It’s around this time of year I start noticing those who begrudgingly reside in Michigan. They greatly enjoy the temperate springs, lavishly sunny summers and moderately warm falls. However when winter comes they absolutely loath the cold. It’s hard for me to understand this. I feel the temperate spring only seems so because of the frigid winters. Then the moderate fall can only exist and cause so much excitement because we all know what’s right around the corner. A true Michigan winter is the gauge we use to extract the gifts of the other seasons. I love Michigan winters; love them. I love the snow. I love the winter sports. I love the bulky clothes and furry boots. I enjoy the warming drinks and romantic fires. I love walking outside and hearing the cold; the snow crunching, the tree branches chinking together, the air forming physically around you. It feels clean and sanitized. It’s amazing. I also enjoy walking my walks in the winter. I often get asked if I walk year round and yes I do. The winters are some of my favorite walks. I find these winter walks to be filled with peace and tranquility as I am often the only walker. Even today, as I walked a very urban neighborhood the loudest noises came from birds. I only came across one pedestrian, an elderly man who was walking to the bus stop. I offered pleasantries as I waited to cross the street and we both extended hopes of staying warm when the cold snap finally arrives this weekend. We haven’t had a true cold snap in over 2 years. If all works out as planned this deliciously cold winter will create the most abundance of flowers in the spring.
Momentum can often be taken for granted when a project commences. Sometimes even a great idea can get to a point in its life cycle where it needs a push, maybe just a gentle nudging to recommit to it. After having about a month off I knew that getting back on that slow walking horse might be a bit intimidating. For many days last month I’ve created hurdles for myself; gas is too expensive, I’m too busy, and I miss the kids are some of the excuses I gave. Some of it was legitimate. For those two weeks that I was involved with TEDxLansing and Capital City Film Festival I was driving into Lansing sometimes twice a day and staying for most of that day. But now it’s really time to get moving again, literally. I was able to move yesterday walking over 5.44 miles in Lansing’s south side. It was refreshing to get out and exercise, taking in all the scents of multiple flowers permeating the breezy spring air. Again this was a neighborhood that completely surprised me with its perfection. Evenly spaced, midsized, majestic homes kept pace with me throughout the entire walk. Lawns were adorned with intricate landscaping, whimsical garden characters and pristine pruning. The early arrival of “summer” back in March surely enhanced the flower growth that we are enjoying now in our near normal spring. It was a great day for a walk. It was a great place to rejuvenate my desire to complete this project, no backing down for me. At this point I have walked a very large majority of 496 North. It’s true. So, Southside, here I come!
I was barely into my walk and my skin began to glisten under the streaming sun rays. I could feel my face getting warmer and I knew it wouldn’t be long before it was really hot out. Whether you believe in global warming or only feel that there are natural cycles in Earth’s temperatures, there is no denying that Lansing has had some extremely rare weather activities this year. In fact, today’s high will result in two more records broken; which we’ve had almost every day for a week now. The first will be the daily high and then we also will beat the record high temperature in the month of March EVER. All in all there wasn’t much of a winter here in mid Michigan and as we reach over 40 degrees warmer than our normal high, I’ve taken in how this is definitely to our advantage. Back in January I started noticing some activity that I usually don’t see during that time of year; house repair. Homeowners were replacing roofs and adding on additions in January. The lack of snow has also allowed road repair to commence much earlier than normal. As I walked today the number of people out landscaping, repairing, rebuilding and improving was amazing. There was a news segment recently about the new bridge construction on Saginaw and I heard these never before used words for this type of activity: “we are on schedule”!!!! No way! If it’s only March and roads are repaired and construction is on schedule what ever will we be doing in August!!!?? It’s an amazing concept, that all these winters we’ve been forced into hibernation, unable to get things done. Now we have a chance, maybe our one and only chance, to get out early and fix and grow and improve. I just hope we all don’t get burned out!
Other Photos Here–>
Life is hard and it definitely isn’t fair. The longer I live the more injustices I witness. I see crimes committed against innocent people. I have seen diseases strike for no apparent reason. It seems that many struggle with just the basics in life. It can make anyone become tough skinned and resilient. For some these struggles begin early in life and creates a hardness to their thinking; a hardness to their heart. I think it can create a sense of taking as much as they can because no one will give it. It creates a sense of territorial self reliance. It can also create hostility towards others. It saddens me to see people living like this. Even worse, it’s devastating when this temperament is emanating out of a young child’s eyes.
The movie The Blind Side was cheered for its idea of saving someone that everyone else tossed aside. It was a great idea, honorable even. For some reason it bothered me. It wasn’t Sandra Bullock’s accent; I think she’s incredible; it was that it was only one child! One! There are millions out there that need this attention; need to feel that someone really loves them, without conditions. Well that’s a biggie, isn’t it? But I know we can do better. It’s not all that hard to change the tide; make good ripples; pass it forward. I saw examples of that last winter when people went to stores and paid for someone else’s layaway. I have a friend who doesn’t have children. She and her wife and a couple of friends requested donations for Christmas. They took that money and went around town doing good things. They paid off a few layaways and then went to Meijer and helped a few shoppers buy their food. All of the recipients had a need. All of them were overly appreciative. And all of them had not ever expected that someone, a stranger, would be that generous.
Here in Lansing we have a secret group of do gooders called the Lansing Ninjas (coincidently they came up on a chat window as I was writing this!!). Their acts are simple yet positive. They agilely move through our town with unprovoked acts of goodness. They swiftly locate a community member and leave behind a needed gift and a note. Later they produce an informative and often moving blog post about their ventures. It’s simple, it’s fun and it’s good. It’s a much needed balance for the negative news permeating the media.
Another group I participate in is Lunch With a Purpose. They willingly and even eagerly meet at a place of need, usually a charity, to help that group for an hour. We’ve put price tags on hand beaded sandals from Tanzania for the Shining A Light group, saving them 20 hours of work (20 volunteers*1 hour=20 hours). We’ve helped pull weeds to ready an urban garden. We’ve organized books at the East Lansing Library for their fundraisers. We’ve wrapped white pine saplings in burlap for Earth Day Lansing. We’ve addressed envelopes for the Nyaka Aids Orphan project. I could go on, and maybe I should. It’s easy to be the do gooder. Really. Try it. Smile at a stranger and feel their stress level go down. Give someone a genuine compliment and watch their eyes light up. The next time you speak with a child squat down to their level and watch their respect and admiration for you increase. Hug someone you love.
It really is true; Give and you shall receive. But even more importantly, when you give, someone else receives.
Here are a few other groups that are working to make life better for others (The Lunch With a Purpose Website lists many groups serving the community as well):
New World Flood
Allen Neighborhood Center
City Rescue Mission
The Greater Lansing Food Bank