adventure, Uncategorized

Spring’s Simple Pleasures

Is it just me, or is this the longest spring season in recorded history?

And no, this isn’t really a post about how difficult it has been to be cooped up indoors a lot, separated from friends, missing out on events, and so on.  (If you’re looking for that, try these posts.)

I don’t remember spring ever lasting this long because it is usually lacrosse season, celebration season, end of work season, and so on.  We are often driving and juggling and cheering and volunteering and working nonstop.  And I love and miss a lot of that.  But this season has allowed me to notice and enjoy spring in new ways. I have always loved fall above all else, but I’m now seeing that spring has its charms.

Couple that with my commitment to be more intentional about spending money and I am finding myself relishing small, simple pleasures.

I’ve mentioned the morning reading that has replaced my sometimes frantic commute.  Quiet, candle, coffee and a book starts my day most of the time.  You’d think a librarian would read a lot, but I honestly don’t make the time for it that I should.  Right now I am going into my physical building to work for a few weeks, so reading time is short but I try not to miss it.

Bike rides.  What would I do without my bike?  I’m sort of obsessed with it.  I keep it on my car pretty much all the time and biking on the back seat inside just in case the opportunity to ride presents itself.  Cruising new paths in the sunshine with my riding partner is happiness and adventure when going very far from home isn’t happening.  It feels like a mini-vacation and is one of the few times I feel truly care-free.

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I am a farmer’s market fanatic.  The pandemic has caused many local farmers to revamp their business models.  I’ve been able to order flowers and farm boxes and pick them up safely.  I actually love that I can order what I like and have it held for me.  It’s frustrating to drive all the way to the market only to find they already sold out of my favorite sungold tomatoes or, later, September Wonder apples.

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Which reminds me, it is almost tomato season here where we live.  I look forward to these summer veggies all year.  Right now we are in the heart of strawberry season. I found an hour the other day to drive out to a strawberry farm and pick a couple of buckets.  If you have never had strawberries straight from the vine (or tomatoes for that matter) you are missing out.  It’s a totally different taste than supermarket berries.  And the experience of picking them myself in the hot sun was sweet and reflective. Fresh strawberries are one of the sweeter things in life. It’s been great to share them with people who appreciate them.

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What simple pleasures have you rediscovered in these hard times? Walks?  Game nights? Family dinners?  Tell us in the comments.

 

perspective

Where’s the Disconnect?

Everywhere, all around, it seems connections are breaking down.

Big & small.  Local & global.  Things we never think about, things we take for granted, suddenly aren’t working anymore.

The news is so puzzling it makes my head spin.

First, food.

Almost every night on the news, there’s a story about the lines at food pantries and other food giveaways that wrap around buildings and through parking lots.  People are spending hours in line to get basic necessities of all kinds. Families that were once secure are quickly, unexpectedly in need.  And families that were teetering on the edge are now hanging on for dear life.

I guess it’s not that surprising, in light of how many people have lost jobs.

What turns to shocking is when I read a story about how farmers are burying onions, cracking thousands of eggs, dumping milk out and more, all before they get to consumers. The loss of restaurant, hotel, and school outlets for food has turned demand on its head.  Or that the closure of meat processing plants due to COVID-19 infections means many animals will be killed and never make it to market.  Staggering. Unimaginable.  The resources, so desperately needed, will be destroyed.

Hungry people on one side, supplies of food on the other, being wasted.

Where’s the disconnect? Why is it so hard to fix this, if the supplies of food are there as well as the demand?   While scientists are busy developing and distributing tests, I hope logistics experts are working on this food issue. I feel frustrated and helpless in it.

Second, human connection.

A similar disconnect may be true in mental health.  The worries about loneliness, isolation, and more stream through my news and social media feeds. All of that is a concern.  Some people cry out and are hopefully heard and reassured.  But then it’s the people who are invisible, who aren’t speaking up, who may live alone or are in unhealthy situations who can be the most worrisome.  People who may be losing hope, losing connection. I think we are all eager to connect.  Demand is high, and I believe supply is, too.  Still, being physically separate is a challenge.

I can’t drive a semi to Iowa or Idaho and get all that good food and bring it to where it is needed.  I am grateful to Publix and Kroger and other organizations who are trying to reconnect supply and demand in whatever ways they can.  In my own life, I can talk to those who may be having food or financial struggles and offer to share what I have. If I suspect someone might be suffering, I should just ask. Seriously, just ask.

I can be even more direct with the mental health worries, though. I can reach out to people I know.  And especially try to think of people who may be having a hard time.  People I haven’t heard from in a while.  People who might be lonely or afraid. Disconnected. If I suspect someone might be suffering, I should just ask. Seriously, just ask.  Check in.

Keep looking for ways to connect people with the resources they need.  Be the connection.

family, fitness and nutrition, friendship

Spiked

I got spiked. I spiked others. Of course this was done playing the game of Spikeball and has absolutely nothing to do with spiking drinks. After playing this game I realized how much I missed sports, athletics, competition, people and so on. Thank you corona for this time to appreciate my surroundings and the valuable people in my life.

What is Spikeball? Four players (2 per team) strategically or frantically bouncing a ball off a springy circular net about 2 inches off the ground. If you haven’t played this game it’s a fun activity for a small group to play in the yard, at a picnic or even at a work outting.

You can get a little workout if you move around as a bonus. My Apple Watch indicated I had a brief workout. You can work as a team with your partner or you can play solo within a partnership and see how you fare. That’s part of what you have to figure out as a duo.

I played this game in the past with friends and it was a ton of fun. I had said I was going to buy the game but never did. Life keeps me on the go go go so I just never got it. Then guess what? Corona hit.

When in corona time it seemed I had almost too much time. What did I do to escape the boredom? One of the first things I did while on lockdown was hit up amazon. What do I need? What do I want? What have I had on a pending list to snag? I ordered Spikeball of course. It took a while to arrive since it wasn’t essential but I got it and wasted no time putting it into action.

Not hard to set up and boom just needed to find me some family members to get to four players. It was a lot of fun.

Just hearing the giggles was good. Then the competition came and I was thrilled because I had been missing that in so many areas of life. Then the crazy came out. It was either the awkward faces or body movements or even the oops I completely missed the ball!

Spikeball will be my game of choice for a while and I hope to get many different players to try with me. I guess I will have to wait a little longer to get with my friends for a game but I can be patient.

If you are looking for a fun game that includes fresh air, give Spikeball a try. I rate it a 9 out of 10. I’m not hard to please and they don’t pay me to rate their product. I just thought it was a good filler to break up the crazy of the day. My counterparts had fun too.

What’s something new you picked up during corona isolation?

adventure, balance, inspire

Nature Therapy

If you recall we posted a digital doomsday blog and noted all the negative vibes around what’s missing these days from the school experience from a teen daughter’s perspective. All the time stuck with eyes glued to a laptop. No time to move between classes. No friends to laugh with.

However, after reflecting on the extra time available to take a walk with my daughter outside because of the “downtime” in our schedule and her lack of spending time with friends or at sports activities, a different vantage point appeared. Again a negative turned positive. Below is a great pic we snagged on a late night stroll together. We are embracing nature in a way we never have before. Just listening to birds chirp in the morning is a new kind of peaceful way to start the day. Very different than how life started a month ago and hopefully different than next month but for today we are embracing what options one can celebrate.

One wish for us is that the vast majority of people would or could look past themselves and their immediate discomforts during this pandemic and see the sunshine that is around the corner. It may not be the brightest sunshine but even every sliver of light can be embraced in the darkest hour.

If even just a few people out out there choose nature as a stress relief today it can spread. Think about others as well. Your aura reflects on others. A joyous smile is infectious when you pass somebody at the park from 6 feet way. It’s free and simple and may be the one interaction that person has that day. It could be mind altering that day. There is always somebody in a worse situation than you despite what you see right in front of you. Pass on the positives during this dark time.

As we write this, Spring is springing forth in the USA. Color is starting to dapple the landscape. Flowers are beginning their parade of blooms. Here’s a tip: find some local flower growers and follow them on social media. If your feeds are full of gloom and doom, trim those folks back (mute them or unfollow) and add some beauty to your screen.

Even better, reach out to flower farmers near you and see if you can connect that way. Farmers near us, used to relying on farmer’s markets or florists, are now offering porch deliveries or pre-orders to open air markets. These small local farmers are suffering from the breakdown of routines and supply chains just as many other businesses are. They are forced to innovate on nature’s timeline. Many can offer you bunches of exquisite little treasures that you can enjoy and share with others. Here’s a recent pickup we enjoyed, and supported a couple of small businesses in the process.

As we have said in many ways at many times, you become who and what you surround yourself with. Get out and surround yourself with fresh air. Bright, warm sunshine. Sweet breezes. Walk your feet on fresh grass. If you’re having trouble getting out of your head or you’re feeling anxious, do a 5 senses countdown exercise out in the world. Clear your mind and notice what is happening in nature. Surround yourself with reminders that time continues on.

New life is coming. Even though part of nature is going haywire at the moment, much of it is marching in its usual rhythm. Bees are buzzing. Baby ducks and bunnies will soon appear at local parks. The earth is waking up from its yearly nap. Let this reassure you that this dark season will also pass. In the mean time, don’t miss the things we are often too busy to notice.

This post is dedicated tho those full of raw emotions relating to Coronavirus. We all have them. We opt to share ours with the world via a blog. Our posts are edited multiple times and viewed by others subjectively before going live. Although only one vantage point, it may help somebody reading along.

Nature therapy has worked for us during this crazy time. Walks in our community. Short jogs. Bike riding. Gardening. Swimming. Kayaking. Hiking. All activities that allow physical distancing while embracing nature. Chick 1 even climbed a few trees.

We don’t need to be confined to our four walls to be safe. We can be distant and enjoy nature. Opt outside when you can.

inspire

Choose Joy Today

I understand Corona is getting the best or worst of many these days. It’s been a month since official lockdown has shut many operations down.

With that being said the news gets uglier everyday. Talk of death, sadness, disease, shortages and so on. I choose not to watch because it sucks the life out of me.

On the same track social media is equally disgusting. Most days there are posts from those crying poor me, giving political rants, or worse slamming others because of their own personal dissatisfaction of circumstances. Most days I have to mute social media outlets because it can be draining.

What’s crazy is some people post away without thinking of who they may offend. If you are a business owner it could be a returning client you isolate. If you are a parent it could be your school teacher neighbor you anger. If you’re tired of being cooped up and give a medical rant you might be pissing off that very important healthcare worker that is in your network.

The value of social media can be far reaching but so can its hurt. Most people learn as adults to cool off before you type your feelings in an email or online. Right now this is an important lesson many may need to hear more than once.

Guess what people. I’m choosing joy. I’m choosing to tune out the negative news, negative people and negative ranters online. Bye. Gone. Ghosted. Just like that. My mental health doesn’t need your toxicity.

I clearly don’t need negative when I open my mail and see happy mail. Cards, letters, postcards or even porch drops of sweetness. I had the best homemade salsa delivered by a pal to my surprise. I had many lift-me-up note cards in the mail like the one below. All with uplifting messages. The one below is from an amazing healthcare worker on the front line. She has taken the time to send out hope cards to her friends. The world needs more of this and less negativity.

We are all in this Corona mess together. Everyone has limited opportunities yet we all have the opportunity to choose joy over hatred or sorrow. There are already impacts near and far. Healthcare workers and caregivers are getting sick or dying. This is real people. It’s not a conspiracy theory to shut your business down.

About a month ago I posted about what was taken away. The separation of my dad and mom at their age due to visitation restrictions. The loss of connection. This will last well past when most get off stay-at-home orders due to the risk category elderly fall into.

I can’t fix those circumstances but I had opportunities to offer hope and positivity in out of the box ways. I mailed a care package filled with his favorite candies to my dad so he would know people outside were thinking about him. We integrated Facetime visits whenever possible and that in itself can be challenging for those in their 80s. I designed a cool shirt for my mom and dad’s 59th anniversary that will most likely be spent apart. Not ideal situations but we are coping with the options afforded us. At the same time appreciating the lockdown to keep him and others safe within his facility.

As shown on the news, the elderly can be wiped out fast if this virus hits an assisted living place with common living areas much like a cruise ship. It’s messages like this on the news that can rattle one’s cage. I know this when I see my mom worrying about my dad after a news segment. Choosing the joy in the situation can overshadow the negative if you choose.

Crazy to think about but staying home can help if you think about the big picture. The keepsake below will help my folks ring in 59 years apart this year. It is their only anniversary apart to date but they still have each other and that a blessing. Choose joy everyone. Corona can’t take that away from you.

Speaking of time, it’s so precious. As I write this heartbreak has hit close by. A loss of a bright young soul to suicide. Yes this is real. As humans we are social. When people are confined to their homes others can’t see those suffering signs. Some will choose the only solution they see viable to their perceived problems. It’s sad but I know more will follow. Suicide, PTSD, substance abuse and depression are current issues impacting many. That’s not a conspiracy theory.

I watched my sister work in her garden in the past few days. Lettuce, tomatoes and other veggies are starting to blossom. We as a community will blossom and rise just like a new garden. Some years are more fruitful than others but if you work hard all can sprout.

Times of struggle are upon us all. How we react to this pandemic will show what we are made of and who we are as people. Check on those who seem distant. Be kind. Look beyond you to help others. I can’t emphasize this enough. Make your own garden sprout. A little sunshine, a little hard work, and a little hope will go a long way.

awareness, fitness and nutrition

Chad

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We’ve written about CrossFit Hero WODs here on the blog before.

The subject of today’s blog is one of the more recent ones, known as “Chad.”

Read the story.  It’s a worthy one.

The workout seems seems simple enough. 1,000 box step-ups with a weighted vest.  Not much movement.  Same thing over and over again.  Just counting and moving, moving and counting.

1,000 of anything, though….I’m not sure CrossFit has any other workouts that reach into 4 digits.

My mindset: It would take a while.  I knew that.  It would be grueling.  I would keep going until it was time to stop.

So, before sunrise in the middle of the quarantine, I started counting and moving, moving and counting.

As with many hero WODs, there are lessons to reflect on.  The story of Chad made me think about mental health throughout most of the reps.

Here are the lessons I learned, 50 reps at a time. As many face mental health challenges in our current coronavirus situation, some of the lessons seem more important than ever.

-It is ok to set your weight down sometimes.  You have to pick it up again eventually but it is ok to take a break sometimes.  This was easy for me to say with my dumbbell in a backpack, but what about those who can’t put their weight down?

-I had choices.  I brought out dumbbells, plates, and more.  But in the end, it seemed like too much trouble to switch even though it might have brought relief to do things a little differently.  Lesson:  Sometimes even our best advice or tools aren’t useful to people who are consumed with just getting through whatever it is.  People will often default to what is familiar because it is familiar.  When you are enduring hardship, change can be too much of a challenge even if it might help.

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-Good music helps.  Drowning out the discomfort and having a little to sing along with makes a big difference.

-After a while I lost my form and was just flailing.  I also took extra steadying or stutter steps on the ground between each step up after about 500.  I thought to myself I should be more efficient and tried to skip the extra steps and keep my form together but my body just wasn’t doing that. It needed the extra break or correction in between. Sometimes we can see a problem and think our way into fixing things, other times not.

-I would have sudden bursts of energy, seemingly out of the blue.  I’d just push right through 6 or 7.  Then, it would go back to the same slow rhythm.  Unpredictable energy levels happen.  I may seem ok, but then slow down again.

-Coming down was just as hard as going up.  You’d think the up would be the challenge, but I noticed myself coming down harder and harder as the reps went on.  I knew my knees were under pressure.  Even the easier things require effort and concentration.

-Sometimes, the only way out is through.

Surprises:

-My heart rate was SO high and I burned so many calories.  To a passer by, it would probably not look that complicated or taxing. Just up, down, up, down. What’s the big deal?  I couldn’t believe how out consistently high my heart rate was.  Sometimes we can’t tell the effort others are putting in to things that may look simple.

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-Sometimes my body just refused to step up even though my mind told it to. A few times I barely missed the top of the box.  Other times my body just stopped like a stubborn horse refusing to jump.  Just no.  Sometimes our bodies and minds don’t work together.

-I ran the full gamut of emotions.  Bored, Anxious, Determined, Giddy, Frustrated, Relieved.  All over the map.

I thought to myself:

-I wish I was not by myself.  I wished it was a partner WOD at one point, then I thought I would have settled for a buddy or even a FaceTime friend.  CrossFit is built on community and shared suffering.  It was REALLY hard to do it alone.  It just lifts you up when you see others engaged in the same task. But, sometimes in life going it alone is the choice you have.  I had many partners in my thoughts cheering me on.

-I need a coach.  When I felt my form and motivation slipping, a coach watching me, helping me, encouraging me, barking at me would have meant a lot.  Someone who knows what they’re doing, knows me, and knows what to do is a good companion.

-I had a huge case of the “I don’t wannas” between 300-600.  Not at the beginning, not at the end, just the long, wide middle.  Monotonous.  Boring.  Is it over yet?  I just kept pushing but it was mentally and physically taxing when I wasn’t in the excitement of the beginning but couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The middle is hard.  What about situations where we don’t know where the end point is?

-I was hard on myself.  I “no repped” myself many times when I didn’t stand up completely on the box.  But really, does it matter that much?  How many people do we know who are just really hard on themselves when it’s not entirely necessary?

-At times I lost count or had repetitive thoughts.  I got so tired things didn’t even make sense anymore.  I was taking a break every 50 reps to have water and write.  But, sometimes I would go to write things and I had already written them, or I couldn’t remember what I was thinking about when I got to the paper.

-Toward the end, I had a burst of “I Think I Can” and Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” in my head.  It was almost time for me to go to work so I also got a little flustered toward the end thinking I wouldn’t finish in time.  But getting toward a goal can be motivating.

The aftermath:

-Pain that went all throughout my body in waves for about 48 hours.  Just gotta keep moving to keep the real pain of immobility from setting in. Pain is real.

-I was one of the first to do it in our gym group.  So, I was able to encourage people who came after.  This is one of the most important parts of being on the path, and being a survivor.  Help those who are with you or coming along after you.

Finally,

The first thing I wrote was,

-What is my mountain?

I am still thinking about that.  There are many.  Short term, long term, distant future.  This was a metaphor for many challenges in life and living.  I’ll keep thinking about it and I wouldn’t be surprised if I do it again some day.

What is your mountain?  Who can be your partner on the path?  Your inspiration?  Who can you encourage today?

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awareness

Need Help?

In today’s ever-changing world many people need help. Maybe from the stress of what’s in front of them and maybe the stress that is indirectly hitting them.

This post is meant to be a resource page. It may not help everyone who reads this post but it’s meant to offer hope in what is a challenging time for many.

If you were impacted by recent storms in the southern United States, the above number may be helpful.

If you or anyone you know is having trouble coping with the stress relating to managing life during COVID-19, this suicide prevention help line may be a resource worth sharing.

If you reside in the great state of Georgia, the above COVID-19 support resource list may be just what you need access to.

Remember we are all in this crazy mess together. Taking advantage of a free resource or passing on such information is prevention education. It’s a way to offer hope in a challenging time.

2 Chicks and a Pen consider mental health of utmost concern these days. We do our part to write online to motivate others as well as offer hope when needed. If these resources don’t cover your geographical area, find some that do and pass the information on.

You never know who is struggling in silence. With many forced into reclusive environments a lifeline resource can be a life-saving option.

Hugs and love from 2Chicks. We are smiling big at you!