Resolutions: Eighteen in ’18

1) See the peaks of Torres del Paine in Patagonia from the back of a horse.

The pull of Torres del Paine was magnetic when I first saw images of that majestic massif. I dreamed of a week-long journey on horseback, and began taking riding lessons to prepare. Before I had a chance to plan a trip, I felt an even stronger call. Antarctica. I leave from Chile, so for now, I’ll settle for an afternoon ride and a day-long hike. But the pull? I anticipate it will grow stronger with the taste of this too-brief stay.

2) Form a snowball in Antarctica. Throw it as far as my arm will allow.

A snowball, and most certainly a snow angel.

3) Get a photo (or dozens) of frolicking penguins.

If I’m lucky, I’ll have the opportunity to see the Adélie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo Penguins in Antarctica, and the King, Gentoo, and Magellanic Penguins of Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego. We’ll see how many I can check off my list.

4) Cross the Drake Passage in a sailboat. See Ushuaia, Argentina come in to view as a changed person.

With every journey, I’ve changed. Grown. With this expedition, I anticipate a seismic shift. I’ve never been somewhere so desolate and wild. To experience the vast expanse of ice and sea, with no visible land for days … how can I possibly remain unchanged? I’m eager to discover what this voyage reveals.

5) Stargaze in Zion and Bryce National Parks.

In August, I’m spending a week stargazing in Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce National Parks. I’ll stay in places far from the city lights. Orion’s Belt … the Big Dipper … the Milky Way. I remember how small I felt under the star-filled sky when I was a child. I hope to recapture a small measure of that wonder, if only for a moment.

6) Celebrate 55 by running the Yosemite Half Marathon. Get a PR.

My last half marathon was in September of 2014. That year, I did three. To celebrate my 55th birthday, I’m going to run again. My fourteenth race. I’m a slow runner. You could call it a wog, a slog, or a really fast amble. But I get there, eventually. My best time for the 13.1 is two hours and 58 minutes. My goal is to beat that. At least by a minute.

7) Write. Every, single damn day. Aim for an hour, settle for a half.

Writing is a discipline. And one of the qualities I do not possess is discipline. I want to write a book. And I’m going to need to find discipline. At my desk, in front of my keyboard. Every. Single. Day.

8) Ride in the Bike MS. Ride both days; minimum 126 miles.

The greatest distance I’ve ridden in the Bike MS is 67 miles. Life (and travel) has gotten in the way, year after year. This year, this summer, I’m going to ride. And ride and ride and ride. And work towards hitting my goal of 126 miles. I know I can do it … I’ve done the STP, for crying out loud. But it’s going to take some time in the saddle to get back there. So, watch out, Shane Train, I’m saddlin’ up. Pedal, pedal, pedal, repeat.

9) Do a “52 Weeks of Photo Inspiration Challenge”. Use each photo as inspiration for a weekly blog post.

Two skills I have been interested in honing are writing and photography. This resolution serves both. I recently found a 52-week Photo Inspiration Challenge, with subjects ranging from passion to silhouette; from movement to high heels. I love the idea of seeking out an image that represents the subject so fully that it inspires me to write.

10) Read. At least a book a month. The kind of book that makes you think.

I have bookcases, and stacks, and piles of books. I love words, and sentences, and paragraphs. Words, sentences, and paragraphs that evoke emotion. I typically have four or five books at varying stages of completion. This year, each month, I am going to pick one. One that is hard work … whether the subject matter is politics, creativity, or a biography. Each month, I am going to start it, and I am going to finish it. And learn …

11) Enable my 401k Auto-Increase. Retirement is not so far away …

It is far too easy to find ways to spend money. Travel, books, travel, new shoes. And travel. But the closer I get to 55, and then to 60, the more I realize I want to fund my retirement in a way that I can continue to travel. I’m gonna need that trailer. And that dog. The 401k auto-increase is a painless way to gain some ground.

12) Get out of bed each weekday morning and get to the gym. Appreciate the ability to make that choice.

I love having coffee in bed in the morning. And I struggle to feel motivated to get to the gym. This year, I vow to remember the Harborview ICU. Remember Overlake Hospital. Remember there are people who would give anything for the privilege to move their body. Remember.

13) Go camping. At least once.

In a tent. With a campfire. And s’mores.

14) See Hamilton!

This one’s easy. And just damn fun. I’ve got tickets and three good friends to join me.

15) Get Kermit the Kayak out on the water at least every other week from June through August.

I bought Kermit to train for my Galapagos trip. The Galapagos trip is now a fond memory, so kayaking now serves only as fun with a side of fitness.  I loved getting Kermit out on the water, but barely got her wet last year. This year, Kermit’s gonna get busy.

16) Take a memoir writing class at Hugo House.

We are so lucky in Seattle to have such a place as Hugo House. I have so many stories to tell, and Hugo House will walk with me on that journey.

17) Send hand-written birthday cards and thank-you notes.

I have a neighbor that writes thank-you notes. Beautifully handwritten notes. The notes are specific. She writes why she is thankful. She writes what your gift, or act, means to her. She writes these notes even though her home stands just behind mine. She takes the time to buy the card, write her carefully-considered words, seal and stamp the envelope, and send it. These notes … they mean so very much.

18) Make my den the most comfortable, welcoming room in the house. Call it a studio. Write there.

I have some ideas about how to do this. The bay window in my office looks out on to an umbrella-shaped tree. A well-stocked hummingbird feeder keeps my favorite bird dancing just outside the window. My father’s typewriter sits atop my desk. The room is bright in the afternoon light. I need a new chair. A chair that invites me to appreciate the tree, the birds, the warm afternoon light. I need to organize, remove the clutter. A fresh coat of paint, maybe, and an ottoman. And some antique letters, above that bay window: “Deb’s Studio” . Where magic happens.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018 …

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Alone

I’ve been single for eight years. Up until I decided to spend some time alone, I chose the wrong men. Unavailable men. Selfish men. Cruel men. Over and over, I made bad decisions. Until the day I decided I was incapable of making a good one. So I chose to be alone.

Achingly alone.

Since that day, I’ve lived life fast and hard. I go out too much, spend too much, drink too much. I run. Like I still have the fire and frenetic energy of the fourteen-year old runaway I once was. Like I’m being chased by a predator. If I stop, if I breathe, I feel. So I keep running.

Last night, I saw a photo of an infinity pool overlooking a beach, with two beers in a bucket in the foreground. The photo shattered me for what it implied. Two people will share that view of the beach. Two people will meld their bodies and drink a beer together. Two people. The image triggered the kind of deep, empty sadness that makes it hard to breathe.

I’ve been thinking a lot about solitude; what it feels like to be solely responsible for every household or life decision, every hardship, and every joy. To feel the vacuum of a joke without an audience. Does a solitary path still feel solid under my feet? The walls I have built to protect myself have become a prison, and I’m starting to believe they no longer serve me. I can’t run fast enough to escape my history. There are remnants of my past that push the notion that I am not good enough, or pretty enough, or worthy of a healthy relationship. It’s hard work to counter those thoughts. But I’m trying.

This time of year is predictably more difficult than the long, warm days of summer. For me, the expansive hours of darkness feel oppressive, and the loneliness cuts deep. I have no need to be rescued. For years, I’ve proven to myself that I am strong and capable. But I feel a growing yearning to share my life, to share adventures. And tell someone my damn jokes. My resolve is softening; my commitment to living a solo life is slowly crumbling. There are good men out there. Kind men. Compassionate, ethical, honest men. I know there are, because I know some of them.

These thoughts scare me. A lot. So … baby steps. Beginning with saying out loud what my heart has been whispering. To quote Forrest Gump, “And just like that, my runnin’ days was over.”