Walking away that inside out feeling

Sometimes you just find yourself feeling a bit inside out, like a cat with its fur stroked the wrong way, a grumpy toddler, an awkward old lady.  At the end of today I felt peopled out.  A few days with primary responsibility for my father in law and my grandson, love them both dearly though I do, coupled with the expectation of a further week full of friends and family coming and going, suddenly made me feel crowded in upon and oppressed.

This always puzzles me.  When I have done the tests that corporate life throws at you on odd occasions such as  the Myers Briggs which looks at various aspects of your personality, I always come out as an extrovert.  And it is true that I love people and today had a great lunch with some very good friends we had not seen in ages and loved the chat and was energised and delighted by their company.  And yet, as tonight, I can quite suddenly feel the wind change. The demands of other people seem too much.  The compromises which life requires suddenly make me want to scream.  The sense of eating food that suits other people, moving at a pace which is not my own - as slowly as my father in law, as relentlessly five-year-old-fast as my grandson - accommodating things in my house I do not want, being patient, being kind, being stretched by all the things I want to do for all the parts of my family who are not right here, right now, makes me feel pulled tight as a guitar string.  I need to go away or I will burst or break. 

So we went for a walk, the normal walk, along the track, up the hill, towards the ridge, shining in the sunlight on a still spring evening.


There are calves up in the field by the track.


As we approach they all turn their heads to look at us.  They are so delicate, so beautiful.  Adult cows are big beasts, lumbering, huge.  Calves are oddly fragile, more like deer somehow.


Up at the top of the hill, a lamb is playing hide and seek behind a tree.  The whole act of walking and looking is calming -  one foot in front of another, the road rising, the bluebells in bloom in the verge, across the field the lambs having their mad half hour, racing around and careering back to their mothers.


Back home, the fur beginning to lie flat, I wander the garden, closing up the greenhouse, watering pots, inspecting the sweetpeas which have struggled in the heat.  Today I dug watering ducts into the soil by the sweetpeas, toilet roll insides for most of them, 3 inch pots when I ran out of toilet rolls.  Ian had watered them in.  I watered all the big pots and some wildflower plugs I bought today.  I looked at all the plants I have been moving down to the native tree walk, some happy, some clearly short of water, and lugged watering can after watering can down the field to those plants that needed them.

It started to get dark but I didn't want to go in.  The apple blossom glowed in the dusk and I realised I had  my camera in my pocket.


The cat arrived, wondering what was going on.


And decided to make its contribution.


Before retiring


So I shall take Anna Pavord's The Constant Gardener to bed and all will be well.

Comments

  1. Thank you, thank you for this post! My fur is on end in every direction as I prepare for our move to Korea (house, children, job, all on my own, as husband is already in Seoul.) I came home to this post, and wished I could have taken the same walk. Calves and lambs and green and apple blossoms and cats sound infinitely preferable to laundry and teenagers and dinner and cleaning...

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  2. Those beautiful walks!
    Where would we be without them?
    Thanks, your post reminds us of the need to take a little time out
    Chris

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  3. The meditation tradition I belong to encourages walking meditation and for me, there are few better ways to get out of my head than to stroll about feeling my feet, enjoying what I see. Especially this time of year, when everything is at its sweetest, most charming, its loveliest best. Even my son noticed how much richer the colors are on a damp spring morning after the sun comes out. I crave a long quiet walk in the hills with a big sky overhead like you have Elizabeth. But in the meantime, coming home from taking Rowan to school and admiring my neighbors gardens, will have to suffice.

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  4. What a beautiful post, Elizabeth. I was there with you the whole way, especially on your evening walk. How meditative it was. You have a busy life. It's no wonder you get stretched thin sometimes. It's good that you know how to restore yourself and equally good that you take us along when you do.

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  5. At least you have the wisdom to know how to handle these feelings! Great post and a comfort to those of us experiencing these same familar feelings!

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  6. When I was looking after my father, before he died, I used to feel exactly like that; almost screaming! The only thing that helped was his staying in the local cottage hospital for two weeks (he had both legs removed), whilst I went on holiday and revitalised. Time away is essential!

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  7. wow..gorgeous place. These pictures are really beautiful. That cute lamp behind the tree is looking awesome.. that cats in the tree is so cute.. pink flowers are nice to see. Thais is great blog. Thanks for this.

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  8. walking always helps, sadly my feet dont like me at the moment so I am restricted, and a bit bad tempered!

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  9. My Meyers-Briggs profile was a dual one - sociable and co-operative at work, solitary and quiet at home. The home-based profile has become the dominant one now that I've retired, and I can so understand how you were feeling.

    Isn't walking just the best therapy??

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  10. I get that feeling too. I look forward to lots of people coming and then when they are gone I feel quite overwhelmed by it all and wish to be alone - I agree that a good walk usually gets things back in proportion.

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  11. A wonderfully eloquent description of a phenomena I am all to familiar with myself - and the cure. For me it is pottering in the greenhouse or walking up to the allotment and dinking around. Then I can climb back in to my life again feeling a little more gracious. Glad you had your camera in your pocket - lovely to see the blossom in the soft evening light.

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  12. For the first time in six months I am home to stay. I feel like I've been let out of prison.Though I loved it and wouldn't have changed it for anything, my time is done and it's a relief.I'm able to say these things because I know no one will read this that I know. Some days with a grumpy three yr. old and one yr. old I wanted to shot myself!! So, I'm there with you, we just have to make time for ourselves. Like your lovely walk, and by the way I NEVER tire of looking at your beautiful view. take care.

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  13. I get like that and seem to be like it all the time at the moment - just plain grumpy and intolerant!! Maybe I need to take myself for a walk.

    I really enjoyed the Constant Gardnener - like the way Anna Pavord writes

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  14. Fur on end, feathers ruffled...I also call it feeling "prickly". I was just reading the line earlier today in Enchanted April when Caroline Dester thinks "...unless she checked them they would soon begin to press upon her, and then good-bye to her dream of thirty restful, silent days, lying unmolested in the sun, getting her feathers smooth again, not being spoken to..." I often wish we had a "prospect" like you do, something about the wide view is especially calming, but we are grateful for some fields and woods and the big sky above.

    My mom can't be left alone in the house, so I easily slip into feeling confined and her slow pace and the need, as you say, to be so kind and patient so much of the time is draining. I always come out as an introvert on those tests and it is right on for me...more than one social occasion a week and I am feeling put upon. It's all so interesting and I am finding it is quite an art to get the balance a good one-for everyone.

    Thank you for expressing it all.

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  15. Caroline - so sorry to hear you have quite so much on your plate! Sounds fearsome. I have loads of apple blossom so will send some your way.
    Chris - funny how difficult it is to take time out. Because I want to spend time in my garden it can be hard to realise that it is time to walk away for an hour or two although sometimes that it by far the best thing.

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  16. Frith - I love the idea of walking meditation. A couple of years ago when I walked the Offa's Dyke long distance path which runs the length of Wales, I did a lot of training walking by myself and came to love it. Why have I stopped do you say? Not quite sure. Maybe I will start again.

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  17. I am so pleased that you were able to walk, and water, away the ruffled fur and find some peace and contentment. Sometimes, having people around all of the time can become such a pressure. It's good to have a way to regain the balance, so that you can once again enjoy the company.

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  18. As usual I so enjoyed your post and walk around your garden. Right now a walk around your area would be a wonderful relief. Perhaps one day I will get back to my roots.

    For now my time is taken with looking after my husband. The Alzheimer's is at present a constant slow progression - small things I notice that he was perhaps able to do a day or week or month ago that he is no longer able to manage.

    We get there but time out is most important, especially time in the garden.

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  19. Hi Elizabeth, like other commentators, am so struck with your description of that feeling - inside out, a cat fur rubbed the wrong way. Reassuring to know others have it and your lovely walk in the Welsh hills would cure me too but usually make do with a London park or a spot of gardening. Anything physical helps counter that unaccountable prickly feeling.
    Laura

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  20. Oh, I do know what you mean by that inside out feeling. Absolutely breathtaking photographs – I love that one of the lamb peeping out from behind the tree. Hope you manage to find a bit of time out to recharge.

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  21. You have described so well why walking is the best medicine. I must read that Anna Pavord book soon, if I can wedge it in. Also will try to find what the Prof had to say about time. I'm very preoccupied with the nature of time and how it seems to have sped up. Even children have noticed it and they are not supposed to feel like that.

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  22. Yes, it's that feeling of people in your hair. Solitude can be like a warm bath. Great pictures.

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  23. I was in North Wales all last week and more (writing at Ty Newydd) ; walked up Snowdon on Friday and drove the length of the land on Saturday. What a fabulous country it is; your pictures on this post and others reminded me as I sit here in Wiltshire wishing I was back.

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  24. Yes , I love everyone but must , must have the odd half hour to recuperate . When it all gets a bit much, I often escape to the deli for " something I seem to have forgotten " .
    The more enchanting and lively small grandsons are , the more their grannies need a little breather ....

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  25. Nora - I have got better at recognising when I need a break than I used to be! Still needing one!
    Linda - wisdom would be great but seems unlikely. Maybe I will suddenly become wise one morning, that would be good.
    Cro - that sounds a far harder task than ours is but you are spot on about revitalisation. I am off to spend a couple of days at the Malvern Show next week with some gardening friends. That should do it!

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  26. Spring looks lovely where you are, I am so glad you can get to enjoy your garden again....I too am 'classified'as an extrovert, but my wholefamily in law comes visits usually Xmas time for a whole week and we're talking more than 14 people in my house, and there are times when everyone is so busy and chatting and having fun, then I silently slipaway to either cat nap or even take a warm bath...just for the break...the walk sounded like a good idea...enjoy your week

    LG

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  27. MT - thanks, glad you like it!
    Penny - ouch, not sure how I would manage if I couldn't walk it off. Hope your feet are friends again soon.
    Rachel - interesting to have two such distinct sides to your profile. I suppose the challenge is to bring all sides of yourself together and neglect nothing!

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  28. Weaver - it is good to find that this is quite a common feeling. Sometimes I feel quite ungracious but I know that if I don't disappear and satisfy the need for being away I will struggle.
    Janet - and you too! I like the image of climbing back into your life.
    Linda - feel free to say whatever you wish. You did a great thing there but no one should think it was easy. Glad to hear you are home again with some time to yourself.

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  29. Gosh, I know that feeling too, I think it is the pressure to keep giving when the reserves of energy, patience etc have begun to run dry - a glitch in the imput/output ratio. I had a post viral patch a few years ago and the doc said you have to see rest as putting credit in the bank, to spend when you need to, but I think the metaphor holds true for the balance between doing things that feed and revive, and things that require the expenditure of energy, nuturing, patience etc. You can't keep giving on an empty tank in other words. Looking after ourselves, physically, emotionally, physically, is so easy to neglect, but so important. I am terrible at it, but having a dog to walk helps! xxx

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  30. I have lived all my life in West Wales, where we catch all the moisture coming off the Atlantic, and never known such a dry, hot April. I have actually found the last month quite strange. Farmers are starting to worry, not just gardeners. It's been like a good August, just way too early, and it's confusing the plants. My rhubarb has gone to seed and is about 8 feet tall!
    We have a few "fox and cubs" - they grow wild here, but are not that common. Also known as Orange hawkweed, Hieracium aurantiacum
    to give it the Latin!

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  31. I absolutely understand that feeling of wrong-side-outedness. Completely. And walking in my garden with a glass of wine does that exact same thing for me. Connecting with the earth, which always moves at it's own pace.

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