Mary Beth Writes

I wrote the following column September 25, 2004 -- and now I am sitting at my desk September 15, 2017 and it is all just as relevant. Gorgeous day. It's going to be a beautiful weekend. Go outside!

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Hasn't this been a gorgeous week here? What perfectly perfect weather. Cool enough to sleep at night, bright mornings, warm and breezy afternoons illustrated by children kicking leaves on their way home from school. Sunsets more brilliant than a bargain bin in a Chihuly factory.

Yes, it's been a fairyland of a week and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.

Did you notice these two intriguing stories this week in the paper?

There seems to be benefits for some kids who have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) who play outside several hours per day.  Outdoor play in a natural space might be, for some kids, as powerful as medication. This is not a proven therapy, but a strong connection currently being studied.

Also, adults over 70 who walk less than a quarter mile per day are twice as likely to suffer from dementia as older folks who walk 2 miles or more per day.  Once again, this is not a guarantee or a treatment, simply a fascinating observation.  To keep perspective on this, the people who sit around eating bon-bons (I made the bon-bons part up, could you tell?) suffer symptoms of dementia at a rate of 18 people per 1000.  The walkers get struck with dementia at 10 per 1000.  As long as you are sure you are one of the 980 who are doomed to a sound mind (I wonder who is going to define that for us), I guess you can do what you want.

Both of these studies are interesting and both are aggravating.  Don't you just want to say, "Duh..."?

Experts just noticed that going outside and moving around makes us saner and healthier?  Where have the experts been the last few millennia?  Inside at their desks?    

If you've ever co-existed with a child you already know that kids who play outside are less squirrely than the ones who sit inside and watch TV all day.

There is something outside in the plainest of places that is never inside, not even in castles.  Outside is where we are more than the facts we know. 

There are realities outdoors that we intuit and process without thinking.  Our skin feels wind. Is it a mild southern wind that makes us calm?  Is it a greenish wind from the east that makes the hair on our arms stand up?   

We hear birds in the distance and pay no attention, unless it's a bird we've never heard before.  How did we notice that odd caw? 

The lake laps and roars.  There is a rustle in a field of growing crops.  A car comes down the street, on the other side of the house from where we are working in the yard, and we pay attention because it isn't familiar. We sense that someone is behind us and we turn, the neighbor's dog is staring at us.  We remember the wrapped snack cake we put in our pocket when the phone rang. 

There are so many things we know that we didn't learn from books or classes or interactive videos.  Outside is where we exercise those other, older skills of being human.  

What I have observed so many times in my life is this.  If we don't go outside, we get sick.  We need to let the knots inside us uncoil.  Somewhere in a day we need to move enough to turn off the tension in our shoulders.  We need to chug along, let oxygen whoosh all the way down to our toes and back. 

For some this is regular, organized outdoor exercise.  For others it happens when they work in the yard, or on the car, or mess around on boats, or take the kids to the park or the dog for a walk.   For children it happens when someone unplugs the TV and pushes them out the door.  They wander the yard or park or neighborhood.  They invent whatever their kid spirits need to invent that day. 

Here is where I've been going since I started this column. If you feel as though you are tied in knots, then let me remind you of something you already know. 

There is more to us than what we worry about.   

Go outside and be whole for a while.

 

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Thanks Giving Plan - Six Quick Steps

This image this morning: The sun comes up over the top of the hill on which we live. The new-rising sun was shining on a long freight train rumbling past. All the train cars were side-lit with glowing colors - rust, manila, peaches and creams and the sky was dusky November blue behind them. The rumbling of the train in this old house was comfortable. It was a beautiful and pleasant moment.

Shop Justice to Share Love

Here we are again; this week begins the annual gargantuan lollapalooza of First World consumerism.

Sigh.

I love shopping as much as anyone. Give me twenty dollars and a quiet hour at Goodwill and I will come home with two bags of random cool stuff, 37 cents, and a song in my heart.

The Wedding

My son was married last weekend in Madison. He and his bride have been together five years (that long already?) They have a little house, two jobs, two cars, two dogs, and many dreams for a long and loving life.

What was the wedding like, you ask? Well, I’m not going to put THEIR wedding on MY website.  Instead, let me tell you some things about their day from my point of view as one of the four parents who love these kids dearly.

And by kids, I mean adults in their early 30’s (that old already?)

Balance and Distraction

Can you balance on one foot for a minute?

Me, neither.

 I practice “balancing” fairly often.  I do this by standing barefoot on one foot as long as I can and then I stand on the other foot. It’s interesting that some days I can do this and then, the very next morning perhaps, I will balance on one foot about 9 seconds before I tip over.  Sort of a mini-check-up, I guess. On the 9-seconds days I figure my body is lopsided or badly fueled or distracted. A good day to take care while doing stuff.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - a book review

If you are fascinated by how ideas ripple through human communities – you probably already read Malcom Gladwell. If not, check him out. http://gladwell.com/ He is a fascinating thinker and writer.

He wrote The Tipping Point in 2000. I bought it at Goodwill a couple months ago. A lot is dated; this book is pre-smartphones! That said, The Tipping Point is really good!

Walking and Seeing 10/13/2017

This morning I finished a story I’ve been working on since May! I submitted it to an intimidating place that won’t accept it … but they say life happens where you show up, right? I got my money’s worth out of my morning.

Here are some other places where I showed up lately -- where others had showed up before me:

DP Wigley
Happy Birthday Bruce
AAUW Book Sale
Ad Promotion