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.

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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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Enjoy Food Again

Fast food is a problem and perhaps that’s because we are so detached from the cooking, the source, and the enjoyment.

What if we slow it down a little? What if we think in the grocery store, hang out in the produce section, and see what’s new and fresh? What if we think about our next meal and plan it and cook it slowly while we think about the flavors and the ingredients? What if we sit down and savor each bite? What if we bake some cookies from scratch? What will it look like if we change the thought pattern about making food? (Michael Pollan has a documentary called Cooked, and it’s based on his book by the same name.) Here’s a link to view a preview of his Netflix series. He learns how to cook, bake and take time to enjoy the process as he explains the origin of cooking and really examines where we are right now as a food obsessed culture.

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The truth is so glaringly obvious that it’s hard not to see it when it comes to food. Fast food is a problem and perhaps that’s because we are so detached from the cooking, the source, and the enjoyment.  For example, I slam a burrito in the car (my food drug of choice) on the way to wherever I must be getting to and then I don’t feel full or satisfied, but that’s ok because there will be a snack bar, food truck and coffee bar every step of the way I am most likely going. Let’s say anywhere there will be people, even a soccer game that last less than an hour, will be met with food that Madeline’s mom packed in a cooler stuffed with enough to feed the pack for 3 months should a disaster strike the soccer field and leave everyone stranded. And who wants to go out for pizza after the game we just grazed our way through? Don’t worry about being hungry there will be more food at the next place and when I get home I will still be hungry because I haven’t really eaten any actual food all day. So, I open the fridge and look for something, I don’t know what I want, just something that is fast and delicious before I head to bed. It’s silly.

I’m saying it doesn’t have to be this way and of course I am not the first person to rant about it. But one thing leads to another and I am just observing my own habits and seeing that once I slow down and slice some vegetables and cook some meat I feel good about the meal I eat. I like to cook, but I have to stay home to do it and that’s the trick. Staying home for a couple hours and thinking about it, caring about the meal and the process is something that is ancient and instinctual for humans. Perhaps we have backed away from the ritual that made a meal sacred and something very spiritual and essential has been lost. And maybe that is why most meals are not filling the void that we have mindlessly created.

My practice for today will be to search for something sacred in the food I am eating and preparing. I want to enjoy the flavors and savor the moments that I am eating and see if I can get back to my ancestral roots of honoring the source of life that makes the meal possible. I might start saying Grace again, why not be thankful for every meal?

Quit Something Hard like Facebook

 

 

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Peace of Mind

I have worked really hard on breaking habits so I feel like somewhat of a professional. So far here is what I’ve learned.

  • My positive reward 100% has to outweigh the punishment of not getting what I want.
  • My old habits need to be replaced with a new habits to fill the void.
  • I need to set goals, –little ones, big ones and way up in the sky ones!
  • I need to allow for mistakes, setbacks and obstacles.
  • I need to be excited about the new things I am learning.

It’s a great big world out there and there are so many ways to fill your time. One habit I quit was Facebook and guess what? There are other websites on the internet! I have found other apps to fill my time that don’t send me on an emotional roller coaster of endless searching, judging, and gossipy pathways as Facebook did for me. I would spend an hour looking at people’s pictures, someone’s new life and sometimes I would feel jealous of the facade of happiness, or feel better about myself peering into what seems like a crazy mess of someone’s life and so on. There are healthy ways to be on Facebook, but for me it was not making me feel good. So, I deleted my account and I am happy to be free from it.  I replaced that with an app called Duolingo to learn Spanish. You can spend a little bit of time each day learning a new language for free! It’s fun and I find the practice to be a bit like meditation because I am just lost in the new language.

I am also on Instagram where I mostly follow travel, photography, inspirational quotes and some comedians. I feel like these things make me feel good and help to expand my horizons in terms of world sight seeing. I will travel to some of these places in the future, but for now I can only see them through the lens of people all over the world. I also share my pictures of natural landscape.

Another habit I quit was drinking, a much larger beast to tame, but one that has given me more rewards than I ever could have imagined. I replaced drinking with walking and exercise and it’s paying off. I am rounding the base to 40 this year and I want to be in the best shape of my life by November. I am feeling confident that I will get there. I have set little goals of jogging for 1 minute up to where I am now of 17 minutes as my longest jog time. I’m not setting any world records but I am making progress. The positive rewards for getting in shape are long-term so it’s important to set up other rewards for yourself too. I bought a new pair of running shoes at my 90 days without drinking. I link all my goals together sometimes. I can practice Spanish while walking on the treadmill or stretching on the floor.

Meditation is another tool for relaxation that I have used to replace my evening drinking. Here I found an app called Insight Timer that is free also to download to a phone or tablet. This app has thousands of options for guided meditations, sleeping, sound therapy, binural beats, chanting, chimes, bells -whatever your jam this app probably has something you will like. Of course you can go to YouTube or search Google for whatever meditation you seek and it’s there. We have the world at our finger tips now so technology is a good thing.

I watched part of an interview with Dan Rather and Kid Rock of all people. But he was talking about addiction and his battles with it. He said, “I figure if you can’t put something down, then you best not pick that shit up.” And really that statement sums it up. That attachment feeling with anything is a bad habit, so breaking it is probably a good idea.

 

Stop and Take a Breath

It was empowering to stop and take a breath even if it meant being a few minutes late to work. For a moment I exited the rat race and went away from the usual routine and it felt amazing. I posted the pictures on Instagram and other people liked them too. I felt like I made a little ripple in my world pond for that moment and for that day.

I drive by this park on my way to work every day and often I want to stop and just take a few minutes to enjoy it. So on this day, I stopped. I took some pictures as the sun came up and I took as many deep breaths as I could. I applied a filter to the picture to make it look like a painting and to express the surrealism of that moment.

It was empowering to stop and take a breath even if it meant being a few minutes late to work. For a moment I exited the rat race and went away from the usual routine and it felt amazing. I posted the pictures on Instagram and other people liked them too. I felt like I made a  little ripple in my world pond for that moment and for that day.

Now, when I look at the photo I can remember that it’s okay to step away from the world and take a breath, in fact it’s crucial that I do it more often.

Small shifts in our thinking and in our routines can have huge impacts on the rest of our lives. Many people have suggested this practice of doing one thing different to expand your consciousness, just one thing.

Writing Past the Point

The idea is just like it sounds, you run through the normal recap of what you’ve done and how you basically are feeling and then once you’ve exhausted all that you have to say, you keep writing and that is when the breakthroughs happen.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

-Tony Robbins

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My garden, Spring 2015
Writing Past the Point is a concept that was introduced to me in counseling. As someone who journals every day this seemed like a great experiment. The idea is just like it sounds, you run through the normal recap of what you’ve done and how you basically are feeling and then once you’ve exhausted all that you have to say, you keep writing and that is when the breakthroughs happen. You take off the superficial layers of the day and really dig deeper to understand what happened inside you when you lost your temper, ate the whole cake, drank the whole bottle, yelled at your kid, acted out in some way other than what you really meant.
Why? It’s the getting to the why that is helping me navigate back to the path and understand my trigger points and how I cope or don’t cope effectively. And from this point I can plan around the trigger points with different interventions, like taking a bath, listening to a meditation, going for a long walk, listening to music, or whatever it is that helps me feel calm again. So far, for me this is working.
When I write in this stream of consciousness style without stopping I am able to stumble upon some epiphanies of sorts and realize what is at the root of my behavior with the hope of uprooting that behavior when I expose its source to fresh air and light. Yes, it’s like killing a weed, sort of. For me it’s like a dandelion because they are never really gone and once you set your mind to ridding your lawn of them, you really discover just how many there are and you see very clearly that this is going to take some work.