Change It Up By Going Outside

Get Out of The Gym And Into Nature

After a while workouts in a gym get a little stale. There are only so many lunges, pull-ups and elliptical sessions you can do before you’re bored. One day recently, people were hogging a lot of the free weights and medicine balls so when my friend Jody arrived for our morning workout at the not-so-great gym I wrote about last week, I suggested an outdoor run. Jody wisely pointed out that the gym is basically bordered by highways so a run might be difficult. But we decided to see what we could find. We ran by a lot of businesses, a CVS, a few banks and some restaurants. Not so beautiful.

But then we found a park nearby with a small lake.  Incredibly, in the middle of the urban sprawl, there was actual wildlife! I was so thrilled that I had to stop and take a picture of each new creature we came upon.

This is a picture of a swan taking flight.

I love how majestic this egret looks taking off.

There were egrets and an otter and birds I don’t know the name of—and a kitten. Until you come across those beautiful creatures, you forget how incredible it is to be in their presence. I’m so used to be cooped up in my temperature-controlled house, gym or office, glued to the TV, computer or smartphone, that just being outside was like a big adventure. I think endorphins must be increased when you workout outside as opposed to the gym—as long as you get away from the highway.

This is a photo of an otter eating.

This guy swam across the lake to find his breakfast. I think it’s an otter.

Because between the animals and the sunrise, the fresh air and the feel of uneven ground under my feet, I felt uplifted and inspired the rest of the day.

This is a photo of a black kitten.

This friendly kitten stopped for a visit.

Even the kitten who appeared in the middle of the jogging path around the lake made me happy. And then there was the pièce de résistance—the sunrise.

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Getting outside proved to be just what I needed. It just goes to show you that even in the middle of the city you can find beauty in the outdoors.

 

There’s Something About Sunrise

I drive to my new job in the pitch-black of early morning, the inky highway dotted with pairs of red lights speeding ahead. Leaving so early allows me to avoid traffic jams and go to the gym, but it also gives me the opportunity to appreciate the sunrise.

This is a photo of a sunrise taken over the tops of cars parked in a parking lot.

One of the beautiful sunrises from the parking lot of the gym.

Being a morning person, I’ve experienced a lot of sunrises. From the car, on the beach, from my bedroom window and even from a deer blind while accompanying early morning hunters. Sunrises never fail to inspire awe in me. The way the rosy light undulates with the cloud formations and bursts outward with as if hopeful that today will be better than yesterday makes me feel like anything is possible.

As I maneuver my car over to my exit, I glance to my right and that’s when, at 6:16 am, I know I will see the vivid reds peering over the dark horizon, welcoming me to the new day. I’m always intrigued by the slight differences each sunrise presents, as if the universe is asking to be noticed and appreciated for its efforts. Like a giant paint brush is mixing new variations of the same warm colors on a global palette and smattering them across the sky.

It’s no wonder that the painting that gave rise to the name of the Impressionist movement was Claude Monet’s 1872 painting “Impression, Sunrise.” It’s one of my favorites, capturing the peacefulness and optimism of a new day.

This is Claude Monet's painting, Impression, Sunrise, featuring the harbor of Le Havre with the sunrise reflecting on the water amid boats.

Claude Monet’s 1872 “Impression, Sunrise” depicting the port of Le Havre, France.

As Robin Williams’ character says in the movie Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, “Smile, my boy. It’s sunrise.” It was one of his last roles and it is how I choose to remember him, sharing our appreciation of the sunrise.

Smile. That’s what I do in my car every morning when I look over my shoulder to yield for my exit and am rewarded with one spectacular splashy sunrise after another. Then, when I get to the gym, I often snap a photo before heading inside.

Happiness is a Visit From a Harbor Seal

It was a beautiful warm day in Bar Harbor, Maine and I was finally getting to go sea kayaking. Sea kayaking has

This is an Image of a harbor seal's head peaking out of the water.

Photo courtesy Mike Baird via Creative Commons.

been on my bucket list for a long time, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until a few weeks ago when I visited Acadia National Park with my husband and son. (more…)

6 Ways to Find Quiet in Today’s Noisy World

I don’t know about you but when I am exposed to constant man-made noise, I get edgy. Bitchy even.This is a picture of the fall leaf colors on my solitary hike in New Hampshire.

The world (or at least the city and the house where I live) has grown so obnoxiously noisy. Leaf blowers and rumbling trucks; air conditioning units and the buzz of the computer; TVs and cell phones ringing; the teenager’s music blasted from the floor below.  There are fewer and fewer silent moments to just appreciate the soothing sounds of the natural world. I’m not surprised that The New York Times has created an online Quiet City map that allows users to find a place in any of the five boroughs where they can hear themselves think for a few minutes. (more…)

The Snail, Free Advice and “Music”

The snail greeted us on the sidewalk Imageas we rounded the corner of the cemetery. I thought it was a small rock and nearly walked right by. But Lucy wasn’t fooled. Her nose took her right to the snail’s tiny little antennae. Have you ever seen a snail close up? They are really fascinating and beautiful. The way the shell circles around reminds me of the rug in my grandmother’s bedroom which had lines inside it like lanes in a mini track. As kids, my cousins and I used to run around it and call it the “roundy roundy rug.”

Anyway, the snail was enjoying the moist, sunny morning after a rare rainfall. He cast a tiny shadow and undulated along the rough sidewalk concrete. We watched him for a few minutes, listening to the silence of his slow, methodical journey and then we continued a little more peacefully on our own journey past the cemetery and back home. (more…)

Sunday Morning Thunderstorms: A Love Story

Sunday morning. 6:30 a.m. One of my very favorite things in the world is happening right now.

A few minutes ago, as I lay in bed halfway between asleep and awake, groggily deciding whether I should get up, make a cup of coffee and read the New York Times, or just go back to sleep for a little while, a flash of light made my decision for me.

I waited, holding my breath, hoping it wasn’t some electronic device in our bedroom that had flashed. Then, a few seconds later: joy. Boom! Plink, plink, plink.

I leapt out of bed and slipped outside to sit on the back porch.

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Yucca flowers enjoying the moisture.

There are few things in this world I love more than being awakened by an early Sunday morning thunderstorm. I love almost everything about thunderstorms. The first, hesitant drops of rain plinking on our skylights. The whooshing water running out of the gutters. The overlapping, repeating circles erupting on the patio puddles and on the surface of the pool. The soft roars of thunder in the distance as the storm drifts away. The way the flowers become bright exclamation points in the soggy gray light. I love how nature becomes so geometric and creative and beautiful and active.

When I was little, we had a screened-in porch. During thunderstorms, we always gathered on the porch to watch the sky erupt. Mom made popcorn and lemonade. I sat on her lap. We counted between lightning and thunder. Often, we were quiet, listening to the peacefulness of the rain and the tumbling of the sky.

In Texas, we always need the rain. Anytime it rains, I’m grateful. But when that rain comes with a gentle thunderstorm, it’s a treat. Thank you for the rain and this morning’s show. And thank you for not bringing any tornadoes with it.

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Lucy does not share my love of thunderstorms. The morning bathroom run was soggy and quick. No time to bark.