Summer Update: Camping, Veganism and Reality

Well it’s here. It’s September and only a few days from the bookend of the summer in Michigan, Labor Day. In all transparency, the fall is my favorite time of the year here. It only teases at getting really hot here throughout the summer, but I still love the free-fall into cooler temps and the pickup in autumn storms. A couple of times in the last week the traveling surfers parked downtown and hit the surf by the lighthouse. Surf’s up. September is here. I’m a happy camper.

Wind Surfers in St. Joe

It’s hard to believe it’s been two months since I left Whirlpool. I had a dream the other night that I ran out of money except for a few thousand dollars. I withdrew it in cash and then lost it. I woke up so relieved to know that it was all a dream and my checking account was still full. It’s sort of amazing how little money I need when I’m not working. My closet sits untouched as I mostly wear workout clothes. On a whim I bought some outfits in the spring, and most of them still have tags attached. I can literally count on my hands the number of times I’ve taken something off a hanger to wear. My comfortable clothes are actually wearing out first. There are no impromptu work lunches, long weekends in Chicago or flights to take. I wear makeup on the rarest of days. The world is small, and it is much less expensive.

Backpacking the Manistee River Trail

I took some time to be quiet and just enjoy the company of friends and the solitude of nature. Admittedly I’ve become hooked on The West Wing on Netflix. Otherwise I spend my long unscheduled days doing volunteer work for AARP, networking with past business associates and exercising. A few work opportunities have presented themselves, but nothing is solid yet. I figure I have until next spring before I get too anxious about what comes next. It feels luxurious to have so much time to explore. I feel a tad guilty especially when I chat with friends that are overwhelmed at work or who have lost their jobs unexpectedly. We are all in different scenarios than we imagined in January. It’s happened so fast, and many of us are navigating uncharted territory.

I miss going to the gym. My daily routine is shot. I actually miss having a strategy to drive and a team to manage. I miss restaurants, and I miss racing. It was so much more fun to run when I had something to motivate me. There are some virtual 5Ks, but it was the social part of racing that I liked. That’s all gone now. I have some bad days with loneliness. Without working, there are many days I don’t have contact with another human being. I really have to work at keeping a social schedule, and I try to increase interactions when I start to get too lonely. It feels weird that I ever felt too busy and often longed for down time.

Mostly Vegan July… and, yes, that’s Cashewmilk ice “cream”

The space that opened up has given me gifts as well. I’ve been working out virtually with Jessica in Tulsa since lockdown. I started eating plant-based in July. I’d been wanting to test out a theory that dairy was negatively impacting me, and I cut it out. I ate a vegan diet for a whole month. After just a few days my knees stopped popping, and all of my joint pain literally evaporated. I’m sold that I’m better off eating this way although I have added the occasional egg and fish entree back into the rotation. I’m sleeping through the night which was really rare before. If I’m tired, I take a nap. My anxiety has completely abated. People regularly tell me I look “so relaxed”. Well I guess I am.

Smokies and the Blue Ridge Parkway

I took a backpacking trip, two camping trips and met some friends in North Carolina for a few days. I hope to do more camping as it starts to get cooler. Northern Michigan is amazing, and I have lots of places I want to go before we descend into winter. I figure I’ll try to work some in the winter just because I’ll have more time on my hands, but I may even have the freedom to go somewhere to thaw out in the middle of winter this year. I can decide to leave tomorrow if I want and nobody will care. It’s incredibly freeing.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying a daily coffee again as it doesn’t seem to bother me with the lack of stress and the lack of dairy. I’m exploring vegetarian recipes and riding my bike for long, social rides on weekends. Local produce is abundant now, and I’m eating peaches like they are going out of style. They will soon, too, so I’m going to continue my guilty pleasure as long as the juice drips down the side of my mouth. Apples and pears are on their way in, the leaves are hinting at turning, and the temps are dropping into the 70s for as far as I can see.

I’m okay for now. I hope you are, too. We are all just doing the best we can. I try to be understanding with grumpy servers and surly customer service people. While some things in life are a bit easier now there is still a lot of uncertainty. I was asked the other day if I think the worst is behind us or if I think it’s still ahead of us. I’m no expert, but I expect the worst is yet to come. I can’t imagine all of these businesses can hang on much longer in this climate, and the winter will bring less opportunity to socialize outside. I expect more economic pain, more sickness and more personal distress. It’s not a happy ending, but I’m just trying to stay in reality. I’m just trying to take this one day at a time.

4 Comments on “Summer Update: Camping, Veganism and Reality

  1. Glad you’re doing good! And yes these are strange times! I am personally taking it one day at a time! ‘Life is still beautiful!’ I keep repeating that to myself! It feels as if I’m in denial when I say it at times..But I do believe, remaining positive, is key, to get through this.

    Wishing you a great day tomorrow!

  2. Hey Sharon…and I was just thinking about how you have such a free life-camping hiking just discovering and how I wish that I had the courage to do what you do. I guess the first step is getting a k-9 companion right?

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