A Fortress of Peace

As a way to cope with my anxiety, I use visualization.

I usually have the most trouble with anxiety at bedtime so I close my eyes and picture a childhood treehouse that my best friend and I built.

When we were twelve, we found an old Folgers Coffee can full of nails in my friend’s garage and began playing with her Dad’s scrap-pile of wood. Then, we started nailing pieces of wood to the side of a tree so that we could climb it like a staircase, (or in our minds the mast of a ship). Then we realized that by nailing three boards between three trees we could build a platform, and that was the start of our two-story treehouse that boasted four platforms and two bridges. (We had help securing the bridges.)

We rummaged through old leftover paint and was granted permission to paint our floating fortress Robin’s egg blue and pastel purple.

In our imagination, that fort was a pirate ship, a mansion, a castle, and anything we needed/wanted it to be that day. I didn’t know then that I was creating a safe place for myself in the future.

Do we ever realize how vital moments are until they turn into memories?

There is one memory of the tree house in-particular that I often grasp and weave into the tapestry of my visualization. One morning before school, my friend and I decided to wake up early and eat breakfast in our treehouse as the sun came up. It was early spring, our clouds of breath were evidence that a chill still lingered in the morning. We took our bowl of Fruit Loops and sat on the highest platform, eating our cereal in the light of our flashlights. Arms and chests leaning on the safety railingwe rejoiced as the sun came up, turning the sky electric pink. The rushing river nearby roared in our ears. We sat there in silence for a long time. My parent’s recent divorce faded to the back of my mind and everything felt bearable in my life.

Maybe that place made me feel invincible because my friend and I built it almost entirely on our own. Or it’s the fact that our treehouse had no walls, which was why it was freedom. Where the magic came from really doesn’t matter, that tree house allowed me to escape, and still  helps me cope with anxiety.

-Rachel McKee

Do you have a method to deal with stress or a memory you turn to for comfort? Please comment below.

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Author: Rachel McKee

Currently writing a YA novel. I love reading about everything, truly I'm not a book snob. Lately I have been "reading" a lot of picture books to my baby boy. In my past life before motherhood, I was a professional technical editor and writer.

26 thoughts on “A Fortress of Peace”

  1. Oh, Rachel, God bless you…this is just so incredible on so many levels…you have such a gift for capturing memories and packaging them in the most poignant and resonating contexts….reading this was like a meditation in and of itself…as for self-soothing reveries, I often imagine I am in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as she flies through the night…and, I sing Hush-A-Bye Mountain in my head…Have you seen the movie…it’s one of my favourites from childhood 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It was written by Ian Flemming…the author of James Bond series…Chitty Bang Bang is a children’s book and movie staring Dick VanDyke….but it’s set in England and it has memorable songs and all kinds of imaginative delights and it’s prob my favourite children’s movie…or, tied with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory….Wizard of Oz is a close second… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Probably my happiest memory is completing my first full peal (change ringing for 5,000 or more changes without stopping; about 3 hours of continuous ringing and concentration). It’s a big accomplishment and it was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.

    Another very happy memory was getting my first tattoo. There was also a sense of accomplishment that I had endured it and faced my fears. I reflect upon those two memories a lot to escape so to speak.

    Other than that, music is probably my other biggest escape.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing this Rachel. You exude positivity and seemingly effortless grace in your blog that it is difficult to imagine you being anxious or stressed, which is why it is all the more important to share…
    I think I like to walk (and explore). Aimlessly. Alone (but not lonely). To the point of losing myself on my walks, and discovering a newfound sense of purpose at the other end. In terms of visualisation, I do that too, I imagine myself taking long walks with people I’ve lost touch with, or people I want to meet… So it’s all the boring stuff. But stress-proof 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jolene, there is nothing like a good walk to ease anxiety and brighten our mood. I agree, walks are wonderful. Nature is a powerful medicine. I too will reach out to people in my imagination that I’ve lost contact with for one reason or another. Thank you for reading and for sharing your stress reduction practice. I do try to exude positivity, and I agree it’s just as important to share our struggles as well.❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Rachel, thanks. I was wondering if you would like to be nominated for one of those blog awards floating around? There will be some Q&A. Let me know if you don’t care much for stuff like that 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely blog. Thanks for posting. I really admire your true and sincere connection with nature. Nature heals. The same works for me. Not in the same fashion. My older brother and I built a tree house. It had two levels. the bottom which was a small V shaped space was the “dungeon.” That’s where I ended up most of the time. sigh.

    BUT, I grew up with trees. I’ve always loved them, still do. Watching trees standing silent in the early morning, bending in the wind, losing leaves in the fall–all of these and more are ways for me to lose stress. Nature is a real stress buster.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Paul, nature is a powerful medicine. The seasons are a constant reminder that life continues. There are so many precious gifts to be found if one only cares to look. It’s funny you mention trees because I’m a tree-watcher too. You are the first person who has ever mentioned this similar past time. I used to lay in my room and watch the branches outside. I’m fortunate enough to have trees outside my bedroom window again! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for reading my post.😄

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your words brought back lovely memories of fort building, exploring and playing house with my treasured best friend in a magical place called the “Big Woods”! There was a “Little Woods” as well – there are so many happy memories to call upon if needed! Your tree house sounds fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t really have anxiety, but it’s barely there. When I need to chill out, I immediately picture myself in the mountains. I’m not always in the same place, but the feeling is the same. I am, however, slowly adding a waterfall as it’s become important to me. I love hiking to waterfalls and hearing them. My husband proposed to me on one such walk, then we got married by a waterfall in Costa Rica. That place is becoming my visualization place.

    Thanks for sharing this post. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this! I like knowing how other people deal with this. I use that kind of visualisation when my morale is low, or sometimes as a quick “calm down, life is beautiful”. My favourite is me lying lazily on the swinging bench on a fresh summer afternoon, looking at my mother’s garden in full bloom and being happy. While waiting for sleep, I’ve conditioned myself to think about my stories or whatever project I’m working on. It works well for me… and I sometimes wake up with new scenes! ^_^

    On another note, I have nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. Here is the post (if you allow links, if not, you know where to find me): . You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to – I know not everyone likes that kind of “chain”. Whether you do or not, I’m glad I had an opportunity to share your blog with others. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ida! Thank you for reading and for sharing your visualization method. Your mother’s garden sounds like a wonderful memory. My mother is an avid gardener too.
      Thank you so much for thinking of me and nominating me for a blogger award. I don’t participate in awards, but I do greatly appreciate you thinking of Illuminated Literation! 😄💕

      Liked by 1 person

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