In Memoriam

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday on which we honor those who died while serving in the armed forces.

A deep and respectful thank you to those who have served, and to their families and loved ones who support them and, in the worst cases, are left behind to endure.

Memorial Day Armed Forces Branches
Photo credit:  darkroom.baltimoresun.com

Hacks for Maintaining Fitness While Traveling

This weekend is for many people the unofficial start of summer, and whether you travel for pleasure or business, you don’t need to let the lack of a [decent] gym or instructor be a deterrent (or excuse!) from scoring your workout.  There are several tools at your fingertips if you have a smartphone, laptop, or tablet.  No matter what your fitness bag is, here are some great resources that will keep you looking and feeling your best.  All apps referenced below are FREE!


Yoga

Yoga Download logo

“Take Yoga Anywhere” is the motto of Yoga Download, and you can do that by logging in or installing their free app!  Most videos are +/- 20 minutes, and they come in a wide variety of yoga disciplines that address at least as many goals: stress relief, sculpting, weight loss, release after a long sit or a lot of standing, to name only a smattering.  Choose a single class, do a couple at different times of day, or string some together for a longer workout, and if you find a practice/instructor you really like, you can purchase and download more videos and/or longer sessions.

Note: Apple devices may present a challenge when attempting to download your purchase, so you might need to install the iDownloader app or something similar.

Another tip: pick up a foldable yoga mat – there are several offered on Amazon.  It’s hard enough fitting what you need into carry-on luggage without swinging a yoga mat down a narrow plane aisle.  The folding yoga mats are thinner, so not always great on hardwood floors, but they are perfect for your hotel room, plus, they fit into your luggage easily.


Strength and Endurance Training

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To borrow a successful tagline, make your body your machine!  Invest in a TRX suspension training system (roughly $200 for the basic kit), download the TRX app, and you are on your way.  Throw a jump rope into your bag and you have the makings for a killer workout at any time of day.  The TRX app has some bugs yet, but it comes with a few short and sweaty workouts to get you started, and you can purchase additional routines that will reside inside the app for whenever you have the nerve to do them.


Name it and Claim it

Fitness Blender logo

For a broad selection of challenging workouts, ranging from bodyweight to kettlebells to Pilates to HIIT, check out Fitness Blender.  Daniel and Kelli, a husband and wife team, will whip you into shape no matter what you like to do.  You can easily sort for the type and length of routine you want, and instruction is clear, human, and often enough funny, and nothing beats the burn better than an unexpected laugh.  Create a free account and you can even save your favorite videos for easy access!


Or…

If you deliberately don’t work out on your vacations, then have at it!  Enjoy and leave the guilt at home with your gym bag while your body gets a good rest, or maybe just a total departure from the norm.  Whatever you do, make the best of it!

Do Nothing Logo

Spring is for Renewal

Adults are obsolete children.

 – Dr. Seuss

A few weeks ago, on an uncharacteristically warm early spring day, I broke free from the forced domestic bondage of winter and drove to a local park for some fresh air and exercise.  I feel like a heel, driving three miles to a park to take a walk, but my home is nestled amid several farms, and if I attempted to stroll down the street this time of year – which I regard as official Deere season – I would be tilled into the earth like a remnant cornstalk.  I realized this danger back in the fall when I was nearly threshed and baled by a tractor.  My husband said he simply didn’t see me there.

Flushed from the thicket of my parcel, I have grown comfortable with the similar solitude afforded by the park.  I might be in the process of desocializing.  To wit, a 30-second interaction with an unfamiliar little girl in the park last month still has me in the throes of self analysis.

It was a busy day in the park.  The walking path encircles two ball fields, one empty and the other being spruced up by a team of adults – this constitutes a crowd scene.  The outside edge of the path separates the park from a row of small, private homes with deep back yards, so the structures sit back from the path and fields.  In one of the yards, three young girls were playing, and I noticed them only because they were there.  I had already walked several laps under the anonymity of my sunglasses and visor, physically in the park but mentally engrossed in the podcast streaming from my earbuds, when I realized that the smallest girl was speaking to me as she approached the easement where her yard meets the path.

I stopped and removed my earbuds to hear her, but the voices that reached me were those of her elder sisters, ineffectively calling her back as they eyed me skeptically.  “I’m sorry?” I asked the little girl, whose age I would guess is about five.  She patiently reiterated, “Will you give me a hug?”

Dumbfounded, I removed my sunglasses.  “You want me to give you a hug?”  She nodded as she continued advancing and began to reach toward me with her arms.  I glanced worriedly at her sisters, who gauged my response from the lower limbs of the large tree they were climbing.  I don’t need to expound on the potentially horrific danger of this scenario if it involved another type of person, and I surely didn’t want to be perceived as a threat I’m not.

On the other hand, if I rebuffed her, would that become some random rejection that would affect her life years from now?  We all have those weird childhood moments that, as adults, we cannot fathom why we recollect, much less with great clarity and profound impact.  Was it my place to counsel her on the somber risks of addressing strangers?  Should I say no, or just ignore her, and walk away?  Did I look like someone she knew and she mistook my identity?  Was I overthinking this?

This is a very small town where almost everyone knows who everyone else is, if they don’t know them personally, and maybe because I frequent this park, she had seen me and felt like she knew me.  I looked at the sisters in the tree again, smiled as sweetly as I could at the littlest girl, bent down, and lightly hugged her.  She wrapped her arms around my sides and I felt her hands rest on either side of my back.  I withdrew and stood up, replaced my obviously feeble “I’m not really here” accessories, and continued on the path while the girl bounded back into her yard, never looking over her shoulder.

Clearly, she had no second thoughts about what was to me not only a thought-provoking interaction, but an emotional one as well.  It was terribly frightening from a child safety perspective, and no matter how I might have responded, I would still be second-guessing whether I did the right thing.  Factoring in feedback from friends and family, the results of my self-scrutiny remain inconclusive.

I can tell you, though, that if I brush away the poison of unspeakable headlines and horror stories, the jaded adult in me felt almost sanctified by this random and completely aberrant interaction.  It’s as though the purity of her faith in people has rubbed off on me, and right now it still feels indelible.  This seal has given me passage back to the kinder, more trusting place I used to inhabit before the occasional mean-spirited or conniving adult yanked me into his or her own harsh reality, where the expectation existed that I might engage on their scorched earth.  No thanks.  They can be denizens of whatever realms they choose.  That said, they are free to choose my playground so long as they leave their agendas in their briefcases or pillboxes and take a lesson from that kid.  Because in her heart, she’s got it right.