Tag: disconnect

The Power of Disconnecting: 7 Life Lessons from the Adirondacks

I know how important it is to nourish myself with more than food, but I’ve been running myself a bit ragged over the past few weeks and haven’t made that much of a priority.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busyness and lose sight of what matters.

Amazing things happen when we physically get away and give ourselves space to just be.

My recent vacation to Upstate New York was exactly what I needed to reset, recharge and refocus my body and brain.

It nourished my soul.

Most people who live in Baltimore spend their summers at the beach, but my vacation has always involved an 8-hour drive to the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York. It’s where my mom spent her summers as a kid and where her parents lived for as long as I can remember.

I have so many great memories of spending summer vacations “Up North” as a kid, and I’ve grown to appreciate it even more as an adult.

My parents think of it as their heaven on earth, and it has become something similar for me in recent years. As much as I’m running around all the time at home, I can’t help but disconnect and refocus myself physically and mentally when I’m up there.

It’s such a special, centering, and grounding place.

Overlooking the Adirondack Mountains on a recent hike in Lake Placid, New York

One of my favorite things to do is hike the mountains. The air is crisp, clear and free of pollution, and the views are absolutely breathtaking.

As my husband, Bill, and I were hiking one of the 46 High Peaks with my parents (both in their 60s!), it started to hit me how much hiking and life have in common.

Whether we’re trying to reach a goal related to weight, movement, or what we’re eating, having a healthy perspective around the journey, destination and challenges along the way can help us stay on the path instead of being deterred or discouraged.

I’m always open to inspiration, no matter what I’m doing, and our hike up Phelps Mountain ended up being the perfect time to take in the lessons life had to teach me that day.

When we take time to nourish our entire being and realize that there’s more to life and being well than kale salads and green smoothies, we can learn tremendous lessons.

Lesson #1: Be prepared and have a plan

When you go for a hike, you don’t typically do it on a whim.

You pick a trail you can physically handle and usually a peak with good views. For example on one of the iconic Dreamland Safari tours, you might find yourself exploring the breathtaking Vermilion Cliffs. You check the forecast to make sure the weather is going to be nice. Clear days are the best days for views at the summit, so you plan for those as best you can. You pack food, water, a trail guide, first aid supplies, a camera, and whatever else you’ll need to stay hydrated, fueled, and safe.

Some of my favorite snacks to take on a hike!

The same goes with life. The more we set aside time to think through a plan and map out what we’ll need to be successful, the more likely we are to end up where we want to be.

I know quite a few people who plan each day the night before, so they can live intentionally and start each day focused on what they want to get out of it instead of just letting it pass by.

Planning time is not wasted time. It helps us be more productive, focused and intentional, so make time for it in the midst of the busyness.

Lesson #2: Enjoy the journey

The goal of hiking isn’t just to get to the summit and climb back down. Relative to the total hike, you spend a sliver of time at the top and most of the time getting there or back.

Getting through the hike makes you appreciate the summit that much more, so instead of anticipating the outcome at the expense of appreciating the journey, enjoy the entire hike, from the ascent to the summit to the descent.

Stop and pick the blueberries, look for beauty, take off your shoes and rest your tired feet in the ice cold spring water.

Stopping to pick blueberries on Blueberry Mountain

Someone else spelled this out on one of the lookouts. So cool!

Bill taking a break along the trail

We stopped at a stream to put our toes in the water on our way off the mountain

As the daughter of two entrepreneurs and someone with passion and desire to continually raise the bar, I often forget to do this. I’m so focused on “getting somewhere” that I don’t appreciate where I am in the moment and end up stressed as a result.

Enjoying the journey as much as the destination is about being fully present to where we are in the moment instead of wishing it away.

Lesson #3: It’s okay to get lost or go the “wrong” way

Hiking trails aren’t always clearly defined. Sometimes you make a wrong turn or get lost and have to figure out how to get back on track.

One time, Bill and I completely missed a sign and ended up hiking up a ski trail (talk about tiring!). It actually ended up being a bit of a shortcut but was a tougher climb than the actual trail would have been. We may not have gone the “right way” but we ended up where we needed to be.

The same thing happens in life. We can be so afraid of making mistakes or doing something “wrong” that we don’t even try.

Who says your way isn’t the right way just because other people do it differently?

Lesson #4: Trust your gut; it’s smarter than you

When we talk about having a “gut” feeling, that’s a real thing. We have neurotransmitters and nerve endings in our digestive system that are directly connected to our brain. When we were on our hike with my parents, we didn’t see trail markers for a solid half hour, and my mom started to worry if we were going the right way.

But we instinctively knew we were on the trail. Eventually, we saw trail markers, but we didn’t wait until we saw them to keep moving up.

In life, there aren’t always giant, in-your-face signs telling us what to do or where to go.

If we’re always waiting for a definite, clear-cut answer about what to do before moving forward, we might miss out on something or never get to where we’re meant to be.

Sometimes, we just have to trust our gut and listen to what our intuition is telling us.

Lesson #5: You’re going to have some “Holy S#@!” moments

The High Peaks are infamous for some pretty steep rock beds and scrambles as you approach the summit. When you’re hiking, you’re usually looking not more than a few feet in front of you, so you don’t always see them up ahead.

I remember on our hike that I looked up at a steep pitch at one point and just thought to myself, “Holy S#@!” as I tried to figure out how the heck I was going to get beyond it.

This happens in life a lot. We’re in the midst of our day or our journey, and roadblocks or barriers come out of nowhere and rattle us.

Sometimes, we have no idea how we’re going to get around them. But we assess the situation, consider a few possible options and go with what makes the most sense or “feels” right. We have to take action, or we won’t move forward.

Lesson #6: Get support from others along the way

Some people like to hike alone for the solitude, and I can totally understand why. But I find so many aspects of hiking are more fun when I’m with at least one other person.

It means we can share the load of whatever we have in our packs. We have another set of eyes and intuition to guide us along the trail. We have someone who can help us over physical obstacles like ladders or steep pitches. We have someone to talk to and take pictures with throughout the hike.


The same goes with life. When we bring other people on our journey with us, they can support and guide us along the way and celebrate with us when we reach our goal.

Struggles and celebrations are easier when we go through them with other people.

Lesson #7: Soak in the summit

One of the most magical moments of a hike is when you reach the peak of a mountain. The views are stunning, especially on a clear day, that you can’t help but be silent and take in the beauty and peacefulness of your surroundings.

When we hike, we usually spend a solid hour at the summit. We take our shoes off, down some water, and enjoy our well-deserved lunch. We take pictures, lay on the rocks, bask in the sun, and take in the entire experience.

IMG_0225 IMG_0208 IMG_0229

I find this hard to do in my life. When I accomplish something, I’m quick to move on to whatever the next project or goal is and rarely appreciate what I’ve just done.

I don’t take time to celebrate victories.

But last week, the mountains reminded me that there’s something incredibly satisfying about pausing to treasure and honor something we’ve worked hard to accomplish, to fully soak in the awesomeness of that moment.


Sometimes we have to step away from the crazy busy worlds most of us live in to reflect on our journey and what we’re trying to accomplish on a daily basis. I hope some of these reflections speak to and inspire you today to reset, refocus and take on a new perspective along your journey, no matter where you are on the path.

What Nourishes Your Soul? Retreat Reflections Part 2

While so much of what I’m passionate about centers on nutrition and food-based nourishment, I was reminded this past weekend about something I learned in nutrition school – that there is another kind of nourishment, one that isn’t focused on what we eat.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I just returned from a women’s retreat and have committed to stop using “busyness” as an excuse to be disconnected and emotionally, mentally and spiritually malnourished.

One of the questions Tracey Meeks, this weekend’s speaker, asked several times during the retreat that stuck with me was this:

“What nourishes your soul?”

When’s the last time you asked yourself that question and really stopped to think about the answer? The food-based nourishment is great, but if it’s delivered to a soul that is malnourished, it will not be nearly as helpful, healing or restorative.

This “non-food nourishment” is so important in our lives…yet it’s often something we overlook and neglect.

During the Sunday morning session, as the weekend was coming to a close and I was reflecting on what I had learned, I thought about what made this retreat time so special, so restful, and so refreshing. I’m thinking next time I’m getting far out of the way, somewhere in England and take advantage of Holgates Holiday Parks, and once again really rest and refresh my self.

The conclusion I reached was this – I can take much of what I learned on the retreat with me and apply it to my life beyond an idyllic weekend away.

My roommates at the women's retreat, including my mom!

My roommates at the women’s retreat, including my mom!

Here are 10 lessons I learned from the retreat about how to nourish our restless, “too busy” souls:

1. Disconnect. No TV. No computers. Minimal, if any, cell phone time. It’s amazing how refreshing it is to take a break from technology.

When we disconnect from technology, we begin to connect to each other.

My dad recently wrote about this topic as it applies to the workplace, and I think he makes some great points worth reading. What can you do to disconnect?

2. Show authentic & focused attention. When we’re unencumbered by all of our gadgets, to do lists and schedules, we can sit down, give each other our undivided attention, looking into each other’s eyes, share our stories, trials and joys and listen. We feel heard when someone takes the time to truly listen to us and to give us his or her genuine attention. What changes can you make to be more authentically attentive?

3. Be vulnerable. So often, we put up walls that keep people away from truly knowing us. We keep ourselves safe by holding our fears, worries, and frustrations inside. When we are intentional about being vulnerable to people we trust, we create opportunities for growth and renewal. Each of us has an innate desire to feel known, heard and validated. What can you do to be vulnerable with the people in your life that you trust?

4. Have fun & laugh. We spent a lot of time laughing and having fun this weekend from doing Zumba and playing games to making jokes about ourselves and our funny tendencies (like the woman who packed 7 pairs of shoes for a day and a half retreat or the fact that there was a recycling bin in the bathroom…think about that one for a second). What is something that makes you laugh? Spend more time doing that thing.

5. Add in physical touch. Touch has always been known to have healing powers, but in this era of being over stimulated, hyper connected, and always “on,” we often miss out on the power of physical touch. Whether we were hugging a friend, putting our arms around each other in prayer, or rubbing someone’s back as encouragement or support, we were nourished by the gift of physical touch. How can you incorporate physical touch in to your life?

6. Be in community. There are many things about being a woman that are unique and worth celebrating. So often, we reject or abandon our uniquely feminine qualities and gifts that make being a woman so fun and fulfilling. I am going to be more intentional about creating these opportunities, whether it is having friends over for dinner, going on walks on the nearby trails, or grabbing tea on a Saturday morning. What can you do to be in community?

7. Listen to music. I’ve always loved to sing. My husband and I first connected over music and singing, and we are on the worship team at our church. Music is also an integral part of the retreat weekend, and we spend at least two hours singing and listening to music together. During our small group sessions, music came up several times, as several of us commented how the perfect song tends to come on the radio just when we need it. A couple of weeks ago, I was having a stressful week, and while I was driving to work (which gives me the opportunity to listen to 2 songs max), this song came on and really encouraged me. Music can help us unwind, relax, and recharge. What can you do to add music in to your day?

8. Spend time in nature. Over the course of the weekend, so many women mentioned how nourished they feel by being out in nature, in the wilderness. Something about us comes alive when we spend an afternoon hiking in the woods, take an evening walk and admire the changing colors of the trees, go for a run along a pier, soak in the warm rays of the sun during a lunch break, or play outside with kids. We spend so much of our time indoors that we often miss out on nature’s nourishment. What can you do to spend more time in nature?

9. Move. Whether it’s taking a Zumba class, trying an interval training session, or upping our heart rate and energy through a boot camp, the retreat weekend gives us lots of opportunities to move our bodies, something most of us don’t do enough. Some of us took advantage of the beautiful weather outside and went for a walk or run. Since many of us sit at work or at home for hours each day, taking time to move our bodies – something we were designed to do – is energizing, restorative and healing. What can you do to incorporate more movement into your day?

10. Rest & relax. This is the hardest thing for me to do. I feel like my mind is always “on.” Getting massages, snuggling with my husband, and soaking away my stress in a relaxing bath are a few ways I relax. One of the verses Tracey shared over the weekend that captured this idea of rest perfectly was from Mark 6:31: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

For me, time away from everything – being physically away from the demands and stresses of my every day life – helps me feel rested. What do you do and where do you go to nourish your soul and find rest?

In which of those areas do you feel adequately nourished? Undernourished?

Consider picking one area to focus on as you make strides to reconnect with people in your life and nourish your mind, body and soul.

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