All the years I’ve worked from a desk using my god-given keyboarding skills and sitting on a couch to knit my meditative knits, I’ve always known a woman living an alternate life. An adventurer, living outdoors for more than a few hours at a time, exploring, enduring challenges, soaking up life as it happens. Occasionally she has opportunity to express herself, like in my 20s when expenses of equipment and travel for outdoors treks in three states were covered by school financial aid (most valuable experiences of my 5-1/2 years of higher education). Or when I briefly had arms like Popeye after joining forces with a boyfriend who owned two sea kayaks. Or in more recent years, when I walked several marathon distances.
And now, when I’ve gained 20 pounds since completing the Portland marathon only months ago and am back to seven days a week at the desk, I use my special powers to remind myself the parallel woman is thriving and can intersect the current me’s path again.
Here’s what I do when I despair at my inevitable crawl of aging parenthood, I remind myself being a parent opens up a part of the heart inaccessible any other way and I am forever grateful. And I question how decrepit a person can be while still doing what the parallel me is doing. She’s free of financial worries and childless. Right now I can’t walk 3,000 miles coast to coast across the US or sign up for some group adventure trek in Costa Rica. I can’t start intensive training, survival skills classes and equipment gathering to complete the Pacific Crest Trail. I can’t visit every national park and freelance write about my journeys. So here’s what I do:
- I relish encountering inspiring people that keep that flame alive for some outrageous goal I’ve dreamed.
- I remind myself I’m not a failure yet simply because the clouds in the sky haven’t parted for me to take that first step.
- The 30-minute rule. If I can do something each day for 30 minutes that resembles my parallel me’s life, that’s keeping the ember of connection between current me and her burning. So if I walk 30 minutes a day in the woods or stay outside for a sunset or a moon rise, I pat myself on the back.
- I want to do whatever I do with some modicum of support and/or logistics preparation, and that will take money and patience, both of which I can work on each and every day.
- No matter how large the marshmallow covering of my inner core of steel gets, I remember that I do know how to train and work steadily toward something I put my mind to. So when a challenging opportunity opens that fits my resources, I’ll be able to say “Yes.”
Here are inspiring women whose stories have crossed my path over the past few weeks, all gathered in one place to remind me the parallel me is cheering from a distance: Go girl, go!
- The most inspiring senior “project” I’ve ever seen, taking flight this month. Since Denali takes at least 3 weeks to summit, fortunately the 50 peaks clock starts at the summit:
- Mother-daughter duo thriving after single parenthood with gusto, wit and compassion: Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
- Elea Acheson – The Many Roads to Kindness, Coast to Coast Cycling. I’ve never met her, but some of our life experience has circled locations and occurrences.
- One final note of inspiration. For a decade, I have visioned offering nature walks to ease people’s stress while in the environment of hospitals. I happened to be in a hospital elevator this week for annual long-term followup. I nearly fainted when I saw a poster with an image of beautiful green woods offering “30-minute walks to ease stress.” I contacted the person responsible. What are the chances the one day of the year I happened to be in the elevator was the first offering? Those are some good chances. I hope to schedule a day off work to attend one of these walks soon and reinforce the importance of what they are doing. It makes my heart sing to know that someone is doing the work I cannot at the moment. If you would like a nature break in your day, check out one of my wanderings: