Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gratitude


Today I am thankful for health and home, for the blessings that family and friends bring into my life, for hope and kindness and all the best of human character, and for the endless support and renewal of Mother Earth -- each a gift that I strive daily to deserve.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Few Steps Forward

I'm thrilled to report that after two solid weeks of rest, my knees have started working again.

I promise never ever to take them for granted.

When they first got bad, I couldn't walk even a single step without pain. The worst part was that both knees hurt, meaning there was no way to favor one or the other. It was truly a miserable experience. I'm sure other people have worse pain, but I'm lucky enough to be pain-free most of the time. Now I have a new appreciation for how well my knees and other joints work, under normal circumstances.

Thanks to my running experience, my soreness became obvious to the point that Kayak Guy took to calling me "Grandma" because I was so gimpy and slow. I needed a walking stick to get up and down the numerous steps at the cabin last week. Carrying anything of substance was out of the question: I could feel the extra load smack dab in both knees.

When I started to improve, I'd walk almost normally in the morning, moving gingerly around the cabin, taking it easy, but by the end of the day I'd be sore all over again.

This week I'm decidedly better, thank goodness! In a few more days I'll start walking for exercise again. For now, I'm just happy to make it into the kitchen without having a conversation with my knees the whole way.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Two Worlds

Juniper Creek

Last week we stayed in a remote cabin in the Ocala National Forest, and filled our time with kayaking, tracking, exploring, woodcrafts, campfires, relaxing, and time with friends.

Now I've returned to the busyness of pre-holiday plans and lists, e-mail, projects, and the distractions and pressures of so-called normal life. I'm trying to maintain my cabin serenity even during re-entry. (It isn't easy!)

One of the things on the To Do list is creating our holiday card. Choosing the photos is fun and time-consuming. This is one of the leading contenders. The salt bush blooms profusely along Juniper Creek this time of year, giving us the nearest thing to Florida snowdrifts.

We had a lovely paddle that day. Holding that memory . . . .

Friday, November 11, 2016

Politics

This election season has been intense for me. I don't trust my political discussions to social media or even to blogging. Such conversations are better face-to-face, where nuances can be explored and tone is harder to misinterpret. I have friends (and family!) from across the racial, cultural, sexual, social, economic, and political spectrum, and I continue to believe that we have more in common than we realize.

It's been appalling for me to discover that otherwise kind, sensible people can be incapable of having a rational discussion about things that matter. Frankly, I expected better from them, and by "them" I mean us, myself included.

It's good to be passionate, and emotion certainly has its place. It's essential that we point out where our systems fall short and work to improve them. But when we forget that we're talking to human beings about human beings, we are diminished by our own rhetoric.

Unless we repackage our fear, anger, frustration, and depair, figure out how to use it as fuel, and (this is the key step) act out of love, we become the very thing we oppose.

Truth comes clothed in humor, often enough, and I'm reminded of the old adage about why you should never wrestle with a pig: you get all dirty, and the pig enjoys it.

I sure hope I can remember that.  

[M]y country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. 

                                                        --Senator Carl Schurz

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Running, Not So Much

Gemini Springs run

Recently I surprised myself by signing up for a 5K race, planning to walk the route and enjoy the scenery of a local park that surrounds the Gemini Springs pool and run. Proceeds were to benefit the preservation of the spring and I was happy to support that, even though I'd never done a 5K before and generally cast a wary eye on such group activities.

Unfortunately, the race was cancelled due to the hurricane and hasn't been rescheduled. But in a burst of optimism I signed up for another 5K that will take place next year. Not yet finished with optimism, I decided to actually train for the race. That led me to a schedule I found online that proposed to make me into a runner in plenty of time for the race date.

Let me just say that most of my life has been spent avoiding running as much as possible. I've stayed fairly fit over the years, going through spells where I was quite active (though never very coordinated) and then lapsing into the sedentary lifestyle of reading and relaxing more than exercising. In the past few years I've found a good balance with kayaking and hiking, but I still felt I should up my game for fitness' sake. Hence the 5K's allure. It seemed like a nice kedge.

So . . . I embarked last week on the program. It alternates days of walking for 30 minutes with "running days" -- which at the outset consist of running for 15 seconds and walking for 45 seconds, for a total of 30 minutes. Not wanting to time myself so closely, I opted for 20 steps running and 40 steps walking, for a total of 30 minutes. That's just about a mile in distance. Diligently I kept to the program 5 days last week, including the "long day" of 3 miles walking. Having a clear deadline and a definite schedule to follow meant I was highly motivated.

At the end of the week, I felt very empowered by having kept to the schedule. I had created quite a stir in my neighborhood, too. People actually noticed that I'd taken up walking, telling me they'd seen me doing my laps and how impressed they were.

Also, my knees are killing me. This is not a good sign. Barely into the program, thanks to running a pitiful 20 steps at a time, I am wincing along like someone years older -- when I get up from a chair, when I step up or down any stairs, when I first get up in the morning. Yeesh.

So far this week I've taken 3 days off from any walking to recover. Resting seems to be helping. Something needs to be helping, for sure!  No way can I have bad knees if I'm going to continue my other activities. So in the interest of still being able to step over the occasional fallen tree and hoist myself into and out of my kayak, I think I'll be taking some major time off from running, Like, say, the rest of my life.