Janna Barton | Brevard, NC

During the Thanksgiving break I took some time to rethink actions I have taken, conversations I have had with others and myself, and reminded myself I can only control my actions not others’. This was all helped by the reintroduction of running into my routine. I go back and forth with constantly running and doing more formal exercise even though I know I have a clearer head and a kinder heart when I am active. Saying all this, it is easier to be positive about my routine change with all the extra time available during the break. As I sit here writing, listening to smooth jazz (my preferred computer work soundtrack) I know with my return to school and winter holidays quickly coming up it will make it harder to continue. As I finished the second cup of coffee, I imagined the holiday lights that will be hanging, and knew that soon I would need to get ready to ride my bike in the woods with an amazing group of women all thinking similarly to me, “I’m busy but I will go insane without a little sweat and some crisp air.”

This blog did not start out about running or biking or even being out in nature, but my inspiration came to me while I was running in the Davidson River Campground. I was going by the bridge near the English Chapel at the far end of the campground and the Berenstein Bears book Too Much Junk Food, by Jan and Stan Berenstein come to mind. I vividly remember the inside cover where they wrote the title in different kinds of candy and snack food. My thoughts did not go to my sweet tooth (that can be rather large) but more about Mother Bears, which lead me to another Berenstein Bears book Bad Habits where Mother Bear does an amazing job of explaining habits. They were walking to the garden with the wheelbarrow, and there was a rut in the path from it going back and forth in the same place. She compared how hard it is to get the wheel out of the rut to the difficulty of stopping an action like biting your nails. It takes time to form and energy to change. It made sense when I was little, and again recently while reading it to one of the Owls. How funny for it to pop back up in my head while running and creating a new habit.

It was so nice to take that time to think while my body did its job: putting one foot in front of the other, arms swinging at my sides, breathing in and out intentionally to keep my heart from getting too high but keeping my pace from getting too slow. I used this time of almost meditation to pull out one thought and find an interesting place to go with it. I laughed out loud as I passed the gate that separates the closed part of the campground from the front loops still open for campers. Good job, Mother Bear, for using something her cubs could see to explain something as abstract as forming and breaking habits. That is so experiential of her, so multisensory of her, so Montessori of her… The opportunities to learn from what is around us is everywhere, we just need a clear head and a kind heart to see the connections so we can share it.  Let us enjoy those opportunities to learn, teach, or change and let them lead us where we need to go.


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