Walking. With Billy Summers.

67° F. Cove Island Park.  Morning walk. 459 consecutive days. Like in a row.

Sun, all on its own, decides there’s no damn point getting up this early, is rising later, 5:55 a.m. per Dark Sky app.  And yet I’m struggling to make adjustments. So here we are. 3:38 a.m. Sciatica screaming the moment I stir with Jung’s fear of the journey to Hades having arrived. What if this Sciatica thing is with me the rest of the go? 

I ease out bed, try to shake that ugly thought from my head, and head for the scale.

Disgusting result.

Admit it, you’re looking for a full status report on the Refined Sugar Elimination Project. Not goin’ to get it. Nope.

I turn to the morning papers. Headline catches my attention. “Escaping the Efficiency Trap—and Finding Some Peace of MindThe more productive we are, the more pressure we feel. It’s time to break the busyness cycle.” “...the problem with trying to make time for everything that feels important is that you definitely never will. The reason isn’t that you haven’t yet discovered the right time management tricks or applied sufficient effort, or that you need to start getting up earlier, or that you’re generally useless. It’s that the underlying assumption is unwarranted: There’s no reason to believe you’ll ever feel “on top of things,” or make time for everything that matters, simply by getting more done. That’s because if you succeed in fitting more in, you’ll find the goal posts start to shift: More things will begin to seem important, meaningful or obligatory. Acquire a reputation for doing your work at amazing speed, and you’ll be given more of it. … The general principle in operation here is what we might call the “efficiency trap.” Rendering yourself more efficient—either by implementing various productivity techniques or by driving yourself harder—won’t generally result in the feeling of having “enough time,” because, all else being equal, the demands will increase to offset any benefits. Far from getting things done, you’ll be creating new things to do. For most of us, most of the time, it isn’t feasible to avoid the efficiency trap altogether. But the choice you can make is to stop believing you’ll ever solve the challenge of busyness by cramming more in, because that just makes matters worse. And once you stop investing in the idea that you might one day achieve peace of mind that way, it becomes easier to find peace of mind in the present, in the midst of overwhelming demands, because you’re no longer making your peace of mind dependent on dealing with all the demands. Once you stop believing that it might somehow be possible to avoid hard choices about time, it gets easier to make better ones….And so, like the dutiful and efficient worker I was, I’d put my energy into clearing the decks, cranking through the smaller stuff to get it out of the way—only to discover that doing so took the whole day, that the decks filled up again overnight anyway and that the moment for responding to the New Delhi email never arrived. One can waste years this way, systematically postponing precisely the things one cares about the most. What’s needed instead in such situations, I gradually came to understand, is a kind of anti-skill: not the counterproductive strategy of trying to make yourself more efficient but rather a willingness to resist such urges—to learn to stay with the anxiety of feeling overwhelmed, of not being on top of everything, without automatically responding by trying to fit more in..”

Burkeman goes on, and on. My eyes scan the words, one line, the next and the next. Heaviness sets in… a sinkin’ feeling. He’s in my head. You DK. This is You. [Read more…]

Walking. On Day 1.

60° F. Cove Island Park.  Morning walk. 452 consecutive days. Like in a row.

But before we roll on to today, let’s talk about yesterday.

Yesterday was Day 1: Refined sugar elimination.

And you might ask, why? Why change now? It’s all been workin’ right? 4-5 hours sleep on average. Walking around groaning, in a fog, a sort of seeing — hearing Quasimodo.

Susan shares a story in “Eating Well” magazine. Sciatica inflammation ‘may’ be due to my diet. Refined sugars. Processed foods. White bread. Pastas. May be contributors.

Day before —  a sugar rampage. 2 Klondike bars. 4 packages of Welch’s Fruit snacks. 1 almond chocolate bar, downed in 2 sittings because even I need to pace myself. 2 diet Lemon Snapples. Peanut butter on white bread, layered with 1/2″ of sour cherry preserves. 2 giant bagels, with cream cheese, and orange marmalade. I’m going to stop here. But, it does go on.

And I can feel what you are thinking right now —  “Have you no shame DK?” And I would say, either this: “Dance with the one that brun you here” or I would fire back: “Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can’t help?” (C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces)

So, after another sleepless night, we’re going Cold Turkey. No baby steps here. ‘Definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results..‘ Quote source: Not Einstein as many believe but Narcotics Anonymous. N-a-r-c-o-t-i-c-s.

Breakfast: Wheat Toast. Buttered. Scrambled eggs. Handful of nuts. Handful of cherries. Two glasses of water.  Pancake mix in pantry. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Nuggets in cupboard. Giant chocolate chip cookies on the island in the Kitchen. Man walking, tiptoeing around landmines. 

I glare at Susan — “Eating Well? Is it any wonder I have all these fr*akin’ problems!?” I stop there, because after 35 years you know what’s coming: “you wanna do the grocery shopping?”

For Lunch: Ham & Cheese Omelette. Handful of almonds. Handful of raisins. Bowl of cut watermelon. One glass of water.  Klondike mini ice cream sandwiches in freezer. Peanut Butter and Mixed Berry Jelly in pantry. Frito Lay Barbecue potato chips in cupboard above the fridge. I smile. Restrain. I’m so much bigger than all this. I am. Really, I am.

[Read more…]

Walking. And Self Medicating.

4:20 a.m. 61° F.  Wind gusting. Dark Sky signals cloud cover @ 100%. Rain in an hour.

I walk.

Cove Island Park. 424 consecutive mornings. Like in a row.

Why so groggy? 

Mind scans the pre-bed time routine.

  • Shower.
  • + 2 Advil PMs. Essential for 6 hours of sleep.
  • + 2 Advil Dual Action Acetaminophens. ‘Now get up to 8 hours of powerful relief…lower back pain…’ It ain’t eight hours of relief. It’s like four. And I’m now on Amazon’s monthly, serial subscription ordering plan.
  • + 1 little blue pill. To keep the pipes running. TMI.
  • + Sugar, throughout the day up to bed time. In the form of handfuls of Hersey’s nuggets, bags of Welch’s Fruit Snacks (they are small bags), and the latest addition — Swiss Miss Premium Rich Chocolate Hot Cocoa. With a handful of mini marshmallows sprinkled on top.

There was a time. No flu shots. No aspirin. No cold medication. No allergy medicine. No Anything. A diesel engine that would just keep running. Middle age Plus = Wheels coming off this bus.

I walk. Limping. Left, lower back in a bad place.  Internal parts, bones, blood, arteries, nerve endings, all sloshing in a sugar bath.

Nope. I don’t want scolding, coaching or gentle persuasion from you Sugar-Free Vegan’s out there. No. Don’t want to hear it. This isn’t a Cocaine problem, or an Oxycontin problem (yet).

I walk. Back is loosening up. [Read more…]

Walking. Beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control.

4:26 a.m.

Dark Sky app: 48º F. Feels like 42º F, with wind gusts up to 27 mph. Cloud cover 95%. Light rain forecast in one hour… and, then, 100% cloud cover.

I slide on hoodie, with down jacket on top. Tuk over the ears. And out the door.

I ease into the front seat. Lower back, to hamstring, to thigh to left knee, sizzles. With both hands on the steering wheel, I close eyes, clench teeth, inhale, and wait for lightning to pass. I shift in seat, right, then left, then up straight, trying to locate the pain-free zone. Can’t shake it. I fire up the ignition, and drive.

With a sliver of time, a narrow window for light, I need to hustle. I slide out of the front seat, gingerly place right foot, and then left foot on the ground. I stand for a moment and wait for pain to subside. A few deep breaths, and sizzle settles to simmer, and its go-time.

390 consecutive days, like in a row. My morning walk at Cove Island Park. Backpack. Camera. And I’m off.

I walk. [Read more…]

Walking. 365 days. Like in a row.

Good morning.

I looked back at my blog post on May 5, 2020. Clear skies. 42° F … “Nippy for May” is how I described it.  Didn’t know at the time that I’d be on this sustained journey.  This 365 consecutive day morning walk to Cove Island Park at daybreak. 365 days, like in a row.

I was surprised to see that a year ago, I was monitoring the nesting of yet another Canada Goose. And this year, I’m at it again. Same one? Who knows?  On the drive to the park this morning (and every morning since gestation started), I’m unsettled, uneasy — until I pull up, and verify that everything is as it should be. Life is as it should be. In order. No cruelty. No tragedies. Tracking to nature’s time. Hesse: But I need to feel beautiful and holy things around me, always…I need it, and I refuse to give it up…That’s my fatal flaw.

Mother Goose was curled up in her nest. Her mate, was strolling up and down the pier a few yards away.  Beth described me as their Midwife, and that sounds about right.

And despite Daniel’s prognostication that Mother Goose may bless me with the birth of a little one on my Anniversary, it didn’t happen. Not today.  Not yet anyway. I can wait.

And Him (or Her, more likely) way way upstairs, didn’t bless me with a glorious sunrise to honor my Anniversary.  No multi color light show in the sky. No wow shots.  But to be fair, He’s given me far, far more days of majesty than days of overcast, by a wide margin.

The rain, this morning, a super fine mist — somewhere in size between dust motes and very light rain. And it continued for my entire walk. A cool, light, fresh touch.

No one ventured out in the rain this morning. In a city of 130,000, I was alone. My Park. My Time.

It was high tide and water was gushing into the Cove.

The flags flying high above the Cove Island Snack shop (badly in need of paint) rustled gently in the breeze.

Waterfowl were awakening, cormorants were fishing.

A light fog hangs over the water.

And a lightness hangs over me as I’m driving home thinking that it’s time for a morning Break. A sabbatical of sorts.  Sleep in for a day or two, and then consider my next steps.

And then what? Replace it with what?

With what that could possibly be better? 


DK @ Daybreak. 5:08 am, May 5, 2021. 50° F. Light misty rain. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

Walking. With Abby.

360 consecutive days.  Like in a row. Morning walk @ Daybreak.

Sun rises at 5:52 a.m, twilight is ~ 50 to 60 minutes earlier. You can do the math. Early.

I’m on I-95 N.  I shift in my seat and an electric current fires from lower back, through hip, down the leg and sizzles all the way down to the toes.

I’m back in Physical Therapy.  PT, is what the cool people call it. Diagnosis? Not pulled hamstring, but lower back (again). Two weeks in, better, but far from rehabbed.

I ease out of the car, and my conversation with my new Therapist flashes back.

“Where’s Abby?”

“Abby?” [Read more…]

Walking. You Would Never Break the Chain.

Morning Walk. 348 consecutive days. Like in a row. 

This morning, 6:00 a.m. Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, CT.

I’m at the end of the Pier.

I wait. Sunrise @ 6:11 a.m.

And wouldn’t you know it, my playlist flips to The Chain, by Fleetwood Mac.

…Listen to the wind blow / Watch the sun rise…

I reach for the iPhone and press repeat.  And turn the Volume up.

And, I stand, and wait.

Because they don’t disappoint. My Canada Geese.

They’re out in the distance.

I turn the volume down, their call, barely audible over Stevie Nicks.

They turn slightly left, heading my way.

I hoist the camera up.  Steady DK, Steady. Breathe.

Here they come.  Come on Team, keep coming. Stay your course.

They’re in my viewfinder.  Bearing down straight at me. Now DK. Now!

I put camera down to watch.

Entire flock honking, wings beating.

So much sky. So much land. And they pass directly overhead. Over MY head.  Goosebumps.

I turn volume back up.

…I can still hear you saying / You would never break the chain…


Notes:

Walking. With very faint, very human(s).

Michael Ondaatje: “Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.”

5:55 a.m. 340 consecutive days. Like in a row. Morning walk. This morning, Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk. Dark Sky: 48° F. 96% cloud cover.

I walk.

6:01 a.m. Up ahead. Tall, lanky, young and solo. Hat pulled down over his ears. Shoulders sagging, heavy step. Not looking at skyline, head bowed. I stretch my gait to trace his steps, shoes sink in wet sand at low tide, my step, shoe size, almost a match. Ember from his cigarette glows in twilight, he flicks it away, and tucks both hands deep into his pockets. Mary Oliver: “When one is alone and lonely, the body gladly lingers in the wind or the rain…anything that touches.

6:13 a.m. Runner, unmasked, aggressively approaching in my lane on sidewalk. Shouting something, lips moving, but inaudible through my AirPods. “Did you get the sunrise on Wednesday?” He’s like inside of 3 feet, well inside of my personal space. And, it’s Saturday, like 3 days later, it’s near 100% overcast this morning, and I’ve never seen him before in my life. Have I somehow lost a day, or two? And, what was that, that hit my chin, spittle from his mouth, rain droplet or gull deposit?

He continues. “It was amazing!” I nod, smile back. He keeps running. It was amazing.

6:15 a.m. Two on the beach, shoeless, covered in a blanket. Giggling. Waving wands, soap bubbles rising, drifting then disappear. They dip the wands and repeat, giggling.

6:18 a.m. A familiar fellow walker is taking a shot of something in the tree. I look up to see a squirrel gnawing at a red apple, cheeks full. I keep walking, turn back, and see him toss another apple to his bushy friend.

6:20 a.m. Walker. Tall galoshes. Masked. With Goggles. Alien. I try to make eye contact — what kind of human is armoured up like this? She avoids eye contact and continues down the pier.

I walk.

[Read more…]

Walking. In Sacred Time.

5:15 a.m. Woozy from sleep meds.

Trudge to bathroom. Empty tank. Strip down for morning weigh-in.  Pause. Step over to toilet. Spit. I silently thank Anneli (again) for her tip, every ounce counts. Weigh-in outcome? Flat to yesterday. Could be worse.

Forecast, 19° F. But hold on. With wind chill: 4° F, wind gusts up to 39 mph. Oooooooh.

Body yearns for the warmth of the comforter and the bed. Sean Patrick Mulroy: “Here is what I love about the brain: How it remembers. How it sews what soft it can into a blanket for the nights when I am cold...”

301 consecutive days. Like in a row. Cove Island Park morning walk @ daybreak. Gotta keep the streak alive.

I suit up.  In this order. Underwear. White cotton t-shirt. Wool socks. Another pair of wool socks over top. Gym shorts over underwear. Fleece lined sweatpants over gym shorts. Fleece lined snow pants over the fleece lined sweatpants. Turtleneck over t-shirt. Sweatshirt with hoodie over Turtleneck.  Goose down jacket.  Another goose down jacket over top of the first. Tuk pulled tight over the ears. (Pronounced Tuuuuuuuk.) Hoodie overtop of the tuk.  Hiking boots. Thinsulate gloves (to work the camera dials).  Done! Ready!  I pause to catch my breath, I’m overheating. Wow. I’m coming unglued here. This is Darien, CT for God sakes. Not the Vostok Research Station in Antarctica.

I step out the door. Come on. Hit me. Give me your best shot. [Read more…]

Walking. Like who’s watching who?

The nocturnals. Or the insomniacs. Or both.

There’s a handful of us that walk Cove Island Park in twilight, before daybreak.

There’s the lady with the Lime Green winter coat. Knee length. Fur lined hood, always up. Most noticeable, besides the strobe-like-pulsing, lime green coat, is that you can see her across the entire length of the park. Her arms stiff and straight, swing up and high, then sharply down, and repeat. I watch her. I find it all hypnotic. Like a giant tropical parrot, with her wings clipped, trying to get airborne. She read somewhere that if you ball your fingers into a fist and slash your arms way up and sharply down, you will lose many more calories then if you walked like a normal human. She passes me, never makes eye contact.  I wouldn’t make eye contact either walking like that.

I walk.

I note that I hold my arms tight to my sides, then wonder if others look at me. “Look at him. Poor thing. He must have something wrong with him. His arms don’t move.” So I move my arms just a wee bit to and fro but it’s awkward. It’s somewhere in between Lime Green and a Robot, creating a lot of resistance so I can’t build up any momentum. Jesus help me. 

I walk.

There’s the runner. Always shares a perky good morning. No matter what the conditions. Man, ~ est. early 40’s, tight spandex-like bottoms. Large, big bezeled iPhone (Early model) strapped to his right bicep. A runner, he circles the loop 3x, big grin on his face as he passes. Reminds me of a younger Roper (Norman Fell), the landlord on Three’s Company. I watch him as he passes. Happy SOB isn’t he? When’s that last time I ran? It’s been months. And there used to be a time when I cared. And look at me, I could care less. God, what a slug. [Read more…]

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