Happy new year!

For a few months now, alongside my job, I’ve been taking some botany and natural resources classes at Oregon State University (through their E-campus system, that is, which is fully remote and asynchronous, which is how it plays nicely with full-time work). What that means, blogging-wise, is that you can tell when class is in session vs. when I’m between terms by when I actually write anything here;)

Except right now, when I am taking a study break to think back to 2020. I will not rehash the “thank god it’s over” thing; it’s not like the change of a month means that all of a sudden everything is bright and cheery again, as we’ve already seen (though I do hope this year will be better).

Instead, I’m feeling thankful for some personal 2020 successes that have largely kept me sane and will hopefully continue to do so into 2021.

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(one helpful thing for sanity this year was still — at least a little — being able to get out in the field for work, like this scouting trip in the William O Douglas Wilderness)

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I had three measurable goals in 2020:

  • volunteer at Mt Tabor at least once a month
  • run at least 200 minutes/week (which I think I started thinking about sometime in late February, a few weeks into “training” with my friend for our March marathon that didn’t happen)
  • bike at least 100 miles/wk (though I didn’t start that until September)

I guess these might be the kind of things that one might call resolutions, except that other than the one about Mt Tabor I didn’t come up with any of them for new years. Like most things in my life, once I decide I want to do something, I set about doing so, and that doesn’t necessarily coincide with January 1.

Anyway, I did all three of them! I volunteered at Mt Tabor 17 times and ran an average of 208 minutes per week despite several weeks where I hardly ran at all because of smoke, say, or being on a backpacking trip. (This was a grand total of almost 10,800 minutes of running for the year, which I think is the most I’ve ever run). And I’ve also biked at least 100 miles every week, though two weeks now I’ve just squeaked in at 100 and 101 miles, heh.

None of this is particularly rigorous record keeping; as you know I have no odometer on my bike and all my running record-keeping is done via stopwatch and paper calendar (so I’m sure I forgot some). But it’s close enough.

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(this was maybe my favorite run of the year, around the Mt Margaret backcountry)

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Running that much was probably THE biggest contributing factor to feeling relatively sane in a very un-sane year. I may not be able to control the world, but running through the urban forest — or, better yet, the actual backcountry, which I got to do a few times — and keeping tabs on the birds and the sunrises brings me peace and happiness in a way that very few things do.

It’s also much easier to take looooong runs when I’m not commuting to work/needing to be there by a certain time. In a typical, pre-COVID commuting workday, for example, I would leave our house at 6:45ish to get to Vancouver by 8. But if “going to work” just equals “pulling out my work computer,” I can get up at 5:30, run for two hours if I want to (and it’s definitely my preference to run fewer times per week, for longer), and still have time to take a shower and make breakfast before I start work at 8. This is something I will actually miss if I start going to an office again.

Anyway. All that to say, there were some very consistent bright spots to last year, and I feel incredibly thankful to have landed on those purveyors of mental health. And the actual number goal — especially when it came to biking in super dreary weather when I don’t actually have to go anywhere — has really helped to make sure I do it.

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(let’s not forget this!)

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Reading back over this now, I feel like I haven’t done appropriate justice to volunteering at Mt Tabor — and the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, for that matter — both of which were humongously helpful both in giving me a sense of contributing to my community and in making life feel a little more normal, since they’re things I would have done before COVID too. (In fact, COVID allowed me to volunteer at the farmer’s market more, mostly because I didn’t work as many Saturdays as I would in a “normal” year.) That sense of still being part of something and helping out was also a huge and wonderful thing to hold onto.

This year, who knows! I injured my foot last week — amazingly, my first actual running injury in over a year and a half, for which I am big-picture thankful even though I’m annoyed currently — so I’m taking this week 100% off running and even gratuitous walking (which is soooo hard, and hopefully it’s only this week), but I’m hopeful for more volunteering, more biking, more running, more learning, and, I really hope, more hugging friends again.

Happy new year, all!

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