Monthly Archives: January 2013

“We’ll brew!”

At some time during the getting-to-know-you-better phase of our relationship, CFL pointed out to me that I have a habit of saying “we’ll see.” I hadn’t really noticed this small verbal tic, but it made perfectly logical sense to me that I would say it. I do have a sense of reality as an emergent phenomenon… and of my life as a process of continual becoming. Given that everything is always up in the air and in process, then so much is unknowable at any given time that “we’ll see” is as close as I’m going to get to predicting the future.

At the time, of course, I replied that he had a knack for filling every potential gap in our conversational space with a long, drawn-out “so, anyway…” that kept me from ever getting a word in edgewise.

That generated a most lively conversation.

Since then we’ve negotiated a few things and learned to love one another’s unique characteristics. We’ve now reached the point where we can affectionately mock one another’s habitual speech patterns and laugh together about them.

Last weekend we took a road trip down to southern Oregon to visit some family members. There were long hours in the car during which we talked about many things. Beer was a major topic. We’d planned several opportunities to visit microbreweries and sample some well-known Oregon beers. We also had upcoming batches of home brew to plan. At some point I inevitably said, “we’ll see.” Suddenly we both laughed and simultaneously exclaimed, “we’ll brew!”

Has a brewery slogan been born? We’ll see… um… we’ll brew!

As for the beer tourism… a night’s stop in Eugene allowed us to take in Ninkasi, Falling Sky, and Rogue’s Tracktown Brewery.

Ninkasi’s fermentation tanks were impressive. This photo includes a studious-looking CFL, carefully positioned in my attempt to provide scale. However, he’s standing in a large doorway so you can’t see the tops of the tanks. Oh well…

Ninkasi is well-known and features big, bold, hoppy beers with names like Total Domination IPA. We shared a flight of several 4-ounce tasters and that was plenty.

In contrast, Falling Sky is only a year old, grew out of the home brew supply store next door, caters to locals, and features relatively low-alcohol “session” beers that nicely accompany its tasty, simple pub food. We might have stayed there all evening, but the Rogue/Tracktown brewery promised good pizza so we carried on. The pizza lived up to the hype and the beer was good too. We ended the evening quite satisfied.

During our time in my family’s small town in southern Oregon I got out for a nice run along the Rogue River. Eventually this trail will connect with the one a few miles further south where I ran the Rogue Run half marathon last September. On this trip I did an easy 6 mile run and then spent the afternoon with my family, while CFL took at bit more time and ended up walking about 8 miles.

It was a good trail.

This part was even better! There was a half mile side trail that ran right along the river bank, for those who like to bound over roots and mud puddles. That would be me!

That afternoon we held a family tasting of eight of our home brews (numbers 2 through 9). The verdict: They’re all good! (Thanks guys.) We ended the day with a visit to the nearby Wild River Brewing and Pizza for — you guessed it — microbrews and pizza!

Through all of our travels and other adventures we have kept our activity streak going. We walked — in a downpour — to all those breweries in Eugene. We stopped to do two laps around a shopping mall in the midst of our 550 mile drive home. We’re now 29 days into 2013 and I’m approaching 120 running/walking miles, while CFL has a larger number of walking/biking miles. At this point our streak will not be broken for anything short of an unimaginably dire emergency. The longer we continue, the stronger is the imperative not to stop.

But you know what? It’s still one step at a time, one day at a time. This streak wasn’t envisioned as such beforehand. It’s an emergent phenomenon.

What will happen next? We’ll see.

We’ll brew!

A slow, happy, and well-lived life

A dear friend passed away the other day, and I’m remembering him today with a soft, pensive joy.

I didn’t actually know him all that well, but in a certain sense we were close friends… because Charlie was the sort of guy who made everyone around him feel valued and valuable, loved and loving. He was a faculty member at the school where I did my PhD. We always said we’d work on something together but somehow we never did. I knew his name before I started my PhD program; he was one of the “founding fathers” of the discipline of organization development. I was speechless with awe the first time I met him ten years ago.

As I got to know him, my awe decreased while my admiration and love for him grew. How could you not love a ceaselessly smiling elderly man in a red shirt, suspenders, and a baseball cap? His humility, his perception, his empathy, his goofy sense of humor, and his obvious relish for life were all endearing and contagious. He sang and laughed with gusto. In conversation, he looked straight at you with absolute attention. He was completely, utterly present in everything that he did. He led workshops on “the use of self” in consulting, but his life practice was to simply be himself, and in so doing to make space for others to discover, become, and be themselves.

When I first described myself as a slow happy runner, it was almost as an incantation to myself. I didn’t have all that much to be happy about. Yet I was committed to running and to the idea that “slow mileage is better than no mileage,” and I knew from bitter experience that in the worst of times my running had the power to carry me through the pain.

When I met CFL the idea of slow happy living inspired both of us as a vision of a way of life. We’d both hit unanticipated bumps in our lives, and we’d both been jolted into an awareness that life is short and moments are not to be wasted.

CFL can be literally slow — when the calypso orchids are in bloom he can take an hour and a half to walk just one mile of trail. He… counts… every… flower… and comes back the next day to count… every… flower… again. He is very happy in the moments that he spends with those flowers.

I’m not such a slow runner anymore, but I find increasing happiness in the places I can go as I continue to gain strength and agility. Trail running in a beautiful place is the closest thing I have ever found to the sheer, simple joys of childhood.

I define happiness in the Aristotelean sense of “a whole life well-lived.” When we walk, run, bike or hike we are living fully in those moments and finding happiness in them. When we brew beer, we fumble our way from one step to the next with lots of joking and laughter. When we open a bottle of our homebrew four or more weeks after brew day, we are happy, satisfied, and proud of what we have done together and of how wonderful this moment feels. If we can add up enough of those moments, they might just total up someday to a whole life well-lived.

Not that we’re keeping score or anything…

For now I’ll just take the moments, and let the moments accumulate, trusting that as they accumulate I will be living each one as fully as I can.

When we realized that we were both on an activity streak and that neither one of us intends to break it, we told each other we would not be competitive; we would be mutually supportive. Now we each make room in our daily routine for the thirty minutes or more of activity that brings us happiness — whether we walk or hike together or he rides his bike while I run behind him. It’s already becoming something that we simply do each day without fail… because to do so is to live this day: fully, slowly, and happily.

Charlie wasn’t a runner, but I think he would understand and applaud our conscious approach to these moments.

I’ll miss you Charlie… and I’ll never think of you without smiling. You were a truly happy man, an exemplar of happiness, a model of unconditional positive regard, and a most cherished friend. Farewell!

Calypso Orchids

Activity streaks, blogging friends, and other wonders of life

2013 is starting out to be quite the interesting year.

The thing about an activity streak — as with any sort of conscious behavioral change – is that the longer one is able to maintain a new behavior, the more psychologically painful it is to contemplate breaking the streak. I didn’t plan to start 2013 with an activity streak, but I did set some ambitious goals with respect to running, hiking, walking, and biking mileage for the year. About five days into the year, I realized that something quite new and exciting was happening, and that I needed to pay attention.

Now here it is 14 days into 2013, and I have logged 55.63 miles, of which 30.38 have been running miles; the rest are mostly walking miles. That’s almost 4 miles a day! I haven’t yet missed a day. When I had a couple of hours at SeaTac airport before my flight last Wednesday, I walked the length of all four main terminals several times, a distance of at least 4 miles. I have walked in the rain and run in the wind. I wake up in the morning thinking about how I will work my activity into my day.

So while I was in Santa Barbara I ran barefoot on the beach. I walked all over downtown. I kept moving because moving felt so much better than sitting. I kept moving because somehow, unbeknownst to me, I had made this commitment to myself to keep moving every day.

We’ll see how long the literal streak will last, but this new habit of waking up in the morning and planning for how I will be active each day seems to be well on its way to being an integral part of who I am becoming.

On my last morning in Santa Barbara I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting one of my blogging friends face to face. There is an inherent irony to this statement — I had come to Santa Barbara for the national winter session of Fielding Graduate University, where I had completed my PhD by writing a dissertation exploring how people who work from home for large global corporations experience and interpret place. I had spent the last dozen years of my corporate career learning to be entirely comfortable working closely with people whom I had never met. Still, I knew that there is a certain satisfying something about those rare moments when you do actually meet and spend time with someone who until now has been, at most, a voice on the phone.

In the case of blogging friends, it’s more like having a pen pal than being co-workers across distance. Someone comments on a post. I reply. I decide to follow their blog. We begin to exchange comments regularly on one another’s posts. At some point I realize I have a friend out there — a real person who has an interesting life, a person with whom I’d like to spend time in the real world if the chance ever arises.

By a timely coincidence, Debra of Breathelighter and I realized that we were going to be visiting Santa Barbara at the same time! My daily exercise for my last morning in Santa Barbara was a one-mile walk down the beachfront street to a restaurant where Debra, her husband Jay, and I enjoyed a long, leisurely breakfast. It was like reconnecting with an old friend — albeit one whom I’ve never met before! We talked for so long that Jay finally took a walk while waiting for us to wind down. He then kindly returned to take this photo, which Debra graciously shared with me.

I think you’ll find a similar shot on her blog post about the day. I love the synchronicity of our getting together and then both writing about it!

It was a great week, but I’m happy to be home in the Pacific Northwest.

CFL and I will be doing some more traveling very soon, and I expect to regale you with news of beer tourism. We have some long driving days planned and it will be a challenge to figure out how we’ll get our daily activity in, but I have a feeling we’ll both manage to do it. It’s a new habit, but a decidedly sticky one.

I’m definitely packing my running shoes!

A dance with joy: Trail running on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Today was Day 5 of our New Year’s activity streak — a Saturday morning with no rain in the immediate forecast! CFL and I decided we’d do the Spruce Railroad Trail, which winds along the north side of Lake Crescent. We’ve hiked this trail a couple of times; I wrote about my first time on this trail here.

Our plan for today was that I would run and CFL would ride his bike. This is the only trail in Olympic National Park (possibly in any national park) on which bicycles are allowed. Unfortunately CFL discovered that he’d left his bike helmet at his friend’s house after their ride the other day — so he decided to hike the trail while I ran.

We agreed that we’d each go out for about 45 minutes and then turn around, which would theoretically result in our arriving back at the car at the same time.

The trail starts with a moderate downhill down to lake level, and then hugs the lake shore with slight ups, downs, and detours around old landslides. The surface today was varied: muddy, rocky, rooty, leafy, and all combinations thereof. Once I found my rhythm and got comfortable with the terrain, it was an utter dance with joy. I can hardly remember when I’ve had so much fun!

People sometimes ask why anyone would be in a hurry on a trail as beautiful as this. Why not slow down and enjoy the view? Let me tell you, I didn’t miss a thing! My eyes and mind took in every detail, every rock and root, every ridiculously green tree, shrub, and patch of moss in my surroundings. When I startled a duck and it flew just offshore beside me, quacking and whooshing its wings, I was right there flying along with it. I was in a flow state; I was in running nirvana.

I did have to slow down in a few places and pick my way through the really rocky parts. Can YOU find the trail in this photo?

It’s not as scary as it looks in this photo, but it does make me very, very aware of my surroundings! And very appreciative of the balance and strength that I’ve developed, enabling me to navigate this type of terrain “at speed.”

I was 3.21 miles out when I turned around. On my way back I caught this interesting view, which hadn’t been visible from the trail in the other direction:

They don’t call this the Spruce Railroad Trail for nothing! The reason this trail is so flat is that it generally follows an old railroad bed. The “Spruce Railroad” was a logging train and yes, they did take some gigantic old-growth spruce, cedar, and Douglas fir out of this area in the old, pre-National Park days. This is a partially collapsed tunnel. The current trail takes a detour around the tunnel. In this photo you can see the trail, curving around to the right of the tunnel.

I passed CFL on the way back (he confessed to turning around a bit late), which gave me time to stretch and devour a Clif Bar before he arrived. I ended up running 6.43 miles while he clocked 4.11 on his hike. We both had a really awesome time on the trail.

One thing that was especially fun for me was meeting hikers on the trail. I wasn’t sure how well hikers would take to someone running by — creating this high-energy disturbance in the middle of their wilderness experience. To my great relief, every single person I saw today greeted me with friendliness and… a look of respect… which totally blew my mind. That was ME out there dancing on the trail, bounding from step to step, feeling the lightness in every cell of my body. I can’t adequately describe how the experience felt to me — it was simply pure joy in motion.

Many hours later, I’m still high.

I can’t wait to find out what I’m going to do tomorrow. One step at a time!

Daring to do more: Our activity goals for 2013

The other day I wrote on my running blog that I’d barely met my 2012 running goal of 600 miles, and that I planned a modest increase to 650 miles in 2013 (my intention was to increase the running miles while still making room for more hiking this year). Well, the other morning CFL and I got to talking, and wouldn’t you know it, we ended up challenging one another to some rather ambitious activity goals for the year.

I’m not sure which numbers he finally settled on, but here are my goals:

  • Run 730 miles (an average of 14 miles per week, 61 miles per month)
  • Hike, walk, and bike an additional 470 miles (an average of 9.1 miles per week, 39 miles per month)
  • All of which totals up to 1,200 miles (an average of 3.3 miles per day, 23.1 miles per week, 100 miles per month)

The last I heard, he was talking about 1,000 miles total plus 100,000 vertical feet. This time of year he climbs 1,000 vertical feet of stairs (111 flights) every 2-3 days, and in the warmer months he likes to ride his bike up to Hurricane Ridge, a 5,000+ foot climb in 17 miles. So as daunting as it sounds to me, 100K vertical feet is actually realistic for him.

We started out the new year with a nice easy 1.5 mile hike to Marymere Falls and back. As usual we stopped to take photos of a bridge. This one is over Barnes Creek, just below the falls.

Here we are at the falls. Yes, it was COLD.

Yesterday I walked downtown and back, which is about 2.5 miles. I was, therefore, a bit off my planned 3.3 miles-per-day pace when I went out to run today. After an overnight low of 29 and a heavy frost, I wasn’t all that eager to get out there and run. I finally made it to my favorite trailhead around 2:00 PM, when it had warmed up to a positively balmy 37. At least the sun was shining! I was wearing brand new trail running shoes. I don’t normally use trail running shoes on pavement, but it feels like a prudent choice for this time of year.

Sure enough, today I ran through both mud and ice, and I was very glad for the extra traction that those knobby trail shoes gave me!

I ran just over 6 miles, giving me 10 total for the year so far and putting me right on track for my goals.

Meanwhile CFL put his bike on his car rack today, drove to meet a friend, and rode 21 miles with him. Arggghhh! He’s ahead of me! The race is on.

I’ll try not to bore you with too-frequent status updates, but I will try to post periodic updates on how we’re doing with our activity goals.

One mutual goal that we’ve discussed at some length and agreed upon as a “must do” this year is the hike across Olympic National Park — 44 miles of steep trails and stream fords from the Quinault River to the Elwha River. With training we think it’s realistic to do this in three days. As I have never done an overnight backpack trip before, there will be quite a bit of training needed on my part.

Of course we also have this time-consuming but very enjoyable goal of brewing 25 batches of beer in 2013. I think it’s going to be a busy year. But I’m not going to stress out about it.

In fact, right now I think I’ll relax and have a homebrew. Cheers!