I went on a long hike with my new book club last weekend. It was raining but in true Pacific Northwest form, we decided to brave it anyway. At first, the route was gorgeous and drizzly, less wet and more damp — which is a welcome change in Washington after the very dry summer we’ve had.
About 3/4s of the way up to the summit, I started to feel off. My head swam and my stomach cramped. I felt my vision narrowing. I couldn’t breathe easily. Food, I thought. I need to eat something. After a light breakfast of donuts and coffee, I was probably just hungry — right?
But food didn’t help. I fell further and further behind the group as I tried to halfheartedly stuff big bites of a protein bar into my mouth, and tried even harder to not throw up. I knew I couldn’t keep going.
Let’s take a moment here for me to acknowledge that I am very competitive. I generally refuse to stop, even when my body hurts. I like to win, to be first, to conquer things I think I can’t. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I also like to prove that I’m a badass — especially in this new city, and especially around a group of people I don’t know very well.
But this moment was clearly a no-can-do. If I kept going, I was either going to be throwing up or squatting on the side of the path, neither of which seemed like a good option. So I stopped. I told the group to go on ahead while I waited, sitting on a rock. I took deep breathes.
After a few minutes, the rain intensified. I knew that if I stayed in that one spot, I’d quickly be drenched and frozen. So I started to hike down the mountain alone, each step of the 3.5 miles full of concern (Am I going the right way?) and waves of nausea and existential dread (What am I doing with my life?). An hour later, I made it to the car, curled up with a water bottle and called my husband to tell him that he needed to come pick me up. I had a stomach bug.
There’s nothing like a little bit of sickness to kick us onto our butts and remind us that no matter how we think we’re doing, we’re not invincible. Whether I like it or not, my body is showing the signs of three months in transition, of the stress of acclimating to a few city, and of the exhaustion that comes with having a constantly full to do list and schedule.
The moral of this story? I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m laying low this week. I’m reminding myself that big life transitions are supposed to be exhausting and hard. And I’m trying to remember that a 3.5 mile hike in the rain alone, while battling stomach illness, is possibly even more badass than getting all the way to the summit.
Or “cookies to eat in bed with tea while feeling icky.” Recipe via Bon Appetit. Makes about 24 cookies.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 T honey
- 3/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, blend butter, sugar and honey in a bowl until fluffy and smooth. Add tahini, then add flour, baking powder, and salt.
Place the sesame seeds in a small bowl. Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls and dip the tops of the dough balls into the sesame seeds. Place them on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet, about 2-inches apart. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking time. The cookies will firm as they cool, so let them cool on the baking sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack.