It’s not the same, but that’s okay

Fact: unless (or until) I get some custom orthotics I am no longer able to do any more long distance running. My toes just will not allow it without a huge amount of pain. I am at the acceptance stage for that fact.

Fact: I do need to have some form of regular exercise in my life. The reality is that as I approach 50 year of age I need to do something to avoid conditions that endanger my long term health and quality of life.

Fact: walking is fine, but it does not achieve as much as I would like for fitness. It is better than nothing, but I would like something a little more strenuous.

Given all that I have embarked on new fitness ‘regime’. I am doing my best to not do two things. First, I will not obsess over it, I know that while the exercise is good for me, and feels good to have accomplished, that it is not mentally healthy for me to let it take over my life. Second, I will not let my failures and misses as far as meeting the schedule upset me, because down that path lays dangers.

Saturday morning I got myself out of bed and went and swam at the local community pool. 10 laps in about 30 minutes, not great but not terrible. Today I did the same before coming home and getting ready for work. I was a little faster, but I’m not going to focus on that if I can avoid it. I do like swimming, and I know it is great exercise if you can fit it into your schedule.

Here’s the thing, it is not the same as when I was running regularly. I was running nearly 20 miles a week or more at my peak, during my training for races. I saw the whole west side during that time, and really enjoyed it. But it became my life. Which meant that when genetics caught up with me in the form of arthritis in my toes I went into a spiral.

My new goal is to diversify, swim 2-3 times a week. Keep walking when I can. And maybe get into a body weight exercise regime. And accept that setting aside 30 minutes to an hour aside for this is okay and not falling back into that obsessive frame of mind. While at the same time making sure to not beat myself up if I skip a day hear and there.

Again, it is not the same as my running. The reality is that I will not ever get back to that form. But that is okay, life is change, and expecting things to stay the same is a recipe for disaster in some form.

Fighting uphill this morning for some reason

Stupid brain appears to be up to it’s annoying tricks today. For no discernible reason, just have to breath, try to relax, keep my head down and make it past this. It was a good weekend, uneventful for the most part. With some fun and some relaxation mixed in.

Friday night there was a Scout swim party. I didn’t swim but pretty much everyone else in the family did. It was a good time. A chance to catch up with some of the Scout families, although that is experiencing a transition as our kids get older, and many of the families that we are more connected with have moved on. I also got to take some fun pictures.

Sunflowers & cloudy skies

Sunflowers & cloudy skies

Leap into water

Leap into water

Saturday morning I got up early and went for a swim. I did okay, I focused on just a regular, slow pace. And I did alright with that. I was definitely tired at the end. And when I got home I did some cleaning, trying to restore the main rooms to some semblance of order. And also got a little start on the gradual process of returning the basement to order, and set up for gaming and hobbies. I did notice one thing. This was the first time I did an early morning exercise without caffeine, and I did notice it, taking a short nap in the afternoon. Something to be mindful of in the future. And I just relaxed the rest of the day on Saturday.

Sunday was our game in Denver. Which went pretty well. I was a little out of it for some reason, I had fun, and it was great when we finally defeated the big bads. And it was cool when one of the players got a chance to really shine. And James had a good time, even if he did get a little on some folks nerves with repeating requests for things that had already been shot down. And it was a bit of a late night for us getting home.

All in all a good weekend, some exercise, some fun, and some productivity. Really nothing to complain about. The only real problem was that due to the late night Sunday night, I could not get myself up this morning for a swim when I wanted to. And it could just be that, plus a restless nights sleep that is getting to me today. Either way, I know it is something that will pass, and I just need to stay focused on the now, and not let the past or future drag me down.

Replacing dread with joy and excitement #mentalhealth

In a way it has been as simple as the title suggests. A year or so ago my life was centered and preoccupied with worry, anxiety and depression. When I was going to go do something all I could focus on was what part of it I didn’t like. But now I have slowly come around to fixating on the fun things and exciting things I have to look forward to. And this is not just for big events, it is every day life.

A big part of it is adding things I love back into my life. And then finding ways to enjoy them more. And then slowing down to appreciate the little pieces of fun that crop up from unexpected places. For example, the other night I was putting Emily to bed, which is a daily ritual. And it was full of the usual little annoyances, little time wasters to put off the moment of turning off the light: where is my stuffed animal, changing into PJ’s, can you get me this etc. But when I finally got her in bed and then leaned down to give her a kiss, I gave her a little tickle session, taking a second to savor the giggles. That wiped away the frustration of all those little delays.

An example of adding things back into my life is role playing, painting, and possible miniatures games. This weekend is my Denver game, and I have been looking forward to this for four weeks! The wasn’t much of that in my life a year ago. I liked running, and the races were a challenge, but they were more milestones to be crossed, not events to get excited about. But this, this I can really get excited about. I am more productive with my writing because of this, which is something I also enjoy doing.

Another example, the new Games Workshop edition of Fantasy table top game. And for the first time in a while I am actually excited and interested in this. So yesterday I was printing out the rules and army lists and getting excited about building forces and then taking the rules home to show Jimmy and Kim. And then teaching the boys how to play the game at home. There are truly so many exciting things to do now, and I get to share them with other people in my life.

Heck I am even kind of excited about getting into some different exercises soon. It won’t be the same as running, it will be different, but it is something different to look forward to. So long as I make sure to not let that consume my life again.

In that is the real key. Find good things to look forward to, that give me joy and I get excited about. But get as many of them as possible, instead of having just the one thing that gives me joy. And then when I go to something, be it work, home from work, a big family event, scout event etc. Find something in that to look forward to, and use that to replace any anxiety I am feeling about the pending event.

It hasn’t all gone as planned, but that’s okay

Continuing to just roll with the tide this week. Not everything has gone as planned. But I am learning ways to let things go so it doesn’t bother me as much when that happens. And last a big thank you.

This week’s schedule with the kids was thrown off pretty much from the get go. Kim took pretty much her entire family to Elitch Gardens on Monday. Which was fun for them all, but a long day, which meant we cancelled Tuesdays plan so the kids could rest. Then yesterday had some extra craziness that I can’t go into, coupled with my own work being busy, and Kim’s work being extra nuts this week.

All of that has just thrown everything off, plenty of disruption. But I am remaining mellow. Doing what I can, cooking dinners and keeping the house picked up as Kim is wiped out from work. And making a decision to let other people handle certain things, rather than trying to micro manage all of the kids events and schedules. That’s a big step for me, I have a tendency to really try to manage everything for the kids. But, when the adults involved are perfectly capable of communicating with each other, and handling these things, there is no reason for me to play middle man. I just need to take the time with these things to assess if I really need to step in, and if not, let it be.

Now, just an aside, I want to take a moment to make a big shout out and thanks to someone special. For the past several years my Step Mother has organized and ran a ‘Cousins Camp’ during the summers. This amounts to taking our kids, plus some of their local cousins, watching them for a few days of the week, and doing fun stuff with them. First, it has been a great help, especially during the younger years when Jimmy could not responsibly watch them, or the younger ones were just too young anyway. Second, it has been really good for them, getting them out of the house, and doing lots of different stuff in the area. From simple trips to parks and play grounds, to trips to museums and amusement parks. So for all of that, I had the kids make simple cards for her last night, but I wanted to take some time myself in this space to say a big thank you to Grandma Cella, for all that you do, and all that you have done.

Last, I have made a point over the last year to use a fairly standard birthday wish when FB prompts me about someone’s birthday. I usually use some variation on wishing someone an Excellent birthday. Well there is a reason for that. I love that word, and more importantly, I love the simple concept captured in the movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it is a simple philosophy that I strive to live with:


More sharing from vacation #Photography

There were highlights from the trip last week. And I have a few pictures that I believe capture those highlights in different ways.

Waterfall captured on drive

Waterfall captured on drive

Rocky Mountain National Park was especially nice this year. Everything was so green! Not that I see all of the colors of course due to the color blindness. But What I could see was pretty spectacular. Particularly after some recent years when everything was brown and dried out. So it was nice to see scenes like this, where waterfalls were forming from snow melt, from snow packs that are still there in July.

Kids having fun at the pool

Kids having fun at the pool

The pool was definitely the place to be for our kids, especially the younger 2. They are not big hikers or explorers. They don’t have ready access to a pool at home. And for Danny especially it is a comfort zone. And he made some big strides this week. He was able to dive in and pick something up from the floor of the pool in the deep end. Which is not easy to do, and is a big step for him in confidence. And Emily is getting more confident in the water overall.

Horse girl

Horse girl

One of the promises we made was that Emily would get a real horse back ride. So we got up early, and Kim, Dan, and niece Cecilia all took a nice ride. I did my best to get some good shots of all of them. But I made sure that I got one of Emily, and really this one turned out the best after a little editing.

Shopping cousins

Shopping cousins

One of the interesting dynamics was how the cousins all got together.Emily and Cecilia had a great time together, bonding in that way that little girls do. And Danny and Willy had a great time together as well, with Danny just happy to have someone who was not overwhelming him or bossing him around like his brother or other cousins. This picture captures how great it was to have them all together.

Back to work, and some semblance of routine

That was an excellent vacation! There were some minor setbacks, but overall everything went great! I had a great visit with all of the family. The kids had a good time for the most part. And most importantly I really achieved a feeling of mellow Mike again.

We left fairly early Saturday morning, and arrived in time to get in some swimming before we got into our downright luxurious lodgings. Our cabin was great! (Thanks Mom for that.) There was plenty of room for pretty much everybody, even when the whole group gathered for the first nights meal. There is so much to cover that I will just hit some highlights.

  • Walking, hiking, exercise: Kim & I got in a good walk the first day, and then we had a serious family hike the second day. That was very good. I got in some swimming time with the kids most days. Enough so that I plan to get into a regular swim schedule here at home (didn’t start today because it was a little tough to adjust my sleep schedule back to work.)
  • Family visiting: Spent time with both of my brothers, which is a rare enough thing, and very cool. The kids had a great time with their various cousins, especially the Arizona cousins. I had some real good visits with my cousins as well particularly those I have not had as much contact with the past couple of years.
  • Vacationing: Saw some good highlights, including a couple of nice trips into the park. Took some nice pictures. Helped Kim put together a 1500 piece puzzle. Got in some reading. Relaxed by the pool.

It was really a good trip, and glad I saw everybody for the time I did. And the only real stress point was dealing with Jimmy during the larger family events. He was just at maximum physical annoying during the trip. And I had a hard time keeping him from pissing people off. Which meant he would focus on us, which was almost worse. He just didn’t have a very good filter this past week. But I just tried to remind myself that this was something every kid goes through, and he could figure it out most of the time.

But that aside, for the most part I managed to recapture a part of my being that I have been working to reclaim. When I was in my teenage years I did the thing that almost every kid does, even though they shouldn’t: adopted a nickname. I referred to myself as ‘Mellow Mike’. That was meant to capture my feelings of that time as a very relaxed, live and let live personality. Sadly, the years and responsibilities have eroded that. But my goal is to recapture that feeling as much as possible. And I did a splendid job of that on the trip, just stayed content to let things be.

And after a couple of days home, decompressing and running a Pathfinder game for the boys I am back at work now. We kept things simple and relaxed these last couple of days at home, with multiple friends over, and not any real responsibilities. Did get some yard work done, but otherwise did not do much. And now it is back to work, and the last 4 weeks of vacation for the kids.

Signing off, back in a week or so…

Off for vacation in the mountains tomorrow! A much needed time away from town, and work. Looking forward to some downtime. Despite my protestations to a co-worker who wished me a Happy Friday (My response: ‘Don’t you tell me what kind of day to have! You can’t oppress me with your good feelings!’) it is a good Friday.

I will be well away from my computers, and only online intermittently for the week. So at most there might be an occasional FB or Instagram post.