Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘self care

Favorite Antidepressant

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First of all, the weather yesterday was idyllic. That alone goes a long way to soothe a person’s angst. Beyond that, my favorite antidepressant is getting outdoors for exercise with a group of people who I know and love. I have known most of the people who showed up to ride for almost thirty years from the annual June bike trip called the Tour of Minnesota.

Our route along the Dakota Rail Regional Trail took us right past the home of my good friends, Mike and Barb Wilkus, so I brought a bunch of the riders off the trail to say hi to Mike.

He opened his garage to show us the camping trailer he was packing for a little getaway they have planned.

My biking group did this same warm-up ride last year but I failed to realize we were going right past the Wilkus’ place. Upon figuring it out, Rich Gordon and I stopped to surprise them. This year, I warned Mike that I’d be coming by, not mentioning the part about bringing 8 other cyclists with me.

The other thing we did yesterday on the ride was revisit a stop at the Big Stone Sculpture Garden in Minnetrista. A number of us reenacted last year’s pose in front of the word Love carved into stone.

We pedaled and visited for 30 miles which served to rekindle my deep appreciation for these precious friends.

Thank goodness Rich is adept at capturing pictures of us as we ride. Thanks for all the photos, Rich!

The joy of biking with these folks is the primary reason I have returned to the annual June biking and camping event year after year. Yesterday served as an excellent primer to inspire my preparations for the trip that will start in Albany, MN this year. Riding the country roads around my home all by myself isn’t as rewarding but getting in some preliminary hours on the saddle always goes a long way toward minimizing discomfort for a week of riding in the middle of June.

NOT having sore butt bones when you will be riding day after day is also an antidepressant, if you know what I mean.

I would be even happier if the week in June isn’t rainy or stormy, but I won’t frame that as a requirement. I’ll throw that inspiration out there as a potential bonus.



Written by johnwhays

May 21, 2023 at 9:00 am

Future Me

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I recently saw a news article on the topic of “health span” as compared to life span. If people live longer but haven’t taken care of their health, the golden years can be fraught with ailments instead of desired retiree pursuits. It gave me a new appreciation for how many of my present moment decisions are made with “future me” in mind.

Planting trees is a primary exercise in doing something for “future me.” Sometimes, it’s even more for generations that will be around after I’m gone. I like to point out the giant maple trees near our labyrinth with an invitation to imagine what it will look like in a hundred years when the fingerling we transplanted from beneath them has matured in the center of the labyrinth.

We could all do better by making more decisions each day with our future selves in mind.

Even when it comes to the water we drink toward healthy hydration each day, what we are doing in the moment actually pays dividends tomorrow. There is a time element to how our cells absorb, so to be at our peak tomorrow, we need to drink enough water today.

The planking and stretching exercises I do in the morning are a routine I adopted to strengthen my core for next year and beyond. A little workout at a time for a future me in ten years.

Scrubbing my mental health to purge negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive messages as a daily practice is absolutely a gift to future me. I have witnessed more than enough people who seemed to grow gloomier with each year that passes to inspire my goal of achieving the opposite.

With these life practices, I’m hoping “future me” will be happier and healthier than present-day me. I would be very satisfied if my health span and life span came out as close to even as possible.

Wouldn’t everyone?

I recommend allowing our future selves to guide all our daily decisions instead of just relying on the possibility of luck to bring us happy endings.



Allowing Happiness

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We did it! We have arrived at the last day of 2020, bowing respectively for the sad number of others for whom the year would become their last.

There you have it, right there in the opening lines, my perpetual dilemma. It is time to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, but how can we celebrate in the depths of this disastrous pandemic? How did the people of downtown Nashville celebrate Christmas when the morning dawned with a terrorizing suicide bombing?

It’s not easy. But I’ve come to value the challenge of allowing for happiness amid a world of sorrow. Doing so is more worthy than the alternative of not cultivating joy simply because of all the things that continue to be wrong in the world.

I weep for those who are in pain, poverty-stricken, devoid of love, homeless, country-less, hungry, lost, forsaken, oppressed, unjustly imprisoned, or ill of health. Would that there comes a time when all people are free of the worst of possible situations.

It is reality that for every grand success of accomplishment worthy of celebration throughout history, someone, somewhere, was simultaneously suffering. For far too long in my life, I couldn’t reconcile the complicated mental gymnastics of untangling the two opposite realities that coexisted.

It has taken me a lot of practice to reach a place where I feel okay about allowing myself to be happy in the midst of an unhappy world. I don’t have any concise trick to offer toward how I achieve this milestone. I would say the primary factor is probably my developing a tenacity to repeatedly remind myself I am allowed to feel happy. Our happiness doesn’t automatically devalue the sorrow of others.

Maybe there is a trick. I would say it has to do with love. There I go again about loving others. If I am cultivating love for all people, my joy is not callously disregarding others who are hurting. I can feel their pain while experiencing my happiness. We are complex organisms, able to do more than one thing at a time.

We can celebrate the end of a difficult year, feel joy for our blessings, revel in the mysterious greatness of the universe, bask in the love of family and friends, and spread love to those who aren’t feeling it.

Bring on the new year. May it provide oodles and oodles more happiness for all!



Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2020 at 7:00 am

Pay Attention

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Attention to what? That’s a good question.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Your posture right now.
  • Who is suffering most among those you know and love.
  • The best return for your investment of time.
  • How long it has been since you voiced appreciation to someone deserving.
  • How you might help someone less deserving.
  • Your most common habitual “tick.”
  • When you sense yourself not acting in your own best interest.
  • How false information is being used for unethical advantage.
  • What it is you are actually afraid of.
  • How long it has been since you laughed and cried at the same time.
  • What you actually ate in one day that was not a healthy choice.
  • How swiftly days become weeks and weeks become months.
  • How much sleep you are getting.
  • Maintaining a healthy social distance from all others.
  • The expression on your face when not actively smiling.
  • How much of our unspoken thinking is inadvertently communicated.
  • When you find yourself unable to ask for what you need or want.
  • The power of love.



Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

That Door

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there are days when I like to pretend

I don’t know which drawer she hides her candy in

back before the virus

there were a lot of things we took for granted

it’s funny how features that haven’t changed a bit

somehow look different now

tall tales that seemed laughable when we were young and still fascinated

have grown almost scary to me now

combined with the changing angle of sunlight

and smoke from distant fires

the world is painted in a slightly different hue

it’s a long hard sigh

done more for effect than for bigger air to breathe

waiting for all the other shoes to drop

in consequence for everyone trying to make too big a hop

from one thing to another

too many humans flit around after purposeless purposes

in impassioned attempts to not settle down and allow themselves to feel

but real doesn’t simply vanish into thin air

when we neglect to slow down and actually care

for ourselves

with hymns of wailing and flailing for peace and harmony

looking for love to crawl out of our core

blossom in our bosom

if and when we come to our senses

and finally open that door



Written by johnwhays

May 7, 2020 at 6:00 am


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Words on Images




Improvement Movement

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In my grand scheme of a continuous improvement movement toward optimal health, I have recently added new attention to not cleaning my plate. It’s an old habit, but eating everything served has long contributed to my consuming more food than my body needs at a sitting. I’ve decided to take another crack at altering that pattern.

It’s a project I tried off and on in the past, just like my attempts to stop snacking directly out of the bag, or trying to get a full 8-hours of sleep a night. I have not accomplished everything I set out to achieve.

I’m hoping to springboard on the success I have been experiencing with my daily regimen of planking and stretching exercises.

Actually, it parallels well with my recent decluttering effort. The latest accomplishments have inspired me to keep going to the next level of clutter out in the shop.

My planking success –started about 6-months ago and still making daily progress, well beyond the initial 30-days-in-a-row goal– seems to be inspiring me to take the next step toward better (and consistent) attention to portion size.

This whole portion control thing rides on top of my earlier focus to kick a sugar addiction and rein in the percentage of my daily sugar consumption in my diet.

Last night, I took a moment to calculate the number of grams of sugar in a serving of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Coconut Almonds that Cyndie brought home as a treat on our anniversary. It’s the coconut that sends these over the top. It calls out to me every time I walk past them.

Sixteen grams in a 1/3rd cup serving, which is a little under 1-gram per coated almond.

I have tried to satisfy myself with eating just 2 or 3 almonds at a time, but then the challenge I face is to honestly track how many little visits to the well I make in a day.

Craving is a powerful thing.

I’m happy that I have developed a bit of a craving to do my daily planking routine, and I struggle with the craving to sleep that washes over me at times of the day when I can’t.

Now, if I could just get myself to crave small portions of really delicious large servings of food on a plate in front of me, I’ll really be getting somewhere.

Here’s to continuous movement toward optimal health, one step at a time. Mind, body, and spirit.

Join me, won’t you?