Spring in North Georgia

My heart is alive again, for I can be outdoors once more.

I start my mornings meditating outside on my deck, listening to the world waking up around me – the frogs, the crickets, the stream in my backyard, the lazy morning moos from distant cows, and even the hum of 6am traffic from ghe highway beyond even that. It’s a mindful peace that I can find without having to delve into mysic. I prefer to meditate to the sounds of my backyard and forest. It feels more honest to me.

I spend my lunch breaks outside, walking laps around an oh-so-familiar graveyard, now accompanied by the caws of crows and the calls of hawks, the atmospheric tumbling whirl of a lopsided wind ornament. My spirits rise as i can now truly take it all in, instead of retreating into layers of clothing and protection from the bone chilling wind that leaves me exhausted after only a few minutes. Now. My walks are once again uplifting. Soon, the my seasonal companions, the graveyard grasshoppers, will be wildly bouncing about.

My backporch view

And when I get home in the evenings, I can spend hours on my back porch, enjoying the symphony of color and sounds that accompanies twilight in the woods. I may be reading, writing (like I am at this moment), or just being at peace with myself and my surroundings.

I am so grateful for the return of Spring in North Georgia.

 

Advertisements

My Happy Place: Kayaking

A beautiful day on Lake Burton

I like cooler weather. There’s nothing quite like getting up early in the morning, bundling up in layers, and going for a brisk hike to the top of a mountain. Greg and I have some of our best hiking adventures in the middle of winter, when icicles dangle from the jagged scars of fallen trees and magnificent mountain views are revealed from the leafless forests.

But I have so missed getting out on the water in my kayak.

Greg and I picked up kayaking last year. We did the research, saved up, and bought us a couple of peddle-driven Hobie kayaks. (Blessed be the Mirage Drives)

It’s said that you should spend money on experiences rather than objects. This is one of those situations where purchasing an object has lead to some amazing experiences. I love these kayaks and the adventures we’ve had in them.

Cabin fever got the best of us Saturday, and hearing that it was going to be a decent day, we got up early and then… waited until the afternoon to head out to the lake.

What? It was a cold morning!

About two minutes after unloading the kayaks at the boat ramp, I managed to hurt myself. While wading in the frigid lake water, trying to get my kayak set up, my foot slipped off a rock and landed hard on the edge of another rock. I didn’t feel to much at the time, because my foot, being in said frigid water, was relatively numb. Afterwards, in the boat, I felt the boo boo more.

First aid kit to the rescue!

Luckily, it didn’t bother me much. After a bit of a rough start, we were on our way. The wind was cold, the sun was warm, Greg kept taking off his jacket and then putting it back on, and finally used it as a snuggie (too bad I didn’t get a picture of that). And I had a smile on my face the whole time.

I was in my happy place.

And even though I have a sunburn on my legs now (rookie mistake), I can’t wait to get back out there again.

Kayak selfie on the Loeby Hobies

I am grateful for all the adventures I get to have.

 

My Morning Meditation

Meditation is one of the first things I do after I get out of bed. After taking care of the basic necessities and of my dogs’ needs, I typically head down to my basement or outside (depending on the weather). I’ve posted before about my meditation setup, so there’s no need to get into that.

I do have a meditation routine that I go through that I discovered after trying many different things. I complete this routine most mornings, though sometimes I do allow myself to freestyle my meditation.

First I get settled, then I set up my Insight meditation timer – sometimes with music, sometimes with silence. This is what works for me. It won’t work for everyone you have to find your own comfortable routine.

I begin by taking ten slow, deep breaths. Then, I inhale and then on the exhale begin saying my mantra. With each exhale, I whisper a sentence of my mantra. Inhale, “I am Fit.” Inhale, “I am Flexible,” and so on and so forth.

Then I reanchor myself, usually by wiggling my toes or maybe rolling my shoulders. Once again, I take ten slow, deep, cleansing breaths.

Next I focus on gratitude. I think on three to five things in my personal life that I am thankful for. Repeating each time, in my mind, “I am grateful for this…” sometimes with a “Because” clause, sometimes just general gratitude.

Ten more deep breaths.

Still focusing on gratitude, I think on three to five things that I am thankful for in my professional life.

Ten more deep breaths (seeing a pattern here?)

The next part can be the most unnerving. I list out three things that I love about myself. I love my sense of wonder and adventure. I love my shoulder muscles. I love my ability to speed read. I love the life I’ve built for myself. You can love anything about yourself that you have a modicum of control over. Love your choices.

Ten deep breaths.

Finally, I repeat my mantra, focusing on each phrase and the variety of connotations each word means to me.

To end my meditation, I take a few deep breaths and then go into a series of gentle stretches to reawaken my muscles – usually some side bends and twists, neck rolls, and should rolls.

All-in-all, this meditation typically takes me about 12-17 minutes, depending on how focused I am.

***

Find me on Insight Timer – April Loebick

70 in February

February is typically the coldest month we suffer here in North Georgia. It’s when we have the best chance of our yearly snowfall, and it’s when we have the biggest heating bills.

The polar vortex thing that was happening touched us only a little bit. While certain places up north were experiencing wind chills of -60, we were balmy down here in the teens and 20s.

But that took a dramatic turn this past weekend and even through today. It’s been an early spring, with temperatures in the mid-60s and even hitting the 70s yesterday.

Holy crap, it’s been amazing.

And it is most definitely fleeting.

And so while it’s decently warm and sunny (for the most part), I’ve been enjoying the time outside as much as possible. We went for a hike on Saturday (write-up to come), and on both Saturday and Sunday, I did my meditation outside. Yesterday, we even had the windows open at work, letting the fresh air and warmth in the building.

My meditation set-up on my porch

And though by next week, the temperatures will return to a more frigid normal,  and I will remember this refreshing sneak peak of spring, and know that warmer days are on the horizon.

I am grateful for these glorious 70 degree days in February.

Growth

Each morning, pretty soon after waking up, I set my intention for the day. Typically, this intention is just one or two words that I hope will guide me to  a meaningful day.

Productivity, focus, health, happiness, contentment, momentum, minimize — these are all words I’ve used to set the tone for my day.

But what about long term? This year, I’m trying something new. I’m setting a renewing intention for the year. I’ll still have my varying daily focuses, but all relate back to my overarching theme for this year – Growth.

I want to grow.

No not taller, y’all. I don’t wish I were a baller. I mean, I AM short, and could use an extra inch or two to my stature, but that’s beside the point.

I mean that I want to grow as a person. I want to focus on growth in multiple facets of my life. I want to grow my intellect. I want to increase my muscle mass. I want to improve my physical health and go deeper with my emotional and mental well-being. I want to grow to be a warmer, more compassionate person.

I never want to stop improving.

And so this year, I resolve to grow.

What intention have you set for 2019?

Daily Journal: Free Download!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the daily journaling technique that I use to make the most of my days. Everything I did was handwritten, and doing so, would take me anywhere from ten minutes up to an hour to complete. Okay, the days it took an hour were due to other things distracting me, but still, writing every little thing out, while incredibly helpful for focusing my day, cost extra precious time I could actually be accomplishing something else.

So I took the time and dedicated my personal project time to developing a PDF version of my journal that I hope meshes together the best of both worlds. I save a little bit of time with writing out the repetitive stuff, but I still get the benefit of hand-writing out the important stuff, thus continuing to support my intention-setting and productivity goals each day.

The new and improved daily journal.

I’ve decided to share this pdf with the world, no strings attached. Seriously, here’s the link: daily journal

Simply download and print. You can print on two pages, on front and back, or both pages on a single, front side in landscape mode, or whatever works for you – you just have to finagle your print settings.

If you need any extra guidance on how to fill this out, I suggest you read the original post on journaling.

Reflection and New Year Reset

Good bye, 2018 and an enthusiastic hello to 2019 – a fresh new year. It’s time to reflect on last year and reset your mindset for this year. It’s been a whole 365 days of growth and setbacks and rebounds and losses and wins and forward momentum and stumbles and epic moments. There’s a lot that’s happened in the past year. So take a few minutes to not only check in with yourself, but to really focus on what has happened this past year to encourage your own personal growth.

What lessons were learned? What were your wins? What were your low points? What were your high points?

Below, I reflect on several different areas in my life and how I hope to reset these areas and work on them in the upcoming year.

Worklife

Reflection: One huge thing that I’m proud of is being a part of my workplace getting ranked number six on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work for Small to Medium Business. I firmly believe that this award was the result of our efforts to help the employees of our company to become happy individuals through things like our thoughtful team-building events, our mindset training, our wellness challenges and more. Most of which I had at least a small part of. I love my co workers and I love my job.

Reset: I want to focus even more on encouraging the personal growth of my coworkers. More ways, more options for them to find their own paths to happiness or enlightenment or stability or whatever it is they seek. I will curate a learning library for them. I will lead more wellness challenges or activities. I will continue to be a coach and enthusiast for mindfulness and mindset training.

My Body

Reflection: I got ill again this year. But this time, I didn’t break down in a bathtub. Because of my first battle with this mystery sickness, I was better prepared and armed. I chose to fight harder. And as a result, me and my team of doctors were able to eliminate a few more possible causes. I also bounced back a lot quicker this time, even though I’m still having a few lingering, albeit relatively minor, symptoms.

Before I experienced my illness this year, I was on the journey to becoming a fitter person. I faced a set back, but I’ve reset already and am making the choice to jump back on the fitness wagon.

Reset: I am now better prepared for the struggle. New insurance means newer, lower deductible and out of pocket max. This year, I will strive to get my body in even better shape so I not only feel and look better, but I’ll also be better prepared to fight if illness strikes me down again.

Mindset

Reflection: This year is the first year that I’ve really focused on being mindful. I’ve always enjoyed the simple pleasures in life – food, honest work, nature – but now I’m taking even more pleasure in it. Not only living in the moment, but really taking it all in.

Reset: Keep on keeping on. I’ve made great strides and I plan on continuing with this mindful momentum. I’ll continue journaling, meditating, practicing gratitude rituals, doing yoga, and consuming growth content to become a more well-rounded person.

Overall and Miscellaneous

Reflection: This year has had its ups and downs. We lost Waffles, our beloved first dog who fought her own battle with illness (Degenerative Myelopethy) for three years, and taught me so much about love, companionship, and patience. We got a new puppy, Beans, who has brought so much joy and compassion (and bite marks) into our lives.

I hiked less, but took up kayaking and love the new variety we’ve found in our outdoor activities. I got a tan this year for the first time in decades!

I made major strides towards my health and wellness, and then I became ill again.

I ate better.

I gave up alcohol.

I found mindful living and shifted my mindset. I became a happier, more patient human being.

Reset: This year I will strive to focus more on

-my personal growth and happiness;
-becoming a coach and resource for others;
-decreasing my body fat percentage to more optimal levels;
-saving more money by budgeting better, making better choices, and making my money work harder;
-making an effort to be warmer to all those around me.

Hello 2019

I do have fears for 2019. I’m afraid I can’t maintain consistency, or that I will lose forward momentum. Really, my biggest fear is that I will get sick or worse again, or that the lingering symptoms won’t go away.

But I am so excited for all the possibilities of this upcoming year. I want to feel fit and well once more. I want to be a guide and help others realize their own goals. And I just want to continue living my fulfilling, Hobbit life.