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Hi. I’m Maery, a writer in the Twin Cities. Although I no longer have the body for extreme adventures, I love to bicycle, go horse trail riding and take hikes with my dogs.  

One thing you should know before you join me on my quest -- I don’t have a map. And I’ve been known to wander off course and stop to listen to birds and look for agates. I also have a few issues with fear and anxiety. In other words, I’m not a good role model or adventure guide. But in this time of uncertainty and polarization, I'm not sure anyone has a reliable map. We'll just figure it out as we go.

dog

What do you do when you feel unable to do anything besides watch TV or sleep? My first response is to give in to that feeling. I’m sixty-one years old. Why shouldn’t I take it easy?

The answer is because I am sixty-one years old. I don’t have enough time to have the luxury of wasting it. And if I want to retain the mobility I do have and hopefully, improve upon that, I have to move!

Because I was feeling so low and stuck in self-pity, I decided that what I needed to do was challenge both my body and my beliefs.

Steve and I had recently purchased front racks and panniers for our bikes. On a previous bike camping ride, we only had back panniers and discovered that putting all the weight at the back of the bike causes issues with stability.

bike touring

I also switched my bike’s handlebars to a Jones H Bar in the hope that it would give me more positions to put my hands and provide steadier steering. With new equipment, we didn’t want to just head out for a whole week. We decided to do an overnight bike camping trip to test things out.

It turned out that the front panniers were a brilliant decision. My bike was so much more balanced. I could actually stand up and pedal, something I couldn’t do with only back panniers.

The only thing that went wrong is that we got terribly lost on the way to the campground. What should have been a forty mile ride turned into a fifty-six mile ride. That wouldn’t have been so bad but by the time we realized how off course we were, we were also getting loopy from the heat and had reached the most hilly part of the trip. Neither of us had any oomph left, much less any putt putt.

bike touring

Fortunately, we ran into a young bicyclist who was on his way to the park we were trying to get to. We followed him until we were back on our route, then we let him go on alone as there was no way we could keep up with his young legs and unburdened bike.

The campsite at Lebanon Hills was nice and roomy and there were plenty of trees for privacy, but noise still carries and it was a bit raucous until 10 PM. After that, it was peaceful. I could hear what sounded like a Great Horned Owl. It didn’t take too long before a second owl returned the call. Laying down in the tent with the top flap open, I could see the stars overhead and flashes of light from fireflies skittering along the tree line.

Lebanon Hills campsite

The best part of the trip, of course, were the stops for food.

Before hitting the campground, we had dinner at Bonfire restaurant. I had a Mesquite Salmon salad that tasted like a piece of heaven. This may have been due to my exhausted, starving bicyclist state.

Near the restaurant, there was a Cupcake shop. We were going to get our cupcakes to go so we could have them for desert at the campground. But I didn’t think we should take the risk of having them melt or get smooshed. I had a yummy gluten free chocolate cupcake with peanut butter filling.

In the morning, we stopped at The Mason Jar. I had two eggs with roasted rosemary potatoes and ample cups of coffee to revive me for the ride home.

Halfway home, I needed a recharge so we stopped at Izzy’s Ice Cream, where I had a scoop of lingonberry with a scoop of chocolate ice cream – an excellent combination. I have to commend the people who work there. They researched their ice cream/gelato options to find me something that did not contain corn syrup or anything soy (I have a bad reaction to both).

The ride did a number on my knees and my ass. I was worried the knees would lay me up for awhile. I was going to take it easy for a couple days to allow them to recover, but I needed to pick up a book at the library. I decided to ride the six miles there. When I returned home, I also took the dogs for a three mile walk.

To my pleasant surprise, my knees felt better afterwards. Movement really does help both the body and the mind! Being outside helps A LOT too!

My body is wiser than my brain. She reminded me to be thankful for what I can do and not focus on the things that I can’t. Because every day that can change, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Wishing for something else is wasting precious time.

bike camping


Links You Might Like

Every Body is a Yoga Body by Maggie Fazeli Fard

Fard’s article discusses Lauren Lipton’s book, Yoga Bodies: Real People, Real Stories & the Power of Transformation. There is commentary by people of a variety of shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds.

I appreciate the comments from seventy-eight-year-old Babette Becker on yoga and an aging body. What Babette says goes along with this post: “Everyone’s body is changing all the time… You learn in yoga to accept these things instead of saying, ‘I did this yesterday; why can’t I do it today?’ You can’t do it today because your body is different today… You might as well allow it to be OK.”

Jenna Moreci – The Nine Weird Habits of Writers

I don’t have all of these habits, like writing into the wee hours of the morning. Probably because I have a day job. But I can relate to most of the other weirdness mentioned (plus a few others).

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books I'm reading

I’ve been reading mainly non-fiction for the past thirty years – books on writing, fitness, and health, along with memoirs. Books like “Yarrow” remain on my bookshelf waiting for me to sit down for a moment and enter their world.

I was searching the library shelves for something different to read (a bit of escapism) when I ran across “Except the Queen” by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder. I was intrigued by the crows on the cover and a young girl with a tattoo on her neck. I read a few lines of the first paragraph,

“You are in the forest that is not your own. You squint at its brightness; the sunlight bleaching the familiar green, the scent of the trees dusty as pressed flowers. You have come out of curiosity, and shivering beneath the glamour you are wearing, you roam through the quiet pines and birch.”

With the image and scent of trees in my mind, I took the book home and over the next week, I read it like it was ice cream being enjoyed on a hot and humid day.

sun garden decoration

It had been so long since I’d become completely absorbed and lost in a book. In my early teen years, I loved reading Fantasy, but then I let go of my childish ways to become a more “serious” reader.

As I turned the pages, I found I still loved visiting the world of Fairies, Baba Yaga, Witches, Changelings and Demons that needed to be destroyed. There was a great deal of using herbs to treat illnesses, ward off evil, and also simply enjoyed in a hot cup of tea.

meditating garden gnome

I read about two beautiful young Fairy sisters who angered their Queen and were turned into pudgy old women. They experienced the invisibility that comes with growing old and no longer fitting into the world’s idea of what is desirable and beautiful.

At first they longed to return to their world and what they they had been before being cursed, but then they discovered the beauty of the friendships they made as older women and the enjoyment of looking beyond themselves to help other people.

After finishing “Except the Queen,” I began reading “Dealing with Dragons,” which is a YA book that I read when I was a teenager. It’s one of the few books that my memory banks have managed to retain.

I can remember the feeling of freedom as I rode my bike to the library, entered the lush garden of books, and plucked one after another off the bountiful shelves to strap to my bike and ride home. I would hide away in my bedroom for most of the day, escaping to another world where I was someone with magic and power.

koi fish in a pond

It makes sense that I loved this book with Princess Cimorene and Kazul the Dragon. Cimorene is like no other Princess you have likely read about, which is the main crux of her problem.

She is stubborn, smart, and resourceful. She attempts to learn how to fence, cook, read Latin, and do magic. Everything she does is greeted with a reminder that such things are “just not done” by a Princess. So she runs away to live with and serve the Dragon, Kazul.

Early in the story, Cimorene was discussing with a frog that she didn’t want to marry Prince Therandil, a marriage arranged by her parents. The frog asked her what she was going to do about it? Cimorene answered that she had talked to her parents but couldn’t change their minds. The frog said, ”I didn’t ask what you’d said about it. I asked what you’re going to do. Nine times out of ten, talking is a way of avoiding doing things.”

Wisdom can come from the most unlikely places.

However, it’s unlikely to come from these two…

backyard chickens

Over a week ago, I said that my next post would address how my 100 Days for Spaciousness is going after five weeks. As I said then, I’ve been ready to give up on myself a number of times. I looked back through my journal and found that I keep coming to the same realizations over and over again.

In simplest terms, my enlightenment has been this: “Make a decision and take action,” just like the frog said.

Talking or writing about the difficulties and how I need to change is just avoiding doing what I said I would do.

And searching for the right answer amongst all the information and opinions out there and trying out one after another and another is just more of the same.

marshmallow plant

My new Tarot deck, Bonefire Tarot, created by Gabi Angus-West, has been agreeing with that conclusion.

I drew the Page of Swords on Monday. The Page is said to be her own worst enemy. “Matters of your own making are out of your control.” You look behind you, trying to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.

The Swords in general can indicate thoughts that are ungrounded (floating in air). My mind holds so many differing viewpoints, I “can’t see the forest for the trees,” and useful action is unlikely.

Thoughts alone cannot solve much. Only when thought is accompanied by action do you get results.

There’s that frog again, croaking out the same answer…

He’s so damn smart. But I don’t need another expert opinion. I already knew that.

celosia

I’m not sorry for the time I’ve spent reading lately. It’s fed my starving imagination and brought back some memories of the things I used to love and found that I still do love.

I’ll continue reading, for an enjoyable break from writing and because reading is a good way for writers to learn what makes a good story and what can ruin it.

But most importantly, I’ll write.

garden gnome

Last Saturday, I went to a four hour workshop on making and using flower essences. In addition to the teaching, we did yoga, guided meditation, stream-of-thought journaling, a guided outdoor flower walk, and ate lunch.

We would have spent more time outside but there was a steady rain with lightening and thunder accompaniment, so we spent most of the time in a yurt. We could feel the thunder vibrating the floor, where we sat on our yoga mats. It was like being touched by grounded electricity and the power this energy carries. At the same time, the rain and bird song were breath and peace.

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