Three Steps to Summer Wellness (that I attribute to my mom)

Three Steps to Summer Wellness (that I attribute to my mom)

My mother always said the three ingredients that made a successful summer were 1. read a good book, 2. take a long walk, and 3. make a new friend. So, since I was very small, those were my summer goals. Now every summer about this time, I like to check in with Mom to see how I’m doing.

I’m currently reading Words On Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront it by Helio Fred Garcia, who taught a spokesmanship class I took back in the late 90s at NYU (an important read at this moment). He was kind enough to send a signed copy.

I also recently read Deena Kastor’s very inspirational Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory which I highly recommend (and not just for runners). Last month’s read was Tricky Twenty-Two my next installment in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (which is now up to #26). That is my guilty pleasure. 

Sunday, I ran 10 miles. It was my fifth double-digit run since Memorial Day weekend (that’s even better than a long walk, right?).  I’ve committed to running a 5k (3.1 miles), a 10k (6.2 miles), and a Half Marathon (13.1 miles) every month for a year (which began in July). 

I just finished running and biking a 300 mile (virtual) challenge on Historic Route 66 (I wrote about that last week), signed up for another virtual challenge (124-mile Ring of Kerry), and also started a quest to run every street in Vernon Hills, Illinois (I ran every street in Ramsey, New Jersey in 2017). On top of that, Kurt and I have been doing a lot of biking. Longest ride to date: 30 miles.

Making friends has gotten a bit more difficult as an adult and this summer it’s even more so. I am happy to report that thanks to my work with Gilda’s (Run) Club and CARA ‘Go Runs, I’ve made some nice connections and at the very least, new Facebook friends. 

Keeping a social distance, I’ve also met some new neighbors, and joined the Vernon Hills Moms group on Facebook (figuring if I’m gonna be up in the suburbs awhile longer, I might as well make the best of it). I have also worked to maintain old friendships by scheduling a monthly Zoom call with the “girls” from my hometown in New Jersey, who are now spread out all over the country.

Mom would be proud, I think.

In my reflection, I see the lessons she wished to convey.  The three of the most important things we can do for ourselves – anytime, not just in summer – physically, mentally, spiritually…

Never stop learning. Keep your mind sharp. Read. 

“Common sense should tell us that reading is the ultimate weapon–destroying ignorance, poverty and despair before they can destroy us. A nation that doesn’t read much doesn’t know much. And a nation that doesn’t know much is more likely to make poor choices in the home, the marketplace, the jury box and the voting booth…The challenge, therefore, is to convince future generations of children that carrying a book is more rewarding than carrying guns.” 

— Jim Trelease

Keep moving. Stay active. Swim. Bike. Run. Walk. 

“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.”

– Carol Welch

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

John F. Kennedy

Stay connected. To your family. To your friends. To your community. 

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

– Herman Melville

Mom was a lot smarter than I ever gave her credit for. I only wish she was still around to say, “I told you so.”

Mom and me. A summer long ago. Montauk, New York.
Garden escape: the holiday weekend at home

Garden escape: the holiday weekend at home

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, you can find me in the garden. Next to running, gardening is one of my most cherished activities. When I hurt my back in 2011, friends asked if it was a running injury. “No, a gardening injury,” I’d reply.
When I moved into my house almost 10 years ago I had a vision for an enormous – meditative – wild flower garden, a big private green lawn where my daughter and dog could play, a  patio with a fire pit that could host gatherings of friends or be a quiet retreat. As purchased, the house had none of that.
But as I said, I had a vision; which I turned into a plan (more on the importance of having a plan in July). That project became an escape, like my running, from all the stress life was throwing at me for all those years. Like an artist whose craft becomes the outlet for their pain, I created a masterpiece amid the turmoil.

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