Hug a Tree – Re Spring Your Step

I am a tree hugger. If you ever go hiking with me, you will see that I literally stop in my tracks, go rogue and hug the tall, unsuspecting, happy tree.

I say, “Good for you, you tree. You just stand there. And you just keep giving us oxygen. You ask for nothing. Thank you. I love you.”

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When you hug a tree, your back opens. And you feel a solid connection to some depth of dirt or center of the earth.

I don’t know why the term ‘tree hugger’ is a pejorative. If every single human being found a tree to hug once a day, I think we would be a much better human race. (Maybe we’d even stop the race and just love.)

Trees are wise. They ask nothing of us. They can’t go anywhere. Maybe a person would flinch when I hugged them, or hug me back a little too hard (yes, that happens too). But a tree doesn’t do that. A tree just stands there.

I love in fairy tales when trees come alive. Like I think it was in one of the million Lord of the Rings movies — don’t the trees come alive, run with roots dragging, and save the world? Or at least until the next sequel?

My kids are highly suspicious and embarrassed — even in the woods — that I hug trees. They go, “Mooom!” You know that Mo-o-om! that has at least syllables?

“Do it!” I scream at them. “Hug the tree! You’ll like it!” I act all strict and mean. Begrudgingly, they do. And with an eye roll, they’ll admit, “Yes, hugging a tree is okay.”

hike 2Tree hugging is nice. And there’s nothing wrong with nice. Especially when it takes you to a happy place.

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My kids hiking Owl’s Head near Lake Placid. So many fun memories of hiking with my kids in the Adirondacks.

I love nature. And nature loves me back.

This post is in response to today’s daily post

“Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?”

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Going Running

How do you psych yourself up to go for a run? I tell myself, “Come on, girl. You can do it.” I talk to my body like it were a beloved family horse. “Yes, get moving, Ole Paint. Get out of your easy chair.” (I know that’s a mixed metaphor: horses don’t sit in easy chairs! Hey, it’s my blog. Write your own blog and mix up your own metaphors!)

There are a million reasons NOT to run. Here are a few:

Florida flower1. My feet hurt.

2. I am slow.

3. No one else is running. (Everyone else is going out for breakfast, in fact.)

And here’s why:

1. It will feel good when you’re done.

2. You will see some new things.

3. You will model fitness for your kids.

4. When you’re done, you can have a big breakfast.

Maybe I’ll go wake up one of my kids and see if they want to go with me.

I am writing this from a rocking chair on the porch. The kids and I are on a four-day trip to Siesta Key, Florida. It is our third day and inertia has set in. After a few days of vacay, especially in a warm clime, inertia always sets in. I must beat back inertia as if it were a horse sitting in an easy chair. (That’s a horrible image. But there you have it. As I’ve said, inertia has set in and I am mentally lazy, can’t come up with a better image. I could, if I really tried. But I have to go running.)

Come on, girl. Let’s go.

Pilates

My fitness app says an hour of Pilates burns 336 calories. I find that hard to believe. It doesn’t seem like I’m doing that much.

This is Jenn, our Monday and Thursday exercise teacher.

Yesterday, at our lunch time work out Jenn said, “You all seem so down, like I’m torturing you,” when we were doing the hundred.

Hey, who has a smile on their face on Monday at noon, trying to hold the plank position? I said, “On Thursday, we’ll be less downcast.”

Also, it cracks me up that we work out in a small conference room right next to the cafeteria kitchen. Constantly in class, we hear the servers and the cooks yelling directives at each other, usually they say, “I need more waffle fries. More fried chicken.” But yesterday, I heard, “I need more broccoli.”

During exercise class, I am often thinking about lunch and so, always open to suggestion,  I thought, “Yes, I need more broccoli too.”

Even though I’m not always happy during exercise class, I am always happy when I’m done with exercise class. Then I can eat guilt-free, (broccoli not waffle fries).

I especially like when I am done with yoga class. That’s when we bow to each other and say, “Namaste.”

yoga and my manic mind

At the end of yoga class today, when the lights were turned off and the meditative music was turned on, my mind did not automatically rest. I found myself composing Facebook status updates, mulling over possible writing topics, questioning my kids’ afterschool activities, on and on.

Today, in addition to the sound of slamming lunch trays in the adjacent cafeteria, I was also distracted by a baby crying right outside our class.

yoga class from creative commons

Jen, my teacher, said, “Breathe and repeat the word, ‘Inhale’ on your inhale and ‘Exhale’ on your exhale. This will help you block out the noise.”

At first, I didn’t mind the sound of the baby’s cry. Not too much. Until after a while. Then it was really irritating. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. “Will someone feed that child? Give her a binky!” Iwanted to yell.

The good thing about hearing a baby cry is that eventually the crying stops. Sweet relief. Thank you Jesus!

And eventually, my manic mind stopped fretting too. For a minute at the end of yoga, I drifted. Got silent. Like the baby, I descended into a place of contentment. It was really nice.

I forgave myself and everyone for everything. I felt only love for the whole wide world, even, and especially, that crying baby.

Sink or Swim

A week ago my youngest brother and I were in a boat on Lake Champlain.

I asked my niece, the driver, to slow down and drop us in the middle of the lake. My brother and I could swim ashore. I love the sink or swim mentality. I’ve never been on an Outward Bound excursion, but sometimes I think my life is an Outward Bound adventure. Before we even took a moment to rethink what we were doing and if we could do it, we dove in. The boat sped away.

I love the urgency and immediacy of putting  myself in a pressure cooker and seeing if I can handle it. This is probably why I’m always running late. I love the adrenaline rush of making the train just as it’s about to pull away. (I know, I know, there are many people in my life for whom this style of operating does not work!)

Back on shore, we couldn’t decide how many miles we swam.

Yesterday I signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in my office building. I am excited for the fall to start and the kids to get back in school (Kids, how are those summer reading assignments going? Not so good? Get reading!) so I can go back to daily fitness and healthy eating.

Maybe I will actually implement a healthy daily routine and not have to put myself in pressured situations in order to make it to shore.

Running Without a Soundtrack

The silence running in the country was deafening.

I could not find my head phones. I usually run with ear buds listening to Pandora and the Omar Shariff sound-alike who calculates the distance of my run on my Cardio Trainer app.

I like running to Britney Spears songs like Piece of Me or Pat Benatar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot. I think, “Yay, world, hit me. Try getting a piece of this.”

I know, I know. I am delirious after just five minutes of running, wondering, Is it time to take that well-deserved water break or walk yet? The music keeps me going.

So running without Britney, Pat or Omar, I felt a twinge of loneliness. The steadiest sound was the scraping labor of my own breath. Then the silence came alive.

running on a country road

There was a cawing of a crow, an old Buick rounding a corner, the wind swishing the hay in the field, and in the mix, my breath.

My breath was just a speck on the country road. Running helps you figure out where you fit in, a small piece in a big picture.

For this epiphany I rewarded myself by slowing down and walking.

Yoga in Times Square

Times Square never seemed Namaste to me. Times Square is a moving place, a kaleidoscope of tourists snapping pics, of flashing billboards, of the Naked Cowboy, of friendly police officers on horseback, of quick pickpockets.

Times Square is a place to hustle through or be hustled in. But it is never chill.

Until yesterday. On my way to breakfast I passed this. How awesome.

Hundreds and hundreds of people doing yoga together in Times Square. And here they are moving from downward dog to cobra. The yogis centered the shifting kaleidoscope. They slowed the hustle. They brought inner peace. Then they picked up their mats and hustled on.
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