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B.O.R.E.D. Up North

Now into the month of June, the ice is finally gone from our near-shore waters (though I
understand our Upper Michigan friends were sunbathing on the shores of 
Lake Superior this
spring whilst icebergs floated by). Only now (mid-June) are the Great Lakes finally ice-free. The 

air is finally filled with the freshness of an up north spring, and the rest of us that were buried 
under a now-official 265"+ of snow this winter are excitedly emerging from our burrows to explore 
what the mountains of ice and snow left behind. It's just so nice to finally be able to get outside 
and enjoy the beauty of the season.

It was only a year or so ago that an influential think-tank affirmed that of all 83 counties in Michigan,
Leelanau County consistently ranked at the top whose residents were the happiest and healthiest
among those in the other 82 counties. Of course, we were very happy to learn as much, especially
since we're humbly grateful for the privilege to live in Leelanau. We suspect the lush character of 
our surroundings has a lot to do with that.

Among some of the potential reasons for that distinction is the legendary natural beauty of the
area: clean, crystal clear water in our lakes and streams, a slower lifestyle that affords more
time to reflect, enjoy, and be thankful for what we have, and the many 
miles of trails for hiking
and biking. With so many opportunities around us to stay healthy and maintain a balance of
wellness in our lives, we have no excuse to do otherwise.

With the 2013-14 school year nearly history, our kids (who are spending more time at home 
now) might be tempted to say they're "bored," or "I don't know what to do" (since there's no 
homework to occupy their time). Which reminds me of a cute photo my wife received on 
Facebook recently:

    (click on the image to enlarge)

  (click on the image to expand)

Dare a child ever say they're bored up here, we're quick to respond that living up north is the 
perfect antidote to boredom (why this savvy mother penned this on their kitchen wall's dry-erase 
board after hearing that statement one-too-many-times; she came up with five clever things 
to occupy her children's time with).

Having survived a heart attack last spring, I and my family have made special time to carry 
out many (if not all) of the tenets of this acrostic with purpose (especially the 'exercise' part). 
Walking 3-5 miles a day, taking time to read positive, inspirational material, and engaging 
with our boys in fun, organic play / outside activities, we've discovered no end of things we 
can do as a family to stay healthy and active; there's no time for boredom at our house.

If you're feeling a bit unmotivated right now, maybe that's a sign that you need to get out of the house and get moving -- preferably in a quiet, wooded area or even on a secluded trail near you to decompress and take in the natural beauty surrounding us in the north country.

If you're reading this from somewhere other than Northern Michigan (e.g. a big noisy city), maybe you could escape to a quiet city park, or take a drive or ride a bike out in the country.

From a recent Facebook posting; author unknown.
By the numbers, every medical study I've seen continues to point to the value of what this simple acrostic's concepts point to -- all with the goal of helping reduce our stress so we can live happier, healthier, more fulfilled lives. We really need to prioritize the act of charging our 'human batteries' now and then to help us value what is truly important in life. 

One of the biggest impediments to that is the cortisol we saturate ourselves with, brought on by undue stress. Cortisol, like the other hormones in our bodies, is actually an important and necessary ingredient in our survival.  Not only does it help regulate our blood pressure, it also helps metabolize glucose, kick-starts our immune system, and even helps keep swelling of muscle tissues in-check after a physical injury.  In short, it would be pretty hard for us to function without it.  But as in life, so in our body’s chemistry.  As the famous chef, Julia Childs, used to say, “Everything in moderation.”

Unfortunately, in the high-stress lives we lead, filled with ‘Type-A-squared’, multi-tasked-to-the-max people, projects, and problems -- with whom we all have to deal -- keeping our stress levels in-check is not so easy.  In fact, the harder and faster we live, the less our bodies have a chance (or even ability) to lower, much less regulate, elevated cortisol levels to a more normal range.  Unchecked, it can lead to what experts term “Chronic Stress Syndrome”. And that can lead to all sorts of nasty health problems.

If you do nothing else this year, make it a point to get in shape: physically, mentally, and spiritually. As I learned the hard way last spring after surviving a heart attack, life can be very, very, short. The more you can generate balance in your life, the happier you will be. Somehow, living (or even visiting) Up North makes that goal so much easier. When you make your way north and the noise of the city dies out behind you, and all you can hear is the sound of a breeze passing through the pine trees, or the call of the loons from a still, moonlit lake, you will begin to close in on the essence of what 'Up North' really means. More than just a place on a map, we think it's something of a 'state-of-mind,' a place longed for long after we have left it to journey somewhere else. It's a place we can't wait to return to. 'Up North' is a place we hate to ever leave.

A beautiful sunrise over the Old Mission Peninsula and West Grand Traverse Bay.
At the lower right is the Traverse Tall Ship Company's flagship 114' schooner 'Manitou'
Need some help keeping that in mind? Shannon has carefully crafted many beautiful keepsakes that will help you keep your 'Up North' experience front-n-center. Whether charms, necklaces, prints, cards or mugs, their designs are all based on natural 'Up North' themes to help inspire, refresh, and 'take you there' again and again. You'll find many of them right here on our blog; check out our individual "PAGES" on the side link to the right, or visit our Etsy Shop or Facebook page for many of the latest items. Thanks in advance for visiting -- Up North!

Up North Captured Moments - Etsy Shop

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