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.

 

What I’ve Been Reading: The Energy Bus

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon is probably the most sappy self-help book I’ve read so far, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Different folks need to different paths and scenery on their journey to contentment and self-actualization. I tend to lean towards the grittier, self-empowering, do it your own damned self type of growth, but this book definitely has an audience and place in the growth and empowerment world.

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

Gordon’s book is a lot more upbeat, and his whole argument is presented as a parable-type narrative. The main character, George, is having a rough time of it. His career is in the crapper, his marriage is suffering, and to top it all off, he has to put his car in the shop and use public transportation to get to and from work.

But his life begins to change soon after taking a few rides on the Energy Bus, driven by the aptly named Joy. She and the other passengers present George ten rules to help him be a more positive person.

It’s a fun, quick read (or listen) and can be inspiring.

 

 

My Personal Core Values

Yesterday, I posted on what core values were, list a whole bunch of them, and then challenged you to create a list of 4-6 personal core values that you hold. As promised, today I’m posting the core values that I embody and that define who at am.

      1. Explore: I explore wonders of both knowledge and nature
      2. Impact: I strive to make a positive impact on the people around me
      3. Balance: I seek balance and fairness in all aspects of my life
      4. Honesty: I speak and act with honesty to myself and others
      5. Independence: I do not seek others to do what I can do myself

I may edit and refine my value statements as I live with them and learn. But for right now, these five words are the most distilled version of me.

Over a series of posts, I will focus on each of these aspects of my person and expand on them. Perhaps in this exploration, I will decide to alter my value statements, perhaps not.

Maybe I should add something about my flexibility and openness to change…

Creating Personal Core Values

Core Values are the internalized rules that you live by. They are NOT future goals; rather, they are what you already believe in and how you function right now. Your core values are shaped by everything that has happened to you in your life. They form the foundation for your decision making and your relationships with other humans. They can include influences from your parents and family, your religious affiliation, your friends and peers, your education, your reading, your experiences, and more.

I challenge you to figure out 4-6 Personal Core Values that you live by in your personal and professional life. Then, create value statement around these core values (Like how for GetUWired’s Core Value “Empower” the value statement is “We empower and respect small businesses.”)  Below is a long list of example values that may help you along your way:

Examples of Core Values:

      • ambition
      • competency
      • individuality
      • equality
      • integrity
      • service
      • responsibility
      • accuracy
      • respect
      • dedication
      • diversity
      •  improvement
      •  enjoyment
      • fun
      • loyalty
      • credibility
      • honesty
      • innovation
      • teamwork
      • excellence
      • accountability
      • empowerment
      • quality
      • efficiency
      • dignity
      • collaboration,
      • stewardship
      • empathy
      • accomplishment
      • achievement
      • courage
      • wisdom
      • independence
      • security
      • challenge
      • influence
      • learning
      • compassion
      • friendliness
      • discipline
      • order
      • generosity
      • persistence
      • optimism
      •  dependability
      • flexibility
      • change
      • growth
      • self-reliance
      • self-improvement
      • balance
      • warmth
      • presence
      • power
      • recognition
      • clarity
      • impact
      • leadership
      • humility
      • dreamer
      •  goal-oriented

Examples of Value Statements

Zappos

      • Deliver WOW Through Service
      • Embrace and Drive Change
      • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
      • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
      • Pursue Growth and Learning
      • Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
      • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
      • Do More With Less
      • Be Passionate and Determined
      • Be Humble

Marriott Core Values:

      • We put People first
      • We Pursue Excellence
      • We Embrace Change
      • We Act with Integrity

GetUWired Core Values:

      • Empower: We Empower and Respect Small Businesses
      • Respect: We honor the role and respect the position
      • Excellence: We take pride and ownership in our work
      • Challenge: We define and conquer every challenge
      • Tribe: We _____ together

My Personal Core Values?

Will be discussed in my next post. Stay tuned.

What I’ve Been Reading: The Charisma Myth

The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane

This isn’t my first time reading The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane. I read it last year, but when our Leadership Training group at work chose this book to read, I was happy to pick it up once more. This time, instead of reading the physical book, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Lisa Cordileione.

Charisma is a skill. And being a skill, that means that Charisma can be learned and practiced. That’s the main point of this book. It defines charisma and gives helpful suggestions and even provides exercises on how to better improve your charismatic potential, thus improving other skills such as communication and leadership.

The pace and content can feel a bit dry at times, but it’s good information. I think this is a solid foundational text for self-growth and even mindfulness.

Hike: Smithgall Woods Loop

After spending about 10 days with one illness or another, last Saturday, Greg and I were feeling peak cabin fever. On top of that, it was a gorgeous day. So we talked about going for a hike – you know, a short, easy going hike to ease ourselves back into things.

We did 7.5 miles. And not a flat 7.5 miles. It was hilly, with an elevation change of 700ft from lowest to highest.

We use A LOT of tissues.

A few weeks ago, we had explored a new part of The Smithgall Woods Center State Park – the Tower Road. At the time, we went for time and just kinda rambled about. But later, we discovered that if you continue on that road and then make the correct turns, you can make that hike into a loop. So that’s what we did.

Everything was going swimmingly. It was a nice, warm day after a whole bunch of rain. We were happy to get out and enjoy the day — until we were about 2 miles from the end. We were walking along the graveled Shackleford Road, when we came to the creek.

We were NOT turning around. So we zipped off the legs to our pants (AH HA, knew that would come in handy); took off our boots, tied the laces, and put them around our necks; removed our socks and stuffed them into high pockets; and forded our way across the creek. The water came up to my knees and was moving very fast. I have never been so grateful for my hiking stick, because it saved my ass a couple of times.

Blessed be the quick-dry pants

We made it across without incident and then stopped to rest a minute and dry off our feet. Soon, we re-donned our foot gear and continued our way back to the parking lot.

Luckily, we did not have the corgis with us. That would have made things much, much more difficult. We typically do not take them with us on new hikes.

Over all, it was a beautiful and adventurous hike. We saw some butterflies, some tadpoles, and a huge tree with some interesting, old initial carvings in it.