A Delightful Wednesday: Booties, Dunes and Sunshine

I had the day off today. I’m working part-time, and I have the weekends and Wednesdays off. It’s so nice to have a day in the middle of the week so I can do some job search activities and make appointments as needed. This being the week of Christmas, everything has slowed way down. I had a nice long conversation this morning with my friend Angel in Boston, had a second cup of tea and washed some clothes. The sun was peeking out of the clouds a little, so I loaded Ashok into the car and we headed up to Saugatuck for a walk and maybe a little shoe shopping.

I bought some really nice hiking boots when I was working at Wanderlust this summer, and I really like them. But for little walks in the woods with Ashok they are a little high tech. Almost every fall, I’ve gone to Landsharks in Saugatuck and bought some winter shoes or boots. They carry a selection that’s a little less technical than the ones at Wanderlust and they are really cute. I’ve bought Sorel boots, Jambu slip-ons and Bogs pull-on insulated snow boots in past years in their little shop. Up here you have to get functional boots in the winter because it’s a literal slog through ice, slush and snow for months. Everybody has several pairs of boots for every type of weather and more coats than you can imagine. You would think 12 people lived in my house by looking at my front coat room.

So today I wanted to take Ashok for a little hike in Saugatuck Dunes State Park, and I needed to get some kind of waterproof light hiker that I can wear like tennis shoes in the winter. I tried on some Keen’s that worked perfectly, and then I laid my eyes on some Asportuguesa brand boiled wool booties that I’ve been eyeing for the last few years. They are so cute and seem so warm. I tried them on along with another style that was equally cute. Ashok was wandering around the store visiting with customers while I was trying on shoes, and the shoe salesman wisely told me how warm they would be when I have to walk the dog. He said they weren’t waterproof but they were water resistant. I have had such a love affair with wool since I came up here that it didn’t take much to get me across the finish line this time. I wore the hikers out of the store and took those little booties with me.

It is usually cloudy in this area in the winter. When I was thinking of moving to the St. Joseph area back in 2000, I wanted to compare it with the weather in Seattle where I was living. Of course it was much colder here, but I was shocked to see that we have about the same number of cloudy days on average as Seattle. And Seattle has a lot of cloudy days! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven over to Chicago where it’s sunny and nice, and as soon as I get to exit 23 in St. Joe the cloud cover begins. We are just in a cloudy spot and today was one of those days.

The trail in Saugatuck State Park starts in a wetland and meanders through the woods and dunes before opening up to the lake. I can always tell when I am getting close to the lake because the wind starts picking up ramping up the cold temps. I could hear the surf long before we got to the beach. The sun was peeking out of the clouds with its rays touching down into the waves. It was lovely, and I decided to walk on the beach awhile even though it was pretty cold. The sand was frozen from the dampness and the 20ish degree temperature, so the surface was hard and easy to walk on. We had the beach all to ourselves.

We climbed over a few dunes to get back to the trails. I found a lovely ridge trail that was new to me. Little pines dotted the dune landscape, and I hit my stair goal a couple of times with the ups and downs. It was so nice to be in the woods and breathe the fresh air. It does my heart good to see Ashok doing so well, and I spent a lot of the day reminiscing about the hiking we did the first couple of years that we were here. I thought our hiking days were over when she started getting arthritis, but she’s gotten her mojo back, and it makes me really happy to know we can still do that together. We just love being together in the woods.

Ashok is snoring now beside me, and I just enjoyed a nice hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow. Kenny G is playing We Three Kings on Pandora, and my beautiful Christmas tree lights are illuminating the room. It was a nice day for a Wednesday. I promised Ashok we’d get out and hike over the holiday, or did I promise myself? Maybe it’s a gift for us both. Speaking of gifts, I’m going to wear those cute little wool booties to work tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Just Another Monday

I didn’t work out tonight. I planned on doing a TRX workout but I didn’t sleep well last night. I know my bakery splurge this weekend was the culprit as white flour does a number on my blood sugar and my reactive hypoglycemia. All of that up and down action due to sugar and white flour ignites my anxiety. And then I can’t sleep or I don’t sleep through the night. At least I know it’s going to happen, and I can make a choice about whether or not I indulge. Today I am going to behave myself because I want to sleep. That being said, I just don’t have the “get up and go” to workout tonight. I took a walk in the cold with Ashok but it wasn’t long enough to be a workout.

For dinner I’m roasting brussels sprouts and baking a baked potato. I’ll top that with a little goat cheese and some sautéed tempeh crumbles. A tablespoon of seeds might be a nice addition to add a little healthy oil, too. It smells really good, and the brussels sprouts are getting all crunchy toasty in my convection oven. I’m really looking forward to digging in on that potato. It should also help me get sleepy.

I’ve been meditating quite a bit. I am still subscribed to the 10% Happier app, but I got an offer on Black Friday for a lifetime subscription to the Calm app. I took advantage of that because the content on these apps are getting better and better. The Calm app has a great selection of sleep aids such as sleep stories, meditations, music and classes on how to sleep better. I am really enjoying them. They also have some inspirational talks and wisdom sessions that help with everyday problems. It always helps me to have something inspirational to listen to as I sometimes forget everything I know.

Today was a fun day at work. I am currently working as a receptionist at the St. Joe Today Welcome Center. I wanted to do something that lifted my spirits during the winter months and that would help fill the gap while I’m looking for a full-time job. It’s such a pleasant place to be, and people are really happy when they come in. Many have just moved here from somewhere else, others are here on vacation and the majority are locals that just like to pop in and say hi. Today, the wife of one of my former coworkers came in. It was nice to chat with her for a bit. I spent my day telling people about my favorite things to do in St. Joe, writing up gift certificates and calling people to tell them they won prizes in our December promotion. One day I will miss this easy peasy happy job. I’m way underemployed, but it makes me happy.

I’ve started running again. I’m not putting any pressure on myself to be consistent since it’s winter and I don’t always like to run in the cold. But it’s been feeling good to run the last couple of weeks. It’ll be in the low 30s tomorrow when I get up. I think I’ll make a commitment to get out and run since today I was a slacker. I just hope I get plenty of sleep tonight.

My potato and Brussels sprouts are almost done. I need to sauté my crumbled tempeh and then eat. I’m reading a great book about four young men called “A Little Life”. It’s really long, but it’s really interesting. After dinner I think I’ll curl up on my sofa and read until I get sleepy. With any luck, I’ll fall asleep and be done running before you even wake up tomorrow. If not, well there’s always Wednesday.

Christmas #2 – Pandemic-Style

2021 is almost over. I’d like to say I thought things would be back to normal by now, but I always thought this pandemic would be longer and more troublesome than our little results-oriented minds could fathom. I remember doubting that the initial estimates of death would ever reach as high as they originally predicted. I thought that was a little alarmist. But we’ve more than doubled that number now. And that doesn’t even include the suicides and overdose deaths that are surely related to all we’ve been through. While I didn’t believe the death toll would ever get that hight – or at least hoped they were wrong – I wondered how we’d ever gather again and if normalcy might never be in reach. It just seemed like a big damn deal.

Ashok in her Saints’ sweater!

My house has gotten very small. My kitchen is being used much more than it ever has been in the past. I just bought a new dishwasher to replace the relatively new one. I’m sick of my sofa but I don’t dare try to buy a new one until the prices go down. I’d love to remodel my kitchen, but that’s another thing I should probably wait to do until either I have a full-time job or the supply chain gets back to normal. I even thought about selling my house, but there are literally no houses on the market in my price range, and everything is priced so much higher than it was two years ago. It’s lucrative as a seller but I’ll have to go somewhere. My gut is just telling me to chill until all of this shakes itself out or until something presents itself that means I need to make some changes.

Yesterday morning I woke up too early, and I was so antsy to get out of the house. The weather was rotten and threatening icy rain. So, I didn’t want to go outdoors. But I wanted to get out for a drive and do something. I thought about going to Chicago and visiting my favorite bakery, but I thought that was a little silly. I ran a few more options through my head and none of them seemed any sillier than going to Chicago and stocking up on Eggplant Parmesan, cannoli and Christmas Stollen. So, I packed up Ashok in the dark and we headed west to the big city.

The top of the skyline disappeared into the cloudy sky. Traffic was light that early, and I arrived just as D’amato’s Bakery was opening its doors. I told the salesperson that I drove from Michigan, and they got a big kick out of that. I got some Eggplant Parmesan for freezing, Artichoke Focaccia, Christmas cookies, marinara sauce, cannoli and my favorite Peppers and Egg sandwich on their wonderful French Bread. I ate it right there at the counter and decided I’d head over to Bennison’s Bakery in Evanston for Christmas Stollen. I mean if I’m there, I should stock up for the holiday.

My haul from D’amato’s Bakery…

Bennison’s wasn’t very crowded either. When I arrive mid-morning, there is a line out the door. Their donuts are a big draw, but I’m not a huge fan of donuts. I love their beautifully wrapped Stollen. That was a must have for Christmas morning. A digital ad above the counter sung the praises of their hot chocolate so I decided to get one of those for the ride home. It was delicious and was made special by the addition of their house-made marshmallows. I literally licked the cup when I was done.

I thought I might go to LL Bean, but they weren’t opening for another hour and a half, and I knew I could be home by then. A nap was starting to sound good after all those carbs and hot chocolate. So, we headed back in the drizzle with a trunk full of baked goods and treats for the holiday week.

It’s odd to think that two years ago we had absolutely no idea what was about to happen. We were just beginning to hear about an outbreak in Wuhan that was bad, but I’m not sure anybody knew what that might mean. I bought a new car the week after Christmas, and my friend Autumn and I loaded up our dogs and went to the Hotel Monaco in Chicago for our holiday celebration. I had no way of knowing that I’d end up without a job the next year or that a visit to the Hotel Monaco would not the be same for many years. I just saw on Twitter that Ashok’s favorite bellman is now a filmmaker in Los Angeles. He won’t be coming back. The world will be different on the other side. I’ll be different on the other side.

I’m not making any assumptions that next Christmas will be different. I hope that we can come out of this in 2022. But if you look back at other infectious diseases and pandemics, they didn’t go on and off like a switch either. This kind of thing takes time and takes a lot of other stuff down with it. “Normal” seems like a lifetime ago. I remember the first time I heard the term social distancing. We joked around about it and about washing our hands. “Don’t touch your face!” was the sign-off of every text exchange. It was funny then. We thought we’d be back to work in six weeks. One of my direct reports made us all masks, and we delivered toilet paper and supplies to each other’s front doors. I binge-watched Schitt’s Creek and sat in meetings where the Tiger King was the most-discussed agenda item. That all seems so long ago. It’s not as funny anymore.

I hope that you have a good Christmas and holiday season no matter how you choose to spend it. Make the best of it by enjoying some good food and your favorite holiday traditions – pre and post-pandemic style. The one thing I know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure. Life is short, and not everybody gets to stick around to see what happens next. Burn the candles. Drive to town. Eat dessert. Walk the dog. Say what you need to say. It’s all important. Be happy that you woke up on this side of heaven this morning. We aren’t promised tomorrow.

Change Is In The Air: Cassettes, Hair, and What’s Next

A couple of weekends ago, Liz and I stopped at RAD DAD’s Tacos & Tequila for some tacos. I stopped there a couple of times during the pandemic because they had really expansive outdoor seating and a couple of really good options for veggie tacos. I forgot that it was connected to a an ice rink, and last week there was a hockey game while we ate. It was fun to eat tacos while we watched the game and listened to all the associated noise. I just love ice rinks. It so different than my experience in southern Louisiana, and it’s just so normal here. I took ice skating lessons when I first moved here, and I really enjoyed it. But my ice skates sit upstairs in a closet waiting for a resurgence of desire to break my ass on the ice.

In front of our table was a wall that was completely wallpapered by cassettes. It brought back so many memories of my first Walkman, recording cassette playlists and all of the musicians whose cassettes I had purchased. I remembered that NPR’s Radiolab just launched a series of podcasts on the history and the impact of the cassette on the world. So I’m working my way through it. So far I’ve listened to episodes on how the cassette changed China, it’s role in the war in Vietnam and how Bing Crosby discovered and changed the radio with recorded shows. Since cassettes came out during my teenage years, I’m not sure I ever thought of how they changed the world. They just seemed like part of the world I grew up in. But, apparently, being able to move about while listening to music or self help or speakers had an impact way beyond my teenage escapades. It’s fascinating.

I’m also ready to grow my hair back out. I cut it short to transition to gray, and I am really regretting the decision to cut it. The silver is fine even though I may end up tempering it some lowlights eventually, but I don’t like it short anymore. I used to love my hair short. I fell in love with my curls the last few years. I also like the way they frame my face. I’ve been going back and forth on it because my friends seem to like it short. But this week I decided that, in the case of my hair, my opinion is more important than anyone else’s. I canceled my next haircut appointment and scheduled one for the end of January. I’m just going to let it grow as long as I can.

But that’s not the only ongoing transition. I ended up leaving my job at the outdoor outfitters after a long and grueling summer in retail. I’m glad I tried it, but I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me. The job market is interesting right now. There is lots of activity, but it feels chaotic. I don’t want to make a huge life-altering decision until the dust settles from the pandemic. But I also need to get something more permanent and more suitable to my skillset. So I’m trying things on for size and networking with the many friends I have that have been doing the same thing for the past 18 months. I am certainly not alone and that’s helpful. And thank you to Whirlpool for providing health insurance so I can take my time. I feel very grateful that I’m not having to just take something because I can’t be without health insurance. Why doesn’t this country have decent health insurance options? It’s absurd to put it all on your job when job security is non-existent.

My Neighborhood

In between all of that transitioning activity, I’m enjoying the holiday season. I have a little part-time job at the local visitor’s center which is a lot of fun. Everyone is happy when they come in, and I get to tell them about all of my favorite things to do. We have our big holiday kickoff event this weekend, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. Ashok and I are walking more and enjoying my part-time schedule. The perk of being part-time is I have adequate time to exercise and do the things I enjoy during the week. It’s nice. I’m not going to waste my time wishing I could do it forever because I can’t, but I am going to enjoy it without needing to make it my forever plan. Life as I know it now will change and probably change again. Just look at the cassette. While it was an amazing invention, we’ve moved on many times since then. What once changed the world is now a novelty on a wall in a taco shop.

My Little House at Christmas…..

Let the Christmas Season Begin!

I have a couple of friends – one from Germany and one who just likes to travel to Germany – who keep telling me about the wonderful Christmas Markets they have there. The ChristkindlMarket is in downtown Chicago, and I’ve visited a couple of times over the years. It’s just so crowded that I never end up enjoying it or getting to see as much as I’d like. So my friend Liz – the one who likes to travel to Germany – has been on me to visit Frankenmuth with her. I’ve been waffling because it seems to be a big Christmas shopping mecca with restaurants specializing in huge meals of fried chicken. With me eating vegetarian and being basically unemployed at the moment, shopping and eating chicken are not at the top of my list.

So we compromised yesterday and visited the Kerstmarket in Holland MI. This market is decidedly smaller, and Holland is only an hour drive for me as opposed to the three hours for Frankenmuth. Plus I knew the Dutch restaurant in town serves lots of yummy vegetable-heavy dishes that would be a treat. Although Kerstmarket is Dutch, the market was inspired by the German markets and designed after them. We met for brunch at DeBoer’s bakery and restaurant where I enjoyed a Veggie Skillet with some wonderful Muesli Bread and a yummy cup of Beer Barrel Bourbon coffee. The coffee beans were actually soaked in bourbon and then roasted giving them a really unique and delicious flavor profile. It was the first caffeine I’ve had in a long time, but it was truly worth the headache I have today.

It was really cold out, and it’s the first day that it’s been cold like that all day since last winter. I dressed in layers so I’d be comfortable outside. There were about 20 cute little booths lined up outside the Convention Center, and we leisurely visited each one. The people who manned the booths were super friendly, and they each talked to us about who made their hand-crafted products and how they got started. I was particularly interested in one booth where they had all kinds of grains and beans and the most wonderful woolen hats. I’ve been in a bit of a hair crisis lately, so I bought one of those super warm and cozy hats and put it on right away. My ears won’t get cold walking Ashok in this one!

After our toes froze, we stopped in the Warming Shed and took advantage of the wood stove. My ears were warm and cozy, but it took a bit for my icicle toes to get back to normal. After we were warm we strolled through the rest of the market where I bought a cat toy for my kitties and made a list of vendors for jams and bakeries for future visits. We took a walk downtown, bought each other some cute little Christmas tree ornaments and discovered a really fun art supply store. I had never noticed it before, but I really want to go back.

It all got me in the mood to give Christkindlmarket another try. If I liked the small selection of booths in the Holland Kerstmarket, I bet I’ll find all kinds of things I like in the Chicago market. I was hoping I could grab some Stollen yesterday, but none was to be found. I picked up some today from the Bit of Swiss and had a slice this afternoon. It was delicious. Thanksgiving has come and gone, my Stollen is in the kitchen, my tree is up and lit, and I have a lovely little St. Joseph Lighthouse Christmas ornament I’ll hang on my tree tonight. This weekend, the City of St. Joseph will light up the bluff with holiday lights, and the Reindog Parade is Saturday. The holiday season has begun. I know it will be gone in a flash, but I’m looking forward to a low key and lovely few weeks.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

My Ongoing War With Words

I remember the days when I couldn’t wait to write a blog post. It used to be so much fun to come up with a funny or interesting idea and see where it might lead me. Friends would respond on Facebook and we’d have great conversations and laughs over whatever silly idea I had highlighted. I wonder what happened to those times of lightheartedness when people allowed you to be who you were and didn’t call you names and harass you for your beliefs. It disappeared, and our friendly world changed overnight. I wonder what happened to me. Why does it now feel so hard to put my thoughts out there? When did the fear of the criticism and insults take over and kill my desire? I wonder if we will ever love each other again.

I still go on adventures. I still take pictures of this beautiful place called Michigan. And I still even think of story ideas. I turn them over in my brain while I’m driving and chuckle at some of my thoughts. But I never write them down. A hate-filled person who delights in killing my spirit prodded me, “Who do you think you are that anybody would want to read all that shit?” I tried not to take it to heart. I tried not to listen. But I have to admit it has stuck in my brain and pops out when I’m trying to write. Who do I think I am? Does anyone want to read this? That has been almost five years ago. Those words are still as loud and as hurtful as they were in that moment. I was having fun. And then I was not.

I finally got off Facebook because of the venom and hatefulness. I used to love Facebook. I’d post a call for blog ideas and people would rally to give me ideas on what to write about. It was a great practice for improvisational writing, and it was connected. We had fun hanging out together, and I felt like I was in a community. Now I’m afraid of what snarky comment someone will post or, even worse, what people say behind my back. When did the world get so hateful? What happened to community and having fun with people who may even be a little different.

Now I spend an inordinate amount of time watching YouTube videos on how to make my brows look fuller. What the hell? I spent my 20s and 30s trying to tame those babies and now that they have acquiesced the world has set a new expectation. I hope that I’m alive when the fashion changes again and they are going to have to bushwhack those things back into submission. By then I won’t have any, so it won’t bother me, but it’ll be worth seeing just the same.

I just finished watching “Maid” on Netflix. It is about the reality and the pain of escaping emotional and verbal abuse. As Alex grappled with how to get help when he never HIT her, I was reminded of the power of those hateful words. But the journey out of that hellhole of abuse is not easy. It sounds depressing and maybe it would be for someone who had not experienced it, but to me it was hopeful. Not unexpectedly she is a writer. When words are the evil force that wrecks your days and holds you hostage, is it odd that we would want to harness them and become their master?

I’ve been in a couple of emotionally abusive relationships. I didn’t recognize it as such because it’s so hard to pinpoint. People excuse it as them having a bad day. They didn’t mean it. They tell you not to let it get under your skin. The abuser will say they were trying to be funny. “Don’t be so sensitive,” they add. They turn it on you and all of a sudden your hurt and pain become your own fault. At some point, you become your own abuser hurling those words back at you late at night or when you are at your most vulnerable. It eats away at you. I’ve had to protect myself again from the barrage of words that fly like my bullets at my heart. The walls go up. My words stop coming. I want to write again. I want my power back. I want my life back.

Indulging My Cravings

When I need a day that is nourishing and that makes me feel like I have everything in the world that I need, I want to reach back into the dark corners of my mind and pull out a snapshot of today. From the moment I woke up, I felt content and blessed to have this cute little home near the lake with a refrigerator full of healthy food and happy little critters to share it with.

I’ve been craving Gallo Pinto, a yummy dish of rice and beans I ate every morning in Costa Rica. The craving was particularly bad last weekend and I started googling the recipe and how to find the yummy Lizano Salsa that is a key ingredient. Yesterday I made sure I got all of the ingredients and promised myself I’d make some this morning. As I was boiling the chilis and chopping the vegetables, I realized that it was this time nine years ago when I was in Costa Rica learning to surf among other things. How much of my craving was yearning for that lovely spot and how much was for the food?

At the same time I was craving the Gallo Pinto, a longing bubbled up for my Christmas tree. It’s still fall here, but I want it to be winter. I want the early darkness of those short days with the warmth of holiday lights and the scent of sweet candles. After last year, I have decided to reach for things when I want them rather than put them off because of inane expectations. Life is short.

Yesterday I prepared for my day of fulfilling longings by making up the Lizano Salsa, cooking the rice and beans and buying myself a holiday treat (at the urging of my friend Michael). I went to bed looking forward to a relaxing day at home and all of the comforts that go along with it. I fixed my favorite decaf coffee this morning and drank it while I was sautéing my wonderful Costa Rican feast. I played some holiday tunes and lit my favorite candles while I hauled my tree down stairs.

I took Ashok out for a walk and when I came back my house smelled wonderful from all the cooking. I was really glad I had to make the Lizano Salsa because those chili peppers brought an unexpected warmth to my kitchen. All afternoon I relaxed in its wake and the glow of my tree. Outside, the yellow and orange leaves fell on a 60-degree November day. It was hardly winter, and it definitely wasn’t Costa Rica, but it was a lovely day nonetheless.

It’s a Lot to Digest

I’m still adjusting to not having a corporate job after all these decades of working. I thought it would be easier to semi-retire. But it seems I still have a lot of energy for work. I know I need to/want to do something else, but I’m having a hard time assimilating my past experience with my current wants and needs. I’m spending a lot of time trying to digest what is happening to this world and with me.

I’m in Knoxville this morning. I have a week’s vacation in the mountains which should be a great palate cleanser for me. Last night I had a fabulous time reconnecting with an old friend from work. We spent three hours at dinner last night, and I was like a camel thirsting for water after a long dry spell of long conversations, silliness and laughter. We literally closed the place down, and if I hadn’t felt bad for the workers trying to close, we might still be there. I even downloaded a Magic 8-Ball app, and we had a great time asking it about our lives and what’s next for us. It seems everybody is in some sort of transition, and it’s an uneasy time to be transitioning. It’s a lot to digest.

I packed most of my meals for my travels, but I did stop a couple of times for coffee and snacks. Panera Bread’s dine-in service was closed permanently in the one town where I stopped. I tried to grab a Starbucks in Shelbyville IN, and a sign on the door said they were drive-thru only due to staffing issues. Homeless people have increased on the streets in the area I’m staying, and on a Saturday night after a UT football game, the restaurant where we ate had a lot of empty tables. I remember Knoxville for its Kingston Pike traffic snarls, and I saw very little traffic on my way to dinner. There’s a lot “off”, and with local newspapers dying, I’m afraid there are a lot of things that are not being surfaced about what’s currently happening.

In the meantime, Ashok and I are going hiking. She was going downhill with her arthritis a couple of years ago, and I thought that might be the end of our hiking days. But with acupuncture and food therapy, she’s coming back to life and things she couldn’t do before, she’s doing again. We won’t be doing 8-milers, but we’ll be fine for 3-4 milers with lots of stops to take in the fresh air. She’ll help me slow down a bit, too. I think it will be great for both of our spirits – and our digestion.

In Chinese medicine, digestion is a term that refers to everything we take in. It’s not just about what we put in our stomachs. We have to digest our feelings, our circumstances, environmental toxins, our losses and traumas. We have to digest our past and our fears for the future. We even have to digest the state of our health. All of that has to move through us and out of us in a healthy, meaningful way to keep us balanced. And, hopefully, some of it will nourish us with lessons learned and unexpected gifts.

I’m finding myself craving light and comforting foods. I’m completely off caffeine and am eating very limited sugar. I’m prioritizing my mental health and my sleep. There is so much to digest in the world and in my head that my stomach is resisting anything heavy or that is not nourishing. I’ve stopped eating meat almost entirely because it tastes too heavy and slimy. I have too much to digest at the moment to think about our meat processing system and all it entails. Beans feel so much better going down. I’m not a big fan of salads, but I found myself ordering a huge salad of spinach, broccoli, carrots and tofu last night. I couldn’t stop eating it. My body craved it like it was candy.

This was the brightest rainbow I’ve ever seen. I felt like it was a hug from the Universe and a sign that there will be an end to this.

For the next week or so, I want to feel the fresh air and hug a few trees. I’m looking forward to hiking and spending some time with my dog doing what we love most. After my experience on the way down, I’m a little worried about what I’ll find in these small mountain towns, but I’m going to play it minute-by-minute. It feels like a time to be mindful and to stay in the present. They say it’s super helpful to be mindful when you are eating. It aids digestion. It helps you hear your body’s signal for fullness. If that’s true for food digestion, I’m sure it’s true for everything else on my plate. This week I’ll try to have more stillness and spend more time listening to the wind through the trees. I think it will help my digestion.

Pictures from the Road………

Sometimes I Do… Sometimes I Don’t

Even though I’ve been a consistent exerciser my entire adult life, I don’t always want to do it. In fact, if I’m honest, 85% of the time I have to have supports in place to make sure I get it done. My most effective one is reminding myself how great I’ll feel when it’s checked off the list and my blood is pumping through my body. Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn’t.

My second most effective tactic is remembering how it will help my anxiety or depression or insomnia. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

And then there are days when I have a real conversation with my body, and it tells me that it would much prefer a rest day. I know I will be more motivated another day, so I don’t talk back unless it’s been a series of days where my body has said no. During the lockdown I grappled a bit with my inertia on the sofa. But I knew I would always get back to it. That’s the thing about exercise. I can start over anytime.

This morning, my body said no. I’m having a second cup of almost decaf coffee, posting a short blog and perusing camp sites in Michigan. I also meditated and spent some quality time with my pets. For some reason this morning, Luna wants to sit in my basket staring at my meditation cushion. Maybe his body said he should rest, too.

Did That Just Happen?

Whew!!

That’s about the best word to describe the last few weeks…. several months….. last year of my life. Did that just happen? Did I just abruptly retire from a 25-year-long career in Learning and Development, survive a pandemic (I’m trying to be in denial that it’s not over yet. Get your f*ing vaccine so it will be), and start a new career in the outdoor industry? Wow. Holy cow. That’s all I can say.

I’ve spent the last year re-evaluating, processing, dreaming, grieving, raging and laughing at this crazy world we live in and the current state of our planet. It is at once inspirational, totally flabbergasting and enraging that we are dealing with climate change, the crumbling of our democracy and a pandemic all at once. I could go on about the inability of our culture to reckon with our past, acknowledge the reality of the present and collectively create a better future, but I don’t want this to be a rant. Get the f*ing vaccine so we can focus on other things, please.

This time last year I was a month into my “retirement”, and I had no idea what things would look like on the other side of this. I still don’t. I do know that I’m really enjoying what I’m doing at the moment. I know that I have a core support team of great friends who are going through this with me. I am eating better than I ever have. I’m exercising, practicing yoga and meditation and otherwise taking care of my health. Yes, I got the f*ing vaccine, and you should, too. This is neither the best of times nor is it the worst of times for me. And I’m truly grateful for that. I do wish I was sleeping a little better. I’ll keep working on that.

Oh, yeah, and it’s summertime in Michigan. I don’t like summer as a rule. I’m a much bigger fan of the shoulder seasons. But if I have to do summer, I’ll do it in Michigan all day long – over and over again. It’s such a happy, beautiful place filled with small towns, an unpredictable surf and giddy tourists. It was 58 for my morning run yesterday, and it felt amazing. We do get hot days every now and again – not Louisiana hot. But it never lasts long. We sweat a little, b*tch a little about the heat and then it cools down just as quickly as it heated up. I can deal with that.

Here’s an update on my gray hair transition….

My friend Liz and I were going to the beach today, but there is a Beach Hazard warning. Apparently life-threatening waves will be battering the coast along with dangerous rip tides. We won’t be getting in the water, but I do think we’ll head to the beach to watch because there should be a plethora of surfers and windsurfers. Surf’s up!!

Well I need to feed these animals and get ready for the day. Have a great Sunday wherever you are. Oh, yeah… please get your vaccine. Did I say that already? We are never going to get out of this pandemic and on to other things if we don’t all do our part. And I’m ready to get on to other things. We have to somehow cool down this planet before we all drown or burn up.

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