Archives for category: solo hiking

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?

Apparently the NOAA has determined that July 2021 was not just the hottest month of the year so far, nor the hottest in the recent decade. Nope. Bigger than that; it is the hottest the globe has been in (recorded) history. G’damn, that’s fucking hot. Now, you can dispute science if you choose to, but in this case, we’re just talking about data entry. Tracked numbers. Observations over time. I’m just saying… it’s fucking hot, and getting hotter. The weather all around the globe is weird and getting weirder.

…We could have done better by this planet than we have. I sure hope it isn’t too late to do better (enough) now…

I’m going camping next week. I’ll head out on Sunday, and don’t plan to return before Wednesday afternoon. I’m eager to get some solo time out in the trees (yes, even in the heat of summer). No news feed. No cell signal. No work. No work interruptions. No interpersonal stress, or miscommunications. No “interpersonal” anything, really. Me, the heat, the trees, the chipmunks (plague?), the squirrels (hantavirus?), the deer (ticks! lyme disease?)… I’ll just keep my distance. There’ll be plenty of that.

A different camping trip, a couple years ago; it’s been too long.

The heat is hard on me, though, I admit that. I’m in less pain of the specifically osteo-arthritis variety, but more, other pain – anything aggravated by the heat. I feel “puffy” and sluggish. Effort seems to require more effort. The heat is hard on my Traveling Partner, too, and since he is out in the shop, working in it, trying to stay focused, work with care, and get shit done, he’s sometimes cross, sometimes frustrated. I know it isn’t personal. (I can’t help but think he’ll enjoy a couple days of uninterrupted shop-time, particularly if the weather cools somewhat, as the forecast suggests it may.)

This morning, I went out to the car, and noticed one tire was weirdly low. I mentioned it to my partner who insisted, after filling it, that I go get it checked out so he won’t worry about it while I’m on the road. I agree to do that, although I was of a mind that it was probably “nothing”. I was entirely correct about that, too, if by “nothing” I meant that there was screw stuck in my tire that would likely result in a proper flat or a blow out on the road, if I didn’t get it repaired straight away. (Which is not what I meant by “nothing”, at all, and I was supremely grateful that my partner insisted.) I went ahead and got the oil changed (overdue) while I was at it, and had some basic (also overdue) service done. How did I fall behind on this?? I wonder, and then I let it go; truth is, there’s been so much “getting done” of shit in the past year, that it’s surprising that more hasn’t fallen through the cracks, than has. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let it go. “Doing my best” isn’t about doing all of the things, promptly and skillfully, without ever having a “queue” of pending shit to do piling up. It’s about doing what I actually can, as well as I actually can, and being as okay with that outcome as I am able to be. I am human, not machinery.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Speaking of a list of things to do, my list of things to do before I go camping is still longer than I’d like it to be. Probably won’t get to all of it, but I will make a point to prioritize those things most likely to aggravate my partner in my absence. (I rather like that guy, and I’d like to do my part to ensure my time away is also “down time” for him!)

…I guess that makes it time to begin again, in spite of the heat of the day.

I’m sipping coffee and listening to videos, waiting for my thoughts to gel around some idea, or word, or notion; it’s not happening. I’m content, and relaxed, and feeling pretty good in my here-and-now, and it’s enough… so… “no words”. lol It is what it is, I suppose. There’s a lot going on in the world, and a lot of it matters a great deal, but this moment, here? Pretty relaxed. It’s a weekend day. Housekeeping later, coffee now.

One sunrise, last week.

My morning walks have been at a favorite park for a couple weeks now, since it re-opened. Dawn is coming later, each day, and soon it will be too dim in the morning to easily and safely walk these trails so early. I haven’t yet sorted out how my routine will need to change. Some days, it still feels very new to be so “settled”. It’s not as if every day is the same – they differ rather a lot. My “routines” have still not really established themselves as a natural byproduct of my comings and goings. I guess I’m okay with that – I sort of have to be as a consequence of simply being okay with myself. 🙂 Still, though, I’ve got to figure out when and where I’ll be getting my mile(s) in, once the early morning is “too dark”.

Same walk, different morning.

There was an air show this weekend. The noise did not cause me any particular stress. The traffic was not much of an inconvenience. Looks like it was probably a pretty cool family-friendly event.

…I feel a thought arise, and slip away before I can make any use of it… I think it may have been interesting, or relevant, or tie some idea to another, but… it’s gone now. LOL

My Traveling Partner is spending quite a bit of time in his shop. It makes sense; it’s the time of year for it. It fits my sense of seasonality in the context of family life. He’s been making parts for other tools, and making things that solve small household problems – like handy hooks to hang the attachments for my mixer, tucked out of the way, still very convenient. The wee hook specifically fit these mixer attachments. So cool! My father and my (paternal) grandfather were both “makers”, and I feel very much “at home” with my partner doing things in his shop. It feels “right”. 🙂

I finally planned time for a camping trip. Getting a reservation anywhere I wanted to be was pretty challenging, and I ended up opting for “car camping” this year vs hiking into a more remote spot. Nonetheless, I’m super excited about it – and choosing car camping means somewhat better comfort, and I’m pretty stoked about that, too. 😀 Coffee with chipmunks, squirrels, and robins, as the sun run rises, sounds pretty good. Long walks with no destination. Afternoons napping in the heat before taking another walk before dinner. No fireside stuff; the entire state is a huge vast wildfire zone right now, but the summer heat will mean I won’t ever be so chilly that a fire seems necessary for comfort, anyway. I take my computer when I go to the coast. I take a notepad, a sketchpad, and a pen, when I go camping. lol It’s a very different experience.

I walked away from my writing before I’d finished my coffee, and spent time relaxing with my partner, talking about projects, hanging out, watching videos, and then got started on housekeeping chores for the week. It’s been a fun day. I completely forgot I was in the middle of writing a blog post until sometime after lunch. LOL I’m smiling and sipping an afternoon cocktail – a rare treat – and checking off the chores. Just laundry left now, and it’s in progress. I took time to combat an accumulation of tasty leftovers by making a nice lunch salad. A good summer afternoon meal. Life feels… pleasantly ordinary, more or less. It’s a hot day. It’s comfortable in the house. My headache is somewhat diminished with careful, reliable hydration, and good nutrition (I mean, what the fuck do I even know about any of that, really? I’m not a doctor, I’m just saying, it seems less severe, some days, if I am definitely drinking enough water, and eating a balanced diet with lots of leafy green veggies in it. I do not care a bit if that’s a “placebo effect” resulting from simply thinking those things matter, or if it is “real”. I don’t hurt as much, and that’s enough).

The tall icy glass, in which what is left of this gin & tonic sits, sweats condensation; cold glass, warmer room. I sip on it slowly – as I said, I rarely drink alcohol these days, so I take my time with such things to minimize risk of foolishness or poor decision-making. 🙂 My Traveling Partner makes an exceptional cocktail. He also has some familiarity with my problematic history with alcohol (having grown up around multiple family members with acknowledged, legit, “drinking problems”, and my own early behaviors around alcohol as a young soldier), and he’s cautious with such things (which is appreciated, not forced on me). I enjoy the fantastic sometimes complex flavors of a well-crafted cocktail, and we stick with the delights that rarity requires: exceptional quality of the ingredients, sourced with care and thoughtful selection, flavors outside the “everyday”, and cocktails that are notable (for their history, or their ability to evoke nostalgia, or for simply being especially delightful in flavor) – but notable in some way other than their ability to intoxicate. We’re not really “about” the potential for drunkenness, and it shows in how rarely we drink, and how slowly we drink when we do. LOL Drunk people break shit.

I’m happy to enjoy a partnership so safe that I can even relax and enjoy a cocktail now and then without worrying that I’ll turn right around and “burn my life to the ground” on a funeral pyre of addiction. I understand better, now, that in some respects it isn’t about the addictive substance nearly as much as it is about the relationships that support my emotional wellness day-to-day. There’s a ton of more recent science on addiction, if that’s interesting to you for any reason at all. I encourage you to study more (I mean, like, always, and anything that is of interest to you) – definitely check your sources. “Karen’s Facebook group” is likely a less rigorously peer-reviewed source for information on the science of addiction than, you know, scientific studies available on PubMed, or some other reputable source. Just saying – fact-checking is good stuff. Knowing your source? Good stuff. Reading and applying critical thinking? Good stuff. Do your homework.

…And, hey, if you’re just not well-informed about a topic, not an expert at all, maybe just don’t share that uninformed opinion at all, eh? It’s okay to lack information. It’s less okay to make shit up like you know something about it. I know, it’s hard; we all want to be experts.

…Reminder: I’m no expert. Nope. Not even on mindfulness. I’m just a human being human, doing the best I can to be my best self, trying various practices that may help me along the way. I’ve got a reading list – did you notice I didn’t write any of those books? Yeah. That’s because I am not an expert. At all. Just a human, being human. Sharing what I can of a complicated journey, in case other travelers are also wandering around without a fucking map. 🙂

It’s been a pleasant Sunday. I’ve gotten a few things done. The garden is looking lovely, and the roses have now established themselves where they’ve been planted. I smile when I think about the years and the miles and the containers being carried from apartment to apartment over decades… so few survived to see home, here. It was a lot to ask of a wee rose in a container. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there, somewhere. I’ll think it over for awhile, and see what I can make of it.

I slept as deeply last night as I had slept restlessly the night before, which is to say, very. I woke once during the night, thinking it was morning, and seeing the room somewhat illuminated, as if by imminent dawn, I got up to look out through the glass door to see what the day may hold. I was surprised that it was not yet close to dawn. The light was only the ground floor hotel lighting (of the beach access below my balcony), diffused and reflected by a dense fog. No view here. None. I went back to sleep.

I slept deeply and woke… discontented and restless. The fog persists. I can only now, just barely, make out the edges of the low tide. I frown at the fog. I’m surprised to feel completely disinterested in a beach walk on a foggy morning – so unlike me! I shower, feeling fussy. I dress, feeling a tad restless, not quite “cross”. I get coffee, reflecting on the feeling of the moment. I return feeling mostly pretty well sorted out; I miss my Traveling Partner more, at this point, than I am enjoying my own company. It’s not a surprise. I was gonna get here sooner or later – far better to arrive at this emotional place before I finish my bit of away time, able to return home fully appreciating the human being waiting for me there. 🙂

So, I packed my bag. Re-loaded the car. I’m taking my leisure over my coffee, and a bit of writing. The wide-open balcony door fills the room with briny ocean breezes. Eventually, this moment right here will feel “complete” and be finished, likely with the click of the “publish” button, or perhaps after one last lingering look out to the horizon, as the morning sun begins to burn away the fog? At that point, I’ll message my partner that I’m on my way home, and get that journey going.

…It already feels like “time to begin again”… I miss that guy. 🙂

So, I sit here with my coffee, the sound of the ocean, and this quiet moment, watching the fog diminish, then thicken, revealing the rocky shore at low tide, then coyly hiding it away again. If I were to curate a collection of moments to share, this one might make it into that collection; it has a certain moody unsettled loveliness. More than enough to satisfy a desire for solitary contemplation.

I hear the plaintive forlorn call of a seagull before I see the bird fly past. Yep. Time to begin again.