Archives for posts with tag: walk on

The sun rises later these days than it did back in June. The Autumnal Equinox is tomorrow. It’s quite early and I am at a local trailhead adjacent to a meadow, not far from home. I am waiting for the sunrise, drinking coffee, yawning, and wishing I had slept in. I’ve got my camera ready for my morning walk.

My morning camera walks serve a purpose; they get me out of the house with my camera for a bit of fun, exercise, and “me time”, and they also give my partner a shot at some deep sleep. (When I am asleep I sometimes snore, and when I am awake I am often a bit clumsy and noisy at least until I am fully awake). This approach works for us, but tends to be a seasonal solution. Already I have begun to resist waking up so early, where in past weeks I struggled to sleep during these early hours. The later sunrise is the culprit.

…The early hours betwixt day and night are a good time for meditation and reflection.

An orange glow begins as a thread on the horizon, becoming a sort of messy smudge as minutes pass. Still not enough light for my lens, and the trail alongside the park and meadow, which passes through a vineyard, is still quite dark. I wait. I yawn. I tried to snatch a few minutes of nap time for myself, but the mornings are now also too chilly and I don’t even doze off for a moment – I just yawn. lol

Waiting for the sunrise.

…I think about work and routines and future mornings and finish my coffee. I develop a cramp in my right foot and shift in my seat until I can easily massage it until the cramp eases. The western sky takes on hints of ultramarine and dark lavender. The eastern horizon becomes more peach and tangerine, with swaths of gray-blue clouds sweeping across the sky. This is not wasted time; I love watching the sun rise.

The dawn of a new day.

The sun is up. The coffee is gone. I’ve gotten a good walk in and snapped some pictures. My Traveling Partner sends me a message; he is awake. The day begins in earnest. I have no idea what today will bring… looks like it’s time to get started and find out. 😁

I’m still getting over being sick. It’s not COVID, though, so… there’s that. I figure I’ve got a good chance at getting fully over this with some summertime left for camping and hiking. I don’t think I’ll be up for it as soon as week after next – which is when I’d been planning on going. I wept some pointless childish tears over that, then re-planned my getaway.

Knowing I’m awfully sick, at least for now, I made two alternate plans. One of these is fully a month away (a bit more), well-past when I can expect to be over this and in fair shape for something as demanding as a decent hike… but… I couldn’t get my remote-ish wilderness-y spot that I favor for those dates. I could get a pretty good “plan B” tent site, though, so I booked it. I noticed that my favored location did have availability just 3 weeks from now, though… although I’m not nearly so certain I’ll really be ready for that level of exertion so soon… but… I booked that too. Greed? Selfishness? Maybe just yearning for that bit of solo time out in the trees, and the inescapable awareness that the “plan B” option is far less likely to really meet that need well. “Car camping” – more “glamping” really – and surrounded by others doing the same. My first choice favored site is quite a bit more remote, sufficiently so that on weekdays I’d likely be utterly alone save for the once daily drive through by the park rangers.

Sometimes “luxury” is just being close enough to the car to bring a giant cooler full of icy cold beverages!

My thinking is that if I’m up for it in 3 weeks, I go with the more demanding bit of hiking and camping, and the thrill of taking along my new camera for that experience. If I’m not quite good-to-go, I’ll cancel a few days in advance, giving someone else a shot at that choice campsite, and take advantage of the later date, easier location, two weeks later, and rely on hiking to choice locations for taking pictures, instead of being surrounded by it continuously.

The safety of a managed state park, the solitude of a remote hike-in camp. Me, the birds, the breezes, and the occasional chipmunk visitor.

I’m listening to rain falling. A drenching tropical rain, falling quite steadily. It’s a video, and I enjoy the sound of it. It’s not likely that I’ll be dealing with any rain on my camping trip, in August. More likely the afternoons will be quite hot, and the sunshine-drenched hiking will be miles of sweat and toil, and an occasional biting or stinging insect. Won’t stop me. Won’t make the coffee any less welcome at the start and end of each day. I do find myself thinking over my gear with great care; what I bring depends very much on which campsite I end up going to. A half-mile trek (each way) from car to camp that seems to be a steep uphill in both directions doesn’t allow for large coolers filled with icy beverages. I’m just not that young/strong/foolish these days. lol On the other hand, I don’t enjoy the car camping nearly as much since it reliably means I’ll be surrounded by other people, and the entire (100%) point of these excursions is getting some solitude to listen to my own thoughts for a while. So, I make two gear lists. Most of it is the same, and the differences are about balancing weight and convenience. I do like some luxury in my camping (really don’t like sleeping directly on the ground, is one good example; I generally take a cot).

I entertain myself while I’m still ill by thinking about the camping trip ahead – when I (hopefully) won’t be ill, and will benefit from having done so much careful planning. (I’m far less likely to get such well-considered planning done ahead of a trip happening with nothing but weeks of robust health and busy-ness in the days leading up to the departure.) So, I think very carefully about that long hike to the favorite camp site…

The signage says it’s 1/3 of a mile, but that appears to be “as the crow flies” – not overland, in steps. LOL

What can I comfortably carry on those steep hills? What do I really expect to need? What can I definitely leave behind (because I just haven’t ever used it if I did take it along)? What will I forget, and regret having done so? How many trips will I have to make to carry everything to camp? Can I reasonably expect to walk that many miles on a hot summer afternoon? Will I over-extend myself and end up forced to rest in camp most of the next day (I’ve got priors). Will I fail to prepare for some predictable misadventure that I knew better than to be unprepared for (looking your way blisters, water, fire management, toilet paper…)?

I chuckle quietly to myself as I listen to the rain fall over my headphones, gazing out my window onto the sunny boards of the fence between houses. Each new trail is a new lesson. Each mile is its own teacher. Each step I get to begin again.

I’m sipping coffee and listening to videos in the background. Pleasant Sunday morning. Housekeeping on the agenda, not much else. I expect it’ll be a hot summer day. I’m okay with a couple hours of chores and a few moments for myself, and some pleasant hours with my Traveling Partner.

Our path may not always be level, the day may not always be sunny.

…Love isn’t “perfect”. Life either. Nothing really is. (Maybe this cup of coffee…) I make a lot of choices, and some of those are compromises, and some are just poor choices…on the other hand, I’ve got a lot of very cool opportunities to choose from, and fascinating people with whom I can choose to associate. Kinda neat, actually. Even our most intimate relationships are filled with choices.

We choose our path, and we choose what we consider our choices to be.

I chose my Traveling Partner a long time ago (11 years)… on a commute, I think. There was a hug involved. Hours of conversation, over time. A friendship developed. I adore this human being. He is “flawed” (inasmuch as he is quite human), as I am myself. There are days when one or the other of us seriously aggravates the other. (Just being real, and let’s be frank, one thing I know I can count on in life is that life will be, generally, quite “real”. lol) I enjoy him, as a friend, as a human being, as a partner… I smile when I think of him, and he is the person most easily able to unintentionally hurt me emotionally with a harsh word in a difficult moment. I still choose him, and yeah, even when I’m crying over a moment of hurt feelings, I still choose him.

He’s very dear to me. 😀 (bad pun intentional)

Why bring it up? It’s been a lovely weekend. This is all pretty obvious practical shit, right here, and hardly bears pointing out. Don’t we all go through it? Some moment that contrasts the wonderful qualities with the very human, sometimes much less wonderful qualities? Again – pretty real. Pretty ordinary. I dunno. I was thinking about it as I walked yesterday… “What matters most?”… “What builds a firm enduring foundation for love?”… “What does a healthy relationship look like, over time?”… “How does healthy boundary and expectation-setting look and feel in the context of a healthy adult relationship?”… “What part do I, myself, play in ensuring I am treated well based on my own understanding of “good treatment” – and how I do ensure I am skillfully, authentically, ensuring I treat my partner well based on their understanding of “good treatment” – and my own?” Big questions. (Long walk.)

Growth isn’t about what’s easy or comfortable. It’s often about hard questions, and answers that require rather a lot of real work. “Is the effort worth it?” is one question that is easy to answer, for me, in the context of this relationship: yes.

Sometimes choices seem so limited… or complicated… those perceptions are also choices.

I’ve had 3 other “long term relationships” of any notable duration. Two ran far longer than the quality of the relationship warranted. (Okay, well, all three of those, actually, were far longer than what was healthy, but I did manage to cut that last one short before my life or mental health were in complete chaos.) I’ve often been that person working at it longer/harder and loyally clinging to the carcass of a relationship that did not at all rate such a ferocious commitment in the first place. “I didn’t know better” doesn’t describe the goings on so much as “brain damage”, honestly. Yikes. That feels “too real”, right there. I sigh, finish my coffee, and let it go. 🙂 I’m rather happily in a very different place these days, different relationship altogether. “Learned my lesson”? Possibly not – more than I’ve been fortunate, and this particular relationship grew and developed largely in the context of ongoing therapy and other positive life choices (and changes) that took me down a healthier path.

Choices.

Don’t sit around miserable, is what I’m saying. You have choices. You don’t have to wait for decades of your life to slip by – you can choose change. Any time. You can begin again. Oh, I know, it’s a difficult sort of choice to make, but truly, it is yours.

Maybe what looks like a dead-end just isn’t your path at all?

Hey! There’s a world out there. No kidding, it’s been kept a closely held secret for many months, but… yeah. There’s an entire world out there! Other people. Other places. Vaccinated yet? Mask up and get out there into the world! See something new. Meet another human doing other human things. Listen to a new tune. It’s a new day.

…Are you ready to begin again?

My Traveling Partner interrupts my Saturday morning reverie; I’d gotten lost in summertime tunes and reflections inward on external things. lol Coffee half gone, completely cold… there’s a summer day out there! Things to do! A life to live! (He misses me when I am “so far away” with my thoughts, as peculiar as that seems to me.)

There’s a summer garden to tend!

I think of far away friends and future travels. I think of trails I could be walking, right now. Errands that need to be run. Summertime music plays in my ears. I feel the smile on my face and the ease in my shoulders and my posture; it’s rare to feel this relaxed, just… “summery”. 🙂 It’s enough. More than enough. Blue skies. Birdsong. Good coffee. A bright summer day stretching out ahead of me just begging me to do something… maybe anything. 🙂

I think of childhood summers. I recall how hard it was understand adults wanting to just kick it on the porch or in the back yard on a summer day when they could be anywhere… now? Now I’m delighted to have a vast-seeming expanse of deck to kick it on, on a summer day. lol Perspective changes over time, as we gain experience and understand other views of life. I guess that is pretty fucking obvious.

…It may be less obvious why I’m not writing, when I’m not writing, though, and I have this to say about that… it’s summertime. 🙂

Begin again. Go, and do, and be. The practice will be worthwhile. 🙂 ❤

Heat wave. Already hot this morning. Slept well, woke refreshed. Felt… content. Balanced. Merry…

…Whole.

Off to a good start on a hot day. Things slide sideways, slipping gently, somehow inevitably tilting toward irritation in spite of a great starting point. Best efforts. Humans being human.

I put aside my coffee and go for a walk before the heat of the day might stop me, or just make the experience miserable.

A favorite park has finally re-opened after all the damage during that last winter storm.

Muggy warm air filled with the sound of mowers, small aircraft taking off from the nearby municipal airport, and swarming insects seemed to cling to me as I walked across the parking lot to the start of the one open trail. It doesn’t really go far enough to satisfy the need, but it has been a long while and I have missed this place. I walk the trail twice. I take note of the wild roses in bloom – there look to be three distinct species growing in this wooded area. I spot ripe thimbleberries, but none within reach – too fragile for commercial agriculture, they are a rare special treat, tiny, soft, and mild. The birds will get most of them. Piles of cut up trees give some insight into how much damage the storm caused. Every few feet, there’s a pile of logs and branches on either side of the trail. The forest is full of huckleberry bushes, but I don’t see flowers or berries, yet. On my way back down, before my second walk of the trail, I realize I haven’t stopped at a favorite bench… I never saw it! Weird… I begin to really look for that thing, that expected thing, as I head back up the trail. My focus results in missing other details. Something more to think about.

Oh. Reality is what it is. Expectations are shit we made up, and cling to.

It was a lovely morning for walking, in spite of the heat. In spite of the changes all around me. In spite of a less than picture-perfect lovely summer morning. Expectations and assumptions can so quickly undermine a potentially lovely experience. I mean… I even know that. It still trips me up more often than I care to count.

I put on some music. Sip my rather delicious iced coffee – I’ve been planning this iced coffee on a hot summer morning for days. Really looking forward to this moment. I made coffee ice cubes to go in it. I sip it thoughtfully, savoring the moment that is, instead of yearning for another. It may not be what I expected, but it’s quite pleasant, and that’s enough. Maybe I’ll finish it on the deck…

My Traveling Partner and I both hurt today. Pain sucks. Aging is a mixed bag of qualities, and pain is just one of many experiences… We both try to avoid taking it personally, or lashing out at each other in a short-tempered moment of our frustration with the limitations of these very human forms. He says “maybe you should just avoid me today” – right about when I was thinking of saying gently that I’d give him some space because I’m hurting that much today. lol It’s generally an exceptional partnership, even when one or both of us is in pain, or just generally not being our best selves, together.

I sip my coffee and reflect. I think about the walk, the summer morning, recalling the sights and scents, and the feel of the air around me.

Just because there’s sunshine where I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’ll find illumination.

I walked, reflected, observed, and gave myself that time I need to spend with the woman in the mirror. It’s good to get perspective. I mean… I find it so, myself. 🙂 I don’t always do a good job of making time for me, and for what I need from and for myself. I could do better there. More practice? Obviously. I know where I’ll start, too; a familiar place.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

Funny thing about The Four Agreements? It was my Traveling Partner who first recommended it to me. Good basic practices to practice that tend to heal a lot of hurts and limit a lot of negative self-talk. That seems so long ago now.

Treating each other well has reliably tended to start with treating myself well, and as it turns out that has nothing whatsoever to do with buying things, and everything to do with reflection, perspective, and practices that build resilience and emotional wellness. Boundary-setting. Testing assumptions. Confirming expectations. Being flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Being there for myself. Being kind, and treating the world as gently as I am able to. Good self-care. Getting enough rest. It’s a lot to juggle, and I suspect that I half-ass a lot of it, just trying to do all of it… but…getting things ‘half right’ or ‘half finished’ is still a more useful result than never making an attempt to be my best self at all. Incremental change over time. I get better at something each time I attempt it… eventually. Learning is a process. Change is often a verb. I keep at it. Incremental change over time requires both time, and increments.

Feeling frustrated and challenged can sometimes mislead me into thinking I haven’t improved – a lot – on a lot of little things that had been far more problematic before this journey began. That’s a shame; it robs me of my chance to celebrate small wins. I think on that while I sip my coffee, gazing into the sunshine beyond the window.

I hear the A/C come on. Then I feel it. I recall the heat of the morning as I walked the wooded trail, and think about the apartment in which my partner and I first began sharing our lives… and that roasting, horribly hot all-drama-all-the-time summer some 11 years ago; no A/C. I feel grateful for the A/C, definitely… but the love matters most. We brought that with us, to this place, across years of shared challenges, growth, change, loving moments, and petty arguments – it’s a very human experience, and it’s hard to imagine spending life differently and still enjoying it as much. I sip my coffee thinking about my partner (my lover, my best friend), and the pain he’s in today. Maybe I’ll bake oatmeal cookies? Would that help? (I don’t know why it would, it just occurred to me to wonder – sometimes I have a mind like a child. LOL)

There’s enough of this coffee left to enjoy a few moments of summer morning on the deck before it gets to hot to enjoy… seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂