Category Archives: Writing

Post that is primarily a written post

We recently visited the Red Rocks of Sedona and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  We have many wonderful memories from this trip, including an evening at Sunset Point in Sedona. We shared this evening with many others, all who seemed to have no care in the world other than to enjoy the beauty of a evening sunset.

Carefree

It’s funny how we can be so stressed out, and yet an event that we ignore each night in our home towns can create such a carefree attitude when visiting another location.

I hope you have a great week – may it be as carefree as sitting and watching the sunset.

It’s the simple things that count…

I sometimes think too much about things that are small.  I can spin on quick, seemingly irrelevant interactions with others.  And I suspect I’m not alone.

holding_door2

Like the other day when the person less than 3-feet in front of me, who’d recently passed me, didn’t hold the door.  One of the those heavy doors that snaps back hard when you let go.  You know the kind. 

I get it – this is no big deal – it’s a small thing, but it pissed me off.  Yes, I got over it and in the big scheme of things it’s nothing, but there was an impact, not only to the finger I stubbed, but to my mood.

Small things do matter.  How we interact in the world, with each other, resonates through the world in ways that we don’t understand, recognize, or can see.  If he’d taken an extra five seconds to hold the door for a stranger, that simple act would’ve made a difference.   At best, I’d have received a mood bump.  At worst, I’d have taken his act for granted.  Either way, it would not have given me the opportunity to make a bad choice (yep – no matter what he did, I made the choice to get pissed).

This is one very small, simple interaction.  Think about all the interactions we have every day.  Many of these interactions are much more significant.

Today Words of Balance challenges us to become better people.  The third sentence in the most recent post is:

Take an extra 5 seconds to hold the door for a stranger, sometimes it is the simple things that count.

I know that if the person in front of me would’ve taken the time to do this (and had I made a different choice in reacting) I’d have started my day differently. Interactions with others matter – big or small.  I’ll take the challenge and try to become a better person today. How about you?

Picture from Etiquette Tips, Bring It Back Now!.

The Great Outdoors

Child on Bike

The smell of grass and leaves. The warmth of the sun.  The steam that each breath produces when warm air meets cold with each breath.  The burning of lungs and the soreness of muscles.  All of these sensations remind me of my childhood.

There was a ravine in our neighborhood that we loved to explore.  Sometime there was no water, and sometimes it was a running fast.  We’d ride our bikes, mine was a Murray BMX, to the ravine.  On the other side was a field.  We’d play football or baseball, whatever the season dictated.

No matter the season we’d walk our dog.  I remember one walk that was especially cold – below zero – and bundled up and made a real adventure out of the experience.  We’d survived the extreme cold!

Metro parks and state parks were special spots.  Once we went to beach, but it’s always been the forest and hiking trails that draw me in.  A summer cabin in northern Michigan provided row-boat adventures and fishing stories.

There is a peace that comes with sitting quietly, listening to the wind in the leaves and songs of the birds.  Hiking a trail creates a similar peace.  It’s when I disconnect from the human-made world and integrate with the natural world that I feel most at home.

Yes, being outside, in all the mid-western variations, can trigger a memory from the past.  These memories often produce a smile, sometimes laughter, rarely a tear.  Perhaps that’s why I enjoy being outside so much as an adult.

It’s the experience that matters

Happy Runner

Focus on what it’s like to be outdoors, to feeling your body move, to the relationships you may have built through running. These are experiences that can be reproduced with every run—you don’t need a good finish time to produce them. By shifting the focus from results to running itself you’ll feel empowered.  

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a sports psychologist and author of Prime Sport: Triumph of the Athlete Mind, The Bliss List, Runner’s World.com

from Runner’s World Quote of the Day email, March 18, 2013

I’m into a good groove and consider myself fully recovered from my calf strain.  The process of recovering from an injury is never easy, and if I focus on the end rather than the process, it’s even more painful.  It’s like I’m trying to escape from the injury, or worse, speed up time. Time is the most precious gift of life, and if we can focus on our current “location” and not wish we were “somewhere” else we can lose minutes, hours, days, weeks, even years.

I know, it’s happened to me.  I’ve spent way too much time wishing I had a different job, new skills, more friends, less friends, better physical capabilities, a stronger memory, more creativity – you name it, I’ve wished for it.  I wanted to escape being me and before I knew it there I was, in the same place I was when I started thinking about my escape plan!

No more.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I have what I need, and that what will make me happiest is to be okay with me.  As stated in the quote above, I want to focus on the process, and less on the results.  Life is a journey and if we’re always thinking about the outcome, which is inevitably in the future, we can miss the journey.

Running is a great way to get into the current moment.  In my experience, it’s not unlike meditation, only moving.  When I silence the music and take off the watch (or hide it since I can’t live without the post-run data), and don’t worry about pace or time or even weather, and I focus on the process of running, the rhythm, it really is amazing.

Photography also is helping me get into the current moment, but I’m finding that I need to be careful and not focus too much on the result of the picture.  I’m still a rookie and use automatic settings most of the time, but I’m finding that it’s when I forget about the picture and settle into the moment that I get some of my favorite images.

Below is a chart (click here to access the article from which I pulled this graph – there’s also a great TED talk that accompanies this information on the page) that supports some of the above comments, as it shows that people are happier when in the present moment than when their mind wanders:

I’m extending the concept of “mind wandering” to “escape,” but I think that’s relevant.  If our mind isn’t in the present moment, we are escaping.  Our bodies haven’t moved, but our reality is significantly altered.  I haven’t researched the methodology or dug into the data that produced the chart, but I can say that this is consistent with my experience.

I do understand that there are real, dangerous and painful circumstances from which many people do need to escape, and that I’m lucky to not have to deal with that type of pain.  Yet, I’ve still found myself wishing for something else.  It’s not easy to stay in the present.  I think that’s why people who try to live mindfully call it a practice.

What do you think?  Do you struggle staying in the present?  Are you happier when you’re able to stay in the present?  Do you have any tactics you can share to help others stay in the present?

Thanks for stopping by and reading through this post!

Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Happy

Friday makes me happy, so I chose to respond to this challenge on a Friday!

Friends and family, human and non-human, make me happy.

Running makes me happy.  In fact, the last time I cried tears of joy was during the 23rd mile of completing my first (and only) marathon.  (No one knew that I was crying ’cause I was sweating a lot.)

Creating – writing, picture-taking, drawing, talking, contributing – makes me happy.

Being outside in nature – birds, streams, trees, sun, rain, clouds, wind, snow – makes me happy.

And every time I see this picture, I smile with Franklin, and I am happy.

Franklin Smilin'

Want to see what makes others happy?  Want to share what makes you happy?

Head over to Across the Board to see the Two Cents Tuesday Challenge:  Happy responses so far and share your happiness!

Happy Friday everyone!

Experience Running, and Life

Approaching the Finish Line

Experience running. There are amazing things that happen when you run. Make sure that you take the time to recognize and appreciate them. ~Daniel Pickle, Runner’s World Challenger of the Week

from Runner’s World Quote of the Day email on March 20, 2013

Running is a great way to experience life.  Rhythmic release, and warm, sunny soreness are only some of the sensations to experience.  Conversational confessions among comrades carry many days into weeks, delivering laughing smiles and knowing glances over plates and glasses filled with calories that fuel the next miles.

Running is life.  There are ups and downs within days filled with effort.  Most wins are personal as there’s always someone somewhere, faster, more recognized or rewarded.  Yet each day we tie our laces and move forward to compete with our selves.  To make each day the day we want it to be, each of us becoming who we choose to be.  One step at a time.

Who do you want to be?

Our non-human family members mean everything to us.  We share our lives completely.  If you’ve visited before you’ve likely already met them, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to post more photos:

Daisy Mae

Daisy Catches Scent

Sadie Sue

Sadie - Portrait

Suki

Suki Deep in Thought

Being with our family helps me remember that we aren’t alone, and that there are non-human beings that are smart, experience emotions, and loving.  I learn from them each day in many ways, but perhaps the most frequent reminder is that our actions – both conscious and unconscious – impact those around us.