A Change in Location: A Change in Mind

I have lived in Georgia for a little over a year now and have visited more parks than I did in my entire life in the Garden State for over 50 years.  How does that happen? A friend said it best,

“A Change in location can equal a change in mind.” -NCH

Never did I believe that breathing the fresh outdoor warm summer air while walking miles and observing the beauty in a wooded park would spark so many delightful thoughts.

This post is inspired by a trail in Tribble Park. When your mind is quiet, static, and at peace to wander, you will view the world around you differently.

Walking through the park, my intentions were to get a few miles in while taking in the natural beauty of the parkland. What took place surprised me. As I strolled along the trail, objects like the shapes of the trees, the colors of the leaves, and the brokenness of tree branches, triggered random but inspiring thoughts.

New Paths and Journey’s

Reflections: We set personal and professional goals. In spite of well thought out plans (or so we think), we truly don’t know where the path will lead us. Some paths are more familiar than others. The roads are narrow, wide, straight, covered with debris, and even lead to dead ends. We think we know precisely where we are going. But amiss, we end up in a new place.

At times, the surprising destination is wonderful. On the other hand, the landing-place is unanticipated. At that moment, we have a choice to give up and to end the journey or chose receive and accept God’s lesson and beget further growth.

What is important is that, on our journey, we pay attention to all of the elements. On this walk, I observed many beautiful components of nature, such as this magnificent and variegated leaf.

The vivid spotted decaying leaf was the brightest leaf in a pile. If I were daydreaming and not focusing on the details along the path, I would have missed it. Squatting and eyeballing the leaf,  four ladies walked up. “What did you find? A snake?” Now that’s funny and boy did I laugh. I told them I don’t photograph snakes, I run from them. I pointed out the leaf to the women. They stopped to look and were also stunned by its beauty. Think about it. I walked over four miles in an extraordinarily wooded park and was able to find this beauty.

Here’s a closer look!

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The leaf is beautiful right? The image is also a reminder of the beauty in so-called defects and of the charm in aging.

Obstacles

Underneath this oversized tree with split roots is a pathway for water to flow through. The day I took this picture, the area was dry; however, once it rains, water freely flows through the park along to this tree and under its thick and twisted roots.

Reflections: In life, we must learn when to plow forward, under or around, and when to break off in a different direction. The canal is natural. Created by nature… and by God. The tree made a bridge for which the water runs under. Allowing ourselves quiet moments to reflect on any given situation, will help us to make the best choices.

Trash

Reflections: Get rid of the baggage! Learn and unlearn. Not all learned behavior is good; even if you learned the behavior as a child and from an adult. It’s like money. Not all money is good money. Recognize what helps you. Recognize what harms your mental health and well-being. Then do something about it. Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.”

Don’t be afraid to remove trappings, and people from your life and do so without all the fanfare. If someone in your life doesn’t support your goals, or perhaps they bring negative energy to your life, eliminate them from your life.  There’s no need to call a soon-to-be former friend to make a formal declaration, just stop calling and responding. Eventually, they may call to ask why you stop calling. Be honest but not mean and tell them why but don’t negotiate.

The same goes for bad habits. Smoking, alcohol or substance abuse and, if needed, seek professional help. National Helpline Hotline (free, confidential, 24/7, 365-days-a-year treatment referral and information service, in English & Spanish, for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance abuse disorders).

Failure

Reflection: The dried pieces of tree trunks look like they have been precisely cut. Probably to protect park guests from falling dead trees. The stump remains. The stump can represent a distinct period in our life that may resonate feelings of failure, pain, anger, or joy and happiness. The stub within us is there for us to do what we choose. We can live with resentment, regret, remorse, hate, compassion, love, happiness, peace, faith, or with forgiveness in our hearts; we determine the method of reconciliation. 

I read from termite-control.com, that termites in trees can create real hazards. Since termites eat wood from the inside, they can make a tree so unstable that it cannot support itself. If that happens, the tree dies. We are no different.  Allowing emotions to internally harbor and fester is no different and can cause damage to our bodies, including our mental health. 

According to the World Health Organization, poor mental health is also associated with rapid social change, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyle, physical ill-health, and human rights violations.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Perspective & Attitude

Reflections: Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Is your glass-half-empty or half-full?  Like most, I can focus on what wrong and what I don’t like. However, I have so much more to be grateful for and so do you.  I make a conscious decision to look up–not down, and to thank God every day for the tremendous volume of greatness in my life.

Whatever your situation, if you need to cry, pout, or complain, do that then come to grips with the fact that your situation could be worse. Someone else’s life is ALWAYS worse off than yours.  See the good in your present spot and assess how you can make it better.

Fear

Reflections: Them damn fears! Ugh! This bridge right here is about overcoming fears and transcending to the other side. I fear heights. Even with my feet being just a tiny bit off the ground sends my heart into a triple beat. This unexplainable and horrible feeling creeps up my calves and travels to hamstrings into my rear gluts. I feel sick and jittery.

You know where you need to get to. An obstacle (fear) confronts you. Maybe you plan to obtain your GED, start or complete college, audition for a part, read your work at a Spoken Word event, or something else. Do you give up or confront your fear?  I’ve confronted some of mine but I still have a few more to tackle. Since first sprinting across this bridge, I can now walk slower and alone. Each time I cross the bridge, it gets a little easier for me. Don’t give up!

Your Village

Reflections:  The base of this tree is one solid trunk. But as the tree grew, seven strong limbs sprouted. The cluster of limbs remind me of the ancient proverb that I heard often growing up, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a child that means, everyone in the community, family, and non takes interest in the child.  The strength of the village reinforced the values taught in the home. When you were caught in the streets doing good, your neighbor reported it to your parents. When you were seen behaving inappropriately, whoever witnessed your transgression, corrected you and told your parents. Ultimately, you were disciplined at home too.

NJ Senator, Cory Book said,

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

Strength lies in numbers. While working on my Bachelors of Arts Degree in English, I worked a full-time job and had the responsibility of a young child, managing home life, including my relationship with my husband. I had my village of supporters and without their advice, wisdom, child-care services, love, and patience, I would have never had the opportunity to walk across the stage at Rowan University. Don’t go it alone; find your supportive network or your village and ask for help.

Downtime

Reflections: Tribble Mill Park is a 700-acre park that has two lakes and one large meadow. The park has nearly 3 1/2 miles of paved and unpaved trails. When I first set out on the trail, I was unfamiliar with the path and, at times, felt uncertain.  Since then, I have walked both the paved and un-paved surfaced trails. The non-paved was more challenging and it was easy to wander off the trail and to get lost. What I did notice on the trails were the benches.

The benches are a reminder to stop and to take a break. How often do you take breaks from your weekly routine of obligations? Unless you are literally running a marathon, you must set aside time to catch your breath and fully divert your attention away from your project. Find a quiet place that brings you solitude. Doing so will de-clutter your mind. You will think clearer and you will find solutions to some of your dilemmas.

Below are a few more of my favorite pictures from my walk.  Since this writing, my husband and I have returned to the park only to discover new paths and I love it!

My son deep in his thoughts.

..undisturbed and unbothered by people.

Other cool pics. 🙂

 

I love how this tree is bent and ends atop the paved trail.  But notice a few branches growing from the top of it.

Never grow too old to swing!

Pausing…. taking in the beauty.

The above video is unedited. The fantastic sparkles that you see are from the sun rays hitting the lake. The beauty of this video is also a reminder to sparkle to stay alive, to live intentionally, and to sparkle through as many days as possible.

 

 

 

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The Harsh Reality For One Teen

 

IMG_2084An upright small black suitcase on wheels stands on the curb. Next to it are two large and nearly filled plastic bags with orange shoe boxes inside.  Easily identifiable is the Nike brand logo. A tethered book bag and a few other loose items perched on the blacktop.

Young, athletic looking, lean, and flawless nearly onyx colored skin, Jay moves from the rays of Georgia’s blazing summer’s heat and into the shade under a large crape myrtle.

He’s been sitting curbside for a few hours. Jokingly my daughter says, invite him in to stay over, but that’s not an option.  Seriously my cup runneth over with a house of five multi-generational people, but still, my heart is never full.

I saw Jay at the end of my five-mile morning walk.  After showering, polishing my toenails, moisturizing my locs, and snacking, he still lingered in the parking lot in front of the community clubhouse.

Now my heart softens for him. Without even talking to Jay, I figured out what most likely happened.  He had “the look.”

The look of a bewildered teen who thought he knew but begins to realize he isn’t nearly as smart as he thought.

The look of a dejected youth attempting to pilot unknown territory.

The look of a juvenile who is facing the harsh reality of his consequences.

The look of an astonished adolescent who can’t believe his parents put him out.

The look of fear and not knowing what to do next.

Since the temperature was well over 90 degrees outside, I decided to offer him a bottle of cold water.  Hubby walked over with me. I told Jay that I noticed he’d been sitting in front of the clubhouse for a few hours and asked if he wanted the water.

Graciously he thanked me and accepted the water. After a few minutes, hubby left us, and we talked. He was comfortable talking to me. I asked, “So, what’s the story? Why are you out here?”

The day before was Jay’s 19th birthday. To protect his privacy, I call him Jay. He decided to stay out all night. It seems, Jay’s decision was the final straw for his parents. This morning, when he arrived home, as expected, all hell broke loose.

“He wants to see me fail,” is what, Jay said. The 19-year-old lives at home with his mom, dad, and younger sibling. He says his dad could have waited until Thursday to kick him out, but he did it today. Thursday is payday. Thursday would have been more convenient. Jay is learning that bad things typically occur at the most inconvenient time. I also sensed the tension was between Jay and his father.  All of Jay’s comments were preferenced by “he.”  No comments referenced his mother.

There are no perfect words but having been on both sides of the fence, I understood.  I listened to Jay’s story and gave him my perspective.

I told him that without ever meeting or talking to his parents, I suspected the situation was a culmination of events. He shrugged his head in agreement, smiled just enough to show his pretty white teeth, and began to tell me more.

I tried to encourage him, as well as, give him realistic advice and without a preachy tone.  I told him my story of being kicked out of my mom’s house many years ago. To provide him with hope, I explained that my mother now lives with me.  The look on his face was priceless!  I also wanted him to know that his situation is temporary and that it is possible for him to improve his relationship with his parents.

I suggested that when he speaks to his parents, that he show up humble. Apologize with sincerity.  Avoid making excuses. Own his choices and mistakes. Only listen and don’t talk back. His body language and the slight shake of head told me that he wasn’t ready for that type of conversation. I hope he gets there…sooner than later.

He planned to stay the night at a hotel and would figure things out later. I hope that 24 hours later, his perspective changes. I told Jay I would pray for him and his family; he gave me a fist pump and thanked me.

Jay’s story isn’t unique. His situation is a reminder of the ongoing impediments we face raising children. But also the challenges and pressures teens face.  No two stories are the same, but every family faces some challenges.

Reflecting on Jay’s situation, my thoughts are:

  • Kindness is free and so is caring, we must practice as often as possible.
  • When we become so immersed in our own lives, we often fail to notice the people, places, and objects around us. We miss seeing the sad colleague, the depressed child, the ill parent, or someone else who is down and out.
  • We must consciously see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. When we fully engage all five senses, we are cognizant of our surroundings and are more inclined to notice unusual circumstances.
  • To judge others is often instinctive.  However, when we see a situation that is seemingly odd, instead of judging the person or thinking of oneself, offer a listening ear, a kind gesture, or at least acknowledge the persons struggle.  I am not naive and understand the concern for safety. I remember a story from my amazing and generous bestie.  While driving alone on the busy Garden State Parkway, she noticed a car with a woman, whom she did not know, in distress on the shoulder of the road. Many cars passed the lady, but my friend empathized with the stranger and stopped to help her. 🙂

A few days have passed since I met Jay. I haven’t seen him and hope and pray that his situation has improved.

I share this story to emphasize what conscious living looks like but also to encourage you to stay present.  It takes work.

There was a time in my life when I would not have noticed Jay.  Even worse I am ashamed to say; there was a period in my life when I would have seen Jay and jumped to all kinds of false and unfavorable conclusions about him. Lack of exposure, fear, and an idiosyncratic attitude can hold you hostage to impaired thinking.

The current climate in this country of divisiveness, name calling, hatred, and lack of acceptance of people who are different or have opposing views, is disturbing. That’s why it is critical that we live moment-to-moment (mindfully) and engage in kindness and compassionate toward one another.  We cannot achieve complete wellness without consideration for others.

Love and kindness are never wasted.
They always make a difference.
They bless the one who receives them,
and they bless you, the giver.

-Barbara De Angelis

Thanks for visiting! 🙂

 

 


In The Name of Wellness: Why Your Words Matter

The concept of total wellness recognizes that our every thought, word and behavior affects our greater health and well-being.  And we, in turn are affected not only emotionally but also physically and spiritually.  -Greg Anderson

While ironing a shirt for work (do people still iron?) you mentally drift. The tip of the iron touches your left hand. Ouch! It burned your skin. There is strong possibility that the burn will leave a permanent mark. Years later, you can recount the story of your injury.

Words leave scars too. >>>>>>>>

While visiting my bestie in Texas, I bought an authentic pair of cowboy boots. I wore them for the first time today. As I slid them on, I was reminded why I purchased them–good quality leather, comfort, and stylish. Looking in the mirror, I thought, Damn girl, you’ve got big feet. ‘Dem boots look big as hell!

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Sipping on a green smoothie and reflecting on the boots.

Mentally, I traveled back to my awkward and gawky pre-teen years when my lanky arms and boney legs were disproportioned. My family would remind me daily that I had BIG feet. Mom would make me wear specific shoes that were orthopedically sound but ugly as hell.

Double time to today. My mom’s words have clung to the inner parts of my psyche, resurfacing without solicitation at the opportune time and trying to steal my joy.

Yup, the red boots look super-sized! I could have got them in black. Black looks smaller. Women with big feet probably shouldn’t wear bright colors…right? The truth is, does anyone really give a damn? Even if they do care, what does it matter?  My personality is vibrant, and so are my color choices in clothes, sometimes shoes, and everything else. I bought the red because they are me and I loved them. I adore them just as much today.

When I wear the boots today, someone might glance at my feet and think, damn, she’s got some big ass feet!! And if they do believe that, what changes? Nothing! The world continues to evolve. I look the same….fabulous! I feel the same…marvelous! Worse case scenario, someone thinks I have big feet, and it’s true. Hehe!

The truth; the reality is that someone will always have an opinion about you.  You do not have power over the thoughts of others.

You do, however; have the POWER to govern your own thoughts and it is YOUR thoughts that matter most.  Incessant chatter is the term Michael A. Singer uses in, the untethered soul. You have the choice to become crippled by your thoughts, but you also have the option to acknowledge the notions and to move on.   Once you are paralyzed, you start to miss out on the abundance of pleasures life has to offer you.

If I had listened to the inimical chatter in my head this morning, I wouldn’t have worn my boots.  I would have missed out on the joy of high stepping with my eclectic Jersey swag through the streets of Gwinnett County. Although I wasn’t dressed up, I felt special wearing my Ariat cowboy boots.

I don’t know if anyone took note of my boots, but if they did, it might have been because it seems stilettos are more popular than cowboy boots in Georgia or merely because they thought my footwear was cool.

Anyways, I have to points here. First, to remind you that words matter. When speaking to children, know that everything you say is heard by them. Repeated messages hang around and take up mental space and can influence the child’s behavior well into adulthood.

And second, to encourage you to try something that you’ve wanted to but are afraid to do. It can be something small like wearing a brighter color nail polish, applying for the next promotion at work, taking a dance class, getting your first tattoo, or something else.  Just do it!

 

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I couldn’t resist jumping around in my boots. 🙂

Wellness is more than exercising and eating well.  If you search wellness, you will find many definitions.  My favorite definition of wellness is:

…the experience of living life with  high levels of awareness, conscious choice, self-acceptance, interconnectedness, love, meaning, and purpose… living consciously in ways that improve your health and well-being.    – Michael Arloski

Make each day count!

Smooches!