Taste Your Food

I stopped to pick some blackberries just bursting with juice and warm from the sun.

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I had just finished mowing the lawn and the sun was shining beautifully on the yard. I could smell the fresh cut grass and see the bugs and flowers living around me in these tiny little worlds, some of which I have planted. I stopped to pick some blackberries just bursting with juice and warm from the sun. I grabbed a bowl and picked them all. I was covered in sweat and grass, a few scratches from the tree I had trimmed, but I  washed these warm berries, toasted half a slice of wholesome bread, spread on peanut butter, layered it with the fresh berries, then drizzled it with local wildflower honey. I took my sandwich back outside, sat on my lounge chair and enjoyed every last bite. This was a slice of heaven in my own backyard. I took a picture to remind myself how good it tasted and how important is to taste my food and enjoy the moment.

 

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Try Kayaking -It’s Easy!

I left rejuvenated, sort of baptized by the waters. I felt happy. I still feel happy thinking about that moment; –it’s a place I can escape to in my mind now.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried kayaking. It was amazing. I loved the feeling of being in the water, but staying mostly dry while paddling down the creek. My son and I rented a couple single kayaks at (http://www.trapperjohnscanoeing.com/) Trapper John’s in Grove City, Ohio spending about $30 total for the hour and a half excursion down a section of State and National Scenic Big Darby Creek. We mainly had the creek to ourselves as we paddled and floated along the beautiful and serene course. I saw little turtle families sun bathing on branches and rocks, listened to birds chirp and watched my nearly full-grown-teenage-son paddle and float and learn to steer his boat. We didn’t talk much except to warn of low water ahead. At one point he yelled to me to catch his shoe floating my way. The creek water was very low in spots so at times you had to step out and push the boat through the shallow waters. I understood the advice of strapped on shoes instead of flip-flops at several points along the way, but we avoided the loss of any shoes.

Leaving our phones back in the car meant no photo opportunities, no text messages, no Snap Chatting, no phone ringing and no distraction from the nature that was all around us completely encompassing our whole bodies and spirits with no effort on our part–we only needed to be present to benefit. Bursting with green foliage the banks gave way to trees that reached up to form a canopy that we traveled through. My mind drifted back to early settlers and how brave they had to be in the new world. I took long deep breaths as I floated along looking up at the blue skies and fragmented sunlight shining through the branches highlighting different scenes of the woods, the creek and our boats as we quietly paddled along.

I left rejuvenated, sort of baptized by the waters. I felt happy. I still feel happy thinking about that moment; –it’s a place I can escape to in my mind now.

A few nights ago my friend Ann asked me to come up and kayak after work. It was a beautiful day and we would have a couple hours before sunset. My first instinct is to think of a reason why I can’t. But I tried my best to dismiss those pesky thoughts and I said yes. I felt the same return to nature, but this time I brought my phone so I could capture a few shots of my new love of being out on the water. We talked and caught up like old friends do as we marveled at the beauty and enjoyed our kayaking into the sunset moment. Now, I have two experiences of kayaking that I can return to in my mind when I need a bit of peace.

The trip with Ann was a different spot in a cove of Hoover Reservoir in Westerville, Ohio. She lives in walking distance of the entryway with a little ramp for kayaks and small motorboats. The cove is a no-wake zone, so the waters felt safe and calm the whole time. I would say that overall kayaking is very easy and the benefits of being out on the water outweigh the minimal amount of effort it takes to paddle. It’s an activity you can approach with a huge amount of effort I am sure and obtain a great workout from, or you can just take it easy and go at a leisurely pace. It’s like riding a bike in that way there are several degrees of difficulty and starting at the easiest level is usually the best way to ease into a new activity.

 

Overall my lesson was clear from both days of kayaking: Say yes to new things!

 

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How to Start Exploring for Free

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#1 Just start exploring things that are free 🙂

I took a walk/jog here at Chestnut Ridge for the first time a few weeks ago. The park is just 13 minutes from my house, but until then was completely unknown to me. Sometimes things are right there waiting for you when you begin to open your eyes and see the beauty of the world. I dream of traveling the world as I  follow Instagram travelers to see places I have never been, but hope to go to one day. But I can’t sit around making excuses for what I am not seeing right here around me. This day was a perfect example of the hidden gems that are nestled within my reach.

I can get so caught up in things I can’t do or what I can’t afford right now that it becomes a pattern of self-pity and makes me feel defeated. But when I turn that down a little and see what I do have and what is possible right now, I get excited. I picked up a book of all the metro parks in the area and I looked through. Some parks I have been to thousands of times and I still love them, but there are more to discover, more paths to walk and more trails to explore. So, I decided that I am going to see the world and I am going to begin right here in little, but beautiful Ohio and see what all I can see. I am going to work my way out from the center of my world and see how far I can go. What right have I do be upset about not seeing the other side of the world, when I haven’t seen everything in the place I am so privileged to have been born?

We imprison ourselves with thought patterns at times and feel trapped by circumstance. It’s easy to envy others, feel jealous of what seems like easy freedom and fortune. But once we observe our thoughts and see the pitfalls of that thinking pattern that can bring us down, we can start to avoid those mental traps and quicksand moments that tend to pull us down so quickly. No, I am not a victim and I won’t hang out with that mentality. That sort of thinking is a very tangled web, a labyrinth and a trap. I have to catch myself when I go to that place, turn around and find my way out as quickly as possible. It’s not always easy. I wake up at 5 with a zest for life and end up in the dark dungeon of depression by 2. But I find my way back over and over. I think it gets easier to climb out of that abyss as I learn the way and see the steps, the rope, and the worn down trails I have left from last time. It gets easier.

The map to your inner maze is freely available, the key is in your hand and the walls are ready to come down. So, take a deep breath and begin again. Below is a picture I took that same day. I was so full of gratitude for having found this place and there it was practically in my own backyard all along.

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Panorama shot with my phone. Chestnut Ridge -Carol, Ohio