The cure for feeling overwhelmed with life is always this: head to the nearest body of water. For me, this means Grand Traverse Bay, just a short bike ride from our home. Or Spider Lake, a 5 1/2-mile run from the end of our driveway. The “Big Lake” — Lake Michigan — is a 30- to 45-minute drive depending upon the beach I seek. Sometimes the creek running alongside my favorite neighborhood trail does the trick.

That’s the great thing about living in Michigan. We’re never more than 6 miles from a body of water and 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes. {source for this info here » }

I had one of those life-is-a-bit-too-full weeks not long ago. The kind where not one particular thing led to my feelings of overwhelm, but rather I experienced an overall feeling of meh. Being a glass-half-full kind of person, I don’t do so well with these moods. I end up feeling even more annoyed — almost like I’m mad at myself for feeling this way in the first place, which in turn only amplifies the meh. Vicious, dumb cycle.

Thankfully, I’ve learned over the years, especially since becoming more active, that getting outdoors and moving my body is the answer. It seems so simple, but when you’re in the middle of feeling sorry for yourself, it’s likely the last thing you really want to do.

By Friday of that week, I was thisclose to throwing in the towel as far as being a productive and functioning adult was concerned. Staying in bed all day, under the covers, was looking to be the schedule for the day.

But while taking mental health days like this can be good — I’ve definitely done this on occasion, indulging with a great book under said covers — I knew my mind and body required a different kind of rejuvenation. I needed to get out and breathe in fresh air and feel my muscles move. I needed to do this in a way that wasn’t simply a run crammed into a small window of time during a jam-packed day.

It wouldn’t be a complete leisure day, either. I would spark my creative juices so I could tackle the ideas and plans I have that are all part of my work. I would soak up my surroundings and share it with all of you. Because we all have these kinds of days, some of us more so than others I realize, and we should all give ourselves permission to re-calibrate through time spent outside. It’s not necessarily easy to carve out the time, but it’s essential.

After a morning sweat session in the Pilates studio (a text from Jen telling me she had an opening at 9 a.m. definitely helped kick my butt into gear), I headed for one of my most favorite re-centering spots: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The plan was to walk the beach, run about 5 miles, grab a bite to eat in Glen Arbor, maybe snowshoe Alligator Hill if I had time.

It was a gray day, a bit drizzly. Driving M-109 past the Dune Climb toward Glen Haven, I realized I could likely run without my Yaktrax thanks to the milder temperatures and wet, clear roads.

First stop: Glen Haven Beach, about where M-109 meets M-22

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I couldn’t believe how turquoise-blue the water was on such an overcast afternoon.
Glen Haven Beach is a great spot to search for stones.
Glen Haven Beach is a great spot to search for stones.
Frozen beauty.
Frozen beauty.
Glad I brought my waterproof boots. Kept my feet toasty warm as I walked along the shoreline.
Glad I brought my waterproof boots. Kept my feet toasty warm as I walked along the shoreline.
The ruby red of this building against the snow and sky was so pretty.
The ruby red of this building against the snow and sky was so pretty.

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I started my run from Glen Haven, heading toward Empire and the Dune Climb. I figured I’d do an out-and-back.

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I decided to stop at the Dune Climb on the way back to Glen Haven. This sign is for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, an awesome bike-run-hike path in the warmer months and a cross-country skiing trail in the winter.
I decided to stop at the Dune Climb on the way back to Glen Haven. This sign is for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, an awesome bike-run-hike path in the warmer months and a cross-country skiing trail in the winter.
Heading toward the snowy dune climb.
Heading toward the snowy dune climb.
View of DH Day Farm along M-109. I love this barn and its outbuildings.
View of DH Day Farm along M-109. I love this barn and its outbuildings.

After running just over 5 miles, I was ready to eat. I headed into Glen Arbor, a couple miles from Glen Haven, and stopped in to Boonedock’s, an American-style bar and grill. It’s a great spot for outdoor eating and live music in the summer; in the winter, it’s a quiet and cozy.

Homemade chili sounded so good on this wet, chilly day. I also enjoyed the Boonedock's Michigan side salad. And a craft beer, just because it was Friday and it sounded delicious.
Homemade chili sounded so good on this wet, chilly day. I also enjoyed the Boonedock’s Michigan side salad. And a craft beer, just because it was Friday and it sounded delicious.

I contemplated a quick snowshoe, and I stopped by Alligator Hill to see if the trail might have re-opened following the big storm this past August that took down so many of the trees…it was closed — the intermediate loop remains closed as of the time of this posting — and given the time had gotten late, I decided to head home. Snowshoe next time!

I left Glen Arbor and the Lakeshore feeling calmer and happier. I felt more like myself.

I returned home to life as it was — I still had the long to-do list, I had emails to answer, deadlines to meet, family things to plan … and yet, somehow I saw things in a new, refreshed way. There it was…perspective. I’d found, after all, what I’d been looking for.

How do you take time to re-center and gain some perspective?

When was the last time you got away, if only for a morning or afternoon, or something longer?

Have you been to Glen Haven Beach in the winter? 

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