Describe a memory: Think back to childhood to the most clear joyful, playful memory you have – whether it’s with a friend, a toy or playing a game. How did you feel? Can you think of a way of bringing that emotion into your life now?

I have a few. They all involve being outside, frolicking in nature. I’ve always liked being outside. I made my mom camp all the way across Canada as a kid because I love being outside. My mom hates camping. I was eleven, so I’m sure she could have said no to me.

My first joyful memories of being outside are swimming in the lake at my aunt’s cabin. One summer, my friend and I practically lived in the lake. It was a neat place because my mom could just let me wander around the ‘neighborhood’ (really just a bunch of dirt roads with cabins) with my friend unsupervised and it was totally safe. Most of the time, she knew where to find me. I was at the lake with my best friend. I loved going there. We went every other summer from when I was 5 to when I was 14.

My next memories involve walking home from school with my two best school friends. We would walk through the park home, every day. One time in the spring, the creek was melting and I remember we ‘surfed’ on the ice floats. It was probably a bit dangerous, but I guess that is what made it exciting. It was so much fun.

Around the same age, perhaps a bit younger, I remembered that my friend and I found this ‘mud cave’. It was just an area in the land where water had eroded out a ‘cave’. It was sooo muddy, we came back covered in mud. About a week later, my friend came over again and my  mom said, “Don’t get all muddy, okay?”. I think this is the first time I willfully disobeyed my mother. I said ok, knowing that we were definitely going to the cave. It was fun. My mom was disappointed, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I think isn’t much different than when my dog decides she is going to lie in a mud puddle.

I guess I’m a bit of a risk taker. A bit of an adrenaline junkie. I love the rush. I think that I get the same joy/ some of the danger from trail running and hiking. Trail running gives you the rush from running and I get to enjoy the beauty of nature. Hiking it is the thrill of being so far from civilization. The rush of amazing views after a hard climb.

I think that I tried to get this feeling from smoking, then vaping. I worked at first, but then tolerance happened. Then it was mostly about relieving the anxiety of withdrawal. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to smoke. I had the opportunity to smoke what used to be my favorite type of cigarettes yesterday. Menthols. Cigarettes you can no longer buy in my province. The thing is, I didn’t want to. I didn’t get this far to ruin it with a quick thrill. In the past, I would have said no- not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t want anyone to know that I wanted to. My co-workers all know about my smoking/vaping. So I actually didn’t want to smoke. No desire again.

I think I’ll stick to my healthy ways of getting rushes in my life. They don’t come with strings attached.

Meditation: The Tree