Tag Archives: Mental Well Being

Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

“Act as the master of your life by putting your health, well being and happiness first.”

-Mariana Olszewski

“If you learn to create the right kind of climate in your body, mind, and emotion, your health and wellbeing and joy-everything will be taken care of.”

-Sadhguru

Being a teacher, I am blessed every year with having summers off. Although won’t see any kids until after Labor Day, I do have to go in tomorrow and Thursday for meetings. Every year in June I make a pledge to myself that I am going to get out and hike as much as possible. To get out and really put in the miles, see the views and do hikes I have never done before. Unfortunately, this usually ends up not being the case. Many times life takes over and prevents me from getting the hikes in that I have always wanted to do. And believe it or not, my own laziness has stopped me as well! Now I’m not saying that I haven’t hiked during past summers, it just has never been at the volume I would have liked.

As the school year drew to a close this year I made the same pledge. This will be the year that I get out as much as I can to do as much hiking as I could fit into the summer! I’m not going to lie, this school year was a really stressful one and the summer has been even more so. I really needed to commit to this!!! 

One of the other things that not many people know is that in November of 2014 I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. Although I have always hiked and rode a stationary bike, this was not only a surprise, but a life changing diagnosis.

When I left the office that day, I thought that not only my hiking days were over, but my life as I knew it. I was really disheartened (no pun intended) at first when I was doing the stress test and did not even last 30 seconds on the treadmill. I knew that if I had continued I would have dropped. When I met with my cardiologist a couple of days later, we talked about the diagnosis and what it meant for me. I asked him when I could resume exercising and much to my surprise he said that I could do so immediately.

So here I am almost three years later. I have gone from not lasting 30 seconds on a treadmill to doing an 11 mile hike last week and completing 27 hikes to this point this summer.

Please don’t think that I am fishing for compliments or sympathy. I am simply pointing out that even in the darkest moments (thinking I was quite literally given a death sentence) that you can come back from that and resume an active lifestyle.

The most important thing to take from this is: All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. At first it hurts and it sucks. We all have days where you don’t want to do anything, walk, ride, get out of bed. But you have to do it! I know for me the alternative was….well you can figure it out…

Autumn

Autumn came, with wind and gold.

-Henry David Thoreau

Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?

-Vernon Duke

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

-George Eliot

 

We talk about the disappearance of long warm days that have been saturated by the sun as the “death”of summer. 

But summer must take leave, like wisps of smoke floating gently from a fading fire.

Lush green slowly turns into an umbrella of bright reds, oranges and yellows that breathe new life into a now chilled existence.

Natures chaos, its origins unknown, comes sweeping down and transforms the woods, separating the new brilliance from its lifeblood.

As the trees sway and moan in protest of a slow eventual death, the leaves fall with the rhythm of lightly falling snow, accumulating on the soft earth only to decay as the sun’s light continues its downward spiral.

With brutal awareness, the passage of time will soon bring beloved darkness and the promise of the next season. 

The beautiful and precious cycle forges ahead.

Black Rock Forest

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The sign at the entrance to the parking lot.

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“The clearest way into the universe is though a forest wilderness.”

-John Muir

 

“Hike while you can.”

-Unknown

I’m pretty sure that it’s been over ten years since I did any kind of hike in the Black Rock Forest. Since today was another one of those rare cool mornings in August, I decided to do a loop that would take me over trails and woods roads to places that I have never hiked before. Parking was easily found just off of Route 9W.

Starting on the Duggan Trail, the trail quickly descends through some pretty thick woods that had some interesting rock walls and large rocks as stepping-stones.

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After following the red blazes for about a half of a mile, the trail ends and intersects with the blue blazed Reservoir Trail. Since this hike is a loop, you will encounter this trail again, this time going uphill. Crossing a woods road, you immediately come upon Ben’s Bridge, which will take you across a small stream.

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Ben’s Bridge

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A closer look at Ben’s Bridge.

After crossing the stream, the trail, at this point very rocky with a lot of loose dirt, begins a steep and winding climb that parallels the stream. The trail here was pretty cool because at times it was closed in and you got a feeling as though you were wrapped in a lush blanket of summery goodness.

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I also thought that it was great having the sound of running water to distract me from the climb in front of me. Cascading over the rocks, it calmed me and I thought how nice it would be to just be able to sit by the stream and vegetate! On this day, however, I had to keep moving. Most of the time I usually don’t mind steep climbs, but with all of the loose rocks and dirt that made up the trail, it just made it that much more difficult. After steadily climbing for a half of a mile, look to the left and you will see this:

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Apparently the reservoirs in the Black Rock Forest still supply water to the local communities and this is one of the pipes that accomplishes that. Directly across from the pipe is this awesome sign that not only tells you what trail you are on, it also lets you know what is coming up on the trail. If only all signs on all of the trails in the area were this detailed!!!

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After resting for a few minutes, drinking some water and tightening my boot laces, I threw my pack on and made the right turn up the Honey Hill Trail. This trail also weaved through the woods and after just coming off of the Reservoir Trail it to proved to be a pretty steep climb. Based on all of the write ups I read preparing for this hike, I thought that a nice view was awaiting me when I reached the top! Hmm…I’m thinking that maybe the folks that wrote about the views on Honey Hill did so in the fall or winter because when I got to the top, this is all I saw.

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If the trees were bare I do believe that the view would have been much better than it was today. Since I didn’t have t any type of view, I immediately headed down the trail. Be careful here because it is very steep and the terrain mirrors what you have already been hiking on-loose rocks and dirt! Be mindful and watch your footing as you make your way down this section of the trail because the drop off to the right could prove to be treacherous if you slipped and fell!

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For our hike, keep heading to the left down towards Aleck Meadow.

 

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Steps on the descent from Honey Hill.

I have to admit that the first thing I thought when I saw this tree was Blair Witch Project. If I had been hiking close to sunset I probably would have started running. Good thing it very early in the morning!!

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Blair Witch Project!!!

Staying on the trail, you either descend or stay level for another fifteen or so minutes. As you continue hiking, the sound of running water becomes  louder and louder and after rounding a corner, you are presented with this stunning view.

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Due to recent storms that had passed through the area just two days before this hike, water was actually flowing over the dam. Based on the time of year, I had fully expected it to be dry. This made up for my Blair Witch like scare just minutes before!

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The trail continues right to left over the spillway on the Stillman Trail.

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The Stillman Trail

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The Stillman Trail after crossing the spillway.

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The dam at Aleck Meadow Reservoir

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Aleck Meadow Reservoir

I had first decided to make the trek to Black Rock Mountain but after looking at the map I thought it would be cool to venture instead to the White Oak Tree. The tree,  conveniently located not to far along on the White Oak Road, was worth the diversion that I had decided to take.  How often do you see a huge tree that sits in the middle of a road?

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White Oak Tree

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You can sit and rest at the White Oak Tree on this bench.

To continue on the Continental Road, do an about face  and keep hiking. I know that the Black Rock Forest Consortium uses these roads, but I never thought that I would see this sign:

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You will follow this woods road for almost four tenths of a mile where the Continental Road continues straight. Directly to the right,  you will see the entrance to the Hulse Road. Continue on this road for the 1.4 miles. As soon as you round the corner in the picture below, you will start to descend rapidly through the forest. At times the descent is very steep so you need to be very careful, the trail here is also very rocky and if you aren’t paying attention you could easily twist an ankle.

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After completing the 1.4 mile downhill extravaganza, you will find yourself on the blue blazed Reservoir Trail again. The trail starts moving uphill again, but not at the same rate as the downhill you just completed. Two tenths of a mile after rejoining the trail, you make a left hand turn and you are back on the Duggan Trail. Stay on this for a half of a mile and you are back to where you started!

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This small building was just off of the Reservoir Trail after leaving the Hulse Road.

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Even though I didn’t get the view I was expecting from Honey Hill and also bypassed Black Rock Mountain, I did get to see the Dam, Aleck Meadow Reservoir and the White Oak Tree. They all proved to be interesting in their own unique ways and I’m glad that I got some pictures on what was a beautiful day. I would love to see the dam when the reservoir is cascading over the top at it fullest and head up Honey Hill when the trees aren’t fully obscuring what I am sure is a magnificent view! It looks like I may be doing this hike a few more times this year to see what I can see. Another excellent hike!!!

Happy hiking folks!!!!

Peace!

 

The Perfect Affirmation…

Written by famous self-help author Jose Micard Teixeira (and wrongly attributed to actress Meryl Streep), this affirmation is about a close to perfect as you can get. In an interview with Jerris Madison, he says, “That piece was written on a train ride from Lisbon to Oporto, One day when I was feeling a little disappointed with how certain things were happening in my life. It was sort of something that I needed to get off my chest written in twenty minutes that represented the accumulation of several situations over months and also a liberation through words that, deep down, represent what a lot of people feel nowadays. I’m passionate about writing about emotions and feelings. The true inspiration of everything I write comes from the realization and experience of that passion.”

I urge everyone to read this, take it all in and adopt it as their own.  It is that good…

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

― José Micard Teixeira

The Trees Do Whisper…

This is an FYI for my readers-The Joseph’s Star, a poetry form created by Christina R Jussaume on 08/06/07 in memory of her Dad. This poem has no rhyme, and is written according to syllable counts. Syllables are 1, 3, 5, 7, 7, 5, 3, and 1. The poem may be written on any subject, be center aligned, has no stanza limit, and should have complete statements in each line.

Hike

I  must go

Making my way up

Soft earth tranquil in the now

Listening as trees whisper

Mindfulness and peace

I am there

Calm