Tuesday Trippin’ October 2023

October has been a little rougher than some months in each category of our challenges. It’s been hard for both of us to meet our goals, but the glorious fall weather and colors have been the silver lining that blunts the stress a little.

My Covid Recovery

I’m pretty close to being in full swing again, as far as cycling goes. But, strength training with my arms is something I mostly do at Linear Park, and I haven’t done much of my cycling out there. I really need to get after the free weights at home. My shoulder pain is having a little flare and my fat to muscle ratio seems to have suffered a bit, but it looks like a full recovery from the Covid is in the near future.

The Training

Russ and I have both been hiking more at the cost of some rides. We have long intended for our recovery exercise to be walking, but actually shifting there is a recent thing. Russ lost someone who was a friend, hiking buddy and more recently a business associate. There will be a demanding multi-day memorial hike in early December. It will be mostly (or all) male and there will be a deep stream crossing, not something well advised for someone with Raynaud’s Syndrome to do in the winter. I’m hiking the build up with him for the cross-training benefit, but not attending the memorial hike. Long-term, the switch will be great for over all health and conditioning and make ramping up the cycling easier, both physically and mentally.

The 22nd we walked Kennesaw Mountain. The 23rd I had one of those rides that I had to force myself to take, and then force myself to finish. The 24th we walked the mountain again. The 25th I had my first really good strong ride since initially testing positive.

It was a comparatively mild case. I never sought help for anything but my eyes, and I don’t think I have long lingering effects, but it has been a month of sub par Karen and the cold and flu season is upon us. I’m trying to talk myself into the flu vaccine, but would like to have a few more good days before hitting the system with something else.

We’re moving into the weather when it’s harder to get a ride in. Not only are the days shorter, but, the warm part is after the middle. Until we are riding for the project, I’ll try not to ride much below 60 degrees outdoor temps due to the Raunaud’s. Waiting till it’s a warm enough, but still having enough time to get in a ride worth taking, and make it home in time to meet the school bus at 2:45 doesn’t always happen. The hiking side step is helping though. I can meet cardio needs because there is no wind chill and walking at lower temps is still comfortable.

The Project

We’ve been putting a lot of hours into the t-shirt project. We really want to make a smart choice for suppliers, by smart, that means garments made by a socially responsible (decent working conditions for workers) and environmentally conscious (reduce, reuse, recycle, clean up after production) company. The t-shirt project, like the video project, is all about having a positive impact on as many people as possible. And, everything’s connected. Everything. We want the t-shirts to provide an experience as well as clothing,

Until next time, Have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail!

Acknowledging the Great Big Giant Elephant

Did you know that motivation follows action? It stinks. It should be the other way around, right? High action individuals never need to notice because there’s always action producing endorphins and feeding inspiration. Like the desire to ride a bike. It springs naturally from the endorphins you got last time you rode (unless you didn’t). Endorphins from any action make you want to repeat and receive the love again, a circular pattern that feeds itself until something breaks.

You have to start the cycle though. I think of it like the pull cord on gas powered lawn mower. For strong people, starting is thoughtlessly easy. But, I can’t reliably pull fast and hard enough to make the motor turn over and get things going. Russ mows and now we’ve gone electric. But, before we got the electric mower, I was never going to be a reliable second, unless someone was home to help me start the mower. There are so many ways we are each other’s safety net.

Why it Matters

Difficult starts and interruptions kill momentum, break the inspiration/action feedback loop and lead to rough stretches. Missing targets leads one to avoid the pain of failure. And there are so many things that also need doing. Unlike my example, sometimes someone to help you start isn’t enough.

I’ve literally been trying not to write this post for years now, (Russ read and approved more than one version). It seems important to address the elephant in the room, though.

We’ve been planning the video cycling project since before the pandemic, writing about it here, postponing our deadlines, moving slowly toward promoting it and kicking ourselves over delays for stated and unstated reasons. Still, we haven’t submitted to the funding process. There are a few reasons that go beyond insecurity and fear of the test. There’s stress we’ve been up front about. Then there’s that stress we talk less about, absent some details for privacy (not just our own). Often it feels like the real problem is too many responsibilities.

A meme in my feed recently said “I hope you win the battle that you never tell anyone about.” I liked it for the kind wishes, but I liked it so much more for the acknowledgement that most people have more to deal with than what they let others see.

Russ, the Giant Teddy Bear

Russ is the glue that holds our family together. The problem is that Russ hasn’t been ok. He wants to be. He’s called it a “funk”, but if it was just a funk, we’d be funded and done with the project, and on to something else.

Russ has been down hard and fighting for air. It’s difficult for people who have never suffered depression to understand. I’m down pretty hard right now myself, and I don’t even understand, not as deeply as he feels it. It’s a very lonely place to be.

In the absence of healthcare coverage, we tend to research the most legitimate information available. After Russ discovered that “freeze” had been added to the “fight or flight” scenario he recognized it as his stress response. “Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn” is the current full list of threat responses.

It makes so much sense for these more recent threat responses to be recognized. “Freeze” isn’t always such a bad coping device. It’s is the opposite of rash. It prevents every mistake except inaction. Inaction creates its own problems though, and “freeze” may be the hardest stress response for outsiders to recognize as any kind of a response at all.

And then…

Depression and anxiety are more challenging with added stress and the world reached new levels of being turned upside. In middle school, I remember wondering what it was like to have brothers and cousins on opposite sides of a war (like the US Civil War, or when families were divided by the Berlin Wall). People everywhere are reflecting on that again. No one really knows how deep the current rifts and chasms, both near and far will get. Many people are too distracted, busy or stressed to let themselves think about it.

Thinking about these things makes a positive outlook harder, but ignoring them has different risks, and depression happens regardless of how one handles stresses. The kind of widespread pain experienced during the pandemic overloaded the collective psyche while Covid crushed hospitals worldwide.

Our private and inner worlds were challenged and stressed before the world became so “stranger than fiction”. It’s no wonder that we’d come up with a project to help others increase health and deal with stress when there’s little or no money to throw at the broken healthcare system in the US.

Our personal challenges haven’t been at bay during the 20+ years we’ve been together. For a while our outlook was promising. But, the recession hurt, other things happened, and we made some choices that were what we needed to be doing for family, but they involved one of us being under-employed for the last 10 years. That wasn’t helpful for our financial recovery, or financial security moving forward. No regrets. None. But, it did add to the stress load.

Deeply Personal and Different for Everyone

Some people didn’t think the pandemic was even real, and others were confused about what to think. Repeating a history so reminiscent of a pandemic 100 years ago made it even harder to grasp in a modern world. Russ was convinced he was likely to die. Between preexisting conditions, his lack of health care coverage, his essential worker status, his now longer hours, and his exposure through work and living conditions, his known risks were high.

There were so many unknowns, a lot of bad information, a lot of bad acts. Denial and irrational fears were amplified by ugly politics. Extraordinary stress is hell on the immune system. Boom, another risk factor! Russ didn’t die, but his fear was not irrational. It was a recognition that this thing few people knew how to deal with was a bigger risk to him, and that many people who were unconcerned had an uncomfortable level of impact on his risk factors.

It didn’t grip me like it did Russ, but I wouldn’t have said with confidence that I expected to live through it. Our household included exposed “essential employees” and school children, as well as people who were reluctant to follow recommended procedures. I was in a higher risk age group and also without health care coverage.

Some of it was Surreal

Most people had surreal experiences. The most important bit of security anyone gave us during that dark time was when my Aunt met me in Birmingham with a refurbished oxygen accumulator. Meeting her was an eerie trip. The streets were empty. I went to the interstate on an 8 mile, divided 4 lane. It’s normally slow and go, with heavy commuter traffic. But, I wondered for a while if I would see a single car along the stretch. I went through every traffic light,16, I think, and none of them turned red. Under different circumstanced you’d wish for something like that.

There were still very few people on the interstate. I wondered if gas would be available and how strange things might get, especially when I saw a military convoy headed who knows where. We met. My aunt gave me the machine, a package of disinfectant wipes, some laundry sanitizer, and a snack. She was taking care of me while she was taking care of me. Times like these are when people show you who they are.

There was gas. I got home. We were able to order hoses for the oxygen accumulator. Thankfully, no one needed it. But, the peace of mind it provided, knowing that if Russ, or any of the 8 family members who lived in our house before it was all over, went into respiratory distress, they could at least get oxygen as long as there was electricity. That was more priceless than any Visa commercial. Caring stands out when tragedy has become so ordinary for so many. Others not caring left it’s mark at times too.

Russ eventually caught Covid and later caught it again. Thankfully, it was after vaccines were obtained and treatments were developed. He made it through with care that cost hundreds of dollars that we had, instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars we didn’t have.

Mom had her dark experience just this summer while in rehab after a fall. There was an outbreak. Mom had been vaccinated and had good meds. Getting Covid after things were better made all of the difference for her. The quarantine was scary and some people didn’t make it, but Mom did. We recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

Four weeks back, I had my round with Covid. I was the last person in our house to catch it. I wondered if all the cycling gave me micro exposures that boosted my immunity, but never made me really sick. Or, if how often I wash my hands with housework was the reason. But really, who knows?

The pandemic was like life in that everyone is going through it, yet every person’s struggle was/is unique. So, I don’t know what to do, or write, or how to explain it when things aren’t on schedule with the project. Some people adapted, put things out quickly and leveraged all the change (for better or worse).

Some people have bounced back with double energy. Me? I still don’t know if continuing to pursue the project is what I should be doing. Can my dream really make a difference, or should I do something else. I know the project could help us, and others. I know he/we can do the job, but can he/we get the job? (flip on Joe Versus the Volcano intended).

One Step Forward

The risks were real, and some remain. The depression was and is real. We do a lot of DIY. It’s great that we can. Russ fixed a frozen pipe in the house before it became an insurance claim, but we’re not working on the project while he fixes our pop up problems, or someone else’s. It has all been big, real and debilitating, and I’ve had my own stuff to deal with too. Russ has been there for me in so many ways, but in others, I felt alone. He wasn’t present in the moment, or ready to move on. He spent a lot of time ruminating on fears he had no control over. He’s not mental health care averse, but there’s nothing in the budget to cover it.

It was so incredibly important to have income during the pandemic. It was important after too, but Russ lost his employment in January. Just as it seemed like things might settle a bit, boom, again! He went from “essential employee seeing a light at the end of the tunnel” to lost. Russ has made the most of his 6 jobless months in some ways, but in productivity, he froze. If he could retire to stay at home and cook and play with the grandchildren, he’d be in bliss, and he might be faring better if that were possible. Ironies abound. Not needing to pursue anything could loosen the stress and free up the mind space to… pursue anything.

And Then, Again

With all of this, we’ve come to and temporarily past the point of cancelling the project so many times. As much as we want to help anyone who’s interested in our project to get stress relief, escape, fitness and/or entertainment value from the project, there’s also a self-interested aspect. The project will have significant demands and stresses, but it will also do the things that we want to do for others for ourselves as well. It would lessen the impact of not having healthcare coverage (unless one of us has an accident riding).

We could benefit from a year of the heavy duty riding that is part of the project, letting all those demons work themselves out as we peddle. I hiked a lot when I was going through my divorce. I’d head for the woods, and after a day on the trail, whatever was weighing on me when I left had mostly lifted. It would be nice if Russ’s six months of unemployment had given him a head start on that, or progress in any form it might take, but that isn’t how it happened. Russ really does have a freeze response to threats. (And I have attention deficit, but, that’s another story).

I’m enough of an introvert that not being ok through the isolation was a real surprise to me. It piqued my interest in forming relationships and I desperately want to accomplishing things. The project is a two person job, and doing it without him wasn’t a step I was willing to take. I would ride and write to keep the project alive, but I still spend a lot of time feeling like I was alone or in hover mode. Recently, I started just doing things. It took a lot for me to just say I was going to do something and invite him along rather than asking what he wanted to do and make a joint decision. I didn’t expect him to, but Russ came with me. Most of the times I’ve really need him to, Russ has met me at least half way.

Things are getting better. Russ is working. It’s a financial band aid for our personal life and a mixed blessing for the project. I say band-aid because at this point, if both of us were working, that would just be a bigger band-aid. Americans spend twice as much on healthcare as other rich nations and still have a decreasing lifespan with poorer care. My healthcare.gov quote for next year was over 22K per year, even though I’m physically active, and some covered years I never went to a doctor… Seriously, in the last 10 of the years that I was covered, I don’t recall ever meeting a deductible. That’s rate is hard to accept.

Seeking employment that would move me toward having disposable income, or eventual retirement, rather than just paying for insurance for part of a catastrophic health failure requires that I get not just full time work, but demanding employment. Age and sex discrimination is real and my hodgepodge background doesn’t help. If I were lucky enough to get employment that would benefit the family rather than just cover personal health insurance, it would also require abandoning some other responsibilities I have been taking on, but how confident am I that I can get through another year without catastrophic coverage? If I had the coverage, would the cap be below the cost of whatever health failure I had? Riding a bike, even if it were a new high end bike, may well be the biggest healthcare bargain there is.

The T-Shirts

With all these questions and challenges, we’re taking a side step into t-shirts. We have a theme and hope the T-shirts will have at least as much positive impact as we want the video project to create, as well as some needed financial relief. After that we’ll re-visit the trail video project. Hopefully the t-shirt project will produce enough income to make up some of our losses and then, perhaps, to allow me more time to pursue the video project.

We’ll see.

Tuesday Trippin’ September 2023

September has cooled off, but not like we expect. It’s been cool enough for really nice riding, but not so cool that I have a dry pony tail after the ride.

As many times as Covid has been through the house, It didn’t catch me until last week. And, I isolated well enough that I was the only one who caught it. I mostly had the mild case that is expected of those who have been vaccinated. I had 3-4 days of aches, sniffles and fever with an extreme flare up of my dry eye. I used every wash cloth in the house for moist heated compresses more than once and we have dozens of wash cloths. I’m still using them more frequently than I was before getting sick.

Once I finally Googled “Covid” and “Dry Eye” I saw that Dry Eye is a less common symptom of Covid, so the flare up of a condition I already had was quite understandable. Monday morning I was at peak misery and called my ophthalmologist. I really didn’t know how I was going to get through it. I was promised a call back that never happened. While I waited, just as I was literally ready to scream, the symptoms broke. That was really fortunate because the call back never happened. :(.

I listened to audio books those first days for distraction because actually reading them was out of the question, not just the eyes, but I wasn’t feeling like putting effort into paying attention to anything.

I’ve moved back into exercise gradually. One day I walked at a slow pace while Russ rode. Next, I walked up Kennesaw Mountain. I thought about that one a few times, and almost decided not to go to the top. Walking up the mountain can really get my heart pumping and be a bigger work out than a ride, but I did go to the top parking lot with 4 rest stops. Usually, I don’t take any. I’ll probably do a short ride tomorrow, but we’ll see. If it feel like I’m pushing it in a bad way, I’ll wait.

Rolling Cool

I went for a ride on the Silver Comet recently. I was enjoying the day, and the ride, when I came up behind a group of three cyclists in my lane. I slowed. They were two men followed by a woman. She was maybe 2 or 3 wheel lengths behind the two men who were riding abreast. There was also a dog-walker. He was coming toward me on the grass. He and his pet were completely clear of what I could have used as the passing lane. The dog walker was giving me the right of way, but that front cyclist near the center line was riding like someone who was not paying attention, not just because he had his primary attention on talking to the man beside him, but he also had the small wavering movements of someone who didn’t have much of his secondary attention on his riding either.

After the dog walker passed the group, I picked my pace back up and called “Coming up on your left”. The woman thanked me loudly and I called passing again, to make sure the guy I was giving all the space heard me too. As he saw me pass, he began to yell the sarcastic, profane, name calling accusation that I had not called the pass. He was still yelling when I lost the ability to hear him.

I never respond in kind to the abuse of a stranger. It’s not just that I don’t want to be that person. It’s also that you never really want to know how far a person who’s acting out in anger will go. At that moment though, I was really in touch with those feelings that make people yell back and escalate things. I really wanted to give the guy the finger as I left him behind.

I make mistakes, more and bigger mistakes than I’d like, on and off the trail, but I had given this guy the kid gloves treatment, and anger over his abuse was roiling through me. I tried to calm it down, leave him behind in my thoughts as quickly as I had left him behind on the trail. I wanted to change my thoughts, so he didn’t stay camped out in my brain.

At first, all I managed was to blunt my feelings. I reminded myself that my anger hurt only myself. Then remembered the empathy meditation. When doing this in a more formal way, you are supposed to choose a few people, starting with an easy person, and then after a few specific people, expand it to all beings everywhere. Picking only the difficult person on this occasion (clueless raging guy of course), I repeated in my mind “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe from harm. May you live with ease.” Instantly it took about 80% of my remaining negative feelings out of my body. It’s amazing how that works, but I still had negative thought every now and then for some time. It’s equally amazing how a stranger can get to you, and it doesn’t matter how wrong or factually incorrect they are. Words have impact, especially when delivered with rage.

Stuff like this isn’t the norm on the trail. People mostly come here to get away from stress and find their center, but it happens. A week or two earlier a walker mocked me for calling my pass. She did it in that ugly grating voice that comes from some kind of pain unrelated to the current interaction. I was sorely tempted to stop and tell her that calling a pass was for safety, not bragging. But, again, you never know how a person on the edge will react and the chances of positive outcome were low.

The Silver Comet Trail is not a loop. It’s a linear 60+ miles and growing. After I turned to go back to the car, I wondered if I would see angry man again. Then, I met another group of cyclists, this time facing me, traveling in the opposite lane. As they passed by, they greeted me with such smiles and enthusiasm it made me wonder, at first, if they thought they knew me. It took me a minute to fully take in the antithesis of my earlier experience and appreciate it, especially since I had been anticipating seeing the angry rude guy on the flip side, and wondering how that would go.

After fully adjusting my mood to the happier tone, there he was. The woman in the group was taking a picture in the direction of a trailside mass of kudzu. She was probably trying to photograph some bird or other pollinator (oh look, a butterfly!) because she was standing back with body language that said she was afraid of spooking her subject. The angry guy was standing behind her, in the middle of the path, on the center line, legs straddling the top tube with one wheel in one lane and one wheel in the other.

Of course he was!

I called “Passing on your left.” It wasn’t true. I was passing behind his back, but saying so could have been perceived as provocative, rather than merely accurate. He jerked, looked like he was going to say something, then didn’t, at least not anything audible to me. He didn’t move out of the way either, at least not while it made my passing safer.

I said the Empathy Meditation again.

Here’s the thing. What you say and do matters to everyone who sees and hears it. I have bad days too, and who knows what this guy was trying to get over. If you ever see me out there having a bad day, I sincerely hope it’s not on this level, and deepest apologies in advance. It’s okay to remind me, just like you were my granddaughter tugging at my clothing and helping to remember that the empathy meditation, is pretty effective. I hadn’t added some of the more detailed components in that last link until after I listened to 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It’s not actually a particularly instructional book, but I enjoyed it and managed to pick up a few tips regardless.

Take care.

See you on the trail, and have a glorious day.

Tuesday Trippin’ August 2023

I’ve decided, at least for now, to make Tuesday Trippin’ a monthly post. There are just so many other things I’d also like to share.

Training

We’re training at least as hard as we ever have. We have more available time in July than any other month. Even with timing things to miss the heat of the day, we’re still getting a lot of miles and in pretty good shape. I’ve ridden hard enough to need a few days off. Luckily that happened exactly when we needed to be out of town to help family. I’ve had some slight knee pain. It went away during the first family visit, came back mildly and got better again after the second.

I got stung again in July. It seems like July is when I need to keep my sting med kit complete and on the bike. I’m going to make a second post on what I carry for that.

Our mileage is moving up where we feel better and better. We’ve also made some progress in getting things done, the really boring, job-like stuff that has to happen to make the t-shirt and video projects go. I find a I’m anticipating a great fall and winter. If we can stay on our current schedule, there are many ways I’ll be able to say that all the hurdles and resulting delays have been for the best. That’s a big “if”, I know.

Riding and training is not all we’re doing though. I want to write and share about the T-shirt project and some of my other interests too. Stay tuned!

Until next time, have a glorious day and we’ll see you on the trail!

The Unemployment Tour Revisited

Truly, one of the better reasons to still be hanging around in Meta space is to be reminded that 13 years ago, during our first unemployment tour, we stuck it out and trekked down to the sunshine state for a third time to finally see the spectacle of a night time Space Shuttle Launch. It was expected to be the last one, but I think one or two others got shifted to night launches before the program ended.

We made two previous attempts without seeing the launch, both were pretty special for other reasons. For one trip we joined a tour with A Day Away (check out those bioluminescent tours too) and thought we’d see the launch from the end of Haullover Canal, but that tour shifted into an alternatively awesome dawn manatee trip when the launch didn’t take place.

Making the third and last attempt was a hard decision. As much as we were ready for a road trip, we really didn’t want to spend the money, especially not for another fail. There was a recession and unemployment was high. We didn’t know how long our place among the unemployed would last. We had the time, but could we afford to spend the money? That was anybody’s guess.

We decided to go, but not to book another kayak tour. It was awesome paddling around in the dark with strangers anticipating the ultimate viewing experience, but it wasn’t a first trip or a high end venture we were considering this time. Some locals and their guests waited and watched on decks and balconies, but we were out in a city park with a tent and didn’t expect it to be nearly so cold as it was. Hot cocoa was to die for and that nearby CVS was extraordinarily nice about letting people cue all through the store to use the bathrooms. But then, the personalities who get excited enough to go watch a shuttle launch at 4 AM tend to also be the kind of people who know they’re supposed to flush, wash their hands and buy something while they’re there :).

The actual experience was not at all what I expected. I envisioned a brilliant comet or meteor like arc across a dark sky. We were 7 miles from the launch. I didn’t expect to feel the roar vibrate, or the heat wash over me. The flames lit the whole sky with a gray-yellow light that killed the night. I was partly awestruck, but also remembering a criticism I had herd after the Challenger crash, that there was no reason to use so much power to get the shuttle out of the atmosphere so fast. It was not what I expected, but not a disappointment either, not at all. We were so glad we took the risk and had the experience.

I was thinking about this even before I saw the FB post reminder in February, and now again as I’ve come across this unpublished post. Here we are looking at another decision, wanting to do something, wanting to fully commit to getting the project submitted and weighing the odds. Right now the unemployment rate is just over a third of what it was then. By that indicator alone, employment should be pretty easily replaceable. The odds look good that a quick job search is possible, but, open jobs and jobs people want, jobs that pay the bills without sacrificing health and maybe have some benefits, aren’t necessarily the same jobs. There’s a correction happening, and while the unemployment rate is low, Russ isn’t alone in being laid off. There have been some very large, very public layoffs. We’re also 13 years closer to retirement than we were last time, and still just as utterly unprepared now as we were then.

Two roads diverged… It looks like we’re going for it this time too, we keep on deciding not to give up the project, even though it seems like insanity to keep backing up and drawing another deadline in the sand. We’ve put more time and effort in to our prep than we ever expected the entire project to take. On good days I can say that the level of fitness I currently have makes it personally worth while, whether the project ever becomes something to help others or not.

On bad days, I know that financially, I’d be better off if I had spent the free time I have in minimum wage drudge work (if my psyche survived that). Russ does not feel or remember the sting of targets missed the way I do. Right now it feels like I’ve been repeatedly deciding to commit to something that isn’t moving forward. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I really wish I knew which end of that tunnel I should be running toward.

Eventually we’ll be looking back on now and weighing the results of our choices and performance. We always seem to take the path less traveled, perhaps this one too will make all the difference, perhaps it will also be the difference we’re hoping for.

Tuesday Trippin’ July 11

The Riding

The riding is getting better again, unusual for the hotter months. When Russ lost his job, I was riding with him more, and his riding had lapsed. At first I’d ride on without him when he’s had enough, and later we were sticking together, so his riding improved while mine decreased. Then I had that rough week that made me question my health. We’re both moving back into respectable territory for our meeting our goals. My leg muscles are now stronger than they have ever been. That feels pretty good.

The Wildlfe

I saw a gray fox while riding Big Creek. I’ve seen an otter there before, but never any kind of fox. He was only about 10 feet in front of the bike. He totally ignored me as he walked by me. I’d have loved to get that on camera, but otherwise I was happy for him to keep his plenty short distance. There are usually reports of rabies in the area during the warm months. The only suspicious thing he did was to let me see him pass close by, but still, I’m happy that I saw him, and happy that he kept right on going.

Our Various Projects

We’re one third of the way through our make it or break it month. We’ve made some progress, and we have a lot left to go. I’m gonna go with “cautiously optimistic” as my feeling for now.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 20

I can’t believe it’s solstice time again, the time of year when the the days start getting shorter again and riding shorts feel like a wet swimsuit 30 minutes after the ride starts and you definitely need to make sure you’re well hydrated, because if they don’t feel like that, you’re in trouble (Yes, I know, some people pay the big bucks for the lightweight quick dry stuff).

I looked at last weeks post and remembered the migraines. How could I have forgotten that pain so quickly? And the stiff body? My sleep issues are up and down. Things I’ve tried mostly include meditation, sleep teas and melatonin. Getting better at meditation is my best shot at getting better sleep, but nothing will likely work as well as finally resolving some unresolved issues. My newest frequent repeat meditation is on dealing with uncertainty. Meditation may be one thing that has helped me to forget the big hurts so quickly.

We had some good rides over the past week, got some important work done and expect rain all next week. July will be our make it or break it month when some obligations ease and we hope to shift into a better gear. We will soon figure out if we can launch a t-shirt, and shortly afterward if that will give us some freedom with which to continue to pursue the cycling project. Russ is working full time, supposed to be four 10 hour days, but it’s closer to four 12s when the weather is good. He’s back in the business of having longer hours through all the best riding days, but he’s getting at least a much project and T-shirt related stuff done as he was with the unemployment stress hanging overhead.

On Fitness, Training and Perspective

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how the more into a thing a person goes, the less others “get” it. And, at the same time, there are enough people accomplishing superhuman feats that outsiders loose touch with realistic expectations. Talking to people about the project can be such a trip.

In a recent phone conversation I mentioned being on the way to a ride. The person on the other end said they were glad that I felt like doing that. They were sincere, but there was also an air of my life being idyllic, or at least worry free, to the comment. I didn’t share my actual woes, or that on that particular day, a ride was the last thing I felt like. I was doing it so that I would actually feel like it on some other day. The commitment to getting out there when I don’t feel like it is to keep from sliding into health problems that would change my life, and not for the better. Commitment is easier for things you believe in, but it is never easy.

In my 20s and 30s I was an active mom, but my ankles would swell If I was on my feet all day and my knees sounded like gravel when I walked up stairs. They don’t now. That’s because I ride my bike often, on days when I’m reveling in the glory, and on days when when I’m dragging myself through it. Fitness at 60+ that is better in some ways than I had in my 20s is a huge challenge. One I meet because aging without fitness is the bigger burden. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to pursue that fitness so far.

Some people don’t have many choices due to physical, financial, geographic or any number of other limitations. I hope this video project will eventually give them a few extra options, maybe they too can feel what it is to reach new fitness levels at whatever age they are, and from any starting point to improve their quality of life.

People who do have choices don’t always see them. I hope this project will help them too, even if it’s just for stress reduction from watching the videos while sitting still. Deciding how to spend time and resources is difficult. That’s why I think the project will be powerful. Baby steps. Watch a video, take a step, before you know it those steps may be longer, faster, outside… what ever is the most comfortable next step to take, the video project can motivate.

What are my Steps?

It takes significant effort with multitasking to keep my body going. I didn’t win the genetic lottery in that respect, but the things I do are attainable for most people and useful whether you plan to do cardio workouts on the level I hope to or not. So, I’m going to write a bit about the habits I think help me keep me going and how I incorporate them into my life. There will be some outdoor video and there is rain coming, so it may take a little extra time.

Until then, have a glorious day, maybe there will be a ride and we’ll see you on the trail. And, for those of you who just want your electricity back on, I hope you get it sooner than you expect, and until then, during the day, there’s probably a trail or a sidewalk nearby.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 15

Last week I was pretty stiff and tired. This week I’ve gone full circle. I felt pretty good for rides on Friday and Monday, but on Tuesday the effects of poor sleep and a lot of bending from the yard sale, gardening, other work around the house and who knows what else had me back in misery and wondering if I’m sleeping badly because I have a back ache, or having a back ache because I’m sleeping badly. Certainly, the bending, and the absence of access to the strength training equipment are also at play. I’m “Driving with the seat heater on in the summer” years old. I bought the car that had the deal. I never would have paid for the seat warmer if it had been extra, but that handy heating pad on my lumbar is going to be so hard to give up next time I buy a car. I hope I don’t have to.

Friday’s ride was nice, in part because we watched the Friday night crowd at the Union Hill Skate park. We rest or snack there before turning around when we ride the Roswell/Alpharetta Greenway.

Tuesday’s ride was nice because there were baby ducks in the temporary pond at the center of the parking lot when I started and lightening bugs when I came back.

Tuesday Trippin June 6

The Sale

We had the sale, and it was a trip. I had been working on it with a migraine for 3 days running and Russ was working through a lot too. He is currently employed again, though at a lower level pay rate without any PTO. He worked shortened days during his Covid. He didn’t do that lightly. He did it because he was outdoors or in his truck and masked, and because someone at the company was having a family emergency. We are truly grateful for the employment, for the opportunity to help at a time of particular need, and to be of service. We also know that we have to keep seeking the better opportunity that will help us recover from the stretch of losses and the unemployment so that we can get back to, and pass, the position we were and meet family needs that weren’t being met at the old, higher pay rate.

While we were emotionally truly ready for the sale, just like I said in my last post, organizationally, we were far from ready. So many planned things didn’t get done and he shear number of things we had to offer was overwhelming. I really think it was too much for shoppers to take in, especially with the cluttered way it was stacked rather than displayed. I invited my son over to take anything he wanted after it was all over and he just took a couple of things. I almost pointed out a few things I was sure he’d have taken if he had noticed them, but I didn’t want to be pushy, especially since he was probably looking at it all and planning to never have so much stuff in his own house, even for a side hustle.

How’d we do?

It was ok. We brought in a significant amount of revenue and let some bulky things go in the process. There was a drum set I bought so I could turn the snare into an awesome tall floor lamp for my drummer nephew and his wife, but they sold their house. By the time they bought another home I didn’t think they were in that decor phase anymore. Exchanging that for $25 and getting the space back was an easy “yes”.

We made the money on sheer volume and a couple of big ticket items. It mostly went at prices that someone selling online or in a booth could still make a good profit, and some things escaped at prices I wouldn’t likely have agreed to if I’d been the one in the driveway when it went.

It was mostly the 25 cent crowd and dealers that showed up, along with some neighbors. A couple of things that neither of us sold were gone. These things were small enough to pocket, and while we left it all in the drive over night between sale days, I don’t think that’s when they were taken. My neighbors are good people and not into vintage for the most part. Plus, anyone in the drive overnight would have shown up on camera. I thought ahead that a cat might wander through and re-arranged a few things that could fall over and break 10 other things. At the time I wasn’t thinking “bear” but there was one rummaging trash cans a few doors down a few days later. I’m really glad it didn’t wander through all my breakables.

We decided there was too much left not to have a second sale and we’re going to step up the efforts to list more things on Marketplace, Etsy, Craigslist and explore ways to list them on this site.

Russ started a list of things we “learned” from this sale. It started with things that were already known, just not accomplished. Guys, you have no idea how calmly I responded. There was no violence, not even a raised voice. I promise.

The Riding

Russ was isolating with Covid. I stayed home and away from family anyway. Our bedroom wasn’t comfortable for computer work, so I wasn’t very productive. I had just started making the room where Russ isolated into a work space, so the exercise bike with the computer desk attached was up there with him. I was still testing negative after a few days of cabin fever, so I started to ride in more remote places at less busy times. I stayed more than 6 feet from people. It was likely over-killl, but I don’t want to make anyone sick. Just before I stopped riding and started prepping for the sale, I was riding everyday. I was limiting calories too, trying to loose the “Russ is unemployed” weight gain. Right now I’m pretty run down, achy, stiff, tired, prone to migraines and some other issues that are possibly caused by (and causing) stress.

Building back up through the beginning of the pandemic was grueling, but we wouldn’t have wanted to be doing anything else. Getting fitness back feels good, even when it feels bad. This is different. For the first time I wondered if I needed to downsize my mileage goal for the project. I’d go get a physical if I had healthcare coverage, but if it’s stress, I’m already trying to manage that as best I can, and if it’s not, I don’t need the stress of knowing I have an actual real problem that might be fixed if I lived in a different country or made more selfish choices at any number of junctions along my way. Hopefully this is just a reflection of how much we’re juggling and it will ease with time.

Until next time, have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.