fall · fitness · season transitions · Seasonal sadness

Getting some light in my life

Usually at this point in the year I start complaining about seasonal dark, associated mood disorders, and the practical challenge of bike commuting and needing headlights, reflective gear etc.

See Struggling with September Sadness and The night is (soon to be) dark and full of terrors.

Occasionally over the years I’ve managed some good feelings about the dark and about September which brings more of it into my life. See I like it in the dark: Winter and the joys of night time riding and running and Sam is Telling New Stories. But mostly they’re bad news blog posts.

This year I’m working from home. The challenges are different. I can see that it might be dangerous to work all day and only think about leaving the house in the dark.

I’m going to try to make sure I leave the house during the day to get outside in the daylight even if I don’t have anywhere particular to go. Cheddar doesn’t care about goals. He’s just happy to walk. Or run!

Cheddar running across the grass

As a back up plan, I’m also bringing my anti-SAD lamp home from work. It’s not needed there now I am only in my office on Wednesdays. I’m also reading about how people who cope with much more dark than we do get by and even seem to enjoy it.

Northern Light Technologies Luxor Desk Lamp | UPC: 870681000084

As we enter the double whammy of fall dark and the second wave of COVID-19 and associated shut-downs, what are you doing to keep some light in your life?

fitness · season transitions

Sam is Telling New Stories

It’s back to school and fall is approaching. I know it’s weeks off yet but university classes are back on and the leaves are turning. I looked back on past posts recently and blogged about the themes: dark, sadness, and fall riding.

I worry that stories take on a life of their own. We create ourselves through narratives and while we can’t just make stuff up, we do have some choice about the stories we tell. I’m looking for happier autumn stories.

The good news in my life is how much I’m enjoying my big new job. Deans at Guelph get to meet lots of students and so the first week of term has meant attending a lunch for all of our big scholarship winners and giving a demo first year lecture to 200 students on philosophy and death.

On Labour Day Monday Sarah and I helped to host a college wide lunch for first year students, and then most recently I was seen and photographed (thanks Sandy!) serving free ice cream to all students, new and returning, with other members of the senior admin team.

What’s not to like about free ice cream?

Chocolate, vanilla, and vegan rainbow sorbet.

I know this isn’t about fitness per se. But it is about new stories. The fall seems more celebratory with my Dean’s hat on. I also get to wear my academic regalia in September at a ceremony to formally welcome the first year class. The President admits them to the university and then there are welcoming remarks by the mayor of the city and the Provost. It’s really nice.

This weekend my mother and I are also celebrating 50 years in Canada. We’re having a party on Sunday called From Grand Falls to Guelph. It’s almost exactly fifty years since we emigrated from England. I was four.

Here’s my mother, my grandmother, me, and my little sister encountering lobster.

So I’m focusing on the new, trying to stay positive, and looking forward. How about you?

If you’re also subject to seasonal sadness, the Guardian has this great list of 18 things to try to combat fall blues. Some are obvious such as trying a new activity (swimming!) and spending more time outside. I also like the idea of day trips and the suggestion of allowing for more unscheduled time. Summer was busy!

This CBC piece on September sadness recommends thinking of fall as a new start but as a lifelong academic I do that anyway!

cycling · fitness · season transitions

Argh dark, but also wow fall rides: Themes from Sam’s past autumn posts

When you’ve been blogging for six years you notice trends. It’s September and I’m nervous about losing the evening light. I’m sad about losing some of my favorite activities. And worried about the effect of fall dark on my mood. I’m also happy about riding in the fall, cooler temperatures, no big goals, and beautiful colours.

Those are feelings now and they are also frequently the topic of fall blog posts through the years.

So the themes from my fall blog posts are:

1. September sadness:

See Struggling with September Sadness and The night is (soon to be) dark and full of terrors

You can get a sense of the flavour of fall sadness by reading this piece The Summer That Never Was. It beautifully connects end of summer melancholy with thoughts of mortality.

I suspect that the way I feel now, at summer’s end, is about how I’ll feel at the end of my life, assuming I have time and mind enough to reflect: bewildered by how unexpectedly everything turned out, regretful about all the things I didn’t get around to, clutching the handful of friends and funny stories I’ve amassed, and wondering where it all went. And I’ll probably still be evading the same truth I’m evading now: that the life I ended up with, much as I complain about it, was pretty much the one I chose. And my dissatisfactions with it are really with my own character, with my hesitation and timidity.

2. Autumn and evening dark: The pictures at the top are from the last weeknight of Snipe racing. We barely got two races in before we lost our wind and our light. It’s too dark now in the evening to make it worthwhile to start racing at 6:30. There are some weekend afternoon races but the regular Tuesday night club races are done for the season.

Last week I got caught out on my bike without headlights. I forgot how early it was getting dark now. I won’t do that again.

Partly for me it’s also about driving. Because of my eye condition, I can’t drive at night. When night comes before work ends, my life can feel pretty limited. It’s a good thing I ride my bike well into the winter. I’m also walking distance from work, downtown, and the mall.

You can read about Fuchs Dystrophy, a condition that makes driving at night tricky here, The four eyed athlete. It’s also the subject of a profile over at The Disabled Philosophers blog.

So what’s my plan?

I’ve got my bike ready to go with lights.

Sarah and I have planned a September canoe trip.

I’m going to sign up for swimming lessons.

I’m thinking about this CBC piece on end of summer sadness and the positive effect of thinking of September as a new start.

I’m going remind myself how much I love to ride in the fall by actually doing it. Because amid all the fall sadness there’s also quite a few expressions on the blog of how much I love to ride my bike.

How about you? What feelings and thoughts so you associate with fall?

addiction · cycling

Winter streaming: What are you watching and why?

People reveal their winter streaming habits got me thinking. What do you watch and why?

Me, I’m spending time on the trainer spinning. It’s all with very little resistance, more knee physio than actual exercise.

I’m hoping to be well enough to be playing outside in the snow by the time winter hits for real but for now I’m stuck indoors.

I’m also out of my fave things to watch. There’s no more Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman, Game of Thrones, or Arrested Development. No more Sens8. So sad.

Also, no more Firefly but that’s a sad story for another time.

On my “to watch” list I’ve got Dark, GLOW, season 2 of Stranger Things. What else do you recommend?

Photo by Petar Petkovski on Unsplash, image description: a road surrounded by snow trees with a bike laying down on the center line
Photo by Petar Petkovski on Unsplash. [Image description: a quiet road surrounded by snowy trees with a bike laying down on the center line.]
 

 

 

running

I like it in the dark: Winter and the joys of night time riding and running

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Photo from Get Out There magazine

Caitlin from the wonderful blog Fit and Feminist posted on Facebook recently about enjoying running in the dark.

I’m also a fan of running in the dark but only the early morning, not night. I’m pretty wired to early morning exercise though I did a fair bit of night time running the year I took a 10 km clinic over the winter.

When I first started running on my own I confess I liked the dark because no one could see me! I didn’t look like a runner and I felt stealthy about it all. In the dark it didn’t matter that I was a much larger than average runner, that I wasn’t going that fast, and that I didn’t have all the right clothes and gear. It gave me the protective nudge I needed to get started though now I’ve left that cocoon behind.

In general I don’t like the reduced daylight hours that come with living nearer the poles than the equator. I thrive on sun and I’m a creature of the day. That sounds much less sexy and exciting than being  a creature of the night, but there it is. I tried going goth in the 80s but it never quite took. I liked punk but I liked bright colours too, usually in my hair. I was a “cotton candy punk” as one friend teasingly called me.

However, there is something very special about the dark. It’s powerful. And there is something that feels mysterious and secretive about it. The dark hours of the morning feel like stolen time, extra hours of dark before the day really begins.

And soon enough, it will all turn round. The worst of the lost daylight happens just about the time real winter begins. Soon, in just a few weeks, the days will be getting longer and the sun will getting stronger again, as they say. December 21st marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. If what you fear most about winter is cold and snow, the worst is still ahead. But if it’s light you crave, we’re almost at the low point, that halfway mark on a race to the sun.

I like riding at night too and I have super dooper headlights. They don’t just made me visible. They’re bright enough so that I can use bike paths in the dark. You feel so much faster at night, the world just whooshes by.

There are safety concerns about running in the dark and I wear lots of reflective gear so that I’m visible. I’ve been thinking of getting the dogs flashing collars to add to the disco party effect. I was going to include ‘running in the dark’ safety links but most of them are about personal security. If that’s an issue where you live, have a look. One of my best safety running stories concerns Sweden. I asked the young man at my hotel in Gothenberg if it was safe to go out for a run. I’d been traveling for awhile and staying in large American cities where people worry about that sort of thing. He looked at me quizzically and then said, “Oh, no there are no wild animals in the city.” Different cultures, different concerns.

These days I like running in the dark because I feel like a speedy ninja! And I’m a fan of all things ninja.

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