An exercise on mindful thinking at the close of the year

An exercise on #mindfulness - www.alliepottswrites.comI decided to go for a jog one morning after feeling a guilty over recent excesses. The air was cool, but not chilly enough to need a jacket or put on gloves. My dog, Her Royal Highness, was happy enough to trot along beside me. The sky was a clear, albeit pale blue and the neighborhood quiet. In short, it was a perfect morning to be outdoors.

Raleigh is home to a greenway system that stretches from one end of the city to another and it is quite easy to forget that you are in the state’s capital when you enter one of the many wooded paths. But that morning, I had a specific destination in mind. If I could jog to a certain point on the trail without stopping, I would consider the run a success.

A slight tension on the leash informed me that Her Royal Highness wouldn’t mind picking up the pace. I ignored her request as I remained focused on my feet. She should understand. A trip or stumble due to a slippery patch of leaves or fallen branch would at a minimum ruin my stride, but could also prevent me from taking her out again for a long, long while. We rounded a corner, passing a walker and another dog on the trail. Her Royal Highness tugged, urging me to stop and say hello. Once again I refused her request.

I am not the fastest on the trail. Nor were there any fans cheering me on from the side of the path. But slow, but steady, I eventually made it to my goal one step at a time. Her Royal Highness wagged her tail and sniffed around as I took in the view.

My muscles in my legs stiffened in the seconds it took me to turn around. That’s when it hit me – the rather large error in my plan. The goal I’d set in mind was the furthest point in my run. I’d forgotten to consider the distance it would take to run back. Dang it.

Her Royal Highness sprung into action, but unfortunately, now that I’d stopped once, keeping up our steady pace was no longer as easy to do. I found myself walking more along the return, but by doing so, I was also able to look around.

The sky had taken on a deeper, richer shade of blue and the sunlight now filtered quite nicely through red and golden leaves. I stopped again at a bridge near the greenway’s exit, only this time instead of focusing on my stiffening muscles, the aching reminder of how far I’d come, or the distance I still had yet to go, I let myself appreciate just being in the place I found myself in now.

I removed my ear buds, and the music that had boomed and pulsed, keeping me inspired to run, was replaced by the sound of a creek flowing over rocks under the bridge. Leaves tumbled down as the trees swayed in the morning’s breeze. I turned and took the scene in more fully.

I might have lingered there longer, but the sound of footfalls on the path of an approaching walker broke the moment and soon we were once again on our way, taking the memory of the moment with us.

At the close of the year, I like to reflect on my accomplishments, and while they aren’t always easy to identify, I know there are always a few. At the same time, I like to plan for the year ahead and set my goals and challenges, just as I suspect many others do too. But moments like this are a good reminder to also be mindful of the present, for there is beauty to be seen in the now if you only take the time to stop and look around.

Autumn creek and #mindfulness -

31 thoughts on “An exercise on mindful thinking at the close of the year

  1. The photograph is astounding, Allie. Thank you so much for sharing the many earthen colors of this sylvan paradise. I’m not complaining that I live by the ocean in Southern California, but having grown up in Tennessee, I far prefer woods such as these. Although I’ve never been to Raleigh, I’m a huge fan of The Connells, and also love the author Ron Rash, who sets most of his books in North Carolina. You live in an exceptional state, to say the least! Thank you for this post. Life doesn’t get much finer than the moment in which you took this picture!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think these are actual pictures of the greenway, right? Nice job with the blog AND the pics. I never get tired of seeing the trail either. We are so lucky!


  3. That sounds so lovely. I’m glad you got to have that experience, even if unintentionally. It makes me want to take a walk. Sadly, there are few paths around here with babbling brooks and fall leaves. More like palm trees and sand. I miss being back east. (But I won’t when winter hits!)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I grew up in northern Ohio, in a house that was so cold in the winter, we had to wear our coats indoors. I did not enjoy it. Now that I’ve lived here for 15 years, I don’t think I could ever go back to a cold climate. I’ve become too much of a wuss.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was born in Minnesota and every winter growing up my dad would remind me I should thank him for moving us where we didn’t have to shovel so much. I love snow, but I also love the fact it doesn’t last around here very long.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes. A little snow for the kids to enjoy, and then it goes away. I could get behind that. My kids still haven’t seen snow. I feel bad about that. One of these years we’ll go somewhere cold and tough it out so the kids can play in it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful thoughts. I’m a walker on sidewalk-less streets. I’d reflect more on my walks, if, you know, there were no cars! You are lucky. Walking where there is more nature than concrete sounds divine… and obviously leads to profundity.

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    1. It is my absolute favorite feature about Raleigh. The paths run across the city from end to end with very little breaks and will eventually match up with a similar systems so that you could, in theory, walk across the state. Well technically you can already do that on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but this allows for flatter elevations.


    1. It was a gorgeous day to be outside for sure, unlike today which is cold and rainy. Even still, icicles dripping off tree limbs can have their charm as well.

      Mindfulness is something I have to constantly work on as it definitely isn’t my natural habit, especially at this time of year.


  5. Gorgeous. Always love walking. Glad you got your run in but, while walking, we can appreciate what’s around us. I reflect almost every time I go for a walk, not just this time of year. But so glad you got this walk in. ❤ Happy Holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Absolutely breathtaking scenery! I tend to rack up the mental accomplishments when I’m out and about, surrounded by nature like that. It always clears my mind and helps me focus on my goals.

    It’s great for plotting novels too, as it turns out.

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I usually prefer my point and shoot camera, but I have to say my phone’s camera certainly put in the effort that morning.

      I’ve plotted out more than a few stories on my walks. There is just something magical about a little exercise combined with quiet reflection to get the gears turning.

      Liked by 1 person

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