• Healthy Lifestyle, Life is Balance

    Posted on October 23rd, 2012

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    Fresh Air, Foliage and Rock Scrambling

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    Rock Scramble at Mohonk Mountain

    Photo: ©Sheryl Checkman

    I balance my life with active sports –  swimming, scuba diving, skiing, biking, practicing yoga, or in this case – hiking and rock scrambling.  This past Sunday was a perfect day to escape the city, see the foliage and test my stamina and courage on the Mohonk Mountain rock scramble, known as The Labyrinth. The sign below describes the scramble, weeding out the less athletic and adventuresome, and in case it doesn’t, the first few tricky spots, climbing through caverns within the rock at the beginning of the trail, will.

    Sign at the beginning of the Rock Scramble leading up to the crevice, better known to hikers, as “The Lemon Squeeze.”

    This trail challenges the body as well as the mind. I’ve done this rock scramble several times in the past, but each time I still feel that initial tinge of fear, awed by the physical challenge and my fear of heights. But once I get going and get into the rhythm of figuring out where my next step needs to be to get me to the next plateau, I forget my fear and focus on the rocks and the  awesome beauty surrounding me. My yoga practice came in handy when I needed to position my whole body in

    Midway through the Mohonk Rock Scramble. Photo: ©Sheryl Checkman

    At the end of the rock scramble is the famous Lemon Squeeezea fissure in the middle of the rock cliff that one must climb through to reach the summit. There was a lineup of people waiting to ascend, since getting up out of it at the top after climbing the series of narrow ladders is a bit tricky. The space is so narrow that any backpack you might be wearing up until that point needs to come off, hopefully to be handed up to a friend who has already made it out. I managed, with some effort to get my backpack (with camera inside) as well as my friend’s pack below me safely handed up to my friend waiting above. Then, finding hand and foot holds to maneuver into, I hoisted myself up and out of the crevice onto a plateau overlooking a breath taking view of the Shawangunk mountain range, known to climbers and hikers as the Gunks.

    The Lemon Squeeze at Mohonk

    The Lemon Squeeze (or Crevice). Photo: ©Sheryl Checkman

    View from the top of The Lemon Squeeze

    View from the top of The Lemon Squeeze. Photo: ©Sheryl Checkman

    Sheryl Checkman makes it to the top of Mohonk Mountain

    Made it… what a view!

    Once through the Lemon Squeeze, we had to hike up another short scramble to get to the SkyTop Tower where we were met with a 360 degree view of the entire Shawangunk mountains and Mohonk Mountain House down below – all ablaze in the peak fall colors. After taking in the view (and a few dozen photos later), we hiked down the walking path back to the lake and the Mountain House below. Along the way, we stopped to admire the views from the various wooden pagodas strategically situated along the way.

    View from the top of the Tower at Mohonk

    View from the top of the Skytop Tower. Photo: ©Sheryl Checkman

    Pagoda on Mohonk Lake

    The last of the pagoda’s waiting for us on the lake. Photo: ©Sheryl Checkman

    Finally down at the end of the trail, my body was tired (just a slight indication of the aches I’d be feeling for the next few days) but my spirit was energized.  There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that come with the completion of challenging physical activity! After a cup of tea and some cookies on the porch of the Mountain House, it was time to head back to the city for a good night’s sleep and ready to tackle the upcoming work week.

  • The Ocean’s Final Performance…

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    ©2012 Photo by Sheryl Checkman

    Being the beach lover that I am, I find it hard to say goodbye to summer. Living as I do in the Northeast, my days of beach-going usually last  just past Labor Day or the middle of September. I paid the ocean one last visit a couple of weekends ago when I went to visit a friend in Sag Harbor on the eastern end of Long Island. After kayaking in the bay in the morning, we drove to our favorite beach in Amagansett – Atlantic Ave Beach. The sky was bright blue and crystal clear  and even though it was late in the day and there had been a chill in the air by the bay earlier, the sun on the beach felt warm against my skin. The colors of the water, the sky and the beach were vivid and vibrant – much more so than in the middle of summer when the humidity often casts a gauzy haze over the seascape. But on that day, everything was super focused, sharp and clear, making sure that picture would remain with me throughout the rest of the year.

    It must have known that this was my final visit for the year because the ocean put on the most spectacular show! Huge waves, curling perfectly and then crashing down in perfectly timed sets performed a magnificent dance. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I must have taken over 200 photos in the hour and a half that I was there! And way too soon it was time to leave the beach and that glorious ocean and head back to the city and towards a new season. But the ocean remains. It will continue to dance throughout the year, and while I may not be there for each performance, I will remember this last one until I return next summer.

    ©2012 Photo by Sheryl Checkman

    ©2012 Photo by Sheryl Checkman

    ©2012 Photo by Sheryl Checkman

    Go with the Flow Ocean and beach lover t-shirt

    Go with the Flow Ocean and beach lover t-shirt for those who love the ocean be reminded of it all year long!

  • Healthy Lifestyle, Leisure, Life is Balance

    Posted on July 25th, 2012

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    Summer – A Time for Balance!

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    A Perfect Balance

    Summer has always been one of my favorite seasons. When I was a child, my family spent the summer at an upstate bungalow colony to escape the city’s heat – my mom and brother and I would move up for the whole sumer and dad would come every weekend after the work week. Then there was sleep away camp – with days filled with general swim, archery, softball games, visits to the county fair, reading True Confession  magazines during “bunk activity” and where life-long friends were made and life lessons learned. Those innocent  summer days of my childhood may have passed, but my love for summer still holds strong.

    Summer is a time to kick back, relax and take things a little slower. It’s a time to reflect upon the months that have passed and to gear up and energize for the balance of the year to come. It’s a time to take time out for yourself – learn something new, read a good book or two (or three or four!), stop and smell the flowers (or plant them!) and just slow down.

    There are so many things to do in the summer that help rejuvenate and add balance to our lives. Here are some of the things that I love to do. Please leave a comment below with your favorite summer activities.

    1. Go to the beach and read a good book
    2. Go for a bike ride
    3. Yoga outdoors
    4. Swim in a lake or the ocean
    5. Hang out in my garden
    6. BBQ’s!
    7. Play tennis
    8. Wear a pretty sundress and have an outdoor meal or cocktail
    9. Go scuba diving!
    10. Go sailing
    11. Explore and see or do something new! (below is a description of my something new for July!)

    On a recent bike ride along the Hudson River,  my friends and I rode up to the little red lighthouse that sits under the George Washington Bridge. In all the years I have lived in NYC and crossed the GW Bridge, I never knew this charming little lighthouse existed!  According to the plaque on the site, it was originally known as Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse and was built in 1921 and decommissioned in 1932. According to The Historic House Trust, a not-for-profit organization that works in tandem with the NYC Department of Parks, it was actually built in 1880 and moved to the site under the bridge in 1921. It was immortalized in the children’s book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge by Hildegard H. Swift. It is the last surviving lighthouse on Manhattan Island.

    The Little Red Light House under the George Washington Bridge

    Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge, NYC. The last surviving lighthouse on Manhattan Island.

    If you like to bike, check this historic landmark out. Want a cool t-shirt or tank top to bike in? Check out the Life is Balance Cycle the Distance biking shirts here.


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