Back in the Saddle (See What I Did There?)

After a six-month bad-weather induced hiatus, my husband and I dusted off our bikes last Saturday for our first ride of 2017. It felt so good to be biking again. I knew I had missed it, but I didn’t realize just how much until I was back on my bike with the warm breeze in my face.

For our ride, we chose to start in Kenmore at Log Boom Park, and take the Burke-Gilman trail down to Seattle’s University district. We stopped at Agua Verde Cafe for a nice lunch and enjoyed both our burritos and the view of Lake Union. Once we were full of delicious Mexican food, we rode back to the trail and continued on to Ballard, where we treated ourselves to a refreshing beer on the patio at Stoup Brewing. It felt so nice to sit in the warm sun after enduring months of chilly weather!

It was mid-afternoon by then, so after our visit to Stoup we decided it was probably time to head back to the car. We did take one detour along the way, cruising down to Magnuson Park. We had hoped to visit the infamous ‘A Sound Garden’ sculpture. Soundgarden named their band after the sculpture, so we were curious to visit it after Chris Cornell passed away last week. Unfortunately, we found out that there is no weekend access to the sculpture, but we were able to see it from a distance and it was decorated with balloons, flowers, and other items left by fans.

We left the park to bike the last seven miles to our car, and by then I was beyond tired. My legs were totally fatigued and it took some stern conversations with myself in my head to keep me going. I was a little surprised at how much weaker my legs were; I know I haven’t been biking regularly, but I felt like I was in pretty good shape from the Beachbody workouts I’ve been doing in the mornings! Apparently those exercises aren’t helping the leg muscles I need for biking.

After what felt like an eternity, we got back to the park where we’d left the car. In total, our ride on Saturday was 32.8 miles – not bad for a first time out after a long stretch of not riding, but about half of what I’d like to be able to do by the end of summer. Now that the weather’s nicer, I want to spend my weekends on my bike!

Before We Disappear

This morning, my husband broke the news to me that Chris Cornell has died. That in itself was upsetting, because Soundgarden was one of those bands I would blast so loud that my ears would ring later when I was a teenager. When I moved to Seattle, I was excited to be living in a place that had produced such epic bands as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. The music Chris has made over my lifetime has inspired me, it’s spoken to me deeply, it attached itself to memories of moments in my life. But then I found out that Chris Cornell apparently took his own life, and that makes me even sadder still.

Sometimes I think that this world is too cold and unfriendly for sensitive, creative people. I know there are times where it feels like far too much for me; when I feel like I don’t want the things I’m supposed to want, that I’ve strayed from a clearly marked path off into the seeming chaos of the surrounding forest. Most of the time, I’m okay with that. But there’s another side to it: being this way means that I feel things deeply, and sometimes that’s very overwhelming. Like this morning, when I held back tears because I saw two raccoons along the side of the road that had been hit by cars. I had looked away as quickly as possible so as not to see the details of what had happened to them, but the fact that they had been violently killed made me so sad. It always does. So I can understand how others would feel this way. Would feel like going on for even one more day is an impossible task. I understand.

Five months ago, a dear friend of mine took his own life. This weekend I will be attending a celebration of his life, a life so incredibly worthy of celebrating. We will be remembering yet another creative, beautiful soul who for whatever reason felt that this world was just too much, or that he was not enough, or both. I will never know his motivation, I only know that I will never stop wishing that he could still be here. My feelings and emotions as I remember him mix and intertwine with how I feel about the loss of Chris Cornell. It seems wholly unfair that the people who make this world so much better and brighter are the ones who feel driven to leave it.

This life may be crazy and at times it’s damn hard, but it’s all we’ve got. Both Chris Cornell and my friend made my life so much better for touching it, and when it’s my turn to leave the world I hope I can do so knowing it’s better than it was before I got here.

 

Reclaiming My Optimism

I haven’t been doing much writing lately, mostly because over the last few weeks I have been in a funk of epic proportions. I suspect my mood was mostly due to the fact that the weather in the Northwest has pretty much sucked since November, and I am so sick of cold weather. I readily accept that winters are tough here: the days are very short, and very gray, and very gloomy. The weather is cold and damp. But usually, by mid-March we will have some hints of spring and a promise of warmer weather. As day after day passed without even breaking sixty degrees, I began to despair of ever enjoying being outside again.

Thankfully, the first week of May brought with it some warmer, sunnier days (and even a thunderstorm!), and it has started to feel like Seattle may have summer after all. My spirits rose with the temperatures, and I started feeling better. I also started feeling like I needed to rediscover things that keep me feeling optimistic and happy, so that I can hold onto feeling better even if the weather doesn’t hold.

One of the things I love the most about my office is that it’s located directly next to a trail that runs beside a little creek. I love walking that trail. There are frequently ducks and geese by the creek, and occasionally I’ll see a nutria or a little turtle who likes to sun himself on a tree branch that drops down into the water. I hate being cold and had all but abandoned my walking ritual, but last week I decided I needed to re-commit to it. Not only does fresh air make me feel cheery, but the breaks from my desk are a necessity.

Speaking of my desk, I got new photos printed to display at work. Looking at photos of my husband, our fur kids, and our families reminds me of why I work hard when I’m feeling stressed at the office. I hadn’t put out any new photos in quite awhile (a framed one of Bill and I was actually the first photo anyone took of us together!), so I swapped out some of the older ones with new ones from our wedding.

Aren’t we a good-looking group?

I also added some newer photos of the cats, including a really cute one of our newest baby, Ernie.

Ernie Monster!

I also decided I needed to resume writing in my Gratitude Journal. What better way to brush off a lousy mood than to sit and think of things that make life good? My journal has evolved a bit since I started writing it; currently, I write down three things I’m grateful for that day and three wins. The wins can be anything from merely getting out of bed to a major accomplishment like completing a stressful project. The point is to remind myself daily that I have a lot in my life to be thankful for and that I am accomplishing things, even if those things are small.

Got any other tips for shaking free of the blahs? Feel free to leave them in the comments!