Saturday, February 23, 2013

Adventure Days: The Cascades

Earlier this week, my supervisor expressed some concern for my well being. Don't worry, she doesn't think I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Nothing as serious as that. But she does feel that I'm getting stressed out.

I'm the kind of person who desperately tries not to let things get to me. I don't like showing, externally, that something bothers me. It's not that I don't do my share of complaining. I have occasion to vent when talking with friends. But that doesn't happen too often. Because I don't like to complain. Complaining is a lot like worrying. And I just think that worrying is a waste of time.

That doesn't mean I'm not repressing the stress that could be building up. I repress like it's my job. I know that's not healthy, but it's what I do. Then I attempt to relieve stress once I get home. I've been exercising a lot more lately, and I think that's helped quite a bit. But I guess it hasn't stopped a full caseload from taking its toll on me.

As a Day Treatment Counselor, I'm only allowed to have six clients at one time. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but you'd be amazed at how quickly the work with six different kids can pile up. It certainly helps when several of them are in the same classrooms. But you still need to juggle schedules throughout the school day, arrange for therapy sessions with each of them, make sure family contacts are happening smoothly and regularly and still be able to tame the mountain of daily paperwork that comes along with each of the students.

That's where the hard part comes in. The paperwork. There are daily notes, weekly notes, family session notes, assessments, reviews, service plans, etc. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm falling behind. I'm usually really good about keeping up with all the things I have to write for my job. After all, I do love to write. But, lately, I've had a hard time staying focused whenever I sit down at my laptop to type up even the simplest of notes.

So last night, as I was folding clothes at the second job, I decided I'd treat myself to an activity that would get me away from real life for a little while. I decided I'd go for a hike.

Not too far away is a place known as The Cascades. It's a hiking trail that leads to some pretty spectacular waterfalls at the end. Spoiler alert: it's not Niagara Falls, but for a little place that's not too far from home, it's very nice. It's a place I've been once or twice before, but it was a long time ago. My last visit to the falls may have been about 12 years ago, back when I was still a junior at Bluefield College.

I waited for afternoon to arrive. That gave the rainy weather a little time to clear out. By the time I got in my car and started driving, the skies were becoming a little bluer and a lot sunnier. I made pretty good time getting there and then discovered that there's a three dollar fee to park your car at the bottom of the trail. I was so not prepared for that.

Angrily, I turned around and headed back into Pembroke, the nearby town that boasts The Cascades as an attraction. Thankfully, there was an ATM at the convenience store. Annoyingly, it was not my bank's ATM. That meant I had to get out a minimum of $20, pay a fee for using that ATM, and await a fee from my bank as punishment for using another bank's ATM. So, what I thought would be a free hike ended up costing me $9. Things didn't seem to be starting well.

I got back to the park, paid my fee, then started my hike. It didn't take long to forget about my frustration with the inconvenience of paying to park. It was kind of gorgeous. Don't believe me? Here are some pictures...

I expected to run into more people than I did. There seemed to be a lot of cars in the parking lot, but not many people on the trail. I did, however, run into someone I know. In a random, small world kind of incident, I bumped into a guy from the small group Bible study that I joined last month. He was with a couple of his friends, so I walked with them for a while before moving on alone.

The hike did what I was hoping it would. It acted as a great stress reliever and I got to take in some beautiful views. Now I'm just hoping that it helped me to unwind enough to be able to focus on the work I need to catch up on throughout this weekend. See, a lot of that paperwork was due yesterday.

I'm thinking I may need more of these spontaneous, adventurous Saturdays. And I'm open to suggestions. If you have a fun or stress-relieving activity that is cheap and not too far away from the New River Valley, let me know about it.