice to put on flesh wounds, and we foraged for wild thyme and made a bath scrub out of it!

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On putting my phone on Airplane Mode
There wasn't a signal where we were staying anyway, but making the choice to put my phone on airplane mode felt really good. I didn't check social media for a whole 24 hours!! I do have to say, when I got a signal on the way home, it wasn't work or the people I love that brought back the stress. It was what is going on in this country and the world, from political strife to natural disasters. 

On self care
So, obviously the state of the world is stressing me out, but I know that through various forms of self care I can manage that stress much better in order to stay healthy mentally and physically. On the retreat we learned meditative breathing, acupressure techniques, as well as practiced a little bit of yoga. And thanks to Nicole Cormier and Delicious Living Nutrition, we ate exceptionally well, which is absolutely essential to keeping stress at bay. Whole, real, organic, and local foods with just the right balance of protein and fiber for every meal, all of it cooked on an open fire and with lots of love. 

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On being deliberate
When you're camping, most things we take for granted in our daily lives like brushing our teeth, going to the bathroom, making our bed, making coffee, and even getting dressed takes more time and effort. It was nice to live deliberately (as Thoreau would say) for at least a couple of days, because it made me more present, and more grateful for the ease that these simple daily tasks usually have for me.

Catskills Andes, NY

I have great hope that these takeaways from the weekend with Project Woods will stick with me, and I will be able to experience as much joy, movement, quiet, self care and gratitude I experienced in the woods last weekend.


Amanda Converse Headshot.jpg

Amanda Converse is co-editor of Ebb & Flow Cape Cod, Editor & Publisher of The Current Quarterly, co-founder of LoveLiveLocal, and owner of Shift Eco Boutique