Kayaking and Picnicking at Lake Russell

Lake Russell is a small 100-acre lake in Mt. Airy, Ga. It’s one of my favorite places, especially in cooler months. There’s several quality trails to hike – the lake loop trail is one of my favorites – and the lake itself is great for playing around in our Hobies.

A Couple of the many waterbird houses found around Lake Russell
A Couple of the many waterbird houses found around Lake Russell

Being only 100 acres, Lake Russell is probably the smallest body of water that we take our kayaks out on. Using our Mirage peddle drives, we can kayak around the entire lake shore in 2 hours. But, there are no gas-powered engines allowed, so no large boats. No drunk folks blasting their preferred party music that is always awful when you’re just trying to chill and take in the scenery. It’s just you, your kayak, and occasionally a retiree fishing from his trolling motor-powered john boat.

Me in my Happy Place

So peaceful.

This past Thursday, Greg and I went on such a kayaking excursion at Lake Russell. It was the first cool day after a long heatwave.

We peddled around the lake for about an hour, popped out near the swimming beach area (which was abandoned on a Thursday morning), and grilled us up a couple of hotdogs for an early lunch. Afterwards, we kayaked around for about another hour, picking up where we left off from the shoreline, and headed back in.

It was an amazing a peaceful day. I am grateful for this little slice of heaven so close to home.

Teeny island on a sunken tree
Lunch Break!
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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.

 

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.