What’s Old is New Again

I am once again gainfully employed as of the first of the year. I also find myself once again working from home.

Afternoon tea at my desk

I’m not going to get into my employment at this time, except to say that I am no longer self-employed and that my brain is now getting the kind of work-out that my body has gotten for the past six years. My first day of training, a mere six hours, and my brain pretty much short-circuited from all the new input and knowledge. I arrived back at my temporary pad pretty much unable to put together anything coherent – all good because I only had to interact with my dogs. However, I found myself struggling with what I was supposed to do with them. Luckily, Youke reminded me they needed to be fed ASAP.

So, while my brain is getting some pretty intense exercise, my body no longer is.

The path to slothdom started in November with the whole moving to a new house craziness. While I was not walking miles and miles, I was stressing a lot. When I stress, I do not eat and my metabolism, even at my advanced age, goes into overdrive.

Then December happened. I love my new house, I love it so much I decided not to leave it. My body also rebelled and told me emphatically that it needed to sleep and eat, eat and sleep. On repeat. For a few weeks. My dogs were somewhat disgusted, but because they are amazingly good dogs – even though they are “high-strung” border collies – they resigned themselves to their new fate with a beloved Human that was slowly but surely turning into a sloth. Plus, they were super hopeful all the cooking and eating would translate into some tasty food for them. They were disappointed.

All four dogs, but especially Camm and Brady, were looking quite plump, and it wasn’t because of the furry coats. Thus, all four dogs went on rations as they were no longer getting the exercise they were used to getting.

Fluff is a good insulator though

Someone should’ve put me on rations too.

Around the second to last week of the year, my body decided it was well-rested and well-fed and ready to resume some hiking and walking. This was prompted when I realized I was not going to get to my 3,000-mile goal for 2021. That goal fell flat when my dog-walking business closed in November and I was embroiled in a move. Still, thanks to that last push in December, I did make it to 2,279 miles for 2021, almost 1,000 of which was exclusively with my own dogs. So, I guess not too shabby.

When I put those final statistics together at the end of the year, I was once again eating, and sleeping on repeat because of the perfect Western Washington storm of cold and precipitation, which equaled a shitload of snow. Now, I’m from Northern New England so I know what an actual shitload of snow is. This was not an actual shitload of snow by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly not for Northern New England. It was more like a run-of-the-mill ordinary weekday blow in and blow out sort of event for much of the United States that is not located south of the Mason-Dixon line or on the Left Coast.

The view that greeted me after the forecasters said we’d only get a little bit of snow.

Because this particular precipitation occurred in Western Washington, where wet meets cold but retains much of its wetness and thus becomes ice, where many people have no clue how to drive in normal unfrozen precipitation, where some people with gigantic pickups and SUVs equipped with four-wheel drive do not understand that 4WD does absolutely nothing when a roadway is iced up, where hills abound, and where entire cities, municipalities and counties do not have the infrastructure to clear and maintains roads. There’s a reason why even old cars here have very little to no rust whereas in New England your five-year old vehicle is on its way to being a beater and your 10-year old vehicle is barely held together with bondo.

No rust on these old vehicles, just a lot of snow.

This is all to say I didn’t leave my house for about a week. Then I started my new job. I was feeling a little fluffy and wishing I had someone who would ration my meals too.

But what really put me over the edge was when I was actually doing the working from home. To say that this transition back to sitting in front of a computer at a desk all day has been a little bit difficult is an understatement. Now, I am incredibly grateful to be working, incredibly grateful for my connection to my new employment, and incredibly grateful to be immersed in something that has some meaning to me, as well as being grateful that my brain is so engaged. Still, I realized last week that I probably cannot go back entirely to my lifestyle prior to six years ago and the start up of my dog-walking business.

Yes, I was fairly active. I did hike. I did stuff with my dogs. But a lot of my dog stuff involved training classes and I hiked on weekends mainly. I haven’t gone to a gym in over 10 years, and even when I did, I was sore and stiff after a challenging hike and needed days of recovery time.

Walking changed all of that. Over time, dog-walking professionally, as well as hiking a lot with my own dogs as I was able to do that more, changed me. My fitness level got near to the point it was in my early 30s, which was peak for me personally, although my legs actually became the strongest they’ve ever been. Knee pain disappeared, my asthma became so well controlled I ditched my meds, and best of all, I could – even in my 50s, eat whatever the hell I wanted, and in vast quantities, again. By the start of 2020, I was averaging close to 15 miles per day. Most of the time I felt fantastic.

Of course, things changed with the pandemic, but I merely switched the miles to hikes with my own dogs.

I’ve realized I cannot just sit at my desk all day. So, I’m going to start incorporating planned stretch breaks, as well as some short brisk play sessions with the dogs in the yard. As soon as we have light past 5pm, I’ll be doing short walks down to the state park that’s a little less than a mile from my house with a couple of the dogs. Once we have light past 6pm, I’ll start doing longer walks or short hikes. And you know that when we get late spring and summer nights I’ll resume my late day hikes until dark hits, or beyond.

I set a goal at the start of the year, with new employment in mind, of 50 miles per month with my dogs. This seemed like a somewhat achievable goal, but likely one that might have some challenges. A huge fall from the number of miles I’ve been doing for several years, but it seemed like something reasonable to accomplish with a full-time job.

We’ve got a goal to meet.

Yeah, so while I’ve tried very hard over the past 15 years to be much more zen and laid back, there’s a reason why I love border collies and their intensity.

I did 22 miles with my dogs (in various combinations) between Friday and Sunday, my three days of the week off. My total for January, so far, is 48 miles. I think I might have to adjust my goal.

I know 22 miles over three days might seem like a lot and it might seem like I’m an overachiever. Okay, I kind of am, but only a few months ago that would have been two days of walking on an ordinary work day so cut me a bit of slack. Or don’t because I actually feel a bit stiff this evening and I’m not ready to make excuses.

I have a whole lot of exploring to do in my new locale. I’m looking forward to a new balance of learning new things and kicking ass at work and exploring new places with the dogs and kicking ass on miles. And still eating a lot of cookies.

Youke, close to 14 years old and still kicking butt, but not eating as many cookies as he’d like to be eating.

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