Do You Take Your Surroundings For Granted?

image_2As I review the iPhone photos that I took last weekend while hiking a local area with my dear friend, I wonder how many of us really take the time to notice our surroundings.  I mean, really notice.  Having lived all over the country, I feel blessed to have lived in so many spectacular locations over the years:  Colorado, New Mexico, and California are by far the top contenders for scenic awe. Other places I’ve lived are also gorgeous areas of the country: Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio and Illinois.  Well, wait.  Illinois and Gorgeous in the same context?  Hmmm….maybe not. BUT, Illinois is pretty darned memorable with that famous mid-west hospitality they’ve nurtured over the generations. Same with Ohio…although the area in Ohio where I lived truly IS gorgeous.  Those states get a bad rap for climate alone.  But is that really fair?  image_8

No matter where we live at any given time, our surroundings are what makes a place feel like home.  If the skies are gray, the dingy snow everlasting, the weather volatile, home is where the heart is.  The physical surroundings become less important than the emotional ones.

When the geography catches your eye each and every time you’re out there in nature,  then just count yourself as being completely blessed.

These photos are where I live.  It’s so accessible it’s inexcusable for me to NOT be out there every single day.  Yet, I’m only out there once or twice a month on average.  Life gets so busy that I sometimes forget what’s right in my own backyard.

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This particular day, I enjoyed this challenging hike immensely as my dear friend and I took our time to catch our breath take in the views and appreciate our good health which was instrumental to completing this adventure.  Her health journey has been very challenging these past two years with a hip replacement, followed by marital separation, which was trumped when a heart attack truly put her life into fine focus.

So we took our time.  We took deep breaths.  We took some photos. We took some video footage. We chatted, we gazed, we laughed, and we pondered those steep ascents and steeper descents. We pushed forward as we navigated loose gravel on slopes steeper than our comfort levels.

When we completed our five mile hike, we were elated and relieved.  We did it.  My friend commented afterwards that she’d didn’t know what to think.  It was incredulous to her that she was able to complete that hike.  Life is like that.  We can’t always see the unexpected bends in the road, but we learn to navigate.  One step at a time.

How lucky we are to live where we do.  How lucky I feel to have dear friends who encourage and challenge each other.  We’re blessed, all of us.

Do you take your surroundings for granted?

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First rain of the season..

With little drama, the first real rain has arrived. Ushering in the start of a new week, and for my dear friend, the start of a new life.  Whether she wanted one or not, she awoke yesterday morning to find her husband not only packed but walking out that door. To be sure,  there was anger, rage and pain.  And surely a tremendous flood of tears. I don’t know about lost love…that’s a hard one to figure.  But I imagine the hurt cuts deep no matter if the thread for love was still thinly strung or severed many years ago.

As I lie in bed listening to the steady fall of drops against the window, I wonder about the lives we all lead.  About the decisions we all make when we’re young and hopeful.  The roads that lead us to the HERE and NOW.  Sometimes curve balls come in so fast, we don’t stand a chance.  Other times, we know it’s coming, and we still don’t swing the bat.  We just let it roll.  We stand in that batters box through thick and thin.  We accumulate the years of dormancy, then frustration, then anger and then overwhelming sadness.  For what we hoped would be a home run was nothing more than a strike out.  And we never even took a swing at the pitch.

But we’re resilient, aren’t we?  My dear friend is stronger than she knows, yet refuses to reach out to those who only want to help in any way we can.  To be a shoulder or an ear, or a sounding board.  I think about my own life, my own marriage, my own blessings.  I’m so lucky in everything that counts. Loved ones that extend across the country, with routine calls that only close-knit families would understand.  Happily married for almost 35 years, 3 wonderful children who have blossomed into 3 wonderful adults.  Each making their own choices in this world of theirs.  I’m so proud, so humbled and so very damn lucky.  And, if for some reason, an unexpected curve ball comes my way and manages to knock me off my feet, I have no doubt that I’ll be stronger in the end.  One way or the other, I won’t be looking back because tomorrow has only one path forward, just as yesterday’s path has already been washed away with the rain.