1000 miles part 3

Part 1

Part 2

2.8 miles per day, 1000 miles in a year. Taking the time to take in my town. Spring has finally sprung!

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Discover your town

Last week I set a goal to walk 1,000 miles in a year. See Part 1 for more.

I’m accomplishing this by walking to and from my favorite park (2.8 miles round trip) every day.

To keep myself motivated I have been finding one neat sight to photograph each day. I must admit it has me falling in love with my town in a whole new way. Stopping to find something new to admire each day feels like I’m just discovering the town for the first time…again.

I wonder how much closer communities would be if we all tried to find something new each day to admire in our towns? It would restore community pride at the very least I’m sure.

I would walk 1,000 miles

I took a walk today from home to my favorite local park. I do this now and then, but not often. Along my stroll to and from, I got to thinking about how many times I’ve started a health binge desperately wanting to change my lifestyle, lose weight, and get healthier.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while then you know 2018 my life sank to an all time low but turned into the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Low emotionally, socially, financially, and also physically. At my lowest physically I was 315lbs averaging 1500 steps per day. Sinking to my lowest, I had to face the fact that I was continuously fighting the same struggles over and over, only to fall harder each time I climbed out of the pit. I knew this time that in order to change for good, I had to let go of the truth I clutched so tightly to, and embrace what life was trying to teach me.

2019 so far, has been about building upon the lesson 2018 had to show me.

The biggest lesson I had to learn was that my life was not meant to rewrite the past but to build the future. Part of this lesson required me to learn to love the beauty of the moment.

Since then my life has completely transformed. I have been slowly learning how to stop surviving and instead enjoy life. With that I’ve had to begin to discover what it is I really enjoy. What music I like, what hobbies I like, what foods I like, what people I like and more.

When I stopped focusing on what I should be doing, and began to focus on what positive things I enjoy doing, the first thing that began to change was my weight. 60lbs seemed to fall off with no effort.

I’ve learned that the biggest reason people fail when they go on a health binge is because they push themselves too much, too soon and burnout. Slow and steady, I’ve been told by experts, wins the health race.

Adding something new to my diet every month, striving to have a daily steps average at least 300 more than the month before, joining new group activities; these are some of the new habits I’ve formed.

Through the months I’ve slowly built my daily walking average up to 5,000 steps.

Today while walking home I got to wondering how many miles would it take per day to walk 1,000 miles in a year. To be honest, I’d love the bragging rights of saying I’ve walked 1,000 miles.

I got home and did the math. It would take roughly 2.8 miles per day to walk 1,000 miles in a year. I then found that my favorite park is exactly 1.4 miles away from my home. 2.8 miles round trip, this seems like a sign to me.

My next goal in my health transformation, is walking to my favorite park every day (except during blizzards) to try to meet my goal of walking 1,000 miles in a year.

A little change to be more intentional about something I already enjoy doing; I’m told this is exactly the approach which leads to long term health.

The best part of blogging for me, is going back to read my thoughts and memories years later. So I think it will be fun to journal for myself and for all my readers, as I aim towards this goal. To document, I will take a photo of something during each walk. Here is my first!

Here’s to turning a new leaf.

One Friday night…

Lights, lashes, brows, blush; I stare into the mirror putting on my best face to go rock it at a concert from a childhood favorite musician. Boots, accessories, perfume; getting in the car to make the drive but stop to take a selfie and text to a friend. “Does this outfit say single and ready to mingle?”

”You smokin!” My friend 1,000 miles away replies

Daydreaming the entire drive that this might be the night I have some fun and meet someone. All grins as I pull in, my daydream quickly shatters. Nothing but bald heads and gray hair. I’m the only person under 50 walking in to the building.

I turn around and walk back to my car. No way am I going in. Young, healthy and single on a Friday night, I never envisioned me at 28 including singing along with folks twice my age to a singer so out-dated none of my friends have heard of them.

I clench onto the steering wheel debating whether to drive off or go back in. Young, healthy, and single on a Friday night. I have two choices, go home or go in. This is not how I pictured 28. But would I have preferred to picture myself at a concert or sitting all alone at home doing nothing?

“That’s it. I’m going in.” I announce and once again step out of my car and head into the inside. “Here we go.”

I stick out in the crowd, as the youngest and the tallest. I feel the onlookers eyes peering at me. I reassure myself that I will blend in to the crowd once I get inside the arena.

To my horror I walk in to the arena to find it’s not an arena at all. It’s more of a restaurant setting with tables arranged on the single story floor. I’m going to have to sit with strangers at a table listening to decade old music, with people twice my age, while I’m young, healthy and single. This is definitely not how I envisioned Friday night at 28.

The opening singer keeps cracking jokes about stupid millennials and lousy liberals. The crowd roars with laughter and cheers of agreement. I so wish I had someone special here with me to share this memory. I daze off dreaming of the perfect man sitting beside me; two liberal millennials lock eyes and laugh with each other as the crowd mocks our kind. Instead my reality is biting my lip and clenching my hands together with my head ducked down, alone in a crowd of people laughing at MY kind.

Where on earth are my kind tonight? I wonder as my nerves tingle from head to toe. They must have all gone to a concert I’m not cool enough to know about.

I need a beer! The revelation hits me. That’ll calm my nerves and help me be more social; I wishfully hope as I leap up and out to the concessions stand.

Cash only for beer. I only have plastic. Well there goes that moment of hope. Sober, alone, uncomfortable, and out of place. It’s not how I pictured age 28, and it’s not how I pictured this night when I woke up this morning.

As I walk back towards my seat, again I contemplate leaving. They dim the lights and I hear the opening act sing, “sometimes things don’t go at all the way you planned. But if you stick with it you’ll see this life is quite grand.”

I have to wait and see what life throws next at me.

The lights come on and the band leaves the stage. 20 minutes until the main performance begins, when I notice a shift in the crowd. Flowing in through the doors are people of all walks of life all come together for the sake of a shared favorite singer. Couples, singles, old, young, and somewhere in between. I feel a sense of relief. I no longer stick out. I’m glad to see I’m not the only millennial missing out on a cooler concert.

The lights dim again, and the crowd goes wild. This is more like it. This is how I pictured a Friday night concert. A tune I haven’t heard in years begins to play. I hear a voice I used to know so well. It feels like I’ve just heard the voice of a long lost friend. I can’t contain my joy. I let out a shout. I can’t remember the last time I shouted with that much excitement. And I hear many other cheers joining me. Suddenly I don’t feel so alone.

Suddenly we are all here together, not strangers, not phos; we are one for this shared experience. Age, marital status, political view, social class; none of it truly divides us for we all have at least this one thing in common. We all really love these songs!

As the night goes on I laugh, I cry, I sing, I dance, I cheer, I chat. Reminiscing on my old favorite songs while creating new memories. Cooped up and cold all winter long, this is the most fun I’ve had in months.

This reality is so much better than I imagined my life would be at 28.

 

I hear the singer echo my thoughts.

“Let’s make some good ole days tonight.”

Young, healthy, and single. I realize how different this night could have been. Twice I nearly went home before the night began for fear I wouldn’t enjoy my time here. Three times this day I had the chance to spend my life at home, bored and all alone.

Funny how our best memories lay on the other side of fear.

 

Choose to Receive

Today I choose to receive.

We’ve all heard that it’s better to give than to receive. But sometimes there’s so much focus on giving, that receiving gets unfairly left out. When the truth is that sometimes the best thing we can give someone, is receiving from them.

In 2013 I stepped foot on African soil for the first time after a lifetime of dreaming about it. I had so many ideas of all I could do for the people there. I sang to them, I danced for them, I taught them, I served them. But in all my giving a moment came, half way from one stop to another, when my plans came to a halt. Our van broke down in the middle of the wilderness with seemingly nothing but hills and palm trees in sight. With no back up ride, no repair tools, and no phone we were stuck in a moment of helplessness.

That’s when the Ugandans, total strangers not even expecting us, truly surprised me. I started to see farmers coming down from the hills to help with the van. Women and children began to appear from behind the trees. The women came over to sing and dance for us. The children began to teach us some of their games. Our moment of helplessness turned into one of my favorite memories of the whole trip.

It was in this moment I realized I had come to Uganda with the wrong attitude. I had come to give, but forgot to find all they had to offer. A culture rich in music, love, dance, and generosity; I wonder how many more beautiful moments I missed out on because I didn’t take the time to see all they wanted to show me.

We all want to make our mark on this world. We all want our voices to be heard.

But in an age where we all have something to say, the world is filled with teachers and not enough students.

I think of how the hardest times of my life have also been the times of greatest learning and growth. It’s because I was in seasons of helplessness where I had nothing left to give, all I could do is receive. In receiving I discovered just how beautifully loving, talented, and wise others in my life are. Only then could I discover who truly cared and I could learn from the knowledge they had to share.

I’ve found that allowing people to show me their beliefs, talents, skills, feelings, and stories; receiving all they have to give, is what births the most beautiful moments for both of us.

Today I choose to receive by taking the time to listen. Today I choose to receive by trying things someone else’s way. Today I choose to receive by using someone else’s expertise. Today I choose to receive, allowing others the chance to show all they have to give to the world.

Good Morning

Good morning sun.

Good morning sky.

Good morning birds.

Good morning clouds.

Good morning rain.

No matter where I wake, or how I dread my to do list, today is a new day to celebrate.

Somewhere someone saw the sun rise yesterday not knowing it was their last.

Somewhere someone’s son did not come home last night.

Someone somewhere fell asleep in the arms of their partner but woke up alone.

Somewhere someone clocked out of work, with a pink slip in their hand.

Someone somewhere shared a last laugh with their best friend.

Someone said “See you later.” Not knowing it was their “goodbye forever.”

But today that someone and that somewhere was not me.

Today is a new chance to live, love, laugh, and be free.

And that is a good reason to say that this is a good morning for me.

Remember Joy

Today I choose to remember joy. As a hospice social worker any given day may begin in a nursing home supporting a heartbroken daughter who’s mother no longer remembers her. Leaving there I may go to fight with an electric company to keep a patient’s power on. Then end the day consoling a grown man brought to his knees in tears over the death of his beloved father.

My work can be mentally exhausting and emotionally draining. Finding humor throughout the day is not just a delight for me, it’s a survival necessity. Every moment that makes me smirk, grin, or giggle is invaluable medicine. Moments chuckling over something as simple as witnessing a doctor with hiccups, a cat slipping on ice, or a street sign busted in half reading only “butt rd” are priceless for me.

But on tougher days it can be hard to find joy even in laughter. Sometimes I can laugh out loud, without feeling any of the joy that laughter brings. These are the days it’s most important to choose joy. The best way I’ve found to choose joy on these days, is to remember joy. To think about past times I was truly joyful. What happened, when, where, who was there? What was the look on our faces? How did our voices sound? What was said? What was done? How did that make me feel? If I sit, replay, and think about it for even just three minutes an unstoppable smile overtakes my face and floods my heart. If it doesn’t, I think up a different joyful memory.

Like recalling the time I spent all summer on adventures with two new friends who loved all my ideas of fun. I hear them cackling and egging me on as I lectured them on the importance of eating creme cheese. Deciding to go to a farm dressed like we were going to prom just to confuse the public. Turning our mid summer makeshift prom into a photo shoot. Poking her on the face during a shot and without saying a word her instantly taking the cue to copy. I stood there posing and thinking “I’m so glad I met these people who truly get my strange sense of humor.” Bingo! I feel the joy.

Pausing to practice this even just once a day, during the toughest time of day, can uplift my mood the entire day. I cannot always choose to be joyful. But I can always choose to remember joy. Give it a try if you wish. We can remember joy together. And if today we fail to find joy, tomorrow is a chance for us to try again.

Miracle of the Moment

It was a freezing cold December morning when I crossed the state line moving to my new life in New Hampshire. Despite the cold and how long the journey had been, I made the beach my first destination.

I choked back tears as I watched the waves crashing down. Recalling how just a day earlier my reality was that the nearest ocean was 7 hours from home. I stood in shock, disbelief, and wonder that this day forward standing by the sea side was really my life, not just a vacation or daydream.

The only words I said out loud were “I hope I never forget how special this is.”

I knew that “new” is notorious for wearing off. What feels so special and amazing at first, eventually evolves into mundane normalcy.

But I don’t believe the new really wears off. The ocean is the same today as it was years ago. The hills that once made my jaw drop have not gone away. The roads I loved to wander aimlessly are still paved in the same place. The local foods I was ecstatic to try are still being made.

What changes is me remembering to look.

Today I choose to find the beauty that surrounds me.

Today I choose to see my life as if I’m seeing it for the first time.

Today I choose to celebrate what is special in my environment.

Today I choose to embrace the magic of the here and now.

The First Wave

Moving to a new town is filled with all sorts of firsts. There’s the first day, first walk, first restaurant, the first introduction, first friend, and more. Possibly one of the most important firsts is the first wave.

For a while, you are the new face everywhere you go. But soon enough you are another norm in each setting you enter. You go from being the new guy at the office, to simply being a coworker. You are no longer a stranger to the local barista. You are the lady who orders a venti white chocolate mocha, every morning at 8. You are no longer the new neighbor. You are the person who lives in apartment 20. And yet, you are still alone in this place.

You are completely alone. That feeling ends in the most abrupt and unexpected moment. It all changes with the first wave.

Someone acquainted enough in one setting, to recognize you in a different location, and acknowledges they like you enough to be happy to see you. In that moment you are no longer the new face, or the familiar face. In this moment, is the first time in a long time, you feel known.

It can happen in days, weeks, or months but the first wave is inevitable. The first time I moved it happened in 3 days with a girl I met during a scavenger hunt. The next time it took 5 months for a man I saw regularly at the dog park to wave at me in the grocery store. My most recent move it happened one Saturday afternoon while walking to a restaurant a mile from home 6 weeks after moving. A neighbor driving by in their van, all 5 members of the family spotted me and waved.

With the first wave comes… the first wave.

The first wave of emotions floods like a raging storm at sea. That’s because it’s at this moment you realize the life you once had will never be the same again. Excitement for the wonder of what friendships are yet to come. Guilt feeling you’ve betrayed the home you left. Fear of still not knowing who you can fully trust here. Sadness knowing your heart is now torn in two. For so long all of the relationships that matter to you have lived in one place. But now, with one wave, you know that the relationships you build from here forward will be somewhere else. Your old home is really the past. You still carry love for them in your heart. But now you belong. Even if you were to one day move back to your old home, you are changed because now your heart is not fully invested in one place. Now and forever there will be at least two places where there are people you know and care about. Wherever you go, you will never again have everyone you know in one place.

You know that soon most of those you know, will begin to fade into somebody that you used to know. People you have yet to meet are the people who will one day know you best. And you know this because with one wave, you are now different than the person you used to be. With one wave, you are known for the person you are becoming.

AAdmins using social media to help Serenity Dennard

In 2010 Audra and I began using social media to help missing persons awareness. Since then we’ve gathered support from hundreds of thousands of followers.

Through time we rebranded as The AAdmins.

The latest case we are helping is for 9 year old Serenity Dennard who walked away from Children’s Home Society in South Dakota on Feb. 3, 2019 and hasn’t been seen since.

Using the power of social media we’ve reached nearly 3 million people with Serenity’s poster.

Some of our posts reaching between 20-50k shares online.

But the work is not over until Serenity is found!