My daughter and I are cut from the same cloth and sometimes it creates challenges because we are both relentless, independent, and strong-willed. We are also both kindhearted, loving, and charismatic so overall, we are well-rounded and awesome. Our strong personalities sometimes get the best of us. It’s not something I am proud of and I work hard to guide us in a different direction. It’s even harder on my low mental health days.
Outdoor activities and nature is a place where the two of us connect. I see the outdoors as a place that will keep us solid, grounded, and rooted as the years go on. Just as there is constant change in nature, we too move through seasons in our lives. Nature provides us space to grow as individuals and as a collective.
Blue Jay needs outlets for her energy. She has ADHD and recently started taking medication to holistically manage it. Creating opportunities for her to use her energy for her greater good is important for her inner-strength and enthusiasm for life. Her sparkle will not be dulled, just reeled in so that she can find focus. Together, we have learned about Michael Phelps and Simone Biles who are Olympians and also have ADHD. I want her to know that she is far from alone and that high energy can be a strength.
The activity opportunities are often family based or are independent sports like running and duathalons. Team based sports have not worked out well. When we hike, she likes trails that are challenging with rocks to climb and different types terrain to explore.
I planned an overnight hike on Mantario to Caribou West with Blue Jay over August Long Weekend. I invited a friend and her son who is the same age as Blue Jay to join us. We have hiked overnight together in Riding Mountain and Spruce Woods. I felt comfortable and confident leading up to our overnight on Mantario. I solo hiked overnight to Caribou West last summer and have been back for a day hike with Blue Jay and Bear Hug.
The temperature hovered around 33°C, mosquitoes were bad, and the terrain is unforgiving. After a hard climb and as we gathered our composure, my friend and I had an honest conversation about continuing. We decided to part ways. We discussed navigation and gear to ensure that we would both be OK.
Blue Jay and I arrived to roughly the half-way point to our destination. We took off our backpacks and Blue Jay had a snack while I organized the thoughts in my mind. My asthma was acting up from the high humidity (plus I am overweight and carrying a heavy pack, ha!), there was not a reliable water source until our destination, and we had under 3 liters left for the two of us. With the high temperature and lack of tree coverage, I was concerned about dehydration.
Two hikers on their way back to the trail head chatted with me about a stagnant creek as a possible water source if I was open to following the creek to where it flowed from. I was not. A STARS helicopter flew over top of us and my decision was made. We turned around.
Our wild instincts still roar within us. We still have that primal gut feeling when something just doesn’t feel right. We have all been in those situations in one way or another. Honour, acknowledge, listen, and act on that feeling. Don’t let your instincts fade.
Trusting ourselves is how we evolve. I knew that I needed to turn around on the trail and not let my ego take us further.
I trust that we are making the right choices for Blue Jay. ADHD is not an excuse but is an explanation. It helps us support and guide her the way that she needs it. It’s the same thing with my depression being an explanation and not an excuse.
While there will be many more hurdles, I trust the process, I trust myself, and I trust my support system. Maybe one day, Blue Jay will see ADHD as a gift for creativity and the energy needed to take on all of what this world will throw at her. Until then, we will help her build trust within herself.