Lessons I Learned While Hiking the Catoctin: Sleeping is Not for Losers

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have this insatiable desire to be outside. While at my office, I’m mentally planning my next hiking excursion or trip. I started a group called Pretty Girls Hike so that I could encourage my fellow urbanite ladies to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer. I’ve found that somehow, being amongst the trees, rushing water, mountains and beaches is undoubtedly my happy place. 

I’ve been crazy busy lately, with sweeps (Sweeps are basically the period in TV where new shows are made and broken, new shows are pitched during upfronts, old shows get the boot etc. Very stressful.), TV show collaborations (which I’m excited about, and will chat about later), a new show that I’m hosting for Aspire TV that’s getting ready to tape, writing a book, running my production company AND trying to keep my sanity all in check. I won’t complain, I thank God I’m busy, because the opposite would be just as hellish. But the point is, with all of these indoor activities keeping me grounded, the desire to get out and hike reached a fever pitch by last week! 

It’s been cold as a sh*t outside, like unseasonably cold thanks to good ‘ol Global Warming, so for most of my friends going outside in the elements was out of the question. Imagine my excitement when my girlfriend said we should go hiking! I packed my hiking gear up, and went to bed. I was in New York the night before, so I caught a 3 a.m. train back to D.C. where I hopped off, changed into my gear in the Union Station bathroom (had a bunch of homeless folks giving me the side-eye, like I infringed on their territory or something) then got in my car and drove to my girlfriend’s house. We decided on the Catoctin Mountains because neither of us had been there, and the reviews for the trails were great. 

As we drove up the highway, and the mountains came into view, the scenery was breathtaking. Slowly the landscape turned from farmland into woods with cabins, hunting lodges, and of course the Catoctin Mountain ranges which steadily rose over the winding roads we traveled to the trailhead.  It was obvious that when warm, the Catoctin Mountains was filled with lakes, streams and tons of flora and fauna. Now I understand why Camp David is nestled in this little slice of bucolic glory. We got out at the info center. Immediately we saw a group of hikers with trekking polls, snow boots and skiing gear. I said, “Trekking polls? They don’t need trekking polls in this weather.” Even one of the hikers had on shorts, so we thought we’d be fine. Needless to say, being the adventurous duo that we are, we started up the mountain, taking our own path, and it quickly ascended. Every path we took was covered in snow, that was covered in a layer of ice. I even took to marking our trail after my girl remarked that getting back would be a b*tch. All the pure white snow was dizzying. Each way looked the same, and even for an experienced hiker like myself, I knew it was time to cut our losses.

After awhile, we decided to abandon our trip for a warmer, less snowy day. I wasn’t cold at the time, but little did I know that the cold air had already seeped into my chest. After jumping back in her Range, we decided to drive awhile to enjoy the scenery. We went off-road and drove into this secluded community of quaint little gorgeous cabins. The higher we went, the more gorgeous the view. Thurmont, MD is definitely a little treasure. 

Fast forward some, I got home, and immediately felt a little tickle in my chest, that turned into a cough, that turned into my entire body aching incessantly. Needless to say, by time I woke up the next morning, I had a full blown cold, or so I thought. Being the OG that I am, I tried to soldier through that sh*t. I took my Source Naturals Wellness Formula, boiled peeled ginger root and lemon, and took some willow bark root supplements (Willow bark root is what aspirin is made from essentially.) All these things usually knock out whatever I have going on, remember I told you I rarely get sick? They did provide temporary relief, but by the third night of no rest, and almost passing out while brushing my teeth, I knew something was not right. Called my daddy, got him to take me to the emergency room, and as it turns out, I got bronchitis. Lawd Jesus

The doctor gave me antibiotics, some narcotics (woohoo! j/k) to calm my body aches, and sent me on my way. Before he discharged me he said,

“You’ve got to slow down. You shouldn’t have gone to work for three days feeling like this. I could tell you felt like crap when I walked in the room. Take care of yourself.”

I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. Listen ladies & gents, in our quest to become the greatest and achieve, sometimes we ignore signs that our bodies are about to shut down. We live in a culture where getting sleep means you aren’t working hard enough. Where taking care of your body beyond hitting those squats to get that J.Lo booty means we have too much time on our hands. How many times have you seen someone tweet, ‘I’ll sleep when I die.’ NOTHING IS WRONG WITH SLEEP. I repeat, nothing is wrong with getting some sleep. Your brain works better, your body feels better, and you live on another day to fight the good fight. 

I’ll never forget reading this Time Magazine editorial by one of my favorite journalist Touré. He talked about how musicians perpetuate this cultural of non-sleep and they champion those who don’t take care of their bodies essentially. He said, “The attitude that sleeping is for losers is endemic to America and especially the music business.” It’s true. And what do most people do? Follow (or try to follow) the lifestyles of their favorite music icons. It’s the same in journalism. My fellow journalist friends are absolute vampires. I swear we made a contract with Dracula himself because we’re literally like, the living dead.

What I didn’t tell you at the beginning of this, was that prior to my hiking excursion, I’d stayed up writing a treatment while on the train ride back to D.C. instead of getting any sleep, I hadn’t slept a good three hours the night before, or the night before that. Besides having a 9-5, running your own business means you operate it on borrowed time. The point is, my a*s should have been napping on that Acela! Not finding time to sleep is like forgetting to eat. Your body literally needs that time to recharge and function correctly. The combination of me not sleeping, not getting enough breakfast AND the cold weather all contributed to this stupid illness. Had my body been better equipped, I probably would have been able to fight off something that turned into Bronchitis. The other downside? I’ve been too hurt-up to update this wonderful site, and interact with y’all. 🙁 But these good ‘ol narcotics are working just fine, and I’m up! For now. 

My advice? Love yourself by getting sleep. Yes, people champion the nocturnal, but they champion those tired, non-sleeping folks after they’ve gotten their own eight hours. You better believe it. 

Zzzzzz….

– Angel

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