awareness

Nightfall

It was a Tuesday evening in summer. Not too hot out, maybe 75 degrees. Sitting at a friend’s house in their backyard by their pool. Surprisingly no kids were around, not even in the pool.

No laughter. No whining. No birds chirping. No splashing of water. No dog barks. Nightfall was upon us. A simpler time of day in the yard.

The sounds of the night were so very different from the sounds of the day. What an interesting thought or moment in time to recount in this blog. Nightfall.

Creatures of the night were awake and singing to us. From the grass to the trees sounds were in full force. Crickets for sure were out in full force. Was there one or many? I can’t say for sure but it seems orchestrated or echoed.

A variance of chirps and high pitch zaps and wonky sounds in stereo in the backyard. It was calming. White noise, pink noise or whatever noise this refers to. It’s a peaceful sound. A simple sound of the peace within the environment.

How these sounds differ if the environment was a beach, a farm or a cruise ship. The click of the air conditioner turned on. Clack, buzz and the vibration hum set the background tone. The crickets sing on top of the bass sound. Layered on top are random zaps from a nearby bug zapper. Katydids egg on the crickets with their anthem. It’s a full blown orchestra if you listen.

Don’t let the silence kill you. Enjoy the carefree whispers around you. As a mom those silent times are few and far between. Embrace the silence. Enjoy the whispers from the grass to the trees. Appreciate the calming sense of the sound. If you tune out the chaos of the hustle and bustle of today’s world you will most likely sleep better at night.

If on a farm would I hear bears wrestling at night? Would I hear the moos of cows? Would I hear the sound of grass crackling when a deer passes by? Would I hear the sound of a horse wrestling in the solitude of his barn? Would I hear the sighs of those taking in the stars at night from their back porch? I may just have to research this.

I do know if I am at the beach instead of the backyard the night sounds are distinctively different yet calming in a different way. The rushing of ocean waves. Simple sounds but in a repetitive pattern. Swoosh. It may have a soft finish if the wave hits the sand or a harsh sound if the wave hits the rock. How a storm can change the sound in the backyard, the beach or the farm.

From a distant thunder to shaking of the roof when it draws near. To the sound of rain hitting your roof. And how different the sound is if your roof is metal vs. straw.

Nightfall. The sounds that ensue. Have you slowed down to appreciate the sounds of the night in your part of the world? How do your sounds differ from mine? Sounds are soothing. Enjoy your next nightfall. I know I will enjoy my next nightfall wherever my night falls.

fitness and nutrition

Follow My Lead

I’d been on this mountain many times. I grew up in its shadow. One summer I worked at a restaurant near the foot of it and climbed it every afternoon when I got out off my shift. In peak shape I would scramble up then jog down. My fastest round trip was 28 minutes back then.

I don’t do it nearly as often or as quickly these days. I live 30 minutes away and my life practically never sends me in that direction. But I try to do a long bike ride every Sunday, so I pegged Stone Mountain for today’s ride.

There’s a hilly 5-mile loop popular with bikers that circles the bottom of the mountain. I pushed through that loop more than once before my legs begged me to stop, or at least to make a change.

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I still had time, so then, in a crazy last-second heat-addled decision, I decided to climb just like old times. I had my AirPods in, I was in the zone. A bit slower than I wanted, but I already had some miles on those legs so I wasn’t too mad. Just one foot in front of the other.

It’s not too bad a climb until you hit StairMaster hill. Suddenly the granite just kicks up from manageably rocky to sheer and steep. Like lean-forward-at-a-45-degree-angle-while-you-shuffle-up steep. I passed several people on the hill, taking breaks. My steps were small but I just kept going.

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Maybe 20 yards after the hill I needed a minute to catch my breath. I don’t usually need breaks on the mountain, but I listened to my body and stepped aside well off the trail under some trees for a quick breather.

I turned to look back at the view and was stunned when, instead of hazy skyline, I see 4 people walking directly behind me. They all stopped suddenly and looked up at me. I had never seen any of these people in my life. Two men, two women, staring. But from their pull off the trail and stunned looks, it was clear they had been following my lead. After about 10 seconds of awkwardness, they moved back into the path and continued toward the top of the mountain in two separate pairs.

It’s not surprising that I was oblivious to the people hot on my heels. Music on, mind adrift, solo exercise is my zone-out time. What I couldn’t understand is why? Why follow me? It’s a clear path with dozens of people on it. I do have that nerdy, friendly librarian look where people ask me questions all the time in all kinds of contexts. But this was a no brainer. Just keep going up.

Maybe it was my pace, I thought. Maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing. I will never know.

What stayed with me is that there are times when we are leading but we may not know it.  We may not ask for it.  We may not see ourselves as leaders.  But, at times we are leading nonetheless.  

Maybe it’s not a literal mountain.  Instead, it might be going public with struggles, with triumphs, with progress, with challenges. Just living your life on purpose is leadership. No title needed. A neighbor stopped me the other day to tell me I inspired her to get moving because she sees me out walking the neighborhood. My daughter’s childhood youth group leader recently messaged me from out if the blue to ask about CrossFit, after watching my changes.

The people following you may not know your whole story.  They probably have their own goals, even agendas.  It could be they just like your pace.  Or you look like you know what you’re doing.  

You’re leading even if people don’t tell you. Near and far, people are watching. Think for a moment. What are you leading them to?

mental health

Peaceful

In my recent travels I ended up in middle America as I call it from my eyes. Away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Away from the rioting and looting in the big cities. Away from the stress of work.

I walked for miles and miles on a flat roadway taking in the tranquil scenery. No cars honking no smog in the air. It was peaceful silence and fresh air. The simple quality of breathing fresh air can leave you breathless. What an irony.

This road isn’t a fancy road to anywhere just a beautiful part of our country. Flat lands allowing you to see for miles and miles. No smoke or smog on the horizon. What a sight to take in when our country is in so much turmoil.

All the fields were recently planted or prepped by the local farmers. Some fields have corn while others had wheat. Some were just covered in wild flowers. Either way it seemed the birth of new life was in abundance.

I choose my happy each day. I tend to stay away from the negative news blasts and social media rants. I try to focus on what’s front and center. What can I impact? How can I make a difference?

In a world of so many uncertainties find your balance. Find your peace and beauty around you. Find your wildflowers or embody the spirit of wild flower within you.

May this post find you some peace and comfort today. If you can, visit the ocean and dip your toes in the sand. Take a hike in the mountains. Get away from it all to embrace peaceful when the world around us is constantly showing us all struggle.

I hope some of my photo reel once again let your mind drift if you aren’t able to travel for whatever reason. I share my stories with the world to make a difference. Enjoy.

perspective

New Normal

I thought I had adjusted to a new normal post-pandemic. I carry hand sanitizer and mask for when the need arises. I keep my distance. I limit the number of people I gather with and so on. I even utilize the x marks when needed.

Then I took a road trip for a funeral. It wasn’t a pleasure trip. I was forced to travel. I didn’t want to fly and deal with that drama so I opted for a road trip that I made many times in years past without issues.

Oh, but what has changed. Let’s start with the big one, everything has changed.

The simple task of going to the bathroom on a road trip. Stop in well lit areas, aim for clean and well-known spots echo in my mind from my parents’ early teachings. Those simple rules are history because we now have pandemic rules. Fast food and restaurants are take out only, no bathrooms. Gas stations are employee use only for safety. Hotels are for patrons only so no option for lobby use. So where does the car traveler go to use the bathroom when in rural areas? That’s the question at hand. For me it was a hole in the wall grocery store. Good thing it was the day time due to their operating hours. Am I the only one who has had this challenge arise?

Nutrition: you want to eat a good meal while traveling. You want to have energy to endure your travels. Where do you eat? In your car. How exciting, you get to eat in your car. The car you are traveling in. No break. This is just another way the pandemic has changed things we took for granted.

Mask or don’t mask is a question for me. I’m traveling through 6-7 states to mourn the loss of loved ones. Each state has their own rules and regulations. It’s hard to keep up. When I think about this new normal I just bury my head in the mask.

I thought dogs had it bad when they wore their cone of shame after surgery. I now feel their pain as we all adjust to the new normals of life and I don the mask of shame. At least I’m sporting sushi in this mask.

Of course I can’t forget about the riots that broke out amidst my travels. Circumstances bad enough to shut down cities and make me wonder where to stop for gas when I get alarms on my phone with major warnings like below. This world today is crazy and ever changing to say the least.

For now I will end this post with you thinking about if I need to go buy depends or not to make it to my destination. Enjoy that visual.

adventure

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.