Self Care

The forest heals. The fresh air infuses life. The sights and sounds of nature refresh and revive.

After a busy time with unexpected challenges, I could feel the fatigue building as I plunged into final preparations for and all weekend reading and writing conference. I did something quite smart that I don’t usually do. I took a day off and enjoyed life. A full day of hiking, happy hour and even a football game, with my husband, refreshed me.

I had way too much fun at the conference, despite the fact that it had to be online. I gave presentations. I went to presentations. I helped host others. It felt good to be part of something that has been fundamental to my writing success.

By the end of the three days, I was cooked. I did something smart, that 9 don’t usually do. I read in bed and binged Shudder (if you’re a closet horror lover like me, check out my other website, KillersAndDemons).

After two days, I felt better. I decided to continue to be smart. I did a bunch of work, then, I went outside into the sunshine, and walked for two hours through the forest.

Am I finally learning to listen when my being needs something? I hope so.

Do you listen when you need some self care? I find having a list of things that I know I love thay make me feel good, and being setup to easily execute on them, sets me up for success. For example, having good hiking clothes clean at all times, a great pair of shoes by the door, and pack ready to go with snacks and sunscreen. Or having books or movies on hand so I can chill. Or having my bathroom stocked with bath salts, candles, and aromatic bubble bath.

Take care, and be sure to stop and be nice to yourself when you need a break.

Doing What’s Important

Life. It gets busy sometimes. It gets overwhelming sometimes. We all experience moments when there doesn’t seem to be a way to wade through the clutter and do what we know we need.

I suggest a simple approach. 1. Take a deep breath. 2. Identify what you need. 3. Do it.

Even one hour. Just take it and do it.

Today, I stole a good hour and a half and had the most amazing little jaunt with my beloved bike. Together we climbed some good hills, coasted through some forest, and even stopped to chat with a deer.

Don’t forget to breathe and give yourself the gift of time to do what you love. You deserve it.

Nature Walk and Happy Hour

I have recently fallen in love with nature walks.

Through the various phases and stages of lockdown, my husband chose a fantastic way to deal with closures and isolation. He walked. Everyday. Sometimes for hours.

He even got a rotation going where he would walk with different friends on different days. It was a fantastic way to achieve both mental and physical health.

I started going with him. Two or three times a week, even during the coldest winter days. With the right gear, and right attitude, a dose of physical activity and nature can be good for the body and the soul.

Today I had my head buried in a couple of writing projects. Late afternoon I realized my brain was done for the day and I felt blah. I decided to put on some walking gear and do a beautiful forest loop close to home.

My hubby ended up joining me. Two hours later, forest loop done, I feel revived and relaxed. Time for a home brew on the patio.

What do you do to stay healthy, physically and mentally?

Falling in Love

I’m in love. Her name is Kyoto.It’s been a while since I’ve travelled. I mean, really travelled. Long flights, trains, backpack style trekking around the world type travel.I had been craving it, but I didnt realize just how much. I’ve changed. I’ve grown. At this moment I am deep into this across the world adventure, and as I sit here on a train eating a delicious bento box, drinking a Kirin, resting my hiking boots on the foot rest of my train seat, I am totally immersed.We, my hubby and I, are just leaving Kyoto. After four days, I didn’t want to leave. But it’s time for the next phase of our journey.Kyoto stole my heart. A piece of it is still back there in those beautiful mountains as we speed away.It all started with a hike up the remote pilgrimage mountain — Mountain of Peace. It continued with a climb up nature’s stair climber on the Fushimi Trail.The crowds thinned as we made our way up the longer route. I pushed my pace to a fairly unreasonable rate up the winding staircases when Golden Boy — with his young skin, shirtless ripped torso and blond hair — thought he could pass me. Sorry about your luck. This little girl with pig tails and a back pack can push until her insides scream with the right motivation.

The rewards at the top were worth it. A meditative space filled with little paths winding through a plethora of shrines.The icing on the cake, the last bit of melting my heart, was the hike away from the crowds, up a deserted path to a peak that looked down upon the bamobo forest and monkey park. We sat on a makeshift bench of logs and relished in the chorus of birds and insects. Nature’s music.After hiking and meditating in the mountains all day, and taking in the sites, we developed a routine of enjoying the amazing happy hour at our hotel.At night we explored the rather inique and interesting areas of Gion and Pontocho. By the end of our four days, we had gotten the hang of finding the more authentic restaurants and Japanese whiskey bars. It was truly amazing being the only white people in a joint.As I sit here on this train, my heart is a little tender. I fell in love with Kyoto. I don’t want to leave. I know I’ll be back.

 

Mountain of Peace

This is a recount of adventures in Japan last fall. I’m a little late posting but wanted to share this wonderful journey.

After a week in a high energy big city, I found myself so excited about hiking up a quiet mountainside that I woke up super early. I stared at the clock, willing the time to pass. Filled with positive energy, I couldn’t wait to put on my hiking boots.I had thoroughly enjoyed all the activities that we had been engaged in. Seeing a totally different part of the world had been fun and adventurous. But my being was craving nature and a different energy wavelength. The hike that I was about to do would offer that and more.After a couple of trains and filling the pack with water and food, we started our climb.As per our experience so far, every local person we encountered went out of their way to make sure we were on the right track.As soon as we stepped into the forest and started our trek up the trail, my inner being sunk into a peaceful energy. The climb started immediately and it was steep! I fell into that old pattern of finding my flow. The one where my physical, mental and spiritual beings all align with each other, and with nature.The sounds of nature sung around us. We relished in the squeaking of monkeys and the otherwise silence. Occassionally the trees would crack and creak in the breeze.No people. No buildings. Just us, the monkeys and the forest.The trail had many steep stretches. It was hard work, but it felt good. I fell into the rhythm I knew well. My husband told me of the 1000 day challenge. The trail is a pilgrimage path, and monks do it every day for 1000 days, fasting for 10 consecutive days during the challenge. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was working hard.Reaching the peak was rewarding. The view was stunning. We rested and had a picnic. No fasting for me.The real reward, however, was quite unexpected. A little more hiking took us to the Dai Ko-do temple (beside Bell Tower). We removed our boots, slid the door open and entered. We sat cross legged. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply. The scent of incense filled me. It calmed me. My mind was clear.Before leaving, I participated in the purchase (by donation) of an incense stick that you light and place in a bowl among others. It is intended to be in memory of someone. I took a moment for silent reflection.The descent was awesome. There was a bus that took us down the mountain and within blocks of our hotel!A shower and happy hour were waiting for us. The zen feeling lasted into the evening. Now I’m going to crave meditation on every mountain peak.

The Essence of the Mountain Pouring Into My Soul

As I took the first pedal stroke, I looked up at the mountain before me.  As I began to roll, I took in a deep breathe of fresh mountain air.  As I began to ascend, my whole being was present.  I was there, just me and my bike, becoming one with the mountain.  I felt so open, so free.  I thought to myself, this is it, this is the true essence of cycling for me.  This is why I fell in love with riding.

The beauty surrounding me was indescribable.  The sky was true blue and the sun shone down warming everything.  My eye caught the occasional chipmunk bouncing about and chirping away.  The trees were an array of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows.  The mountain opened up before me, grand and snow capped.

My being was in pure heaven.  The purity of the moment filled my heart.

This was it.  This was the true essence of cycling for me.  This was why I fell in love with riding.

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Source: summer.banffnorquay.com

 

There is something so pure about just being out there, me, my bike, and nature.  I see so much, hear so much, and feel so much.

I was only going to be riding in short bursts today.  But, even these short bursts of cycling made me reflect and realize how long my journey has been.  It started with fear and anxiety and evolved into feeling more free than I could ever imagine.  A journey that started with my husband and the road bike that he bought for me shortly after our wedding.  A journey that really got going on a French mountain known as Alpe d’Huez.  A journey that has no end as it has now become a life long path.

So there I was, on the side of this lovely mountain, pedalling away and falling in love all over again.  What timing to be taken back to a place that completely reminded me of why I picked up a bike and started pedaling, why I made my way up that first peak, and why I just keep on pedalling no matter what.

A bike can take you to some amazing places – physically, mentally and spiritually.  A bike can become a friend, and a part of a life long journey.

 

When You Know it’s Time to Push

Mt Bachelor - Me SummitWhen you know it’s time to push, don’t be afraid. Find a way, and just do it.

There are times when you don’t feel up to it, you aren’t sure if you’ve got it, and you have doubts about whether or not it is a good idea. But, deep down, you know you can and you know you should. There are also times when you simply know that you shouldn’t. There is a very distinct difference between these two scenarios. In both of them, you feel weak. In both of them you may be suffering. In one of them you know you should and it would be good for you. In the other, you know that you shouldn’t and that it is time to nurture and heal. You absolutely must get in touch with your inner being and your sense of intuition to enable yourself to distinguish between them. Continue reading “When You Know it’s Time to Push”

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