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!

img_2503

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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Slow Your Roll


In our busy lives, we often race from one activity to another. I too am guilty of that; however, I make it a habit on my work days to get up early- before sunrise, before anyone is up in my home.  When the house is quite, I have the pleasure of  enjoying the amazing sounds of the birds singing.

Getting up early allows me to move slowly and freely throughout the house but also to take the time to observe the beauty of sunrise, birds flying and singing, and other amazing insects and creatures moving about. 

Earlier this morning, I found this cutie (baby frog) sleeping on the window pane next to the front door.  It’s such an odd place–up off the ground and by the front door handle– I just had to capture him sleeping. 🙂


Please slow down and take the time to enjoy the beauty of each day!

Happy Monday!  

Smooches! 🙂 


First Run in 2013

I have come to believe
that caring for myself is
 not-self indulgent.
Caring for myself is an act of survival.
Audre Lorde

Finally!!!   Today I completed my first run of 2013!   According to my MayMyRun application, my last run was on Thanksgiving last year.   My son would put me in the chair-of-shame!  Lol!!  The urge to run never left.  Procrastination, time, and the holiday season simply got in the way.  I’m not making excuses, because I love running, but once time permitted, the weather did not.  Okay, so enough with the excuses.

 

Distance:     7.41 Miles
Time:             1:13:50
Pace:             9:58 Min./Mil.
Calories:      1010

 

The past week my body has tried to fight off this nasty flu that has so many people sick.  Wednesday my body ached. An old fashion dose of warmed Cabernet and sugar (brown) did my body well.  I woke Thursday morning feeling refreshed.

Thursday… no aches, but later in the day a slight cough started and the throat tickled.  I repeated Wednesday nights treatment.  Friday afternoon (yesterday) the sniffles and occasional sneeze set in.  Last night I conceded and took official cold medicine.

Other then the sniffles, I felt half decent.  The temps were mild, for January, so I set out to run.  I ate so many oranges this week, my skin should have an orange undertone.  Lol!

Anyway.  Before running this morning, I knew that I need some good fuel.  I wasn’t hungry so I made a fabulous smoothie using a recipe I found on Pinterest on Dr. Patel’s Diet page.

 

Kiwi, mango, pineapple, banana, spinach, avacado, flax seed, water, and ice, all waiting to be blended!

Kiwi, mango, pineapple, banana, spinach, avocado, flax-seed, water, and ice, all waiting to be blended!

I filled up two very tall beer glasses with this delightful recipe!  Hubby and I enjoyed!

I filled up two very tall beer glasses with this delightful recipe! Hubby and I enjoyed!

This smoothie was refreshing!  I did not reveal the ingredients to hubby until he tasted and approved the drink.  Ha! Ha!  That’s the only way to get folks to try something “healthy.”  Anyway, the smoothie was packed with nutrients and provided the necessary fuel for my run.

I set out to run for an hour.  Given my two-month lapse in running, I figured I would complete 5 – 6 miles.  Although the temps were warmer than normal, there was still a bite in the air at 11:30 a.m.  But I settled into my run nicely.

No goals this morning…  I didn’t care about time, distance, or pace, I simply wanted to marvel at running outside and breathing in the crisp, cold, January fresh air.  I know the fresh air and the exercise would ultimately help my body.

Todays run was perfect and I look forward to another run tomorrow.  Sunday’s temps are forecasted at 56 degrees, which makes for out-door running.

I am a little stuffy now, but overall I feel well.  Tonight before bed I’ll take a cold remedy.  All I want to do is survive this nasty flu season.

Since it is near bed time… sweet dreams!


8.5 in the rain

My favorite kicks (Gel Asics)

There is something uniquely special about running in the summer rain.  I left the house early Sunday afternoon with the intent of taking a short run.   I’m chuckling just thinking about it.  Why?  Because my short run turned into 8.51 miles.

As I readied for my run, the sun shined.  Two steps out the front door and the rain was underway.  By the time I walked to the end of the drive way, the sky opened with tiny and fine rain drops.

Since I’m thinking that my run will be short, under 5 miles, I’m not bothered by the rain and I am satisfied just being outside and running.

The rain stopped about two miles into the run and I had mixed feelings about it.  The humidity returned and I could feel my body warming.  I passed a neighbor walking her dog.  “Awe, you got caught in the rain?!”

“Actually, I kind of hope that the rain returns, it keeps me cool.”  She blankly stares at me like she misunderstood my comment.  Shortly afterwards, the sky opened up!  This time, big hard rain drops.  I was nowhere near home and I didn’t care.  I picked up my pace and happily sailed into my zone.

My sweat is replaced by nature’s H2O and the feeling is exhilarating. I’m happy.  I’m laughing, and I’m going to run until I feel like stopping.  I hadn’t run in a week and I was starting to get fidgety.  This run would fix that.

Cars pass me.  I know that they think that  I’m nuts, but I don’t give a hoot. My favorite play list is blaring and I am in a jovial place. Occasionally snapping my fingers and singing along… yup!  All while I’m jogging roadside.

By the time I return home and schlep into the garage, every piece of me is soaking wet! My twisted hair is drenched.  My sneaks squeak.  Water is dripping from my shirts and shorts.  My daughter asks, “How was your run?”  “I had a blast!”   She laughs and so do I.

Everyone should have a happy place; a metaphoric or physical space that brings a sense of peace– A place where exterior forces cannot penetrate the calm  internal state of being.   Worry free.  Care free. Simply free to be. Running is that place for me.

Quick thought provoking reads – http://zentips.org


Random act of kindness

Nearly two weeks ago a Derecho storm wreaked havoc on South Jersey. While derecho uprooted trees, blew down poles and power lines, and left thousands of residents without electricity for a week or longer, me, my husband, and our nine year-old son were pool side in Cancun, Mexico.

Pool side – Cancun, Mexico

We learned of the devastating storm a few hours later from an unnerving text message from our daughter and phone calls from family members. Thankfully, my mom and our daughter were fine and the structure of our home remained intact.

Unfortunately, many other residents’ homes and cars were damaged by falling trees and flying debris.

From what I hear and read, the storm was not forecasted and took everyone by surprise.  So residents were ill prepared, helpless, and had to ride out the storm, cautiously listening to the destruction occur around their homes.

My daughter sent us a video and a few pictures of the aftermath. The visuals were jaw-dropping. Clearly our yard was impacted by the storm.

Damaged gazebo

Although the gazebos, yard furniture and other items such as firewood, and light fixtures were tossed around the back yard, both hubby and I were more saddened by one of two cherry trees in the front yard that was uprooted.

Up-rooted cherry tree

It would be at least four (4) days before we returned home. The storm occurred during a hot and humid heat wave and since the power was out, the tree would die due to lack of water and root exposure.

Sadly, we were resolved to the fact that our six-year old cherry tree would be dead when we arrive home. The tree would have to be replaced.

Four days later we returned home.

The ride home from the airport is quite eerie. Metal street signs bent in half electrical wires dangling from trees—ancient oversized oak and pine trees halved by lightning and completely uprooted—enormous size patches of grass uprooted by trees with the roots attached!

I’m seeing the destruction in real-time yet I feel like I am in some sort of dream where I’m watching a breaking story on the morning news. Oh wow! We missed a big one!

As we turn on our street and slowly approach our home, the rhythm of my heart increases; the pounding in my chest grows louder. I know that our house is structurally okay, but I’m concerned about possible landscape damage.

When we built our home, the builder removed every tree in the front yard! Grr… We love trees in our yard so we had to start from scratch and plant new ones. Six years later, the landscape is complete and the trees are doing well.

I glance up only to see the cherry tree looking upright exactly as it did before we left for our vacation. Its only addition is the two to three-foot wooden stake in the ground with the yellow string tied to a branch to stabilize and balance the tree.

My face hurt from smiling so hard! OMG!! Who fixed the tree?!?!  Neither our immediate neighbors on each side of our house, my mom or daughter knew who fixed the tree. One day the tree was lying on the ground; the next day is standing straight up.

Standing tall and all better!

Finally after a week or so, the mystery was solved. A wonderful random act of kindness was bestowed upon us by our friend and neighbor BD!!

During a conversation with BD, I mentioned the mystery. He casually and nonchalantly confessed to fixing the tree.

He said that he’d looked at the twin trees; one upright, one uprooted and didn’t think that the downed tree would survive until we returned. Although he was sitting in his vehicle when he confessed, the feelings of gratitude and jubilation made me want to reach in his car and kiss him! Lol! I resisted the urge, but graciously thank him.  I cannot thank him enough for such a wonderful act of kindness. He saved our tree!! Yippeeee!!

For  a few years now, I’ve gleefuly participated in random acts of kindness. You know, randomly surprising someone, especially a person you don’t know, by doing something kind for them.

I enjoy doing goofy and random acts such as paying the toll for a few cars in line behind me,  anonymously paying for coffee for a stranger in line at Wawa, or doing some other small deed that will bring a smile to someone’s face.  It feels unusually strange to be on the receiving side of a RAOK.

Fixing the tree was probably no big deal to him, but it made my day and then some! When was the last time you did a random act of kindness? The best part of it is that you are giving to the un-expectant person. You will catch people off guard and genuinely surprise them.

If you are having a bad day, the act will boost your spirit and theirs.

Go ahead and try it; it’s so much fun!

To my tree saving neighbor, YOU’RE THE BEST!  Thanks again!!