Time to meet another blog reader/commenter. I am thrilled to feature Robin this month…please extend her a hearty welcome some words of encouragement to help her through her year-long outdoor commitment.
When Kathy asked me if I’d like to do a guest blog post, I was honored. A little thrilled, too. I expected I’d have plenty of time to mull it over and decide what I wanted to say but then life took a turn towards Busy and I’ve been zooming along, trying to catch up, ever since. I finally decided to take a little detour towards Make Time and here I am, trying to write up this introduction to me.
So. Who am I? My name is Robin. A few of you may know me from my blogs: Life in the Bogs and Bountiful Healing. Or you may recognize my feet from comments I’ve left here at Kathy’s and at other blogs. It was this post at Bountiful Healing that made my feet almost famous.
I started blogging in September of 2006 as a means to keep friends and family up to date with M and I during a temporary move to West Chester, Pennsylvania while M was on a sabbatical. M, by the way, is my husband. I’ve never been very good with the pseudo-anonymous naming of family and friends so my blogs tend to look a little like alphabet soup when I’m writing about them. The exceptions are my two granddaughters, the Exquisite Emma and the Magnificent Maddy, and pets (such as our two cats, Izzy and Bella).
Like most people, I am somewhat defined by my relationships. I am a daughter and a sister. I am the oldest of five children, with three brothers and one sister. I am a wife, married to the Lovely Man (aka M) for 35 years. I am a mother, with two sons who were born 10 years apart. Both sons are grown, married, and my oldest son and his wife have two gorgeous daughters, making me a grandmother. Being a grandmother is an amazing role in life, filled with many blessings and joys, and I am loving every minute of it.
I am a homemaker and photographer now but have had a jack-of-all-trades career in the workforce and it would take a long blog post to go through all of my jobs. I’ve worked picking blueberries in the summer, night shift in a factory, managed a miniature golf course, and had the fun of being a secretary (now known as “administrative assistant”) in a variety of places including universities, a nursing home, an insurance company, and the U.S. federal government where I eventually advanced to being an Accounts Receivable Analyst (numbers cruncher).
My last job was as a pharmacy technician for one of those big box store companies. It was quite a learning experience in a variety of ways and what I loved most (and sometimes disliked most) about it was the interaction with people. Everyone reacts differently when dealing with illness and injuries, whether it’s their own illness or that of a loved one. Sometimes it brings out the best in them. Sometimes it brings out the worst. I learned to practice levels of patience and compassion that went beyond what I had known in the past.
I am originally from New Jersey. M and I have moved around a little throughout the course of our marriage. We have lived in:
Columbia, South Carolina
Huntington, West Virginia
Southern Ohio (the southern most point of Ohio, in fact, along the Ohio River)
St. Louis, Missouri
London, England (for one summer)
And now we are pretty much settled in the secondary snowbelt of northeast Ohio where we get about 100 inches of snow each winter. The pond pictured above is part of the 8 acres of property we care for and live on, known as Breezy Acres (once the name of the farm that was here). I have always wanted to live in the country with a bit of land to roam around on. Breezy Acres is a dream come true. The pond is 1.5 acres (more like a small lake than a pond) and 13 feet deep. It is home to bullfrogs, green frogs, a few varieties of turtles, bass, blue gills, a few carp, the occasional muskrat, snakes, and minks, just to name a few. At the back of the pond we have a small section of woods. The rest of the property was once all mowed, including a hayfield that a local farmer would cut and bale.
During our time here we have seeded a wildflower meadow, allowed the meadow with timothy grass to grow wild (the deer love it), and planted about 200 trees in hopes of turning the hayfield back into forest. Our main objective as caretakers is to allow nature to take care of things for the most part, having gotten plenty of input from our local Extension Service on the land, indigenous plants, and pond life.
I have a small garden area where I grow a few vegetables. I started with an asparagus bed because fresh asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. Other than the asparagus, I don’t grow too much as there is a farm with a market about a mile up the road where I buy most of our produce. I am a strong advocate of buying local, generally avoiding franchises and big chain stores when possible.
One of the reasons I babbled on about Breezy Acres is that it relates to how I came to know Kathy. You see, I like to make lists. Almost every day I start out with a list of things I want to accomplish that day. And almost every day for the past few years I have included this:
Step outside and enjoy the beauty of this place where I live.
When we first moved here I didn’t need to put that on a list. I went outside every day to explore the property and the neighborhood (so to speak — the houses are spread pretty far apart here and going around the block means walking 5 miles). But after the first year or two, those daily adventures into the great outdoors were turned into once or twice a week excursions. Depending on weather (too cold, too hot, too humid, too rainy) and bug (mosquitoes and deer flies) conditions, sometimes less than that.
Enter Kathy. Or rather, enter Freshly Pressed. Kathy and I were Freshly Pressed on the same day earlier this year. I posted about redbud trees and suddenly my blog hits were climbing like crazy. I decided to visit the other blogs that had been Freshly Pressed that day and that is how I “met” Kathy and discovered her amazing adventures of Opening the door, walking outside. She inspired me to begin my own outdoor adventure and on the autumnal equinox of 2010, I opened my door and walked outside, making the commitment to do so every day for a year.
It has been over 80 days now since I started my outdoor commitment. I am learning a lot about this small piece of Mother Earth that nurtures, nourishes, and sustains us in a variety of ways. I now know where the deer paths are through the woods and meadows, and where they sleep at night. I have met a dule of doves (and learned the term “dule” as a result!), a kingfisher, a great blue heron, and many other birds while out on my daily walks. I am getting to know the woods and the creek that runs through the woods.
I am honing my photography skills. When you walk nearly the same paths day after day, you have to be creative with your picture taking. Or so I thought. Mother Nature provides plenty of creativity for me to capture. I am often reminded of the quote about how you can never stand in the same river twice for that is what it is like outdoors every day. There are always changes and even “the same path” is different if you’re paying attention.
I am also learning things that touch the heart and the soul. But the nature of this sort of learning makes it difficult to put into words. It is an expansion or an opening of the heart and the soul as well as a sense of peacefulness that comes with feeling a connection to everything. I still have about 280 days to go and expect I will continue to learn a lot along the way.
I am lucky in that I also get to travel quite frequently which has allowed me to experience nature in different settings including the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, California. I have been exploring nearby hiking trails as well. Stepping outside doesn’t always involve a trail through the woods or meadows or mountains, though. Sometimes my outdoor adventures include walks through a village (as they call the towns here in Ohio) or a city (frequently Akron or Cleveland, both of which are not too far from where I live).
Well, this is getting lengthy so it’s time to wrap things up. Thank you, Kathy, for inspiring me to take this journey and for inviting me over to introduce myself to your world and your friends. I not only enjoy your blog posts and photographs but your comments as well because you attract interesting, positive people to your blog. It’s a fun place to visit.