No Limitations

Hey friends,

I regret to admit that it has been far too long since I have updated my blog. I have been swamped lately with school and kids and life and of course, soaking up as much of the North Carolina fall season as possible! Some of my latest adventures include a camping and trail half marathon trip in Douthat State Park, VA; a 20-mile backpacking adventure along the AT, a snow camping trip with the kids in Boone, NC; and our latest, this long weekend at the beautiful Outer Banks for the annual OBX half marathon! I can’t wait to share with you all the details about these amazing adventures and locations, and promise to do so in the next few days!

But first, and more importantly, I’d like to share with you all this wonderful opportunity I have recently been given. Tales of a Mountain Mama, a fellow blogger and adventure mama with far more experience than I, has given me the opportunity to share with the world, via her blog, the amazing adventures this past summer I was able to experience with my kids on our cross-country expedition! You can find my post, No Limitations, here. Image

Please click on the link and read my article, and stay tuned for a follow up article next week! Please also be sure to give her page some love, as well as mine! Tales of a Mountain Mama is a fantastic blog full of adventures she embarks upon with her kids, as well as advice, product reviews, guest posts like mine, as well as products, discounts, and amazing giveaways! Perhaps one day this humble blog will grow up to be much like hers!

Please don’t forget to check out the links and articles and spread the love! As always, thanks so much for reading and for your support! Keep on exploring and come back soon!

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The Forest for the Trees

I realize it has been a little while since I have updated my blog, but that being said, I wanted to post something refreshing to give it a good basis for my upcoming posts.

Some of you may be aware that I recently completed an expedition of sorts with my two children, traveling across the country and back, consisting of many state and national park tours, camping trips, day trips and hiking excursions of some of the most beautiful places our amazing country has to offer. It was through these experiences that I was compelled to begin this blog. To chronicle my experiences from my own personal perspectives, and from the perspectives of a single mother traveling with two children, and to share with others the incredibly enlightening experiences encountered along the way, has been and still is the goal of this blog.

Therefore, I feel it necessary to share with you what I am about to divulge. I feel it necessary to say that yoga is a huge part of my life, and through yoga, I have been introduced to the concept of living in the moment, the concept of striving to achieve balance and peace and harmony, and the concept of meditation and appreciating the breath and the vast benefits that outpour from this simple daily practice that I have come to accept.

While reading a book that my dad introduced me to, I became introduced to the art of meditation. A difficult concept to learn, as many of you may know, is that through meditation, one can come to appreciate each moment life brings your way, to learn to appreciate the good with the bad, and to realize that without the very basic act of breathing, none of this (life, as we know it) would even be possible. From here, I began to read more about different types of meditation, and at just the right time, I became a recipient of emails courtesy of Yoga Journal magazine, offering a 28-day guided meditation regime that promised to change the perspective of my daily outlook on life and therefore my life by simply practicing this act of meditation on a regular basis. I loved the idea of it, and embraced it fully, though I immediately realized that meditation with two young children was a task in and of itself, and would require extra planning and a light heart, for when meditation was interrupted by “life” so to speak, carrying on with the rest of my day was still expected to be done so with a positive outlook, even when the goal for my meditation (most times, just to finish the full ten minutes of uninterrupted, undistracted silence) was not achieved.

It was not until the second half of a trail half marathon, that I was running with my dad while in California this summer, about halfway through my 28-day journey of meditation, that I reached the following epiphany. While running through a dense, moist forest of redwoods and eucalyptus, and subsequently reaching a treeless, sunsoaked, dry sloping meadow, the old familiar, but never really pondered, cliche, came to mind: “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” All my life, I had heard people make reference to this phrase, and had never really analyzed it to realize what it truly meant. Until now.

Finally, that overused phrase began to make sense. When “you can’t see the forest for the trees,” it implies that one is focusing too intently on the minor details, “sweating the small stuff”, to really see the bigger picture. A good example of this would be that, in the process of preparing for a major event or outing with your family, such as embarking upon a cross country road-hiking-camping trip with your children, you get hung up on minor details like, “Oh no, all the headlamps are out of batteries”, or, what if we forget something critical, or spend days worrying about the inevitable weather that you can’t do anything about on some future date during a trip you have planned, or stressing about minor details like the what-if’s. In this case, you would clearly be focusing on the trees, and not the forest, the forest being the bigger picture: spending an epic, once-in-a-lifetime (for some) adventure, and enjoying irreplacable quality time with your family in the grandest of places. These are examples of when not seeing the forest for the trees could really prove to be a problem.

However, on this particular run, on a part of the trail where I had fallen perfectly between other runners, in a place where I was seemingly alone, I began to think harder on this concept. I began to break it down. While passing through this beautiful, mystical forest that was comprised of individual trees, all different and unique in their own respects, only to arrive on a sloping trail in a meadow void of trees altogether, I was elated at the sight of a single tree looming up ahead on the trail. While just a single tree on the horizon, it would eventually give way to another section of trail once again enveloped by moist, dense forest, such a contrast from the microclimate from which I had just emerged. It was then that I realized that sometimes, it is in fact good to not see the forest for the trees.

Sometimes, we need to actually take a closer look at those trees. Those individual trees, though similar to those standing near it, are their own unique beings, and while some are the same as others, are still different in their own rights. It is the density, the togetherness, of each of those individual trees, that makes up the forest through which I was running. Quite similarly, it is the sum of those tiny details, those individual moments, those unique mishaps and trials and errors, that together make up the bigger picture. These are the things that often get overlooked: the small things in life. The time when the headlamp went out, and we realized (and cursed the fact) that we forgot extra batteries, and had to improvise, and find unique ways to attach flashlights to our clothes to appease everybody (because brother can’t have a headlamp if sister can’t have one), and when the freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches decided to crumble in the bags in our packs, resulting in tears and disappointment, until we decided to have freeze-dried ice cream soup (served with a spoon out of the foil pouch), are the times when the “little things” that get you down, can ruin the bigger picture of things: the times when you can’t see the forest for the trees. But then. Look at it this way: THOSE are the “trees”, the “little things” that make up the entirety of the trip, and without such little occurrences, what would there even be to make up this bigger picture, this grand trip of ours?!

Sure, we will have mishaps, and notes to ourselves on what to do differently next time. And that is exactly why I carry a waterproof notebook and pen in my backpack when we embark upon these adventures. In each journal entry of our adventures, is a page that is titled “What to do/bring next time” followed by the reasons why! However, it is each and every one of these little instances, these mishaps, these wonderful happenings and discoveries, these individual trees, that make up the whole of our irreplacable time together, our trip, our memories, OUR FOREST.

So in conclusion, I’d like to shed light on the reverse aspect of this all to often heard saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Please, do me a favor, and pay close attention to those trees whenever possible. But do so in a positive light. Because without those trees, there would be no forest.

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Inspiration. It can be found anywhere, and everywhere, so long as one aspires to find it. The world is full of beautiful things, people, and places, full of inspiration. However, it is also full of circusmtances that are far less than ideal, to say the least. Still, there is inspiration to be found in all things. Inspiration can be defined as the stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity. Inspiration leads to aspiration, which is the strong desire to achieve something. Quite appropriately, aspiration can also be defined as the act of breathing. Therefore, if one could say that to breathe, is to aspire, then to live is to desire, for without aspiration, one could not live. If aspiration equals breath and also desire, then the very basis of our existence is desire. And in order to aquire such desire, one must be inspired. We all desire something. But what inspirations trigger our innermost desires? What is it that inspires us?

For a long time, especially in the months following my mother’s passing, my life was completely uninspired. Bleak. Dreary. Hollow and dry. I found myself just going through the motions of the things I was “supposed” to do, the things I was “expected” as an adult, a mother, a HUMAN, to do. The very things which used to help me feel sane and grounded, now trapped me like a prisoner, running in circles, caught in a wheel of despair. The interests and activities I once loved and enjoyed whole heartedly, were now hard to do. Things like yoga, running, cooking, reading, and writing now seemed like such daunting tasks. What was it all for? Where would it lead me? It wouldn’t get me away from this place I had sunk into. It wouldn’t undo all of the turmoil that had taken place in recent months. It wouldn’t reignite that spark of life I once knew. It definitely wouldn’t fill the whole that now existed where the presence of my mother once filled. Or would it?

I drifted in and out of ruts, and self-destructive ways of thinking, and longed for a way out – a way out of my despair, out of my head, out of the chaos and rising floodwaters that seemed to take over my life. I felt at times that the current was just too strong, and though I know how to swim well, the effort it would take to swim against the current, make it to shore, and pull myself out of the water, cold and wet in front of the world, seemed like just too much to bear. It seemed easier then to just let the current take me downstream and wash up on some other shore… to begin anew, fresh and dry.

But then, one unusally warm February morning, the unexpected sight and feel of the sun came over me. I was inspired. Inspired to run. And run I did. I drove to my old favorite watershed trail and I ran my ass off. Seven miles, after months of not even running one. And during that run, a beautiful awareness came over me, an epiphany as some might call it. I reached a break in the trees, with a perfect view of the crystal blue waters reflecting the azure sky, just enough of a sliver through the branches for the sun to shine its light on me and only me – and then it happened. A yellow butterfly came to me. It was a sign, a message, and exactly what I needed to reignite that spark of life I once knew. This run was the beginning of the path of inspiration I have come to follow and know as my life. I am going to share with you the passage I wrote that day following this magical run. Since then, I have been blessed with new life and opportunity, have welcomed change and wisdom, have gotten to know peace, and have experienced far more than some experience in a lifetime. I am truly living a life of inspiration, and it is my aspiration to share with you my experiences and discoveries the best way I know how – through my writings.

Today I Ran
written February 22, 2012

Inspiration, in the form of a yellow butterfly I have come to know quite well

Today I ran. But instead of running away from something, today I ran toward something. Something much greater, more idyllic, and much more peaceful, than all the things I thought I had longed to find while previously running away. I ran toward a new me. I ran toward truth. I ran toward happiness. I ran toward LIFE.

Today I ran toward the realization that I miss my mom, and the awareness of just how much I love my mom, and the consciousness, the reality, that she is never coming back in the physical form, but that she is always with me in the spiritual sense. I ran toward the acceptance of something I wish had never happened, and something I wish I never had to accept. I ran toward the hazy notion of moving on, while clenching to and reliving the dear, sweet, and irreplaceable memories of my past. I ran toward the acceptance of almost a year of denial, almost a year of one whirlwind after another, almost a year of running away. Today I ran, but this time, I ran toward something.

Today I ran toward life, and the most glorious part of it all, is that I actually reached my desired goal. I crossed the metaphorical finish line of my own self determined course and reached my destination, that destination being ME. And while traveling down that path, I discovered truth. I discovered life. I discovered bliss. I discovered all of my senses, alive and perfectly in sync, allowing me to breath in the air and the trees overhead, to feel the sloshing mud and pine needles underfoot, to hear the chirping birds above and the skittish squirrels in the crunchy leaves running across my path, to feel the wind flow through my hair and the sun shine upon my skin. I tasted life in every possible way. I have never before felt so alive and so full of life and all it contains, never before felt so surrounded by joy and happiness and life, all by myself but not alone, in the woods on this trail.

Today was a day unlike any other before it, though I know it will not be unlike any other to come. Today I ran. I ran toward life. And the best part of it all: I got there, and I embraced it, and I haven’t let it go.

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Advice from a Tree

The Perfect Tree

Considering a great deal of inspiration in my life, including this blog, comes from trees, I thought it appropriate to share with you one of my favorite poems. I came across a guided journal while at Yellowstone National Park earlier this summer titled, “Advice from a Tree”, with Ilan Shamir’s poem written on the first page. It resonated so deeply with me that I shared it with everyone I came into contact with. Then, a couple weeks later, while at Oregon Caves National Park, I found the poem itself printed on beautiful cardstock, and I of course had to have it.

When I think about the words of this poem, it becomes clear to me that all the advice I’ll ever need can be gained from the insight of a tree. Trees are, in fact, one of the most beautiful symbols of life itself, while at the same time, a perfect metaphor of it as well. When I need to feel grounded and at peace, I look to the trees. When I need to feel adventurous and free, I run to the trees. When I need to feel renewed and rejuvenated, I seek out the trees. When I need someone to lean on, to whisper quiet words of advice, and to offer shade and shelter from the harsh elements of life, I turn to the trees. When I need to be reminded that change is constant, that change is good, that change is what allows new growth and opportunity to take place, and that all things in life have their cycles, I return to the trees. The trees never steer me wrong.

So read on, and take a little advice from a tree. I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.

Advice from a Tree, by Ilan Shamir

Dear Friend

Stand tall and proud
Sink your roots deeply into the earth
Reflect the light of your true nature
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The energy and birth of spring
The growth and contentment of summer
The wisdom to let go the leaves in the fall
The rest and quiet renewal of winter

Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!

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Hello World!

Thanks for checking out my blog! This is my first attempt at a blog, and I am excited to finally put my thoughts into words and my plan into action. This blog was created as an outlet for me to express and share with my friends my innermost feelings, thoughts, and desires as I travel through this life and around this world on what I like to call my “Adventure of a Lifetime.”

This adventure, or life, as you may call it, has its good days and bad days: some days I may get rained on and others perhaps scorched in the sun; some days the trail may be all uphill, and others, too steep of a descent for me to slow down and soak it all in; some nights the camp might be crowded with friends new and old alike, while others it may be just me, the earth, and the sky.

But no matter what the day’s adventure brings, I know that I will always strive to be… like a tree, whose roots are grounded deep within the earth, constantly absorbing the rich soil from which it was born, always connected to its creator, its creation, and its past; and like a tree, whose braches reach outward toward the sky, like open arms inviting in the great world and all it has to offer, like a child, nonjudging, and curious about all there is to see, like a friend, providing shade and shelter for those in need, and a sturdy branch upon which to perch, and arms of gratitude, giving forth all it has to offer to anyone willing to take it all in.

I will always strive to be like a tree, both rooted and reaching.

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