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, January 2, 2022

An auspicious beginning

Taken on my 79th birthday

Melanie took me out for lunch on my birthday and also snapped this picture of me looking, well, 79.  Not much different from the day before, I guess, but it's symbolic that I have entered into my 80th year of life, and that today, the Sunday after the New Year begins, I am settling into this new chapter of life. I can no longer pretend that I am not old.

The weather began to deteriorate around here right around Christmas Eve, with the temperatures falling lower than I ever remember since we left Colorado behind. And yesterday, New Years Day, the temperature climbed above freezing for the first time. Yes, an auspicious beginning to 2022. As the wind shifted from the frigid northeast and began blowing (hard) out of the south, the temperatures have only continued to climb. Here it is early in the morning and it's already warm and above freezing. I am delighted to welcome normal moderate weather back!

Mel and I usually walk on Thursdays and Saturdays, but the past ten days of terrible weather, plus the holidays, put all of that exercise on hold. And we not only had a white Christmas, but a white New Years as well. With the wind, snow, and the cold temperatures, walking has been unusually unpleasant. I managed to plow my way through snowdrifts on buried sidewalks for short distances, but it was very slow going. Almost everyone has been walking in the streets, dodging cars, with the sidewalks remaining difficult terrain to navigate. Perhaps with the warm southerly wind and above freezing temperatures, all that will now improve. I'm hoping.

Yesterday afternoon Mel called me to see if I would go for a downtown walk with her, and I readily agreed, since I haven't managed to close my exercise rings on my iWatch for days, and I thought it sounded like a good idea. We walked past all the closed shops and enjoyed walking on mostly cleared sidewalks until we got to the South Bay trail that goes along Boulevard Park and heads towards Fairhaven. It was well packed down from all the previous travelers, and I found it to be pretty easy going, considering. The uneven snow, however, made it hard to walk very fast, and we enjoyed being out and admired the steely gray water in the bay.

Unfortunately, we lost track of time, and I realized that the sun was going down just as we were beginning our return. Ooops! That meant walking back in the fading light, on mostly packed snow (which gave us some reflective light). By the time we got back to downtown, and lights, I was very tired and asked Mel to go on ahead to her car and come back to get me as I struggled with the snowy streets. I took the opportunity to call SG and let him know I was all right, since I knew he would be worried. He was indeed, but in just a few minutes Mel showed up and took me home. It was at least an hour past sunset when I walked into the apartment.

What surprised me is the difficulty I had walking on the snow, but then I realized how much I need to keep exercising every day: my right leg was injured badly in 2000, when I fractured my pelvis in six places and shattered the right sacrum. It has two pins in it that held everything together as it healed. But in the accident, I lost the internal iliac artery down my right leg, and the only thing that keeps everything healthy is regular exercise. By the time I saw Mel's car coming to get me, I could barely keep from dragging the right leg rather than walking on it. It was a perfect storm: more than a week of missing exercise, uneven surfaces, darkness, and me not willing to admit my weakness.

The good part is that I made it in one piece, got home and drank a glass of wine as I chronicled my adventure with my dear partner, who was indeed very worried about me. So, the first thing I did in the new year was have a real adventure! I think my friend Melanie thinks I'm stronger than I am, and it was my own fault for not turning around sooner. But if I hadn't done it, I wouldn't have a good story to tell this morning, would I?

As I struggled walking back in the fading light, I remembered times in Colorado when I would join friends for a midnight cross-country ski trip under a full moon and clear skies. We had places we loved to ski, and I well remember realizing how difficult it was to tell where the bumps were as we skied downhill, and how I just had to slightly bend my knees and navigate the terrain by feel rather than by sight. It was exhilarating, but not that different from the sense of accomplishment I got from making it home safe and sound last night.

I think we build resilience to prepare for whatever adversity we'll face. And we all face some adversity - we're all living some form of Option B. —Sheryl Sandberg

It is interesting to examine how each of us deals with adversity, and to take lessons from others who have dealt with this situation themselves. So many of us have strength and resilience that we don't realize we have, because we don't ever get challenged and take the easy path instead of the one that heads straight uphill. I am very fortunate to have in my life people who like to try harder and steeper paths, like my friend Melanie, who ends up pushing me until I find my own limitations. And they are often much farther away than I imagine them to be. Is that true for all of us? Do we need to attempt hard things to find out how strong we really are?

Perhaps this new year will give us all a chance to find our strengths, ones we don't realize we already have. Now that I've had a chance to rest and enjoyed a good sleep, I'm feeling happy that I am as strong as I am, for an old person at least. And I've been reminded once again how important regular exercise for this old body of mine. Hopefully, we'll be together in this virtual room for the coming year, and we can share our stories of how we managed to cope with it all. I fervently wish that we will be here again in a year's time, telling stories of adventure, resilience, and joyous victory over adversity!

And now it's time for me to wrap up this first post of the new year, as my tea is gone and my dear partner still sleeps quietly next to me. I don't think I'll be heading to the coffee shop this morning, since covid has made gathering inside places like that not much fun at all. Perhaps the coming year will bring the end to our pandemic. I'm really hoping it will. Please remember to give your loved ones a hug or a pet, a phone call, or whatever you need to let them know they are loved and cherished. I do cherish my time with you, dear friends, and I wish you all good things until we meet again next week. Be well.


Barbara Rogers said...

Thanks for sharing about pushing ourselves to our limits. I walked just a little way and was on my way to the car, when we took a short cut over a little raised platform. I looked for the lowest step down to the ground, grabbed the pole on the corner, and jumped with my two feet together. And still my knees gave out and I proceeded to slide to the wet ground on my bottom. Nothing hurt at least, but there I was sitting with my feet straight out, totally powerless to get back up. I managed to turn over and sit on the edge, then crawl across the platform to where the drop was higher, and then could lean on my arms and put my feet down and thus get to standing. I was quite shaky. Why hadn't my physical therapist told me how to get up from the ground? I now had 3 falls to my name, without any injuries, but all with the problem of finding a place to lean my upper body on something while getting my feet under me. I plan to ask the PT when I go back this week!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I have to remind someone that he is not 17 nearly every day as he pushes hard. So glad you were with Mel! She is a blessing!! I wish you happiness in this New Year. I guess I am a naysayer about Covid , I think it is here to stay and evolve and take out the weak and the elderly...too many people not getting vaccinated...those idiots could save us all but they are selfish...off the soap box now:)

Linda Reeder said...

I saw myself in your post this morning. I can't walk miles anymore, but I need to get outside to walk at least one. My back and my hip, both "fixed" surgically, continue to give me trouble. I am too easily getting the blues now that the holidays are behind us. I will need to look for small joys in my January days. Thank you for being one of my joys.

Boud said...

It's important you reminded us to keep moving! It's easy to lose tone before you know it. That said, I'm off for my daily walk after lunch.

Happy New year, abd I'm glad you're doing well.

Rian said...

Love the pic, DJan! Not just you, but the setting. It gives me a 'feel' of who you are... silly idea, but true for me. Thanks for sharing it. As for pushing myself, I don't think I do that enough. I do say, "just do it!" a lot... but find that at 76, if I push too hard, I'm sorry later. But you are right about walking, we need to walk more - definitely. With Covid, DH and I have stopped walking at the malls - too crowded and although most wear masks, not all. We do walk the neighborhood, but again - not enough. I don't do NY resolutions... but perhaps walking more could be one. However, I do really dislike the cold, so winter walking may present a challenge. Anyway, wishing you and yours a healthy happy 2022!

Elephant's Child said...

Happy birthday dear (and beautiful) friend.
I am not in the slightest bit surprised that you keep pushing your limits. I was surprised (and very pleased) to hear that you were strong enough to tell Mel you had overdone it, and needed assistance. Well done (at every level). I suspect that misplaced pride would have kept me going and that I would have paid a high price for that.

Marie Smith said...

Glad you recovered so well from your excursion in the snow. Trudging through the snow is quite tiring I find too.

Here, my husband will soon be celebrating his 70th birthday, without much joy on his part. I suggested we celebrate since there are many who weren’t fortunate enough to reach that age. We will celebrate with family and rejoice in that longevity. Many don’t have that good fortune.

Happy birthday, Jan. I hope this next year is full of the joy of life which you so fully embrace.

Betsy said...

I'm so glad you made it safely home and that you have such a good walking partner. You are in the great physical shape you are in because you push yourself to the limit. I need to take that to heart. We live on top of a hill that is now covered with ice and snow. So this morning I made myself go up and down our stairs several times in a row just to get some exercise! I probably looked ridiculous, but it's necessary isn't it?
I'm with Far Side about Covid. Unfortunately, I am afraid that it's here to stay to "thin the herd" because some refuse to get vaccinated. But I won't get on that high horse right now.
Take care and enjoy the warmer weather.
Blessings and hugs,

Arkansas Patti said...

Love that picture of the youngster you are:) Yep there is always someone like me who will say,"Oh to be 79 again." You really had an adventure in the snow and am glad Mel was there to get you both back safely. Hope your weird winter weather will ease up for a while so you can get back out there. Know you miss it.

John's Island said...

Your walk yesterday sounds very much like mine today. I went down to the waterfront about 10AM and the walkway was snowy and covered with ice in places. I do have snow boots but not those clamp on spikes. That's my next stop today ... Amazon to see if they have the spikes. I got in 1.46 miles, which is below my daily goal of 2 miles. The forecast calls for heavy rain later this evening and tonight. Hope to get back to a more normal walk tomorrow. Thanks for another fine edition of Eye on the Edge. Wishing you and SG a good week ahead.

ApacheDug said...

Happy Birthday DJan, I admire your tenacious spirit with staying fit, and I draw real inspiration from it. I wasn't aware of that serious injury in your past, I think most would've used that to slow down not do what you did! I look forward to the year ahead and reading your weekly adventures on your other blog.

Seems silly to say be careful out there, but if you're going to continue traipsing through all this snow.. 😏

Gigi said...

Happy, happy birthday, DJan! You are loved and cherished by many, myself included. Happy New Year.

Red said...

Well, happy birthday. You have tremendous energy to keep you going...to eighty!

Galen Pearl said...

Happy Birthday DJan! I really liked your description of pushing yourself ahead, or being pushed by a friend until you reach your limits. I think about that sometimes. Should I be more discipled? Should I push harder? One of my martial arts teachers uses the 70% rule, meaning that you stop a little short of your full effort. He thinks this increases our ability without doing ourselves harm. Something to think about.

gigi-hawaii said...

I am glad that Mel was able to pick you up in her car. What would have happened to you if you had gone out alone? Happy new year to you and SG.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Nice to see you made it into 2022. We did too. Buddy is becoming more helpful as I loose more vision and find reading and writing almost unbearable. But I crave to find what old blog buddies are up to and occasionally try to read and write. I often recall our more frequent exchanges and continue to admire how you stay fit and happy and WG is still at your side. Have a great year my friend. I enjoy knowing in spring you might garden once more. Hope to see a post again soon.

Linda Myers said...

Well, you don't seem old to me at all. Wish I could have gone on that walk with you - when we're in Tucson for the winter we miss the really interesting weather at home!

William Kendall said...

Significant injuries do have lasting effects.

Tabor said...

You do not look 80 by a long shot, and I am not just sending a false compliment. I think your energy shows in your attitude in that photo. Yes, how we handle adversity is the key!

Wendy said...

Happy belated Birthday. I found you by way of Heidrun's blog.
You certainly don't look 80! But then again, many of my friends don't look their age. I think the secret lies in your making a point of exercising every day.

I too am finding out that I need to do that. I love walking but when it's cold and icy (not that bad here in OK) I chicken out and stay indoors. But - I do tai chi and qi gong by watching Youtube videos and following along. I love it!

I'm glad you were able to get home safely from your Adventure Walk! Yikes, that must have been scary for a time.

Mona McGinnis said...

Happy Birthday to you, DJan. Your attitude is something to aspire to. Recognizing our limitations is important. Another way of putting it is to recognize our capabilities, perhaps 2 sides of the same coin? Like Galen says, better to stop before there's trouble. I see that every time I go out to shovel snow and I have to tell myself to quit for today. We all have to know when too quit and surrender to our capability. Happy New Year as well.

Margaret said...

I don't like to think of myself as old(er) with limitations, but I also don't want to hurt myself. It's a balancing act between confidence and over-confidence! Glad you made it back safely.