On a magical winter hike, a good buddy shared two words which enhanced my enjoyment of the moment:
Shinrin Yoku (pronounced shin rin yo koo) is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. It’s not just for health, it’s for our relationships with nature, the type of relationships that support sustainable living.
Komorebi (木漏れ日) (pronounced komo ray bee) is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “sunlight shining through the leaves of trees.” Enjoy this poem.
A member in my Core, Cardio & More class told me about these exercises. She’s almost 60 and looks under 40 – her face and neck look as smooth as silk. She’s been doing these exercises for years and they work for her. It makes so much sense to me because muscles like toning. Practice & Enjoy!
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California is a desert. Every now and then we get WEATHER.
Yesterday, we went down the coast to attend a memorial service for a dear cousin. I tell you this so you know that only a truly important event would have gotten us out of the house on a stormy day – the likes of which we have not seen in a long time. The memorial service was deeply moving and connected us as a community of friends and relatives.
When we went to leave, Half Moon Bay frogs were SINGING. We got in our car and went NOWHERE. We were STUCK. While we were inside enjoying food, song and conversation, my car was sinking. 3 men tried to push, 3 manly-men admitted defeat. With all the weather-related events happening, AAA was over 90 minutes away but then they went to a similar street name in San Mateo instead of Half Moon Bay. So we waited, made comfortable and welcome by dear cousins.
Finally, help arrived. AAA had to get creative to get my deeply-stuck-in-the-mud front tires free – this was not a straight forward release. Then Bob painstakingly rinsed the mud from the brakes. We left behind a huge hole – sorry cousins! Finally, we were on our way home – around 11, not 8. All this time, the weather cooperated with only light sprinkles from time to time.
Home stretch: Coming into Pacifica, we encountered a police action. The road was closed due to a mudslide. I got out of the car and politely approached one of the many policeman (some of whom were waving flashlights around seemingly randomly, getting all the drivers confused). The officer I approached was not helpful. Isn’t part of a policeman’s job to be polite to regular folk, to answer reasonable questions in something other than unhelpful monosyllables? As I returned from the policeman, many people in cars scattered all over were waiting and asking ME what was happening. I could have relayed good information; I could have been a bearer of NEWS as well as good will and a collective understanding that stuff happens.
At that point, we had a choice. Go all the way back to Half Moon Bay and around – at least an hour of driving with no knowledge of what we’d encounter (the AAA driver had already told us they were pulling a car out of a ditch on the main road) OR WALK.
We parked, got our headlamps (yes, I carry one in my car – thank goodness), an umbrella and started walking. The heavens picked THAT moment (the very moment we started walking) to dump BUCKETS of water on us. We sloshed for 45 minutes in a deluge of rain, running water, puddles and debris all over the roads and sidewalks. We had a powerful tailwind. Pacifica frogs were SINGING. We got home safe and sound and soaked.
The next morning, I woke up realizing all my gear (for my morning class) was in my car. Plus all the yummy food from last night’s gathering. Highway One was still closed, but they were running one-way controls, causing big delays in the morning commute. Bob and I braved it. We arrived at the tail end of traffic in both directions. Instead of over an hour of waiting, we retrieved my car in 10 minutes. It was a breeze, almost as if nature was apologizing for the night before.
Update: Good news – no one is hurt. Bad news – AAA tow truck driver damaged my car when he tried the first 2 times to pull it out. Toyota says it’s irreparable, structural damage and egregious incompetence of a tow truck driver. Sigh.
Hindsight lesson for my readers: A simple tow out of the mud should not result in severe damage to your car. Never again shall I ASSume that the professional tow truck driver knows what’s best without monitoring closely.
I love this chant!
I learned it from my good friend Renee
written by: Ravyn Stanfield
This holiday, I gave TheraBands. These are the bands you get at PT – they come in a roll and are cut. I cut 5′ lengths. But the main gift was the routine I designed for using it to improve posture and activate upper back muscles. So much of our lives are spent in the forward posture that pulls us into dis-ease. These gentle strengthening movements are the opposite of computer work, driving, forward everything. Form is important!
How you hold the band sets the stage.
- Choose the color band that allows light work to start.
- Hold loosely with the thumb on the same side as your fingers (overhand grip).
- As you have a slight tension on the band, look at your wrist. Make sure it’s STRAIGHT. This is the biggest mistake people make. In order to straighten your wrist, you actually have to push your hand outward.
1. Straight Arm Pull Apart
- Arms straight out in front at a slight angle
- Start with gentle tension of the band
- Pull the band outward keeping arms and wrists straight.
- As you pull the band back towards you, it will come closer to your chest and you should feel the muscles behind and between your shoulders
- This is an activation movement, not a body-building exercise. Use only the tension you need to feel the shoulders pull together behind you.
- To protect your low back, put one foot slightly in front of the other into a stagger stance. Notice how this softens your knees and helps you maintain a neutral spine.
- Do 8 to 10 reps
- The light tension means you can do this once a day just to activate the upper back muscles.
2. Wrist Work
- Do exactly the same movement as above, but when you get to about 45 degree outward with your arms (about half way), push your wrists outward and slowly return.
- The arms stay still, just the wrists move
- Do 5 to 10 of these
3. Anchor Series
- One arm is STRAIGHT out in front (not angled off to the side or up) and holds the band
- Holding arm – thumb up (this is better for your shoulder)
- Relax both shoulders down
- With the other straight arm, pull the band downward and behind the body – this engages the latissimus dorsi
- do each side 5 to 10 times
- You can also pull outward (similar to #1). Notice how the holding arm works very differently in this movement
- Another variation that I love is to do slow circles. I prefer circles backward (clockwise on the R, counterclockwise on the L)
With all of these movements, if there’s any discomfort AT ALL:
- slow down
- make the movement smaller
- stop doing it
Remember to walk with attitude, swagger and walk young!
Greetings AdventureBuddies, Friends & Family!
We wish you a healthy, happy holiday.
We had many wonderful hikes this year, most of them local (see the flowers a few posts down on this blog), including our “annual” hiking journey to Utah National Parks. Just 1/4 to 1/2 mile from any trail-head, we have parks practically to ourselves. I go thru at least 2 pair of hiking shoes a year. This year I’m taping to manage plantar fasciitis. Bob has a knee and we’re waiting to hear what’s up with that. Please do let us know about your year and enjoy the blog!
Our Top Outdoor Gift Idea this year is a HEADLAMP. Why a headlamp? Because we care….PLUS:
Headlamp? For those of us who use poles, it’s a no-brainer. Put in your pack even if you know you’ll be done before dark. Stuff happens OTT (on the trail). Explore caves, tunnels, enjoy! Why this model? Black Diamond Spot is lightweight, waterproof and has great features. The red light is used at night so we don’t blind our buddies or lose our night vision. It comes in great colors – get a bright one for yourself and your favorite hiking buddy.
But also use for:
- Travel ~ If you’re in a hotel room and want to continue reading while your partner wants the light out – BINGO! The aim-hinge helps your neck and posture. (So does putting your book on a pillow)
- Safety ~ for those of us in earthquake land, we know to keep a pair of sturdy shoes under our bed, at the ready. A pair of socks goes in one and the headlamp (when not in the hiking pack) goes in the other. That way we have our hands available.
As we get older (beats the alternative), we need ways to stay safe. Once you get accustomed to using a headlamp, you’ll never go back. But – please – use it.
I find the directions a little murky, so here’s a recap: Open with the little lever on the side & install batteries (included). Then give yourself a tutorial:
- One press for strong spot. One press for off
- 2 quick presses for double (reading) light
- 3 quick presses for flashing lights
- Press and hold (about 2 seconds) for red (night) light
Keep pressing (4 to 6 seconds) to lock – again – VERY IMPORTANT to keep light from accidentally going on and draining the battery – blue lock light will come on. Press and hold (4 to 6 seconds) to unlock.
Notice battery monitor – cool huh?
Once on, if you press and hold, all lights will dim.
Power tap on side will alternate between custom dimmed setting and full strength.
This really is the coolest headlamp – now practice, have fun and please USE IT. Aim it vs. straining your neck. If reluctant, try reading with it and we hope you think it’s the best reading lamp ever!
Staying fit and healthy as we age involves 6 vital areas: Function, Balance, Posture, Endurance, Flexibility & Strength. Below is a link to a great place to shop for your loved ones. They have deeply discounted pricing on Yoga mats, mat carriers, foam rollers, adventure gear – so many presents to show your loved ones that you care about their continued, healthy presence on this planet.
Several posts on this blog discuss exercises that involve getting onto the floor. It’s important to be able to get up and down from the floor – once you lose this, it’s REALLY hard to get it back. A Yoga mat is great for exercising on the floor. Sierra Trading Post has Yoga mats + a wonderful return policy.
Another very special holiday gift idea that gives all year long – and this one makes our cut every year – is a gift subscription to Bay Nature Magazine. Bay Nature is full of natural wonders – parks, trails, creeks, wildlife of the Bay Area as well as the people protecting them.
- 30% savings on gift subscription
- 1 subscription $21.95 (regular price $25.95)
- 2 or more only $19 each!
Take care of your feet! These massage balls saved mine and keep me hiking. (5 part series on Plantar Fasciitis on this blog)
I keep at least one ball in my car ALL the time – it lives under the passenger seat. After a hike (IF I’m a passenger of course), I can soothe/fix my feet by just using the relaxed weight of my leg and gently holding or slowly rolling the bottom of my feet. It’s SO healing. I also use in the morning to relieve the plantar flexion that occurs in bed and tightens my feet. If you get all 4, keep 2 and gift 2 buddies 🙂
Another tip for keep feet in neutral at night – I put a pillow at the foot of the bed to make a little “tent” space so the blanket does not weigh down on my feet all night long.
If you have not discovered Amazon Prime – it’s AMAZING. The free shipping pays for the fee pretty fast and I love the convenience and time-saving of finding almost anything and getting it fast. It’s truly a gift (like Bay Nature Magazine) that gives all year long.
In case you have someone who has trouble getting out of your car (aging parents?), here’s a handy tool – I keep one in my car.
Hikers have knees. We love our poles and they help save our knees – BUT – knees can still ache the next day after a tough hike. When I ICE, I don’t hurt. When I don’t ice, my knees are often quite vocal the next day. Hit me over the head with a sledgehammer!
The problem is that they don’t hurt that day or evening, just the next day. But NEVER when I ice. I recently ordered a bunch of ice packs and this is the one I like! I don’t put it on bare skin. I wrap it around really snugly and it provides some compression as well. It’s EXCELLENT and so reasonably priced.
I can even put it in my cooler between 2 ice packs and have ice right after my hike. Why make your kidneys pay (ibuprophen, NSAIDS, etc.) when applying ice directly helps? Note: You may not think you need ice because you don’t SEE swelling. But if you have discomfort – ICE, ICE, ICE!
Also, in our opinion, EVERYONE should have a good ice pack in the freezer, ready to go. I’ve used this on elbows, ankles, knees, shoulders….stuff happens!