Maybe Something Is Working

Yesterday I had to cut my backpack saunter short because of a cramp in my calf. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t want to keep on going and maybe make things worse. This answers a question I’ve been pondering about whether I should take my supplements with me on a backpacking trip — both times I ended up with a bit of a problem — the calf this week and the thigh last week — came after several days of being too lazy to take a handful of pills. As silly as it is to get nutrition (and fractured nutrition at that) from various capsules and tablets, apparently, these supplements do help keep me active.

Another potential problem is that I do the backpacking practice from Friday to Sunday, and people who only exercise on weekends often end up with injuries. I figured I wouldn’t have a problem because the days I don’t hike, I take dance classes, but perhaps it’s time to change my hiking schedule. If I only saunter a couple of miles, I have no problem doing other physical things, so I am going to attempt to take shorter saunters more frequently to see if that will help build strength.

It’s one thing if I never build up enough strength to do some sort of epic hike, but it’s another thing entirely if I am prevented from even attempting the dream because of injury. (Besides, one iffy limb is enough!)

Because of the calf situation, the friend who keeps me company while I struggle with the backpack on Sundays suggested we practice tap instead. So that’s we did. And then, when I got back, I still went trudging for a couple of miles. I don’t feel as if I’m getting any stronger, and yet I can remember that just a few weeks ago such a walk carrying a weighted pack would have worn me out. So, maybe something is working?

It seems odd to me, even now that I’m focused on finishing my decade-old work in progress, I am still interested in an epic hike.

In a mythic hike.

I recently came across a really great hiking term — MYTH: Multi-Year Thru Hike. Isn’t that a cool acronym? A MYTH could be something more practical for me to work toward — doing the whole Pacific Crest Trail, but not all in one year. It sounds like it would be a lot more fun that way, especially since so many people who do the thru hike in one year (five months, actually), seem to feel lost afterward, or depressed, or suffering various ills. (Generally, those are younger folks, so I doubt I’d have the same reaction, but who knows.)

Still, a hike of any magnitude is far in the future. More immediately is my May trip. Even more immediately, as in right now, I have a literary trek to take. My characters are about to leave the oasis where they’ve been resting and are heading out across the desert. Considering how frequently bits of my novels come to life, I won’t be too hard on them lest it backfire on me.

See you on down the road.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Getting a Head Start on New Years Resolutions

I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions. Except for the calendar change, there isn’t anything that makes one year different from another. Seasons are cyclical, orbits are cyclical, life is cyclical — and by their very natures, cycles have no beginning or end. Still, a new year is a useful convention in the same way that a new day is a useful convention, giving us the feel of a new start, and so I am getting a head start on my resolutions.

Often during the year, I resolve to go back to a healthy diet and be more conscientious when it comes to an exercise program, but however disciplined I am, there comes a day when I simply do not care, and there ends the discipline. (This is, I think, a lingering effect of my grief over Jeff’s death, and seems to be a cycle that many of us left behind succumb to. On the one hand, we want to do what’s right. On the other hand, it makes no difference what we do — healthy or not, we all end up in the grave or the crematorium.)

I am going through one of my disciplined stages (or rather, my wanting-to-be-disciplined stage since this is only day two of this new cycle) in an effort to “youth” instead of “age.” Impossible, probably, to ratchet back the toll of the years, but it would take such a miraculous feat to enable me even to attempt my impossible dream of an iconic hike.

The only item on my disciplined to do list that I did not follow yesterday was perhaps the least important — the no eating after 6 o’clock rule. The others I did — stretched, lifted weights (very light weights considering my weak hand, wrist, and elbow), ate plenty of vegetables, and skipped the sugar, wheat, and milk products. Most importantly, I strapped on my backpack, added a bit of weight (the whole contraption weighed maybe eight pounds) and went for a two and a half mile trudge around the neighborhood.

Who would have thought so few pounds would make such a difference? I could walk but not with any bounce, speed, or glide to my step. And even though I used trekking poles and kept myself upright (too often you see people with backpacks bent over from the weight) my lower stomach muscles feel tight, and the inside of my thighs right above the knees are sore. (These must be muscles that my various dance classes don’t develop.) Those pains are in addition to an all-over body ache.

We’ll see what happens after a few days of this disciplined life. Before even the new year begins, I might have already broken my resolutions. But maybe not. There is that impossible dream — the unreachable star — to stretch toward.

Or trudge toward, as the case may be.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.