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Even more reasons to go outside

Lauren F. Friedman and Kevin Loria recently published an article in Business Insider titled, 11 Scientifically Proven Reasons You Should Go Outside.  Specifically, they write about the impact of being in a forest and the mental and health benefits that can be experienced in short and long term jaunts to the woods.

I strongly advise you to read the article for yourself, but I’ll give you a quick glance at the list below. Even with my 365 Every Day Outside Challenge, I still don’t get to the woods as often as I should.  This article reminds me of just how important it is for me and for my children.

1) Improved short-term memory

2) Restored mental energy

3) Stress relief

4) Reduced inflammation

5) Better vision (especially in children)

6) Improved concentration

7) Sharper thinking and creativity

8) Possible anti-cancer effects

9) Immune system boost

10) Improved mental health

11) Reduced risk of early death

Do you experience any of these?  Which ones are the most noticeable for you?

What the Heck is PechaKucha?

This Fall I was invited to be a presenter at a PechaKucha Portland event at Space Gallery.  I was one of 10 sharing our passions, our talents, our crafts, or our art with the same format. We each shared 20 slides and had 20 seconds for each slide.  Six minutes and forty seconds to get people excited about our projects.

PechaKucha is a presentation format developed  by two Japanese architechs who were tired of long and boring presentations. There must have been a lot of people who were done with long-winded presentations because now these events happen in over 700 cities around the world. For more information about this global 20 x 20 movement visit their website. 

I was really excited to share the 365 Every Day Outside Challenge and the ideas behind this blog with my Portland neighbors.  You can see my video here: http://vimeo.com/85053135

If you never been to one of these events I recommend you give it a try.  It is super fun and affordable way to hear a completely random  grouping of concise descriptions of things that make people tick.

Enjoy!

 

Everyday Power

As some of you have figured out already, I’ve got a thing for doing every day challenges. Recently, in Facebookland, I realized that two of  my friends are doing a pushup challenge. 100 pushups a day for 100 days. Greg Popp, a Maine triathlete and overall energized kinda guy, set up this Facebook page to rally his troops. They started on November 1–I started several days late on Nov. 19th. So far I’ve done 400 pushups (over the course of four days)–but I plan to do all 100 days, just 9,600 left to go!  Greg is totally open to many people joining the challenge if you’re interested. Although I’ve not yet met Greg, I like what he’s doing and think the “do it every day” message is really significant.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve rarely work out every day. I’ve always been more of a try-for-four-days-a-week kind of person. Even in the days before kids, when I was a twenty-something young one, I could never get in a workout each day of the week. In college I had a crazy fitness time. I was racing sailboats on the national level, trained on the water 4 days a week, raced every weekend, and either ran my six-mile loop or was in the gym weight lifting–those were extraordinarily fit days that I long for but certainly seem like a thing of the past. These days, if I get in three solid workouts it’s a really good week.

You probably could have guessed this, but I’ll be doing most of my pushups outside. I’ll spruce up my  simple walks, by stopping at flat spots along the way and doing a set. Typically my walks don’t get my heart rate up as much as I’d like. Adding pushups will be an excellent way to give me a more satisfactory “yes I worked out today” kind of feeling.  And interestingly, this week after I stood up from each set on the packed dirt paths, I felt like my sensory system was on fire. The colors around me were more intense, the earthy smells were stronger, and I was more tuned into the quiet. I know this sounds a little wild, but don’t call me crazy until you try it. If you experience this too, please let me know that I’m not imagining things.

So here’s the thing with Greg’s pushup challenge and my Everyday Outside Challenge–when I say I’m going to do something four or five days a week, it is so easy and tempting to say, “I can’t get to it today, I’ll do it tomorrow instead.” Every time I give that excuse it is a chance to fall off the exercise or outdoor wagon–because one day turns into two and, well, you get the point. But, if I say I’m going to do it every day, the question isn’t, “Will I work out today?” it is, “When will I do it?”

People say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I think it takes longer than that. Doing something every single day for more than three months will certainly get you on the road to forming a life-long habit–whether it is going outside for thirty minutes, doing 100 push ups, or whatever healthy habit you want to attend to, try it for at least 100 days and watch how it impacts your life.

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What we Hide

I’m preparing to present at the Pecha Kucha Event in Portland at SPACE Gallery tomorrow night. Basically eight thoughtful, creative, energetic, and passionate Maine folks will share the cool stuff they’ve done or are doing with 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. Exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds to share a project, art, poetry, photography, or a passion. I’ll be sharing what I do here in this blog and the 365 Every Day Outside Challenge.

I had what I thought was  a pretty tight presentation and shared it with my husband. As you probably guessed almost all of my photos are outside, in fact nineteen of the twenty slides are outdoor ones.  All beautifully capturing Maine and happy moments for my family. After smiling through the whole thing, Hans’s advice was to share the hard stuff too… to show the messy desk, the kitchen with overflowing dishes and windows that needed to be cleaned a year ago (maybe two), to show the night time walk at 11pm because I couldn’t get out until then. It was great advice–I will speak about being busy but I also need to show this in at least one of my slides.

Is there such a thing as a parent who can keep up with everything?  Even stay at-home parents never get it all done when they want to.  Maybe people who can afford to hire a lot of help can keep up but there’s always more homework, papers to sort through, mail to respond to, art projects that were not cleaned up, Lego everywhere, and dirt and dust and grime. So Hans took this photo of what my desk looked like right then and I took a few photos of what my kitchen looked like at that very moment.

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I’m pretty embarrassed by these photos… I’d cringe if a friend or neighbor walked into my home looking like this. I desire a picture perfect home but raising kids is messy work. Here’s the thing, we do have moments of neat and tidy but I can’t keep up. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I could have photographed a few neater corners, but if we only share with the world the tidy moments then it just adds to the shame I (we?) feel when someone sees what we’re trying to hide. None of us live in the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog or Better Homes and Gardens and even if our homes are shared in those pages, the photos are taken after days of cleaning and the things we live with on the counters are hidden in storage.

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Yesterday, I could have cleaned the kitchen instead of taking a few minutes to play backgammon with my son on the front porch in the warm sunshine as he recovers from strep throat.  I could have stayed up late cleaning instead of going to bed early to try and stave off strep which I always get when I’m exposed to it.  I could have scrubbed for those few minutes before work instead of taking my daughter’s hand when she wanted me to watch her “new tricks” on the monkey bars before going to school. I could have and maybe I should have but the choices we make in those small decisive moments define our lives.

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My kids probably won’t remember the mess when they’re adults, but they will remember playing games on the porch on a sick day and they’ll remember how wonderful it feels to be outside on a chilly fall  morning before school. Nobody has asked how I get it all done, or even how I find time to get outside every day, but I think it is important to share that the choices I make make it possible. I also will argue that the outdoor time energizes me to get more done inside… but that’s another blog entry.

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Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow night. Please say hello if you’re there!