Do note that this is my personal recipe... please feel free to make substitutions as needed :)
Prep time: Minimal
Total Time: 1 hour (or however long you choose!)
Prep: Grab your shorts, a t-shirt or tank top, and some tennies.
Instructions: Start around 6:30 pm on a warm, sunny spring/summer evening. Run, bike, walk, roller blade, drive, etc. to the YMCA on the south side of Bloomington. Behind the Y, take a lap around the dirt trail (if you feel so inclined). You're likely to see kids during their baseball practice as well as some people lying in the warm grass and soaking up the sun. Afterward, continue on down the road to Sherwood Oaks subdivision. This is where the magic begins.
Follow the bike route signs and head toward Sherwood Oaks Park. Take your time. Soak up the sun and take in the beauty of the flowering trees, the green grass, the blue sky, the singing birds. The subdivision will be alive with people too. You'll smell someone firing up the barbecue. An old couple will be in their yard, working on their garden or putting a fresh coat of white paint on their fence. You'll pass several young families too. A young husband and wife with their baby in a stroller and a dog at their side. The baby smiling and laughing and looking at the world with eyes full of wonder. People pass by on the sidewalk and greet each other with smiles and hellos. As you reach the park, you'll be hard-pressed to find a kid who isn't grinning ear to ear. The playground will be full, with kids chasing each other up the slide, acting goofy, their laughter filling the air. You'll see an old couple walking hand-in-hand down the path that surrounds the park. Kids and their parents splash in the water down at the creek, barefoot with their pants rolled up, skipping stones, and climbing over logs. A pair of kids race across the grass chasing a dog. As you continue on, a little boy on a bike will do his best to speed past you, his little legs pedaling as fast as his body will allow.
This is the stuff of life. A warm, sunny day comes around, and the world bursts into life. There's nothing quite like seeing so many happy, carefree, and joy-filled people, young and old alike, enjoying such a beautiful day outdoors that makes me feel so alive.
I think we all get into a funk sometimes. What's even worse is when you're in a funk and don't even realize it. As students and employees, we get so wrapped up in the stresses of everyday life. Classes to attend. Projects due. Too little time in the day. Before we know it, we're entirely wrapped up in our own thoughts--thoughts about the past day or thoughts about what's to come--and we're missing life. We're not enjoying the moment. We're not connected to the present.
So take a little time away. Find a place that brings you back to the moment and fills you with wonder and joy. A place that makes you feel alive. And while there's thousands of incredible sights to see and travel to in the world and even in our own country, don't feel like you have to go far to find this special place. You may find that's it's a barefoot walk through the arboretum on campus or an afternoon spent chilling in a hammock in your backyard.
If you're still following my personal perfect-day advice, head home after the park, sit outside for awhile, and eat a strawberry frozen fruit bar as you enjoy the day's last bit of sunshine. Pure contentment.
P.S. I will be posting about my spring break trip to Utah soon (once I sort out all my pics)!
SPOILER ALERT: It was awesome!