Everything is green, multiple shades of green, so many greens they each should have their own name. The colors from the tulips, daffodils, and cherry blossoms are giving way to let us know that spring is coming. Finally. Wrapping up April in the Pacific Northwest is a thankful time, and from my conversations we PNWers are especially thankful to have survived the winter of 2017.
Since I jumped on board with the trail running shoe company way back in 2001 and started down this path of runner driven lifestyle my feet and luggage have bopped around the world at sometimes an alarming pace. I have not endured an entire season in over 10 years, probably closer to 15. Typically at some point every couple of weeks, as my Instagram account details, I hop on board to some excursion usually taking me to an opposite climate. In the last few years more and more I ask myself, how does this human body keep up with the mad scheduling skills I seem to possess?
To give myself a break from the planes and trains for 2017 I challenged myself to use that same scheduling energy to explore my backyard, engage in my community, have time with my family and start to build my own. This year I made the closest thing to a New Year’s Resolution that I have in many years, to stay local. Local is 360 miles from Bellingham. Exceptions allowed with contract work and family outings. When I set this New Year’s Resolution I looked forward to and daydreamed about the amazing experiences and lessons that would come out of this time closer to home. Envisioning grand adventures, loading up my car and sharing our amazing terrain with whoever will join me and my pup. And now, a couple of months in I re-remembered that with anything and everything, as ultrarunning & life always teach us, to every mountain top there is a low valley, to light there is dark.
And what a dark winter it was. What a winter to choose to stay local! Finding Daily Magic, became a craving to find bits of brightness. Runs remained a highlight and were an extra special muddy mess with my new little pup. Her “get outside no matter what was coming out of the sky” attitude inspired me daily and often was the daily magic. Motivating for our muddy clean up after was a similar effort to getting out the door. Always thankful I did it afterwards.
So what did this first season of the local year teach me? Check in to my surroundings daily and see what I see and feel what I feel. Settle in to the time and space that I’m not moving from one thing to the next (still a challenge). Explore the same places over and over and witness how they change with the seasons, how they appear at different times of day, and observe their beauty amidst the varying weather. I also learned I don’t have to be exactly black to the white, that is, while it is good to make changes, they don’t have to be the drastic, exact opposites. In this case, it’s okay to get away, and living in Washington it feels to be a mandatory-healthy-positive-vibes necessity to feel a bit more human during those dark months of the year. A little escape to some full sun and vitamin D will go a long way. And next year you will see some Instagram photos from a full sun getaway with extra appreciation for why I am there.
Writing, in addition to running, is a way of personal processing. Running allows me to breath through, gain perspective and usually let go. I find with writing I establish what otherwise mingles around in my head. Writing has a way of committing the thoughts, making them visible and sharable. Publishing them takes that to another level. The Trail Sister forum, much like a long trail run, is a safe place to share ideas, start conversations and spur inspiration through all of the interactions – the writing, the reading, the commenting and even eventual trail time shared to speak them. It’s been a while since I shared here and this personal telling of my local year has two intentions. The first personal; to get them out of my head. Second, to share this idea of exploring our backyards and becoming more familiar with space and self through the experiences while being open to both dark and light.
I look forward to Spring! We are experiencing longer days and the changing season brings up all sorts of motivating training dreams/adventures as well as shows me personal introspections of where I am, where I hope to go and what needs to shift. More Local Year reflections to come in June or July, whenever the PNW gives way to summer.
In the meantime, what did your winter teach you? Do you know your backyard? How do you deal with the darker months?