Tag Archive: Autzen stadium


Just two more days until my next weigh-in! I’m excited! I spent part of the morning watching videos of Chalene Johnson (Turbo Jam, TurboFire, ChaLEAN Extreme), Brett Hoebel (Biggest Loser, RevAbs), Tony Horton (Power 90, P90X, 10 Minute Trainer), Shaun T (Hip Hop Abs, Insanity) and more leading the Super Workout at Coach Summit in LA which is extremely motivating. Can’t wait for next year in Vegas!

11:00am 12oz water and 2 Beachbody Slimming Formula tablets

12:45pm Breakfast – I have really got to start doing better about eating right after I get up and BEFORE I get on the computer! Chocolate Shakeology made with 4oz water, 4oz 1% milk, 1 Tbs. natural peanut butter, 1 scoop Shakeology Fiber Boost and 3 ice cubes

3:00pm Snack – 1/2 large cucumber, sliced with 2 Tbs. Trader Joe’s hummus

4:00pm – 12oz water

6:00pm Lunch – 12oz water with 2 Slimming Formula tablets, Smothered chicken burritos. Here’s the “recipe” inspired by Sam the Cooking Guy. Love him!

1. Shred some rotisserie chicken (Costco has the best deal by far) I used 3 oz in my burritos

2. Warm the chicken and enchilada sauce on the stove – I used about 2c. sauce for the whole family – make sure there’s enough sauce so that after you take the chicken out there’s enough to spoon over the burritos

3. Heat tortillas in a dry skillet on medium until soft and pliable, about 20 seconds, flipping halfway through (don’t leave them in the skillet too long or they’ll become hard and difficult to deal with) – I used Mission flour tortillas for the family and whole wheat, low-carb, high fiber tortillas for mine. Let’s compare…200 calories for one regular tortilla or 80 calories and 12g fiber for one of the kind I used. Seems like a no-brainer to me. I had two which were fewer calories than one of the other. Why didn’t I give the same to my family? Because they taste like whole grain and getting them to eat stuff like that is a work in progress. Baby steps.

4. Put warm tortilla on a large plate and sprinkle the center with shredded cheese – I used part-skim mozzarella because that’s what we had. Monterey Jack would be great. I weighed out 2 oz for my whole plate and divided it between the two burritos and top.

5. Top the cheese with some of the shredded chicken. I used a fork and kind of pressed it against the inside of the pan so it wouldn’t be too saucy, leaving some of the sauce for the top.

6. Roll up the tortilla to make a burrito. I fold in the sides first, then fold the bottom up over the filling and continue rolling up.

7. Once you’ve made the burritos, place on each person’s plate, spoon the remaining sauce over the top, sprinkle with shredded cheese and shredded lettuce then top with some sour cream. I used 2 Tbs. and it was the light kind.

8:00pm 12oz water

8:05pm Was feeling really sleepy and knew I was in great danger of slipping into that mental state where I blow off my workout, finding a myriad of ways to rationalize it, so I went out for a walk/run.

9:30pm 12oz water

10:00pm Dinner – 12oz water and 2 Slimming Formula tablets, Chocolate Shakeology made with 4oz water, 4oz 1% milk, 1 scoop Shakeology Fiber Boost, a little mint extract and 3 ice cubes

12:30am Snack – 6oz Yoplait Light Blueberry and 10 raw almonds

Total calories consumed – 1343  Total calories burned – 2925

Protein – 116g, Carbs – 145g, Fat – 47g, Fiber – 52g

Water – 72oz

 BONUS – Photos from my walk. Please forgive me for getting so excited about pretty clouds, but when you live in a place that’s overcast 75% of the year seeing some blue sky and clouds that have actual shapes other than “blanket” is a big deal. Once the sun had gone down to the point where taking photos with my not-so-great camera was pointless I decided to try some running intervals again. This time I took the advice of a friend and payed more attention to being light on my heels. It made a huge difference and I found myself going farther each time. Instead of counting steps I looked ahead for a landmark and told myself I could make it…and I did. The last interval was even uphill and I went farther than my goal. Booyah!! LOL

It’s amazing how often we hold ourselves back from accomplishing things because we tell ourselves we can’t. We were watching a fascinating show on the Discovery channel earlier in the day about a man who, if you didn’t know what he was doing and you believed in that stuff, you’d swear was a psychic. He’s actually a professional mentalist and he did share a lot of what he was doing. In one part he was explaining how car salesmen use little “tricks” to get you to think a certain way and do certain things like buying a car you didn’t really want when you went in. He also gave tips on how to counteract what they’re doing so you can get the best deal.

Afterward, I was talking to my kids about how our minds are so pliable…so open to suggestion…and how we can actually use that on ourselves to our advantage. I gave the example of how Chalene Johnson does this in a very unsubtle way in her workout programs. She says things like, “Guess what? You’re not tired!” or “I know you saved some energy for me!” or simply “You can do this!” and you start to believe it. The next thing you know you’re pushing yourself harder than you ever thought you could and you are doing it…just like she said. We can tell ourselves things that will either hinder or help. I know I have been guilty of holding myself back with negative thoughts, but I’m learning just how powerful our thoughts and words really are. It’s a gift from God. We need to exercise our free will and use it to our advantage. We do not have to be victims of our circumstances. We can choose to believe that we are capable of so much more, even if no one around us believes it. If we say we can’t, guess what…we’re right because we won’t even try. We have to say we can, figure out how and do it. It’s 99% mental.

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Today was a rest day from my intense workout schedule, but I still wanted to do something so I took a little walk around the neighborhood. It’s was great to be outside and take some new photos since it’s been a while. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the honeysuckle blooms. I finally saw signs of progress and could smell just a hint of their intoxicating aroma as I was right next to them. Soon the air will be filled with their perfume. I can hardly wait!

Normally I would cross the street and head over past Autzen Stadium (GO DUCKS!) to Alton Baker Park, but I turned around to go home and see what the kids were up to. I hung out with them at the basketball court for a while where the older one was shooting hoops with a friend and the younger one was riding his brother’s scooter. As I stood there watching him we both learned a little lesson. While it’s important to look ahead at the big picture, be careful of the little things along the way because ignoring them can really trip you up.

Once I was sure he was ok, I took that photo of the tiny pebble that caused him to go sprawling on the ground. He survived with no major injuries and hopped back on which of course made me proud. I took one more photo and then attempted to sink some shots with my other son. It was definitely an off day for me, but that’s ok because we had a good laugh which I think is much more important than showing off my skills. 😉

With only three hours of sleep last night, I decided to go for a walk. I was tired and would normally crawl back in bed (ah, the joys of working from home), but nature was calling…in the sense that it was unbelievably gorgeous and begging to be photographed. Who was I to say no? And I am so glad I went. Not just because it was rejuvenating to be out in the sunshine and fresh air, but because I made a new, unexpected friend. If there’s one thing I learned while out walking today, it’s that you should never get too comfortable with how you see the world around you. Someone or something could surprise you and shake up the way you think at any time if you’re paying attention.

First of all, this van parked at Autzen Stadium cracked me up.

Then I saw some “wildlife”.

And of course, “the tree”.

Most of the time I look up to find interesting things to photograph, but today down was interesting, too. I couldn’t believe how clear the water looked.

Normally, I would head out to the North Bank path, but something caught my eye so I went in a slightly different direction.

I was loving how some of the leaves were a shiny silver, reflecting the sunlight.

Of course I couldn’t help taking lots of pictures of interesting trees…

…and flowers…

…and birds.

I made it over to the main section of Alton Baker park where there were even more flowers blooming than the last time I was there. Especially in the garden area.

As I headed back, I passed by the “triplets”. When I walked through here in winter when they had no leaves I wondered what they would look like in the spring. I think they turned out pretty great.

It was at this point that my walk got really interesting. While I was standing there taking that last photo I saw a squirrel out of the corner of my eye scampering up the tree to my left. I thought the tree was pretty so I took a photo. It was then that I realized the squirrel was watching me from one of the lower branches.

I waited a few seconds thinking for sure he would be scared off by the camera noise, but no. He stood his ground so I kept getting closer taking more and more pictures. Part of me was a little concerned that he was going to pounce on me at any second and infect me with rabies, but I couldn’t bring myself to stop. I’m posting all of the photos so you can understand just how long we were there staring at each other. Keep in mind there was at least a 10 second delay between photos and I didn’t zoom in or crop them. I was easily less than 5 feet away from him when we were closest to each other.

I looked away for a moment and noticed that the ground looked interesting there, too. I was certain that the squirrel would run away once I broke his gaze, but he was still there just watching me.

Finally, he (or she I suppose) decided to move. Possibly so I could get his other side.

By this point my heart rate had gone down and I figured I should move on. There was no telling how long we were going to stand there staring at each other so I said goodbye, let him know he was going to be famous (there wasn’t anyone else around to think I was crazy talking to a squirrel), and headed home…taking a “few” more pictures along the way. Just a few steps past the tree were two geese, one of which could’ve been a little nicer like the squirrel. It hissed at me several times as I walked by. Other than that, it was a fantastic walk and experience!

I already rambled on about philosophical things today so this is just going to be a bunch of photos from my walk. I’m not sure if it was the weather or what, but everything looked incredibly interesting today and I took a ton of pictures. The ones that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped didn’t make the cut, but there are still a bunch. Scroll over the images for more info (although they’re mostly trees).

These first two were actually taken from the deck before I headed out.

I put my cell phone next to these tiny daffodils for scale. I’ve never seen ones in bloom that were so small before.

This one surprised me when I uploaded it. I had no idea I’d gotten a shot of that bird flying by.

Ok, that’s it. Hope you have a great week!

Me: Hey, other than stopping to eat for a few minutes you’ve been playing that game all day. We need to go outside, get some fresh air and get our blood moving. Ooo, I know! Let’s walk to Alton Baker Park! (I tried to sound as enthusiastic as possible without being cheesy hoping he would just go along with it.)

Him: I don’t wanna go for a walk. I just want to go out and play with my aerobie (it’s like a frisbee, but open in the middle).

Me: Well, the best place to do that is Alton Baker so let’s go. (Big smile on my face.)

Him: There’s no open space there.

Me: Um, yeah there is. You know, the big field right in the middle.

Him: Oh. Yeah. But there’s lots of bird poop there.

Me: Well there’s lots of dog poop here. I’d rather step in bird poop than dog poop.

Him: I want to take my scooter, but the pavement is too bumpy.

Me: I’m sure we can find a path that’s not too bumpy.

Him: I’d ride my bike, but it’s too heavy.

Me: I don’t think so. You’ve had that bike a couple of years and I’m pretty sure you’re big enough to handle it just fine now.

Other son: I can’t ride my bike because the tires are flat and we don’t have a pump.

Me: I know we have a pump somewhere.

Other son: I guess we could rollerblade.

Him: I don’t want to do anything that needs a helmet.

Me: That would be walking.

Him: I don’t wanna go walking. It’s too far.

Me: Ok, listen. We need to get outside while it’s nice.

Him: It’s going to be boring.

Me: It doesn’t have to be.

Him: I’ll just stay here and read.

Me: We need to get outside and move around.

Him: I’ll just stay here and do TurboFire.

Me: Come on. We’re going for a walk.

Him: Why?

Me: Because I said so.

Him: That doesn’t work with parents…only between older and younger brothers.

Me: Come on. Get ready to go.

Him: I don’t wanna go.

Me: This is not a negotiation. Let’s go.

Him: (huffing and puffing as he walked to his room) I’ll just stay here and read.

Me: Get over it. It’s just a walk. It’s not like I’m moving you Somalia or something. (I know, it doesn’t really make sense and was probably offensive to someone somewhere somehow.)

Him: Well then I’m going like this. (He was wearing only his camo pajama pants.)

Me: Fine. Let’s go.

Him: Ok, but this is all I’m wearing.

Me: Ok then.

Other son: You’re going to embarrass our whole family!

They walked out the door into the hallway while I put on my shoes, hoping he was just bluffing…trying to suck me into a bigger argument which might have resulted in me saying we’d just forget the whole thing. Moments later the door opened and he walked back in and took off his shoes.

Me: What are you doing?

Him: Changing.

Me: Ok. (Thank you God!)

We finally headed out for our walk to Alton Baker Park. As I stepped outside I noticed the sky had suddenly grown dark, the temperature had dropped and the wind was blowing like crazy. But at least we were walking…fully clothed.

The bright pink thing behind his back is the aerobie. Gotta love the togetherness.

I figured once we really got going those endorphins would kick in and we’d all walk happily along together. In the meantime, I started taking photos of things that caught my eye.

It wasn’t long before we reached Autzen Stadium and PK Park where a baseball game was going on.

Other son: It’s starting to rain.

Me: Just a little. If you want we can stop here and play in the parking lot for a while.

Him: I just want to go home. Besides, it’s too windy to play anyway.

By that time it was really starting to come down and the raindrops were freezing.

We headed back, getting soaked. I’m pretty sure he was glad he decided not to venture out in just pajama bottoms, although we would’ve all been better off with jackets. I think we both won this time. He didn’t have to go all the way to Alton Baker Park and I managed to get him outside for at least a short walk, but more importantly when our similarities rose up and threatened to cause a major clash between us we both managed to get through it with our dignity in tact. He’s a great kid, but every once in a while we butt heads because we both tend to be quite stubborn. Whenever he starts acting like he shouldn’t have to do something because he doesn’t want to, I instantly think about all the times my mom gave in just to avoid conflict when I acted the same way. Sometimes I’ve taken it too far, but I’m learning little by little to strike a balance. The good thing is we can all have a sense of humor about it. Later, after we were all dry and fed, he suggested we go out for a walk. Brat. (I mean that in the most loving way.)  😉

My son missed the bus this morning because he wasn’t moving very quickly (don’t you just love the time change?) so I ended up walking a little later than usual. I considered just skipping it because I’ve got places to go and people to see. There are still things that need to get done for the first weight loss/fitness challenge meeting tonight which I’m very excited about. Even as I’m sitting her typing this, I’m looking at the time trying to figure out the fastest way to get everything done. So no long, rambling philosophical thoughts today. I got most of that out of my system last night finishing up an earlier post I’d started last week. I spent some of my walking time planning my day, but most of it I just enjoyed the sunshine taking photos of things I liked…just because.

Ok, maybe I will get just a little philosophical. I passed lots of people this morning, some twice, and most everyone was enjoying the day. Many, like myself had removed their jackets by the time we met the second time around. It was definitely feeling like Spring and I started noticing trees that I never had before because now with their new, tiny green leaves, they look completely different. There was one man, though, who was missing it all. As he walked, barely able to keep his footing, he stared down at his cell phone as he frantically pushed buttons with a look of frustration on his face. He was too busy to enjoy everything around him. I think that if he had stopped a moment to focus on what he needed to take care of he wouldn’t have been having so much trouble and then he could’ve appreciated the gorgeous morning. He probably thought that by doing two things at once he was making his busy life easier, but it seemed pretty clear that he wasn’t succeeding. We all have stuff we need to take care of, but there’s a way to do it so we can still enjoy the truly important things like walks on a beautiful morning, uninterrupted conversations with our family and friends, and time to just relax and think about the things we’re thankful for.

Here are the photos I took today…

Of course, the tree. I like this angle because it looks like it’s clapping.

Love these trees with their white bark. Never even noticed them before.

High water from yesterday’s crazy downpour.

Seriously, how did I never notice the giant heart on this tree before? It’s even the only one leaning out toward the path as if it’s trying to get the attention of anyone passing by.

I thought maybe it was carved by someone, but close up it didn’t appear that way.

Another tree I’ve never given much notice to.

Shout out to my happy sculpture peeps!

I always notice these trees. They look like exploding fireworks to me. Can’t wait to see what they look like once they’re not bare.

Puddle was still there from a while ago. No raindrops disturbing the surface today, though.

Tree getting its leaves, but only at the bottom. Thought it looked pretty cool.

If you need some latex gloves, there’s a whole bunch outside the south entrance of Autzen Stadium. Just sayin’.

YELL – O!!!!!!!! 🙂 Or it could be a ‘d’ for Ducks…that works, too.

One last photo of some trees that also have white bark and I also love.

I hope that you will take some time from your busy lives to enjoy the simple things around you today. At the end of your life you don’t want to look back and wish you’d spent more time with people you love and less time doing things that in the end don’t really matter after all.

Oh, so many opportunities to photograph “droppings” presented themselves to me this morning, but I resisted. I am talking literally, but noticing poop and deciding whether to take a picture has become symbolic, too. Yesterday was quite the roller coaster ride of emotions as it started great, went a little downhill, plummeted down into the depths, got a bit better, then back to great and ended with uncertainty. This morning I got the answer and while it wasn’t what I hoped to hear, it wasn’t the end of the world, either. Anytime we work toward a goal we’re going to encounter setbacks. The question is, when we look back on the tough days will we laugh or cry?

If we give up, we fail, and may always look back on that time with regret and tears. But if we push through and succeed, we can look back on the hard times and laugh…or at least smile because we overcame.  We are who we are because of what we’ve been through and how we’ve chosen to view each situation.

As we go through life we meet all kinds of people, some who are impressive and some not so much. What I’m learning is that everyone has a story and we need to try to be understanding when we have to deal with people who aren’t necessarily the easiest to be around. Instead of just assuming that a person is mean-spirited or obnoxious or unintelligent, we should remember that there’s usually a good reason for their behavior. If we knew the story of their lives, we’d see why they are who they are.

As I walked along, I started noticing things that made me wonder what happened to make them that way.

I’m sure even “the tree” has a story. I’ve walked past it many times and taken its picture from many different angles, but until this day I’ve never wondered why it is the way it is. How many times have we done that with a person we’ve known to be a certain way for as long as we can remember? At one point, the tree was young and full of life just as the people who seem to have given up. It’s too late for the tree, but not for people we can take an interest in and help to find new hope for happiness.

Every time I’ve walked under this bridge, even months before starting the walking “group”, there was a pillow up on the ledge. I even took a photo of it for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Refuge. I’d never given its placement much thought until it was gone. Once it was no longer there, I had to wonder how it got there to begin with (because there was no visible way to easily get to the ledge), who took it down and whether they were using the filthy thing to rest their head on as they slept.

Sometimes the question isn’t so much how, but why. I didn’t fully capture the angle of the slope, but one wrong step getting on or off the bench and you’d be the top story on the evening news.

It began to rain…a lot. But I remembered a section of the railing further up the path that I had always wondered how it got that way. The path isn’t big enough for vehicles to drive on so I pondered how a person on foot or riding a bike could’ve possibly done this.

It’s amazing how much damage people can do, either intentionally or without thinking. It can come in the form of abuse, bullying, teasing, or simply standing by and doing nothing while another does the damage. While it’s up to the victim to decide if they’re going to let the experience break them or make them stronger, we can be there to support them so someday they can look back and laugh because they’ve overcome.

I remember one of many incidents in middle school (back in the day it was called junior high) that made me feel completely humiliated. There was a dance coming up and since no one had asked me to go with them I decided to write a note and invite what I thought was a nice boy to go with me. As I entered the auditorium where we all hung out after lunch, a roar of laughter rose from the large group of kids already there. In the hands of one of the more aggressive boys was the note and he was reading it…loud enough for everyone to hear. I’m sure my face was as red as my hair and if my best friend hadn’t been there with me, I probably would’ve cried making matters worse. Needless to say, I did not go with that boy to the dance. While I can still remember the pain and embarrassment of that day, I can laugh about it now because I see things from a different perspective.

As I headed back, I stopped for a few minutes under the bridge to take a break from the downpour. That’s when I saw this tent. Under normal conditions it probably would’ve been protected from the elements, but I’m sure it was getting soaked. Here was a person who certainly had a story. What were they like as a kid and how did they get here from there?

We begin our lives with a few tendencies and characteristics, but as we come in contact with others we start to react and change. If we can take all of our childhood experiences and teach our children to come through difficult situations stronger and to be the ones who lift up those who have been pushed down, then everything we went through was worth it. Even though there will always be abusers and bullies, we can do something to minimize their impact by showing our kids a better way to treat people.

Some of the most kind and compassionate people I’ve ever met have experienced pain because of others’ insecurities which may very well have been caused by someone who hurt them, too. It can be a vicious cycle, but some, because they don’t want others to experience what they went through, break that cycle by choosing to make a difference. They look for ways to be supportive and caring. They have no tolerance for behavior that would hurt another and teach those around them by example, including their children. Though they went through things that no one should have to, they make the world a better place because they chose to overcome and that is a beautiful thing.

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles have strengthened me…You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Walt Disney

“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”             Booker T. Washington

I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever finish this post and I finally got the inspiration I needed from witnessing an act of kindness performed by an elementary school student at a basketball game which led to a brief converastion with his dad which finally put all the pieces together in my head. Just goes to show the little things really do make a difference. 😉

Vulnerability. Not a comfortable concept. Even the word itself if hard to say. All of us have to face it to some degree or another. This morning I was so excited to get out in the sunshine and walk. I had high hopes of finally meeting the woman who’s husband said she’s been wanting to walk in the mornings. I even took the stairs instead of the elevator because I didn’t want the usual mess and occasionl smell of PineSol to ruin my mood. But by the time I burst through the exit into the great outdoors, the sun was covered by clouds and the woman was nowhere to be found. I stood there, alone again under a grey sky, waiting…hoping she would appear.

After a few minutes passed and there was still no sign of anyone coming to join me I headed for the tree despite the overwhelming urge to turn around, crawl back in bed and forget the whole thing. And by the whole thing, I mean the walking group, the weightloss challenge (which hasn’t even started yet), this blog and being a coach. Each and every one of the things on that list makes me feel vulnerable and this morning it was almost too much. My success depends not just on what I do, but also on other people and their willingness to trust that I have their best interest at heart. I can do all the right things, but ultimately they have to take that leap of faith.

In some ways it was easier to go to a job each day that paid well, but deep down I knew I was wasting my time doing something I wasn’t meant to be doing for all the wrong reasons and it was making me miserable. Too many times I’ve taken the safe route, the path that appeared to be the best choice when looking at it logically, but failed to take into consideration what it is that motivates me to be the best I can be. Now I do something that I love, but the very nature of what I do makes me vulnerable.

As I walked along, thinking about how we rely on others for support and encouragement and are often times let down, I starting noticing things all around me that are also vulnerable.

The worm was completely unprotected, relying on the world to first notice it was there and then be kind enough to avoid squashing it. The bird was also vulnerable and clearly saw me as a threat, but had a back-up plan. It protected itself by flying to the top of the tree, out of reach, where it could see when the danger had passed. Some people are like the worm and expect too much from others, putting themselves in situations where they can be easily hurt not realizing that they are at least partially responsible for the consequences. Others are like the bird. While they don’t put up defenses like a blackberry bush, making sure no one can get close without getting hurt, they recognize the possibility of danger when putting their trust fully in the world around them. They know that they can protect themselves by going higher which gives them a better perspective.

As a society we’ve put certain rules in place to protect us from each other. For example, traffic laws. We trust that other people will follow the rules and stay in their own lane or not turn right in front of us. Even though they’re perfect stangers, we trust the other drivers with our lives. However, once we’ve experienced the consequences of someone breaking the rules we become distrustful and even angry. I know that while most of the time I’m a pretty relaxed driver, there are times when another person does something that makes me wonder if they’re paying attention and it makes me angry. Some people have been hurt so many times, they’re constantly on the defensive, ready to lash out at any moment.

I’ve been a worm before. And I’ve been an angry driver. I don’t want to be either. I purposely walked along the road in front of Autzen Stadium because with the way I was feeling I knew I needed a better perspective. The Xs and Os in front of the stadium have quotes engraved at the bottom and I figured someone had decided to put one on there that would help me find the determination to keep moving forward.

Mentally, reading those helped me get the perspective I was looking for. Emotionally, I was still feeling down and discouraged. The batteries in my camera were just about spent, but lasted just long enough so I could photograph the one thing that made me smile as I headed home.

It reminded me that even when the people closest to us let us down or we allow ourselves to feel judged because others don’t seem to have faith in us, there is only one who has the right to judge us and chooses to love us unconditionally. There is only one who knows the number of the stars and every detail of every flower and always notices us…every hair on our head and every thought inside it…and never hurts us, but takes us higher so we can see life from a different perspective.

I’m not going to lie, even as I’ve been sitting here writing this I’ve received news that on another day would’ve been somewhere around a 7 on the disappointment scale, but today feels like 1,000,000. One more thing I was excited about, not just for me, but even more for the other person…gone. Over before it even began. Leaving me wondering why they didn’t trust me to come through for them or why they didn’t talk to me before making the decision final. Part of me, a big part, wanted to say screw it, delete what I’d already written and close up shop. Obviously, I chose a different way of handling it. Perhaps that means I’m growing. I’m sure I’ll get over it, but for now it hurts and that is the reality of being vulnerable. But if we close ourselves off and never take risks we will never live up to the full potential of our lives, robbing those who may have been helped if we had been willing to get hurt along the way.

Oh yeah, can’t forget the tree.

Originally, I was going to title this one Get In, Get Out & Get On With It because it was raining again and I just wanted to get to the tree, take the photo and get on with my day. Here’s a reality check…as “responsible” adults, sometimes we’re going to have to do stuff that we just plain old, flat out, DON’T want to do. I’m learning that the best way to deal with these situations is to just deal with it and move on. No point in wasting time dreading it if you know you have to do it sooner or later. Forget later…sooner is better. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t dreading my walk this morning. I just had a feeling it wasn’t going to be one of the more enjoyable ones I’ve taken. (Although, I suspected it would still be better than the train incident.)

Turns out I was wrong. By the time I got to “the tree” the outside of my sweatshirt (which was a gift and I love because it’s from a place my mom and I visited years ago and the color makes me happy) was definitely getting soaked, but I was still dry.

My glasses were also showing the effects of the rain and I realized I could probably see better without them even though my vision is horrendous.

The challenge I posted on facebook earlier in the morning popped into my head. Do something new today. Well, I’d never taken my walk without my glasses so I slid them into my pocket and continued on. Pretty much everything was ridiculously blurry and I wondered how I was going to take any more photos. Then something caught my eye. I had no idea what it was so I took a picture hoping I’d be able to figure out later what it was.

It’s bright and colorful so I’m thinking some kind of wrapper.

As I continued on, I started taking pictures of only the things that stood out in the otherwise dark, blurry and mostly green and brown surroundings.

Beginning to see a pattern here?

If I was surprised the day before that I hadn’t noticed the trio of posts, my discovery of many more left me dumbfounded. How did I miss these on all the walks I’ve taken this way before? Even though I didn’t have my glasses on it was becoming clear that something used to be there, other than just some random posts. I wondered, as I moved along taking more photos, if the bench from the day before would also catch my attention as it had before.

Yep, it did, as well as the bright orange construction sign farther down the path.

Did you figure out the one thing that they all had in common? Whether it was the shiny wrapper, the neon mossy stuff on the trees (which is even brighter in real life), the bright yellow of the paint and banners, or the pure white whatever it was, they all reflected the light. The dark path, the web of branches, even the deep green leaves absorb more light than they reflect.

If we want to get people’s attention we have to reflect light. What does that mean? It’s not about thinking we’re the greatest thing that’s ever graced the earth with its presence. There are plenty of people out there who do that and end up making fools out of themselves. They may get attention, but not the kind that actually helps anyone. I’m sure we can all think of an example of just such a person who’s sadly getting a lot of attention right now.

To get the kind of attention that helps the people around us we must first spend time around positive influences. That could be reading books that teach us how to live more effective, powerful lives (might I suggest the Bible) or studying the lives of people who are truly successful (we may all have a different definition of success). By beholding we become changed. The more time we spend focussing on something the more we see that thing in ourselves and reflect it to others. If we want to be positive, helpful, successful people we need to spend less time focussing on negative things/people and more time looking at those who have achieved what we hope to.

Maybe you don’t think you have what it takes to stand out in a crowd. Even if you think you don’t have much to offer or have been rejected and discarded, to a person who’s hit a rough patch and can barely see how they’re going to get through the day let alone the possibility of having better days ahead, something as small as a smile or kind word will shine brightly in their otherwise dark existence. So let your light shine! Be a reflection of the all the good that surrounds us so others can see it, too.

Every once in a while something happens that causes us to take notice and reminds us that we could be paying a little closer attention to what’s happening in our lives and to the people around us. Sometimes a reality check comes unexpectedly like the reminder I got that I’m not as young as I think I am when I popped my knee, not working out, but shifting on the couch. It hurt so much I had to put my head between my knees because I was starting to pass out. Sometimes we know those reminders are out there, but we avoid thinking about them like the scale sitting there waiting to let us know where (or how heavily) we stand. And there are some reality checks we purposely set up to make sure we’re headed in the right direction like a list of goals we want to achieve.

As I walked with a friend and we talked about this and that, she said that there are people who, when they see her, cross to the other side of the street or pull their children closer or clutch their purses a little tighter…even though she herself is walking along with her own children. Not only have I never experienced anything like that, but because it’s not part of my reality it hadn’t occurred to me that that kind of thing still goes on regularly. I realized that it’s too easy to live in our own little bubbles, not paying attention to what’s really going on around us. It’s so easy to go about our comfortable lives and never see the injustices and tragedies happening around us. Maybe that seems a bit melodramatic, but only because many of us are fortunate enough to have never experienced prejudice, poverty or violence firsthand.

Watching the news isn’t the same as seeing the world up-close and personal. Growing up, I’d seen footage of starving children on TV and always felt sorry for them, but it wasn’t until I had the privilege of going to Africa on a mission trip and interacting with children just like I’d seen on TV that it really hit home. We may not all be able to go to another country, but it’s not necessary. There are people suffering in one way or another right around us. We just have to pay attention. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with people who need our help. And please, while it does take money to help people, just giving a donation here and there is not the same as getting involved.

Making a difference could mean volunteering at a homeless or women’s shelter, or at a school (don’t even get me started on the subject of our school system), or at a food bank. Another option is to adopt a “grandparent” at a local nursing home or retirement center. Or adopt a soldier overseas who doesn’t have anyone supporting them. Or it could be as simple as deciding to smile at every person you come in contact with each day. You never know, you could be the only one who showed kindness to one of those people you encountered and what a difference that would make.