Project Get Out: The End

Project Get Out is my personal challenge to spend at least a half hour a day outside for the fall. Because even though I work in natural resources and write about the outdoors, I don’t get out nearly enough. 

Gosh, it’s been a long time since I wrote last! Certainly, it’s been too long and I’m overdue to write about the end of Project Get Out: Weeks 11, 12, and 13.

Update: The lake is frozen over.
Update: The lake is frozen over.

I previously left off struggling to get outside as the days got shorter and work ramped up… unfortunately, the final weeks were more of the same. The past few weeks were a failure as far as the goals of the project (to spend a mere half hour outside everyday) were concerned.

Not only did I fail during this time period, but by the very end, I just plain gave up trying. Sigh.

What Happened?

Short, short days and lots of travel kept me from being able to get outside on many days. I had two work trips out East in early December, so there were a few days that were nothing but travel from 4:30 in the morning until 6 pm or later. Other days were just busy, where I started working early in the morning to prep for the day and would then go all day long and get to bed as early as possible, just to do it all over again.

I realize I’m making my work sound awful dreary, and that’s not at all the case. Everything I did on those trips was absolutely amazing and I loved every minute of it. I think of it as exhilarating, meaningful work. It’s only when I look at it from the perspective Did I spend time outside? that I feel at all bad about not getting out.

It’s the days that I didn’t travel where I failed. When I was home, I didn’t make up for my time away and make a point to get out–on many days, I didn’t even try.I stayed inside instead, telling myself that I was tired and needed to relax, that it was okay to stay inside to “decompress” (and that while I was at it, I might as well as devour a half pound of tortilla chips).

Of course, since I spend most of my spare time reading and writing about health and the outdoors, I know that spending a little time outside to even just take a short walk is probably the best thing I could have done for myself. And yet I didn’t do it…

Why?
Because it always seemed too dark or too windy or too cold outside.

Why?
Because I was tired or stressed from other things, and when I feel like that, I’m going to prioritize comfort ahead of everything else. And for me, comfort is cuddling up in our warm house with something interesting to read and something unhealthful to eat.

Why?
Because I’m human, and that’s how most of us work. As far as I can tell, comfort is king. Our default value is that we want to avoid things that make us feel uncomfortable, whether its cold weather or awkward or challenging conversations.

I purposefully put Project Get Out at my personal worst time of year, during the fall funk I seem to get every year from mid-November to mid-December, to see what would happen. The same thing happened that normally happens: I slipped into a fall funk. This year, it wasn’t too bad and I can already feel myself creeping out of it now that the holidays are almost over and the day are (albeit imperceptibly) getting longer.

I’ll write future post about coping with a fall/winter funk, but in the meantime, I do want to capture some of the outdoor highlights from the past few weeks:

  • In New Hampshire, it felt like I was outdoors when the furnace broke at the field station where I was staying. Two nights sleeping at about 50 degrees was really only a mild inconvenience, but it was kind of funny.
  • In Maine, it was wicked cold one day and then warmed up to freezing. Sleety rain fell on pavement and froze, creating some of the most adventuresome walking conditions I’ve ever experienced.
  • Similarly, the next day in Connecticut included some difficult walking where freezing rain had transitioned to fluffy snow during their first winter storm of the season. On the bright side, the snow had stuck to the trees and was downright beautiful.
  • Back home, I had so much energy from being “locked up” in cars and airplanes. One night I chose to walk the mile and a half to the Sportsmen’s Club, rather than riding in the car with Sexy, so that I could get some outside time. It was nice out and there were lots of stars. I ended up running some of the time (in jeans and ballet flats, in the dark, with my headlamp turned off, on snow-covered roads) just to burn up some some of that energy.
  • Most notably, on two Saturday mornings, my husband and I decided to walk to the town cafe, 1.25 miles away, for breakfast. It was really nice to have to time to talk and see what was going on around the neighborhood (spoiler: nothing, except maybe a few deer), and I think we’ll do it again once in a while.

Happy winter and holidays!

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