There’s a Swedish expression that refers to a place you go to get away from it all. It’s your “wild strawberry place,” where you feel content, safe, and at peace. Once when I was visiting my brother, who lives in Southern Sweden, we visited his wild strawberry place while cycling along a wooded trail near the Baltic Sea. After parking our bikes, Dick and I followed a lesser-used path to a meadow where colorful wild flowers and knee-deep golden grasses waved gently in the wind. It was a sunny, blue-sky day, and we lay down in the warm grass and watched the clouds float by.
Here in Tidewater my wild-strawberry place is a trail in First Landing State Park that winds by Crystal Lake. I love the tranquility of the tall pines, the sparkling water, and the smell of the maritime forest. For some reason it always feels warm there—even in the winter when the north wind blows. In this special place, surrounded by nature, I am sheltered from the wind and at peace.
Besides physical locations, the concept of a wild-strawberry place can also apply to activities we engage in. Some people call it being in “the zone.” It’s when you are so absorbed by what you’re doing that you don’t think about anything else. You’re completely focused and in the moment. What kinds of things put you in the zone?
Many women practice yoga as a way to be mindful. I do, too, but sometimes I have trouble shutting down my monkey mind—the incessant chatter that swirls around in my brain. When I try to do harder poses, I’m more focused—mainly because I’m trying not to lose my balance. At those times, the monkey mind is quiet, and I’m completely in the moment.
This fall I’m taking riding lessons at Triple R, and it’s a blast. Being on the back of a horse is my wild-strawberry activity. I am 100 percent present, trying to communicate with the horse and, of course, stay upright. My instructor says I’m too stiff, so my goal is to relax, feel the rhythm of the horse’s gait, and become one with the horse. Sounds Zen-like and trust me, it is. I’m not very good at it, but I love how absorbed I become as I strive to reach my goal.
What are your wild-strawberry activities? For some it’s fitness. For others it might be cooking, reading, or crafting. Each of these activities takes us away from the day-to-day and offers a mini-escape from the challenges of modern life. Leaving our cares behind and focusing on a creative or physical activity is good for our mental health. Hobbies like these activate different areas of our brain, releasing stress in the process.
As the holiday season commences, make sure you fit in “me” time to enjoy some of your favorite activities and places. Being relaxed and peaceful is the best antidote to holiday madness. In addition, the serenity you feel affects those around you. If we all spend more time in our wild-strawberry places, think of the ripple effect that our peaceful attitudes will have in our homes, at work, and even among strangers.
I hope you and your families have a peaceful, wonderful Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to count your blessings.