Archives for category: solo hiking

Met with my new physical therapist today. Well, more to the point, met with them. Two helpful professionals who seem eager to support my wellness. I’d say, cynically, “for a price…”, and realistically, yeah, that’s true. It’s a job for them. It’s a service for me. There is an exchange of cash between us. I’m okay with that – I’ve had clinicians of various sorts over the years, and every one of them worked for pay, and they were not all anything like as encouraging as these two humans were with me this evening. It was quite nice.

…I’m so tired though… LOL

Look, I’m not trying to get fit for a marathon. I’m not trying to rehabilitate a tragic injury that impairs my most routine life functions. I’m just in pain. Injuries over time that weren’t properly cared for, piled on top of whatever the fuck is going on with my damned neck (and my six year headache), and aging, and the long-time lack of real fitness, and the excess weight… Yep. It adds up, and it’s hard dealing with it “alone”. (I’m not alone, and my partner is both helpful and supportive.) Having care providers who are not emotionally entangled with my outcome, who are quite wholesomely optimistic of my potential, and encouraging of my progress is – I hope – really going to help me get fitter and more well, and just maybe also in less pain… maybe…? A bit…? Over time…? I laugh quietly to myself thinking about bits of the conversation…

PT Person: “Where do you see yourself, if you achieve your fitness goals?”

Me (being perhaps just a tad flippant): “Hiking a 50lb pack 3 miles without being breathless or ending the day in so much pain I just can’t even move again for two days..? Somewhere between able to do the Nijmegen march without significant exertion and comfortably able to go/do whatever/whenever without having to plan around my abilities…? Maybe down to 150lbs.”

PT Person: “Okay. Sounds achievable. Let’s work on what that’s likely to take.”

Me: … “Um… Seriously?”

Other PT Person: “What would you consider your personal ideal for fitness? What would you be able to do comfortably on a typical weekend?”

Me: “Peak fitness? I’d be able to hike a 70lb pack over cross-country terrain, maybe 5 miles – or do 10 miles without a pack. Easily lift 70 lbs without asking for help. Balance on one leg for a laugh, without falling, for like… minutes. Run upstairs right quick without being out of breath. Get my weight down around 135 lbs.

PT person just nods and takes notes. Other PT person looks thoughtful and asks some specific questions about specific injuries. We talk about pain. Pain management. This injury. That one. Throughout the entire appointment, they were encouraging. Listening. Open. It was a pretty uplifting and positive experience.

…G’damn am I hurting right now, though. LOL Physical therapy. Physical therapy. We worked on some things. I came home with instructions. A list of upcoming next appointments. A plan. An intention. A fire inside me where enthusiasm, sparked, now smolders, ready to ignite. Am I going to make this a thing that happens in my life…? Incremental change over time. It takes verbs. Repetition. New beginnings on top of restarts following do-overs, preceding next steps, and first steps, and other steps, and moments of frustration – it’s a fucking journey, which means it’s not “easy”, nor “effortless”, and it will be ongoing… one exercise after another. Repetition upon repetition upon repetition. Tracked. Remindered. Followed-up upon. Damn, y’all, we gonna be actioning some shit around here!! I mean, I hope. “You’ve got this!”, she said, as I wrapped up in my coat for the chilly drive home.

…I’ve got this. I’ve got this pain. That pain. That injury bothering me right now. The one that isn’t bothering me much at all. The other one that flared up as I left the appointment. The one that felt better with even a moment of attention paid to it. Maybe. Maybe I’ve got this, though. Maybe I do. I guess I’ll begin again, again, and see where this path takes me. 🙂

Incremental change is. Practicing the practices works. I’ll just stay on this path right here…one step at a time is enough.

Warning: this article has no point. No proper theme. No clear metaphor. You have been warned.

I woke early this morning, although it felt like sleeping in; it’s a Monday holiday, and I’ve got the day off. My Traveling Partner slept in. I did some yoga. Enjoyed a hot shower, and a first cup of coffee while I looked over new seed catalogues. Quiet morning. I think about a second coffee. I think about a walk in a foggy Pacific Northwest forest. I think about pancakes I intend to make later. Walk first? Seems the correct order of operations, or pace, for a holiday Monday. Leisurely. No pressure. Some housekeeping later? Sure. There are things to do that need to be done.

I think about the parts that make up a entire lived life. I think about ages, in years and in time frames. I think about “work” and “life”. I think about passions – for things, for people, for experiences, and for those random affections and fondnesses for this or that, that become attachments to “who we are”. “Time at work” is part of this lived experience of mine. “Time in the studio” feels more “important” emotionally… clearly, in practical terms, it is less important if I define that time by what it brings to the finances. Subjectively, I experience a sense that I “don’t spend enough time in the studio, creatively”, while also routinely down-playing my desire to be there for “practical reasons” or because something else “seems more important”. There are other ways I fondly use my time to invest in personal joy and moments of heartfelt delight. I think of time spent on love and loving. Time in the garden. Time spent reading… walking… hanging out with my partner… Time spent in the kitchen.

I sip this glass of water I am drinking between coffees. I think about the ways I spend time. I think over which of them I enjoy. What do I spend time on that I merely endure? Where is the greater value? Where is the necessity? Grimly, my brain tosses in a random remark about the inevitable heat death of the universe for fun. I mentally roll my eyes at myself.

Unfinished thoughts.

I think about posts I started to write, then never finished. Or… never actually wrote, at all. I wonder whether I’ll ever resurrect any of them, start or finish them? If I did, would there be any chance at all that they would be what I might have written when the thought first struck me? How would they have morphed and changed in my thinking over the course of some measure of time of this lived experience? What was I even thinking?

My smiling partner breaks in on my thoughts; a welcome diversion, this morning. This? Here? Not really “going anywhere”. I’m okay with that. It’s time for a second coffee – and a good time to begin again. 😀

It’s a new year, eh? New cup of coffee here on my desk, too. New morning, new day – a Saturday. The season has turned, and Winter is truly upon us. Here that mostly means cold, wet, and rainy, with occasional flooding, and the sounds of trees cracking when the wind blows on a freezing day. Other places, other weather.

Out on a nearby trail, taking note of the recent winter storm damage; fallen trees open up new views of the sky.

It’s been a few days since I sat down to put words to a blank page. The holidays passed, as holidays do, and this is a time when best intentions set boldly of a New Year’s Eve begin to fall to the mundane, the routine, and the unexceptional – change is quite a bit of work. Did you commit yourself to some specific change or improvement in life for this new year? Are you already frustrated? I try to avoid “resolutions” – it just hasn’t been a successful approach for me, personally. Still, this year I do want to “do more, better” – and be more that person I most want to be. It wants a new beginning, though, because I am deeply flawed, fundamentally very human, and entirely capable of bad decision-making, errors, and falling short of expectations and commitments. I’ve disappointed myself a number of times this year, once in a serious, significant, and painful way. So, as is so common, I set myself to putting things right as the new year approached, and tried to sort out what really crap-tacular shit is holding me back, and what baggage I can maybe put down , and what things I can do better, generally. I’m back in therapy, working on difficult specifics.

What sorts of changes am I looking for, this year, myself? It’s an assortment. Last year I got in 1 mile per day (average) over the second half of the year (started in July, finished on 12/31/21). This year I’m going for 2 miles per day, all year. 730 miles. On foot. I mean… it’s not “all that”. People do through hikes that are far longer, and conquer those in shorter time. 🙂 For me, working from home full time, during a pandemic, 2 miles a day on foot still manages to feel like a (healthy) stretch, particularly if I am making a legitimate attempt to do some portion of that every single day. So. I’m doing it. I’ve at least started. I sip my coffee and wonder if I’ll give up, or feel inclined to “cheat”. (There is no “cheating” on such things; either I succeed or I fail. Miles on foot are miles on foot. Doesn’t mean there won’t be something within me inclined to wonder if I could “find an easier way”. I’m very human.) Various other small things; get more done with less bitching (housekeeping shit, I mostly mean), really embracing the direct personal value to my quality of life that those efforts have, and maybe stop fucking resenting the necessity. That gets super tedious for me, even from within. “Do more, bitch less” seems a good place to begin. So far this year, I’ve been hitting the mark there pretty well, just making a bit more effort, with a bit less resistance to the effort required. It does seem to make things actually easier.

I’ve got bigger changes in mind, too. This partnership means the world to me. My Traveling Partner is special in my heart. Surely I could be a better partner? Better friend? Better human being to make a life with? I mean… there may be some things about me that may not improve much, however I fuss and practice, but that can’t be what stops me from growing and improving in all the ways I can improve, right? PTSD and brain trauma are for sure ass-kickers, as life challenges go, but I’m not without potential, and I’m pretty wonderful in so many other ways – there’s no legitimate reason to allow my issues to define me, or hold me back from making more progress, and walking my path with future successes in mind.

I wrote a bunch more words, deleted those when I noticed that my mind was wandering, and my words had become… unfocused? Purposeless? Too… something. My Traveling Partner stops by to invite me to share an experience with him later – doesn’t matter what sort, really, it’s the invitation to enjoy each other that matters most. Sounds like fun. I enjoy his company, and sharing time and activities. I smile after he walks away; we’re both pretty grumpy first thing in the morning, and don’t always want to “deal with people” – including each other. It’s a wonderful morning when we’re already exchanging smiles by 8:00 am on a Saturday, and making suggestions for shared experiences to enjoy.

Other than one errand I plan to run this morning, I’m hoping to spend most of the day here in the studio (painting, instead of writing). It’s a good day for it, I think, rainy, cold, dreary… the bright lights in the studio are probably good for my emotional wellness in winter months. 🙂 I’ll make cocoa… and begin again.

Today’s emotional weather forecast seemed sunny, clear, and breezy. Forecasts are not always accurate. Reality is not always according to plan. Moments are what they are. This moment? Me, now? Partly cloudy with hints of storm clouds on the horizon, which is to say, I’m in kind of a shitty mood. What is most aggravating about that, at present, is that there is no real reason for that to be the case, that is at all obvious to me. I’m feeling rather cross, and I’m not up for bullshit, today. :-\

I had a lovely walk. It was hard, though, to focus on the surroundings; the trail was rather crowded, and with a lot of families and children. So, while the healthy exercise was… healthy… it was also unfortunately very “people-y”, as well, and thus not at all what I was going there for. My ankle ached the entire distance. My headache joined me about midway, and has been loyal to a fault ever since.

Yeah, buddy, I get it, I really do.

I arrived home after some errands, and my walk, and enjoyed a bite of lunch with my Traveling Partner. He didn’t hang out with me very long, and although I “feel fine” in every practical respect (aside from this aching ankle, and my persistent headache), I guess something about my vibe just feels off, from the vantage point of trying to hang out with me. I didn’t fight it. He headed to his shop. I ran another errand, came home, and had a pleasant shower. Still have this headache. Ankle still aches. Back has started to ache, too. All quite “within specifications” for my day-to-day experience of wellness and relative comfort, and there’s nothing much to do about any of that. I take a handful of ibuprofen and assure myself it’s got to do something. My partner had pointed out that I sounded “stuffy”, so I take some allergy medication, too. Whatever. Maybe something will help somehow.

…I honestly just want to relax…

Tears well up in my eyes. I don’t know why. I’m suddenly hit hard by a surprisingly visceral awareness of loss… the people who are gone… why now?? I am, for a moment, too aware that I’ll never send my mother a birthday card again. Never pick up the phone and talk to my father, or grandfather. Never grab a beer on a weekend with old buddies, now long gone. Never “get closure”… oh, so many fucked up things fit in that bucket. What a weird, hard, sharp, fierce, painful emotional moment this one happens to be. What the fuck?? Tears begin streaming down my face. This would feel like “hormones” if I were not 8 years past menopause. What kind of problematic nonsense is this shit??

I get it. I’m grieving. It’s been in my dreams, too. I don’t really know what to do with it, honestly. The timing is most peculiar, and detached from any relevant experience now. Maybe the pandemic and it’s weird vast isolation and distancing is working on my mind – maybe I just feel “lonely” in spite of being so fortunate as to spend the pandemic with my partner, loved and loving? It could be that. Wouldn’t that be enough?

…I don’t even like spending time around people all that much, so…um… whatever this shit is? Not okay.

I sigh out loud in this quiet room. I really just want to sit down and write my Mom or my Granny a long letter about oh so many things, and maybe even tucking in some photographs (remember when those were a physical thing, to hold in one’s hand?), or some small sketch or trinket or pressed flower. There’s no one to receive that letter…

And it’s time to begin again.

…Unexpectedly, just at the point of typing that period, my Traveling Partner calls to me through the closed door, “You should come out to the shop!” I reply “Okay”, and as I open the door, we meet in the hallway. His warm brown eyes scan my face attentively. I don’t recall if he explicitly asked how I was doing, but I do remember saying “I’m in pain, and I have a sad” and a handful more words, and a few tears, tumbled out. I remember saying something about “my bullshit” and “please just ignore it” (I’m too familiar with how it can spiral out of control with any measure of authentic kindness being shown, and I’m really not going for that.). I remember his hug. His reassuring presence. He shows me his finished work, and how well the CNC is working. It’s pretty cool, and a definite mood-lifter. After all… what are new beginnings for, if not to connect, to share, and to find real joy? So… yeah. I’m trying to put my bullshit aside, and enjoy these moments. There really isn’t any reason not to, and so many reasons to embrace every bit of joy life provides. I’ll guess I’ll go do that. 😉

The path ahead in life often isn’t all that clear. From one day to the next, it can very much feel like forward momentum is unpredictable, chaotic, and fraught with unexpected trail hazards, literal pitfalls, and lacking a map, shit gets… complicated. Practicing healthy practices, particularly those associated with mindfulness, and good self-care, definitely help keep me on the path, but it’s still a journey without a map.

…How do I get from wandering (with purpose) to… orienteering?

I found myself thinking over what kinds of small things motivate me most – those little personal celebrations of milestones and goals achieved that serve to bolster my resolve – and support my resilience. I think about diet and exercise. I think about staying on track to meet various personal and professional goals. I consider meaning, purpose, intention, and will.

The path ahead isn’t always obvious.

Two nights in a row of relatively poor sleep. Brain grinding away on whatever it can’t let go of until the next day. Nightmares (war… pandemic… civil unrest… it’s all a bit much, and it’s finally hit my sleep). Funny thing is, somehow, I’m managing to make use of the chaos and anxiety to prompt some needed self-reflection, and re-assess some values, some goals, some ways of getting from points A to points B, and beyond.

It’s gotten me more serious about healthy exercise, again. I’ve resumed daily walks with more enthusiasm and real joy, and found some fun in my dumb bell workout and step exercises. Honestly? I’d like to be around, and healthy, a long time – and spend that with my Traveling Partner in good health and good cheer. 🙂 I found an exercise challenge app I like, and that’s helpful for a bit of “gamification” to motivate me further. (I’m not linking it, because I haven’t used it long enough to endorse it.) This is something that works for me, at least during an initial “habit building/rebuilding” process. 🙂

…Also… why would I not choose an opportunity to have some fun, at all? Fun is good, right? Joy? Also good, yeah? I’m not feeling like dragging around more misery, or punishing myself for not being good enough to clear some high hurdle I stupidly set for myself. lol I just want to enjoy a sunny day, some fresh air, and the flowers along the way. 🙂 Isn’t that enough to be something worth doing? 😀

Apps come and go. Fitness trackers, too, wax and wane in popularity nearly as often as the moon phases change. I find it rather obviously okay to change with the changing times, and with the changing tools. Change is a thing. People know about it. 😉

Anyway… it’s a lovely day to begin again, to make a choose, to course correct, to choose a new path… to turn the page.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

You are your own cartographer. You get to write your own map. Your results may vary – but they’re yours. ❤ Maybe it’s time to begin again?