I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 2, 2018


Cathy took this last Thursday
Last week I was thrilled to be out in the wilderness with my friends, feeling better than I have in awhile. I don't do well in the heat, but that seems to be gone for now, and it was cool and delightful to hike in the clouds, rather than in the uncomfortable (to me) heat. For once, I didn't lag behind. Cathy took several hundred pictures and sent me her favorites.

It's that time of year. The leaves are beginning to turn and the wildflowers are on the wane and the mountains will soon be covered with snow until next year. It seems like summer just began, but now it's almost over. In three weeks we'll have the autumnal equinox upon us, when the days and nights are the same length, and then we'll start moving towards the shortest day and the longest night, before it all begins once again. Fall is definitely my favorite of the four seasons, but as in all things, it's the variety of experiences that add to the flavor.

This month, I will celebrate ten years of hiking in the wilderness with the Senior Trailblazers. It's hard for me to remember today how the places we visit every summer felt to me back then. Now, I've gone to all the places at least once every summer season, and they are very familiar. But that first time we went into the High Country, back in September 2008, I was overwhelmed with the beauty and the challenge to my hiking ability. I didn't have a pair of trekking poles at the time, since I had never used them before, but I was the only one who didn't have them. These days, there are several hikers who choose not to use them, but I was at a definite disadvantage back then, especially navigating the steep downhill sections.

Ten years. I know I will not be so privileged to be doing this activity ten years from now, and although some of our hikers are close to their eighties, they are mostly male. The women don't seem to keep going for nearly as long. We do have a couple of members over eighty, but they mostly begin to miss hikes now and then, and one day they just don't come back any more. It's to be expected, really, but I sometimes forget that it's normal as we age to change our activities to fit our abilities. And those abilities change.

This past week I bought myself a fitness tracker. I was intending to buy a Fitbit like my sister has, but I was talked into a Garmin Vivosport instead. The salesperson said if I didn't like it, I could always bring it back and try another. But I have been quite pleased with it. I wear it on my wrist, and it gives me my heart rate, steps taken, distance traveled each day, stress level, and best of all, my sleep patterns. Since I started wearing it, I've learned that I get around eight hours of sleep every night, with most of it light rather than deep sleep (last night I didn't get any deep sleep; I tossed and turned much of the night). It's useful information, and I had been envious of my sister's Fitbit; now I'm feeling up to having some bragging rights when we FaceTime next week.

I did have to go online to figure out how in the world a device you wear on your wrist can possibly tell you how much sleep you get, and whether it's deep, light, or REM sleep. Well, it turns out that these trackers are not all that sophisticated. They use your heart rate, age, and movement to estimate these things with an algorithm. Did you know that when you're in REM sleep that your heart rate increases even though you're asleep? I didn't know that. Anyway, I take it all with a grain of salt but still feel happy to know my statistics. It's another tool to help me maintain my fitness level.

It takes more and more effort to maintain that level. Right now I spend four days a week at the gym, not for long periods, but enough to raise my heart rate and to lift a few weights. I also attend an hour-long class on those four days, and I usually leave a little early to beat the swimmers into the shower. They take a class at the same time as I do and when they come into the locker room, sometimes I have to wait in line to get into the shower.

I am also at present taking two yoga classes a week, and I'm thinking of joining a 100-day challenge that starts next week. You commit to at least fifteen minutes of yoga each day. That might help me to incorporate yoga into a daily practice, so it's worth a try. I learned that even savasana (corpse pose) counts towards that time, so why not? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Nobody will yell at me if I don't accomplish it.

I have been taking the same yoga class, yoga Level 1, for a couple of years now. It's been more enjoyable and helpful to my maintenance than I ever expected. For years I had taken my flexibility for granted, and it had slipped away during decades of not stretching properly. When I first started, my left knee was a little wonky, but now it's as good as the other knee, and I no longer need to wear a brace when I hike, although I always carry it. I credit yoga for the improvement. I look forward to every class and am sorry if I have to miss one. And there are people in the class who have been coming to the same class for decades, so I'm in good company.

Well, here I am again, at the end of a post. This one wasn't very inspirational, unless you're looking to be inspired to hit the gym or the yoga studio. I know I'm much happier with myself and my life because I work to remain a level of fitness that works for me. I did look for a quote, but nothing quite hit the mark. So I'll just sign off here, for now, and get up and start the rest of my day. It's the middle day of a three-day weekend for those who still go to work. For me, it means there will be no gym tomorrow (it's closed) or bus (they don't run on holidays), so I'll have to find something out of the ordinary to do with my day.

Until we meet again next week, I do hope you will find some inspiration to work up a little sweat. And don't forget to give a gentle hug to those you love; they will appreciate it. Be well, dear friends.


Marie Smith said...

We just had a family Sunday dinner with our daughter and the kids. I am tired now. They went to the splash pad. A nap is in my future followed by a walk. You inspire me to keep moving. Have a great day and week, Jan.

Elephant's Child said...

You are wrong dear DJan. This post IS inspirational, and a reminder. I really, really need to go back to yoga. I am as flexible as a brick, and it is impacting on too many things. Just as a brick does, with a clunk. Huge thanks.

Arkansas Patti said...

I have had my Garmin for two years and love it. What I like best is that it is completely water proof and I never take it off. I got mine mainly for sleep patterns and wish I enjoyed your 8 hour nights. I average around 6 which isn't enough. Probably if I exercise more I'd do better. You suppose the corpse pose would do it? Sounds like something I could do:))

Red said...

You're upbeat today and ready to go get em. Keeping active and fit helps with our mental status more than we think. I'm getting close to my 1000 km mark so I'm getting excited.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You go gal!! I could probably do that corpse pose too:)

Rita said...

The corpse pose sounds like the only yoga pose I could probably do--ROFL!

I hope you find something interesting to do today. :)

Madeline Kasian said...

I found this post VERY inspirational! I have been losing flexibility too and having different things hurt than used to! Am 65 and counting... I have not kept up with the amount of exercise I need to be healthier as I age.. I do some, a lot, by some standards, but not as consistently as I need to. I was an avid hiker in my 40' sand 50's and somehow went downhill.. got lazy?? My goal as our Arizona weather cools down is to up my game with hikes and get out there more often, for longer and harder hikes..(slowly rebuild stamina!) I do some yoga at home once a week, and your yoga story has inspired me to try to find a good class or a video I can use more often.

Next week we will be camping in Sedona, with a nice hike to West Fork, an easy hike, but part of the "ratchet it up" plan to get MORE active on a more consistent basis.

Thanks for sharing--I always find your posts very thoughtful and inspiring!

Glenda Beall said...

I had planned a great three day weekend with going to the pool, taking a day trip and catching up on some writing, BUT Friday I began to get sick and spent all weekend in bed on medicine that made me groggy and sleepy.
I did watch the funeral service for John McCain and I cried. I cried for his wife and his children and for our country that we lost a voice that would not be stilled when he felt our people were not being treated right.
Every time I see another near my age pass away, I realize it could be me tomorrow. But it could be anyone, no matter the age.
I hope tomorrow will be a better day for me and that the coming fall days will be wonderful for you. I look forward to fall and cooler weather as it has been terribly hot here this summer.Your reflections on age and death make me feel that I am not alone in my thoughts on this subject. Stay well.

Trish MacGregor said...

I've got a Fitbit and also have wondered how it keeps track of sleep - REM, dee[, light etc. Fascinating times we live in.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, so glad to read today of your enthusiasm for yoga. This morning, while doing my Morning Pages (they take about 45 minutes and I've done them faithfully for years), I decided to once again start to use my yoga DVD. It's divided into three tiers: the first is 26 minutes all done while seated; the second is 45 minutes of seated and standing up; the third is an hour of standing up yoga.

I've done the first tier off and on---mostly, admittedly, off--for about three years. But today I hope to commit myself to it for two or three times a week. If all goes well, then I'll do a stretching DVD for the other two or three days.

It's so important that we keep our bodies flexible and strong. I haven't been good about that, but I do so want to get on a routine. Only if my body works well, will I be able to do the writing I want to do.

I have always--since first reading your postings seven years ago--admired your dedication to exercise. Thank you for inspiring me. Peace.