The New Normal

The conversation right now is is all about getting back to normal.

And I get it. People need to go back to work. Small businesses need their customers back. The economy has to start rolling again soon.

For me personally, I’m just inconvenienced and I feel terrible for people who are suffering financially.

There are things I can’t wait to do.

For example, grocery shopping is one of my favorite activities so I’m excited to someday walk into a store without strategizing like a general preparing for battle.

I want to browse a bookstore and see a movie. I want to visit places that I’ve never been.

But I’m trying to make the best of this time at home, cooking and doing chores. I’ve been digging in long neglected flower beds and look forward to transplanting and using plants from around the yard to make things nicer. Small changes around the house sometimes involve simply making something a little more convenient and I’ve been decluttering here and there.

The tv is off most of the time although I have gotten hooked on reruns of The Closer. Reading is the thing I do most – before work, after work and sometimes at lunch.

I’ve said this before and will say it again, life is very quiet. And while my leash is short, I’m still planning some hikes and drives to places most people don’t think to go. Social distancing is easier in rural areas.

When your world changes, you have to change with it.

I watch with interest as Facebook friends exchange Netflix recommendations and complain about spouses, kids, boredom and having to cook. They’re basically killing time while they wait to go back to normal life.

I’m not sure I want to go back to normal – at least, not everything. Some activities, some people, some obligations will get weeded out of my life just like the Honeysuckle that I cut away from roses this week.

It just seems like now is the time to find new hobbies, to eat better, breathe deeper and to build habits for greater happiness and productivity in the future.

The folks in this next picture were in a nice art gallery, a place called the Parthenon, in Nashville last spring. They were surrounded by interesting things but they chose to sit on a bench and look at their phones while others in their party explored.

They’re missing out on everything.

Is this how we want to spend our lives? Sitting on a bench or a couch, staring at a tv or phone? Or complaining because someone dragged us to a museum or some other place that we don’t want to be so we’re just going to ignore it till it’s over?

Here’s my unsolicited advice.

Turn off the tv and go for a walk or do a puzzle. Go for drives. Order some seeds and plant a small garden. You will be amazed at how therapeutic it is to dig in spring soil.

This is a great time to reflect on what you like about your life and what isn’t working. If you’re unemployed or working from home, you may find time to explore new things, expand your horizons, or map a fresh journey for the road ahead.

The photo at the top of the page is from my yard. This battered old apple tree bloomed overnight after a long night of thunderstorms this week. Once the storms moved through, the sun came out and these pretty blossoms filled the branches.

Let’s be like this tree. Weather the storm and when the time is right, we will blossom again.

The View From Here

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This is the George Rogers Clark Memorial in Vincennes, Indiana. I sat on those steps early one fall morning in 2018 and watched the sunrise. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and the town was quiet.

I sat here for a long time just enjoying the peace and lost in my own thoughts. That was a rebuilding year for me personally and one of the best things that came out of that time was that I managed a good bit of travel and embraced my status as a single person. Sitting here that morning I realized that I was ok with who I was and the fact it’s just me.

The sunrise view from these steps wasn’t the best but the view of my life from these steps was darn good.

At the end of the day, you’re all you have and no amount of money, no stuff, no job, no relationship and no promises will change that. Embrace who you are, learn to take care of yourself, take the solo trip, eat alone in the restaurant, go live your life.

The sun will rise and set every day. In between the two, there are adventures to be had. Don’t waste a single minute. Get out there and enjoy life.

Notes From the Field

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Most of my hiking trips are squeezed in between work and chores at home – usually no more than two or three miles in an evening. It’s usually enough to get some exercise and to make me want more time. Saturday morning’s goal was to get out for a longer hike in the Hocking Hills.

Evidently, that was everyone else’s goal too. Fall is a busy time at our local parks. It’s more or less the Smokys of the north so there were a lot of people, even in sections of the trail that normally are sparsely populated.

Here are a few notes from the field.

  • It’s funny how people behave differently in groups than they do alone. There were a number of groups – anywhere from three to fifty people – clumped together, talking and seemingly paying no mind to their surroundings. I was sad for them because there’s so much beauty to be enjoyed and not just visually. If you’re quiet, you can hear an orchestra of birds, the chatter of squirrels and leaves crunching underfoot. If you take a moment to breath deeply, you’ll notice how the turning leaves almost flavor the air and that sharp intake of a cool fall morning will give new life if you let it.
  • On the other hand, I’ve been seeing an uptick in people hiking alone. I’ve always seen men going it alone but there was a huge number of ladies out solo yesterday. A few had dogs but most were just alone and it made my heart happy to think that I’m not alone in my belief that you can’t wait for a partner to go out and live your life!
  • There was an unusual number of dogs off leash yesterday. You may love your pet but it’s alarming to see someone’s Great Dane barreling down the trail when you’re timid or afraid of strange dogs.
  • More people than normal appeared to be lost. I gave directions to several groups that had launched out without maps or any clue where they were going. If you know the area, offer to help. Most people are thrilled to have a little guidance.
  • Along those same lines, if you see someone taking a selfie, you may offer to take their picture. I noticed a woman struggling to get a selfie with her dog and thought she would cry when I offered to take their picture. She said they have few pictures together because they’re always alone. If you’re on vacation, you typically want some pictures of yourself in context or your entire group together. It takes just a minute to give this gift to a stranger.
  • The best thing I saw all day was a man helping a female companion along the trail. I thought that he was just being sweet until I got closer and realized that she was blind. Ironically, it made me think of those groups of people who seemed to be oblivious to their surroundings and I realized that this woman with visual impairment probably would absorb as much or more of her surroundings than those people did. It also made me happy to think that she’s not allowing anything to hold her back.

 

 

 

 

 

Farm View

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There’s this farm I pass by somewhat frequently. It’s visible from the highway to Athens, always well tended and, for lack of a better word, quaint.

On a recent trip, the sky and light were nice and the farm caught my eye. I drove by but couldn’t get it out of my mind. My trusty camera was on the seat next to me so I turned around real quick and headed back.

Here’s another view.

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Isn’t it pretty?

It’s always fun when you suddenly notice something you’ve passed by countless times without a second thought. In fact, this is the kind of thing I live for. Happy travels, friends.

 

 

 

In Case You Need A Reminder

I found this a while back and saved it to my phone, knowing that one day soon I would need the reminder.

Happiness is not a destination but a way of life, a way of carrying ourselves even through the bad days. I needed the reminder yesterday and thought it might help you too.

Life is a series of choices. Choose happy as much as you can.

Life Is Too Short

Last week I read something that suggested we are the sum of the people who we spend most of our time with. This idea has stuck with me.

I am very selective about who I allow into my life and who gets to stay. If you gossip, cut others down, make me feel bad or simply drain my energy, you won’t likely make the cut.

Life is too short to give influence to people who we know are bad for us.

Most of my close relationships unfold via text these days. Not by choice but because of geographic distances. Without technology we would likely lose touch despite the fact these are people who add to my life, who make me happy and who make me laugh.

In my daily life, there’s a core group of people who I see and who, for the most part, offer positive influences that I think help me to be a better person.

Whether they are present by text or in real life, I’m grateful for them all. If it’s true that I am the sum of these people, I’m okay with that equation.

Who do you spend your time with? Do they add to your life or tear you down? Do you feel comfortable being yourself or are you holding back or pretending to be something you aren’t?

It may be time to do some soul searching and to start making tough choices about the people in your life. Remember, there’s enough negativity in the world without inviting more into your day.