Archives for posts with tag: be prepared

Sipping coffee, planning for camping, and feeling contented; it’s a pleasant start to the morning. 🙂 I’m excited about my camping trip – and it’s almost here! Next week. Whether I write or not, I’ve no idea, I do know there’s no cell signal available through much of that large beautiful hike-able acreage. Just… none. If my recollection is correct, there’s a hint of a bit of a signal now and then, but only at this one particular spot, and it’s a trek of a couple miles (uphill) to reach it, and it’s not reliable…so… I most likely won’t be posting during that time, regardless whether or not I do write. 🙂

Honestly… lots of past posts to explore, and it’s not as if I’m truly writing wholly original content, is it, since I generally write the same things, most days… drinking coffee… breathing… good self-care… choices, verbs, practicing practices, and beginning again… right? 😉 Don’t let yourself down on my account; I’ll be right back. 😀

There are paths yet to be explored – where will yours take you?

I’m eager for the break in routine, and for the days and nights among the trees. I’m eager to hear bird song, and not traffic, and the loud peeps and chirps and calls of chipmunks and squirrels, instead of the conversation of commuters and random human beings out in the world. I’m eager to read the weather, the actual weather, instead of the news. 🙂

I remind myself not to forget coffee!

I have a list of gear I need to either double-check that I do still have it, or pick it up before I go. I keep adding things to it, and crossing things off. I enjoy camping much more when I am prepared…and I also enjoy traveling light, and without excessive weight or baggage dragging me down. I’ve got a list that makes sense. It’s an observation that doesn’t last long when the next question hits me…

…What if it rains?

I laugh so hard I snort coffee, which is less than pleasant, but now I’m giggling; I literally haven’t made any specific effort to plan for any sort of significant rain. It’s August. Why would it rain? Only… it may, and it could, and it’s been known to happen, and… it’s in the forecast. lol So…?

Like a lot of life’s circumstances, preparedness makes an easier journey, for sure. Also like life, and circumstances, it’s not particularly easy to be prepared for all of everything that could be part of my experience than I might want to… while also traveling light, and keeping baggage to a minimum. The more I am inclined to carry, the more verbs (and effort) will be involved in the journey, itself, and the more there will be to manage, deal with, juggle, find space for, when I arrive at my destination. There are choices to be made. Some circumstances are best accepted, than prepared for in advance in any notable way. (I’m not actually saying rainfall is one of those, I mean… it’s possible to shove rain gear into my backpack without adding a ton of weight to my gear!)

Don’t let a little rain stop you. 🙂

Anyway. Rain is a thing that happens, even in August. I’m giggling because I enjoy the rain… but… I also dislike being soaked to the skin, catching a chill, and miserable because all my gear is soaked. lol There are definitely choices to make, and planning is a useful tool for making them. I give some thought to the rain, and my list, and make some adjustments to also account for chilly nights, and dewy cold mornings. Will I be warm enough? Cool enough? Dry enough? Will I have coffee for the mornings? Will I want paper books, or digital books? Don’t forget to bring a towel! What about tea? Broth? It’s nice to have something hot to sip on that isn’t loaded with caffeine – or sugar. What about sleep…? Do I want my cot, or an inflatable something or other? (I already know I don’t much feel like sleeping directly on the ground, on a thin sleeping mat; I’ll be out there for 4 nights.)

Everything I take on this journey, I’ll have to carry, myself. That’s a hell of a metaphor, right there.

I look at the time. Yeah. Already. I smile, and finish my coffee, and put aside my list. Same path, different day. I smile, and grab my keys, and my backpack, and get ready to begin again. 😀

I woke up to snowfall this morning. That wasn’t much of a surprise, honestly; weather forecasting has gotten pretty good over the years, as data sets build in size over generations of meteorological expertise also accumulated. Even in weather forecasting, incremental improvements over time are a thing. 🙂

My first look at winter storm “Maya”, before dawn. 

Rather a lot of snow for this area. Rather peculiarly late in the year, being, already, mid-February. I sip my coffee, which turned out rather poorly for some reason, and consider Winter. I think of my Traveling Partner, who headed out yesterday, late in the afternoon, to head south for a gig, and to pick up more of his stuff to continue the moving home process (almost completed). I missed him, some, within minutes of his departure, but also enjoyed the quiet, after a very busy week of moving things in, moving things around, and getting caught up and settled in together in shared living space long-term. It was a pleasant and deeply connected week. I sit for some minutes, reflecting on love, loving, and being loved.

This morning, the world quieted by a blanket of snow, alone with my coffee, I miss him much more.

I had made brunch plans with a friend, for this morning…lol.

…Doesn’t look like I’m going to brunch. Thanks, no, I’m good here at home. lol

Oh, I know, this “isn’t that much snow”. It’s only 4 inches or so, and lots of places in this country that wouldn’t even slow folks down. I get it. People here aren’t used to it, and they drive exactly as though they aren’t used to it; they don’t have the right skills (or gear) for these conditions, making driving doubly hazardous. The communities, by and large, at least in this metro area, also don’t do shit to clear the snow and ice from the roads, they just let it sit there until it is gone, mostly… which… yeah. Wtf? lol I don’t know. Not my circus, not my monkeys. What I do know is that it was a wise choice to do the grocery shopping yesterday, and to bring my laptop home with me from the office, Thursday after work. I’m well-prepared, even if I am stuck here for days.

I over think a detail, and step through the house turning faucets to drip very slowly, hoping to prevent any pipes from freezing. I don’t need that headache, for sure, and it is quite cold. 🙂

Daybreak unfolds, and the sky lightens. I notice small birds here and there, and get up to put out bird seed, peanuts, and dry corn, for my furred and feathered neighbors. Within a handful of minutes, it looks like a forest-creature version of Hometown Buffet on my deck. I sit with my coffee awhile, delighted with their presence, and pleased with my forethought while I was shopping yesterday.

Minutes later, visitors still coming and going, lots of kinds of tracks in the fresh snow.

Winter comes when it comes. It’s like a lot of things in life that may take us by surprise. We can be prepared for so much. Sometimes, we won’t be. Planning helps with that. Being aware of conditions is also a step toward wisdom, generally. Being willing to “take care of” a future we can’t see, with our choices in the moment, can definitely have the potential to turn disaster to mere circumstance, of little consequence. It’s not easy, though; there’s no map. No clear timeline of all the shit that could go wrong in life. Things change – and change again. All of this also applies to great good fortune, and circumstances that are wholly positive, and also characterized by change and upheaval. What are you going to do about it? Prepare skillfully, or just take that wild ride hoping for the best?

Last summer I bought de-icer for the driveway, even though I didn’t know if I would need it. On February 1st, I noticed it there, and found myself amused, because it really seemed, just then, a complete waste of money. 8 days later, snow everywhere, I’m pretty appreciative to have it; I’m likely going to need it. Same with the winter-strength washer fluid I put in the car. The upgraded all-weather tires, replaced in October, too – all part of preparing for a winter that seemed not to come, after all… until last night. I’m just saying; look ahead in life, as far as you are able. Go ahead and make room in your experience (and your budget) to take steps that will ease you into positive outcomes. Why not?

Winter comes when it comes. This is a metaphor.

Even when I haven’t had the financial resources to put a lot of money into such planning ahead, the reality is that there are not only helpful other things one can do, it’s also helpful simply to prepare my mind for those potential events. I don’t mean to suggest endlessly agonizing over shit that hasn’t happened, but could, getting all hung up and anxious over the future, which doesn’t exist yet outside our thoughts. Not at all. I’m suggesting simply allowing yourself to consider things, evaluate their likelihood, and be mentally (and where possible, logistically) prepared for the most likely of those.

The pay off in taking care of myself, both right here and now, and also looking ahead to support my needs over time, is that, this morning I am sipping hot coffee, warm, dry, and comfortable, with a well-stocked pantry, plenty of books to read, and a day ahead of me to enjoy at leisure. (I’m suddenly feeling, also, alarmingly privileged to be so well-supported by my planning – but also by my circumstances; I am fortunate, and yeah, that does matter, too. I take time to quietly contemplate what I can do, from right here, to help others who may not be so well situated on a cold winter day, instead of sitting on my ass contentedly enjoying gas heat, and a snow day. It’s a small world, and a smaller community, and we’re all in this together.)

My coffee is gone. The birdseed has been picked clean from the deck. It is daylight, and I hear an occasional car brave the steep hill of the road I live on. A new day starts here. 🙂

 

Sipping my coffee on a quiet comfortable morning, and I am musing at lessons learned on other days, in other moments. I am thinking about the crackling fire in the fireplace that kept me smiling much of the weekend. I am thinking about a camping trip last March in which I experienced a real moment of dread and anxiety – because I wasn’t easily able to make a fire. I am thinking about the distance I have traveled between those events, and what it has taken to grow from one to the other.

I wasn't as prepared as I felt.

I wasn’t as prepared as I felt.

In March, I had planned a camping trip of 4 days to gear-test new gear, and find out whether I was up to colder weather camping (newsflash: it’s not my preference to camp if low temperatures are below 45 – it’s an important planning detail). I headed for the trees thinking I had everything I needed. Truthfully, the lack of coffee was what kicked my ass emotionally (I’d also overlooked tea), and looking back it was a huge opportunity to overcome that limitation, but the headache spoke louder than reason. I had also not packed my bee sting kit, thinking that the weather was not yet ‘bee weather’. Being wrong about that was a safety issue, and that was the deciding factor to ‘call it’ only two days in and return home. My traveling partner retrieved me from the forest, and although he genially teased me just a bit about my lack of readiness, we both knew that was why I went out there for that particular trip; I’m planning much longer ones, solo, more remote – and on those occasions, it’s pretty urgent that obvious mistakes not be the mistakes I am making when I am too far from home to call for a ride. But this is simply some context on the experience; the lack of coffee may not have kicked my ass if I had been easily able to make fire from on-hand resources, no cheats.

Light without heat won't cook dinner.

Light without heat won’t boil water.

I camp fairly light, and I make sure I have flint and emergency fire-starting gear, but generally rely on Esbits for quick fuel to boil water. Doing so let’s me travel fairly light, and doesn’t place a requirement on me to actually build a fire and burn wood traveling through forests, or in places where a fire is a bad idea. It had been so long since I actually made a wood fire I had entirely lost those skills – and was wandering around in the world unaware of that (far more important than the loss of skill was the fact that I was unaware of the short-coming). It was an embarrassing discovery. I had brought along an alcohol stove, another common hiker/camper favorite, but one I wasn’t so familiar with using and didn’t have a lifetime (any time) of personal experience; my use of fuel was inefficient, even wasteful, and I didn’t bring enough fuel to account for that. I used up my fuel figuring things out (and setting my cook pot handle on fire – don’t ask). To prevent myself from ‘falling back on favorites’ on this particular trip I hadn’t packed as many Esbits –  and I “knew” I had enough alcohol. (I was wrong.) These sorts of things add up to potentially life-threatening fails under extreme circumstances, and it was wrecking my nerves even after I returned home. (I thought I could count on myself for fire for crying out loud!) I had some work to do. There would be verbs involved.

No skill required - yet.

No skill required – yet.

Over the winter holidays, I enjoyed a number of fires in the fireplace, and have continued to do so. Each new fire in the fireplace became an adventure, a learning experience, and part of a progression – the first one was just a Duraflame log, lit and enjoyed for a couple of hours (and an opportunity figure out the flue with confidence). Each successive fire has been more reliant on skill, until this past weekend I started a lovely warm fire without cheating it at all – lit with a lighter meant for lighting fires, but aside from that nothing made it effortless, and success was not assured. I learn from each stumble, each mistake, each new transition toward being more fully reliant on the basics (wood, oxygen, and spark or flame to begin it). This weekend I explored a variety of tweaks on placement of wood on the grate, size of kindling, timing of putting heavier wood on the fire, and had quite a lot of fun with the experience, and ending each day with a bed of coals banked and ready to begin again.

The cozy warmth of a fire built with purpose and skill.

The cozy warmth of a fire built with purpose and skill.

In between my March camping, and my lovely warm fire this past weekend there has been quite a lot of study, and some practice (with more practice yet to come – because a fire in the fireplace is not 100% analogous to making a fire in the cold, or the rain, or the wind, and there is much more to learn about fire, about readiness, and about self-sufficiency and interdependence). I’ll probably continue to hike and camp relying on what works best (and most reliably) for me, and what feels most comfortable, but I’ll be heading to the trees far more prepared to take care of me when circumstances don’t allow for what feels most comfortable, and more aware of what I may really need to enjoy the experience.

Taking care of me has a lot of verbs... and some nice perks. :-)

Taking care of me has a lot of verbs… and some nice perks. 🙂

Today is a good day to be a student of life and love, open to new understanding. Today is a good day to put aside assumptions, and ask clarifying questions. Today is a good day to look suffering in the face with a mind open to understanding what my needs really are. It’s a journey worth taking. 🙂

If you were to find that you must quickly, and immediately, depart for ‘points unknown’, and do so in as prepared a fashion as you could with minimal time spent ‘getting your things together’…what would you take with you?

Too much? Not enough? What matters most?

Too much? Not enough? What matters most?

Think about it for a moment. You can use any resources you may have – but whatever you take along on the journey needs to be light enough to manage alone, and serve you well for having rated high enough to be considered to take along, at all. You don’t know the destination – but I’ll at least observe that there will be challenges, and potential risk to your health, perhaps even your sanity. So. What do you take with you to handle most of your basic needs?

Are there also things you know with utter certainty you must leave behind?

If this scenario develops unexpectedly, in the wee hours perhaps, or late in the evening when you are already quite tired, or when you are in poor health, or hurting – does your packing list change? What about the time it takes to figure out the details?

What is on your list of essentials on life’s journey?

Today is a good day to consider questions. Today is a good day to travel light, and to be prepared for change. Today is a good day to reconsider my ‘packing list’ and lighten the baggage I carry day-to-day.

I took a long walk today, something short of ‘hiking’, but much more than a walk around the block, or to the store. I spent a mellow hour or so among the trees in a nearby nature park, a favorite place that was once part of my daily commute, on foot, to and from work each day. That seems an eternity ago, but in any case, it’s neither here nor there – it’s in the past. I walked paths I hadn’t walked before, and happily observed a couple new ones – or perhaps placed such that I simply hadn’t gotten to them, previously; they were new to me, and that was enough to count them as new, on my walk today. Camera in hand, questions in mind, and some mostly unmeasured time to walk, meditate, and be present, aware.

I feel more prepared for 2015, and in the quiet moments between hanging out with family, and finding my way to sleep, I am enjoying taking a look at the day’s pictures, as well as the experience, emotions, and thoughts they represent for me now. I hope the New Year finds you well, hopeful, encouraged, and ready to continue your journey, wherever it may lead you. Thank you for reading – it never stops being meaningful that there are people on the other end of this handful of words. You matter to me.

My New Year’s celebration, my thoughts along my walk today, are rather more personal than the sort of things I generally share so easily. Rather than feel naked and uneasy sharing things I don’t comfortably express, lack words for, find ‘too private’, or may actually just not be meaningful for anyone but me, I’ll share some of today’s pictures, and some observations. It’s enough. 🙂

...Come on, now; this is why we can't have nice things. :-\

…Come on, now; this is why we can’t have nice things. :-\

As I entered the park, I felt sad, disappointed, and angry that people don’t have enough ‘pride of place’ to want to care for the world we all share. I’m not sure I know what to do about it, beyond choosing, myself, not to litter, leave shopping carts misplaced far from stores, drop soda cans along sidewalks, or dump major appliances down hillsides. I guess it’s a start.

A fusion of nature and craftsmanship.

A fusion of nature and craftsmanship.

I entered the park and noticed some vaguely bowl-shaped stones here and there, and considered what a lovely bird bath something like that would be in my garden. I find the functional stone, and the carved detail added later beautiful, and seeming very sturdy; something that could be counted on. I walk on, reflecting on my desire to feel secure in my life, and in my relationships.

Every moment has something to teach me; there's no knowing what may be around the next bend.

Every moment has something to teach me; there’s no knowing what may be around the next bend.

I inhaled the chill winter air as I walked new paths. Again and again, I was struck by the quality of the winter afternoon sunlight. Again and again, I was frustrated in my attempts to capture it. I stopped looking for perfection, and began accepting what the camera revealed to me.

Winter forest, winter sky - I see mostly what I expect to see, when I expect to see something particular.

Winter forest, winter sky – I see mostly what I expect to see, when I expect to see something particular.

I walked through areas of the park I used to avoid for ‘safety reasons’. Not that the park is unsafe in any noteworthy way; I fell and hurt myself pretty badly there, once, tripping over an exposed tree root that I didn’t see – I wasn’t looking. That was a day I felt incredibly happy, and I was looking up, and around, and enjoying birdsong, and singing holiday carols to myself as I walked along – I definitely wasn’t looking at the ground. While that’s lovely, lacking sufficient mindfulness to successfully walk to work without hurting myself is probably not something to brag about. I walked paths, today, that were rife with twisted knots and braids of tree roots without any particular concern – or lack of awareness. I was aware of the tree roots, among the many details I observed along the way, and enjoyed them as an opportunity to refine the mindfulness practices that add so much to my experience now; I’m always practicing, that’s how these practices work. 🙂 It felt like a huge triumph to feel so comfortable, confident, and unconcerned about an obstacle that once weighed so heavily on my experience that I gave it the power to change my path.

Winter has her lessons, too.

Winter has her lessons, too.

I enjoyed my winter walk so very much, today. I was well-prepared, and although I was walking new paths, I felt I was in familiar territory. I felt safe. I felt fearless. I felt comfortable. Funny how much being prepared can change an experience. Something as small as dressing for the winter weather can have so much value. It’s worth taking the time to prepare, even for something as simple as a winter walk. How often have I rushed out the door to do something, or go somewhere, and found myself inconvenienced because I overlooked something I needed, or suffered pointlessly for some other issue that consideration (“What can I do to prepare for this?”) could have prepared me for? How many times have I succeeded beyond my expectations or desires, on occasions that I happened to be more prepared for an event, decision, or activity?

Looking up; a common practice I use to shift perspective, and a lovely metaphor.

Looking up; a common practice I use to shift perspective, and a lovely metaphor.

There’s more to staring into the sky than meets the eye. I find the literal change in perspective does tend to fairly easily allow me to change my perspective, whatever the circumstances. Perspective has proven to be a very big deal in finding emotional resilience, contentment, and emotional self-sufficiency. I had trouble learning the lessons of compassion until I learned some of the lessons perspective has to offer. I find that perspective and compassion generally go hand in hand.

Sometimes illumination seems so near... other time, it seems a distant possibility, seen just beyond some challenge.

Sometimes illumination seems so near… other time, it seems a distant possibility, seen just beyond some challenge.

So… I walk on. Sometimes the perception that illumination is just out of reach is an illusion, a ‘trick of light’ – a matter of perspective. It may not be at all what it appears to be, in some brief moment of struggle, or frustration.

Winter reflections.

Winter reflections.

That’s really what my walk was about, for me, reflections – my own, on the year just past, and considering what to take along for the journey ahead… Who am I, today, that I wasn’t last year? Who do I hope to be on this day, next year? How do I get there, from here? In the simplest terms, it’s just a walk on a winter day, some photographs, some moments, some thoughts… I didn’t need more than that. Today is a good day to start a new year…a year of love, of consideration, of practice. Today is a good day to start a new year on a less familiar path.