perspective

Half Way

50% Of the year is gone! Just like that. I feel like I blinked. Good thing I have a ton of pictures, journals and memories to recount my shenanigans from a-z.

I’m feeling pretty accomplished at the half way point. How about you?

I’m feeling thankful for my experiences this far. After living through a pandemic, I value each and every experience. How about you?

I am learning new things in 2021. I’m even joining a book club that isn’t really about books. How about you?

I’m taking risks this year. Some may yield results while others may be about the journey. How about you?

I’ve had my fair share of struggles. I’ve learned to dust myself off and get back on the saddle even when my pride is bruised. How about you?

I’ve had my learning moments. Owning them all. How about you?

I have enjoyed traveling a bit. This may be my favorite part of the year so far. Exploring new places while meeting new faces.

I look forward to many things each day but one fun part of my day is flipping my daily calendar. Not my work calendar. Not my carpool calendar. My special flip-the-unexpected calendar page. My gag gift from a dear friend. Who would have known this gem would make my year so fun. I even exchange daily posts with friend who has a unicorn calendar. While hers is all lollipops, gummy bears and happy motivational moments, mine is full of shits, giggles, swearing and many other not so polished or perfect sayings. That’s probably what I love the most about it. Maybe it’s the swearing will help note that gets me through the bad day. Maybe it’s the you are magical as fuck signage that gives me some extra pep in my step. It could be the PSA needed for people around stating this is an Asshole FREE zone! Or it could just be a reminder of where we are in the year. 

Half way to somewhere hopefully. Half way past the bullshit of yesterday. Half way to 2022 and my next birthday. Whether half full or half empty at this point in time, I’m reflecting on what is. What was. What can be. 

Who am I. Who was I. Who will I become.

Who’s with me. Who’s yesterday’s news. Who’s ready to meet me.

As I wrap up this post full of questions, I offer you a dare. Dare to be different. Dare to make the second half better than the first. Dare to dream. Dreams can become reality. Enjoy what’s on the horizon.

dare to be different, fitness and nutrition

Sense of Direction

It’s true, I’m getting older.

As I age, I notice that certain things are starting to deteriorate. Today’s example: my sense of direction.

When I was young, I would read Atlanta’s Creative Loafing newspaper every Thursday or Friday. I’d check out the list of festivals, events, art openings, even new music releases, and make my weekend plans. I’d pull out my mom’s Atlanta road atlas and set on my coordinate spree to map my weekend adventures. From these jaunts week after week, year after year, I got to know my way around Atlanta inside and out.

These days, I can hardly find my way around my little suburb without waze or google maps. If I’m somewhere without service, I get nervous and often guess the wrong direction. Such a change. It may not just be due to aging. Maybe more a combination of getting older and over reliance on technology. Still not a change I like, no matter the cause.

I spent the past week in a confusing condo building. Actually there were two buildings connected by bridges and corridors. There was also a parking garage. None of the connecting floors had the same number. Walk through a hallway from one building’s first floor and suddenly, without stairs or elevators, you’re on another building’s third. The garage was a totally different mess. I felt lost and disoriented much of the week.

After a couple of morning condo workouts, I went to the gym one evening to make sure I could find it from our room. The next morning I spent a half hour with dumbbells in the gym. After I was done, I decided to test myself and make my way back to the condo from the gym using stairs instead of the path I already knew.

I walked into the stairwell. When I opened the door, I was surprised to find an old man, slightly hunched over, standing at the bottom of the stairs. He was short with groomed gray hair. He wore a cotton t-shirt, athletic pants and tennis shoes. He was there to exercise. He smiled at me.

Good morning, I said.

Are you still moving every day? he said,

Yes sir, I replied. I want to be sure I can move for as long as I can, so I try to do it first thing every day.

Good for you, he replied. I do the exact same thing. Keep it up. It’s so important.

And with that, one floor up, I walked out of the stairwell. He kept walking up the stairs. Up. Up. Up. Moving. Ascending.

It was like the (living) ghost of Christmas Future. Letting me know that taking time to move, for me, is what will keep me moving long term. I can feel confident when I get up and make my physical and mental health a priority each day. What others think of it is none of my business. My approval is what is required.

Did I find my way back to the condo? Happily, yes. And taking that different path gave me unexpected landmarks and signs. I’m heading in the right direction. It was a roadmap to the future I am heading toward, nimble and purposeful.

adventure

Local Flavors

I’m fortunate to have quite a few road excursions this summer. When I am out of town, I try my best to find and support local people and places. When I visit, these are some of the things I like to do that help me get to know a place.

1.) Start your day the local way

I’ve written about this before. Find a local coffee shop! Many have interesting traditions and can give you the “feel” of a particular community. If you prefer donuts for breakfast, hit the donut or bagel place, or have a full breakfast if you’re up for it. Yelp is my favorite app to use for local spots. I’m told google searches are more popular, but I’ve had better luck finding unusual and wonderful places with yelp.)

2.) Find a farmer’s market and / or grocery store

As a farmer myself, I love seeing what is in season. Maybe there are local specialties. On a recent trip to New York and Pennsylvania, I had my choice of both permanent farm stands with a variety of local products as well as an “every Thursday afternoon” market. I loved that I got to enjoy local strawberries in Pennsylvania, especially since the growing season for strawberries at home was already over. I also found locally made whoopie pies, pretzels, maple syrup, and other treats. Regional grocery stores can also give an interesting glimpse into different foods and traditions.

3.) Eat the local specialty

When my family took long road trips in my youth, my dad would hand me a book called Road Food, Good Food. Before google, yelp and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Jan and Michael Stern looked for local joints serving regional specialties. I was in charge of using the book, organized by state, and the atlas to find places that were at least sort of on the way to the destination. (But we have been known to drive hours out of the way for special types of pie, barbecue and more.) They now have a website that is still organized by state and will tell you the special dishes a place is known for and give you some small, independent spots to give that dish a try. This website is challenging to use, and reminds me of juggling the index of the atlas, map coordinates, and so on. But, it’s usually spot on with great little places and special foods.

Asking a local is another great way to find things. My aunt and uncle steered us to pink stripe cookies and Bison brand French onion dip in Western New York. Both were top notch!

Whatever you do, break out of the chains of chain restaurants and predictable average while you’re on the road! Experience new places in different ways.

dare to be different, fitness and nutrition

Have Fitness, Will Travel

“It’s okay to live a life others don’t understand.” -Jenna Woginrich

The older I get, the more that quote rings true. Today’s example: Time away from home. Vacation, business trip, whatever it is. Many use this as a break from their regular exercise routine. Not this girl.

With fitness, consistency is the name of my game. I rarely go a day without intentional exercise. Some might scoff at this. But, I know I am happiest when I get it done, first thing in the morning if possible. It improves my stress level and mental outlook immensely. Those things need to be on point whether I am home or not…(even vacation travel is stressful!)

How do I make this happen? First, I pack exercise shoes. For a recent road trip, I packed CrossFit shoes, running shoes, and hiking shoes. Second, plan for some equipment if possible. On this stretch, I knew I had several nights in hotels with fitness centers. I packed a 25# dumbbell for other days. That’s about all I needed. The rest could be improvised.

Fast forward to my first night on the road. Reliable Hampton Inn. Saturday morning. Up early for coffee and a quick sweat before my daughter’s lacrosse games.

Walk to the hotel fitness center only to find it is closed for COVID. But the sign on the door says we can get in to the LA Fitness next door. Score, since I have my swimsuit and need to train for a triathlon anyway. Until….LA Fitness doesn’t open until 8:00 am on Saturday and we need to leave for the field by 7:30. What to do…go back to bed? Pout? Nope. Open up the Compass trunk and grab a dumbbell, start a timer, and away I go.

Pulled up a “travel” workout from Street Parking that I hadn’t done before. Pushups on pavement or overgrown grass were a no go. So, elevated pushups against a light post would do. Goblet squats with the dumbbell and some taps against the curb. Got sweaty. Got my heart rate up. Did something. Forty-five minutes later, I am good. The next morning, another parking lot workout with hang power snatches and some air squats. Is it perfect? Nope. But I moved and made myself a priority. Mission accomplished.

The rest of the week was a hodge podge. 5 bike miles to a local coffee shop, then back. Kayaking, running, and a couple of actual hotel workouts with pretty nice equipment to boot. Moved every day and felt much better than I would have otherwise.

Would this work for everyone? Surely not. But making my health a daily priority through movement is one of the ways I honor and love myself. Although some in the hotel lobby or parking lot might raise an eyebrow when they see me, perhaps there are others who feel inspired or encouraged to do what others may not. No matter what, I’m doing what feels best in my own skin.

business

At the Car Wash

Sitting at the car wash on this sunny day. I don’t get here often enough but when I do I enjoy the scenery. Today it’s a good bit of sunshine and a slight breeze in the air. 

It starts with the drive in section. Sort of old-fashioned. The soap is applied manually while you sit In the car. The workers use their hands to massage in the soap, scrub the tires. Rinse. Repeat. Then you get shuffled outside to wait while phase two takes place.

To paint you a picture: the small car wash stand is located in a gas station parking lot with a small hair salon. The car wash and hair salon are operated by the same family. Some inside some outside working the day away. I sit observing from the metal chair outside the salon. A little stoop of sorts. Here I have a view of so much action on the street corner. Makes me think of my childhood days In the city.

The parking lot is also home to the local guy with a pickup truck and peanut stand. It’s always loaded with the best boiled peanuts and today he has some watermelons as well. Many folks stop by and grab some peanuts on their way to a day on the lake while others stop by on lunch break or while filling up with gas. Such a diverse group of buyers visiting the peanut stand today.

I like to support small businesses whenever I can. Whether it’s the local dog groomer, mechanic, or the peanut man. Tucked on the corner of a main road I can hear the hustle and bustle of the roadway. The cement trucks accelerating as they leave quarry next door. The rushing of water from all the car washes. The reviving of engines at the red lights from the souped up cars.

Observing the small details while I sit and wait in my special chair. I write. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I answer emails. Today I write as I think about whether I should buy the watermelon or the peanuts before I leave. It’s a tough decision. I will choose one.

As you can see the peanuts won today. They are too hot to eat at the moment but such a nice treat after my trip to the car wash. The good old fashioned car wash.