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.

 

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Feeling Appreciated

As a freelance writer, I often receive payments in my mailbox after completing a client’s resume or Linkedin This is a picture of the outside of an envelope with my name and the words The Best Freelance Writer underneath, which left me feeling appreciated.profile or finishing the edits of their book. Of course, I’m always grateful for the checks. And sometimes clients will attach a sticky note to the check saying how pleased they were with my work. I love when that happens. I was not expecting what I received in the mailbox today, however, and it had me feeling appreciated for the rest of the day. A repeat client sent in her check. On her envelope she had written my name and then underneath, “The Best Freelance Writer.” The fact that it was written in purple pen was even more uplifting. Then there was the beautiful flowery stamp. Not just your regular American flag. What a gift my client gave me. Probably without even realizing it.

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Welcome, Thieves!

You know when you’re far away from your house and you realize that you left the garage door open? Well, that didn’t happen to me.

This is a picture of an open door leading into a house.

Scary to think what could have happened.

I mean, yes, I left the garage door open but no, I didn’t realize it. Not at the doctor’s office. Not at the Original Pancake House. Not at Ikea. And not at the grocery store. Six hours worth of not realizing my house was open for looting. It was like I was inviting everyone in to help themselves to our mountain bikes, ladders and power tools. And everything in our house.  (more…)

Why You Should Get Rid of Grudges

grudges

Photo courtesy Raul Pachego-Vega via Creative Commons.

Here’s the thing about holding grudges. The person holding the grudge is much more negatively affected than the person whose actions or words caused the grudge-holding. You know it’s true. How many times a day/week/month/year do you spend mental energy on that grudge? A long-term grudge can become so entrenched that it can impact your daily outlook, your decisions, and even your health, both mental and physical. And the sad thing I’ve discovered from my own personal experience holding too many grudges is that many grudges are based upon faulty assumptions about the other person’s motives or feelings, or about the other person’s ability to  be the person you think you deserve them to be. (more…)

My Mother’s Dying Wish (With Apologies to the Fine People of Lubbock, Texas*)

I was sitting next to my mother in the doctor’s office when the doctor said that there was nothing else to do about her cancer. No more chemo. No more liver stents. No more anything. The cancer had won. She might have a couple of months left. It was early August 1994 and I had flown up from Texas to be with her in Boston for this ominous appointment.

“If there’s anything you want to do, now’s the time,” the doctor said.

“I want to go to Lubbock, Texas,” she said. “Can I make the trip?”This is a photo of downtown Lubbock, Texas.

“Lubbock, Texas? Why?” the doctor asked, frowning.

Yeah. Why would anyone want to make Lubbock their last travel destination?

“Because that’s where my daughter just moved with her husband and I have to see her new house so I’ll be able to picture her in it before I die,” she said.

Oh. Because of me. (more…)

New Friend

This is a photo of Carmen Menza, an artist, in front of one of her paintings.

The very talented and friendly Carmen Menza.

Here’s what I like about my new friend, Carmen: she is creative, interesting, funny, generous, and a great conversationalist on a 4-hour 6 a.m. flight to Boston. We exchanged business cards. She invited me to her poetry discussion group, which turned out to include women just like her. Artists. Creative types. Mothers. People with passion. None of them read poetry in the Dreaded Poetry Voice. And the poet we discussed was Lydia Davis, whose spare narrative style I am emulating here. Probably badly. But that’s OK, because I have a new friend.

 

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…)