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fat bike parked in garage

I was recently told that I must REALLY like bicycling to ride on days when the weather isn’t nice, in other word, when it’s rainy, snowy, cold, windy, hot, cloudy, etc. I couldn’t think of a way to explain why I prefer riding my bike to driving a car, at least not in a way that I thought the person would understand.

Later that week, I was in an outdoor gear and clothing store, looking for a neck warmer that I could pull up to also protect my face from the wind. A male employee grabbed a striped, brightly colored, fleece neck warmer from a display and said, “This one is warm.”

I said, “That looks like it’s for fashion. I’m looking for something for bicycling that still breathes and will dry when it gets wet.”

“For yourself?” the employee said.

“Yes, for myself.” I said.

In my head, the response went something like this, “Hey! Are you looking at me like I’m some damn old lady who might break a hip if I ride my bike in the big, bad wintertime? You know what? I might. So might you, just crossing the bloody street! Especially if I’m waiting outside and trip you with my cane!”

I did not buy a neck warmer.

fat bike tire

So now that I’ve had some time to think (and to cool off), here’s my explanation for why I ride my bike, walk my dogs, snow ski, and do all sorts of craziness outdoors.

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Bike at Coon Rapids Dam

bridge going across Mississippi River

I drink my sinus tea, hoping for some relief from what I call a Humidity Headache. Next I try the Netti pot. Finally, I resort to taking Sumatriptan, a migraine medication that I take when the pain is too much and I’m afraid the whole day will soon be lost.

This seems to be how a lot of my choices are made. Try the easiest most pleasant route to a goal first. If that doesn’t work, try the next best thing. And if that fails too, hit the problem with something I know will be effective but comes with some nasty side effects. This might be an apt description for how my manuscript revision is going…

A week ago, I took a half of Friday off and rode my bike home from work. The weather was perfect – mid 70s, windy but not too bad. I hoped to bike off months of stress and frustration, clear my head and reenergize myself for my manuscript revision work ahead.

An awful load of expectations for a bike to carry.

bicycle at Mississippi River park

I stopped at a park along the Mississippi River to eat half a sandwich that was left from a lunch meeting earlier in the week.

I made my second stop at the Coon Rapids Dam park. The wind caught me as I crossed the bridge across the dam. I had to lean to the right to keep from veering into oncoming bicyclists and foot traffic. But the wind and the mist from the dam felt good as I rode.

There were plenty of other people at the park – some fishing, others laying on blankets, walkers on the path and several other bicyclists. I stopped at the visitor center and sat down to eat yogurt that I’d mixed up with strawberries from our garden for desert.

I pulled out my notebook and pen to jot down a revision plan for my book and some thoughts on how I wanted to spend the summer. My brain went blank, unable to grasp what it is I’m trying to do lately or how to get to this elusive, invisible life I’d like to be living.

bike at Coon Rapids Dam

I’m tired. Just to put together this blog post felt like a monumental effort that required laying down afterwards for a nap.

I don’t know if it’s just what happens in your late fifties or if I’m not getting the right levels of vitamins and minerals or good quality sleep. Maybe it’s all the bad hormones and crap that stress can release into your body. But I’ve been stressed out before and not felt like this.

So what is the Sumatriptan in this scenario?

I have the whole week off, but that’s no magic bullet. Sometimes having lots of time to work on something is worse than being forced to grab 15 minutes here and there.

And this is a vacation… There exists an intention to relax and find the right mix of rest, inspiration, community and new creative work before I have to return to my job. I don’t want to spend all of my time at my computer.

Bike at Coon Rapids Dam

I broke open a new notebook this morning that I bought for the purpose of working through my manuscript revision. To be honest, I’m feeling a certain level of horror at getting started. I had expected that my first readers would suggest I tighten things up — maybe remove a bit of this, add a bit of that, and they did suggest those things. But they also suggested that I reorganize the story.

Reorganize?

NOOOOooooooooo!!!

So the notebook is for me to record my thoughts and emotions, especially my fears and some rather crazy hopes surrounding this work. It is a place for me to start planning the steps ahead and recording my progress.

So I’m curious… What’s your Sumatriptan for healing yourself after a big push and preparing for the next big thing? Do you give yourself a lengthy break? Or just move right on to the next project? And if you do take a break, what do you do during that time? How do you not let the break become procrastination?

dog by Mississippi River

dog by Mississippi River

“Ooh, she may be weary
Young girls they do get weary
Wearing that same old funky dress
But, ooh, while she gets weary weary
Won’t you try some tenderness

You know she’s there waitin’
And anticipatin’
For the thing she’ll never, never have
Oh, no no
Ooh, while she gets weary
Won’t you try, oh, try some tenderness

“Try a Little Tenderness”  – Three Dog Night

Weary… Is someone out there fortunate enough to not feel such a thing? If so, I want to know the secret. Is it youth that has energy? Three Dog Night sings that young girls do get weary, so maybe not.

Or perhaps retirees that get to follow natural sleep patterns and go to bed and wake up when it feels right aren’t tired. But with age, well, comes age and interrupted sleep patterns, so maybe they aren’t energized either.

Perhaps it is people who follow some suppliment or health regimen or do yoga and/or meditation that feel rested. I’m giving all of those things a try, plus massage, and I do think they are helping a bit. It hasn’t been long enough to know for sure or give up on them yet, which would be my usual pattern. I’ve vowed to give these practices a year’s trial.

untitled-31

This tired I’m feeling is like a deep in the bone marrow kind of fatigue. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say it is soul-exhaustion. Or more accurate yet perhaps, that it is coming-out-of-winter weariness.

My body and brain resists taking in anything more. Facebook and Twitter depress me with the volume to scroll through. Emails fill my inbox unread. Blog posts I bookmark to read are replaced with more recent blogposts until I have a stack of about one hundred “intentions.” I myself write blog posts and take photos that sit, unshared.

My thoughts feel tender-footed. They want to soak in a pan of warm water, with epsom salts preferably, waiting for tendons to relax and let go.

Is this all just me? Tell me it’s not, even if you have to lie.

dog on Mississippi River

Not to sound morose or overly dramatic, but there are some moments that it seems I can literally feel myself dying. Of course, we all are dying in a way as we age. But generally, we don’t FEEL it — the body going cell by cell. Oops! There goes another one!

bicycling

Maybe I’m just not used to being so limited by my body. It has generally felt strong and capable. But the creaking and groaning have escalated to a volume recently that I find difficult to ignore.

horseback riding

Neck and shoulder pain are old news, although there are days now where I can’t manage to even turn my head. And now hip pain has joined the chorus, creating a clamor of the sort of decibel that is rocking my world. It’s not even pain in the hip joint but at the top of the hip bone and sometimes the ribs. What the hell is that?

I have gone from “I can do okay with this pain” to “This is bullshit!” followed by “I just want to go back to bed.”

dog in the woods

And yet, I remain on my feet, moving, because there’s that dying feeling, which is followed by thoughts that there’s not much time left, and I don’t want to waste what remains by sleeping and babying my aching body. And in reality, movement is the only thing that brings relief.

Walking the dogs. Bike riding. Horseback riding. Anything that takes me away from a chair, a desk, a screen.

dog walking in the woods

I don’t have any great answers to this dilemma of what seems to be two undeniable and unchangeable facts: 1.) I support myself and my animals with a desk job. 2.) My desk job is causing me pain and weariness.

For now, I’ll keep trying to give myself a little tenderness.

horseback riding

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