Back in the Blogging Habit

Nearly a week into September, and coming off a summer blogging break, I’ve had to get myself back in the mindset of writing daily again.

Producing a personal blog with daily content is a lot of work after all.

Not that I’m alone in this kind of effort.

A summer break, as much as it was an interruption in my daily routine, was also a good chance to spend some of my screen time consuming the work of others for a while rather than putting my head down and creating my own.

After all, almost eighteen months into this pandemic, all those other folks who eked out from a world-changing, soul-crushing medical lockdown an opportunity to pursue their passion project — like writing a blog, recording a podcast, or even producing a Youtube channel — many of those folks are now also (as much as) eighteen months into that passion project and seemingly in the mood to share some thoughts on their success.

Like, just this morning I watched a video by an online creator who spent fifteen minutes meandering through the story of her decision to start vlogging about her hobby in March 2020 and the many ways it has changed her life since.

It’s that same old story.

Or at least it’s the same old-but-new story.

In the wake of this terrible moment in history, someone with a curious hobby takes to the internet to fill the digital spaces with their words, photos, art, thoughts, ideas, and opinions.

Time passes.

Lives change.

Positive vibes spread.

My own story fits into that same narrative family, though my success is still something that is (a) much more modest than some of the people I follow back, and (b) largely accidental as I stick to my core philosophy of just writing what I like and not caring much if it ever becomes more than that.

A summer break cemented that resolve to keep building on that story and continuing to see where it takes me.

Letting time pass.

Maybe changing a few lives.

Spreading positive vibes all over the world.

But I do need to work myself back into that daily blogging habit again. And it’s a lot more work than you might think.

Bread, Un-Servable

We had a small get-together in our backyard over the weekend.

Because as the number of new infections drops and more people get vaccinated locally, the restrictions have been eased and we figured a few people over for drinks and food was now not only possible, it was lawful.

Of course, I baked a loaf of sourdough as part of my contribution to the potluck.

I mixed up a nice blend of that local rye flour and some white, rested it in the fridge for an extra-long, extra-souring first proof, overnighted it on the counter so I could bake it the morning of the party as to ensure maximum freshness and…

How am I going to serve this thing? I thought.

My guests and I had been particularly careful in organizing everything to make sure all the local health guidelines were, if not followed to the letter, nodded to in respect.

We had carefully sanitized and bundled out bunches of wrapped utensils.

There were single-serve plastic gloves so everyone could dish up.

The main dishes were brought by the guests and picked to be you-touch-it-you-eat-it type foods like fried chicken, pizza, and samosas.

The beverages were all canned, and single serving.

And even the birthday cake (it was a birthday party) was individual cupcakes where we sat in a big circle and sang to the birthday gal and she blew out the single candle on her chosen treat.

But then I had this loaf of sourdough I had proudly baked. I suddenly didn’t feel comfortable serving it. I’ve been baking loaves of my sourdough for so long, and yet just for us to eat, that I didn’t even consider the high-touch, social nature of this bread.

Usually at a party I set out a loaf of bread on a cutting board with a bread knife. Guests can cut their own slice… but that created a situation where lots of people were interacting with the whole loaf and the knife.

Occasionally, I cube the bread into generous chunks for dipping either in something like a spinach dip or oil and vinegar, but a dip seemed like the kind of communal eating situation we were deliberating steering clear of.

Sometimes I’ll slice it just before I serve it, which would have probably been the best option, but even then I’m the one who is touching every slice and exposing the bread to the air and our house and…

I was being overly cautious, I know, but we’re right now in this moment of time when people are just starting to trust shared spaces again. The metaphor is something like slowly slipping into a icy mountain lake a little bit at a time, or clearing out the clutter of a big mess one piece-by-piece. The road back to normal is slow and careful. And that’s where I am: not quite ready to serve a loaf of bread because I didn’t think anyone would feel safe about eating it.

So I didn’t feel right about serving it. Friendships are built on trust and respect, and when people come to your space put their trust in you to serve them food, to me respect is putting aside your ego – even the pride of a perfectly delicious loaf of freshly baked bread – and sticking with the agreed upon party plan.

On the up side, I do have a lot of leftover bread.

Double Tap, Catching Up

Sunday Runday and today I didn’t.

I woke up nursing my second dose vaccine hangover, and feeling as tho I had just run a half marathon. The crew was due to run at least that much, so it didn’t take much convincing to ping everyone and let them know I was going to bail out.

Of course, the problem with skipping a long run as your running partners keep the training schedule, is that there’s really no such thing as catching up. You either run or you don’t. You either train or you don’t. Outside of the racing, the only measuring stick is the one you hold up to yourself.

In other words, I fell a little behind today, but got a bit ahead of that pesky virus.

Hopefully I feel a little bit more like myself tomorrow.

How to Plan a Local Adventure

So you’re stuck at home during travel restrictions but still need something exciting to do close to home. I don’t know where you live, but adventure lurks nearby if you know how to plan for it.

Choose Your Activity

I needed a good excuse to keep running…

…but, last year as the pandemic restrictions ramped up, the running store (where we’d been meeting and running from) shut it’s doors. It was geographically convenient and had ample parking. Plus everyone knew to meet there on certain days and times so that we could run together.

The simple approach might have been to just keep running as we were, meeting from a parking lot, and for many runs over the past year we did. Yet, I wanted something more, and I suspected a lot of the crew might start to get bored and go off on their own plans if nothing more exciting happened.

Invent a Concept

Instead of panicking or just running solo, I decided it might be interesting to find somewhere new and interesting to run as we no longer had any good reason to keep running from a closed-up retail store. I also decided I’d like to see more of the city trails that I had never bothered to check out because they were not particularly reachable on a short run distance from that store.

I called it adventure runs.

Plan a Goal

A running adventure sounds like a self-evident concept, but in fact it encompasses so much potential… and potential for disappointment.

I was working full time (I still am) and didn’t have time nor motivation to sit down and plot out full miniature courses each week through locations I’d never spent much time traversing.

Instead I set the goal as something simple: if we ran somewhere new, down a new path, in a new neighbourhood, and saw something or somewhere we’d never seen (or hadn’t seen in a long time) then the adventure run was a success.

Pick a Starting Point

The second part of that concept was picking a good starting point.

It had to have access to trails. There needed to be enough parking (since we could not carpool during the restrictions and transit was still not running at full capacity.) Later in the summer a nearby ice cream shop or coffee stop was requested for afterwards. And of course, it had to be somewhere that felt remote-ish or like we were about to embark on some crazy adventure.

Invite Willing Participants

The gimmick then became about the mystery and the invite.

We have a group chat that has been around for years with a tight knit group of runners who have often been up for exactly this kind of adventure.

I would keep the suspense up. Eventually, as the summer progressed, folks would ask in the lead up week “where is the adventure run this week?” or “what are you planning for Wednesday night?”

The rule quickly followed: “The plan would be announced the morning of the adventure run. Keep your calendar open and check your messages.”

Show Up

On our best days we had as many as a dozen or more people show up.

I always did.

Rain or shine.

If I felt like leading a run or not, I was there.

And this morning, the first good spring Wednesday post-restrictions, I just sent out that notice once again.

Season two of the adventure runs, by enthusiastic request, start tonight.