A Balancing Act

The cat who lives at the Point—a neighborhood fixture
A thistle by the roadside.

Andrea here, thinking today about modern life—and how all its complexities seem to make it more and more difficult to balance all the stresses that seem to bombard us every day. Things feel so fraught on so many levels. I don’t know about you, but I’m find myself opening the morning newspaper with a sense of dread of what’s going on in the world. And then there are all the myriad things we deal with on a personal level . . .

The Point in winter

I find that a key to keeping on an even keel is a daily ritual of “detoxing” from all those stresses. And for me, it’s a daily walk—usually in the afternoon or early evening after I’ve finished my writing for the day, no matter what the season is. I call it my plotting walk because I often think about how to unravel some plot knot in which I’ve entangled myself!

But along with book thoughts, I’m also very mindful of noticing the natural world around me. I’m a visual person, and I love spotting little details—the colors of the flowers, the light on the trees or water, textures, birds and animals that capture my fancy.

So I thought I’d share some of the things I see along my daily journey and talk about why the walk is important to my sense of well-being. I follow pretty much the same route, as I’m fortunate enough to live in a charming New England town right by Long island Sound, which offers and endless variety of interesting sights, both along the country lanes and the winding road along the harbor out to a point overlooking the Sound. The midpoint of my walk, where I turn around and take a different home is usually The Point, where the harbor channel opens up into LI Sound.

It may be the same route, but every day is gloriously unique.

The harbor on a summer evening
Looking out to the Sound from the harbor green.

The subtleties of light and wind and rain change how I see the surrounding. And of course, the seasonal changes are a constant reminder of the cycle of time.

When I’m looking at all of that, I’m focused on the little beauties of Life, and I find that really always makes me feel relaxed and more grateful for “being in the moment.”

I see so many things that make me smile.

The harbor channel in autumn.
A fence in bloom along a country lane.

I have read that there is medical evidence that the actual physical act of smiling is good for you! I exhale the stresses (well, at least some of them, and those that remain feel a little less daunting) and always end up at home feeling calmer and more grounded.

A New England stone wall

That’s why I make a point of heading out the door, even on the days when I’m tempted to make excuses. Rain, shine, snow . . . unless it’s truly awful, I’m out there!

Fog rolling in from the ocean

What about you? Do you have any daily rituals to keep you feeling balanced?

19 thoughts on “A Balancing Act”

  1. I do try to get out and walk regularly, though I am not as fortunate to have such lovely scenery as you do. I do observe whats around me, especially the bird calls, but I’m mostly concerned with the exercise I am getting!
    However, I moved to a retirement community 3 years ago and am on the top (5th) floor and have very large windows with unobstructed views. I am awed by the sky. The minute by minute, or sometimes second by second changes can be mesmerizing. I never tire of it. This is what keeps me balanced and calms me down.
    Thank you for posting the beautiful photos. I envy that you live so close to the water.

    Reply
    • How lovely that you have such great windows, Alison. Watching the sky is wonderfully calming. I could have filled my whole blog just with sky photos, for I’m constantly awed by the constantly changing beauty of the light on the clouds.

      And, yes, I love being close to the water. Like the sky, the sea is an ever-changing scene of textures and light that never ceases to amaze and delight me.

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  2. What a lovely post, Andrea. Thank you for sharing those wonderful photos!
    I try to take a daily walk, but my follow through is weak. Admittedly, my environs are not quite as enticing as yours. The thing I do daily is read (well, and eat and sleep) and that adds a lot of joy and calm to my life.
    FYI: I’m enjoying the typo in your tags – ‘life-wrok balance’ has a certain je ne sais quoi!

    Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed the post and pictures, Karen. (ha, ha on the tag typo. As you can see, I’m slightly dyslexic, and I constantly transpose letters. Sigh.)

      Reading is a part of my daily ritual, too. I pu the reading light when I go to bed…and while I sometimes flall asleep with a book in my lap, that time of slipping into the pleasure of a well-told story is such a joy.

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  3. If I have time and have no need to rest, I go to Central Park to rejuvenate. I also enjoy walking tours with a very experienced tour director, Hank Orenstein, who is on Meetup. All of us in every group with him see all the beautiful architecture in NYC, and we recently saw the Old Forest as it’s called in Inwood, which is north of Manhattan.

    This forest is part of the original land that the Lenape Indians used as well as the rest of the ancient forest that the European settlers destroyed when they came here. The more north of Manhattan, the more of some of the original forest and a fort from the Revolution remains here.

    That’s the outer idea. The inner work of positive affirmations, prayer work, meditation, reading applicable spiritual ideas, all help me to feel more centered and grounded.

    Reply
    • The walking tours sound fascinating, Patricia. Thanks for sharing the info. I will look into Inwood and the Old Forest. It sounds like a wonderful place to visit.

      Positive mind/spirit is very important for feeling balanced.

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    • Thanks so much, Pamela. Glad you enjoy the Instagram shoys (it’s one of the reasons I like Instagram best of all social media because it’s so visually oriented.)

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  4. Thanks for sharing those beautiful photos, Andres! What a lovely place to walk. I also live on the Long Island Sound in a small village which has a beautiful park by the water. I go there to walk and watch the sailboats and read and relax. There are two lovely gazebos at each end of the park which are lovely to sit in. It is a very peaceful. I enjoy, as you do the beautiful flowers, trees and love listening to the birds. I also love listening to music which always cheers and relaxes me and sing along with my favorite songs. But most of all I love a good story to take me miles away(and your bioks are especially good for that!) and i can do that anywhere!

    Reply
    • Jane, your setting sounds very lovely, too. How nice that you hear music, as well as the sound of the birds and water. Sailboats are always fun to watch.

      And thank you so much for your nice words about my books. That really means a lot to me.

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  5. Your walk looks beautiful. I often take a walk on the boardwalk, by the Atlantic Ocean, which is 10 minutes from my house. I also love sitting in my backyard in the late afternoon and watching the birds and the sky.

    Reply
    • Karin, I envy you the open ocean! I love the Sound, but I do miss the sound of the surf and that real sense of ebb-and-flow rhythm that you only get with real ocean.

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  6. You live in such a beautiful place, Andrea – no wonder you want to walk around there every day! I really need to make an effort to get out more as I’m a terrible couch potato. I agree that focusing on the beauty of nature or your surroundings, and noticing the little things around us is very helpful for relieving stress. I shall try to emulate you from now on!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Christina! But you’re being way too modest! I love your Instagram phtos of the the gorgeous flowers and pheasants in your back yard, and the nearby pastures with sheep and lams. You live ain a very beautiful spot, too!

      Reply

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