Walking Differently

Jun 02, 2024

We don’t need to wait for vacation or the weekend to uplevel our fun — finding ways to walk differently through life is a gamechanger

The buzz of impending summer is in the air — and for those of us unpeeling the layers of winter in the Catskill Mountains, it’s typically a time of great anticipation and excitement for all.

Except me.

Well, let me clarify that. Of course, I love the joy that is palpable during summer — school’s out, kids are giggly and joyous, trees are gloriously laden with lush, green leaves, the air is sweet, my flower boxes are newly filled, summer dresses float by everywhere...we all feel a bit lighter on our feet.

But for me, the transition is real. My closest friends joke that I’m a bit weird during this time — my mind is full of to-do lists and worries. Do we have enough staff? Will we get the garden open in time? Is everything up and running? Do we have what we need?

And of course, it always falls into place in divine timing and works out no matter what gets tossed my way. But spring cleaning is not for the faint of heart I can tell you.

To be honest, I brace myself for impact when spring arrives. Busy is busy — there’s no way around it. But this is exactly why I opened a be busy, to be bustling with beautiful souls who become new friends, to nourish people and build community.

When you are in the restaurant business your busy season is when everyone else is off. My weekends are weekdays. Such is café life. Such is marching to the beat of your own drum. Such is walking differently.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my sweet little Garden Café and the journey she has taken me on. She has transformed my life and always has me curious and considering new ways of being in the world.

Which brings me to what I wanted to share here with you.

In relinquishing resistance to the impending jam-packed, long workdays and the rising temperatures and heat, I asked myself how can I be more playful regardless of external circumstances?

Where can I shake up my routine a bit?

Where can I infuse some more whimsy and fun?

I was recently listening to a podcast, Pints With Aquinas with Matt Fradd who ended an episode with this quote:

“Play is like a condiment you are supposed to put on life and flavor it in such a way to draw the actual native flavor of life itself. It is meant to enhance life, not cover it, pull out the flavor, preserve, access the flavor, accentuate the flavor of life.”

This resonated so deeply with me.

Yes! Fun enhances us and makes us better, it pulls out more of us.

I am not my restaurant. You are not any assorted labels or job titles you may identify as. We are each our own glorious recipe, unique in flavoring — enhanced by play, joy, love, kindness, connection.

So how do we foster this in this crazy busy world we live in?

We consciously make time for ourselves, not excuses. 

Here are two things that I’ve recently done to shift the status quo of my life and thinking (and’s been transformative).

The first thing is that I started walking...a lot. I was inspired by a dear friend who recently committed to her health and has shown up in a big way for herself — and it’s changed her life before my eyes. I wanted some of what she was we started walking at night (yes, you read that right).

After a long day at work, I could easily say, “I’m too tired, I just want to curl up on the sofa and watch Netflix.” But nope.

My favorite time of night is just after the sun has set. I don’t know what it is, but everything seems to come alive to me then. The scents are enhanced, a blanket of quiet gently descends and allows me to hear all that the busyness of my day covered up. The cool mountain air feels soothing on my skin, my senses are exhilarated.

But here’s the funny part. I’ve discovered I’m a bit of a scaredy cat. Now in all fairness, my night vision isn’t exactly the best to begin with. Suddenly when a cat runs across my path appearing from nowhere, or a bear (yes, they are frequent visitors at this time of year) lumbers by or I simply walk into a cobweb dangling from a tree — I find myself jumping skittishly and laughing like a little kid.

I can’t tell you how ridiculous and silly and wonderful this kind of laughter is — pure medicine and the antidote to a stressful day welling right up from my belly and infusing my being.

These walks have reconnected me to the little giggly girl within. Sometimes I jump, crouch down or just burst out belly laughing — and it’s contagious. Whoever is with me finds themselves doing the same.

Each day, I look forward to this new nightly adventure. I’m curious about what I might run into and how I’ll respond. Will someone accompany me, or will I venture out alone?

And another activity I’m indulging in is swimming. Last year I missed out for all the wrong reasons. I love swimming in the beautiful streams and creeks that I’m surrounded why didn’t I make the time?

We can always find a million reasons (none of them really valid) — because prioritizing yourself in small yet significant ways feeds you body, mind and spirit.

This is how we walk through life differently — how we show up better for work, the people we love, our own needs.

Simple pleasures. This is what I call a fun night out these days! Oh, and did I mention that I’m sleeping like a baby because of all of it?

What could that look like for you? Where are you squeezing yourself out of playfulness?

Memorial Day has just passed and with it the hustle and bustle of life is speeding up for graduations, celebrations, parties and vacation plans. Maybe your calendar is already filling up faster than you can keep up with — maybe you’re ready for a more conscious pace that creates time for fun. I hope so.

And while of course it is perfectly fine to move at a new pace — some house rules and routines fall to the wayside during summer months when kids are out of school. Don’t stress it. Soak it up, be present, indulge in summer’s gifts — they are plentiful and don’t have to cost you anything.

Laugh more, play more, get sun-kissed, listen to the birds, do something new...maybe even consider walking differently.

Laughter comes from the heart and when we open our hearts we live more fully.

If I could, I’d add fun as a condiment to the menu (free of charge) and sprinkle it far and wide. It does a body good.

— Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


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