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Both Feet on the Ground

Both Feet on the Ground

We’ve been in quarantine, or have been trying to stay socially distant for quite some time now thanks to Covid 19. I have to admit that as kind of a homebody, I haven’t been that upset about it. Yes – it’s been a challenge – especially with the three kids and during those cooler months in the beginning.

It’s been hard to navigate the different phases of 2020, and explain all of the grey areas to the kids. But mostly, I’m ok with being at home. And, if I’m being totally honest, I LOVE not shuffling kids all over the place every day. I’m a little disappointed that that part will eventually go back to normal. In fact, I’m hoping that by some miracle we will all collectively agree to stop the madness, but I’m not holding out hope. [Since my first draft of this, we’ve already started easing back into some activities, and I’m not loving it].

In ‘normal’ time, I often lament the fast paced, always engaged nature of modern existence. I resisted setting our kids up with the various ways to connect online. They are still pretty young, and had COVID not dropped a massive crap bomb on us, they would still be blissfully unaware of [or at least, not a part of] the nonsense that is ‘social’ anything that is not actual real life experience.

During this crazy time, I’ve had to establish some routines for self-preservation. Just because I enjoy being at home doesn’t mean that a. I want to be at home 24/7 or b. want to be at home 24/7 with the whole family and all.the.needs.

One thing that I have always enjoyed is a quiet cup of coffee in the morning. Pre Covid, this would require setting an ungodly alarm to allow for ten minutes of peace before the morning routine and barrage of needs would ensue. However, during this odd stay at home time, I still have to set an alarm, but not at an ungodly hour. And I almost always take that coffee outside.

Some people exercise, some people clean, or journal, or do whatever they do. I like to just have a few minutes of peace, and a warm cup of coffee.

A few weeks ago, Shawn pulled me out into our screened in porch to point out something unusual. On top of his hiking boots, on a shelf, was a nest. A bird’s nest, thank goodness [not some other furry animal who build nests]. We weren’t sure if there were eggs in there, because it was very deep in the shelf, and mostly covered.

Turns out, there were in fact eggs in there.

So, I started having my coffee AND taking in a little of the wonder of the natural world.

birds nest

It’s quite amazing what goes on around us humans every day, yet we so rarely take notice. These birds found a very secure location for their nest, built it twig by twig, incubated the eggs, and now both the mom and dad, and others too, come in to feed the new hatchlings. When the mom or dad comes to the edge of the porch, it calls to the babies. The babies begin chirping in anticipation of their meal. Then, the mom or dad bird hops up to the nest, drops one tiny morsel in, and is off to find more for the others. It’s quite a process indeed.

One morning, I wondered out loud why they were leaving the food at the edge of the nest – and Shawn pointed out that it is probably part of the preparation to teach the babies to leave the nest. Something I never gave thought to, but can now file under things that I know [this did in fact seem to be what was happening].

Before I knew it, the babies flew the coop, and I got to witness them testing out their wings. One even stopped right on my knee to say hello. 

bird landing

If things were ‘normal’ I probably wouldn’t have noticed all of that going on with the nest. I appreciated the time to take it in, and connect with something a little outside of the noise of human life.

The one year anniversary of my dad passing is just behind us. I think about him every morning while I am having my coffee, and watching the birds. He loved anything and everything to do with the wonders of the natural world – especially watching the birds.

He was my number one guy – aside from Shawn that is. It’s a weird thing to think about. How could it be that a whole year of my life has passed without my dad in it? The last two weeks of his life were so surreal and fraught with sadness. It was hard to process, and even harder to imagine that what was happening was real. Yet here we are, a year later. Life has continued, but for me it will forever be different.

He is not gone though. He is with me every, single day. Sometimes in a passing thought, or when I’m having coffee in his Mickey Mouse coffee mug. Sometimes when I hear something he would have said, or laughed at. Sometimes when I’ve done something dumb and I think about how he would be shaking his head and laughing at me. Or when I have a ‘WWDD’ moment. What would dad do. It’s easier to face a question when I wonder how my dad would approach it. We were very similar in our outlook on life.

So even though I knew that the book Both Feet on the Ground was headed my way, when it came and I read the first page, I knew that my dad sent it to me. Aside from maybe giving me a nudge toward challenging myself in some new way, learning something new, appreciating nature … I knew that this book landed in my lap from my dad because the first page or two were all about Jack London’s Call of the Wild. My dad’s favorite. Our first dog was named Buck – you know, like Buck from Call of the Wild. My dad always fancied himself a mountain man who just happened to live in suburbia.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure that the book would be something that I could get into. Written by Marshall Ulrich, it focuses on his trials, tribulations, and triumphs as an endurance athlete.

I know my dad would have said something smart ass like, “yea, oookkk. That sounds like a book right up your alley,” with his sarcasm that I understood so well. We would have had a good laugh about it. Still, I believe that he had a hand in connecting me with the messages in this book.

This book is more than a recounting of several unbelievable physical pursuits. Though those are quite astonishing and impressive. Marshall Ulrich is an engaging writer who inspires readers to look not only within themselves, but around – in nature, to garner life’s important lessons. He encourages you to do the thing you think you cannot do. To get out of the man made world and into the real world, and to encourage your loved ones to do the same. He talks about Nature Deficit Disorder – a term coined by Richard Louv, an author and journalist, to describe the costs of being separated from nature through modern conveniences and ways of living. It spoke to me, coming off of three months of pure electronic dependence. I cringe at the way our children cannot seem to separate from their devices, and it’s our fault as parents, and a society.

But there is hope – reading Both Feet on the Ground, aside from making you feel slightly physically inept, at the same turn inspires you to do something a little different, a little challenging, a little less reliant on the world inside man made boxes, and a little more comfortable in the outside world.

You could start by observing the birds in a nest right outside your door.


Just Get in the Car

Kristin and Shawn live in Delaware County, PA. They love to travel and go on new adventures with their three kids, follow along!

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