Student and Teacher

Photography by Tracy Sheppard

 

“One of my core beliefs is that every single person you meet is both your student and your teacher: that every single person has a gift or a lesson to offer you, if you look for it, and that you have a gift or a lesson for them, if you allow yourself.”

“I value momentary and passing connections and have many thoughts of being receptive to them, but right now I’m specifically thinking about how affected we are by the main people in our lives.
Our “main people” introduce us to the possibilities in the world, and the possibilities within ourselves. They expand our minds and our hearts and ultimately our lives.”

“f you want some advice on how to love yourself better, examine the people with whom you you spend time and energy. Choose to spend time with people who nourish you and expand you and elevate you and challenge you and adore you.”

I am a deeply convinced of this quote from Jessi Kneeland. I wholeheartedly believe that people cross our paths for reasons we may never understand, while we walk this earth. We should respect and treasure those dear people and pay attention to the lessons that may unfold.

This is what creates such a magical environment while traveling.  Not only do we experience new lands and cultures;  we are given the gift of seeing the world through new eyes and possibilities.  When we allow ourselves to be open to those serendipitous encounters;  all manner of magical beginnings can be explored.

Our travels can take us to far away lands or while exploring paths in our own neighborhood.  I am always amazed at how many places remain on my ‘adventure list’ right near my own town.

We are all woven together for a reason.  Like the proverbial tapestry, which may not appear particularly beautiful from beneath, with threads crossing every which way;  from above, spectacular artistry unfolds.

So, Thank You. If you are reading this today.  Thank you for being a part of my life, no matter the capacity. We are woven together for a reason.

 

In the Moment

“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.”

― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

This is a tough one!

 

Photography by Tracy Sheppard

It’s easy to enjoy life when the weather is sunny and warm. Being ‘in the moment’ is no hard task when our walks take us on sunny paths and golden trails.

I adore hiking during the most beautiful part of the year, which is Autumn, in my opinion. All five senses become fully engaged and energized. The air even feels magical.

Hiking in the Winter? Not so much. As much as I try; I just don’t enjoy putting on layers upon layers of clothing, heavy coats, boots and gloves just to get fresh air and movement. Now, once I’m out there, of course, the beauty of the season is everywhere.

Depending on where you live; it can be a real challenge to ‘be mindful’ and in ‘the moment’ when our walk involves slushy, icy, and frozen obstacles. It’s difficult not to feel ourselves wishing it were Spring!

I’m working on this. How about you? I’m not perfect! Maybe you’ve nailed this part. Not me. It’s my challenge.

How often do we ‘wish away’ other areas of life? Parts of our lives that are as natural as the Seasons?

Hormonal shifts, aches and pains, struggles with weight, emotions gone wild, fading eyesight, and all the things that can come naturally with aging. Everyone ages in their unique way due to diet, lifestyle and their genetics. We can slow down the clock, which is great news. There are still those days life seems to ‘catch up’.  Those days require a bit more intention to become mindful over wishful.

How many days do we ‘wish away’? Do we run wildly through our week, wishing for the weekend? Do we stop and take time to breathe? Take a moment to ‘smell the roses’? Are we always wishing for something other than the present moment?   When we wish for ‘different’, we rob ourselves of happiness.

Let’s stop playing the ‘wishing game’.   We have no guarantee of tomorrow.

Let’s work on this …..together!

Saying Goodbye To Summer

Saying Goodbye to September

As we approach the Autumnal Equinox, the skies become a deeper and crisper blue. The early morning reveals a glistening coat on the trees and grass, which quickly melts into tiny droplets which glisten with the waking sun. Everything is more intense. A sense of urgency is in the air. The wildlife and all of nature senses impending change.

Such is the ebb and flow of life. Our bodies contain this same natural time clock. When we move with the seasons, with natural ease, we have harmony and energy. When we force our bodies to perform way beyond what they should; we experience revolt. Our bodies strike back ten fold. As does nature, when defied.

Exercise and physical activity should always provide a sense of vitality and enjoyment. Anything else is futile; damaging really. Forcing our bodies into punishing circuits will only result in pain and joint damage. Moving in a way to maintain strength, agility, flexibility and balance are essential to graceful aging.

We each have different levels of physical ability. Challenging our bodies gently, to provide growth and strength, is key. The goal is not to punish and annihilate our muscles and skeletal structure.

Strength Training, Science has proven we don’t need to train to failure to see muscle growth. Weight training is essential if we don’t want to see muscle atrophy as we age. By the way, this begins as early as our 30’s!

Cardiovascular Training. Our hearts and lungs need regular aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 20 to 30 minutes per day. Hiking, walking, bicycling or sprinting, are all wonderfully enjoyable activities. Getting outside is a bonus. Nature provides a natural stress reducer.

Any activities that keep you moving and you enjoy are wonderful. Dancing, Swimming. Skiing. The list can go on and on….Just find something you love and do it.

We tend to sit too much in front of computers, television and in general. Be an active participant in your own life!

Photo from my backyard this morning…no filters.

Without Balance You Will Fall

Photography / Artwork by Tracy Sheppard
Photography / Artwork by Tracy Sheppard

 

Without BALANCE you will fall.

“Having good balance means being able to control and maintain your body’s position comfortably—whether you are walking, climbing stairs, standing or even sitting still.”

Maintaining balance is crucial as we age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly more than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths. Can we train our bodies to maintain balance?

The answer is emphatically, YES! To get all of the benefits of physical activity, we should engage in all four types of exercise — endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. My system utilizes all aspects of physical fitness so that, as we age, we can protect against muscle atrophy, provide energy and a spring in our step, create strength to perform daily tasks, and maintain balance.

What exercises can help with balance? There are many moves which, if done a minimum of twice weekly, can protect balance. Here are five:

These 5 exercises will help improve balance and lower body strength. They include:

-standing on one foot
-walking heel to toe
-balance walk
-back leg raises
-side leg raises

Having good balance is important to help us get around, stay independent, and carry out daily activities. Don’t take your balance for granted!

Photography / Artwork by Tracy Sheppard

sources:

NIH Senior Health

HealthinAging.org

Aging and Exercise

  • With respect to the aging process, what are some benefits derived from participation in regular physical activity?

Research shows that many of the physiological declines that are typically associated with the aging process can be reversed, or at least slowed down by engaging in regular physical activity. While exercise is not a magic pill or the proverbial Fountain of Youth; it is about as close to it as you can get.

Regular physical activity is well documented to help reduce the odds in developing heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, and diabetes. These are major reasons to develop a habit of regular exercise. There are also factors such as weight loss and control, keeping depression at bay and helping with feelings of anxiety, as well as, fostering improvements in mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise can boost one’s mood and feeling of self-confidence. Regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. Engaging in regular physical activity can help those with chronic, disabling conditions by improving stamina and muscle strength. Exercise can help keep the body flexible and stiff joints more pliable. Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff. Keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong can be crucial to maintaining support for your bones. Not exercising weakens those supporting muscles, creating more stress on your joints. Certain regular exercise also helps with balance, which can enable a lifestyle of independence as well as promoting safety by reducing the risk of falling and performing routine daily tasks. Another benefit of regular physical activity is in how it aids brain function. Exercise is proven to change the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. This is especially good news as the older we get, the more we may experience ‘brain fog’ and declining memory.

Exercise performed regularly improves physical appearance and when enjoyed in a group setting, provides a good social support. Regular physical activity is the key to staying strong, energetic, and healthy as you get older. If you find an activity you enjoy, it can even be fun. Exercise helps make life pleasurable and expands the quality of life.

by Terri L. Pouliot