adventure

Surprise Adventures

Alarm set: 5 am. I did not want to wake up on a Sunday sleep in day at this hour. Quick shower to wake up. Reality hits. Starbucks isn’t open yet. Arrived at the planned meeting spot for 6 am. Party of six women off to adventure the unknown. Two know the plan. Four only know it’s a surprise. A packing list was assigned. Car shuffle occurred. 2 cars head out with random people assigned to each. Off we go. Oh wait I forgot to lock the car. Back we go and the caravan is broken immediately. Are we lost? 

We are not exactly lost but we are a bit behind. Glad we went back to grab my purse as I had left the car unlocked. Potty break in car two. The car that started out behind added to their delay. It’s about an hour into travel,   And we just completed our first car ride activity. Mad libs virtual edition. We each filled in the blanks and did a FaceTime chat to share answers and giggles. One might have been raunchy while the other one family appropriate.

Now the downpour starts. Visibility is low in the car. Our activities are supposed to be outside. Will we survive the weather?  The packing list called for a poncho and change of clothes. Who actually planned to use them? First stop was breakfast and the coffee art was a big hit. The food was good too, but the coffee art won me over.

Off we go to the next stop. Lula Lake, Tennessee was the destination spot. Only open a few days a month to the public and we were on the list for today.

The first view was the mini falls into a nice pooling area. The picture doesn’t really do it justice but it was breathtaking in person. As we left this area the downpour came. It was like buckets and buckets of rain drops. We were drenched but it added to the fun of the day.

The main event was the big water fall. It was beautiful from the top with the mist and the fog but the real amazing view was at the bottom. A little wet from the rain but the mist of the falls sprayed you when you were up close. It was an experience to say the least.

A lot of wet fun was had on the hike but we then ventured off to the park for a cute fall picnic. Thank you to Trader Joe’s, a ton of fall delights that we all grazed on. Some pumpkin spice hummus, a tasty charcuterie tray, everything but the bagel chips, pickles, moist cinnamon bun cookies, pumpkin white chocolate brownies, nuts, pumpkin flavored seeds, green goddess dip, pumpkin granola bark, cranberry chicken salad, spinach and kale yogurt dip, chocolate almond spread, crackers and so many more treats. It was a feast of sorts in the park. I am so ready for my next picnic. Anyone can make the best of a cloudy day. 

Hopefully you are not hungry after reading this but I am in a food coma thus I must end this post right here.

health, healthy hacks

Just Breathe

Such a simple statement: just breathe.

There are many times now-a-days I think about this simple statement. In the morning when my coach programs deep breathing in my warmup. It’s almost a time to put me back to sleep but it doesn’t. It settles my mind. It gets me ready for the crazy day ahead. Just simple breathing.

Then I think about the many I know near and far struggling with their breathing. Just breathe is hard for them. They could be having issues with Covid or they could be just aging or they could be dealing with an asthma flare up. Just breathe for them takes on a totally different meaning than my just breathe in the morning.

Then there is deep inhale and long exhale of breathing I do in times of stress. When the calendar is full to max capacity. When everyone needs you in different places at the same time. When life is crazy amidst a pandemic. When you need to make choices. Just breathe. It’s simple but not so simple.

On days like today I take a few minutes to breathe in and breathe out. Appreciating each breath for what it is. An opportunity. A chance to take on a new day. For me the fresh air breathing outside is much more appreciated than indoor but some days I take what I can get.

Don’t underestimate the value of breathing. It can be therapeutic. If done calmly with purpose and thought it can be a reset button of sorts. Just breathing has hidden values.

Take a walk in in the park and inhale the scents, exhale the worries of life.

Sit in your yard and listen to the birds chirp while you inhale and exhale.

Take a trip to the mountains and breathe the crisper mountain air. Exhale the toxins of the city hustle and bustle.

If you are near the the ocean, enjoy calm breathing with the mist of the sea. Exhale any negativity in your life.

Go to your special place. Close your eyes. Just breathe. Remember a loved one. Cherish memories while you breathe in and out. Just breathing slowly with purpose allows up time to enjoy the simplicity of breathing and reflection.

Just breathe. Just breathe as you wait for the big news you are anxious about. Just breathe as you stress about the days ahead. Just breathe as you tackle the the new you that’s on the horizon. Just breathe. It’s simple enough but sometimes we all need that reminder to just breathe through it all.

I’ll leave you with this clip of my morning routine today. Give simple breathing a shot for five minutes. Let me know how this 5 minutes of your day worked to your advantage.

dare to be different

New Ink

Fresh.

Colorful.

Memorable.

Designed with detail.

My body is a temple. A place of art. Unique as the person living under the skin. My ink tells a story or many stories. Some inked pieces are linked or overlapped while others stand alone in their storyline. Some are colored some are not.  Some fade while others stand firm. Some hurt more than others.

Tattoos are interesting. For some tattoos carry judgment on the person adorning them while others are curious about tattoos. Did that hurt? Why would you get that? You do know that is permanent? If god wanted you to have markings he would have gifted them at birth. I have heard them all. I have also shared my tattoo stories to many time and time again. Some show excitement. Some say now I get it. Others say no way. Some conversations ignite a passion to finally get a tattoo. A first for so many.

My body, my choice. My temple, my art. This newest piece is symbolic. I’ve been waiting for a while post-pandemic to get an appointment first of all. Then the timing just fell into place. An anniversary date. A symbol of growth. A unique piece of art. Plastered on my arm. Worn with pride. A reminder of so much. I just love my newest ink piece.

I was lucky enough to share my ink experience with a few gals. We laughed. We took pictures. We marked the spot so to speak.  We met some cool people. I should mention that all walks of life get tattoos and just visiting a tattoo shop is an experience that I encourage. From couples to moms and daughters to those celebrating another’s life are all at the shop for a unique piece of art. The tattoo artist creating that perfect image.

Years of inspiration will be drawn from this inked art as I push through life’s ups and downs. When I am old and wrinkled I will know I have lived my life to the fullest and captured moments or highlights on my canvas to share with others. These memories of life have value to me. The perfect keepsake.

I wasn’t even five minutes from the tattoo parlor when I was asked about my fresh ink. The placement was perfect. The design was just what I wanted. The coloring was spot on. The timing was right. My story continues. My ink will continue to evolve just like me.

adventure

Damn Near Perfect

I was aiming for a damn near perfect day away. Okay is there such a thing? Probably not but I’m going to make today a priority.

I’m going to see if I focus on the day if I can make it damn near perfect. I’m not sure what I will do yet. But I’ll write about it. I also know if it’s not perfect I’m going try again the next day. I’m on vacation. Why not try to aim for a near perfect day. I have time. I have a break from the chaos. I don’t have any have-tos on my list today.

The funny part about thinking about this is I have nothing to model my perfect day after. It’s what I make of it. It’s what I decide is near perfect. No benchmark for this stats girl. I guess I’ll just throw shit on the wall or the mountains and see what happens. 

I was struggling with altitude adjustments in the Rocky Mountains on this day. Too many quirky “offs” to list them all but I was off in many ways. With such a rough start to how I feel today, could I even aim for perfect? 

I hit the local village coffee shop first thing. I wasn’t expecting much as I had never been nor had I previewed the menu. What I did know is I was starting out local. I got a smile just by the name of my drink. Milky Way was a mix of coffee, chocolate and caramel. A hot treat on a cool and drizzly morning. A little local paper tucked in the corner to read while sipping and enjoying the coffee shop vibe.

I was slowly dusting off my morning crud. The tired eyes. The chilled body. The day’s adventure called for an outdoor activity. Miles away by car. Rain rain go away is all I could say in my mind. We were going to raft the Arkansas River and it was raining. Well I guess it wasn’t going to be perfect but I was going to get wet anyway so I wasn’t going to let the rain sour my outlook for the day.

The ride was amazing. More than I could have expected. From fog to clouds to misty air, the scenery was illuminated. A blink of sunshine. A fierce downpour. A spurt of hail. The mountains are full of mystery. So much beauty right in front of me.

Just before the Continental Divide I spotted a mountain camp or town around a factory. It was spray painted and desolate. I wondered about its history. What once lived there. Why did it shut down? Will it ever be reborn? So much to think about for my curious mind.

A quick pit stop in a quaint town with the oldest saloon I ever did see. The floors creaked. There were many old-time artifacts within. The saloon was bustling with locals and tourists. A cool sight to observe. So much fun to shop in the town stores. From the thrift store to the local homemade good store. The experience was one of a kind. New people. New places. Off the beaten path. My kind of perfect. Leadville, CO was the stop. Home of the Leadville 500 race. Another first experience for me. A race across the sky.

The road was empty yet mystical form of nature. My road to nowhere or somewhere. Just around the bend I would land at my destination. This is where I would meet my guide. His name was Joaquin and he was from Chile. His accent was cool and so was he. Joaquin spends his off seasons working in other countries while his homeland isn’t at peak season. Away from his wife and family. So fun to learn about his adventures. He has worked the rivers in California, Chile, Colorado and Italy to name a few. I felt honored to meet him. I enjoyed my time on the raft drifting and exchanging stories. Oh how we laughed. Oh how we paddled hard. Left forward. Right back. Paddle fast. We even rocked and rolled in the harsh rapids. A few rock jumps. Picnic by the waterside. Views of an abandoned railroad on the river side. So much history. A great experience for all.

My day was unknown at the start. My day could have been altered many times. I had a positive outlook amidst the bad weather and other variables. My attitude reflected my outcome.
The road back was another rainy one but we stopped in the towns along the way to catch a glimpse of local life. I’m pretty sure I was in bed by 8pm. I would say this was a near perfect day for me.

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Six Miles of Smiles

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do it this year. The Peachtree Road Race. An Atlanta tradition on the Fourth of July. It would be my seventh in a row. I do like streaks but I still wasn’t sure.

It would be different, of course, just like most of life these days. They spread the event over two days. Much smaller crowds. Vaccination checks or virus screenings. I did it last year solo (virtual) and it was not so fun. But I had a friend ask me to join her so I jumped in. I chose July 3 since I figured it would be different anyways, and it worked better with my travel schedule.

The day-before number pickup event was a disappointment. The usual convention hall of shoe and running pouch vendors, waffle samples, music, and ebullience was just a handful of folks with official merch and the public transportation folks to ease race day travels. I left feeling sort of glum.

Waking on race morning is always hard. It often follows a night of broken sleep, anticipating the event and challenge to come. I made it to parking and on to the train. It was so much easier to park and ride, but I did miss the usual crowd of runners we participate with. I made it to the start line and saw my friend, a ray of light! I took my traditional start line pics and we were off and running.

I hadn’t trained in running much so I had no expectations for my performance. The energy was totally different in the race with dramatically fewer people on the course. But it didn’t take long for me to start feeling lifted. The people on the side of the course seemed especially excited. I made eye contact with many of them and smiled. It was more personal this time around.

And then I smiled for the next six miles. My friend was often ahead of me but we still connected a few times. It was surprisingly cool out. With fewer runners there was far less of the usual bobbing and weaving around the different paces. Smooth sailing throughout, really.

It actually felt a little emotional to be there, running and smiling after the grueling mental marathon of Covid-19. I nearly cried at times, but I still never stopped smiling. I thanked the police, the volunteers, the people who came out to hand us water, even all the trash collectors who line their trucks up across the cross streets to keep the runners from being plowed down by anyone who would wish harm on the runners of the World’s Largest 10K.

I watched the miles and milestones tick by. My legs ached. I thought to myself, I am creating the future. I am putting my steps in and my votes in for hope. For health. For persistence. For triumph.

I crossed the line just under 4 minutes faster of my time two years ago. I felt so great for having done it. The one Coke I allow myself each year tasted as sweet as it ever has. It is wonderful to be out challenging myself and participating again. May the miles we still have to go be as joyful.