With Fall in full swing, the squirrels are working overtime. Running amok with vibrant green butternuts, larger than their heads and clenched in their determined jaws, they offer entertainment, and sometimes advice. Over the years, I have spent countless hours with my father observing backyard wildlife and pontificating the inner workings of their mysterious ways.
There is a protective peace I feel in my father’s company. He is one of the people in my life that I can sit next to and not feel the need to talk. I can simply be. I like to think the animals pick up on this feeling and are encouraged to share their wisdom.
In these moments of being in nature, my mind has a chance to breathe and I let my surroundings flow over me. In this relaxed state, the animal and plant kingdoms generously whisper their secrets to anyone willing to take a moment to pause and observe. If I have learned anything from squirrels, it is to overprepare.
I love this time of year. . .the cozy clothes. . .watching the leaves flame into reds and oranges only nature could devise. . .and of course the food! The ability to throw any vegetable or meat in a crock pot for eight hours and out comes pure magic. What I dislike are the colds, seasonal allergies and arthritis pain that arrive with the dropping temperature.
It’s often when we are running amok, and not taking care of ourselves physically or mentally, that illness takes over. In search of tools to better care for myself, I once attended a Kadampa Buddhist meditation class. Our teacher spoke about times in our lives when we are ill and the effects it can have on our emotional state. We become frustrated, angry and perhaps depressed. Sometimes we try to push through it, ignore what our body is telling us, and end up feeling worse. Her suggestion was to embrace it. My jaw dropped.
Especially for those of us who suffer from chronic pain or flair ups, the last thing on our minds is to become one with our ill state. Then, she continued by explaining the importance of taking the time to really rest. Listen to your body. Try to sense what it needs. I know for myself, stress and anxiety are such instigators. They dance around my body like those crazy squirrels. By embracing this time, I can reflect in a more relaxed state and resolve the stressors that may be driving my flair up.
Now, instead of running amok, I have created a care package for myself to prepare for “bad weather.” While fresh is always best, a day or two here and there with some healthy comfort foods allows you to rest and not add additional worry during an already unpleasant time. Get into squirrel mode and think of these foods and comfort items as your nuts.
Some items I like are organic rice bowls, hearty soups, bone broths, nut butters, and vegan protein shakes (they tend to be easier on the digestive system). When I make homemade soups, I’m beginning to get into a habit of freezing individual portions, particularly vegetable purees. This is a great option if you want to stay away from processed foods.
Additionally, I like to keep a little drawer filled with cozy socks, aromatherapy oil and a buckwheat pack that can be kept in the freezer or heated up in the microwave. (Actually, I have two. One that I always keep in the freezer. Great for migraines.)
I encourage you to create your own care package. Even when you are not ill, it’s a nice way to take time out and care for yourself. Fill it with items that provide you with a sense of protective peace and help you simply be in a calm state. Instead of running amok when you are not well, feel confident in knowing that you are prepared for bad weather and have already protected your nuts.