Where did January go? I was getting that alarming feeling, and I suspect that I may not be the only one, that life was speeding up like a runaway train, and if I didn't jump into the cab and take a firm hand on the controls the next 12 months were going to whizz by in an ever-accelerating blur.
And that blur might not be taking me where I wanted to go.
Mixing my metaphors horrendously, I was reminded of the saying that "A sailor with no destination never has fair winds", meaning that if you don't know where you are going, how can you expect the universe, Lady Luck, fortune, God, the law of attraction - whatever you want to call it - to give you a helping hand?
So I spent much of yesterday working on defining my goals for the next 12 months. A fun way to do this is to cast your mind forwards into the future, and imagine yourself in 12 months time. 21st January 2009. What will my day be like? How will I feel when I wake up? How will my body look? What good news will my emails bring? What will my workout be? What friends will I spend time with? And so on. This really opens up the scope for some blue-sky thinking without the constraints of what might be feasible. Just daydream.
Then, figure out what needs to be done, day by day, in order to get to that ideal vision. By this point I was feeling inspired and enthusiastic about this dream day, and this fuelled my determination to make it happen. So I broke it down into its elements and put them in a spreadsheet, with columns for dependencies and deadlines i.e. is there something else that needs to happen first? and when am I going to achieve this by?
Of course, some elements of my daydream are outside of my control - I definitely need a helping hand with those - but by writing them down and putting out a powerful intention that I want these things to happen, i have just improved my chances that they will indeed come to pass.
If they really DO all happen, it's going to be a heck of a year. I'd better hang on tight to those train controls - it's going to be quite a ride!
[photo: blue sky thinking - a photo I took last month in the Badlands of South Dakota]
There is a quote that was brought to mind by my recent bout with frostnip (plus other residual bodily damage - bruised shins, toenails falling off after last September's hike of the West Highland Way, muscles sore and aching due to start of punishing new gym regime, etc etc).
The quote goes: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO what a ride!"
(I actually prefer the "martini in hand" version, but bearing in mind my younger readers I thought it best not to encourage consumption of alcoholic beverages, which obviously is something that I would never dream of doing...)
But back to the point of the quote: my poor long-suffering 40-year-old body certainly takes a pounding from time to time. I use it and abuse it and largely take it for granted that it will continue to serve me well, if given regular exercise and fed a nutritious diet.
Life is not about sitting on the sofa watching TV, because "it's dangerous out there". Life is for living, and living up large. A little collateral damage may be inevitable from time to time, but this is infinitely preferable to wrapping myself in cotton wool and quietly dying of boredom. I am proud of my bruises and battle scars, because they show I've put myself out there in the way of adventure - and if adventure occasionally leaves me feeling as if I've been run over by a truck, then so be it - provided I live to tell the tale.
I have been assured by various palm-readers, psychics and wise people that I am destined to lead a long life. I do hope that they are right. Whether my life is LONG may be largely out of my hands, but whether my life is HEALTHY is largely within my control - so that is what I am focusing on.
[Thanks for all the notes encouraging me to write a book of motel-room recipes. Alas, this is not high on my list of priorities right now - I have the Atlantic book to focus on, a speaking tour of New Zealand coming up, plus the Pacific row to prepare for - plus various other projects such as an educational section for this website and a documentary about my Pacific row. But I will keep the idea on a back burner for future reference - just as soon as I have a quiet moment, maybe in about 2015?!]
[Photo: for the dog-lovers out there, here is a shot of the Inuit husky dogs that we used on our dog-pulk trip. They have thick double-layered fur, and thicker footpads than domestic dogs, both of which help keep them warm. They drink little water, getting most of the hydration they need by eating snow. All in all, they are much better suited to the cold than I am! Click here for more information about the Wintergreen dogs.]
Road trips are huge fun, but it can be hard to stick to a training program. However, having spent most of yesterday listening to Jon Benson's M-Power series extolling the virtues of a healthy body, there was no way I was going to skip today's workout.
So I paid a bit extra to stay at the Comfort Inn last night, purely because it had a 'Fitness Room'. I got up early this morning to train before I hit the road, but I was TOO early - the fitness room was not due to open until 7am. But I wheedled and cajoled and the receptionist relented.
As we walked along the corridor he commented that it was nice to meet someone who looked after their body - that he used to work in a mortuary, which was full of people who had failed to do so.
This was further motivation, if any were needed, and I breezed through my cardio workout, riding high on a wave of inspiration and enthusiasm for a long and healthy life.
Now it's time for my super-healthy breakfast of oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit, soaked overnight to convert the nuts from acid to alkaline (healthier), plus flax meal, wheatgrass powder and, of course, beansprouts.
I could just about write the book on meals made with no cooking utensils other than a motel room coffee-maker...
Last week's Wintergreen winter camping trip was an absolute joy - and a timely education in the hazards of cold weather camping. A mild case of frostbite (known as frostnip) threatened to halt my polar ambitions in their tracks.
The weather was relatively mild for January - even at its coldest a mere twenty degrees Fahrenheit below freezing - but my fingers and toes fell victim to a combination of factors - poor circulation, taking off my mittens to take photographs with just my liner gloves for protection, ski boots that were just tight enough to stop me wriggling my toes to generate heat, and spending a lot of time face-down in the snow when my sled dog's strength and enthusiasm outstripped my skiing ability.
The upshot of all this was that, although I enjoyed a wonderful 4 nights of camping out under the stars and 5 days of spectacular snow-frosted scenery, I ended the trip with two blistered fingers, a few numb fingertips, and a couple of toes that the team had to tenderly nurse back to warmth and health (Chris, our wonderful Wintergreen guide, bravely cradling one foot between his hands, while Sari, an ER doctor from New York, warmed my other foot in her armpit). For someone who prides herself on her strength and independence, this was a humiliating experience.
But of greater concern than my wounded pride is the long-lasting effects of the tissue damage. My fingers and toes will now be more susceptible to future frostnip, and this is an issue that HAS to be addressed before I can venture back into the cold.
Yesterday, as I headed from Minnesota back towards the West Coast, I was listening to some inspirational podcasts by Jon Benson, from his M-Power series (highly recommended). There was a motto of his that really resonated with me: "I control nothing; I manage everything."
The double entendre is deliberate: manage can mean either you cope with something, or that you influence events to steer them in a particular direction.
So what I took from this is that although I cannot control the cold, I can still manage to deal with it. I can take measures to improve my circulation through nutrition and maybe even acupuncture, and I can get myself some better cold-weather gear to protect my fragile extremities. There will be opportunities to do some rigorous field testing in Minnesota and elsewhere, and I am hopeful that I can come up with a winning cold weather strategy.
I have overcome bigger obstacles than this in the past, and am determined to overcome this one - hopefully without loss of digits.
[photo above: Mark dog-pulking in the beautiful Boundary Waters wilderness. The dog goes in front, then the pulk (sled), then the skier]
[photo below: the wounded finger]
P.S. Thank you for all the lovely comments welcoming me back to the blogosphere. Nice to know I've been missed! And yes, the Pacific row is definitely on track for a departure this year. I will be on standby from mid-May, and Rick my weather guy wants me gone by the end of June. Precise timing will depend, of course, on the weather.