May 27, 2016

Destress in the Mountains

It’s been a bit busy lately. That’s a bit of an understatement. Actually, it’s been an extremely stressful year. What am I saying, it’s been two years of stress and utter exhaustion, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Only three more weeks to go, and then there’s a job change on the horizon that I am extremely looking forward to. I think it’s been the reason for my rather spotty posting. Stress does not work in harmony with creativity (in my case. There will be people who claim the opposite).
 Last Wednesday I went up to the mountains to de-stress. It worked well, I think. I did a 7 AM morning hike of 5 kilometers with the dogs through the fields and forest, and came back all invigorated.  Each season has its advantages, so I can’t say that spring is my favorite season, but the abundance of plant life, and the vibrant green colors all around, do inspire.

These dogs of ours are a bit of a ramshackle collection.  None of them were really chosen. They sort of chose us. Two just sort of stuck to my husband as he hiked in the mountains. Actually, they both just installed themselves at our front door and then pretended they were our dogs. Over time they indeed became our dogs.
The small black one was from a pet store. We went to get a hunting dog, and walked out with the puniest little dog that the pet store owner no longer wanted and couldn’t sell. “Here, they take it, people do not like black dogs in this country.”
The white one (not in the picture as he is too old to go on strenuous hikes, he got hit by a car some years ago and is – as  a result – half blind and deaf, has only half a lung)  was found by the side of the road many years ago.
If it weren’t for the price of gas, and the poor traffic condition, I might consider living in the mountains. The birds in the early morning, the settling down of village life at sun set, the simplicity of it all, it’s mighty enticing. The massive spiders, however, are one reason to reconsider that plan. A reall reality check.ber, is the morning traffic. Go drive down from the mountain, in the morning, trying to get to work in time, while everyone around you drives like Nicki Lauda, and that shelves that plan.
I once had a friend, an American, who used to do 60 miles one way commutes in Arizona. She thought nothing of a 60 mile drive in the morning, she did it twice daily, 5 days a week, for many years. When she moved to Lebanon with her Lebanese husband, they thought of buying a house in Deir el-Qammar. Her job was in Beirut. She wanted to live out in the country. “You’ve got to be kidding, right?” we said, when she mentioned that bit. “Oh, that’s nothing,” she said, I am only doing half of what I did in the States. It’s easy,” and they bought the house.

Easy. Yeah right. In the States maybe, where everyone takes over from the left sides, and people stay in their lane, and use their signal light and what not else. Within a year they were looking for an apartment in Beirut. She couldn’t quite explain exactly what the difference was between her 60 mile commute in the Sates versus her 45 kilometer commute in Beirut. But it was enough to consider a house moving. In the end, the stress in Beirut did her in. She ran at the same pace as Beirut, and that’s something even the best amongst us can’t handle for long.

The end of the academic year does levitate the stress levels anyway. It’s the season of goodbyes. Goodbye for good for the expats that move to the nest post. Goodbye for the summer, for those that sent their summers with family abroad. It is a flurry of birthday celebrations (six for my daughter alone these coming two weeks), goodbye dinners, farewell parties, and in between there are the fund raisers, the board meetings, the street and music festivals, the schools’ May fests, the universities outdoor activities and the days on the beach. I am always glad when summer truly starts and everyone is gone, so I can finally get some rest.

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