balance

Road Bike Ramblings

Checked the tires. Helmet on. Out before dawn.

A pre-sunrise neighborhood bike ride was on the docket. Thirty minutes. Easy peasy. Just cruising to get the blood flowing early on a Sunday.

I live at the top of a hill. So the very first thing I get to do is fly. Fly down the hill, wind in my face, breathing deep. Yes, all you Safety Susies, I left my Airpods at home so I could pay closer attention to any traffic at the early hour. As a side benefit I also enjoyed the sounds of the crickets. The frogs. The quiet of morning. A line from a poem came to mind…”to be the only one awake in a house wrapped in sleep.” There is a special peace in that (and maybe a few giggles thinking how many safety cameras I was tripping off.)

Once the wind hit my face on that downhill I remembered how much I love my road bike. Just getting going on it makes me smile but flying down a hill is such a special feeling of freedom. So it makes no sense that I don’t ride more often. I only get out once a month or so. I keep saying I am going to do a triathlon this year. But I realized I am in a mode where the distance between what I say I want to do and what I actually do is great. I want to slim down to feel better but I don’t adjust my nutrition to achieve that. I want to write more but don’t take the time. I want to express gratitude to people who have helped me but the thank you cards still sit in their wrapper. Something I thought about as I rolled under the streetlamps.

Back to biking…I have been doing an endurance program at the gym once a week on a stationary bike. It’s been good for my pacing and endurance control. I tell myself it’s triathlon training. But it doesn’t replace time on an actual road on a bike.

When it comes to the road bike, I hate the uphills. I fumble with the gears trying to make my legs hurt less. My neighborhood is basically all hills of various lengths and gradients. (This is one reason why I sometimes don’t get on my road bike. It takes time and effort to transport it to a flat course.) But as I was riding this morning, I embraced the hills. I took my time getting up them. I sat with the pain instead of resisting it. And then, I enjoyed the coast down the other side. The reward for the work. The time to breathe.

I thought about many friends who I know are facing that big hill in their lives. With a job. With a family member. With a relationship. With themselves. They don’t want to climb it. They would rather go around or just stay put. (This is me, too! In more areas than I’ve even shared.) The only way to get that feeling of freedom is to do the work of getting up the hill. Some times of life are just smooth effort, puttering along on the flats, enjoying the scenery. But exhilaration, the relief, the satisfaction of wind at my face comes after I’ve pushed myself through a challenge. Time to summit the hills I’ve just been staring down, hoping they will disappear. I have been given these mountains to show they can be moved, as they say. Or, so that I can enjoy the beauty and freedom of the other side.

balance

A Peaceful Stroll

Today I took a quiet stroll.

Alone.

My stroll wasn’t preplanned rather it was spontaneous. Off I went. The air was cool and crisp. The shade of the trees added a drop in temperature to 8-10 degrees lower. Unexpected chill but maybe that alerted my senses more.

Hands in pockets watching the trees blow around me. Enjoying the scents in the air on this morning. My path wasn’t set. I was just shuffling along. Sometimes on pavement. Sometimes on gravel. I had the option of grass but didn’t drift that way.

On my stroll I thought about many things. I listened to many sounds. I viewed and observed all of what was around me. I genuinely felt thankful for where I am in life. For the good times as well as the bad times. Sometimes taking a back seat to your own life allows you to see your fortune. Not the fortune of money rather the fortune of life and living it. Experience.

I have experience. I can bend and flex and fit into any mix of people or settings. A skill I have worked on all my whole life. Experiences have helped me mature enough to know when I need to bend and flex. When to reframe the gloomy outlook. When to spark creativity.

My mind works in overdrive during the oddest times. Sometimes it’s in a sleep state. Sometimes on a random stroll. The beauty of a quiet mind yields results. I had a recent conversation with a teenage boy. He mentioned how long it takes him to fall asleep. I questioned why. He noted his mind takes time to wind down.

How I related in many ways. In life we all must find a balance for not only us but those closest to us. Kids especially have an always on mentality. Even more so than me. The younger generation is overactive online making it hard to flip the off switch. They are less likely to take the stroll alone I mentioned above. Therefore we should check in on those around us to see how we can help them recharge in non-traditional ways.

Sports or working out of sorts helps as the fatigue will wear one out.

A day at the beach can help. The sun. The sand. The limited reach of electronics. All add a level of fatigue.

An outing such as a hike, bowling, top golf, go-karting, kayaking, and so on. These little outings can provide a change of scenery. A lot of laughter. An escape from the planned days many are accustomed to. Adventures will let the mind settle and possibly add a dream state of what could be next.

Add mindfulness to your day or week. My Apple Watch tells me it’s a thing. Something to remind me to do daily, however I already know this. I am hopeful this post will spur thoughts or action in you or inspire you to influence another. 

Practice mindfulness.

Set a goal of peace for yourself.

Challenge yourself to do something different.

Riding your bike to work one day not driving may be just the variation you need. Not all can do this but if you can, try it. See how it goes. 

balance

Mayhem

The month of May this year is summed up to me in one word: chaos or mayhem as the post is titled.

End of year banquets for school-related programs. Warmer weather. Busy business month. Graduations. Lots of graduations both in state and out of state. Summer-itis which is defined as almost summer but not quite. Vacations on the horizon but only anticipated at the moment.

Many extra duties to plan ahead for the chaos. Lots of extra budget dollars spent on gifts, travel and necessities like bathing suits. Wink wink. Not to mention gas prices are through the roof and groceries are equally painful on the price scale.

Mayhem. Chaos. Both words seem to sum up my month of May. I didn’t even mention the crazy news headlines of violence near and far. Insanity on the home front with guns in school and parents going crazy over this that and the other.

What was more celebratory in May? I circled back to reading my few pages a day of my current book that was put to the side temporarily. I caught up on some much needed rest. My sick dog made a miraculous recovery when odds were against her. I spent time with some of my favorite crazies. I took a dance lesson. I made time for fancy show downtown with friends. Many other fun and spontaneous events took place that created memories and happiness for me.

Despite the mayhem of May, I found my joy. I rededicated time to myself. I made the most of May. It was very important to settle amidst the mayhem of May as June and July are full-blown travel months for me. Gone more days than most. Living life to the fullest but knowing the homefront is handled while absent is equally important. The gentle balancing act.

What is hot and happening for you this summer? A new vacation spot? A new mode of travel? A staycation? A budgetcation? A new adventure? A big purchase?

Will you try anything new this summer? A hot new dance class? A theatre show? A comedy act? A farm experience? Skydiving? Learning a new hobby like knitting?

If you survived the mayhem in May, what can you challenge yourself with for June and July to make your summer memorable? Get your thinking cap on. I gave you plenty of ideas above. Share your stories of you do soemthing spectacular. I know I plan to dip my toes in the sand and ocean at least once this summer.

Happy summer to all our readers in blog land.

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Balancing Act

At what age do you find a healthy life balance? Is it possible to always be in balance? I think about the balance in life a lot.

Today I think about the life balance of my teen. Balancing the rigorous school requirements. Adding in daily sports commitments. Homework. Friends. Boyfriend. Weekend out of town. Late night out on a school night for a birthday celebration. Go. Go. Go. Not slow. Just go. Just go hard. Just go now. Just keep going. It’s a vicious cycle. Where is the balance? Is there the possibility of balance without letting something or somebody down?

As an adult the roles shift but the question still remains the same. Eat, sleep, work, chores, deadlines, friends, health appointments, kid appointments, significant other time, caregiver time, emotional support, laundry, emergencies, bills, travel, and the list can go on and on. Is it possible to balance it all, everyday for infinity? Is that even realistic?

Sometimes my balanced state is my time in the car. The time I drive from point A to point B. Sometimes I even take the long way. Just to let the stillness continue. My time alone. My time to think or maybe not think at all. My time to pause the crazy schedule, routine or even have to’s. A new scenery. A time to readjust or realign my expectations.

If I miss my car time because I get a phone call demanding my time and attention I lose my balance. If I miss this opportunity, I have to find another way to reset the balance. A walk. A break to play with my dogs. Maybe even a nap at an odd time. It’s taken me many years to figure out what my healthy balance is. However, I worry about today’s kids. How do they find their balance in our crazy world? 

Born into digital life, some kids lack problem solving abilities or basic social skills. This is concerning because they may never figure out balance or pausing the noises of life, especially the digital distractions. Add in unrealistic expectations across the board and balance goes to the wayside.

As I wrap up this post I am leaving you with a challenge.

Challenge yourself to find new ways to balance your life. Talk to a friend about the topic and see if you can challenge a friend to work on their balance. I’m obviously hoping for a domino effect. Drop us a line to tell us what you did to balance your life. 

Balance away!

balance

Life being Lifey

Life is being extra lifey these days. War, weather, mental stresses, financial hardships, on and on and on. It’s everywhere. My work life, my personal life, family friends colleagues acquaintances are all full of it. People are messy in their best times. Now, their messiness is more like a shambles that spills out and spreads all over.

Assume people will get sick, have issues and set backs and not be able to execute. Assume extra tasks, jobs, and responsibilities are coming as a result of the balls that others will drop. It’s just how things are right now. How can I thrive, survive, persist, stay sane in light of these times?

Here’s how I am hanging on for this bumpy ride:

Eat well. There are certain things I don’t farm out to anyone. Nutrition is number one. I own every step of that process from planning it to shopping for it to cooking it to packing it up. I don’t like being off plan and I don’t always make great decisions when it’s left to the last minute, whatever I can get my hands on. I know that eating well makes me feel better and do better. End of story.

Exercise first thing in the morning. The only possible exception is Sundays. Exercise helps me manage stress and gives me a sense of accomplishment and strength right off the bat. Extra boost if I see my friends and get the social sweat aspect of life first thing as well, but this isn’t always possible. Movement always is!

Stay ahead on things, knowing curveballs are coming. Busy season is about to kick up. When I have an idle moment, I try to think about what task I can push one step (or more steps) forward. Throw the laundry in. Clean something. Stock the pantry with two instead of one. Hopefully, when deadlines come or something is needed, I am ready instead of behind the eight ball trying to juggle and patch things together. Being ahead on what I can eases my stress.

Sundays. Sundays are my reset and ready-for-the-week day. I try to protect this if at all possible. It is often the only day I start with an extended coffee time at home. I write. I pull out clothes for the week. I make lists. I try really hard not to drive anywhere further away than 10-15 minutes unless it is a soul-serving adventure. Looking ahead on the calendar, keeping Sundays “sacred” will get harder and harder as fall’s busy-ness kicks in. Even as I write this, my Saturday and Sunday has flipped for this weekend. But I still try to keep one day with fewer commitments. Go-go-go all the time wears me out.

Notice nature. Get out and immerse myself in nature as often as possible, even for a few minutes a day. Flower farming has been amazing for this. I have a couple of hours a week in our field, just cutting flowers, watching bees and butterflies, soaking up the fresh air. I keep our flowers with me at work and home so I see them many times a day. They always make me take a small mental pause and smile.

What could I add? I need to write more often. I need to stretch. I need to meditate. These fall too low on the to-do list right now and I know each of them would help. This paragraph is a challenge to myself!

These last few weeks have been a lot, at times bordering on “too much, I can’t handle it, get me out of here.” There have been times I’ve considered drinking alcohol, which I don’t do. I’ve considered massive carb-and-cheese-laden meals of things I don’t typically eat. These things float through my mind, I notice them, then remind myself what works for me.

“Self care” has been a buzzword over the last couple of years. It comes with these challenging times. Life being lifey just beats many of us down and we need to take care of ourselves. I am a firm believer that you can’t pour from an empty cup, meaning you have to keep yourself cared for before you can care for others. Self care looks different for everyone. For some, it means doing whatever you want, regardless of the craving and what it costs. For me, self care does not mean self indulgence. Sometimes it means reminding myself what my goals are and what makes me feel healthy. A cocktail isn’t self care for me. Or a piece of chocolate cake. Might feel good for a moment, but then I’m left dealing with the fallout from my own impulsiveness.

In the end, I can only try to control my own decisions, my time, and my attention. I have to redirect myself when the decisions others make upset me. Boundaries are ok to set and adhere to. I only have to explain myself to those select few people who warrant it. But for most people, “no” can absolutely be a complete sentence.