Monday, November 19, 2018

Walk On!

I admit it. I'm competitive. If there's a way to get points, I want to get as many as possible. When I was a runner, I was always trying to get a PR. 

In January when my physical therapist told me to stop running because of back pain, I was bummed. "Walk instead" was the recommendation.

Really? Walk? But that's so...  slow! But, like the Type A person I am, I immediately bought myself a Blaze Fitbit and became obsessive with my steps. I get in at least 10,000 steps a day even if it means I'm doing laps around my couch at the end of the day.

It turns out, this walking habit has a lot going for it!

  • My back is feeling better than it has in years! And there are a bunch of other health benefits that you get from walking.
  • I really have fun discovering new places to walk or hike. 
  • Hiking can be as much of an aerobic workout as running. There were some pretty steep climbs on the hike at Lost Maples that I went on last weekend.
  • Hiking / Walking Meetups are a great way to make new friends! 
  • It's a lot easier to find people to walk with than it is to find people to run with.
  • I can get a lot of steps in at work without having to change into gym clothes.
  • I can listen to podcasts or audiobooks for much longer than I was able to when running.
  • I can talk on the phone while I walk.
  • I don't mind when the car is parked far from where I need to go and usually prefer to take the longer route so I can get more steps. (I have gotten lost a lot at the huge USAA site which has really helped my step count!)
  • Bolder Boulder was much more fun walking (and playing and dancing!) than it ever was running.
  • I can always stop to take pictures or just enjoy the beauty of a scenic spot instead of running past it.
  • It's free and easy to get CharityMiles just from walking.
  • My FitBit helps me keep track of all the miles I'm walking and keeps me motivated by having those competitive gaming features.
Yup, I'm feeling really grateful that I'm able to walk and hike without getting the backaches I used to get daily.

But I'm very well aware that that may not always be the case.

There was a man on our Lost Maples hike who was having a lot of trouble keeping up with the group. I was very impressed with one of my new friends, Jackie. She stayed with him the whole time and supported him, literally, so he wouldn't fall. While the rest of us were busy getting in our workouts, Jackie was patiently caring for someone who needed help.

If there were a way to earn 'good karma points' Jackie would have won them that day.  It was a good reminder that maybe it's more important to slow down enough to help someone else than to worry about how many steps I'm getting.

Now all I need is an app that gives me 'good karma points' and I'll be all over that!

UPDATE: Look at these kindness apps I just found! Let's go win some good karma points!

Friday, November 09, 2018

The Snowbird Experiments - "Dating" San Antonio

Now that I'm nearing retirement, I'd like to find a warm-weather "snowbird spot" during the winter months.  But where? Southern California? Arizona? Florida? Mexico? Costa Rica? I've been trying to decide if I should try a different place every year or maybe try a new place every month until I find the 'right' spot. I'm using the, 'I'll know it when I see it' philosophy. 

Of course, so far, that philosophy hasn't worked out so well in finding a mate, but at least when it comes to picking out a new place to live, there are no worries of rejection. Places are so easy that way. I don't have to be concerned whether or not they love me as much as I love them. I also have no worries about my home in Colorado wanting me to be exclusive. We have a very open relationship.

So what am I looking for in a snowbird place?  My snowbird dating profile would look something like this:

Looking for a beautiful place that offers winter warmth and sunshine.  I'd like to find a suburb with a big city nearby for a dress-up night at the theater as well as nearby trails and parks offering plenty of natural beauty. But most importantly, I'd like to find a place that has warmth, not only in its climate, but in the people who live there. I'm looking for a culture which is welcoming and accepting, where I can find friends who will join me in living life fully.

I've gotten a little experience in trying to find friends in new places when I moved to Eden Prairie, MN, for 6 months for a work assignment. The Minnesota experiment was a huge success and I made some of the closest friends of my life. Unfortunately, though it was an awesome "fling," those cold winters do not qualify Minnesota to even be a consideration as a Snowbird "relationship."

When I got a short-term contract at USAA in San Antonio, it felt like a good opportunity for the first of the Snowbird Experiments. Even though San Antonio wasn't on my list for potential snowbird locations, it's warmer than Colorado, so I'm renting a room in an Airbnb for 4 weeks.  It's a good opportunity for me to figure out if 4 weeks is enough time to get "into a relationship" with a place.
Here how it's going so far:

There have been some gorgeous 70+ degree days in November.  One night it was warm enough to walk the whole length of the famed and beautiful River Walk after work!

However, now there's a cold front coming in. I'm writing this as I'm listening to wind and rain (which actually IS kind of nice to listen to...on occasion).

On Halloween night there was a torrential downpour right when rush hour traffic was at its worst. There's also a lot of fog. One of the big reasons I want a winter snowbird location is because I HATE driving in bad weather, and even though there's rarely snow here, the driving has been stressful for me. That night I thought I'd made a mistake of even thinking of 'going out with' San Antonio.

Making Friends
Hands down, the thing that makes a place feel more like home is finding friends. I've found that Meetup.Com is an excellent way to meet new friends, so I joined Hiking, Dancing, and Agile Meetups before I even got to San Antonio.

Since I'm only here for 4 weeks, I really had to "fast path" this friend-making business. I was hoping to find a friend before my first weekend so I'd have someone who could show me around the city, so I went to my first Hiking Meetup after work on Nov.1 (the day after I'd been thinking of 'dumping' San Antonio) with the hopes of meeting someone.

The weather was a perfect 70 degrees and the first person I met on the hike was this very tall early-retired military police! (I'll call him HG for Hot Guy!) HG, like me, had been a runner and had had to give it up.. his was because of his knees and mine is because of my back, but he could relate to back problems, too.  He'd gotten back recently from a long trip to Thailand and I was in awe of someone who can travel alone so easily. I have challenges traveling by myself even here in San Antonio!

I kept thinking I should ask HG if he was free on the weekend, but he was "out of my price range." (A phrase one of my friends uses to mean "out of my league.") Besides being a HG, he's only 49. But then I got a Meetup message from him asking if I'd be up for a drink some time, so I got the courage to ask him if he'd be willing to take me around San Antonio and he said, 'Sure!'

HG was an excellent tour guide. He took me to the two biggest attractions on TripAdvisor for San Antonio, The River Walk and the Alamo. He also introduced me to the Prickly Pear Margarita at Boudro's on the River Walk without even knowing that I have a quest to find the perfect margarita!
HG also showed me where he used to work at Fort Sam, his beautiful home, and then we ended the day at a Happy Hour at Sustenio at the Elian hotel, close to where I'm staying.

Overall, the day was perfect! I walked over 22K steps without the trace of a back ache, the weather was gorgeous, and I loved how open and generous HG was, sharing his time and thoughts. I was trying not to be all insecure about my age or height. I'm 9 years older and 16.5 inches shorter than HG. But another thing I liked about HG is he didn't seem to care how old or short I was. I know he could be going out with anyone and he chose to spend the day with me.

I started to really like San Antonio!

I haven't written much about my dating life since publishing my book. Lots of reasons for that..  privacy, and who really cares, anyway? You get past a certain age and you think society sees you (especially if you're an older woman) as no longer attractive or desirable.  I know 'cougars' are very trendy, but... that never was my cup of tea.

These days I go searching for friends, communities, and beautiful spots, rather than 'dates.' But having an unexpected 'date' (yeah, I'm calling it that) with HG has made me think that maybe I should 'get out there' again.  Being single is great and I love all the freedom that comes with it, but..  life is much better when shared with someone else.

Experiment Results
I'm only half-way through with my San Antonio stay, but here's my summary of this relationship: It started out a little rocky. San Antonio did not make a great first impression, but over time, I found things to love. I don't think I've found "the place" but I feel grateful that I'm getting to experience this unique and beautiful place.

Whether it's a place or a person, I'm finding that going in with no expectations, no pressure, and no need to find perfection makes dating so much more enjoyable. Rather than looking for "the one" (or, "the place") maybe it's best just to enjoy and discover all there is to love about whoever you're with and wherever you are at this present time.