Chiricahua National Monument

One of my bucket list items is to visit EVERY National Park and National Monument in our country and thanks to my wandering spirited husband, who enjoys traveling and exploring as much as I do, I have been to a lot of the parks and monuments…..there are still many more to visit and some I want to go back to and explore more of.   This past weekend we crossed off another of those bucket list monuments.

This year is about saying ‘yes’ to those things that scare me or are outside my box and it is about living life to it’s fullest, silencing that voice that tells me “no, you can’t do that….you have so much you need to do and you can’t afford to take time for you”.   And I remind myself of this daily.  So when our friends asked us if we wanted to join them for a weekend get-away to do some hiking and celebrate our friend’s birthday, we said yes.  My mind and that voice said that I had a lot to do for work that weekend and I really needed to catch up on some things at home…..but my heart and my choice to celebrate life had me saying yes, let’s go! 

We visited Chiricahua National Monument, located in southeastern Arizona.  What an unexpected delight I found in this part of Arizona.  When we imagine this state, we picture the Grand Canyon, the desert, brown, dry and full of cacti and rattlesnakes.  But this state is so much more.  And here in this out of the way part of Arizona we found the unexpected and that made my soul sing. 

Chiricahua was called the land of the “Standing Up Rocks” by the Chiricahua Apache Indians and after my visit there, I can understand why. The road through the park was closed beyond the Visitor Center so we knew we would not get to see everything, but we could hike and see some of this beautiful monument.

Now when it comes to hiking my husband and I attack it very differently, much like other things in life, yet we find a way to balance it so that we both enjoy what we are experiencing. For my husband it is about the hike, the exercise, the exertion and the time spent in the outdoors, free of all of the distractions of the fast paced world we live in, communing with the nature.  And the hike is done at a pace that keeps him moving, quickly along the trail, getting in the distance he wants to accomplish while pushing his limits.  And the outdoors are his spiritual place, just as it is for me.

Hiking for me is about the feeling of accomplishment when I finish, the photography possibilities, the spiritual feeling I get from being in the outdoors, and the views.  My pace on these hikes is often slower than my husbands, partly because I stop to take pictures or to take in the view or smell a flower and partly because I am just slower, and that is okay. 

I love to take my time on a hike and really “see” what is around me. The ocean is the place I feel the closest to God and to my mom, it is where I find peace.  And time in the outdoors is the next best thing for me.  I feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and peaceful.  I see the greatness of this earth that God created and I marvel at all that is around me.  The diversity in the landscapes leaves me in awe.  The outdoors is my spiritual place. 

 

This hike was amazing. And the diversity of the landscape we hiked through was inspiring, leaving me so grateful that I live in this great nation, full of diverse people and land.  We left the visitor center with no real decision on how far we would hike and usually for me that is scary.  I like to know how far I am going and how long it will take.  And I like to know ahead of time, how much elevation change there will be so that I can be prepared.  Often I look at maps and back out of the long hikes…..4 miles is okay but more than that would be too much…what if I get out there and then I don’t have anything left in my legs to carry me back?  I knew this would be long, but I wanted to just take the leap and go.  And I am so glad I did! 

We went from the pine forest surrounding the visitor center to high points with views that took my breath away.  We traipsed over dirt paths, and snow packed, icy paths. And then we traveled down to the creek bed, crossing the snow covered creek, mostly empty of water, a number of times before hiking up the other side, toward the standing up rocks.  We went from winter to spring and back again.  We happened upon an animal none of us had seen before, the Coatimundi, a relative of the raccoon.  There were four of them and I was thrilled.  We walked through tall rocks, grottos and finished at the top of Echo Canyon……and then we had to turn around and go back. 

The hike, the time outdoors among the trees, rocks and animals and the time spent with friends made my heart and soul come alive and sing. I am happiest when I can be disconnected from the world for a little while, when I can find peace, the time to converse with my spiritual side and can renew my spirit. 

I did this hike and I finished.  We hiked over 9 miles that afternoon, for 5 1/2 hours.  And I did it!  One more time that I accomplished something I didn’t think I could do, I went farther than I thought I could……oh, I was SORE after the hike, but the feeling of accomplishment, the sights I saw, the time spent with friends were all worth the pain in my legs.   

I am really living when I take the leap and just see where it takes me.

And the icing on the cake is when I can cross off another item on my bucket list.

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Finding Peace in a stressful world

IMG_4028 copy“Me time” is so very important yet it feels so selfish. 

Life can be stressful making it hard to take care of “me”, making it hard to sometimes find some peace. 

We talk a lot about taking care of ourselves in the meetings that I lead and how important it is, yet we can get lost in the day-to-day of our lives and in the stresses. 

This morning I decided I was finally going to take some time for me…..some time to do something I enjoy, simply because I ENJOY it.  I grabbed my camera and I headed out to Riparian Preserve, an oasis in the middle of the city I live in.  This oasis makes me forget about all the “stuff” that clutters my mind.  I walked the trails, sat on the benches and enjoyed the birds and rabbits that call this preserve home. 

In this place, in the midst of the city, I found peace.

Believe

All week I have been talking in Weight Watcher meetings about Believing in ourselves and turning our negative thinking into positive thinking so that we can continue down the road toward what we are striving for. Believing in myself and my worth was key to my weight loss.  There are times when doubts creep in and the negatives become louder than the positive, but we learn the strategies to turn our thoughts around.  And sometimes we get a little reminder that we need to believe in ourselves, that we are worth it.

 Tonight I got one of those reminders.

I had had a rough day and came home from leading a meeting to find a package in my mailbox. I dumped everything on the counter, kicked off my heels and opened the package.  The package was from a very dear young lady who has been like a daughter to me and her little girl who is very much like my own grandchild….I was excited to open this unexpected gift. 

 Inside was a note congratulating me on my training for my half marathon and some very sweet words and inside the boxes were a chain and a charm to put on the chain….it said 13.1 on one side and fearless on the other side…..and my tears flowed….happy tears, amazed tears and tears of realization.

Every journey I have taken in my life has brought me some new insight into who I am and how the events of my life have affected me. And just when I think that I have learned it all, something happens, a new journey starts, a gift shows up in my mailbox and a new realization enters my realm. 

Until I received this precious gift I did not realize how much I needed to have someone believe in me—the kind of belief that comes out of the blue, unexpectedly. I also realized that I didn’t know how much I needed to believe in myself, how much I needed someone to believe in me all those years ago, when as a child or teen I wanted to step outside my box and try something new. 

In Weight Watchers meetings we talk about anchors, the tangible things or the imagined things that remind us why we are doing what we are doing, that remind us we can do it and help us to believe in ourselves. I had many anchors throughout my journey of losing weight and discovering “me” and now I have a new anchor to remind me to believe in me!

Don’t let my head get in the way of my heart

day 1

Today I began my training.  The Half-marathon is in one year which is plenty of time to train.  If only my head would get out of the way…..

My husband and I walked this morning.  2.6 miles is not a lot when compared to the 13.1 miles I am committed to doing next January.  And I have walked many miles over the years, enjoying some of those walks and dreading others.

Today I realized that I am letting my head get in the way.  I can come up with all kinds of excuses to get me out of this–it’s too cold…I am hungry….I am tired…it’s too cold…..I have a year, why do I need to go faster now?……I have a year, I can start next week (and next week will never come)…it’s too cold! 

And then it hit me as we walked and as I complained when my husband suggested that we speed up a little between the light poles, that my head gets in the way of a lot of things I want to do.  The little voice inside my head that says I CAN’T do this.  The voice that always said I would never accomplish anything…..I wasn’t worth it!  That voice still lives in my head and has been there since I was a little girl.  I have found ways through the years to quiet that voice, almost vanquishing it completely.  Today, that voice popped up and I listened, for a minute.  And then I went on.

My dad’s voice will no longer keep me from accomplishing the things I want to do in my life. 

The second step in the journey of 13.1 miles and more importantly, in the journey of living life this year and breathing, is to not let my head get in the way of my heart! 

I am going to do this and so much more this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey of 13.1 miles begins with a single step…

I am not, nor have I ever been a runner. I am a walker, and not the kind of walker you find in the show “The Walking Dead”.  I enjoy walks.  But I do not enjoy exercise.  So what in the world possessed me to agree to do a Half-Marathon?  Yes, 13.1 miles!  I must have lost my mind. 

 Or maybe, I happened to have my very words said back to me by someone I love.

This past weekend my husband, C, and I were having a discussion about next years Disney World Marathon weekend. C has run the marathon, the half-marathon, the Goofy Challenge (you run the half-marathon on Saturday and the full-marathon on Sunday), and he has run the Dopey challenge (running the 5k on Thursday, the 10k on Friday, the half-marathon on Saturday and the full-marathon on Sunday).  He is CRAZY!  And I admire his strength, determination and courage to run those races. 

The best part of running at Disneyworld, according to my husband, is running through the parks, early in the morning.  The best part of Marathon weekend at Disney World, according to me, is getting to play while my husband runs and being there to support him!  And that was what I was planning to do when we were discussing marathon weekend 2017.

And then those words I had said to him came back to haunt me…..”Isn’t this the year of living, taking the leap and leaving behind the fear? Isn’t this year about experiencing new things, despite your fear?”  Yes, it is.  And yes, I want to take the leap and just see where it goes and what happens.  And I told him that I could do that by walking the 5k and then supporting  him as he ran the half-marathon. 

And then he went in full force—“But you have done a 5k.  And what better way to spend your birthday weekend, your 52nd birthday weekend, than to do something that you have never done, something that scares you?”  Oh……he had me.  How could I argue with that? 

 Yes, I have lost my mind! And I am scared……what if I can’t finish?  What if I am too slow? What if I disappoint him, or my kids?  What if I disappoint myself?  That is a long way to go……and then he reminded me of the words I keep quoting from Oprah—“If not now, when?”

 If not now, when?

 Disney World will be a  great way to celebrate the end of this year, to celebrate turning 52. And what better way to take the leap than to be a participant, rather than a spectator.  This year really is about taking the leap, participating and experiencing all that life throws my way—the good, the bad, and the scary.

 The journey of 13.1 miles begins with a single step……the decision to do it!  Just Breathe!!

Just Breathe

Today is my 51st birthday. 

Today I hold my breath…….not because I dread growing another year older, but because of what this birthday represents. There have been moments in my life when I have held my breath and moments that took my breath away.  Yet, there have only been two other times when I woke up on a day of celebration and held my breath, not just for that day but for the following days, weeks and months.  I held my breath for the entire year.  And today I find myself holding my breath and fearing what may happen next.

My mother was 51 yrs old when she was suddenly taken from me. I was 14. 

The day my oldest son turned 14, I held my breath fearing that he may have to go through what I went through at his age and praying everyday of that year that God would let him not ever have to feel that pain, at least not at 14. And I prayed that I would get to see him turn 15, unlike my mother who missed my 15th birthday.  The day he turned 15 I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief and thanked God.  Now things were okay and we could go on with life, for a few years anyway. 

 Five years later, as my youngest son turned 14, I again held my breath, praying that he would not feel that pain and that I would see him turn 15. And when he turned 15, I again breathed a HUGE sigh of relief and the weight of that fear left me.  We all made it through those years and I could breathe and celebrate all that life was giving me.  I could breathe for years now.

Last year I turned 50 and it did not bother me. But the weeks leading up to this birthday have been filled with fear, trepidation and sadness.  And this morning I found myself holding my breath.  My mother was 51 and had so much left to do and experience.  We spent many nights talking about the future, the dreams she had for me, the life she couldn’t wait to see for me.  We talked about me going to college, getting married and how much she looked forward to seeing me as a mother.  And she missed all of it.  And I have missed having her physically here to call, to talk to, to laugh with and to cry with.  I am saddened that my boys never got to know the loving grandmother she would have been to them.  Yes, I know, she is always with me, in my heart and I know she has watched over me all of these years.  But today, as I turn 51, I cannot help but hold my breath and pray!  I have so much more I want to experience in this life.

 Today I hold my breath, an involuntary reaction to an event that shaped my life and I am faced with a choice—to hold my breath and live this year in fear, praying that I get to celebrate my 52nd birthday, that I get to do all those things my mother never had the chance or I can breathe.  And today, right now, in this moment I am going to choose to breathe, to live the life my mother didn’t get the opportunity to live.  Life is short and precious.  And none of us know just how long we have.  I choose to live this day, the coming weeks and years, to honor all that my mother meant to me, all that she taught me and all that she gave me.  I choose to experience all that she dreamed about, all that I dream about and all that she missed.

 And I start with this blog. I have wanted to do this for a very long time, but fear held me back.  So what better day to start something new, to take a leap and go for it, than the day I turn 51, the day I was dreading, the day I was holding my breath.  This year will be about stepping outside my comfort zone, about taking that leap and seeing what happens.  This is about experiencing life, the everyday ordinary and the extraordinary! 

 There may be days, like today, where I find myself holding my breath and the fear creeping in, but I will choose to take the leap and JUST BREATHE!