If it doesn’t spark joy

This too can spark joy.

Most everyone (in the world) has no doubt heard of the Marie Kondo Movement whereby if something doesn’t spark joy in your household, your life, your relationships, your id, your chakra, etc. that you let it go.

Since this isn’t a lifestyle blog, or a cleaning blog, or even a self help blog, I’m not going to talk about how I managed to throw out a few things in my garage. What I am going to talk about is how in my period of non-wildness, how I see things differently about those that are most assuredly still wild about the outdoors.

As most of you know, and I don’t even really like mentioning this because people DM me and tell me that I’m fishing for sympathy (thanks, btws…) but I almost died a couple Februaries ago. I suffered (and survived) a fist size blood clot in my lung which the doctors said was the largest they’d ever seen in a healthy person. I’ve cataloged here how I feel like a part of me died in that ICU and that I emerged from it a different person. Different meaning different and probably equal parts worse and better. I know that therapy could likely help me through this, but I’m at heart… very stubborn. “It is known.”

The point of this post though is that over time, I’ve grown to realize that so much of what I see is people trying to be someone they are not. In their photos, whether it be on a hike, at work, or wherever, they look hollow and empty. I admit that I am torn on a weekly basis about knowing if I need the outdoors to be whole or rather if I deprive myself from it if I’m better for the deprivation.

The people that I admire the most in the outdoors realm are those that I am certain are being who they truly are. #spon does not qualify. All that we (I) want is to love something because I love it, not because I have to (to get paid) and because I want to. Bereft of obligation, need to prove something to someone, and the need to be seen as just and right.

So what it is that sparks joy for me?

Scrabble. I love it. It mos def sparks joy. Bird watching. Yep. Grandpa absolutely likes watching birds, feeding birds, chronicling the birds I’ve seen. Baseball cards. I love reading about them, looking at prices, dreaming about buying ones that most people can’t afford to buy. My Auburn sports obsession. Final Four bayyybeeeeeee… My dogs. My kids. My family.

I’m a nerd. Deal.

You are not hiker. You are not camper. You are not backpacker. You are not climber. You are not mountain biker. You are… John, and Sally, and Gertrude, and Alice. The trap of becoming what we do is deep, dark and has no escape hatch if you fall too far into it. Be who you really are.

It sparks joy.

First Time Fat

I don’t look like this now

I’m fat.

So much for burying the lede, eh…  But seriously, I am overweight.  I won’t be appearing on Maury anytime soon for being morbidly obese, but it is true I am actually quite a bit overweight.  I’ve gone from about 185 to 217 pounds in about a year.  I first noticed it when my pants didn’t fit and when I struggled to tie my shoes.   When I really knew that I was truly overweight was when people stopped asking me if I was still hiking (obsessively) because they could obviously see that I wasn’t.

The irony of this is that since I was about 1 year old (I was apparently a very fat baby with just rolls and rolls of fat.  I’m told they were cute.  They aren’t now) I have been a rail.  I had a legendary metabolism and I could eat professional-eater level amounts of food without gaining a pound.  When I was in my 20s, I could literally eat 2 XL pizzas without stopping and gain NO weight.

But the purpose of writing this is because I’ve have had this written for weeks going on months but have never published it.  

This is the reason.  

I was too busy trying to hide who I am, what I looked like, from everyone.  And it really wasn’t totally because of social media and the electronic lives that we lead which are perfect and happy, and we all are content with our lives until we aren’t.  It was mostly because I was just embarrassed.  But also because up until now, I didn’t WANT to fix it.  And a large part of that is because I got tired of hearing people tell me that I needed to.   

The truth is that I don’t have to do anything.  Sure for health reasons it makes sense to lose weight/not be fat.  

But worse than any of this, I finally know what the mental strain is when you’re overweight.  I’m ashamed but I, as many kids of a ‘different time’ fat shamed people.  I remember bullying other kids for being fat and calling them fatso or ‘you fat slob’ etc.   I’ve wondered if maybe not trying to lose any weight was some sort of self punishment and atonement for all the bad that I did to overweight people as a 10 year old. 

I remember laughing when hearing women ask if this made me look fat only now to secretly look in the mirror as a MAN and see if these pants really do make ME look fat.  And it doesn’t feel good.  I know now why women ask this. 

The good news is that as my friends have told me, this can be fixed.  I have a plan, I have financial means to both workout and to eat healthy-ish .  I have to transfer my legendary willpower in some things now to food, which will be hard but I know that I can do it.    

Some people will say that this is for attention.  It’s not.  It’s a motivating tool and frankly I wanted to prove to myself that I could shatter some foolish notion that I was truly leading the perfectly crafted electronic life.  I’m not.  

So I ask all of you to hold me accountable.  Give me tough love if you see me eating In-N-Out.  Tell me to swap my doughnut for some kale.  Tell me that 1 spoon of sugar in my coffee is better than two.   

But don’t try and take away my Pop-Tarts, that’s a bridge too far.

Arizona Hiking Retrospectives: Bartlett Lake

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Water in Arizona!

As it turns out, one of my favorite things to do in Arizona didn’t have anything to do with hiking at all!  Not long after I got over my near death experience, this was one of the first trips that I made.  I drove to Bartlett Lake and just took pictures, walked out on the docks and generally just enjoyed the sights and sounds.

It is a beautiful place.  I’ve taken my kayaks out there a couple times as well.

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I really can’t walk on water, it just looks that way.

Let me know if you’ve taken trips that don’t involve much hiking that you enjoyed just as much as your super cool hikes!

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Typical scenery at Bartlett…