Yoga Update

It’s been a few weeks now since I gave my first instructed yoga class a try at a yoga studio here in town. You may be wondering why on earth would anyone pay for yoga when you can find numerous free yoga workouts on line. I completely AGREED with you….that is before I tried the one free class this studio offered. I had nothing to lose and was not obligated to anything. And now, since its been a few weeks, I feel I should offer an update on what I have found by stepping outside of my comfort zone.

First, I must admit, I was completely blown away at how peaceful class is. I opted to start with gentle yoga since I have been suffering with mid back pain for quite sometime now. Class is conducted in low light, with relaxing music, and moves are slow enough to not cause any stress while trying to get into each pose before the next is introduced.

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The other thing I noticed to be most helpful is I can totally let go of my thoughts here. I have done numerous yoga workouts online while in my home and each has been very beneficial. That being said, I never truly can let my mind release and just be one with my breath. At home I work through the movements all while hearing the washing machine doing its thing, hearing my family walk around or talking about this, that or the other thing, or thinking about what I am going to prepare for dinner, etc.Plus, you have to remember I work from home…so ultimately, I NEVER can leave work behind like most people can. I simply can’t just turn off at home like I can in the studio setting.

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And probably the most important thing I have learned is proper form. If something is wrong they walk over and help you find the right placement of this foot or that hand, etc. I feel amazing after each and every class. Whether its from stretching or simply clearing my mind, I am not sure. Either way it’s a great feeling to have and I look forward to going every week. Which, yes, to answer your next question…yes, I have signed up and am now a paying yogi….as they say.

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What are your thoughts:

Yoga..yea or nay?

Home or studio?

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Some Real Talk Moments…..

As you all know Halloween rolled around, we changed our clocks, woke up and began November with cold, darkness, and ultimately then a bit of snow arrived. And if you love winter I am sure your thrilled about all these changes…..for me it’s been a long month! Besides all this change we had so much more happening behind the scenes here that I honestly found solace in some quality alone time. I decided to make a huge change to my daily routine and began going to the gym at 5:00a.m.. And let me tell you….this has truly changed my daily dynamics completely. Somehow this, that, and the other all changed and I have free time now from 5-7a.m. and its perfect time for me to get in a great workout, free my mind of the constant boxing match happening up there, and get some endorphin help to make me feel alive at a time of year I just want to crawl under the covers and not come out until mid March. Anybody else feel this way when winter rolls around?

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So let’s see, November has been good. Challenging but good. We have had work issues to deal with pertaining to all three of us this month.One job change(our son), I am waiting for maternity leaves to be over and then I will be back up to my happy stress level of kids once again, and the other issue is my husband is traveling one day and the next it is cancelled. Which results in literally driving this very organized person (me) completely crazy with frustration!!!! I am a total, get your %$#@ together or don’t plan on me being part of it, kind of person. So when he says he is leaving I plan for him not to be here…and then all of a sudden he is here which means I need to replan once again. Frustration I tell you, complete frustration.OK, that rant is over with….lets move on.

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I always feel pressured to get my Christmas shopping done since I really dislike the crowds at this time of year. To help with this task my husband and I once again made our annual bus trip to Illinois to spend the day shopping, eating, and enjoying life away from the daily grind at home. This all started a few years ago and now it has turned into a yearly event for us. He is the best package carrier ever and all I have to do is promise to feed him from Whole Foods hot bar for lunch every year. It’s a LONG day but so worth it. We always find treasures and deals we can’t find here in Green Bay and there is no stress since the bus ticket is cheap and we don’t have to worry about parking, traffic, getting lost or anything. Just shop, eat, and have fun.

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I took my first ever structured yoga class with a friend and it was life changing. Since starting yoga on a regular basis at home my back has gotten significantly stronger and has been feeling better. I thought a class taught by a professional would correct any form issues I could be having so this was the thought behind the class I took. I will honestly say that after class I was pleasantly surprised by how much I got out of it. I am planning on taking 1-2 classes a week for the time being. And I am looking at them as more of an active recovery day than anything. Movement is medicine in my situation and a day off with absolutely nothing is worse than anything so this should be perfect for me on my exercise recovery days.

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We once again broke out our yearly winter pass time activity of jig saw puzzles. This for me is a huge turning point since it really means my time outside is going to be next to none for the next five months.

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I do have something pretty big waiting in the back ground for me to begin planning after the first of the year. My husband and I have decided to renew our wedding vows for our 25th anniversary in 2018. I have a few ideas rolling around in my head but so far nothing is set in stone yet. I will say, the ceremony will be small…..simply because not a single person in our families will be joining us except our son. Why you may wonder…..well, none of them are willing to climb the mountain I wish to have the ceremony on top of. I have however, found a minister that is willing to hike this route and do the honors, so I may have to add in a bit more compensation than his usual and customary fee just for his effort.

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And one last thing to share with you…check this little morsel of yum out! I was shopping at a local grocery and they had these in the seafood case. They called them volcano shrimp. I asked what they were exactly and the employee said they are cooked shrimp wrapped in sweet potato strands sprinkled with ginger. Well, I had to give one a try. I brought it home, baked it for 10 minutes as directed, and shared it with one of my daycare kids. She cried when it was gone and I felt like crying too since it was the only one I bought. IT WAS SO YUMMY!!! Now I am determined to try and make them myself. Really, how hard can they be right? I just have to get my spiralizer back from the friend I borrowed it to and then we will have many more of these to enjoy with no tears when they are gone.

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That should do it for now. Have a great Thanksgiving.

 

An Offer I Could Not Pass Up

****Disclaimer: I was offered free product for an honest review of my thoughts on this company. All opinions are honest and in my own words.

After a horrible week of chaos before leaving for our Virginia hiking trip I must say life is getting back to a new normal. Is it normal for everything to break, for work to be super stressful, and for plans to change all in the week prior to vacation? Well, this is exactly what all happened here…there was even a point two days prior to leaving I wanted to just forget the entire trip. Thankfully, we did not and we had the best time with nothing….not one single thing going wrong. How wonderful is that?

Anyhow, about two weeks prior to leaving for this trip I was given a diagnosis of something I had a feeling was coming but was avoiding for quite some time. Well, now its time to face the facts and move on. Its nothing life threatening but will be life changing for me for sure. Then, ironically, a week after this I received an email from Swanson Health asking if I would like to take advantage of $50 in free product from their website to try. I took a quick look and noticed a few things that they offer that was on the list of things to try from my doctor. How is that for perfect timing?  So I decided why not give them a try and I placed my order.

That being said, I have been trying to take my doctors advise and learn how to meditate. No laughing now…..because if you know me personally, sitting and clearing my jam packed mind is a funny thought in itself for sure. So far I am not sure if its working or not but I am truly giving it my best shot. I bought some essential oil room/yoga mist and have been trying some sound therapy to help get me to “this place” where I should not be thinking of anything. Again…..trying not to think of anything…..really trying;-) I have also been doing yoga daily to help with joint and muscle pain I have daily which was also suggested. Happily, I am seeing improvement and the days where I forget to do it I find myself reminded by evening with my body talking back. Thankfully 10-15 minutes of yoga is easy and can be done literally anywhere. Along with massage (thanks to my husband) and daily exercise I have been feeling pretty good once again. This mist I bought is pretty nice in all honesty. I am not a big fake scent person so I really love that its an essential oil mist and can be used anywhere. There are many scents available and a little goes a long way for a small price.

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Around our house we have been preparing for winter. Like it or not I feel it coming and its never a good feeling but I am not dreading it quite as bad as other years yet. Our fall chore list is long but we are getting there. I can only dream of owning a home where the summer season stays around all year long and you never have to pack away patio tables, grills, close up windows to the frigid cold breeze, and swap out lawnmowers for snow blowers. I tell ya….its a big dream!!!! With winter always comes cold which means dry air and then comes dry skin and hair. For me, I have been using the same facial moisturizer for a few years and love it so much I purchased another container from this company when I found they offered it much cheaper than I buy it here on the store shelf.

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Speaking of joint health, I never really jumped on the cherry juice bandwagon since its so darn expensive but when I saw that they had a concentrated bottle and the reviews were really great, I gave it a try. So far we have used it in smoothies, taken it straight from a spoon, my son has flavored his homemade kombucha with it, and drizzled it over greek yogurt to add flavor. It’s pretty good but as for any joint health improvement, I can’t say I notice anything yet. Although, I am not sure how much or how long you need to consume it to be able to notice joint health relief either. So be what it may, its not bad used the way I have tried and I may possibly order more here and there.

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The last thing I ordered was something my husband swears by and something I have been taking for years also….Tumeric. I know everyone is talking about tumeric tea online lately but personally I can’t even imagine drinking this spice this way. We have tried a few different brands of capsules(our preferred method) and if you do not eat a bit of food with them you will surly taste tumeric shortly after ingesting it…and sometimes even puff orange powder like puff the magic dragon. Oh, so not tasty!!!! Anyhow, capsules are our way of reaping the benefits of this wonderful spice for inflammation relief and when I saw that Swanson Health offered this also at a better price than we normally purchase it from another company, I immediately knew I had to order some. Plus, at the time of my order they had a special going of buy one get one free. Bonus!!!

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All in all, I was thrilled with this company for a few reasons. Typically, I place and order for our tumeric and it could take anywhere from one to three weeks to arrive. Grrrrr, its never ever been on time. And like I said, even two days without this product and my husband can barely move his fingers since he has such bad arthritis from years of working with power tools for his profession. I also love that they really have reasonable prices and things did not seem be be sold out when I was shopping around the website. Again, an issue with our current vitamin/supplement company. Everything I ordered from Swanson Health showed up in 4 days, with exactly what I ordered, and in tacked. I was very happy and would highly recommend if you are shopping around for a healthy living company you may want to give them a try. Look around their website….they offer many, many different items for the health conscious consumer.

 

Virginia Part #2 : Sharp Top Trail @ The Peaks Of Otter

After hiking McAfee Knob on day one while in Virginia we woke up sore and stiff. Although, we were not going to let that hamper our plans for the day which were to hike Sharp Top Trail next.

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Across the road from the trail head is the Peaks Of Otter Visitors Center where we first stopped for a trail map, restrooms, and a chat with the park ranger.

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Why??? Well, all the way to the Peaks of Otter on the Blue Ridge Parkway we saw numerous and I mean numerous trucks full of dogs and bear hunters.

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And sure enough when we were pointed across the road to the trail head there were also signs warning us of the bear problems nearby.

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We made sure before heading down the trail that our bear spray was on us at all times.

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This was a hell of a hike!!!! Short, at just over 2 miles according to our GPS, but wow was it rocky and very hard to manage at times.

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About 3/4 of the way up you reach an area with big boulders once again that lead you up some steps and brings you to an old building.

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Round the corner from this building and you will be speechless. Suddenly you are once again on top of the mountain looking at 360 degrees of beauty.

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Simply amazing!!!!

We spent a good amount of time up here where we had a small snack before deciding to head back down by the way of the shuttle offered at the gift shop at the bottom. Down is so much more painful than up for both my husband and myself that we agreed with the rolling rocks we climbed to get up here that the shuttle would be the safest route back. This shuttle can be taken both ways or one way either up or down. For us one way cost $6 each. The shuttles run on the hour and the entire ride up/down takes about 15 minutes.

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My opinion of this hike is its rough on the knees and ankles. It took us just under 1.5 hours to get to the top and the trail itself is straight up. We saw no bear on this trail but I will tell you we did see them very nearby so some type of bear repellent would be a safe idea. If you are not a hiker and don’t have the proper gear to attempt this hike the shuttle is worth every penny to enjoy the view from the top.

 

 

 

Memories I Will Have Forever From Virginia: Part One….McAfee Knob

Memories….they are made everywhere. Many of my memories are from here in Wisconsin where I was born and raised for the past 40+years of life. However, this past week I made some more memories with my husband on a bucket list trip to Virginia where I know my heart aches to be……in the mountains.

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We live in the flattest state around(in my opinion) and I have seen almost all there is to see here numerous times. So when the chance comes that I get to escape the grind of every day life to go to my happy place I am the first one packed and ready to go. So let me share with you the past week in the mountains of Virginia.

For this vacation we drove from WI to Salem, Virginia to begin our adventure. Now you may wonder…why such an off the wall city like Salem? Well, I had a bucket list dream to fulfill and I wanted to make sure I could do this before we packed in anything else. My dream was to hike the AT up to McAfee Knob and get the iconic picture that you see in many, if not all, hiking magazines, on hiking websites and so on. Every time I would see this picture displayed I would tell my husband….some day I will get there. And as usual, he would just smile and say….I have no doubt you will. Love you honey!

The morning of our hike we left before sunrise to make sure we could find the trailhead and get a parking spot. I had read that parking was sometimes packed but was hoping it would not be too bad since our hike was happening Monday morning. We arrived with about twenty minutes to spare before the sun started peeking over the mountains. The lot had a fair share of cars but all looked to have been there overnight. The lot was easily located of the 311 and marked clearly.

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The trail itself starts across the street from the parking area. Again, clearly marked with signage once you cross the 311 carefully, since cars zip around this mountain road fairly quickly.

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The view going up was so beautiful.

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A bit up the trail you will come to a split. Signs are large and arrows point you in the correct direction. ***Now, I will tell you that many AT hikers recommend hiking the fire road up to the knob and then taking the AT back to the parking lot or vice versa since the AT is quite rugged. We did not do this. I did not train physically and drive for two days to hike any fire road for whatever reason what so ever. I came to hike the AT up to McAfee Knob and back and I am so happy we did.

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The trail we found to be difficult. Remember….we hike flat ground in WI almost all our life. This part of the AT was covered in rock, boulders, and roots in many places. Very little was ground and being we were headed to the top of of a mountain it was clearly up all the way.

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Eventually you will come to a crossing that again is well marked and will lead you across the fire road.

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Then you reach an AT shelter where you head up another clearly marked trail.

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Eventually you see the trail start to have huge boulders and you weaving around these while you make the last stretch to the top.

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By this time I was tired. And I mean TIRED!!!! Hiking up the entire trail was difficult plus our GPS clearly did not agree with the mileage that was posted with all the information I had read regarding this trail. So if you attempt this hike and find your mileage is also different keep going…..you will be so happy you did. We finally reached the top of the knob and immediately we checked the mileage to compare.

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I soon forgot about this little issue because when I rounded the corner I felt like I wanted to cry. OK, maybe I did a bit. It was truly amazing in every way!!!!!!

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We had did it and we did it together. We arrived to find a few others but the longer we stayed the more others arrived. We ate a small snack and rested a bit before returning to the bottom by way of the AT once again. We saw deer, lizards, and many, many caterpillars along the way.

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When we finally arrived back at the 311 parking lot we had clocked a total of 9.5 miles and almost 6 hours of hiking with I would say about 45 minutes were at the top exploring, resting and having lunch.

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Most importantly……I crossed something of my bucket list that I will cherish forever…..my own iconic photographs on the top of McAfee Knob with the love of my life.

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A dream come true!!!!!!!!!!!

Time To Catch Up

Warning: Long post ahead:-)

Life has been so crazy that I have been struggling to find time to blog. However, that does not mean I don’t have a ton of stuff to share with you all. So let’s briefly catch up a bit today.

I mentioned back a few weeks that we were headed out to waterfall hike. Well, I have 6 waterfall hikes that need to be written and posted on the hiking trails page and hopefully I will get to them before the snow flies but if not, winter is LONG and that will be something to blog about then. For now, I will tell you we had a magnificent time and while my husband and I ventured off alone leaving the photographers do their thing…we came across one of my favorite reptiles ever. I love turtles…even ones that bite!!!!!

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We also had another monthly dinner out with my brother recently and it was his pick on the restaurant so we ended up trying Green Bay’s newest sushi restaurant….Sushi Lover.

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Oh my….I could eat sushi every day…..it was so darn tasty. I loved this place. Everything was made fresh, you can order as many times as you wish, and it is one flat price. My husband and brother can sure pack away their share of sushi…..and I had fun watching them fill themselves to complete fullness from about that half way point of our meal.

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Then we had our first camping trip of the fall season. This time it was only the two of us and it was so relaxing.

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He was in charge of keeping the fire going so I could stay warm.

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I was in charge of meals for the weekend.

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My only request for the weekend was to relax, go out for our favorite pizza at the new location of our favorite restaurant in the Door County area which is Wild Tomato now open also in Sister Bay, and to go out just once for ice cream before the end of summer. All of which we made happen.

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We used to go out for ice cream all the time….heck, we used to go out for anything all the time…but since going artificial sweetener free for his stomach issues we can’t without causing problems. Although, since getting this all under control, it has gotten easier to go out here and there and he only gets a little stomach upset if we go overboard. Some foods and restaurants we have found are fairly safe for him to eat at…like sushi…..this causes little to no problems at all.

While camping we also got in a small two mile hike which was the highlight of the weekend. I love hiking and it makes me sad to know that very soon the ground will be rock hard and frozen solid for months.

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Then I had a mid week day off of work which I packed way to much stuff into. I had three appointments to attend and a date with my son for lunch at a new restaurant in Green Bay near his work.

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That evening my husband and I walked my favorite nearby trail to discuss the results of one of these appointments in a place I feel peaceful.

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There is nothing like a beautiful sunset to reset my mind and make me come to terms with news I don’t like hearing. Although, as with all things, we will move on and deal with what comes our way.

In the food category the fall menu has arrived here in our house. Soups are being made, the last of the fresh veggies are being enjoyed everyday and I am even sneaking in veggies where my husband and son would least expect them. So far no one has complained and they have even asked for more. From salads, to veggies added to pasta sauces for the entire family instead of just myself, and even carrot muffins…..eating clean and healthy is getting to be so much easier.

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And lastly, this past weekend I spent with a friend attending a harvest festival in Door County. I was not sure I could pull off another weekend away but when travel plans were set back a bit for my husband I went for it. We had the best time chatting, shopping, and of course eating.

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That should catch me up to date I believe. Eventually I will get to the details of those beautiful waterfalls but for now I will leave you all with the reminder to get out and enjoy life while it’s still nice. Go hike, enjoy the beautiful fall colors that are starting to appear, and breathe the fresh air……see ya!

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In Search Of Activity Based Friend Time

Life has changed! These past 5 years have really opened my eyes to how much they have changed. Our son graduated high school, my husband has moved up to at least an 80% desk job from being on his feet all day for well over 20 years, and I have found freedom from being a full time parent. You would think all this sounds wonderful but I can assure you it’s been a challenge at best.

Let me explain. I have a small group of friends I talk to on a fairly regular basis. Although, after dedicating my whole life to work and raising our son by being a stay at home working mom I have found it really hard to venture back out in the world and meet active people. Key word here is ACTIVE!!! I have gone to active seminars, met people on trails, and seen people in camping areas with groups of active friends all out enjoying life on the trail, waterways or just simply working out in the gym together. Where these individuals find active friends is beyond me since I have searched and searched long and hard. Plus, I have found living in WI is of no help what so ever. WI is not a very active state and that saddens me to no end.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my husband doing the outdoor activities we love to do. However, there are times when either he is busy or I find I just need some friend time instead of husband time. And regardless of what is offered and where it is, my small group of friends are either busy, tired, too hot, too cold, have too much to do, want to but think they can’t, are sick, are scared to try new things etc.. You name it, I have heard every excuse in the book.  Although, they never seem too “enter excuse here”  to want to go out for a meal instead of doing something active. This is nice but not always what I am looking for. It’s as if they have given up on life and I just can’t go there yet. I am not ready to sit, get old, and die. I guess maybe I am not done living yet.

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All this is what led me to join a Meetup group in our area. I will admit, I am amazed by this new active outdoor meetup group that I found and I still have my doubts this will work. I suppose the only way to find out is to give it a chance and see what happens. So now I wait and hope for fun adventures to be invited to and the possibility of meeting new people that aren’t afraid of sweating, getting dirty or just having fun while not sitting on our rear ends.

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I scares me to think that some people are content with life with no adventure. What makes them want to get up every morning if every day looks just like the last. I understand the midwest is not all that great and there are much better areas to live adventurous. However, I live here and I do my best to make the best of a not so great situation….and when I can’t I plan a vacation to a better place. HAHA!

Anyhow, I guess you could say I have given up on asking for company to get out and enjoy life. Now I will just wait for the asking to come to me. Hopefully I will meet new people and have fun all at the same time.

Have you been a member of any Meetup group?

Did you meet like minded people who you enjoy being with?

Do you have two sets of friends…active and inactive?