Staying Healthy in a Crazy World

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge hosted by Long and Short Reviews! To read posts from other participants, click HERE.

This week we are pondering how we take care of our health which is a topic that has always been important but feels even more relevant now that we are almost one year into a global pandemic. A year ago most of us probably never considered wearing a mask or social distancing but now, those are part of our day-to-day lives as we try to minimize our risk of exposure or spreading infection to others. I think most of us can agree by this point that it’s a necessary evil and it’s the very least we can do.

But that is COVID and if you’re like me, you’re getting weary of continuing to live with the constant fear and anxiety that the pandemic holds over us even while we are doing all we can to try to prevent or minimize it. We need other outlets to keep our health and our sanity as we go about our lives in our new normal.

I try to revel in the little things – like taking a walk through the park or around the neighborhood, which honestly, wasn’t something my husband and I did much before lockdown but once it became a routine last spring, I started to really look forward to those walks together. Not only did they provide exercise and an escape from the house but there is a mental boost that comes from breathing fresh air and feeling warm sunshine on your skin. We’re very much looking forward to getting back to those walks as soon as the weather permits. (Come on spring!)

I’ve always been a huge fan of dancing and I love to exercise. Going to group exercise classes at our local YMCA was high up on the list of one of my favorite activities. Since I haven’t been able to enjoy that like I once did, I have started investigating online alternatives. I recently subscribed to Beachbody’s On Demand channel where they offer all of their workouts and while it pales in comparison to the fun of getting out and being social at the Y, at least it keeps me moving in the meantime. So far, so good.

We also invested in a second hand treadmill so theoretically, we can walk or run whenever the mood strikes. I say theoretically because, well, we haven’t been using it quite as much as I’d hoped. My middle son participates in cross country and track so running is big in our house. Last summer we stayed in shape by running together at the park. I suppose a treadmill doesn’t quite have the same appeal.

Then there is the fitness watch. Raise your hands… how many of you wear a Fitbit or smart watch to track steps and pretty much everything else under the sun? Yep, me too. I had a Fitbit for years but when the battery started to go on that, my husband surprised me with a Samsung Active watch. Last April I challenged myself to achieve 10,000 steps each and every day, no matter what. At the time, I was running so that made it pretty easy. But despite slacking on the runs, I have still not missed a single day. No matter what, even if it means walking circles in the house to reach my goal, I get those 10,000 steps, gosh darn it! It’s silly, perhaps, but now, I just want to see how long I can keep it going. Coming up on almost a year!

Last, but not least, when it comes to keeping myself and my family healthy, I’ve been taking more time to experiment with new foods, particularly vegetarian and vegan dishes. While I would love for us all to go vegetarian entirely, I don’t think my kids are ready for that. At least I can minimize the amount of meat on our plates though and I feel like we’re better off for it.

So, what do you do to stay healthy in this crazy world?

A Foggy Morning October Run

October 008Dressed in my orange ‘Happy Halloween’ t-shirt and a pair of black running shorts, I laced up my sneakers and headed to the park for my morning run. October settled over the area in the form of dense fog which certainly added to the pre-Halloween atmosphere.

Although I love summer and the carefree days hanging out with my boys, I have to admit October has always topped my list of favorite months. There is just something so invigorating about the cooler days and the colorful leaves. I love apples and pumpkins and looking at Halloween decoration. I love wrapping myself in a blanket on the couch and getting caught up in a great ghost story. But most of all, this is a great time of year to be an outdoor runner and I’m making the most of it by getting out to enjoy it while it lasts!

Cooler air overnight brought powerful thunderstorms. I’m not usually one to wake up to the crash of thunder but this time, it was hard to miss. Those sunny warm days we were enjoying are suddenly replaced by a fall morning chill. This is the first morning I have felt compelled to grab a light sweatshirt before heading to the park.

The fog is lingering and the ground is wet from last night’s rain, making the leaves that have already fallen a little slick along the trail. It is also quiet. I suppose many people looked out their window this morning and decided today is not a good day to go outside.

Me, I’m still running. As a matter of fact, I am pushing myself a little harder in preparation for my second 5K race coming up on the 11th of October. I was so exhilarated after the first 5K (The Graffiti Run in early August) that I rushed to find another one I could participate in before the cold weather sets in. Now, I’m starting to think maybe I was a little crazy.October 016 Am I ready to do that again? I don’t feel ready. Then again, I said the same thing the first time. All I can do is keep running and on race day, hope to be a little less anxious, and definitely ready to run.

I’ve started getting off the main trail to explore paths through the woods, not just to run farther, but because I like to explore. My current favorite path is barely wide enough to walk but it’s a peaceful meander amongst trees with lots of twists and ups and downs. And okay, the occasional spider web that I’m forced to walk through – but I’m less impressed with those.

During my time in the woods, my mind is free to start thinking about my day ahead, especially what I will write. I like to imagine my characters walking with me. What would they do?

Where will they lead me?

It’s a new month and a new day to explore. I’m ready to sit back with a cup of tea, stretch out tired muscles, and put words to paper to weave new worlds…

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Fall Into Autumn

Sept 118Every month and every season has something special to offer but October is my favorite month of all. I enjoy spring when the world comes alive again and everything is super green. I enjoy summer when the sun shines and we can get away with shorts and t-shirts. I even enjoy winter with its crisp, fresh snow, although I admit that winter could be a little shorter. I have often believed that I was born in the perfect place on earth because here in Pennsylvania, I get a taste of each season at its best.

Sept 086During the fall, I love to get outside in the Pennsylvania woods and of course, where I go, the camera goes too.  I took these photos during my last ‘hiking’ adventure with the family. We got off the regular path in the park and explored the trails. Great fun for the kids who lead the way. Great fun for me who lingered behind snapping photos at whatever caught my interest. An hour in and we realized that we had no idea where we were and how to get back out again. (oops) We didn’t panic. We pushed on and when the trail we were on didn’t appear to get us close to an escape from the woods, we abandoned it and tried to back track. Eventually we found our way out.

Now that the kids are at school, I have the option to get out on my own a bit more and I’ve started taking advantage of this fact by visiting the park three times per week to run. Okay, a runner I am not, but I am trying and I haven’t died yet. Sept 087I have discovered this is not just a means to try to shed a few extra pounds and get back in shape, but a wonderful opportunity to witness summer’s last goodbyes as the world transforms around me into autumn. Every morning that I park the car and head toward the path through the woods, I notice that the leaves on the trees have gained a little more color. The smell of fall is in the air. The sun may still be shining and the days may still be warm but there are the first hints of a cool breeze that promise frost that will only be a matter of weeks away.

The autumn sun is softer than the summer sun and when it filters through the trees, it makes the yellow leaves glow and the reds more vibrant. When the breeze picks up, the leaves let go of the trees and cascade down along the path like a golden rain. There is something almost magical about running through it. It makes me feel like a kid again. Remember when we would gather leaves into giant piles and jump into them? Sept 097

Sometimes as I run, I see the big, fuzzy caterpillars along the path – a sign of winter to come!

The park is a quiet place anyway but on a weekday morning, it is even more so. It gives me the chance to escape into my own thoughts as I walk or run, work out my next story, or just daydream. No kids to complain that they don’t want to walk anymore. No fighting. Just myself and the world around me and occasionally, the fellow walker that I pass along the way.

I know that eventually the days will not be as warm and we’ll wake up to frost on the ground again. Eventually the trees will shake free of all their leaves and I’ll be running over them scattered on the dirt path. Eventually it will even be so cold that getting out of the car and walking along the path will lose Sept 104its appeal. (But I hope that doesn’t happen.) In the blink of an eye, I won’t be surrounded by the vibrant colors and the smell of fall. I won’t come home to apple cider or see pumpkins and corn stalks outside the neighbor’s houses anymore. I will miss fall when it ends but in the meantime, I intend to enjoy every moment that I can.

I look forward to the trips to the farm and many more travels through the woods.

I hope that you will enjoy it right along with me in my photos.

What is your favorite thing about autumn?

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