This month’s editorial theme is perfectly timed to the arrival of some truly gorgeous weather here in Austin. May is all about “Outside,” and I’m excited to kick this one off with a quick personal story.
Last month, I spent a week in Vancouver for 5 days of training for my new job. The days were packed with a lot of learning and being totally on so we could absorb everything (and hopefully retain that info, too!) The facilitators were very mindful about the week as a whole, giving us space and breaks to recharge, ask questions, and feel supported.
Every day we were given the option to take a 45-minute break to either: go for a walk outside sans phones — taking in the sights, sounds, and just being present to what was happening outside — (Vancouver is stunning, by the way, with mountains & water, so it’s really hard to not take it all in!) We also had the option to sit in the meditation room and chill, or stay in the room and journal — whether it was thinking about a to-do list, or writing down how we felt, and taking stock of how the week was going.
If you’ve been following me long enough, you probably know what I went for — the walk, every single day. Not just to get movement in for the day, but to be outside in a new city and really savor the joy of a new experience (I’m still fascinated by the thought of doing something for the first time and how exciting that can be.) After spending just 30-45 minutes outside on a walk with no phone or music, I came back into the training room every day feeling refreshed, recharged, clear, and present.
I found that letting myself just be, and letting my mind wander on it’s own, without thinking of the next thing I need to do or person I needed to contact, felt so freeing.
Silence the digital noise.
On a typical week, I’ll spend at least two days outside on the trail to go for a run. I go for a run to clear my mind, tap into my body, feel confident, think through a creative idea, or step away from my computer. On these runs, however, I have my phone with me — music is always blaring, and I’d lie if I said I didn’t stop here and there to answer a text or send a quick email if I think of something — easily distracted is a bit of an understatement.
While thinking of this month’s theme, and my amazing time in Vancouver going on a daily walk with zero distractions, this week I put that back into practice. I baked 30 minutes into my calendar every single day, closed the computer and went for a walk. My thinking: first, 30 minutes is not long; second: I owe it to myself (and my colleagues) to step away from my work and come back refreshed, and last: I’m in always-on mode, and usually for everyone but myself, once the work day starts — taking 30 minutes to just be with me and my thoughts is a gift, and something I never do.
Move your body.
Most of you already know I move my body and exercise for at least 30 minutes every single day –– whether that’s a run, high intensity class, or simply a stretch-yoga in my apartment, I’m moving my body so I can be healthy, strong, and flexible well into my 80’s.
This month I’m committed to taking this one step further and spending at least 30 minutes outside every day, and would love for you to join and give it a go.
Here’s what that looks like for me:
1). Taking the dog on an extra long walk vs. just going outside for a quick potty break.
2). Going to yoga in the park (something I’ve dreaded in the past because I’m usually a magnet for bug bites),
3). Lunch or a sunset cheeseboard in the park.
4). Sitting down with my moleskin, planning my to-do list for the week.
5). Guided Headspace meditation by the pool.
6). Walk to grab groceries & flowers vs. driving.
7). Reading a book on the balcony.
8). Journaling priorities/goals on the park/bridge bench.
9). Run stairs at Mount Bonnell instead of booking an indoor class.
10). Invite friends over for dinner at this picnic table (art installation open to the public).
Take it all in.
Now, I carry my phone with me wherever I go, but I’m committed to putting it on Airplane Mode or silent and keeping it stashed away so I can be truly present for the 30 minutes outside, and really take in all of the sights, sounds, smells.
And if I’m with someone — I use that time to really take in their company. What a simple gift. As my friend Keith likes to say: simple always works.
Hopefully these ideas spark some of your own. Would love for you comment with how you plan to spend more time outside and connected to nature and the people around you vs. your inbox, phone, TV, or other distractions that end up putting us in auto-pilot. Have fun with this, readers, I’m excited to hear how you feel after.