Gel-ly Donut

I hate exercise. I really do. But in the process of reassessing my health, I have been recently forced to address the issue of finding ways to add more exercise into my daily routine. Yippee.

When the weather is “warm” enough – usually 30 degrees or more – I try to join my husband when he walks the dog around the neighborhood. I enjoy playing Pokémon, so the allure of capturing a few of them while walking, is usually enough to keep me motivated. Barely.

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In the past, it has been easy enough to come up with excuses not to exercise, but I can’t do that anymore, not after this fight I’ve had with cancer. Blah, now I have to become more active, but how? I need to find a way out of the sinkhole of excuses. This health scare has certainly has changed my priorities, and getting out and experiencing life is now one of high importance.

Ironically, as I write this, I have just arrived home from a trip to a local custard joint. I behaved though, mmmmmm I only had one scoop! Oh, and at church this morning, jelly donuts, my weakness. Yeah, this exercise stuff, gonna need it.

Do you ever get a yearning for adventure? I always have this restlessness in my soul, and I try to seek out some crazy quest, like a real-life video game. I love travel, I love trying new things. I’ve had a few crazy adventures in the past, but how does one incorporate that into everyday life? I know that part of adventure is really just one’s attitude. My attitude can be so cynical at times, recent times even more so. A bad attitude, it’s easy to come by. A good attitude is too much work, like exercise of course. I need to work at improving both, and that isn’t easy, is it?

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For me, I’ve come to realize I love getting out in nature. Who knew there was so much to see and do, even within a 100-mile radius of home? I guess the whole point of this blog has been to experience life, nothing has to be exotic, just explore by being open-eyed to the world around me.

How many times have we gone through our day, just existing, without really noticing the people, the creation, and the world around us? That’s been me for a long time. I’m an introvert and sometimes I feel like I’m Garth from Wayne’s World. Pale, awkward, nerdy, and withdrawn. It’s time to get out and experience some adventure, and get some of that E-word stuff in – exercise. Here’s another E-word for you, eww.

Yesterday, we went to a park that is only 7 miles from home. It’s called Sauk Creek Nature Preserve – It’s so close, yet I had never been to it before, and we discovered it was beautiful, a new favorite. There were winding forest trails that looped around and along Sauk Creek. There are several small waterfalls and large, flat, grey limestone rocks dotted throughout the creek that enabled us to climb to the center of the creek and enjoy the crisp air and the view.

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Piles of snow still dappled the hillsides and last year’s leaf fall still crunched beneath our feet. The trails were muddy in spots and our dog’s feet left deep prints that reminded me of a wolf, claw marks prominent and bold. Despite it being a breezy day, in the woods it was calm and still. The only sounds were the soothing sounds of the flowing water, bubbling and swirling down the rocks, and we watched the occasional lazy leaf gracefully float down, caught by the current, dislodged from its winter refuge.

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How many times have you felt too lazy to do something, but after you did it you were glad? I felt great out there in the cold. It was around 30 degrees and my nose was running but my soul was soaring. I soaked in the smallest of details from observing a barren trailside shrub, to the tiny evergreen whose color stood out against the dull brown of the winter-slept forest. Could experiencing joy in life be as simple as that, an effort to stand out amongst the drab, and to let yourself shine?

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Now here we are today, and we decided to get out into nature once again. Yesterday, I had purchased a new bike (Thanks for the help choosing, Sam!) and we picked it up today, after they installed the accessories. (A kickstand is optional these days?) We were eager to get out biking, now that we finally had two bikes and we could go together.

The temps again were around the low 30’s and the winds felt snappy. Not ideal for bike riding, but with a hat, gloves and snowmobile jackets on, we were ready to go. Bad idea. We had planned out a short 5-mile route that was a bit hilly in spots. Piece of cake, I had done it many times before without issue. But I had never done it before while going through radiation therapy, and in winter shape vs. summer shape. My brilliance astounds me sometimes.

I fatigued easily, and I needed to stop a few times to rest. Embarrassing. My legs were weak and a few times I gasped for air. Still, the brisk temps felt good and we explored the newly reopened park a few miles from our house. What can I say, it was awesome, I hated it! Most of my ride I pondered these two words: Gel shorts. Oh man, do I want a tractor seat on my bike! I completed the ride quite tired, but satisfied with my effort to get moving. I am literally butt hurt right now.

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Spring is (almost) here and I’m looking forward to the beautiful, short-lived 50-degree weather we’re expecting later this week. I’m not sure how long I’ll be dealing with fatigue, but I’m going to put up a fight. I pushed through and won the battle today.

My goal is to explore something new each weekend this spring and summer, whether it be local or short weekend road trips. So, my question to those of you who reside in the Midwest, what are your favorite places to go when you want to get out in nature?