My favorite thing in the world is to cuddle up in a cozy chair with a cup of tea and a good book to read, but right after that my favorite thing is to get outside - because both the book and the great outdoors offer multitudes of creativity and inspiration.
Time and time again I read blog posts about how someone had a great idea while they were outside exercising. Movement and outside stimuli trigger creativity just as much (or more, possibly) as reading or writing or other artistic endeavors.
Here's my list of top-ten outdoor activities - I hope you'll share the activities that inspire you, too.
I actually haven't tried this yet but I really want to. It's on my bucket list.
9. Winter skiing (downhill or cross-country)
Downhill provides exhilaration like few other sports. But cross-country gives you time to admire all the beauties of winter.
There is something good for the soul in getting your hands dirty, and then seeing something grow out of your efforts.
Jumping in the surf, collecting sea-shells, playing tag with the incoming waves, or helping my kids build sand castles. The beach is also great for relaxing and reading.
I know motorboats can go a lot faster, but if you've never been sailing then you don't know the addictive power of harnessing the wind, and feeling it strain against you in the lines and the rudder, or the sail you're hanging on to. When wind heels you over it is such a rush!
I could swing for hours as a kid. Rhythmic motion is soothing and also inspires creativity. It would carry me off into imaginary lands in a heartbeat - it still does.
I used to think this was annoying (always getting water up my nose!) until I snorkeled off a Caribbean beach. Truly this is the closest you can come (outside of scuba-diving or space walking) to being transported to another world. A coral reef is one of the most amazing world-within-a-world places! (I am unable to scuba dive because of issues with my ears).
The whole campfire, s'mores, singing songs, telling stories, grilling food (nothing tastes as good as campfire grilled burgers or steak) experience. Now waking up with a sore back from sleeping on the ground and smoky-smelling clothes and hair isn't the greatest, but its still worth it.
2. Mountain hiking
This one is hard to explain. It's almost a spiritual experience for me. See, I was raised a flat lander (actually, on the shores Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes). I have this theory that if you are raised a city kid, you always crave the peace of the country, and if you're raised a country kid you always crave the excitement and bustle of a city. Same goes for flat landers / mountain dwellers. If you are raised in flat lands, you always crave hills and mountains (I used to imagine the clouds were mountains when I was a kid).
1. Trail-riding by horseback
This is the same as #2, except with the bonus of riding your horse. Not someone else's horse or, horrors or horrors, a poor abused beast from a trail-ride company. For those of you that aren't horse lovers, it's easy to substitute taking your dog along, or a human companion. It's the wonderful mixture of a good companion and beautiful views that make this my #1 outdoor activity.
I can't not mention The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, when speaking of the outside (even though it has a totally different meaning).
This is one of my favorite books ever and it's one of the rare cases where the movie is almost as good as the book, too. I don't have any brothers but if I did I'd want Pony Boy and Johnny, Dallas and Two-Bit, Darrel and Sodapop (of course it doesn't hurt that they were played by some of my favorite actors, too: Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon and Emilio Estevez).
What's your favorite outside activity? And if you've read the book, who was your favorite Outsider?