My husband (Rj) and I enjoy hiking.Over the years we’ve grown very fond of taking a few weeks to hike different areas of Europe. We’ve hiked chateau to chateau in Provence, France. We’ve hiked small hilltop town to small hilltop town in Tuscany, Italy. And we’ve done multiple hikes from quaint village to quaint village in Northern England.

We were in Northern England when we met this cow.

The day was a pretty tough one. Not only was the hike long and strewn with ‘hills’ (English hills are not like the hills we see on Cape Cod) but we were also blessed with a very rainy day.

At the time we met the cow, however, that rainy blessing thing was still to be realized. Until that time (we’ll call it Before Cow Time), the rain was a source of grumbling, swearing and misery.

And then we met the cow.

We had just made it to the top of a ‘hill’ and were on our descent. As we trudged through the mud down the ‘hill’, we struggled to keep our footing. Looking forward was difficult as our rain hoods had become a sort of waterfall, with the brim of our hoods acting as cliff rocks while rain water spilled over the top. Looking anywhere but down meant a face full of water.

About half way down the hill, the rain started to slow. Rj was ahead of me on his descent when he stopped and pulled out the camera. Wanting desperately to get to our destination and dry off in front of a fire with a pint of ale, I wasn’t so thrilled to have to halt our progress for picture taking.

And what could he possibly be taking a picture of?

There was a heard of cows on that hill. They were all looking at us. Each one with a different expression, but all of them with a similar look in their eyes.

Huh. Look at that. Two stupid humans walking in the rain. Interesting.

We have now passed into After Cow Time.

Rj and I started to laugh. I mean come on, how can you not look at that cow and laugh? How could he not look at us and laugh?

It was in that After Cow laughing moment that we observed something that immediately shut us up.

The surrounding landscape was absolutely gorgeous. I mean jaw dropping gorgeous. I mean heaven on earth gorgeous. I mean — Just. Simply. Gorgeous.

The rain had brought out every imaginable color of green that must exist. There are not enough Crayola Crayons in the world to ever represent how many greens we saw. We just stopped and stared. We became present in our moment. We were just — there.

Rj has been providing me photos for this newsletter for the past month. (He is an award winning, published photographer, you can check out his work by clicking on the photo). I tell him what I’m writing about and he sends me a photo that represents my topic.

But this week things were different. I was busy and hadn’t yet had time to ponder what my Live More Work Better message would be. Rj had to travel, so he needed to send me a photo prior to my deciding a topic. I told him to send me a photo that he loved and I’d use that as my inspiration.

When I got his email, I didn’t open it immediately. I had too much to do and wanted to get through my list so I could enjoy my writing time. During an email marathon, I inadvertently clicked on his email.

And saw the cow.

And immediately knew what I’d write about.

Mindfulness is the art of being in the moment. Of truly taking in your surroundings. Of being at peace, if only for a minute, in the place that you are, physically and mentally.

Mindfulness is important to our everyday lives. From performing your best in a presentation, to helping a teammate solve a problem, to remembering what your kid was wearing that day, mindfulness allows us to be present — with ourselves and others.

We live much of our lives in Before Cow Time; reacting to drama, focused on getting through a task or an event just to get to the end, or complaining about, stressing about or negatively looking at our surroundings.

We need to find triggers that will transition us to After Cow Time. Where we stop, laugh, look around, observe, and appreciate.

You know that saying “You need to stop and smell the roses”?

Well, I think we need to stop and stare at the cows.

If you do nothing else…

Feel free to use this cow moment as your trigger to stop what you are doing and be mindful of something good around you.

Originally published at on March 11, 2016.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Originally published at


  • Gayle Hilgendorff

    Executive Health and Leadership Coach, Thrive Global Facilitator, Author and Aspiring Blogger

    Gayle Hilgendorff Executive Health and Leadership Coach / Thrive Global Facilitator / Aspiring Blogger (corporate2carny) / Author of Live More, Work Better: A Practical Guide to a Balanced Life (Bascom Hill Publishing Group, 2015) Gayle Hilgendorff is a certified executive health and leadership coach who left her Managing Director of Human Resources position at Accenture in 2011 to found her own business focused on helping corporate executives achieve their best, professionally and personally, through better health. While at Accenture, Gayle was responsible for executive career coaching and leadership development programs for a global organization of 30,000 people. After a turning point in her own career, she realized that true leadership and professional success were founded on being a healthy person – mentally, physically and emotionally – not just working harder. Gayle’s health passion became a platform for her consulting work with corporate executives. Working with participants across the globe, she incorporates holistic health concepts into her leadership coaching. Gayle integrates basic knowledge about how eating better, moving more, and finding ways to manage stress are the true foundations for a successful personal and professional life. With science backed concepts, and easy to integrate actions, Gayle’s programs have received high praise and tangible results. Gayle’s background in the corporate world combined with her likable, easy style make her a believable, relatable coach/presenter/author who has proven success in helping people make big change.