Tag Archive: winter


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.

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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.

Even though it wasn’t an official walking group day, I headed out for a quick stroll around the neighborhood before taking my son to his basketball game. Since I was staying pretty close to home I wasn’t sure if I’d find too many interesting things to take pictures of. I don’t normally enjoy photographing buildings and I was surrounded, but was pleasantly surprised, though, that several things caught my eye. I guess I shouldn’t have been since we always find what we’re looking for if you’re paying attention. For example, the grass not two steps outside the door to our building.

Or the flowers already blooming on the tree…

…five feet away from the tree that was having a hard time letting go of its leaves.

Nature was spreading out and taking over, forming a canopy of intricate branches and deep, vibrant green.

Didn’t notice the almost hidden view of the stream until after I had passed it. Once my brain registered what I’d seen out of the corner of my eye, I back-tracked to see if I could get a good shot. This one’s not perfect. Maybe I’ll try again next time.

Another sign Spring is just around the corner.

Love these trees. They’re everywhere around here and each one is different.

Happy with the images safely stored in my camera and realizing it was almost time to leave, I headed back home. That’s when I saw him. He was sitting on the sidewalk next to a medical building across the street from our apartment, surrounded by his backpack, other bundles, and a sign that said FOOD. My initial reaction was to immediately turn left and cut across the parking lot to avoid him instead of continuing on past him. Just as quickly as the desire to escape an encounter with him entered my mind, so did a pang of guilt. I’ve been talking about treating people, even the ones society has forgotten or looks down upon, with respect and kindness and have even stepped way out of my comfort zone to interact some of them.

So why was my first reaction to this man to go out of my way to avoid interacting with him? Perhaps it was a hint of fear because I wasn’t used to seeing homeless people so close to my home and he didn’t appear to be fully capable of making wise decisions, but I know it was mostly because I didn’t want him to ask me for anything. Even though telling him I didn’t have anything would’ve been the truth, I knew I’d be uncomfortable. Yet there he was in my path, a person just like me, so I kept going. He did ask me for something as I approached, something I could give. Instead of asking for food or money or a cigarette, all he wanted was directions to the nearest place where he could get a cup of coffee.

It was a good reminder that it’s much easier to tell other people what they should do than to actually do it ourselves, but if we want the respect of others we must talk the talk AND walk the walk. We are an example to everyone we come in contact with, especially if we have kids. They hear the words we say, but ultimately imitate what we do and if those don’t match up they won’t respect us or embrace the values we want so much to teach them. Each and everyday we need to look at ourselves and make sure our walk is in line with our talk. Not an easy task, but like most things that push us outside our comfort zone, worth the effort.

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. 😉