Archive for June, 2011

When Things Happen, We Have a Choice

June 20, 2011

Things happen to each of us moment to moment and if we are going to maintain or reclaim our health, our choice of what to do when things happen is paramount.

 This point was brought home to me on Sunday’s  hike. We had a perfect hiking day: cool for the hike up, and wind and sun at the summit of Mt.Mooselauke. We enjoyed a liesurely lunch in the lee of the wind with a crystal clear view of the SE mountains.

 My friend and I were over a mile into our descent when I discovered I’d left my hiking poles at the top. As I turned to hike back up and retrieve them, I started ruminating on how much time this would add to the hike, what my body would likely be complaining about after I slogged up and back with an added 2 miles, when I suddenly realized that I had a choice to either keep enjoying the day, the cool clear mountain air, and buoyant energy of fellow hikers; or I could cast a pall on an otherwise jubilant hike.

 In moments like this, I suddenly remember the way the folks in Suriname’s interior related to obstacles constantly before them. Alcoa had displaced them by burying their homes in a lake made to dam up the Suriname Riverand empower Alcoa’s plant. These people had lost everything and lived with all the health conditions that accompany poverty, yet they rarely complained about their lot and kept a lightness in their attitude toward life that strengthened them.

 Suddenly, retracing a mile seemed more like an opportunity to savor the mountain. Joy certainly brings a greater momentum to recovery and I was amazed at the power of choice available when things happen. That split second, Aha moment, kept the day in perspective.

When we think about keeping well, we often think about certain foods, supplements, and routine exercise as the main areas that energize us. However, without maintaining a positive attitude toward whatever happens, whatever else we do won’t have the full impact on our lives that we hope for. Here’s to seizing each moment!

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Lupine Health Alert!

June 13, 2011

A friend and I eagerly set out for the Lupine Festival at Sugar Hill to breathe in the abundant fields of wild lupine, savor Polly’s Pancakes, and be enriched by the work of gifted artisans on display in various tents set up in town.

 As we neared town, it was eerie to see all the STOP NORTHERN PASS signs posted by residents to sound the alarm. Clearly, the lupines signal one more place we treasure that is being threatened by the proposed NP route. Lupine colors were vibrant today, thriving in rich, wet, pristine soil, unique to the area. What a feast for the eyes! What inspiration they bring for new life, and a hope that we’ll continue to be able to savor these pockets of wonder throughout our state.

 Yet, what an aching fear that this may all be destroyed because enough of us did not stand up and say, “NO!” long enough. We tend to focus on the obvious greed of Hydro Quebec and cite the rampant destruction they are exacting on their own province as Canadians try to stop HQ and save their beautiful area.

 But, there’s something closer to home we need to be looking at. Much of the dilemma we face today is due to our own greed about wanting more of everything. More food, bigger portions, and bigger shopping carts have brought us more obesity, more costly and bigger seats for auditoriums, cars, restaurants, and furniture; more cardiac and orthopedic problems. More sugar has brought us more diabetes, more bone loss, more pharmacy bills, more vision and dental problems. More technological gadgets have brought us more distracted attention spans, more tension to keep up with the latest, more financial strain, more threats to our environment. The list goes on.

 When something like the Northern Pass Project looms up, we may feel less than full energy to resist the phony baubles of empty advertizing promises. If we want to enjoy robust health, the NP is just one challenge on our list of potential ailments. Perhaps the question is: Do we believe that robust health is a realistic possibility for all of us? I think it is and the lupine flowers inspire me to reach for that kind of health, and hang onto it. What do you think?

 

Chocorua’s Free Health Spa

June 5, 2011

Hiking up the Liberty Trail on the south side of Mt.Chocorua, I suddenly realized that in northern NH there are free health spas in or adjacent to every town. Every mountain is a potential health spa, depending on whether you choose to check in and get with the program.

 Health spas, the paid ones, usually include massage, saunas, hot tubs, swimming, and some sort of calming practice like meditation or yoga. The main goal is to cleanse and relax the body from the inside out as well as from the outside in. That means keeping hydrated with plenty of water. 

Sweat is the body’s most natural way of cleansing. Sweat heats up and massages all of our systems and uses sweat glands to wring them out so every system has a fresh start. Every joint gets well oiled.

 Hiking in June practically guarantees a successful spa treatment. With plenty of black flies, even slathered in bug spray, it pays to hike as quickly as possible uphill because we know the air is cooler the higher we climb, 99% of the time. If there’s enough wind on the summit, there will be no bugs bothering our lunch and siesta so there’s great incentive to get up there. 

The walk itself can be a meditation, even if there’s some chatting going on. Conversation tends to be a sorting out, rethinking, brain cleanse, with the last leg of the hike to the top often being in silence to better access fresh air.

 Hiking poles make the hike kinder to your knees and hips by spreading the weight bearing load to include the shoulders and arms as well, while still allowing you to build up a good sweat. They also encourage a good upper body workout.

 There’s a steady succession of wild flowers, open evidence that diversity thrives. The spring dance of blue bead lily, lady’s slippers, sarsaparilla and violets was well underway at the base of the mountain. Further up, these same flowers were in bud, waiting for next week’s hikers. Last week’s hikers saw lots of painted trillium peak below, and at a higher elevation, I got to see a perfect tiny painted trillium that had clearly just opened up. The parade changes every week and invites our attention up the mountain. This week huge spreads of magenta Rhodora greeted us as we neared the sunny summit dome.

 If you want to hike in a truly relaxed state, breathing 2:1 is the way to go. Just make your exhalations twice as long as your inhalations. The easiest way to practice this breath is to count your paces. You may start out breathing 6:3, then shift gears to 4:2 and 2:1 as you gain elevation. If you cannot exhale for 2 paces to every 1 inhalation pace, it’s time to stop and rest. This practice develops the habit of deeper breathing regularly.

 So, your free health spa takes care of your cleansing sweat massage and by the time you reach the summit, you may be lucky enough to be fully soaked. As you cool down in that delicious breeze (in your quick dry shirt) you may even need to put on that extra layer in your pack while you enjoy lunch, the view, your friends, and maybe even a little siesta.

 Depending on the day and the temperature, you may need the extra layer as you cool down, hike out, go home and take a salt bath or shower to complete your free spa treatment.

 PS: I also carry at least 2 liters of water, a wind/rain shell, light fleece, hat, first aid sack, high protein sandwich, nuts, and an orange to assure the full treatment!