Sustaining.

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When I was a kid I mostly followed my impulses. I was the kind of neighborhood kid who was usually up for anything, and could be counted on to say "yes" to adventures - whether we were searching for old bottles at the old dump, or swimming "marathons" up and down our local beach. We spent a lot of time exploring the streets and backyards of our small town barefoot or on our bikes, we would rarely plan beyond lunchtime.

I don't remember feeling a lot of time pressure - or, really, any pressure at all - but I did have a lot of energy and verve for life.

Now is different. Don't get me wrong - I like to think I am still up for anything... but I can't count on trusting my instincts and whim to motivate me to get out and play, explore, move my body and relax my mind. There's just no room. Now, the key to sustaining my energy and staying on track is the complete opposite. A daily plan.

It took me about twenty years to figure out that a plan beyond lunchtime is the key to sustaining the whole day. I struggled to accept that - in order to have the energy, enthusiasm and willingness to dive into life the way I want to - I have to create structure and predictability into every day.

AND every week. FOR EXAMPLE: Monday swim, Tuesday strength, Wednesday run, Thursday walk, Friday swim, Saturday rest, Sunday long run... etc. this is my ideal week and if I miss a session here or there, no foul... but to sustain the PATTERN. That’s the key.

A coach friend (Scott) told me that if you want to up your fitness and endurance game, you have to start with FREQUENCY: as in - get active every day.

That’s a game changer for most people.

So, my 5th-Decade-New-Norm is to create a rhythm to the days and weeks that thereby allows me to follow the impulses, when and if they show up. 

Our lives are after all, in the broadest sense of the words, about fitness and endurance. And who doesn’t want to be able to run barefoot and explore in the sand dunes any time they feel the urge?

Ownership...

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We have spent most of the summer months (if you count May as a summer month, which I insist on doing just to make summer seem longer) getting my little boat ready to launch in the ocean. 

This boat has become a symbol of this journey I'm on... 

Back in 2012, newly post-divorce, I bought her (with a monthly payment plan, no less) from a wonderful family a few towns away who had grown out of her size and capabilities. 

She is smaller than any other sail boat I had spent time on, or owned, and I was in a mental place where I wanted to push myself into new ways of being. I had always taken on very specific (and limited) roles on board sail-boats in the past - whether I was working as a deck hand crossing the Atlantic, or a watch leader on a sail training boat off the coast of Australia...I was always on much bigger boats, with specific tasks and felt comfortable no matter where we traveled because the ultimate responsibility was someone else's. 

This boat would teach me more about SAILING and OWNERSHIP, I decided.  I would do this one ON MY OWN (OMO), and by doing so I was sure I would have so much more satisfaction...

So that summer I got her out on the water as often as I could - and with the help of a bunch of friends (you all know who you are), we sailed evenings and weekends out on Penobscot Bay.  I have amazing memories of sailing out and back, up and down, sometimes around and around... and then at the end of the season I put her on her trailer (she is trailerable, with a centerboard - a brilliant design) and stored her for the winter in my yard.

Over the next 4 years there were many changes - I moved house many times, I fell in love and adventured in Maine and beyond with my now-husband, we bought and renovated a house together, we got married on a hilltop... and the boat sat patiently on her trailer, in the various yards around the midcoast, waiting...

On a winter evening in March we looked out into the yard at the trailer and the boat - covered in a foot of snow - and agreed "it's time"...

It was TIME to get her OUT OF THE YARD and ONTO THE SALT WATER! And we wanted to do it as a project TOGETHER.

Without boring you with all the details of the various milestones (trailer repair, float test, stripping the wood, cleaning the mold, finding a new outboard, testing the hull, pre-rigging the mast, finding mouse holes in the sails...), it's taken us 3 months of fairly consistent trial and error... until...

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WOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!! 

The motor worked, the sails filled (the winds were perfect!) and we ate a simple meal while under way. The silky water pulsed by as we moved at about 3 knots... and the peaceful sense we got from being out - away from the madness of our (and especially this) week - was worth it all.

Have I learned a lot about sailing a small boat? Not yet. (Stay tuned...)

About Ownership? You bet.

We learn a lot about ourselves when the stress levels are high, and we learn a lot about our partners... Important questions like: are you a listener; Long-Grain or Hannaford Sushi; how do you respond under pressure; how patient are you; cookies or ice-cream...; GOT or HikeTheHill?

It's a lot of work.

The benefits far outweigh the costs.

The journey is only half the fun.

;)...

And... 

So much for OMO.

Succulence

Summer is succulent. The air is moist and warm, the soil is deeply scented, the trees heavy with leaf-weight and morning dew. As I gaze out my kitchen window, the day lilies peep above the railing, nodding in the breeze and the clouds skid across the cyrulian skies. 

I'm in heaven.

Last Friday I played hooky and headed with my daughter and a dear friend (visiting from home for a 5 day whirlwind tour) to the strawberry fields of Whitefield, Maine.

We drove the long way - by way of various of my old haunts (ponds, towns, houses, stores) between here and there. It was a trip 'down memory lane' for me, and a way for two of my dearest to see and hear about some of my adventures in Maine over the last (almost) 20 years. We drove through a rainstorm, the end of a rainbow and arrived at the farm store in a blaze of peach colored storm-light.

After seeing multiple posts from friends on social media ("just spent $50 on strawberries #gulp"; "$75 well spent" "most expensive (and hopefully yummiest) jam purchase")...we decided to go small and pick only 5 punnets.

We picked, and munched, and sorted, and basked in the sun bursts. We laughed, took selfies, and munched some more. There were scores of other families there, stocking up. I fantasized alternately that we were squirrels, or hunter gatherers, or even subsistence farmers (living on berries! What a life!).

We gathered together the haul and escaped for $20 - and felt like thrift shop bargain hunters as we munched our way through 1/5 of the bounty all the ride home (the short way). 

The whole day felt like a sneaky gift, full of the juiciest elements of life. Succulent, sweet, tender, joyous... and a memory to treasure. 

The Sun is Coming

Summertime...

I feel as though my whole year is geared around making the most of long summer days - I truly thrive in the heat, I love the spontaneity, and I relish the shift in attitude and perspective that this season urges me to take...

BUT...

When it's cloudy and dull outside, it takes full intention to follow through. It's a bit harder to get excited for an after-work dip at the lake with the kids when the sun isn't beating down on my neck and the ripples on the water are more like full-fledged waves...but - go, we must! 

SO!

On this summer solstice eve, it's time to take the leap (whether you have done so already or not!) and step into the beautiful unknown that is the world outside.

Go: 

Wear that swimsuit.

Take off those shoes.

Sign up for that outdoor yoga class. 

Take your dinner to the park... 

Climb a tree. 

Wade in the shallows. 

Stand under a tree. 

Hike that mountain. 

Paddle that Stream. 

Catch that frog. 

Read that book, on the lawn, in your favorite chair... 

There are so many options, and so little time :)!!!  (Go now!)

 

Much love,

Mish xx

It's delicious...

As the leaves open and the warm winds return, I find myself moved.

Moved to move.  To connect with the ground.  To look to the skies, and sit by the water…

Each moment I spend outside feels a bit sneaky – as if it’s a moment I have stolen from some other galaxy. The warm air and bright colors feel other-worldly and… I LOVE IT!!!

So I am heading outside every day, even if only for a few stolen moments. I am following my kids out to the stream, I am calling friends at lunchtime and simply requiring them to meet me for a walk – no excuses… I am eating my breakfast and dinner out on the lawn (and swatting those buggy bugs away) and heading to the ocean every chance I get...

It’s delicious.

I hope you are feeling it too!

Seeking our innate wisdom...

Our lives are convoluted, complex... and the interconnecting elements often are unknown to us until we step back from the busy-ness to find them.

It's usually something immense that forces us to take that step - birth, death, loss, love...but spending time regularly in nature gives us access to that wisdom in bite size pieces.

How we experience nature shows us much about ourselves. If we make a practice of being outside, we see so much more of what is happening within.

So...if you're seeking your own innate wisdom, don't hesitate. Head outside. Today.

It's worth it.

Gratitude isn't always easy

Until the onset of this summer, my family had a practice of giving thanks for something before our evening meal.  Once the routines of school ceased, we somehow... forgot. We got busy moving house, not everyone was home all the time, we found that most evenings we were busy just DOING all the wonderful things we loved to do. So...our practice of being thankful - along with some other good habits like brushing teeth every night, and going to bed at a reasonable time - fell by the wayside.

When the shit hits the fan and life gets busy, it can be so hard to keep a positive outlook. The exhaustion. The very real physical, emotional and mental effort it takes to get through a day can really sap my energy, and some days it can feel so inauthentic to muster up Gratitude. There is still, after all these years of spiritual practice, a little voice within me that still says "How trite! How can you say you are thankful for your family when (really) they have annoyed the hell out of you today with their neediness and whining". Ouch. Am I really such a horrible person?

When I quiet that horrid voice, I find that I miss the repetitiveness of the daily Gratitude Practice - family, food, sunshine, friends. Yawn.

I miss the insights: Chickens. Mudboots. Spiderwebs. Icicles. Toilet Paper. The Supermarket. Teachers. Friends. Airplanes.

One particular morning last winter, my newly-5-year-old daughter gave thanks for the sunshine that had just risen on the lake outside our window. She was right, of course - it sparkled on the ice surface, with a rainbow of muted colors that somehow we had missed seeiing until that moment. Almost every day last winter she gave thanks for the warm air coming out of the Rinnai, for music and for her friends.

I am so thankful for her ability to see what I cannot...really, for my incredible life - the places I get to call home, my loving family spread far and wide, the people who swirl around me.

Every day is different: small things to honor in our lives - sometimes mundane, always essential, and yet it's not always easy to see and feel the connections.

Stepping outside each day helps me reconnect with the essential practice of giving thanks for everything I have.

So this month we start over.

What are you thankful for, today?