Laughter Lifts Us When We ‘Fall’

The vibrancy of autumn in northeast PA can be done no justice by words. It must be seen. The color of fall leaves on a warm, sunny afternoon make a box of Crayola’s seem pale.  Add to that picture pumpkins, gourds, mums and every spice of the seasonal palate, and you suddenly feel warmth.  But fall also brings change. The lazy days of summer are soon forgotten while the often snowy and frigid days of winter loom on the horizon.  For some of us, that means a change in mood.  With less daylight, some folks start to feel a type of seasonal depression. With less daylight it’s important to keep your life lighter with more laughter.  Let me help with this video reminder from Laugh to Live!

With Humor Fueling Our Steps, Let’s Trail Together

Trails are simple in nature but can lead to a robust lifetime of benefits for the community in the form of healthier residents, booming businesses and renewed pride. Here in northeastern Pennsylvania, we are fortunate to have The Lackawanna River Heritage Trail (LRHT), which is part of a 70-mile multi-purpose trail system that follows the Lackawanna River. The trails have grown in popularity with residents and that’s great! We have a place to exercise, enjoy nature and come together. As with any passageway that gets congested, we all need to follow some rules for safety and a good experience.  Consider these tips to get the most from your trail experience while letting others do the same.


• Group Think – Everybody’s Doing It: Having friends to walk with is helpful. They can keep you accountable. Just knowing that you’re supposed to meet for a walk helps to motivate you. And…it’s fun. You chit chat while you walk and time passes quickly. You don’t even realize you’re exercising. But, even if you feel like you’re joined at the hip with your friends, there are times when you need to separate … like walking on a trail. There’s simply not enough space for people to walk four or five-across when someone is running, walking or biking toward you. Be polite and tighten up to let the oncoming exerciser pass without having to run through foliage.

•Not A Place for Free-range Dogs or Kids: I do not currently have a pet and I am not a parent, but I am affected by the way pet owners and parents manage their charges. Please take no offense. I am not putting children in the same category as Chihuahuas. Those yappy dogs are much more obnoxious than children and much fussier about the sweaters they’ll wear. I’m kidding. Dogs will wear whatever sweater you put over their little heads. Seriously, children and dogs are equally delightful but in obviously different ways. And both can get in the way if they are not being supervised. Even if your child is the most well-behaved on the planet, and even if your dog is the calmest, most obedient pet on Earth, you are the adult humans in charge of both. Children are carefree, as they should be. That means they tend to run, bike and play as kids do – all over the place. When I’m out for a run or bike ride, I am prepared to stop as needed, but… my planned exercise is better when I don’t have to zigzag, stop short or brake so hard that I fly over my handlebars. Please exercise control over your children and your pets, which need to be on a leash – the pets that is.  Your cooperation and courtesy is appreciated.

•When Poop Happens, Clean it Up: It seems ridiculous that this would have to be said and yet my Berber carpet knows all too well that some people ignored the first memo about what to do when poop happens. These are folks like my careless, inconsiderate neighbor who lets her dog roam and conduct business on my property and other free-range pet owners who leave organic “gifts” along our trails. I don’t care if your dog is small enough to fit inside your Coach purse. If it poops, you clean it up. Unless you were nabbed and forced to take your dog for a walk by some odd healthy lifestyle kidnapper, you know when you are taking your dog for a walk, so plan accordingly. Carry a plastic bag with you. Remember that you are not the only one using the trail. My Berber carpet expects to be walked all over, but doesn’t like $hitty days any more than you do.

•Do Your Creepin At Home: The word leer is only appealing if it’s spelled lear and has jet after it. No woman feels comfortable with a man standing  along a trail oggling at her in her shorts and sports bra. I can tell you that I don’t take it as a compliment to see your tongue wagging while I’m trying to catch my breath on a run. And I don’t believe you are at the trail for a workout in your jeans, brown socks and polyester shirt. If it’s lap jollies you’re after, watch porn on your laptop like most other red-blooded American men.

•That’s Not An Angel Getting Its Wings – I have a bell on my bike. I like it because of its nostalgic feel and I get to save my voice for my business presentations. But when I use that bell, it’s not to communicate that an angel has gotten its wings as said in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” it’s my way of indicating that I’m behind you so stay alert. I usually add something like “on your left,” but I find that can add a new level of confusion for people who forget which is their left and their right. Those folks tend to scurry in all directions like cockroaches when the light’s turned on. Just keep in mind that you’re not alone on the trails so stay aware of your surroundings.

•The Eyes on the Back of My Head – I am not a grade-school teacher or a mom so eyes have not grown on the back of my head. That means that I cannot see behind me. Please be courteous and let me and other runners know when you are approaching. Say something like “excuse me,” “coming your way,” or how about something flattering like “looking good.” If you are a person of few words, simply cough or clear your throat loudly. Last week a man in his 50s whizzed by my left shoulder and had me spinning like a top.

Forgive me if I seem to be lecturing. I do have that “Bad dog…” tone when I write and talk some times. In my defense,  I studied under some of the best lecturers around – the Sisters of the IHM – as a grade school and high school student in Catholic schools.  Now, please follow these rules on the trail or you just might see me out there running with a ruler in my hand.

Work Area Ahead Is Sign of Life

As I’ve written about in previous posts, I’m training for my first marathon. Actually, I have just a few weeks left before the gun goes off and I run in the annual Steamtown Marathon on October 13. I’ve gone from terrified and nauseated to confident to almost a complacent state at the moment but I know my adrenalin will skyrocket on that fall morning in October. When I was out on one of my training runs last week along the beautiful Lackawanna River Heritage Trail’s newest addition in Taylor, I saw the orange diamond sign that read “Work Area Ahead” that warned of some construction at the entrance way to the trail. But being in a running state of mind (where I have “deeper” thoughts that are often creative and even philosophical – at least to me) I read the sign and thought about just how true it is.  The road ahead of us in life is one where there is much work to do … assuming that we want to keep growing and challenging ourselves to live better lives that help to make the lives of others better.

There are many wise self-help books out there and wise words on the strings of tea bags, inside of Snapple lids and on the sides of Green Mountain coffee cups – many of these sayings often remind us to be in the moment because that is most important and really the only reality we have. After reading Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” I am convinced that is the case. While his book is rather profound and takes some (a lot in many parts) re-reading to fully digest its meaning, it makes perfect sense that no matter how much we think, worry, dwell, plan for tomorrow or even the next hour, all we can live is the moment we are in. But with that said, when I saw the sign “Work Area Ahead” it just lit my mind up with the idea that it is true that we have much work ahead of us.  And while it’s best that we focus on the moment we’re in, aren’t we all making an impact on the road ahead through our actions at this moment? So if we think before we speak and before we act, and try our best to say the kindest words and take the most productive, beneficial– you name the honorable descriptor– actions, then we are already working ahead to make life better for ourselves and those around us.

I will often make statements that sound elitist and judgmental. I think that just because I read a book by Eckhart Tolle and that I’m aware of when I’m being an asshole that I’m working on being a better person and transcending a lower form of life. I say things like, “Well at least I’m aware of my shortcomings so I can work to change them.” And I say that many other people seem to be floating through life blissfully ignorant or just following what others are doing like sheep in a heard. And I think that I’m better than them but that thought right there is proof that I’m not. The sign “Work Area Ahead” is as relevant to me as to everyone else.  We all have work ahead to do if we want to be contributors to society. We all have gifts and talents that we can share right now to make life better, richer, happier ahead.

My goal is to focus on sharing my gifts of humor, laughter and communication today without judging what others are doing or not doing. And I will do this with the thought that there will continue to be work head because that’s what keeps us going. Keeps us from getting bored. Keeps us from becoming extinct. So the choices we make in this moment are helping us to work ahead in a sense and help us set up for successes farther down the path.

I hope that I continue to have my eyes, mind and heart open to the signs of life that I see along the path I travel.