I am one of the least self-disciplined people you may ever meet. As much as I earnestly want to get a healthy amount of sleep every night, stop wasting huge chunks of my day on the internet, keep my house clean, and institute age-appropriate responsibilities for my children, I very seldom manage to do any of those things.
Every once in a while, though, a positive change bubbles up from somewhere so deep inside me that I didn't even know it was lurking there. It happened to me most recently not long before the school year ended.
I had just dropped Willem off to play at a friend's house and decided I would try to squeeze in a walk on our local trails before I picked him back up. My outfit was something of an embarrassment to me. I didn't really have shorts to wear (shorts are not my friend), and my one pair of sweatpants has no pockets for my keys, so I had to wear jeans.
That might not seem like a big deal, but I live in a land where even casual walkers swathe themselves in multiple layers of technical fabrics. One single athlete might be wearing leggings, cropped pants, and a long-sleeved fleece pullover over a moisture-wicking tee shirt, topped with a vest and a pack. Like as not some sort of hat or headband would be involved.
I, on the other hand, was wearing the cotton tee shirt of my work uniform (why get another shirt dirty?) and the aforementioned jeans. My tennis shoes, while comfortable, were an especial cause of psychic pain. They were purchased back when I used to do a step workout to a VHS tape, which tells you how outdated they are. They are solid white, leather, and seamed in parallel lines so they puff up all over like the Michelin Man. Because I had only worn them indoors, they were blindingly white. The overall effect was that of having slit open two brand-new volleyballs and and slid my feet inside.
Well, I went walking the trails in this outfit, and I accidentally went down a dead-end trail that struck me as familiar (because it was the one place I was supposed to avoid going) and I soon found myself questioning whether or not I was going to make it back on time to get Willem.
I scrambled back up the muddy hill I'd gone down at a brisker pace than I had moved in years. I looked around when I got to the main trail to make sure there were no witnesses to what was about to happen. Then I jogged. Just a bit. IN JEANS.
I felt strangely exhilarated. I could have called and said I would be a few minutes late at any time, but I was determined not to. I walked as fast as I could and, when I was alone and was up for it, I jogged. Hardly at all, but some. For the first time in years.
I picked Willem up exactly on time, though my face was an alarming patchwork of deep red blotches and lighter white spots, and I was sweatier than I'd anticipated. I decided that, after a hiatus of 10 years, it was time to take up jogging again.
I chose a different, flatter trail for my first day out, and only jogged a few sections of it. I happened to be jogging when a fit man passed by going the other direction nodded and smiled at me and said, "Good work!"
I recognized his tone of voice--it was the same one I praised my kids with when they started using the potty.
"Do I look that sad? That hopelessly out of shape?" I asked Shaun when I got home. I'm not a rock star in any arena of life, but I had never thought of myself in need of pity encouragement.
He gave me a kind look. "I think it's the shoes," he said.
* * *
I have new shoes now, and a new habit.
I've lost an old habit, though, and it doesn't have anything to do with jogging; I've lost the habit of keeping this blog. Five hundred posts is a good long life. I wish I knew how many words that was. A book's worth?
I haven't been writing much of anything in the past few years, and I want to change that. After eight years of blogging, I've learned that I don't want to be a blogger. I do want to be a writer with a blog.
So, while I won't be updating regularly, this is still my little home on the internet. I plan to do some housekeeping (add contact info, take away the blogroll graveyard in the sidebar, link to my work elsewhere) so people who find their way here will know that this is not a dead, abandoned place. I'm just turning off the lights and shutting the door behind me. For now.