It's my habit at the end of the year to take stock in both my artistic and my exercise life. I'll have something to say about the artistic side of things before the end of the year.
In keeping with telling you about one of the great enthusiasms of my life—cycling—I can tell you my year-end total of outside miles because there is no way we are going to have a heat wave that will melt the ice and snow currently on the roads and so allow me to get out again this year!
2013 was a difficult year for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I started the year with bronchitis, recovered in time to help Dick's dad work his way through collapse, recovery, moving, physical therapy, an operation, more recovery, and more physical therapy, all the while trying to keep Dick's mom happy in her new living situation as well, and getting their house of 60 some years ready for sale and sold before the lilacs in their yard faded.
Welcome to eldercare, something millions of people in my generation are experiencing as I type. It is the most difficult thing I've ever done. It forces me to be present in ways I had never imagined. I thought I had the "living in the present moment" thing down. I'm humbled by what I've yet to learn. LIving with implacable diminution puts a whole new spin on present moment. I spend my days caught between frustration and gratitude. Frustration with "the system"; frustration with bureaucracy; frustration with the lack of time, with the simultaneous slowing and speeding up of time. Gratitude that I'm here to witness amazing moments of clarity as life fades; gratitude that I get to spend "alone moments" with people who have always "seen" me and supported me even though they are often no longer able to do either on a moment to moment basis; gratitude that I am present to witness the incredible strength with which Phyllis has met the constraints of long-term care; gratitude that I'm learning how to let go of arguing (my main mode of interaction with C.R. for decades) in time to see that grace is just on the other side of an open heart; gratitude for friends who have already lived this experience and who support me with their insights and information; and gratitude for Dick's presence in my life even though he has yet to benefit from my "letting go of arguing."
If I weren't so depleted I'd have several thoughts to share. Here's the most pressing advice I can offer you: DO NOT EVER STOP DOING YOUR OWN PHYSICAL THERAPY EXERCISES!
I REPEAT NEVER.
Since I stopped doing my physical therapy exercises (that protect my upper body from injury) during my bout with bronchitis I was vulnerable to injury when I started doing things like sitting for 12 hours a day in non-ergonomic hospital seats and schlepping wheelchairs in and out of my Subaru Forester.
A rainy spring cut down on time I could ride outside. I was just building up miles when I ended up injuring myself during a week when I spent 6 hours a day in drawing workshops standing at an easel, and then rushed to take the folks to various doctor visits each day. I ended up missing some perfect weather days, and I finished out the season riding mostly 14 to 16 mile days when I could ride.
Given those physical constraints I'm happy I was able to ride 2,371 miles outside in Minnesota this year (2013).
My best year cycling, since returning to cycling in 2008 was 2012. You can read about how I cycled through 2012 and found my way back to balance here. I rode 3,060 miles outside that year: an incredible year of warm temperatures and little ice! In that post I write about flipping an obsession and finding joy in your life, and reclaiming something you love.
And if all this seems like just so many numbers and "stats" and you want to know how I really, really feel about cycling, read "Bicycling, Addiction, Joy, and Peace on Earth."
I hope 2014 can be a year you reclaim something you love.