Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thoughts on Winter Hiking and a Social Media Cleanse.

Here we sit, the last week of January.  Around here it has felt like spring.  The snow is melting, the skies bright blue.  There are even birds chirping.  I keep reminding myself that summer is not right around the corner.  More winter storms, bitter cold and plenty of snow are sure to come before the true spring makes any sort of appearance.  I have to say I don't mind one bit that winter is taking a hiatus.  I believe the reprieve will make the long winter that much easier to deal with.  Today I ran the M trail and it was 95% clear of snow and ice.  This is crazy for this time of year, but I love it...

Running on the bare trail, thinking of summer camping but knowing it's a long way off.  Getting to continue to be in the mountains this time of year makes this ok in my mind.  I think that's always the hardest part of living in a cold climate, not getting to be out in nature.  It's where I find my calm and if you can't do that for nine months out of the year, you spend so much time in chaos.  Making it a priority to still hike despite the snow, ice or cold that may be there helps.  When I'm on a trail I take in the silence around me...only hearing a few birds chirping.  In the quiet of winter the trails are pretty much empty.  Because of this, I share it only with the deer that startle me when I come upon them.  The mountains give me the chance to clear my thoughts....to dream big future plans while still finding contentment in the present moments.  

This past weekend, with the family, we ventured further up in the mountains.  To where the snow is still deep and the trails are full of ice.  It was a comical hike to say the least, especially on the way down when we found it easier to simply slide on your shoes...making our own version of skiing.
And crawling up the slickest places...
Giggling the entire way.  Winter hiking is awesome.  Of course the temperatures are unseasonably warm and that makes a huge difference.  The breeze felt warm, the air fresh.  The crunching of the snow under our boots and everything peaceful in the winter quiet.  Not having to share the trail with summer tourists, only a few back country skiers heading higher up the mountain.  Making our way to History Rock and checking out the only side of it not covered in snow...
Getting our fix to get through the next few months when real hiking can begin again.  

I am quickly approaching my 37th birthday.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  Never one to be too obsessed with age, but feeling weird about hitting my late thirties.  This has been my favorite decade thus far and I don't like seeing it near the end.  I want things to slow down a bit.  A couple weeks ago it really hit me and in the same moment I had this strong desire to log off of all social media sites.  I'm not sure why these thoughts came together.  Maybe because within my thirties, social media has become such a part of our lives.  Re-connecting with so many people on Facebook, finding inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram and following new bloggers I find along the way.  So many good things, but on the other hand realizing just how much I use these sites.  How many of my daily thoughts and ideas on life and parenting were coming from them.  Wondering where my own individual thoughts were among this jumble of information.  Am I thinking for myself or simply being bogged down with others thoughts?  I made the decision at that point to end my 36th year with a full social media cleanse until my birthday.  That was about two and a half weeks ago.  The first week I felt very free.  I didn't miss signing on and checking in.  I felt calm and my thoughts felt free.  I wasn't reading someone's blog and thinking man, I should try to parent like that.  I didn't look at someone's picture on Instagram of them on a beach and wish I was there and feel discontent about where I am.  I didn't post a photo on FB and wonder how many of my friends would like it.  Instead I thought about how beautiful it is right where I live...even if it's not a beach.  When it came to parenting, I just went from my heart rather than trying to be a certain type of mom.  I wondered about the pull of social media and why we put things out there...when we put a photo on, what are we looking for?  By having people like our photo, do we feel more accepted?  Does it go way back to middle school and the more likes you get you feel more popular?  Hmmm.  I quite enjoyed the first week without social media in my life.  The second week I found myself wanting to check in.  Wondering what was going on with everyone.  There was a feeling of missing out.  I pushed through these thoughts and they went away quickly.  I'm curious to see what this final week brings.  I have to say I feel very clear headed.  I like that I don't instantly reach for my phone during idle moments.  I like the peace I feel when just sitting with quiet times rather than needing to fill the space.  I know I will not sign off social media forever.  There are things I really like about it.  I like keeping in touch with family and friends.  I love seeing beautiful photos and gathering inspiration.  But, I know I want to change my relationship with it.  I want to focus on keeping my thoughts my own and without influence of others.  I want to rely on it less to fill boredom.  I don't want to use it to feel validated by the choices I make.  I know things are good, I don't need "likes" to tell me that.  

Well...that was a lot.  To think all of these thoughts came about simply because I have a birthday coming up.  I may just go off the deep end when I approach my 40th.  Dang.

Happy day to ya.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hello 2015.

2015.  Just the sound of it seems crazy.  I remember all the hype leading up to the year 2000 and it seems like yesterday.  Fifteen years later and so much has changed, yet it has all happened in a moment.  I always think of the new year as a time of reflection.  A fresh start.  Not one to make big resolutions, I simply like to re-evaluate.  Think about the direction I want this new year to go.  We're a couple weeks in so I've taken some time reflecting.  I believe over the last few years my "resolutions" have been somewhat the same.  I like to think of them less as resolutions and more as the continual path to be my best self.  

Things like being in the present moment.  Letting go (cannot help but want to sing the Frozen song anytime I say Let it Go) of things that have already happened and not fretting about what is to come.  This is very yogi thinking and having yoga a big part of my life again helps focus on this.  Keeping with my favorite mantra of..."three ways to let go...accept it, change it, leave...if you can't accept it change it If you can't change it, leave it".  I love this.  It brings me clarity when I am going over and over things in my head.  Whether they be past or future it reminds me to stop and focus on the here and now.  It calms me when I begin to stress on what needs to be done and settles my thoughts when I'm over thinking things that have already happened.  This has taken work and has been on my resolution list each year for awhile.  I have, and hope to continue to improve on this.  When focusing on the present I truly get to take in moments like this...
  
Focusing on the present leads me right into my next one which is finding peace and calm with the day to day.  It's so easy to get caught up with the stuff of life.  I like trying to stay calm and centered throughout the day.  Again, probably thanks to all the yoga that's been going on this year.  But, I can't help to always want to feel like I just walked out of a class.  Carry the peace I find on the mat out there in the real world.  Find breath when chaos may be going on around me.  To be kind and non-judgemental of others.  To know this is the example I want my girls to have.  

I want to continue to let go of fear.  I remember this being a big one I had last year.  To worry less.  To not be afraid.  This goes for big things...trying new things.  It also goes for small things...day to day with the girls.  Know my fear or worry does nothing to help any situation.  Find a better way.  I feel I have been successful with this over the year and want to continue it.  I did best with worrying less about the little things.  The one I want to work on more this year would be to be less afraid of the big things.  Of changes, of taking chances, of putting yourself out there.  This past year I was given more opportunity to write for some local publications.  This came from not being afraid of rejection.  I hope to continue to do this and do it even bigger.  I think I am finding my way with this writing thing and learning when to say yes and when to say no.  When I first starting getting opportunities I felt I had to agree to everything because these people were giving me a chance.  I learned if writing for a publication didn't feel right, as much as I loved seeing my articles printed, I had to say no.  The funny thing about life is things work out.  The same day that door was closed another one opened and I got a yes from a publication I love so much.  Mamalode, a parenting magazine I had the opportunity to write for once before chose one of my articles.  It was about living and learning as we go.  Fits in quite nicely with my resolutions.  http://mamalode.com/story/detail/living-and-learning

I feel like 2015 is going to be a good year.  We are in the middle of the sweet spot.  The time with the girls where they are awesome.  They've always been awesome, but somehow it didn't feel that way when they were up crying all night.  They are currently blossoming into these young ladies and I totally dig who they are becoming.  They are independent enough that Matt and I get to focus on ourselves and each other more than those early parenting years when it was all about bottles, diapers and tantrums.  We each get chances to do our own things and make time as a couple.  All this leads to better family time.  Yes, we are very much in a sweet spot.  We are healthy.  We are happy.  And, I am so very grateful for this.  That reminds me, gratitude is right up there on my list of resolutions.  To feet grateful every day for what we have.  To put this gratitude out there.  If I ever feel lacking or get caught up in feeling we don't have enough to remember that gratitude turns what we have into enough.    

Now we settle further into January and the winter.  This time of year can be tough as I begin to dream of summer months.  It's been cold and snowy.  We've already done a lot of sledding and ice skating.  Unlike hiking or paddle boarding, I get sick of the winter hobbies.  Towards the end of summer I frantically try to cram more in.  By the middle of winter I'm over the hobbies.  Sigh.  We will get through it, just like we do each year.  And right about when I think I can't take one more winter in Montana spring breaks through and then summer with all her glory and I fall right back in love with this place.  In the meantime we'll keep on ice skating.  Even better now that we added super fun, homemade pom-poms to them...

Happy New Year friends.