Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that this Thanksgiving finds you wherever you wish to be. Around a table with friends and family eating a good meal, quietly enjoying a day to yourself, volunteering with the less fortunate. No matter how you spend the day however, I hope that you are thankful. Thankful to have the sun upon your face. Thankful to have food upon your table. Thankful to have people who love you and whom you love.

The following link is a brief video history of Thanksgiving here in the U.S. From its possible origins at Plymouth Rock to its declaration as a U.S. holiday by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. It is the creation of the staff at the History channel, but I thought it was worth a little publicity.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Eat well, laugh, and take a few minutes to reflect on everything you have. Despite highs and lows in our lives, we are lucky indeed.

A video history of Thanksgiving in the United States

The Pirates Treasure

Poetry is not my thing, yet I felt compelled tonight to write, so here is new twist to my “Senseless Ramblings.”

 I gaze upon the starry night

My eyes they fill with wonder

The sky is like a placid sea

The stars a pirates plunder

In the nighttime that so many fear

I only hear the silence

I think of moonlit lakeside walks

Of creating time for romance

Sometimes the sun of bright lit days

Exposes ugly features

But the shadows and the dark of night

Hide more gentle creatures

Owls, mice, raccoons, and fox

Stroll these darkened fields

The only note of their presence here

Is the sound their footsteps yield

I take a breath of the clean night air

A smile on my face

I return to my human life

Take stock by the fireplace

To know the world moves on unheeded

Fills my heart with heart with pleasure

I take one long last look upward

And eye my pirates treasure

Autumn

As I write this, I am gazing out my back door. The sky is an absolutely clear, beautiful blue. The maple tree in my back yard is still fully crowned in green. It is currently 69 degrees. Other than the cooler temperature, it might almost appear a perfect Summer day. But the signs are there. The signs that we are heading into Autumn.

I love the change of seasons. I can’t really answer why, nor is the reason

Autumn is: quiet country roads

Autumn is: quiet country roads

important. I simply do. It is just something I feel. Each new season brings its joys and wonders. Each new season brings its headaches and annoyances. The combination of all these keep each day, week, month, and year fresh.

Autumn is by far my favorite season, though.

It starts with the light. There is just something different about the light in the fall. I’m not talking the scientific aspects of light relative the positioning of the earth to sun. This light defies science. It defies explanation. It is completely sensory. The light shines, shimmers, and glistens; and I’m not talking reflections, but the light itself, suspended before my eyes.

Then there is the air. Winter air can be cold and harsh. Spring air can be overly flowery and sometimes musty. Summer air can be humid, heavy, thick. Autumn air is as different as Autumn light. It’s thin, fluid, crisp, and clean. It is so refreshing that you want to take the deepest breaths you can. It is like breathing fresh, spring water but never feeling suffocated or drowned.

What of Autumn colors? They, too, are splendidly different than any other

Autumn is: maple leaves, syrup, and cider mills

Autumn is: maple leaves, syrup, and cider mills

season. The deep ruby reds of the changing maple leaf are not the same as the red of a rose. The vivid golds are not the same tarnished tones of the wheat and hay in the fields. The luminescent oranges make the most vivid sunset seem dull. Somehow all the colors of Autumn evoke the sense of earth for me. I never feel as one with our planet as I do in Autumn. How can they be so different? They are just colors after all. But different they are.

Even the word Autumn is special. I will be the first to tell you that more often than not, I use the word Fall at this time of year. Most I know do. The word Autumn has a very special place in language for me though. For some unknown reason, Autumn looks better to me in print. It has a fine shape and tenor to it. It is the best word to evoke all I feel that I can not otherwise adequately explain.

Then there are all the human aspects of Autumn that I find so agreeable. Cider mills with their smells of pressed apples and fresh hot fried donuts

Autumn is: the Jack 'O Lantern and the joy of Halloween

Autumn is: the Jack ‘O Lantern and the joy of Halloween

coated in cinnamon and sugar. Caramel Apples. High school and college football. The start of a new hockey season. Halloween, pumpkin carving, children trick-or-treating, and the prelude to the holidays.

For me, Autumn is also about peace. I find that I like long hikes in the woods in Autumn much more than any other time of year. The animals are on the move and to see the deer moving, the squirrels gathering, and the geese flying is a special treat. For all the sounds of nature, Autumn is strangely quiet. Leaves rustle and creeks trickle. Footsteps crackle on dry leaves. Combined, however, it all seems to create a great, white noise that envelopes me, lulls me, and brings me a solitude I need after the busy, active days of Summer.

In short, I find Autumn amazing, and beyond this poor attempt to place into writing why, it defies my ability to explain. Is there a need to explain however?

Autumn is: clear light that sparkles on water

Autumn is: clear light that sparkles on water

I don’t think so. It is for me what it is for me. It is for you what it is for you. The beauty of Autumn, of all the seasons in fact, is that we get to witness a change in the world around us. We do not live in a world where we enjoy the same day 365 day a year. In fact, I know that I wouldn’t enjoy that.

Here’s to Autumn.

Find Peace & Joy Within

At some point in all of our lives we deal with depression. Now I am not a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. I am just a guy. A guy more than half way through his life who believes this from his own experiences. I have been a child, a teen, a single young adult, college student, husband, father, leader, minion, employee, and the list goes on and on. I have never been homeless, hungry (and I mean truly hungry – not having eaten and not knowing where my next meal was coming from), suicidal, addicted, unloved, imprisoned, and this list also goes on and on. So, like all, I can only speak from my experiences and not for everyone.

Monsters don’t sleep under your bed; monsters sleep inside your head.” -author unknown

On a macro scale, I believe human beings deal with two types of very separate yet intertwined forms of depression. The first is that deep-seated, unrelenting, crushing depression that locks people in their beds, their homes, their minds, and their own self-misery. I am going to refer to this as chronic depression. The second is what I call situational or acute depression. This depression is also painful, and sometimes feels without end, but is created by the influence of external forces on us.

This post is only going to touch briefly on the first type of depression, namely for two reasons; the first as I stated at the onset is that I am not in the mental health field and am in no way qualified to provide therapeutic assessment or advice. The second is that I have never suffered chronic depression myself and have no personal experiences to base any advice on.Depression1

For those who suffer from chronic depression, you have my deepest sympathy and regrets that I am not able to help you more. To feel powerless to help another is, in my opinion, an awful circumstance, but if you suffer chronic depression and get anything from my self-admittedly ignorant article, then I will find some joy in that. All the advice I can offer you is to know that people exist in your life who love you, who would do whatever is within their power to help you and to provide you support. I hope that you can find it within yourselves to seek the professional help that can guide you to getting whatever it takes to fight to move ahead and reach the place where you can find your peace and joy within.

Situational depression is something that most people are much more familiar with. This acute depression can happen to anyone and can be brought on by difficult or stressful events in our lives. Perhaps you feel trapped in a dead-end job, you recently lost a loved one, relocated, had a a child go away to college; many things can trigger one to feel this kind of depression. Finding a way to fight through this, however, is right there, within yourself.

Because situational depression can be tied back to specific “environmental” causes, the key to finding peace and joy within is to redirect our mindset. This is not going to necessarily erase the negative influence causing the depression, but it can act as a “pain-killer,” if you will, taking our mind off the pain, even if in the short term. So how do you do this?

What do you enjoy? What provides you satisfaction? Are you a reader? Find a great book and lose yourself in it. Sports fan? With cable and satellite television there is no lack of things to watch. Perhaps you might even start playing a sport that you previously used to only enjoy watching. Hobbies are a great long term help. Maybe you’re a woodworker or a gardener, or like me, you like to senselessly ramble on a blog. Who cares? If you enjoy it and it can occupy your mind, get to it!

As an Organizational Communication major in college, we learned a theory called the “Spiral of Silence.” For the sake of this article I’m going to “massage” this theory to work here, but essentially the “Spiral of Silence” states that if you remain silent and fail to address wants and needs, you will slowly spiral deeper down into a whirlpool and climbing out can become harder and harder. This is why the occupied mind will help you find that peace and joy within.

What do you feel when you see this picture? Is is peace and harmony, or isolation and loneliness?

What do you feel when you see this picture? Is is peace and harmony, or isolation and loneliness?

I touched on two types of depression: the chronic, or long-term depression, and the acute, or situational depression. I think most people agree that given their choice, situational depression is better to deal with, as relief can be found when the negative experience is remedied. A problem with situational depression, however, is that if you allow yourself to be pulled deeper and deeper into the spiral, it can eventually go from being acute depression to chronic depression. There is an old saying, “the idle mind is the devils playground.” The idle mind is the unoccupied mind. There lies no peace and joy in the mind that swirls, spins, and folds onto itself over and over again.

“I ride by night, and I travel in fear, that in this darkness, I will disappear.”  -Bruce Springsteen, Stolen Car

Consider an episode of situational depression as an opportunity for self-discovery. Look inside yourself for that new hobby or renew an old one. As I said early on, I am not a therapist, but I have experienced situational depression. My youngest child recently left for college. My wife and I are “empty nesters.” The house is very quiet and at night feels very empty. As a parent you worry that your kids are doing alright, are happy, and are safe. These are things that created a “situation” that has lead to my own depression. Yet despite the sense of loss I feel for my kids being gone, I am enjoying new found time to spend exclusively with my wife. If we want to ride our bikes or go for a walk we can. If we want to just sit around and watch TV, that’s OK too. That is the redirection. “Every cloud has a silver lining.”hobbies

Look within. It lies with each and every one of us exclusively. No one can “undepress” us. We have to do that ourselves. It can be hard. It can be accomplished. I close with this suggestion: stand up, take a deep breath, look out the window at the sky, the trees, the grass, or children playing, smile, and say to yourself, “it’s a great day.” Then go live it.

Photo Blog: Autumn in the Mitten

A few weeks ago I wrote on the benefits of taking the time to get out and walk.  Today, I took a 15 minute walk around the area I live. I took my camera. I am by no means a photographer, but this is what I saw, and why I am particularly in love with this time of year.  Enjoy, because Autumn is:

Autumn is: the Jack 'O Lantern and the joy of Halloween

Autumn is: the Jack ‘O Lantern and the joy of Halloween

Autumn is: plants preparing to begin anew in the Spring

Autumn is: plants preparing to begin anew in the Spring

Autumn is: flowers getting ready to sleep

Autumn is: flowers getting ready to sleep

Autumn is: maple leaves, syrup, and cider mills

Autumn is: maple leaves, syrup, and cider mills

Autumn is: vivid reds

Autumn is: vivid reds

Autumn is: the fingernail grasp of Summer holding on

Autumn is: the fingernail grasp of Summer holding on

Autumn is: a pavement of gold

Autumn is: a pavement of gold

Autumn is: crisp, fresh air and endless views

Autumn is: crisp, fresh air and endless views

Autumn is: a time for harvest and holding on

Autumn is: a time for harvest and holding on

Autumn is: magnificent beauty in everyday sights

Autumn is: magnificent beauty in everyday sights

Autumn is: quiet country roads

Autumn is: quiet country roads

Autumn is: solid, like an oak

Autumn is: solid, like an oak

Autumn is: a last kiss before Winters snow falls

Autumn is: a last kiss before Winters snow falls

Autumn is: cool water and endless skies

Autumn is: cool water and endless skies

Autumn is: putting away the toys of Summer and dreaming of the next to come

Autumn is: putting away the toys of Summer and dreaming of the next to come

Autumn is: clear light that sparkles on water

Autumn is: clear light that sparkles on water

Autumn is: mums and pumpkins

Autumn is: mums and pumpkins

Autumn is: a cool, refreshing walk

Autumn is: a cool, refreshing walk

Autumn is: a burst of glorious color

Autumn is: a burst of glorious color

When Hell Freezes Over, I’ll Play Hockey There Too

Hockey is more than just a game.

It’s a passion, a dedication.

It draws you in and never lets go.

Hockey is love, hockey is life.

Hockey lives in our hearts.”

On June 19, 1980, a Northwest Orient flight departed Los Angeles International Airport on a non-stop flight to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan. Upon landing, the jetway was pushed up to the plane, the door opened, and the passengers disembarked. I was one of those passengers. I was two months shy of my 15th birthday. My life had changed.

Born and raised in Orange, California, I was a pretty typical middle-class kid in Orange County. I played little league and soccer, I was

The Plaza in Orange, California: my hometown. This park is in the center of intersection of Chapman and Glassell Streets and is the heart of downtown Orange.

The Plaza in Orange, California: my hometown. This park is in the center of the intersection of Chapman and Glassell Streets and is the heart of downtown Orange.

a cub scout, and I ran track for the Peralta Junior High School Patriots. We lived in a nice family-oriented neighborhood where there were lots of kids the same age. We rode our bikes all over our neighborhood and the neighborhoods that surrounded us. We went to

the beaches at Newport Beach and Corona del Mar, and sometimes my older sister took us to Seal Beach. In junior high I joined the ski club and we would go skiing in the mountains every other weekend or so.

The one thing that simply was not on the radar of this California kid: hockey. I had never been on ice skates; we had roller skates and skateboards. I had heard there was an ice rink at the Brea Mall, but I had never been there. Los Angeles had the Kings, but this was pre-Gretzky and to most of us “natives” they were a joke. They played a cold-weather sport in a warm-weather state. For myself and most of my friends it was not our thing. Also, they simply were not good. Who needed a losing hockey team? We had the L.A. Dodgers who regularly battled their way to the playoffs and the World Series. Nolan Ryan pitched for the Angels and Reggie Jackson left the Yankees to come hit home runs for us. We had the Rams. We had the Raiders and the Lakers. Saturday afternoons at our house consisted of college and professional football, baseball, and of course my dad’s beloved bowling. I still can vividly remember “Tips with Earl Anthony.”

Downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan looking east up Liberty Street toward State Street by the U-M campus.

Downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan looking east up Liberty Street toward State Street by the U-M campus.

On that June evening in 1980, the first pages of a new chapter in my life began to be written. My dad had accepted a new position with a company in Ann Arbor. While my parents were originally from Michigan, myself and my immediately older and younger brothers, the only three in my family actually born in California, were taken away from the only home we had ever known and found ourselves in this “foreign” land.

That summary of my youthful California may not seem to have anything to do with my love of hockey. In fact, it really only serves to highlight one thing: hockey was not my thing. What it shows is that my life was one thing in California, and would become something else in the Great Lake State.

Human beings are nothing if not adaptable. In the case of a 15-year-old relocated 2,500 miles from home, you adapt or you live in misery. In reality, for a teenager, it is actually a waffling back and forth between the two.  I was intrigued by my new state and where I lived in it. We lived in a country neighborhood that had dirt roads. We didn’t have dirt roads in Orange County, unless you counted

Dexter, Michigan. My

Dexter, Michigan. My “second” hometown.

the fire breaks that crisscrossed that hills around town. My high school, in the small town of Dexter, 4 miles west of Ann Arbor, offered agricultural classes as electives. Really? Bizarre. I took Livestock Production I and II, as well as a class in Forestry. I don’t think you would have found those offerings at Villa Park High. In Orange, our house, at the end of a cul-de-sac, had shopping centers on two sides. In Michigan we lived on a golf course and in the evening it was a great place to walk the dogs and explore. I still think that is the best use of a golf course!

At the same time, I missed my home in California. It was the only home I had ever known. I missed my friends, whom I had been in school with since the start. I missed being able to walk to the corner store, and hang out around commercial construction sites and climb walls and fences. I missed being able to ride my bike everywhere. Riding a bike on a dirt country road was a damned tough proposition and not one that I liked at all. But I believe that anyone who finds themselves in a new place, regardless of their age, can’t help but be fascinated by what there is to see that is so fundamentally different from where they came from. Whether visiting or a new resident, we want to see, explore, and absorb all that is new, unique, and different to us. Not only do things often look different, but culturally they are different. Thus it was with hockey. The sport that meant so little to Californians had a lot more significance to the residents of a state that spends 5 months of the year under a blanket of snow and ice.

Yost Arena, home of the University of Michigan Wolverine hockey team, and quite likely the most elegant college hockey venue in use today.

Yost Arena, home of the University of Michigan Wolverine hockey team, and quite likely the most elegant college hockey venue in use today.

In the first Winter after we moved to Michigan, my dad bought tickets for he, myself, and my brother to attend what would be my first-ever hockey game: the University of Michigan Wolverines versus the Huskies of Michigan Technological University (which happens to be dear ole dads alma mater). My dad, being from Michigan, had grown up with hockey. Life and culture in California just didn’t provide the right opportunity to make the introduction to his kids. He was more of a football guy anyway.

The game was played in Yost Ice Arena, a classic old hockey “barn.” Built in 1926, Yost is a beautiful, commanding brick building on State Street in Ann Arbor and is, in my opinion, still the most incredible college hockey venue there is. I am actually a Michigan State University Spartan fan, but Munn Arena at MSU doesn’t hold a candle to Yost.

Munn Arena at Michigan State University.

Munn Arena at Michigan State University.

U-M has spent a lot of money in renovations of Yost over the years and I hope that they forever appreciate the history and atmosphere of this arena. When I close my eyes and imagine hockey, I see Yost.

Though time warped and tarnished, my memory of this first game is still the cornerstone in the wall of my love affair with hockey. Prior to that night I had never in my life seen first hand anyone skate like that. I had seen Olympic figure skating on TV. I have a vague recollection of the “Miracle on Ice” win in 1980, but I had never truly watched hockey, and what I saw was fast, hard-driving, fast stopping, incredible skating and action. I remember being completely in awe by the players’ ability to control a puck with a stick and to weave their way through the other players to attempt, and in some cases succeed, at scoring. I remember the feel of the air when the players first came out to warm up, their skates stirring up the cool air off the ice and how it wafted over you. Not cold per se, but just a refreshing, awakening cool kiss on the face. To reference back to the opening quote: hockey drew me in and it has never let me go.  Michigan Tech won that night. I have no idea the score. It was a big win. Not the game. The effect on me.

Yost Interior

Inside Yost Ice Arena. Note the classic lines of the old school arena architecture.

The next year, my dad bought season hockey tickets to U-M. For that first season our seats were near center ice and I grew to love the game more. I could not skate and continued to be amazed how players even stayed on their feet, let alone scored. In the second year of our season tickets however, our seats moved. This would prove to have another big effect on how I enjoy the game.  Our seats were moved to the end, home ice. We sat behind the net that U-M had to defend twice in the three periods of play. Now sitting at the 50-yard line of a football game may be the best location to view that game, but in my opinion end ice or the creases are the best places to watch hockey. Why? You can see the most ice, and with a hockey rink being 200 feet long you can still see the action at the other end. When you sit center ice, because of the boards, you lose almost 200 feet of playing surface on your side of the arena. Keeping in mind that the puck is played at ice level, and that a lot of play happens along the boards, I want to see maximum ice. And, as just an aside: in most professional arenas, on one side of the ice you have the player box obstructing your view and on the other side the penalty box obstructs the view. To this day, my preferred seating is in the end or in the crease even with the goal line.

Joe Louis Arena

Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan: home of the Red Wings

After high school it was off to college. Life moved on. Life gets in the way. I didn’t get to hockey games like before, but I did have a new experience that continued the ascent. I went with a group of friends one night down to Detroit and Joe Louis Arena and watched the Detroit Red Wings play for the first time. The Joe felt like a huge place to watch a game compared to Yost. We sat up toward the top of the upper bowl. The atmosphere was electric. They served beer to you in your seat. The game was amazing. The hook sunk deeper.

College ended. The “real world” arrived. I went to work. I met and married the most amazing woman (she’s still hanging with me after almost 25 years). We started a family. We were poor. When you’re a young man with a young family and you make $21,000/year, you don’t have money for things like hockey games. Hell, we didn’t even go to movies. Rent….food…diapers…gas….repeat.  Then as life got better and I continued upward in my career path, we relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1995. Hockey fell away. New Mexico actually had a team, the IHL’s New Mexico Scorpions. They played at Tingley Coliseum, and nothing in Albuquerque is too far, but I never got there.  Life marched on.

In 1999, we returned to Michigan. While we loved New Mexico, it was far from home and family, and now with three children, we wanted to be near family. By time we returned to Michigan, my oldest, Nicholas, was 7. At the age of 7, one can appreciate the play of the game, kids start playing a lot younger than that. An hour away from our home, the city of Grand Rapids was home to the IHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. I decided to take Nicholas to a game.  We had a blast. It was like time had never passed for me. I was right back in the game and Nicholas enjoyed the game too.

Grand Rapids Griffins: primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings

Grand Rapids Griffins: primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings

But alas…remember how life gets in the way? When you have to drive an hour to see a game and when you work in law enforcement where you work many nights, weekends, and holidays, you have to plan to go to a game or it won’t happen. It didn’t happen. Oh, we thought about it. We talked about it. It just never happened. It was always, “oh we don’t have the time this weekend,” or “we need to put it in the budget,” etc.

As the 2007-08 hockey season ended, and with the Detroit Red Wings the 2008 Western Conference champs, I decided that I was done with not planning for and going to games. I realized that if I could plan my year’s worth of games in advance, then I could work my schedule around them and I wouldn’t forget.  That is how I became a Grand Rapids Griffins (now in the AHL and the Red Wings primary affiliate) season ticket holder. I buy a limited package, not the full season. I could never get that amount of time off of work, and with the cost of gas I would be a pauper driving the 154-mile round trip 40+ times a year. But 10 or 11 games?  That I can do; and I do.  Being able to regularly watch hockey again has been great. It is something that I look forward to each and every year. I anxiously await the arrival of each game, and chomp at the bit during the off-season. I have enjoyed being able to share the experience with my wife, my son, and my two daughters.  I have enjoyed taking friends and extended family members to games. I love the game and when I am able to share it, it is in a way an extension of that love to those I take.

Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Home of the Grand Rapids Griffins

Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Home of the Grand Rapids Griffins

I don’t limit myself to professional hockey, though. I love all hockey. When asked by a cousin a couple of years ago if I wanted to see her son play a game that was going to be near my home, I went. For family. For the game. I am proud of these kids who take the chance to play such a great sport. To put themselves out there in the quest to perhaps make their own dream come true. Once, while going to the local rink to skate, I found open skate cancelled due to a youth hockey tournament. I stayed and watched. It was great. With my older daughter in college, I finally managed just last week to get over and attend a college game with her. I will forever cherish any moment with any of my kids and hockey has been a great way to engage and enjoy their presence in my life. I hope that the memories of our games together last them a lifetime. They will me.

I even decided to learn to play the game. In 2013, at the age of 48, I joined a skills league. I could, and can, barely skate. Learning to skate backward was an ordeal for me. That’s not the point. I love the game and was determined that I would at least try to learn to play. I did. I loved it. Due to a problem with my hip and back, I have had to back off, but will I try again when I feel better? I might.

To me, hockey is more than all of this though. It is representative of many things. It is sensory: I love the feel of the cool air coming off the ice; the sound of skate scraping, the sight of shaved ice flying. It is seasonal: it represents the life that exists in winter, which to so many seems bleak; it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. It is something that I can only fumble with words to describe, and yet never really do it justice.  It’s like a huge bear hug. It grips me and squeezes the breath out of me, and yet I never want it to end.

“To play the game is good,

to win the game is better,

But to love the game is best of all.”

Oh how I love the game.

Take A Walk

The world is moving faster and faster. Every day we are introduced to a new piece of technology that on one hand simplifies a task, but at the same time simply adds an element of increased need for speed and efficiency.  In many regards the glut of technology breeds anxiety.

I hate technology. Why?! Because I so love technology. That’s right; the ultimate love/hate relationship. I spend far too much time on Facebook, keeping up with family and friends. I spend too much time on LinkedIn reading posts on business, researching opportunities, and endorsing others skills. I read too much email. I read too much news. I follow too much hockey. Even when I am not at the computer it still reaches me. My email is tied to my smart phone. So is my Facebook, and my LinkedIn. I get calls, and texts. It’s relentless.

I am probably so attached because truth be told I am so fascinated. At its very core, technology fascinates me. It blows my mind. Even the concept of the telephone amazes me. That I can pick up a device, punch in a series of numbers, and in moments talk in real-time with someone 10,000 miles away amazes me!

So, why do I hate technology? Well, I don’t really hate the technology. I hate what we allow technology to do to us if we fail to manage our use of it. It eats away at our time. It creates the expectation that we should always be doing more and doing it faster. It disconnects us from the world around us. It creates an artificial world in which we engage with the technology and not with people.

My solution: take a walk. Step out from behind the computer screen. Turn off the phone or leave it at home. Stick your mp3 player in a drawer. Get out!

The benefits to taking a few minutes every day to slow down and get out are innumerable, and with all the time and efficiency you are gaining from the technology, you should be able to carve a few minutes out to slow down.

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Whether a peaceful country lane or a busy city neighborhood, walking allows you to explore and expand your mind.

Slowing down, even if only for 45 minutes or an hour a day, lets us reconnect with the world around us. My wife and I walk regularly, usually after dinner (some evenings we ride our bikes). We have two dogs, so they come along and get their exercise as well. What I find when we walk however, is that I am able to simply slow down the pace of my mind for a short while. I see things that I never notice when I speed by in a car. I really smell the fresh air, flowers, trees. As it is getting to be Fall here in the north where we live, I am enjoying the changing color of the leaves, the crispness of the air, and the smell of wood smoke. My wife and I have great talks while we walk. We laugh. We point things out we never noticed before. We talk about our kids, their futures, our future, what we should do on the weekend. Sometimes we talk about our worries, too, but the slow pace allows for our minds to expand. It allows us to think more deeply and create solutions. We see neighbors and say hello or catch up on their news. We stop and pet other people’s dogs or smile at kids learning to ride their bikes or take their first steps. Every single walk is a brand new experience, never repeated, never quite the same.

Walking simply frees up your mind to be a more valuable tool. The exercise on your body is certainly part of this effect also. Regardless, it is, as I said, an opportunity to allow your mind to “expand.” I use that word because when I walk that is quite literally what I feel – like my mind is expanding. That I am stretching it to new proportions. I am tapping into the creative side that we all have but that goes dormant when we allow our computers to do all the heavy lifting for us throughout most of the day. Walking is freedom. Freedom from worries, freedom from technology, freedom to think and explore.

Perhaps you’re not a walker. That’s okay, too. Just get out. Ride a bike, run, ski, Rollerblade, or simply go stroll around the mall. It is my promise to you that you will, in a very short matter of time, feel a reconnection with the world around you and the people within it, and that this reconnection will have a positive impact on all aspects of your life. Don’t worry. All the techno-gadgets will be waiting for you when you get home.