My much needed fall 2020 hiking adventure (Mt. Wittenberg)

Man, it’s been a while. I can’t tell you the last time I sat down in front of a tablet and started writing for my OWN enjoyment, but WOW, it’s good to be back baby! No long introduction today. Let’s get right to it. I went on a hike in the picturesque Catskill Mountains in New York last weekend that provided arguably THE BEST views this entire country has to offer. (Okay, I may be overselling you a little bit but hiking during peak fall foliage is AMAZEBALLS, especially doing one as fun and challenging I just did). Interested in what that experience was like for me? Keep reading. Not interested? Well fuck you. (lol, kidding obviously 😂).

Do your research and plan

Okay. If you are an avid hiker, you know that for some of these trails, if you are not there EARLY, you may not find a parking spot. And for this trail, it is and was no different. Doing my research beforehand, I knew that the parking lot for Mt. Wittenberg is big, but supposedly fills up before 8 am. This meant for me, that I needed to set my alarm extra early to wake up Sunday morning and hit the road long before the sun would be rising if I wanted to nab one of these sought after spots.

Just a bit foggy

Boom. 5 am hits and I’m in the car ready to go. Except my car isn’t. The temperature reads 32 degrees and for the first time this year my car had to defrost and warm-up. (Pause for 5 minutes. Re-check bag for all the essentials; loud whistle , first aid kit , two liters of water , fitaid , dark chocolate , extra socks , gloves , hand-warmers , and last but not least, Thor’s hammer 🌩).

Mood before hiking

Ok, the car is warm, windows are defrosted, directions are set on the phone, time to get this show on the road. Everything’s a full go. The first hour of my drive was meditative. No one on the roads. Traffic lights stuck on yellow. Street lights and gas stations lighting up intersections. The world is at a standstill. It’s like the universe is giving me this free pass to cruise through it’s roads and highways like a mystical path to the destination. It’s surreal. This is bliss. This is life. This is………..OH MY GOD I can’t fucking see!!!

OKAY OKAY, calm down Derek you’re ok. Relax. Deep breath. Observe the situation. What can you see?

Nothing! Not a damn thing! I can’t see 15 feet in front of me. I don’t know if the highway is straight, curved, one lane, two lanes, no car lights ahead of me, no car lights behind me, I just see FOG!?! Pure heavy, grey, thick, FOG! And I’m stuck driving in it on a New York freeway at 6 am in the morning. Wtf.

Yeah. I’m not overselling this part either. I probably couldn’t see 10 feet ahead of me. I put my hazard lights on, slowed down to 20 miles per hour, maybe slower, turned off my music, and just prayed that there were no crashed cars ahead of me and no trucks speeding behind me. I knew the road direction because of the GPS map on my phone, but that’s it. Thankfully my movie references helped pull me through this scary situation as I internally repeated, “just keep driving, just keep driving” as I imagined Dory swimming through an abundant amount of massive jellyfish. (If you seriously don’t know this movie reference please stop reading and cancel our friendship). If she can swim through that, I can drive through a little fog. Pss, bring it on.

It went on like this for 5 minutes. Then the fog began to get lighter. I could start seeing 50 feet ahead of me, then 100, then a few more hundred feet, until it was all clear. It was a nightmare. (Good thing it’s October 👻 ). But I got through it. No Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers either.

That sunrise and mountain backdrop tho.

Once I got through that fog episode, the rest of the drive was perfect. Yes, more cars seemed to join me on the roads, but at about 6:45, the sky started to create that faint orange tint that forms when the sun begins to crack on the horizon. The sky is still dark enough to still see the stars and the moon, but the orange is a nice little visual that shows you day is about to break. It’s wonderful. Driving that early in the morning and being able to see that part of the sunrise is magical. Now driving during this time to the Catskill Mountains? Breathtaking. I’ll take it a step further.

I knew beforehand from hiking at another Catskill mountain last year, that the last 25-30 miles of the trip, would be on scenic freeways and roads that visually lead you to the Catskill mountains. You see them get bigger and bigger as you drive closer and closer to your destination during the final 30 minutes of the drive. And I’m not talking just about big hills, okay. I’m talking about mountains that rise between 3,000-4,000 feet into the sky. Mountain ranges with peaks of different heights filled with massive amounts of reds, oranges and yellows against a faded blue/orange tinted backdrop of the sunrise. Words can’t do it justice. Shoot, even pictures can’t do it justice. I wanted to stop in the middle of the road and just park my car to stare at it’s beauty. But I didn’t. I just took mental pictures and slowed down to take it all in. I knew the hike itself would provide even more breathtaking visuals for me.

I arrive at the parking lot around 7:35. Total time driving, two hours and 35 minutes. Not bad. (No I did not beat my GPS and you’re lying if you don’t play that game with yourself on long drives). The parking lot was huge. And to my surprise, was already pretty full with only a few spots open. (The parking lot probably can hold 30ish cars, but offers plenty of parking on the street around it). I knew this was a possibility because the parking lot is the lot for three different mountains, so it didn’t mean all these people were hiking the same trail I was doing.

One more check before I head out. No more fitaid because I drank that around 7. 🚫Handwarmers were in both of my pockets. ✅ Phone was fully charged with my offline map saved. ✅ And Thor’s hammer was packed safely and secure next to my two waters and dark chocolate. ✅ I was ready to go. As I begun to leave the parking lot to walk over to the trailhead across the street, there was an orange sign saying “Heavy Black Bear” activity, with a list of things to do on the trail to lower your chances of seeing one. I can’t sit here and say that’s something I didn’t think about, but hiking alone does run an increased risk since I don’t make as much noise or are as big as a group of hikers on the trail, so if that describes you, please make sure you understand what to do when you come across a bear and how to make noise on the trail. ⚠️Safety is sexy⚠️ (I made that up, but kind of catchy now that I think about it).

Leaves and rocks and scrambling, OH MY! 

At the start of the trailhead I see the mileage to each summit and the lowest number is my trail to Wittenberg, a whopping 3.9. You can also take this trail to the summit of Cornell, which is 4.7 miles to the top, or Slide mountain, one of the 4,000 footers in the Northeast, which is 7 miles from the trailhead. I already did my research. I knew that Wittenberg was enough for me. Those who’ve tackled the Cornell and Slide summits did so on a full 8-10 hour day of hiking. (Thank you All trails app). I wasn’t prepared to do that. Plus the millions of reviews I read all said Slide and Cornell weren’t good trade offs for the time spent hiking. And that is why the internet is awesome. Off to Wittenberg I went. (Through the yellow brick road I go…actually leafs. Yellow leafs).

One of the first things that greets me is this perfectly made bridge. One of my favorite parts of trails are wood bridges. I love coming across a stream and then having to cross a perfectly executed bridge made out of wood. How lucky was I to start off this trail with one of my most favorite things? Score. After I crossed the bridge, I soon realized that it would be the last smooth and flat surface I would walk on for the remainder of my ascent.

The trail lines with tons of rocks and inclines up relatively quickly. The first 0.3 mile is a 30-40% grade. Then for the next mile you can say it gets easier? Easier meaning a 15 or 20% grade. It feels like the trail just keeps going up. And up. Luckily my views surrounding me were those out of a painting. The trail was overflowing with tons of reds, oranges, greens, browns, and yellow leaves, all clashing against one another as battling to show which one was the most vibrant. Trees in the front, back and side of me in those same colors. Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, as I made my way through the trail. The crunchiness of a fall leaf is ear porn on a quiet hiking trail. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Yup. I hope you screamed that like Ric Flair, because those were the screams I let out every 15 minutes in between the crunching of the leaves to warn off any potential black bears creeping kind of close. (I also had hikers and campers that I periodically came across on the trail who pointed out how good some of the “woo’s” were). Like I said before, safety is sexy.

As I kept making my way up, there is a point where you realize you’re already pretty high up. The forest begins to change around you, and soon begin to be surrounded by forest pine. At this same point, you also see the dynamic of the trail change. The trail transforms to big boulder type rocks falling on top of each other, forming huge sections of vertical formations to climb. These are called scrambles. (Vegan scrambles because no eggs are used…lol, get it?). The trail continues on with these scrambles for a good half mile. But it is a long half mile. Each rock scramble is different than the last, and once you feel like you’ve reached the top the mountain gives you another one. Until it doesn’t, and you’re there. Which was exactly what it felt like for me.

The summit greeted me at the top with no warning. It’s a bald summit, and gives you a good 200 square feet or so to pull up a seat and take in the view. There were a couple of people already up there, and I found a seat somewhere towards the middle. (Yes, Thor’s hammer was now beside me.) I couldn’t believe the views. All of those colors that I saw while driving, I can now see from above the skyline. I also had a panoramic 180 degree view of the entire Catskill mountain range. It was amazing. Windy. But amazing. I didn’t enjoy the summit by myself. Soon after, I was greeted by a group of 20 and 30 somethings that had also survived the hike up, and took up camp around me. Lots of excitement, lots of stories, lots of snacks being eaten, a dog!, and lots of pictures. I enjoyed the busyness of it all. It was a good contrast from the majority of my hike. I enjoy it being peaceful and quiet during the trail, but I loved hearing the stories and hearing about their hikes while on the summit. We got to share that experience together. And I’m grateful that presented itself to me.

Obviously I am worthy…
Solomon’s and Wildly good socks..

45 minutes later, (15 of those minutes spent stretching) I finally summoned up enough energy, thank you dark chocolate bar and RX bar, and laced up my shoes to begin my descent back down.

Even though you are going downhill, some can argue that the descent is actually more challenging.  On hikes with steep grades and touch scrambles, I agree with that statement. Going down was a challenge.  Descending rock scrambles meant crab walking on all fours or reverse climbing. Also, since the trails was marked with lots of leaves and rocks, sometimes if you did not have good balance the trail could continue to carry you down.  (Thanks a lot momentum and gravity). So you had to continue to use your core and leg muscles to slow you down and control each step so you wouldn’t go flying.   

The trail was just as beautiful going down as it was coming up. Like my hike up, I also hiked down in solitude. Periodically I passed hikers making their way up in which the common question was, “how much longer to the top?”. Hikers were polite, friendly, and very much enthusiastic to be on the trail. As I finally came across the wooden bridge to mark the conclusion of the trail, I stood in the middle, and faced the flowing stream. I watched and listened for a few minutes. So peaceful. So calming. So beautiful. My gratitude was overflowing. The hike did what I wanted it to do. I was recharged, mentally and spiritually.

The drive home wasn’t as exciting.  I knew I was driving back to home.  Driving back to reality.  The reality of lesson planning, emails, virtual meets, and virtual teaching.  Today was my get-away.  Mt. Wittenberg was my escape.  

Thank you Catskill Mountains for being so beautiful.   

Thank you Mt. Wittenberg for providing me the solitude and beauty to recharge my soul.  

And thank YOU for reading and following my Sunday hiking adventure.

I mean, had to leave you with one more view 😍

Peace and love yall, ✌️

D-rob

My Monadnock Adventure

Doesn’t that sound like a Lord of the Rings title? Like a prequel to the Hobbit? (Book and movie reference right off the top).

My Monadnock adventure doesn’t just happen overnight. It was thought about DAYS in advance. Weeks actually. You see, recently I’ve had a few friends and colleagues who’ve shared with me their strong and persuasive recommendations of hiking this majestic New England beauty, so I began to do some research and looked up various reviews and articles that described what hiking Mount Monadnock was like. I looked at the time it took to drive there, what time of day it was heavy populated, which trails to take up and down the mountain, parking, pictures of the trails, and how prepared I would need to be in terms of water, food, and gear. Those answers were planned, but the day I decided to make the drive was just this past Friday. I began looking at the weather for Jaffrey, New Hampshire, where Mount Monadnock is located, and despite showing showers on Saturday, said Sunday would be sunny with a high of 69. Various reviews did point out that if it rains, the gigantic rocks that line the trail become rather damp and slick, making it even more difficult to hike in and reach the top. (Which they were not making up as I will go more in detail later on). But I didn’t want to wait. When I saw the weather was sunny and comfortable, I knew that was a sign that it would be my day to go. So I did. Below is a breakdown of how that day went. Buckle up and enjoy! 😝

The 4:30am wake up

Yes, you read that right. I woke up, on a Sunday which is designated time for teachers to sleep in, at 4:30 in the morning. My plan was to hit the road by 5:15, without missing any of my morning tea and meditation of course.🧘🏻‍♂️ (Turmeric ginger tea is my go-to). Once I finished my tea and deep breathing, I packed my bag with all of the essentials; extra pair of socks, cold-gear under armor, an extra t-shirt, my water, cliff bars, a banana, electrolyte tabs (thanks whole foods), chapstick, sunglasses, band-aids, my muscle roller (great for warming up pre hike), and my car charger. My hoody was already on and I would put that in my bag for the top of the mountain just in case. That was everything. I brushed my teeth, went to the bathroom and off I went. (Hey, I’m just being honest. Bathroom before a long drive is a must c’mon people 😂).

The morning drive

I would be lying to you if I didn’t say how much fun the morning portion of the drive was. Especially when you’re solo. Driving to your destination, on the open road with little to no traffic, to the sound of your favorite music blasting as loud as you want, is the epitome of bliss. Then, add in the sun rising in the crisp, dark September sky, providing vivid colors of orange, pink, and red blending along the horizon, and you have bliss magnified. It was amazing. The two hours and 15 minutes that it took to get there only felt like a quarter of that. Also, when I reached the state border of New Hampshire, the sun began peaking through the tall trees lined up along the sides of the road, giving me even more visual satisfaction for the remainder of my drive to Mount Monadnock. Smaller highways guided my last half hour, which led me to fully take in the beauty that New Hampshire is. (Seriously, it’s beautiful).

Arrival

Okay. I have a confession. When I pulled on the road that led to the entrance of Mount Monadnock, I got a little scared. Out my driver’s side window, stood the highest point in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, or 3,165 feet to be exact. It looked MASSIVE. It even had the fog and clouds that is in every movie or tv show hovered near the top, only showing hints of the peak. However my thoughts of doubt quickly went away as the word “DOPEEEEEEE” came out of my mouth. (Dope is one of my favorite words to say and I probably say it way too much but hey, 🤷🏻‍♂️🤓). I was instantly excited. I pulled in, talked to one of the park attendees who was still setting up, and parked. Made it. (And beat the GPS by 10 minutes, take THAT GPS!).

The trail/climb up

All of the reviews I had read in the previous weeks, as well as from my recommendations from my friends and colleagues was that there were A LOT of rocks on this trail, and that I had to be prepared for some challenging rock climbing once I got closer to the top. It’s not that I didn’t believe they were telling the truth, I just had never seen or hiked a trail as the one they described, and they couldn’t be more right. The trail starts off on a gradual incline, filled with many tree roots and small to medium rocks that stick out of the ground looking for weak feet and ankles to sprain. The trail is plenty wide, so much so that you don’t feel cramped or tight when several people pass by on their hike up or down the trail. As I made my way up, the tree roots tend to get less and less only to be substituted by bigger, larger rocks. As I kept climbing up, it was easy to follow the trail, as trees and rocks are painted with a large white circle, (The white dot trail is the one I took. It’s the steepest quickest route up the mountain), so it’s hard to get off course. I saw people hiking in front of me going up or down the mountain, so that helped map out the course as well as affirm that I was in fact going in the right direction. (Mount Monadnock is one of the most hiked mountains in New England, so even though I began hiking around 8 a.m., the trail was already being put to good use). Once I got past the medium size rocks I officially graduated to the large ones. And I do mean LARGE. These rocks were relatively smooth too. Oh, and in terms of the incline, yeah, it’s pretty steep. Definitely the steepest I’ve tried to hike. I tried to follow the grooves or edges on the rocks and planned where to step, especially since I didn’t have the correct footwear. I decided to hike the mountain in older training sneakers that had sturdy support but so-so grip. That was almost my biggest mistake of the trip. There were a few times my feet slipped but I was lucky and athletic enough to regain my footing and catch myself in good positions where I could keep on climbing. (Thank you functional training). Going from a trail that was damp and soggy did not help in the matter as well, but going slow, planning where to take my steps, using my hands and body, all helped me in climbing the trail. I was also lucky, (Some say luck, some say synchronicity. It’s me, I say synchronicity), that there was an older couple, a woman and man, probably around 45-50 years old, who had hiked the mountain previously come up behind me and take the lead to show me the best route to take once on the steep, smooth, and slippery large rocks. The last portion of the hike was tricky. I reached a spot where I saw this gorgeous view below that appears between two perfectly placed trees, only to realize that I still had another 20 minutes to the very top. For a first time Monadnock climber, those last 20 minutes were some of the most thrilling hiking I’ve done, because when you’re on the rocks, its just YOU and the rocks. That’s it. You look down and its more rocks, EXCEPT it’s on an incline. It kind of reminded me when I was young and you’re on a playscape, you go down the slide the correct way, then you try climbing back up? YEAH. That is how the climb up to the top during the final leg of the hike was like. Oh, and yea, you’re pretty high up, so if you don’t like heights, just keep looking at the rocks. By this time, there was a slight drop in the temperature and the wind started to pick up. I started to pass by gigantic piles of smaller rocks that lined the path up to the peak. Even though there are dots that still show on the rocks, there are many ways you can choose to climb up. (On many reviews and trail sites they call this a scramble to the top). I chose a way that had edges, crevices, or a large side of the rock sticking out to grab on too when picking the spots to climb. I also made sure that every step I took I was balanced with my arms just in case I was to slip. I’ll save you the drama. I never fell.

The peak

Inhale. Smile. Have the wind almost take my hat off. Exhale. I made it to the top. Cue the picture taking. The peak WAS amazing. There were panoramic views of what seems like the entire country. There were several other people on top of the mountain during my time at the top, which in a way actually felt amazing. Here are other people who were celebrating and enjoying their climb, taking in pictures, sitting down eating snacks, or just taking in the view. They’re doing what I was doing. Just being present. Soaking up the moment. It’s that connection we all constantly search for. I felt that this entire hike. (More on that coming up). The wind at the peak was strong and cold, but not cold enough for my hoody. You do need to be careful at the top, as the wind gusts can get to 40 mph from what I’ve read AND experienced. Once I got my pictures, (Thank you to the bro I met who so kindly took my picture!), 🎶 “imagine if I never met the broski’s” – 🎶 (drake reference 😎)

I descended 10-15 feet and sat down beside a large crevice, blocking the wind gusts and facing the sun. It was majestic. Breathtaking. Peaceful. I felt like I was on top of the world. Nothing else mattered at that very moment. I was one with the mountain.

The climb down

The descent wasn’t as strenuous as the way up, but it was still challenging. Descending from the peak and traveling down the rocks on such a decline, I took my time in the placement of my steps and continued to brace my core and use my arms for balance. As I continued down the mountain foot placement becomes the theme as those same rocks I hiked on the way up are back in full force ready to chop away at my ankles if I wasn’t careful. I took the white dot trail back down the mountain, which was not recommended in reviews. The white cross trail is the less steeper of the two and is often the one that hikers take on the descent. But upon my descent, that couple who helped me trace my path up the peak, told me the white dot trail is prettier and more fun than the white cross, and that’s all it took to persuade me. More fun you say? Psss heck yeah, lets do it!! They were right. It WAS more fun on the way down. But not for the reason that most would expect. What I liked most about the way down was all of the connections I made. Remember how I said earlier that Mount Monadnock was the most heavily hiked trail in New England? Well, on my way down, I didn’t go 2 minutes without passing hikers on their way up. So, what did I do? I made sure that I greeted EVERY single person or group with a smile, greeting, and small talk. Not everyone gave back the same energy or enthusiasm that I did, but that’s OK! Some people did! And it was awesome! I even got a high five from a toddler that couldn’t be more than 2 or 3 year’s old that was on her dad’s shoulders in one of those piggy back seats. (Kudos to dad of the year right there). Those connections are what makes hiking so special. Everyone out there is hiking to enjoy nature, to get away from life, to be with family, to move, and to live! And I wanted to soak in that experience during Mount Monadnock, and soak it in I did.

The small town straight out the movies

Once I got back in my car, the first thing I did was search for food. I knew what I wanted. Breakfast. And a lot of it. I found a diner in a little town called Peterborough, about 15 minutes away, and set off. This town literally looked like it was right out of a movie. A small downtown equipped with old buildings and rusting paint, little restaurants and shops, and of course, the diner. When I walked in the diner, I didn’t know if it was just me or if everyone suddenly stopped what they were doing and stared, but it definitely felt like that. All of the booths that lined the diner (maybe 8 total) were full so I grabbed an empty chair at the bar. An older waitress came up to me right away and gave me the old “Ready to order hunny what would ya like?”. I knew without even having to look at the menu. “Two eggs over easy with a side of hash browns, no toast, full stack of blueberry pancakes, extra blueberries, and the real maple syrup please”. With a grin wider than the trail I had just hiked, the waitress responded, “You gonna eat all that hunny?”. I loved the hospitality. I smiled and said “Oh yeah”. What I didn’t realize is this brief interaction opened up a line of communication with what seemed to be every waitress in the place. They all started talking to me. I was flattered. I honestly felt like a celebrity. At one point in the conversation, a waitress, older than me, said “You aint from round here huh sweetie”. I said, “No maam, what makes you say that?”. (I really did say ma’am). And she goes, “Oh nothing, we just don’t see fellas like you come in”, giggling. I laughed myself. I probably was blushing too. BUT WHO SAYS THAT? Honestly. I thought that only happens in movies!! Nevertheless, breakfast was a lot of fun. It was delicious too. I thanked them for all of the compliments and love and headed back to my car. Time to drive home.

The drive back

The drive back home is never as fun as the one getting to your destination, but I was on so many endorphins from my post hike and breakfast that I knew I would still enjoy it. Traffic was heavier during this time, but it didn’t dampen my mood. I blasted my music on the way back, this time changing it to my country playlist, and sang like I was the headline act at the Xfinity theater in Hartford. (Can you imagine? Hey you guys going to see Zak Brown band tonight? D-Rob is headlining. 😂 maybe in an alternate universe). Anyways, I couldn’t be any happier to how my entire trip went. My drive home allowed me to reflect on what a tremendous day I had. I was grateful for all of the people I met. The sights, the sounds, the views, everything went better than I could have expected.

And that’s where I’m finally getting too.

To find what we’re looking for, sometimes we have to leave our expectations behind.

I’m so glad I was finally able to hike Mount Monadnock,

because life is an adventure, and it’s meant to be explored.

Go out and explore yours. 🤙🙌⛰

Peace, love and good vibes, ✌️❤️

and like always, thank you for reading. I know this was a long one.

D-rob

Just a normal Sunday, or so I thought…

But if you push that anxiety and fear away for just a few minutes, the universe can surprise you with something special.

The universe works in mysterious ways.  It can truly work in our favor if we let it, and this morning was a perfect example of that for me.

Sunday morning is one of my favorite times of the week.  I sleep in, (which for me, and many other teachers, is to about 8:00 a.m.), then get up and drink a big glass of water.  I perform some light stretches to get my body up and moving then head to the gym where I dedicate a couple hours to mobility work, a full body workout, foam rolling, finished by a quick session in the sauna and hot tub.  This time is amazing for me.  I blast my music and get lost into another world.  Anyone who works out consistently can attest to the addiction of finding and staying in this zone.  What sets today apart is what happened and who I met after my workout was over.

Walking into the hot tub at a gym can be a scary experience for some.  The anxiety of sharing a tub of water and jets with strangers can be pretty intimidating, and I understand that.  But if you push that anxiety and fear away for just a few minutes, the universe can surprise you with something special.

Today as I was walking in the hot tub there was a man already inside, who smiled and greeted me, “hello” as soon as I entered.  I greeted him back with a hello, and a routine, “Nice and hot today!” before sitting down next to one of the jets.  The man continued to talk to me, including telling me his age, 75 years old, and how it wasn’t fun to be old while stating how much pain he is currently dealing with in his back.  If you don’t know me or my story, (scroll up to read “Heart of a Lion”, my first blog post about my health journey), I am also a person who has struggled and still deals with chronic pain.  Instead of writing this complete stranger off, I opened up to him and briefly summed up my health journey.  I then told him about chiropractors, physical therapists, massages, trigger points, mobility exercises, breathing, dry needling, cupping, anything I knew off that helped with back pain I was listing it off to him.  He was very receptive to my advice, and asked questions about people and places I would recommend to get these treatments done.  He went on to state that the only care he is receiving for his pain is from an orthopedic doctor, who is currently prescribing him pain relievers and possibly surgery.  I offered him more advice about seeking these natural treatments first before getting surgery, as I am a big believer that surgeries ultimately cause more harm than good.  (I’ve had four surgeries in my lifetime and two on my knee and shoulder that could have been avoided if I didn’t fall into the hypnotic spell of the orthopedic surgeon and sought other options myself). He was receptive to my advice and assured me he was going to try some of these treatments in the coming month. What he went on to say next is what led me to write this post about this experience.  He looked me dead in the eye, with a huge smile, and thanked me for talking with him.  He told me that countless times in this gym he has tried to start conversations with people and they wrote him off.   We shook hands, formally introduced ourselves with our names, and exited the hot tub.

The entire conversation lasted roughly 10 minutes.  It could have easily been 10 minutes of silence, two men just relaxing in the hot tub, completely oblivious to the world and each other.  But it wasn’t that.  It was 10 minutes of two people being human.  It was 10 minutes of two people connecting.  It was 10 minutes that I am so deeply and incredibly grateful for experiencing today.

As you go through the rest of your day, week, month, I simply ask you to be a little more receptive to what or who the universe drops in front of you.  As I learned today, there are no coincidences.