Autumn Adventures Abound!
Crisp morning air, earlier sunsets, and colorful autumn leaves signal the end of summer, but they don’t have to signal the end of our outdoor activities. No matter where we live, there are adventures and new opportunities just waiting to be discovered…
And, where better to do that in the midst of a pandemic, but the great outdoors? Not only are outdoor activities safer choices for the months to come, but they also offer incredible benefits, including some that you may not know about.
Three Reasons to Play Outside
- Improves our memory — Just one hour in natural sunlight can improve memory and attention span by 20 percent, according to a study at the University of Michigan.
- Perks us up — A University of Rochester study found that spending time in nature increases energy and vitality.
- Improves our health — Sunlight can help us to make most of the Vitamin D we need in order to reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and even a heart attack. Fresh air helps produce white blood cells to battle viruses and inflammation.
Make Your Outdoor Adventures Wish List
If you’re up for an outing, but not traveling at this time, or you’re bored and don’t know where to have safe fun nearby, it’s time to get curious and creative! This is the heart of the philosophy that my Icelandic mother instilled in me—cultivate the curiosity and the desire to experience life and the creativity to find many ways to do it. In my book, On With the Butter! I challenge readers to keep moving, keep doing and keep living, and that’s particularly important as we age.
The book title, inspired by the Icelandic expression áfram með smjörið means “carry on,” “keep doing what you’re doing,” forge ahead, or “keep moving.” When I started writing this book last year, I had no idea how timely this advice would prove to be. And since I challenge readers and myself to embrace the ‘On With the Butter’ way of living, here are some ideas to consider for your list.
- Take a walk and bring a sack or small cart to collect pinecones. You can use them to make holiday centerpieces or decorative wreaths, give them whimsical paint jobs, or use them to make other crafts as gifts, extra income, or to enjoy yourself.
- Drive through a state or national park to take in nature’s autumn splendor. Or simply sit on a bench in a nearby park and watch the world go by.
- Find an outdoor farmer’s market or fall festival where you can buy seasonal vegetables like squash or rutabagas. Ask friends to share their favorite recipes so you can enjoy preparing and eating your autumn bounty or go on a treasure hunt for new recipes. You can check cookbooks out of the local library, search for recipes online, or join a cooking group on a social media site to ask for recommendations. One short stop at a market or festival can lead to hours of engaging activity and many enjoyable meals.
- Watch the birds. Millions of birds migrate south for the winter, so Autumn is a great time to see (varieties) that aren’t in your vicinity year-round. There are a lot of bird identification books to choose from, but my birder friends recommend the ones with photographs over those with drawings. There are also bird identification apps that can identify birds for you. In addition to being a relaxing activity, learning helps to keep our minds sharp. Outings like bird watching also offer the added benefits of walking and quickly grabbing the camera or binoculars can even sharpen our reflexes.
- Join a virtual marathon. Sign up, then walk or run on your own or with a small group, and then log your miles. If you don´t know of any sponsored locally, check sites like active.com, millenniumrunning.com/virtual, or even eventbrite.com to find one. Some are free, and others have an entry fee, so browse around to find one that works for you.
- Take a hobby or project outside. If you don’t drive, can’t leave your house, or don’t want to, move a hobby to whatever space you have outside, whether it’s a backyard, deck, or even a tiny balcony. You may have to be creative to adjust for wind, but that’s part of the fun.
Focus on “How,” not “If”
It’s easy to justify why we’re not experiencing everything life has to offer us, but it’s more fun and fulfilling to challenge ourselves to find ways to do whatever our hearts desire in whatever form or fashion we can do those things now. Instead of thinking in terms of “if” we can do this or that, I’m challenging you to place your attention firmly on the question of “how” you can do it. For every excuse you come up with challenge yourself to be creative and find a way over it or around it. Coming up with these “workarounds” is a fun challenge and it’s so satisfying when we come up with our way of doing something.
I’ve made that way of thinking a habit over the years and didn’t give it much thought until the day my husband asked me if I wanted to do some target practice. I got down on my stomach, wiggled into position, and pulled the rifle snug against my right shoulder. Then I closed my right eye and squinted through my left as I took a deep breath and then pulled the trigger, piercing the ring just outside the bull’s eye. Satisfied, I lowered the gun and glanced over at Raymond. I expected him to look surprised since he’d never seen me shoot, but instead his brows were furrowed.
“What’s wrong?” I said.
“You’re right-handed. You’re supposed to use your right eye when you’re aiming.”
I explained that the vision in my right eye is poor, so I use the left one.
“Then, why didn’t you just shoot left-handed?” he asked.
“I never thought about it. I can shoot right-handed just fine if I use my left eye.” I said. “Isn’t that okay?”
He laughed a little and shook his head. “Well, there’s the right way to do things, a wrong way to do things, and then, Heidi, there’s your way.”
We Can Overcome
I took that as a compliment. While necessity may be the mother of invention, we don’t have to wait for those moments to create workarounds. By deliberately taking that approach, we can overcome any excuse and create ways to enjoy more of what life has to offer.
As a native Icelander, my Mom not only lived the On With the Butter! philosophy, she was also the embodiment of Icelandic optimism. Icelanders call this “þetta reddast,” and it translates to “it will all work out okay.” It’s the practice of embracing positive possibilities for the future, no matter what ahead. We recognize the challenges, but we don’t fret about them or let them stop us from spreading more living onto everyday life. We get On With the Butter!
How will you live the ‘On With the Butter’ philosophy this autumn? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page.
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