Tag Archives: enjoying life

San Diego II – The Beach

Some sidewalks led to more exotic spaces than others.

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Not that I don’t like strolling through my neighborhood, but there was an extra excitement bubbling forth as Sarah and David urged me down the sidewalk in San Diego leading to the beach. I couldn’t resist stopping to capture pictures of sea lions

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and several of the dipping sun.

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But Sarah and David ran ahead, calling that I must hurry if I was going to watch the sunset from the sand.

So I rushed ahead only to pause and snap more shots, then revel in the fact that I could run barefoot across the lawn of a green park and catch up to them. A year, and almost 60 pounds ago, I couldn’t have done it. I’m still shocked than I can now.

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Once across the little park we rushed down some stairs to a beach so we could feel sand beneath our feet

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and dip our toes in the ocean

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as the sun took her own stroll on the horizon.

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While she journeyed, we played her glow.

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Once the sun disappeared

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into the ocean

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all that was left was a faint fragment of light reminding us of where she’d been. It was hard to see anything but shadowed outlines.

Sarah urged me to walk a little closer to a big rock. Trusting soul that I am, I did. Not making any new discoveries I questioned the quest, and she urged me on. I stepped closer. Suddenly the big rock arched it’s back, and I realized I was just across the space of my living room from a sea lion!

Delightful! (But too dark to capture on film.)

Sharing the moment with Sarah and David, knowing we were there for work, but playing together as family, was surreal. A hunger grew within to share this type of thing with Jerry and all the kids. To work and travel together, seeing the world, experiencing sunsets on horizons all across this great planet. And I was reminded of that day on the mountain last July when God told me it was okay to dream of such things.

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Some sidewalks lead to more exotic beaches than others.

Summer Joy

rhubarbEmbracing life’s simple pleasures brings joy. One of summer’s gifts in Colorado is rhubarb. Though incredibly tart, when mixed with a sugar, honey, or strawberries, it is delightful!

It’s also a gorgeous plant, hardy, and resilient. I’ve given mine very little care, but it comes back, year after year. It does require a lot of water if you want it to bear repeatedly throughout the summer, and over-harvesting can ruin your return. Only a third of the plant should be harvested at time. Also, the plant should not be allowed to flower. When blooms start to form, remove the stalk where they grow. Allowing the plant to flower reduces return.

My favorite rhubarb dish is homemade pie. My husband loves rhubarb sauce. He makes a steaming hot loaf of homemade wholewheat bread, covers it in real cream, then covers that in rhubarb. Sarah thinks rhubarb is best when mixed with strawberries. Stephen rates Miss Monique’s homemade strawberry rhubarb jam at the top.

One of my favorite rhubarb stories includes our foreign exchange student from Spain. Before coming to my house he’d never been introduced to pie or to rhubarb. His first few days here he was tenuous about trying such things, IMAG2030even apple pie during our Fourth of July celebration. But after he was here a few weeks he grew bolder–and rhubarb pie became a favorite. He even admitted to getting up in the middle of the night and having a piece! Before returning to his homeland we’d convinced him that pie is one of the USA’s best pleasures.

Part of sustaining my BeNew journey is giving myself permission to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like rhubarb pie. I can’t eat heavy calorie treats like this at every meal or even every day, but enjoyed in balance with good fresh fruits and vegetables and a mile or two walk through the neighborhood, enjoying life’s good stuff keeps me happy and able to maintain my weight loss goals.

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Rhubarb: a simple pleasure

Grabbing Joy

I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve prayed for joy for at least ten years, yet I’m still processing the concept.

During a particularly down day a few months ago my Dad told me, “Well, Baby Doll, the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

I have a very sweet Daddy, but at that moment his words felt hollow. I bit my tongue really hard to keep the snide remark from bursting out.

Of course joy comes from the Creator of joy–but how do I access joy? How do I push through the crap of life to grab hold of it? What is it, really? Happiness? Something deeper? Is it like peace or hope? Does it always include laughter?

After ten plus years of thinking and praying about joy, I’m still not sure I get it. But I have figured out a few things:

  • Joy can be attached to circumstancesneighborhood walk 4
  • Joy isn’t only from circumstances
  • Joy can be a choice
  • Joy can be a supernatural gift
  • Choosing to be grateful brings joy
  • Choosing to be hopeful, to trust in Someone bigger than I, supports joy
  • Worry, fear, doubt, anger are enemies of joy
  • Taking a walk and eeling the sunshine on my face brings me joy
  • Bright colored flowers are my joy language
  • The stillness of a moon-lit night seeps joy into my soul
  • Physical well-being can support joy
  • You can be joyful without physical well-being
  • Loving people bring me joy
  • I can find joy when I’m alone
  • A bubbling stream reminds me of joy
  • Grabbing hold of the simple pleasures of life supports joy

The list could go on forever, and I still wouldn’t define joy. But this I know. Soon after I asked God for joy He asked me to trust Him through the next season of my life which He assured me would include a lot of CRAP.

It wasn’t exactly the answer I wanted.

And the crap of life came. During that period sometimes I had joy, and sometimes I didn’t. But while I recognize that joy can be easier to recognize in the easy, happy times, it can also be found in the bad.

In the gratitudelast few years of the trying season I took advice from the book, One Thousand Gifts, and recorded gratitude.

When negativity was especially tangible (or joy especially accessible), I’d grab colored sharpies and write on the basement walls everything I could think of to be grateful for.  I’d remember that every good gift comes from the One who created the good gifts. And I would remind myself that He cares, and I am loved and noticed.

This week I hit #900 on that gratitude wall. It lists everything from statements like, “The boys did their chores!” to “petals making a fairy carpet on sidewalk” to “Everyone together at Dairy Queen!”

Read with a discerning eye you can chronicle the joy I’ve found in the weight loss journey–comments like, “learning to walk in the neighborhood by myself” or “I lost 20 pounds” or “Jerry said I’m ‘stunning!'”

Maybe the biggest thing I’m learning is how all-encompassing joy is. Joy comes from a million different places, but has One source, for every good gift comes from the Giver. The emotion of joy is more easily grasped when I choose joy in my mind, spirit, and body. It is supported by how I take care of my mind (paying attention to the thoughts I deal on), my spirit (connecting with God), and my body (the foods I eat, how much movement is in my day).

And finally, while I have some responsibility for my joy, it is always, always, always a gift from Love.

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Journeying toward joy

Lifestyle Change and Companionship

neighborhood walk 17Mindful eating. Intentional movement. They DO make a difference.

With the support of BeNew, the changes I’ve made resulted in a body I’m comfortable in. But with contentment comes complacency if I’m not careful! When even the new clothes hang a bit big it is easier to take that extra slice of pizza like I did while watching a movie Sunday night.

But being obese for several years taught me that I can’t let that kind of thing go unchecked and maintain a healthy body. So I ate smart the Monday after and followed it up with a wonderful 5 mile walk with my hubby.

neighborhood walk 12Walking is such a simple pleasure. When Jerry joins me it’s like a date only with no calories or $$ spent! We roam the neighborhood together, and the conversation goes deeper. Everything looks brighter. We’re tapping into those love languages of quality time and companionship even as we get healthier.

Often we talk about the stuff that really matters, the kinds of things that just don’t come out over the dinner table. Investing in time together reminds us that after 24 years of marriage, we’re still best friends.

Even though we usually cover familiar territory, we often discover patches of beauty we haven’t noticed before. The bright yellow flowers next to a wooden fence take me back to my small town, turned country upbringing.

I was surprised when right night to a busy road we discovered grapes growing!

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I often see foliage I’d love to add to my yard, like these creeping flowers.

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The other day we walked right beneath a tree with something berry-like growing in the leaves. I have no idea what they are, but it was a fun discovery, seen only because we were at exactly the right angle to spot them.

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Starting a BeNew journey can feel overwhelming. Cutting back on unhealthy, high-calorie food can feel like deprivation. But it is truly worth the life-change when you get your body back, enjoy a walk, and smell the roses.

How can you embrace life’s simple pleasures, pouring into a new healthier you instead of giving into feeling deprived?

Many times on my BENew journey the answer was to simply take a walk and invite my best friend.

Another Sidewalk . . . Uh Road

Who would’ve thought a simple neighborhood walk could be a slice of heaven?

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Then again, when the neighborhood is in Breckenridge, CO, maybe you’d expect it. Since one of my new life pursuits is seeing the world one sidewalk at a time, I couldn’t wait to pound the pavement near the cabin where I stayed with my girl friends a few weeks ago. The trek didn’t disappoint. It was a road, not a sidewalk, but the views were incredible.

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After 25 years in Colorado I can honestly say there is only one other time I’ve seen wildflowers as prolific as they were that week. And these pictures are in town, not even on the mountains trails.

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Of course even in Breckenridge some yards are more cultivated.

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Seeing the world on foot has many benefits. Your skin drinks in the sunshine, which includes vitamin D and helps fight depression. Your body is moving, burning calories and releasing endorphins. Your heart and lungs get a great workout–especially at elevation! And there’s plenty of time to chat with a good friend. The cars whiz by in a hurry, but you are enjoying life, breathing deeply, enjoying the little things.

You also never know when you might bump into someone else’s creativity.

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The great thing about mountain living is a home worth several million can be right next to one where a man can park his dinosaur AND his tractor right by the front door.

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My friends and I walked this route several times. Each one revealed something new. Only once did I return wet and cold. So cold, in fact, I couldn’t move my fingers.

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I don’t know where the sidewalk might take you today, but I hope you slip away on your lunch hour or stroll your neighborhood as the sun is sinking. I hope you see something you haven’t noticed before– cool shadows from a skyscraper, a child selling lemonade, a beautiful flower, or the sunlight on leaves. As you walk, take a snapshot with your mind or with your phone. Then tell me about it. I’d love to hear what YOU discover as you burn calories one sidewalk at a time.

Burning calories one sidewalk at a time

If you’re considering walking, check out my friend Marie’s blog. She is the queen of exploring her world on foot and a real inspiration for me.