Lake Russell Lady Slipper Trail (ish) Hike

Lake Russell Recreational Area in Mt. Airy, Georgia is a hidden gem, especially in the off season. The trails are quiet and isolated. And even during the months when the park is fully open, the beach area and campgrounds might be crowded, but the trails typically remain little traveled.

One of our favorite trails is the Lake Loop that, you guessed it, circles around the lake. This past weekend, however, we went on one of the other trails – the Lady Slipper Trail.

The Lady Slipper Trail starts off with a steady uphill climb for about a mile. Once you hit the top of the ridge, you merge into an old forest road. The official trail turns left, heading northeast. Greg and I eyed each other, and turned right, heading down the road going southwest into an area of the park we haven’t explored. We did about 3/4 of a mile, reaching the end of the road and going a bit further (a smaller trail continued beyond the end of the road) along the ridge through a pine forest. We would have kept going deeper into the woods, except we came across a hunter and didn’t want to disturb him or his dogs. So, we turned around and headed back.

Wanting to at least go for 5 miles, we hiked beyond where the trail enters the road and continued northeast and veered off onto the Lady Slipper Trail once more, where it departs the road and heads down a hillside. Instead of doing the loop though, we went for distance and then turned around to head back to where we parked.

On our way back, we actually met up with the hunter that we saw at a distance in the woods and exchanged apologies and pleasantries. He had two small hunting dogs with him that were adorable and friendly. Scotch and Beans behaved themselves and everyone had a good sniff. We also met a couple groups of mountain bikers on the return journey – making this the busiest we have ever seen this trail before.

The Lady Slipper Trail is a multipurpose trail. You can hike, bike, or horseback ride on it, so I’m really surprised we haven’t seen a lot more folks on it before.

The day was beautiful and the dogs enjoyed getting to stretch their stubby little legs. It’s been great getting out and hiking more again. I can feel my heart recovering from my last mystery illness flair up, and with each hike, I can feel my body getting stronger and more resilient. Being outside again makes my soul happy.

I am grateful for the abundant outdoor beauty that exists so close to where I live.

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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.

My Mantra

My mantra changes as I need it. As I’ve posted before, I’ve had multiple mantras, some to help me feel empowered during my most despairing times, some to just keep me motivated.

I am Fit

I am Flexible

I am Focused

I have momentum

I make good, healthy choices

And I don’t let the small things get in my way.

I want to point out that my mantra is 100% in the present tense. It’s amazing the power a verb tense holds. I don’t say anything in future tenses. I will make good, healthy choices means I’m not making them right here and now. I DO make good, healthy choices.

See how much more powerful that sounds?

I repeat my mantra to myself multiple times during my morning meditations. It’s typically how I start my routine and how I end it. Several times in the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself in certain situations where I’ve subconsciously called on my mantra to help guide me through the particulars of the day. Just this past weekend, I faced my wickedest frenemy – Krispy Kreme donuts, but I told myself that I do indeed make good, healthy choices and I moved on. I was rewarded this morning by finally breaking my weight/body fat plateau that I’ve been stuck at since before Christmas.

 

 

Mixed Berry Turmeric Smoothie Recipe

April’s doing a recipe!

Not my smoothie, but I didn’t take a picture of mine and this one is pretty. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

Mixed Berry Turmeric Smoothie

1/2 cup Frozen strawberries

1/2 cup Frozen blueberries

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 serving/scoop of vanilla protein powder (I used Eas Soy Vegan Vanilla Protein powder because it’s available at Walmart)

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ground Ginger

1/2 tsp Turmeric

Put all ingredients into your blender, and well, blend. I just have a cheap Hamilton Beach blender and it does just fine with this particular recipe.

***

Blah, blah, blah, something about a farmer’s market in autumn because it’s a recipe on a blog.

Blah, blah, blah, something about liver detoxification here. I mean, this smoothie is supposedly good for your liver, but I’m no expert and haven’t really read up on the science behind liver detox too much, though it’s on my list of stuff to learn more about as a possible treatment for mystery illness.

Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. I’ve tried a couple of different smoothies in the past and found them lackluster. This one is quite tasty and only ~180 calories.

Smithgall Hike: Tower Road

On Saturday, Greg and I returned to one of our favorite local destinations – The Smithgall Woods Center for a hike.

Smithgall is awesome because most of the time, the entire park is pedestrian only. So even just getting around in the park is a hike in itself, and there’s several hiking trails off of the main road. It’s a peaceful, less populated state park.

I am happy to say, that the park has fully reopened. Last time we went, most of it was closed because the main road had been washed away, leaving behind a ravine.

This time
Last time

Instead of hitting up one of the normal hiking trails, we decided to take a graveled side road up to a cell tower. The road is aptly named Tower Road. We’d never explored this part of the park before, and I can say for certain that this is definitely the steepest part of Smithgall.

We took the Scotch and Beans and had some fun. After not going hiking or leaving the house much at all these past few weekends, it felt awesome to get out in nature again and really reset myself for the week at hand. Nothing makes me more content than a jaunt through the woods amongst the happy tree pheromones ion thingies (no really – look up “Forest Bathing”)

 

What I’ve Been Reading: Unfu*k Yourself

When I started my 2019 journey, I made a promise to consume more meaningful content in order to promote my personal growth. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share this relentless pursuit of self-improvement and joy to the world at large. So I’m adding a somewhat new feature to the blog: Book reviews.

First up, is Gary John Bishop’s Unfu*k Yourself: Get Our of Your Head and Into Your Life. 

Unfu*k Youself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop

Bishop doesn’t hold the punches in this book. It’s no nonsense, and the advise is practical. The main premise of the book is that we, as human beings, are wired to win. We just have to figure out what it is we’re winning at. Is it something that you don’t really want to win at? Well, you’ve got to change your narrative and stop being your own worst enemy.

This is a self-care book for people who are put off by the more spiritual, “hippy dippy” kind of self-care. It’s a good nudge for people who might balk at the genre in general, but because it has a edgy title, they may be more likely to give it a try. And even though the author disparages the adage of “Just think positive thoughts,” the message kinda boils down to that anyway, but in a way that’s less cheerleadery and more real.

It’s a positive attitude kick in the pants.

Most of the self-improvement books I read, I actually listen to. Narrators can make or break an audiobook. Unfu*k Yourself was no exception. It’s read by the author, who is Scottish, and that gives it an extra bit of gruff awesomeness. Bishop’s voice is unique in the world of audiobook narration and kept my attention for sure. And at only 3 hours and 23 minutes, it’s a quick listen.

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?