With the writing of The Brick Dandelion, I find myself prompted to return writing and creating with my namesake, here. Maybe I do have something to write about?
I vowed to myself: Good memories. And part of that package is “good to myself.”
But where to begin? I have two days left of vacation, I am at home and I have been in this mode before. “I am going to take care of myself! I have goals! No more negativity!”
But I do feel differently. I am fifty-six and am in mediocre shape. The extra weight bothers me but what really concerns me is my lack of strength. At work, I enjoy being on my feet, walking anywhere from four to twelve miles per day.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my legs were not so efficient stepping up and down stairs. I am tired of jiggles in body parts where I do not really want them! (Appropriate, feminine jiggles…yes, please!)
We have all been here. A bit of self-disgust goes a long way. (If handled correctly. In times past I might have gone off the deep end with ego self-flagellation).
I had been driving in Duluth on vacation, staying in Superior. I had not been back – to any extent – in thirty years. I was thrilled to look at the campus, drive around and play tourist with visits to the railroad museum, the art gallery, and Canal Park.
But driving back and forth with any efficiency, necessitated the crossing of the Blatnik bridge. I know to the seasoned driver, such high bridges are nothing. But I am not used to them. All the possible traffic hazards pop in my head as I go under the suspension part at the peak of the expanse.
Without looking sideways I know my vehicle is above grain elevators, the harbor and rail yards. Okay. Deep breaths. Quite truthfully I make the sign of the cross, then clutch the steering wheel.
In a matter of days, I transversed that bridge a dozen times, if not more. I am not sure when it happened, but I remembered watching the traffic more than the bridge.
I remembered feeling my fingers without clenching them around the wheel. I remembered looking at my son, saying to him, “Hey, I’m not afraid this time.”
“Great mom,” he smirked. “Just watch the road.”
Where do I begin? Prior to vacation, the only forward, health step I had taken was my assurance to myself that I get sleep.
I begin with hydration in the morning. And coffee. And later on, a bowl of oatmeal. Lots of water and watch the portions of everything else.
I remember in the past telling myself I did not have time to measure portions.
“I know what I’m doing, I know myself.”
Clearly that has not been true. As I prepared my oatmeal, I measured. I wondered to myself when I had copped out of my scientific brain? Being back in Superior reminded me of those delicious times in my life of scientific methodology – learning through research and experimentation.
When did I stop applying those principles to my own life, if even just a little bit?
Oh dear, Steph. What have you not done? And what have you not done?
But I realized the time to stop analyzing myself into oblivion was now. Maybe the best self-talk was no talk at all.
“Get moving, Steph.”
I began measuring my oatmeal. Measuring? “Hm. I do have time for science of self care.”
“Yes, yes I do.”
A day off work means I stuff my time with appointments. Twenty miles from home and between times, I find myself in a familiar bookstore. With coffee in hand, I sit at the window to edit. After the first round of Covid, the cafe portion had now reopened. It’s wonderful to see people wondering through books and sitting with coffees. The once orderly cafe has been rearranged into tables and chairs, scuttled around, separated with six feet spaces.
I get word from home of tornado warnings. And I call my mother to check. The severe weather siren blasts, followed by the announcement that customers could shelter in a back hallway. Sadly I grab my coffee to retreat only to find I am the only one!
Minutes later I hear the rain. Sirens have stopped but the dark clouds hover. I resume my spot to continue editing.
I am still scared of almost everything I wish to do. But I had a vacation in which I walked among big things…the Mississippi River, the centuries old trees of the Lost Forty, then Lake Superior. I was a speck among them. And the fear of driving across a bridge was replaced with a casual calm.
And laughter with my son.
And that wonderful Great Lake reminded me of my time studying lakes. With abandonment, I had studied. That mindset was decades ago but I felt it’s warmth as if I was hugged by an old friend.