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June Mixed Bag

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Summer is here! School is out, college kids are home and the weather is ripe for fun. Summer brings social occasions, time outdoors as well as lots of people and stuff headed in and out of your home. With 2 of my kids home from school I’ve got the transition to summer on the brain and small things I can do to transition my house accordingly. I’m also reflecting on lessons learned from my first 12K run, how photos help ground my leaky memory, and the virtues of Nature Bathing. Welcome to this month’s Mixed Bag!

Summer Refresh

The littles are out of school, the college kids have returned home and the house is over-run with all of their stuff. It’s the school stuff plus the summer stuff that is now crowding the halls, nooks and crannies in your home. Time to act, before it’s too late and the clutter takes over! Take 30 minutes and transition your mudroom from school to summer – it should function as a clutter filter for the rest of the house.

The Mudroom dressed for summer should be the place where towels are hung, caps are grabbed and leashes are hooked.  In order to accomplish this you need to stow away anything that isn’t seasonally appropriate (winter hats, outerwear, school backpacks.) Your mudroom should have available hooks to hang sweatshirts and bags, cubbies to fling flip flops and some sort of storage solution for baseball caps (you could hang them but I find a basket or bin to be more practical, especially if your family is on the bigger side.) Hopefully your dog has the opportunity for many summertime adventures (our Gus loves swimming in the lake and Puppachinos from Starbucks), if so it’s a good idea to have an area dedicated to canine-related items.  At my house we’ve migrated from Swim Team to Lifeguarding, in either case a small bin for water-related items like goggles, swim caps or fanny-packs will prevent any of you from wasting precious summer minutes looking for them when it’s time to go.

I took time this past weekend and tidied our mudroom, making room for whatever fun the summer brings into my house.

Lessons from my 12K

I completed my first 12K 2 weeks ago and yesterday I went for my first run since the race. Here are my takeaways from the 2023 Bay To Breakers:

  1. Changing up my routine was energizing. Even though running is not my favorite activity it represented something new and was a diversion from my usual workout routine. It wasn’t just the actual running; getting outside on a cold, dark morning and getting Gus used to running with me were just 2 of the many small challenges that I overcame during my my training.

  2. Expect some setbacks. If you followed along on my stories you know I struggled for the last couple of months with nagging (not crippling) issues, mostly stemming from old injuries. They slowed me down, discouraged me and made me wonder if I could actually run the race. Though I knew all along it wouldn’t be smooth sailing I still let the setbacks stress me out when in fact I could have saved myself the worry. Because I addressed each instance with rest and/or a pivot in activity I was good to go on race day, even though I hadn’t run at all the prior two weeks.

  3. Community is a real tailwind. I was running with friends from High School, one of whom I hadn’t seen for decades. During the race I almost immediately stopped thinking about my body aches as I fell into conversation with my people, catching up and reminiscing and watching all of the craziness around us (I counted 18 naked runners, all men!) In the end community buoys you through, whether it’s your own people or the sideline supporters cheering you on.

  4. Bounce back happened fast. My whole body was aching in the hours after the race and I dreaded the plane flight home, but surprisingly I felt pretty good the day after running and totally fine by Day 2. When you train properly and are in good shape your body rewards you after doing something hard.

I didn’t make the connection until afterwards but the race landed on May 21st, the 5 year anniversary of my mom’s death. She used to run the Bay To Breakers every year when I was growing up and often invited me to do it with her. Sadly I never took her up on the invitation but I was thinking of her on race day and I know she’d be proud and happy that I finally ran it!

Leaky Memory Boost

I have always had a great memory; for faces, dates and circumstances. It has been appreciated, valued and remarked upon. I have used it to great advantage over the course of my personal and professional lives. Now, however I find that it fails me. Often. Things that were once crystal clear have not only faded but become jumbled, as if there is infighting and posturing inside my brain as different memories jockey for position. I am told this is a normal byproduct of aging – boo, hiss.

What saves me from sulking about this turn of events with my memory is my photos. They represent a scaffolding of memories which help my brain fill in the blanks, I’m so grateful to have them. As faithful readers know, my kids show up often on this blog as I mine my photos for content appropriate to the point I’m trying to make. As you get older and your memory starts to play tricks on you, the pictures that tell the story of your life also tell you the truth. They are there to remind you that you visited your Uncle David and Aunt Dona in the summer of 2006 but also that there definitely moments when your 3 children played cooperatively together (see beach shot above for Powelling example.) You can be reminded of the Barbie Backpack (upper left) and the sparkly flower clips you used to tame their curls and how their faces looked when they were concentrating hard. Maybe you won’t remember why they brought scissors to the beach (???) but once you hit a certain age photos will jog your memory like nothing else.

So take care of those memories and get them organized, you will need them someday to help you remember. The big things and the little things. And if you need assistance on this journey I’m happy to help!

Nature Baths

Another recurring topic for me is the joy of spending time outside in nature, specifically immersed in places with lots of green. I’m a big fan of Joh Medina (author of Brain Rules) and heard him give a keynote speech at The Bush School’s Parent University several years ago. He talked about the importance of green and how the positive association with the color green has been hardwired into our brains from evolution. Early humans associated it with the presence of water, which they were often in search of. Today the benefits of immersing yourself in green include increased motivation and creativity and decreased stress. When the pandemic hit and the world effectively shut down the best part of my day was getting outside; it was at that point that I actually recognized the mental benefits of a nature bath firsthand. I am now three plus years into Nature Bathing as a priority and I still feel the beauty acutely each and every time. Gus loves it too so it’s for sure a Winning Combination as far as time management goes – treat yourself to a daily Nature Bath this summer!

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