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February 13, 2016

Get Out & Breathe

Get Out & Breathe

SIMPLE SATURDAY — Full disclosure. After writing this SIMPLE entry on the plane ride from Jackson, WY to Chicago, I took the bus into Evanston from O’Hare airport, which gave me time to catch up on my reading. (I am chasing Jay William’s book with a memoir by Chamique Holdclaw). I walked about five blocks from the bus stop to my college roommate’s empty home (her family is away for the weekend). It was about 6:15 pm on a Friday night. Within three blocks, I thought about calling a cab for the other two blocks. Then I remembered I’m not in Manhattan. It was so bad that I wanted to take apart my suitcase and put my ski pants on over my Lululemon sweats and grab a second pair of gloves.

 

Jackson, WY was a mild walk in the park compared to Evanston, IL, which registered on my cell as about 10 degrees, low of 7 degrees, and the windchill – I didn’t want to know.

 

So long story short is obviously it’s a good idea to be well-dressed with several layers. Go out during daylight if possible. Then return to the bunker.

 

Now on to the original SIMPLE SATURDAY piece.

 

Just get some air. Some good air. If you’ve cleaned up your diet, improved your sleep and stress level, the cherry on top is the ability to make and take the time to breathe some deep ones outside as often as possible.

 

Try it even if you live in a city. Even if the air isn’t as clean as you’d like it to be or like it is in the mountains, it’s still better than what you are breathing inside.

 

Try it before a big game or a big presentation.

 

Try it before you risk saying something you wish you hadn’t.

 

Try it to be more like people who I’ve heard live the longest, which are women who walk for at least one hour a day.

 

Try it so you realize how much better you feel, and compare it to all the times you should have done it, but didn’t. And then forgive yourself or if you’re Catholic or lapsed Catholic, try to forgive yourself as much as possible.

 

My trip to Jackson, Wyoming forced me to go outside, slow down, and breathe.

 

In Harlem, I rarely take time to escape the hot inside air, the darkness, the workload. I get why city folks have their second homes. I get why every long weekend those who can afford it get out go to exciting or even peaceful vacation places far away from the elevated pace.

 

For those who are limited to one home, you can still get out. Yet going out in the cold often at least initially feels like a punishment unless you can muster up the energy and commit to breaking at least a light sweat.

 

Adding a brisk walk or a jog, and throwing in a snow shoe or set of skis will make you appreciate the air that much more. Or at least for me it did. It’s hard to hold my ski phone and my cell phone at the same time. I had to pick the one I could not stand without.

 

Here’s a photo of my cross-country skiing partner, Dr. John, a 71-year-old dentist from Sheboygan, WI. I’ll write more about my trip soon. Until then, I hope everyone has a chance this long weekend to get out and make the cold air work for them.

 

Post-script: But seriously, the cold can also kill you as I remembered within about five blocks on a Friday night just off the coast of Lake Michigan. Go for a fast walk or a run with a ski mask and double layers during daylight. Then go visit an elderly neighbor who needs a check-in.