Tag Archive: Autzen stadium


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?

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!!

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. 😉

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. 😉

Quick post today. What? You thought I meant something else? 😉 That can burn a lot of calories, too. But, on to the real reason I’m posting. Today I got to walk with a friend who brought her dog along, too. It was cold, but bright and beautiful. Of course, I had to take a photo of “the tree”. No birds were there today, rude or otherwise. As with all most posts, scroll over the image for more info.

There were lots of people out walking, running, taking their dogs to the dog park. Here in the Northwest we have to take advantage of the sun whenever we get a chance, especially in winter.

I don’t have any deep philosophical thoughts to share today. Just happy to be alive and able to walk around outside taking in the fresh air and sunshine, enjoying good coversation with a friend. Now it’s time to get some care packages together to send over to soldiers in Afghanistan as a “thank you” for putting their lives at risk so we can do things like go for a walk whenever we want to or post whatever we want to say for the world to read. What will you choose to do with your freedom today?

Let me just say that I’m going to need some people to start walking with me because today I think I spent more time taking photos and video than actually walking. That’s ok today, though, since I have ChaLEAN Extreme Burn Intervals and Ab Burner to do, too.

I headed out, down the same street I always do, past rows and rows of apartments with cars lining both sides. I was stopped in my tracks when I saw this. As I stood there taking in the scene the owner of the car pulled up. He said that no one knew who did it. Unbelievable! Who smashes someone’s car to that degree and just drives off?? I found out later from his wife who was standing there with tears in her eyes that the person hit two other cars, too. Her’s just got the worst of it. I can’t even believe the person was able to drive away from it. I can only speculate, but it seems you’d have to be drunk or high to cause that kind of damage and keep on going. I felt so bad for them. All I could do was offer to let her use our third car if she wasn’t able to get  rental. (The fact that we have three cars is a whole other story involving more rude people who seem to think taking someone’s car for a joy ride is acceptable behavior.)

I went on my way, past Autzen Stadium like I always do, but decided to take a different part of the path. Had to take a few shots of “the tree”. It’s shown up in all of my posts with photos from walking so far. No reason to stop now. Looked at it from a different angle today. It had some visitors. The large bird was very impressive. Not sure what kind it was and I wish I had a better camera. The smaller black bird was not happy about sharing the tree and was letting everyone know. The video quality isn’t great, but I still found it amusing.

The large bird stood its ground…or limb…and I moved on.

As I headed back home I heard a tap tap tap above all the other sounds. It was a woodpecker with a bright red head. He was still long enough for me to take several pictures, but my camera was not cooperating and I didn’t get any good shots. Back at the apartments I saw another cute little bird chirping away. It was not as cooperative as the woodpecker. Just as I took the picture it flew away. It landed nearby, but went under a car. Rude. 😉

I only took a few photos on today’s walk for two reasons. 1: Uploading all the photos from my phone caused me to go over on my data plan and the batteries in my actual camera were dead. (Note to self…buy rechargeable batteries.) 2: I was distracted by the events that transpired last night and my reaction to them.

The night started off as usual. I read for a little while in bed before the book slipped from my hands and hit me in the face. I turned off the light and went back to sleep. My husband tried to wake me when he finished his online tutoring so we could watch a movie on Netflix together. As usual, he was not successful. Once I’m out it takes a lot to get me out of bed. I continued to sleep soundly until a sound began to creep into my dreams. It was banging and shuffling and grew louder as I came into consciousness. Still half asleep, I tried to mentally locate the source of the sound. Then footsteps, running fast. Just as I realized they were coming from the hallway outside our door a woman’s desperate voice cried out, “Somebody help me! Help me, please!”

My heart began to race as I laid there trying to decide what to do. My first thought was to jump up and see what was happening. Then it occurred to me that if I opened the door the woman might run in followed by her persuer. The sounds from the struggle were coming from right outside our door. I didn’t want to take the chance of putting my family at risk. At that point, I was frozen by indecision. I heard the door to the stairwell across the hallway slam shut and then silence. There I was, still in my comfortable bed trying to make sense of what had just happened. Was this a prank? Remembering the fear in her voice I didn’t think so. Had someone else let her in or at least called the police? Surely. Should I get up and see what’s happening now? I knew I’d have to venture out of the safety of our apartment and my still sleeping husband who, as an infant, lost his mother to a burglar wouldn’t have wanted me to do that. As the questions swirled around my tired brain, I drifted back to sleep.

Again, a sound interrupted my dreams, more abuptly this time. Someone was knocking on the door. Again, unsure of what to do I was still. Another knock, a little louder. I though it might be the police so I sat up and began to head for the door. A third knock, still louder. Whoever it was, they weren’t going away. My husband woke up this time and in a whisper explained everything that had happened. He checked the peephole and said the police were talking to our neighbors across the hall. “We need you to answer the door!” The officer’s voice boomed as he knocked one last time.

I opened the door just enough so they could see me. The three of them began asking questions. “Are you here alone?” “Who else is in there with you?” “Is everyone alright?” “Did you hear anything?” I told them what I had heard, then they asked if I heard gunshots which I hadn’t. “Are you aware of any domestic disturbances here?” I said that things have been pretty quiet around here recently. They went on their way, canvassing the other tenants and we went back to bed. After tossing and turning for a while I was finally able to go back to sleep.

Despite all the commotion, the kids slept soundly through the night and got ready school just like every other day. The sounds of footsteps and the woman’s plea for help interrupted my thoughts as we performed our morning rituals. For a moment I wondered if any of it had happened at all or if it was all just a vivid dream. Once the kids were off to school I headed out for my walk. At first, the sun was shining brightly and it looked like it would be a beautiful day. I took a photo of a stream I pass by everyday.

My thoughts turned again to the woman. I wondered what she was thinking at that moment. Did she feel safe? Was she enjoying the sunshine? Did the morning bring thoughts of hope or more fear and desperation? Was she even thinking anything at all? As I headed West the sky began to reflect my mood. I couldn’t really enjoy the sunshine and was almost relieved to see the clouds taking over.

As I headed into the trees I asked myself why I hadn’t done anything to help her. I thought of the physical and mental abuse I experienced as a child brought upon me by a woman who was abused herself. Was the woman last night living with a person who caused her fear day in and day out? Could she be suffering as a victim of domestic violence right under the same roof? How can we live so close to others and never get to know them at all? Maybe it was a one time thing caused by too much to drink, but why didn’t I help her? All my reasons for doing nothing that seemed so logical at the time didn’t amount to much in the light of day. How could it be ok to do nothing when another human being was pleading for someone to help them? I hoped that somehow she got the help she needed and that today was a new beginning for her. The pain of abuse doesn’t end when the abuse itself does. It lingers on and constantly finds new ways into the life of the person who suffered and all those around them. It affects every relationship they have and can make them feel trapped and alone even when they’re surrounded by people who care about them. Even after years of healing, a single incident can bring back a flood of pain and fear leaving them wondering if they’ll ever really be free. That is what I experienced this morning as I asked myself why I didn’t help her.

By the time I reached the park and turned to head back it was raining. The drops on my face hid the tears that slid down my cheeks. I felt ashamed for not doing anything. Then I began to feel thankful for the life I have now. Thankful that with God’s help I’ve stopped the cycle of abuse in my family. Thankful that even though I can still feel pain from events that took place years and years ago I wake up everyday feeling safe. Thankful that I have the ability to help victims in a way that others who haven’t gone through it can’t. By the time I returned to my starting place I had a new sense of determination and the realization that I can do something to help.

We travel the same path over and over. When we’re able see it from a different perspective and decide to make changes in the way we travel the path it can become a beautiful thing…for us and the people we encounter along the way.

“I can’t believe she’s wearing spandex.” I’m sure that’s what some of the people I passed on my walk today were thinking. Being a little behind on laundry, my only choices for covering the bottom half of my body this morning were skin tight running pants or jeans. It was raining so jeans were out of the question and so was skipping my walk. Even though I was fairly certain no one was going to join me because of the weather I was determined to do it anyway.

The only waterproof jacket we have in the apartment belongs to my husband (odd considering we live in a place where it rains A LOT). He’s not a big man so in order to be able to wear it I had to choose a shirt that wasn’t bulky…again spandex. With still over 100 lbs to lose, let’s just say I’ve got some curves. As I stepped through my front door I started having flashbacks from those dreams where you’re in a public place…naked. I reminded myself that it doesn’t matter what other people think and that there probably wouldn’t be many people out today anyway. I have to admit, I was torn. Part of me wished I had a big sign around my neck that read, “I know I have no business wearing spandex, but it’s all I had today!” Part of me knew it really didn’t matter if I gave some people a laugh and the rest weren’t even paying attention.

As I began looking for things to take pictures of I forget to be self-conscious and had a wonderful time out in the rain. I had almost as much fun playing with today’s photos in Picasa. Scroll over images for info and enjoy. : )

As I was taking this next shot, I noticed a lady calling after her Siberian Husky which had taken off into the street. The more she called for it to come back, the farther away it ran. For a moment, it stopped about 5 ft from me and I realized just a moment too late that she was yelling for me to try and grab the dog. I’m not exactly the kind of person who’s inclined to reaching out to grab strange dogs. I wanted to get a shot of the dog, but it wouldn’t stay still long enough. I tried calling it to no avail so I continued walking.

Made it over to Alton Baker Park. The building shown below is the public restroom. It has stalls with no doors. It belongs in my Emergency Use Only file.

You used to be able to feed the ducks and geese at Alton Baker Park, but now they’ve asked people to stop because it was bad for the birds and bad for the people using the park. These ducks didn’t seem to get the memo.

Headed back along the North Bank Trail, back to the bridge I crossed over the other day.

There were plenty of other things I could’ve taken photos of today, like the squirrel that let me get a little too close or the blue bird looking for its breakfast or the view of the trail that looked like it lead into an enchanted forest, but some things are best experienced first hand. If you haven’t gotten outside and taken the time to really look at the world lately, I highly recommend it…even if it means wearing spandex. 😉