Category: Walking Group


No, I’m not describing my workout, although it would qualify. I’m talking about a good laugh. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried, people were telling you to breathe and you used ab muscles you forgot were there? If you don’t remember then it’s time to do something about it! I believe we are all capable of experiencing the pure joy that comes from a good laugh. Babies certainly know how to do it. Check out this one. Even if you’ve already seen it, it never gets old. I think it’s one of my favorite videos of all time because it always makes me laugh. Breathe, baby, breathe!

Today, one of my friends joined me for my walk. See? Here’s proof. 🙂

As we walked, we talked and laughed. I think we may have done more laughing than talking which probably made us burn even more calories and there’s nothing wrong with that! Every once in a while I’d remember that I was supposed to be taking pictures.

I love seeing signs that Spring is just around the corner.

I love Spring because it’s like all of nature hits the reset button, just like a good laugh. You know that feeling, when you finally settle down, let out a big sigh and wipe the tears from your eyes, still grinning ear to ear. It’s like a huge weight is lifted and you can keep going, no matter what you’re dealing with. Like you can breathe again.

The best kind of laughter comes from a heart filled with love. Sure, we can laugh at others and it may feel good for a second or two, but deep down we know it’s not right and the joy is tainted. There are plenty of things to find humor in without bringing other people down. Sometimes my kids say the most hilarious things and we all have a good laugh and there’s nothing more freeing than being able to laugh at yourself. Somewhere along the way many of us became reserved, unable to just let loose, but if we can recapture the pure, bold, unashamed joy of a baby who’s delighted by the simplest things each new day will feel like we’ve hit the reset button. As adults living stressful lives, who couldn’t use that?

Instead of focussing on the negatives, I hope today we can look for some joy. And like I said before, we always find what we’re looking for…one way or the other. 😉

As I read a comment on yesterday’s post this morning with a tear of joy in my eye, I was reminded of a video clip on my Turbo Jam DVD. It was part of the “getting to know Chalene Johnson” section and it’s her talking about a phone call she got from a friend who’s pants were falling down. As I watched her tear up as she told the story about such a little thing and how it gave her so much joy to have helped her friend, I knew I’d found something special.

I started doing Turbo Jam when I was at my heaviest, 323.6lbs, and at one of my lowest points mentally and emotionally. Just as much as I needed someone to show me what to do physically, I needed someone who could help me feel like a worthwhile person again and capable of making the changes I needed to in order to get my life back. In that moment when I saw Chalene get so emotional over another person’s success a spark of hope was ignited in me. She was exactly what I needed. (I’m sitting here writing this with tears streaming down my face.)

Now, that little spark has turned into a passion to help others…to pay it forward. The walking group is one of the ways I’m trying to reach out to the people around me. Up until today, the only people who had joined me were friends who don’t live in the apartment complex which is where I advertised the group. But this morning, in response to the flyers that went out yesterday, I got an email from a man who said his “very shy” wife was interested in walking, too. YAY!!! Maybe one person doesn’t seem like much to get excited about, but change happens one person, one decision, one step at a time. I hope to meet her tomorrow morning and that she won’t be too shy to come since it will likely just be the two of us. (As always, scroll over the images for more info.)

It’s really the little things in life that make all the difference. This morning, waking up ten minutes early meant I had time to fix breakfast for my husband and he had time to eat it. It also meant the kids had more time to drink their shakes without me announcing the time every two minutes which normally becomes stressful for all of us. Last night, I forgot one little thing that meant me frantically searching for the camera so I could put the batteries back in and still make it down to the meeting point in time. Turns out I didn’t find the camera, but it could be considered a blessing in disguise because I was forced to use my phone instead which takes better pictures of little things. Perfect since I wanted to talk about little things today.

Though it’s important to be able to see the big picture, it’s the little details that add up to create that big picture. Our lives can be full of joy or misery depending on the details. Take our families. How do we greet each other? Seems like a small thing, but there’s a big difference between being greeted with a smile or a frown. Do we say please and thank you? One or two syllables, but they speak volumes. Any seemingly small thing, repeated day after day, will become the focal point in the big picture. It’s up to us to decide if it will be a thing of beauty or something that makes us want to turn away.

It doesn’t stop at our front door, either. We go out into the world and are faced with thousands of little decisions each day. They way we interact with our co-workers, friends or even strangers makes a huge impact. You may think you don’t have any influence, but you do. Just like one tiny raindrop hitting a puddle makes ripples, a single act of kindness can pass from one person to another, changing the lives of many.

Then, as people join together, looking for ways to make their communities better one person at a time, the effects are even more noticeable.

Then, all those single drops coming together turn into rivers which can bring about huge changes. Ever hear of the Grand Canyon? Of course it doesn’t happen in a day. It takes time, but we all have the same amount in a day. Hour after hour, minute after minute, second after second, moment after moment. It just takes a split second to choose an action that will lead to another and another and another. Sometimes, we only have that split second to take advantage of an opportunity before us so we need to be aware, looking for the chance to make something happen.

Maybe we sometimes think that our attempts are pointless, but we should never give up. Seeds are small, but they can grow into gigantic trees. Buds are small, but they grow into beautiful blooms. It just takes time. We wouldn’t expect a tree to appear as soon as the seed is placed in the ground. We wouldn’t expect a garden to be in full bloom the moment after the buds appear. “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9 (One of my favorite verses.)

It all starts with one little thing. How far should I go back? Let’s start with my kids. I needed some adult interaction when the boys were little so I joined a MOPS group because of an invitation from  friend I met at church who’s daughter was born on the same day in the same hospital as my son. At that MOPS group, I met another mom who became my close friend and at one point, co-worker. She moved away 😦 and I joined facebook to keep in touch with her. Through facebook, I got in touch with my brother who, if I had ever met him, it was only once when I was a kid and we had basically no contact after that. That led to him coming to visit with his wife and of course, take pictures. Seeing those pictures made me order Turbo Jam which allowed me to see that video of Chalene getting emotional. The motivation I got from her led to me pushing play day after day. My success with that program led me to getting the more challenging version, TurboFire, which I loved and posted comments about on facebook. A coach saw those comments and became my friend which led to her asking me if I wanted to be a coach, too. That decision led to making more friends on facebook, including one who suggested I start posting more stuff on my blog which I started because I wanted to reach more people as a coach. Her suggestion led me to posting my photos from my morning walks which led me to start sharing the thoughts that run through my head while I walk which I hope you are finding helpful. Whew! And that, my friends, is how one little thing leads to another. 🙂

So, what small step will you take today?

Hello! How are you today? [Oh,Aw], I’m so [happy,sorry] to hear that. [ 🙂 , 😦 ] Me? Oh! I’m FANTASTIC! Thanks for asking! Why the extra cheerfulness on this otherwise dreary day? As I headed for the tree I was wondering the same thing, but it was undeniable. I was filled with joy and excitement.

Maybe it was that the rain had stopped before I went outside to walk, or that I knew once I got back I’d be stuffing 240 newsletters with flyers for the walking group and a weight loss/fitness challenge starting in two weeks. It could’ve been the preview for the new episode of House that got this song stuck in my head, or maybe it was that I got to talk with one of my best friends from high school the night before which me feel a little more like “me”. We used to do all kinds of crazy stuff and laugh our heads off all the time. I’m sure some people thought we were totally off our rockers (only partly true) or high, but we were just being ourselves and having a blast. If you want to see some photos you’ll have to connect with me on facebook.

I think a big part of my happiness, too, was because I had discovered earlier that morning that I had qualified for Success Club (something that’s part of my coaching business) and didn’t even realize it. Why is that so important? Well, it means my business is doing well and eventually I may end up on a cruise as a thank you from the company I’m partnered with and now I’ll be getting new leads in addition to the customers that are already assigned to me every couple of days so I can be their coach. But, that’s not the most important thing. It’s the fact that I was recognized for doing a good job, but I wasn’t doing it for the recognition. I was simply doing what I love, helping other people transform their lives the way I was helped by the supportive community I’m part of as a coach.

I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a big deal. I’ve had jobs where I did what I had to do, but didn’t really enjoy it. I’ve had jobs where I started off excited, wanting to get ahead, but left with a bad taste in my mouth because the people I worked for only seemed to care what I was doing if I made a mistake. I’ve had jobs where the more the company grew, the less I felt like a valued member of the team. But not now! I feel successful, appreciated and trusted. The funny thing is, I technically work for myself, but the company I represent makes me feel like part of a family even though it does hundreds of millions in sales each year. It’s all because the heart and soul of the business is people helping people, one on one. It starts at the top with an amazing CEO who’s passionate about helping others and it gets passed on, person to person. That makes me very happy.

The farther I walked, or bounced, along the more I thought about all the things I’m thankful for and it wasn’t long before I realized I had a huge smile on my face. Then it hit me, the beginning of true happiness is gratitude. We can be happy in any situation or circumstance if we choose to focus on the positives and have an attitude of thankfulness. Every situation can be looked at from different perspectives. It’s up to us to choose to look at things in a way that will move us forward. We have to take responsibility for our happiness and stop telling ourselves that if this or that was different, then I’d be happy. There are things in my life that certainly aren’t perfect, but if I dwell on those things that’s exactly where I’ll be stuck. I choose to see the opportunities and focus on the progress instead of wallowing in self-pity thinking only about what I don’t have or what I haven’t accomplished yet.

So where are the photos? I was pretty distracted by my feeling of euphoria this morning and I couldn’t bring myself to posting pictures of a gloomy day when all I felt was sunshine. I did remember how much I love the happy, cheerful sculptures at Alton Baker Park and decided to go hang out with them for a few minutes.

We can’t rely on our external surroundings for happiness. If we do, we’ll never really be happy. Lord knows there’s always plenty of trouble all around. There is a plan for each of us and we all have the potential to do great things if our thoughts are in the right place. If you want to feel like your life means something, find the right motives and be thankful for everything that’s happened to you up to this point. Each experience is there for a reason. Maybe it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Maybe it’s a chance to help someone in need. But sadly, we’ll miss out on the happiness if we can’t learn to be thankful…in all things. I hope that you can experience even a fraction of the joy I felt this morning because it was worth every challenge that made it possible.

Psst…come closer. I’m going to share a little secret with you. Ready? 

I’m a little weird. Ok, maybe that wasn’t much of a secret for those who’ve known me a while. Sometimes I forget, though. Today, it was once again brought to my attention shortly after I started walking. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining buckets like yesterday so I was happy to be able to walk a little farther. Still longing for some variety, I turned right before reaching the stadium with the plan to loop around and take the tree’s picture on the way back instead of at the beginning like I normally do.

As I made my way along the busy street, looking forward to seeing what kind of photos I could get of the Xs and Os in front of Autzen, I thought about sharing the importance of being a duck. Yes, being a Duck fan is great, especially since we get to enjoy stuff like this which includes some great footage of the Xs and Os…give it a couple of seconds. Good stuff. 🙂

And we can’t enjoy the first without including the sequel. If you look real close you can even see the tree at around 2:45. Hee hee.  

Is it football season yet?? Back to what I was saying about being a duck. I was thinking about some advice my brother, not the one who chased his remote control truck all over the place…other one who came to visit, shared with me when I was going through some drama. Be a duck. Just let negative stuff slide off you like water off a duck’s back. Good advice.

About the time I reached the Xs and Os I realized what I was doing.Just like I always have when walking on pavement, I was avoiding the cracks. But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Always one who’s enjoyed patterns, lines and spacial relationships (wanted to be an architect for a long time), I mentally extend the lines that I can see in my peripheral vision and avoid stepping on those, too. A little crazy? Sure. A little OCD? Perhaps. I don’t really like labels unless they actually facilitate help for the person. (Scroll over the images to see what I was thinking.)Even when I’m walking with someone else or thinking about other things I’m still doing it. My little “game” may seem mentally exhausting, but trying to break the habit would actually be much more challenging because old habits are hard to break. I’m sure this one started one innocent day when I was just a wee lass, walking along with a friend or on the playground at school. No doubt someone said, “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” I’m sure I didn’t believe I would actually cause my mother’s back to break, but it probably seemed like a fun challenge. I have no clue when I decided it needed to be more challenging, adding in the other imaginary lines. Probably about the same time I started matching the vertical lines (phone poles have 2, etc.) I pass as I’m riding or driving down the street to a song I learned for a piano recital. Now, it’s not so much a song as it is a rhythm. I have to fit each line into the pattern so I’ll add faster beats if I’m passing, say, a fence or something. I don’t know if anyone reading this gets what I’m saying, but that’s ok. It is what it is.

You may be thinking I’m completely nuts, or at least somewhere around the same crazy level as Monk. I can assure you, I’m not. (I suppose most crazy people would deny being crazy so I don’t know how much good that does.) But, there are times when I miss, or technically hit, the cracks or lines and I don’t freak out. I am always aware when it happens, though. For a split second, I get a mental picture of my foot coming down on it. Sometimes I even deliberately step directly on a crack…just because.  

There are “rules” that keep me from losing it. For example, I don’t expect myself to fit my foot in a space that’s smaller than my foot. Monk would, just saying. In the photo above, I did extend the short lines in the border, but not the bricks. In the one below, I ignored the radiating lines because it just wouldn’t work, unless I extended the lines out so far that my foot would fit between them which would happen eventually, but I’d be really, really far away from where I was actually walking. That leads to the second rule…

I actually mentioned this before. I only take into account the lines that are within my natural line of vision. It’s not like I’m out there looking for lines to avoid. That would be insane. Take this wall. At first I started trying to deal with just the lines in the bottom row, but found that I wasn’t enjoying the challenge so I moved a few steps to the right and they were no longer in view unless I deliberately turned my focus to them. Problem solved.

So now that you know I’m at the very least a bit weird, why did I decide to share this? Because I think it makes a good point, maybe two, we’ll see. Habits are hard to break, especially if they’re so deeply ingrained in who we are that we don’t even think about them unless we’re really paying attention. Some habits are harmless, like my obsession with lines and whether or not I step on them, and can be left alone. Some are even beneficial, like the fact that I don’t really have to think about taking my walk every morning. But, many habits are harmful, to ourselves and those around us.

I used to have a habit of sitting on the couch all day watching TV or playing hour after hour of online games stuffing my face the entire time. It was harmful to me because I gained a LOT of weight and I always felt exhausted and depressed. It was harmful to my family because I wasn’t setting a good example for my kids and I wasn’t engaged in their lives even though I was physically right there the whole time. I also didn’t keep the place clean or even ask the kids to help which created stress for all of us, especially my husband who already has enough stuff on his mind. We all need a clean, clutter-free environment to be able to think and fully participate in life and ours was the opposite.

I’ve definitely made some positive changes and the kids are learning the importance of taking care of yourself and eating healthy. They’ve also seen how hard it is to break free from habits once they’ve been formed. I wish I could say my life has completely turned around and everything is as it should be, but I still struggle with keeping everything clean and uncluttered. Right now, there’s laundry to put away, dishes to be done, a floor that needs vacuuming, a layer of dust that needs to go away and trash to take out. Ok, some of it the kids can do when they get home, but I certainly need to pitch in, too. So I’ll wrap this up by saying I hope you will come back now that you know I’m a little “different” and I hope you’ll stop to look at your life to see if there are harmful habits you’ve had so long you don’t even them notice anymore, then take the first step toward breaking them. Oh, and GO DUCKS!!

Looking out the window this morning I did not want to go out for a walk, but I made a commitment. When I stepped outside I wanted to turn around and go back in. It was raining, not drizzling, raining…and windy. I was determined to get over to the tree and take a photo so on I went. Before long, I noticed that because of the raindrops pelting me in the face I was walking faster than normal. Not necessarily a bad thing. I pushed forward, took the picture and decided to head back. A forty minute walk is much better than nothing.

Since certain family members had been bugging me about taking pictures that include me, I attempted to get a decent one of myself. This is the best I could come up with. Plus, it gives you an idea of how much it was raining.

I actually really like this one, too. Technically, it is a picture of me…just reflected in the puddle.

On my way back, I saw this person and thought, “They came prepared…and probably aren’t from around here.” I don’t know too many Oregonians that actually use umbrellas, unless they’re originally from someplace else.

So you may be wondering what this all has to do with the title of this post. The fact that the unpleasant rain made me push harder got me thinking. We need adversity in life. If we were all perfect, we wouldn’t, but we’re not. It’s the hard times or the discouraging people that give us the opportunity to grow, but the choice is up to us. We can let ourselves get beat down or we can push harder and rise to the occasion.

If we allow others to define us and believe them when they say we can’t transform into something better, we become weaker and weaker. Soon we start talking to ourselves the same way those who want to see us fail do. But enough is enough! We can choose to be our own biggest cheerleader and find pleasure in overcoming obstacles. It’s not easy, especially if we’ve been our own worst enemy. It takes passion and drive so get mad about it! Decide that the negative thoughts that lead to negative actions stop now. We deserve better.

It’s time to refocus all that energy that’s been wasted on worrying about what others think or disasters that may never happen. It’s time to make better use of the 24 hours we’ve been given each day. No more wasting hour after hour in mindless activity that only serves as an escape from our real lives. Let’s make our lives exciting and fulfilling by changing the way we look at ourselves and the world around us.

Instead of watching TV or playing video games, why not workout? Instead of spending time online planting virtual crops or helping your friends build a new stove that only requires one click of the mouse instead of three, why not reach out to someone new and see if there’s some way you can help them navigate through life? We’ve all been through something that someone else is experiencing and could use some guidance.  And with the economy the way it is, there’s always a need for volunteers in the communities where we live.

It’s time to stop giving in and giving up. Let’s be thankful for the challenges we face because they give us a chance to grow and become stronger. Identify your biggest weakness and decide you’re going to turn it into a strength. It will mean getting out of your comfort zone and maybe even encountering opposition, but it will be worth it. Well, what are you waiting for?

You have no idea how close I came to posting another photo of poop today. Apparently, it was just too cold outside to take the dog all the way out. Letting it do its business just outside the elevator was close enough. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and not dwell on the negatives, though, so I refrained from taking the picture. Instead, I’ll show you how gorgeous the view was from the deck this morning.

It was really, REALLY cold this morning. I was seriously considering just walking to the tree, taking a photo and turning back.

I didn’t do anything to alter the color on that shot. The sky really was that blue. When I approached the tree I realized I was getting bored with photographing it from a distance so I got as close as I could without ending up in the blackberry bushes. Once I took the picture I decided to keep walking, but just couldn’t bring myself to taking the same route I normally do. Even heading East just didn’t seem appealing. It’s not like it wouldn’t have been beautiful or that I couldn’t take any good photos. I just wanted something new and different.

I took a path I hadn’t been on before, but it put me right back at the tree with the confused moss. I still wanted to see something new and different so I crossed the bridge and turned left knowing that I’d eventually reach the Knickerbocker bridge where I could head back. I ended up on a gravel path that didn’t have much to look at so I started taking pictures of the frozen puddles. So much for new and different.

As I walked along, avoiding the mud, I was starting to think that I was just going to have a collection of puddle pictures to post. I ended up taking others, so I’ll just show you my favorites.

My positive attitude was rapidly fading as the lack of interesting things to look at allowed me time to ponder my total loss of control the night before. I kept trudging along through this wasteland, wishing I had just gone the regular way. The railroad tracks that were a ways off to my right were suddenly much closer to the path.

Not giving the close proximity of the tracks much thought, I continued on. The rocks had become larger and more difficult to walk on so I kept my head down to avoid tripping. I’m sure there were some lovely views of the river on my left, but I couldn’t be bothered. I didn’t even look up long enough to notice the two quail until they flew away as I walked right past them. All thoughts of what I ate the night before were gone. All my concentration was focussed on where I was going to place my next footstep. I did notice some interesting things that I would’ve otherwise missed had I been looking up.

By this time, I was just hoping and praying that I would reach the Knickerbocker bridge soon and that I’d even be able to get on it from where I was. Obviously, I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere because I was certainly not on the South Bank path. The last thing I wanted was to have to retrace my steps. Just as I was taking the next photo, I heard a sound coming from behind me…

…a train whistle. I turned around to see if I could tell how far away it was.

Suddenly, I was acutely aware of my surroundings. Two paths, one easier to walk on, but close to the tracks and one muddy and uneven, farther from the track, but closer to the thorny blackberry bushes and the drop off above the river.

I figured I could stay on the easier path until the train got closer and then hop over to the other. As I continued on I tried to remember just how far the cars stick out over the tracks because even on the difficult path I still wouldn’t be that far. A thought crossed my mind, “I’m either going to die or get a great shot of the train.” Then I noticed a sound was missing. I couldn’t hear the train moving on the tracks anymore. “I’m saved!” I looked back again and noticed a familiar sight that made me feel both comforted and full of regret that I hadn’t been content with the beautiful walk I could’ve taken. One that never made me wonder if I was going to die.

Then I heard it. The train was moving again. I looked ahead and much to my dismay, the rough path ended leaving just the one that I knew would put me close enough to the train to lick it as it whizzed by. What was I going to do? Even if the train passed by safely there could be another and I’d have nowhere to go. I moved past a group of trees to discover a wide spot that would give me plenty of room to stand safely while the train went by…and just in time.

Talk about feeling vulnerble.

After it passed, I saw where I actually needed to be.

Unfortunately, this was the only way to get down there.

“But wait! Maybe there’s a way down on the other side.” Nope.

So I went back to the rocks and tried to figure out the best way down…besides on my butt…that was a given. As I scaled down the “cliff” I wished I had some gloves, but I made it.

Once I got back on solid pavement I noticed some interesting and amazing artwork under the bridge.

Back out of the tunnel, I was so happy to be taking pictures of lovely trees with bright green ferns and moss.

In just minutes I was on the Knickerbocker bridge. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be on a bridge. Well, except for the time I was falling in love with the man who’s now my husband as we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Safely back on the North Bank path I looked back across the river and saw the train track I was walking next to.

So today’s life lesson is: always be prepared. No wait, that was yesterday’s. Ok, it’s actually: Don’t take a nice, quiet, peaceful life for granted. When we think we’re bored and search for something new and exciting, we often bring trouble and drama into our lives. There’s nothing wrong with having adventures and taking risks, but there’s a right way and a wrong way. Always be prepared…and have a back-up plan. I guess it actually was part of today’s lesson after all. 😉

Boots…check. Sweater…check. Hooded jacket…check. Spandex…check. (This time, the pants were worn under another pair of regular pants, for warmth.) Camera…check. Fully charged batteries…um, check, I think. Turns out not so much. And on one of the few days I’d have a chance to photograph some snow. Good grief. My camera still works when the batteries are low, but does some funky things with the color. As I was taking pictures, I was thankful I had a back-up plan…Picasa.

My battery situation reminded me of a story my cousin told me about one of my half brothers who passed away a few years ago. It seems he wasn’t always good at checking batteries, either. He used to spend a lot of time on weekends with my cousin and her husband taking their remote control trucks out to the desert, gravel pits, etc. I think my cousin tells it best…

“We drove out to a gravel pit and he was ready to try out his relatively new gas truck with a body he had painted himself. The body was an El Camino painted maroon and he had worked pretty hard on it. My husband asked him if he had checked the batteries in his remote and got the normal of course! He also warned him not to get the truck out of range or he would have a long walk to it because the truck would just keep going until it ran out of gas…are you seeing where this story is going? : ) 

He started running the El Camino and it took off like a shot and headed to a big mound of sand. All of a sudden he said he had no control and that’s when he realized the batteries were dead in the remote control! For some reason, he decided he could go run after the truck (running out of control now and could go 35 mph) and get it. So he takes off after the little truck and we watch, the truck hit a bump spun around and now the truck is chasing him! We started laughing hysterically as he is sprinting towards us with the truck hot on his heels! The truck hit another bump and spun around and took off the other way…of course he turned around and took off after the truck again! Are you with me, do you know what happened next?

The truck hit a bump again and took after him again…my husbnd and I were laughing so hard it was all we could do and we wished for a video because I know it would have won money! Finally the truck hit a big bump and flipped over on its top, so he was able to go get it and shut it off. We all three laughed until we cried and asked him what he was thinking! All he could say was he wanted his truck back.”

Ok, now the pictures which I think turned out pretty well considering the low batteries. Thank you Picasa! Scroll over the images for more info.

Some people have suggested that I put some photos of me on here so here’s my foot.

As I made my way back home I was thinking that it was unnecessary to close the schools, but by the time I reached my destination I thought maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Finally back in the warmth of home, I ventured out into the cold once more. This is the view from our deck.

I don’t have a lot to say today, especially since I’m distracted by my husband and kids who are home because of the snow.  Just remember, always be prepared and have a back-up plan or you may end up running in circles. 😉

The original purpose of starting this walking group was to get my neighbors interested in health and fitness. So far, no one from the apartment complex has shown up. I’ve had a couple of friends join me on occasion which is great, but for the most part I’m walking solo. I suppose I could’ve just given up. It’s not like I need to walk for exercise. I’ve got plenty of fun and effective fitness programs at home like Turbo Jam, TurboFire, P90X, Brazil Butt Lift, and the one I’m currently doing…ChaLEAN Extreme. But, I keep going because I know eventually someone will join me and I have tons of energy and I love being outside taking photos of the things I find interesting.

Growing up an only child (yes, I did say I have a brother, two actually and a sister…long story for another day), I learned to enjoy time alone, but like they say…no man is an island. This morning I ended up walking next to a college student on her way to class. Even though we didn’t speak, having a companion made the chilly morning feel warmer somehow. Her presence was comforting. I knew we’d eventually part ways since I’d be slowing down to take pictures so I took this one of her as she went on her way. Yep, there’s the tree.

I went on my merry way, heading left at the tree with the confused moss instead of right toward Alton Baker Park like I normally do. I was thinking about how we need friends and family to support us as we go through life. I remembered the people who have come and gone, the ones who were there for me in tough times and the ones who were there, but still made me feel alone.

A little off the subject…couldn’t decide which angle I liked better so I posted them both.

As I thought about the times I felt alone and about all the people around us who have felt the same way, like the woman I met on my last walk, I couldn’t help but remember that we are never really alone. No doubt, there are those who disagree with me. You may even be thinking, “Oh, here we go. She’s going to get all preachy on us.” But, relax. I don’t have some secret agenda where I’m slowly going to start trying to convert the masses through my blog. I’m just sharing my thoughts and experiences and my belief that God exists and cares about us is part of my experience. If God himself hasn’t felt the need to force you to believe He exists or to trust Him, then it’s certainly not my place to, either.

For me, the question of whether God exists has never actually been a question. Just as I believe the sun is there even when it’s obscured by clouds, I believe God is there even when His presence is not obvious.

I know there are plenty of people who believe God exists, but aren’t too happy with the way He’s running things. All I can say to that is that we see our lives from a different perspective and a limited view. I’m reminded of a quote that was taped on the inside of the bathroom stall door in the girls’ dorm where I went to college. “God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.” Desire of Ages

You may not agree with me and that’s fine. I’m not here to argue the point. I just know that all aspects of my life would be much worse if it wasn’t for what God has done in my life. Those who knew me back in high school can attest to the fact that I’m not the same person I used to be…and that’s a good thing. The bottom line, and I think we can all agree, is that all of our lives will be better when we can stop thinking about ourselves long enough to see the people around us who need love, compassion and companionship and do something about it.

Again, I couldn’t decide which shot I liked better so I’m posting both. I was overjoyed that the birds weren’t bothered by my presence and allowed me to take more than one.

It looked like I wasn’t going to be taking any photos of the bottom of this bridge for a while.

After I chatted with one of the workers about the new bridge for a few minutes and continued on my way, I saw a familiar sight. A man was walking toward me with all his possessions strapped to his back, his head hung low. As I approached him I tried to catch his eye, but he just stared at the ground where his next footstep would fall. I said good morning, but he didn’t respond. Not far behind him was another man, loaded down with various packs and bags, but his head was held high. I looked him in the eye and said good morning. After a split second of shock, he smiled back and said the same. Moments later I heard him ask the worker if they would be able to go under the bridge. His reason for being under there was much better than mine, but the answer was still no.

We all need love and companionship so we need to stop and ask ourselves if the bickering and drama we sometimes allow in our lives is worth it. We need to stop taking the people around us for granted.

Going back off subject for a brief moment…perhaps this is the new OPB station since they’ve announced cutting funding to public broadcasting. Not to get all political or anything.

Ok, back on track. I’ve considered renaming this category “Ramblings with Some Focus…and Photos”. Seems fitting. As I finished up my walk and passed by Autzen Stadium I couldn’t help but notice that the wind was picking up and the trash cans that stood alone were being blown over.

The ones that were in pairs seemed to be faring better.

9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Eccl. 4:9-12

Yeah, I just quoted the Bible, but I couldn’t have said it better myself. We need relationships, but sometimes those relationships are hard. I’ve found that when we allow God to be that third strand, those relationships transform into a source of joy, comfort and strength.

Tomorrow there may be snow so I might have to miss a day of walking. If it’s possible, I’ll go. Either way, there will be pictures. If I go, I’ll most likely be alone…or not. Just depends on how you look at it. 😉

Usually when I head out for a walk I don’t plan where I’m going or what I’m going to photograph…well, except for the tree.

But, today was different. I was on a mission. Since I had a free hand, I decided I would go back on the same path I was on the day before and pick up the bag of poop if it was still there. As I looked for it along the edge I found this instead.

Sorry, but I had to share. I was just so amused that there I was looking for poop and although it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, I found it. Of all the times I’ve walked those trails I’ve never noticed any before. That got me thinking about a life principle brought to my attention recently through the wonderful people on my team of coaches. In life, you find what you’re looking for so you’d better look for things you want to find. Like squirrels.

Ok, maybe most of us aren’t looking for squirrels, but we all are looking for something even if we don’t realize it. Our attitudes often determine what we find in life. Positive people find positive experiences and success while negative people just can’t ever seem to catch a break. Even if we’re not exactly sure what we’re looking for, having a positive attitude and an open mind allows us to see bright spots and opportunities along the way. The more time and energy we spend focussing on what we want, or don’t want, the more likely it is that it will happen. Goals gives us direction and something to move toward. We take action so we can move closer to what we want. Eventually, we find what we’re looking for even if it doesn’t look exactly the same when we reach it. The opposite is also true. When we spend our time focussing on all the negative things that can happen we become the kind of person that negative things happen to.

For example, if a person in a relationship is constantly worried that other person will be unfaithful or leave them they begin to act distrustful and jealous, turning themselves into the kind of person their partner doesn’t want to be around. They drive the other person away, creating the very situation they’re so worried will happen. If they had believed the best and focussed on the positives in the relationship they would’ve been that much more irresistible to their partner, creating a strong, happy relationship.

Besides looking for that green bag, I had another mission. WordPress has a weekly photo challenge and the title this week is Refuge. I was looking for something that would fit, though I wasn’t exactly sure what it would be. Since I hadn’t gotten the shot by the time I reached the main part of the park I left Pre’s Trail and headed out toward the mall along the river.

Once I passed the mall I crossed over the river and headed back.

The benches on the south side of the river were donated in memory of loved ones and each carry a plaque. This one was my favorite. Obviously a woman who was looking for good things in life.

Passing by the rose garden, I thought that someone looking for thorns would certainly find them, but even in winter while the bushes lie dormant there was something amazing there.

A little farther down the path, another memorial.

Directly across the path from the war memorial, something considerably more lighthearted.

Shortly after passing the cheerful animals I came upon a figure barely moving forward along the path with their whole life on their back and their head hung so low I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman. I don’t remember ever seeing a person so downtrodden and heavily burdened. I overtook them quickly as they seemed to be struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

As I listened to the shuffling footsteps fading away behind me it occurred to me that I should do something. As I pondered the idea I slowed down, but kept going. What could I do? I had no money or food with me. Then I knew. I could lift their burden, even if for only a few minutes. I retraced my steps until I was standing right in front of what I had finally figured out was a woman. “Excuse me.” She didn’t look up, but tilted her head to the side so she could see me. “I don’t have anything on me to help you out, but I can carry that for a while if you’d like.” The look on her face made me wonder how long it had been since anyone had actually spoken to her. She shook her head no and kept shuffling along. Maybe she was afraid I would take her stuff or maybe she was holding onto one last bit of pride. Either way, she refused my offer to help, but it was fine. Maybe the fact that someone actually noticed her was enough to lift her burden for a while.

We parted ways and I found myself wishing I had asked her name or just walked with her for a bit. But she was gone so I went back to taking pictures.

I headed home, a bit weary from the extra long walk. Did I find what I was looking for? I did. You can see the photos here. No matter what you’re looking for you will find it. Whether it’s a person who needs help, or an opportunity to learn something new, or beauty among the thorns you’ll find it. And, if it’s poop you’re looking for, well, there’s plenty of that around, too…if that’s what you want.

The kids didn’t have school today so I ended up sleeping in. That, and the fact that I’m addicted to facebook left me with exactly 2 minutes to make my breakfast and get going on my walk. Even though no one from the apartment has shown up yet for the walking group I still feel the need to be there on time just in case. So, I threw some water, milk, and a scoop of Chocolate Shakeology into my handy dandy shaker cup and off I went. As always, scroll over images for more info. 🙂

It won’t be long before those honeysuckle bushes(?) will be covered with blooms and filling the air with their intoxicating scent. Today was so beautiful and sunny it made me long for Spring. Just look at that bright, blue sky!

I headed onto the path that runs along the south side of the stream and stumbled upon this. If you’re not sure what it is, scroll over the picture.

Um, thanks…I guess. I didn’t quite understand why they went to the trouble of the bag, but not throwing it away. You may be wondering, as I was as I walked on, why I didn’t just pick it up and throw it away myself if it bothered me that much. Well, one hand was busy holding my breakfast and the other was busy taking pictures of things like bags of poop. My only other option was to put it in my jacket pocket until I came upon a trash can. Turns out there are limits to my sense of community service. Just as I was thinking that person was for the birds I noticed an actual bird out of the corner of my eye. Crane? Heron? Bird lovers help me out here.

Taking a different trail took me past a part of Alton Baker Park I don’t normally visit, but I was there before when my brother came to visit in 2009. He introduced us to geocaching which was a lot of fun. This was one of the areas where we found some.

I really wish my camera would wake up faster. If it did, you might have been able to see the worm in this little guy’s beak. Unfortunately, I got the shot just after he gobbled it up.

Near the bridge, there’s this tree that I love. I have a question, though. Isn’t moss only supposed to grow facing one direction? Maybe it’s not moss.

I’m starting to notice some “regulars” when I’m out walking in the morning. Like the lady who brings her dog because he like to chase the squirrels. I recommended Dorris Ranch. She knew the place well and said they call it Squirrelville. : ) So, if you’re walking or running through Alton Baker Park and see a lady with red hair and a camera (possibly wearing spandex) stop and say hi! Maybe I’ll take your picture. 😉