• Take stock of a life littered with gifts
    By Linda Freeman
    CORRESPONDENT | November 24,2013
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    Hunting season began late this year. Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday, also late. Residents and visitors alike will be looking for exercise other than beating the floors on Black Friday, but aren’t sure if wearing traditional orange will keep them safe when they venture outdoors.

    This is a problem with so many solutions it’s not really a problem at all.

    For one thing, there might be enough snow cover to visit Alpine ski resorts or Nordic cross country centers. There may even be enough snow to play in the yard with the kids.

    But, as I write, I have no idea what will have fallen by the time you read this. Therefore let me make some other suggestions to remain active during hunting season (if you are a hunting widow/widower or someone who is unsure of recreational safety during this time) and throughout the first of our holiday season.

    Safety in the woods is, and should be, a consideration. While honoring those who hunt, it is important for others to be sensible and avoid recreation in wooded areas that are shared by hunters. Some would choose rec paths as opposed to country roads and circumvent any type of hiking for a few weeks.

    The weeks preceding Thanksgiving mark a great time to be creative, to try something new. All exercise does not need to be full-boar, head-on, max-effort stuff. I recently read something interesting about the oft cited “hunters and gatherers” and our current trend to return to some of their habits. It was pointed out that the majority of the hunt was in the search and only a relatively small part in the pursuit.

    This could be a good time to tour areas of Vermont with which you are unfamiliar or to actively engage in recreational opportunities that you seem to always put on the back burner.

    Explore the indoors. Most gyms offer day passes that also allow participation in classes. Have you tried Zumba, Yoga, Jazzercise, Body Pump, Spinning® or aqua aerobics? When was the last time you took kids to an indoors pool or swam laps?

    A few months ago I utilized a climbing gym in the Burlington area and was reminded that indoor climbing, a sport for all ages and abilities, provides excellent conditioning as well as fun and a few thrills.

    Bowling, playgrounds, even mall-walking (brisk and continuous, not window-shopping) gets you out or in and about and exercising those muscles and joints.

    Safety, indeed, is found in numbers. Exercising with others is companionable, motivating and applies just the right inducement to show up at an agreed time.

    Organized events are particularly attractive during holiday times as the emphasis is more on participation than competition, though there’s plenty of the latter, too. For the training athlete there’s nothing like a brisk 5k to keep one sharp. And this is the week to run one.

    By the time you read this on Sunday morning the 24th, runners and walkers in several local, seasonal races may have already crossed the finish line. However, there are other opportunities to participate in turkey trots or gobble-wobbles around the state. Woodstock, Killington, Barre Town and Burlington, to name a few, all host friendly events on Thanksgiving Day. (Information is easily found on the web.) Most encourage a range of participants including family-friendly exemptions for jogging strollers and dogs on leashes. For those who prefer a goal, most, if not all, are timed runs with place and/or finishers’ awards.

    Perhaps the spirit of Thanksgiving Day events is best seen in keeping with a sense of simple thanks expressed through healthy activity within community.

    Recently I came across some notes of Father Edward Hays who seems to stop at little having begun, in his 80s, a website as a proclaimed non-email type, and traversing paths from the religious to the secular, from prison to Eldergarden, touching on writing, painting and storytelling. It is his quote below that caught my attention:

    “A lack of a daily tonic of gratitude results in an anemic soul, which, in turn, contributes to a physical sense of listlessness. A grateful soul, on the other hand, is vibrant and animated and so permeates your body with zest and with an enjoyment of a life littered with gifts.”

    Once upon a time, Christmas decorations (and they were called that) didn’t begin to appear until weeks post-Thanksgiving. By now, the weekend before the Pilgrims’ big day, stores, streets, radio stations, decorations, music and television ads are blasting seasonal themes and offering ample opportunities to exchange cash for goods.

    Yes, Thanksgiving is next in line but often surpassed by the avalanche of Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s promos. Two months of stress (both good and bad), expectations and partying can put a significant dent in an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

    So today, my hope for you would be that you savor a few days of family, friends and feasts, yes, but also include active living and moderate choices so that you do not find yourself slipping into a negative momentum that taints the real joys of the season.

    And while you’re at it, I encourage you to check out the flip side of activity and test the waters of stillness. I’m not talking about lying comatose in front of the screen, but of taking a moment of awareness to really see the sunrise or pause to note the changes in each evening’s sunset; to quietly watch the expression on a child’s face when he sees something new to his little world or in her eyes when she pictures a scene as you read to her. Suspend time briefly to enlarge it. Find renewal. Watch irritations and stressors diminish. Then go forward and celebrate. Blessings.
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