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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
I am trying to do winter me a favor. Winter me gets stuck in a rut and has a hard time peeling herself off the couch in mid-January. So I’m preparing now by giving her outdoor activities on the calendar that she wouldn’t make when it’s snowing and cold. Winter me is going to thank current me, I’m sure of it..
I think of it like this: there are three of me. Past Me, Current Me and Future Me.
Usually this shows itself in the form of regret. It goes like this: Past Me was very optimistic about the energy level of time bandwidth of Future Me. So she volunteered for things. Or thought she could somehow get two kids to three different activities that are somehow in four different places. Or she signed herself up for some kind of class she didnt actually need or, it turns out, even want to take.
Present Me, however, has been forced to face the music and has realized the follies of Past Me. My Present Me energy level isn’t low, so much as, you know, normal. Human normal. Sometime I ditch the things Past Me planned for Current Me. Sometimes I muddle through them, but unhappily. But then it’s a vicious cycle as I plan more things for Future Me, guaranteeing that we’re going to do this all again.
So how do I balance knowing that’s what happens when I plan for myself with keeping life interesting and helping Winter Me out a litte?
First of all, I’ve realized the cycle of over committing is worse for spring and summer Me, or the version of me putting things on the calendar for June and July. I am absolutely convinced that summer Me is going to have boundless time and energy thanks to that glorious sun int he sky.
January me is a whole different thing. The challenge isnt time or total energy, it’s desire. I know how much work doing anything in January becomes — not so much doing the things, really, as WANTING to do the things. Getting myself out the door. Hitting the road. Wanting to go. Having things pre-planned actually helps with that, so long as there aren’t too many.
That’s why Current Me is trying to do Future Winter Me a favor and find a balance of planning outdoor things — not too many, not too few — to get me out the door when the wanting is hard. Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that once I get out there I’ll be glad I went. That’s true in running, that’s true for adventures and that’s true for pretty much anything that requires putting on a giant jacket and wading or driving through snow and ice as part of the process. .
I have tested this theory a little bit before. In the past when we’ve bought season passes for a local ski hill, I made sure we went as often as reasonable because so help me God, I was not dropping that cash only to never use the pass. Spending money on something in advance is a great motivator for me.
In my experience, this time of year — before the snow falls and as the weather cools — is the perfect time to start working on this stuff. That’s because right now as the weather is still good I can imagine a time that it won’t be enough to be OK with preparing, but it’s not close enough that it feels like reality. It’s why i make the time right now to sort through winter clothes instead of delaying it for yet another week. I can imagine wanting and needing them in a way that’s basically inconceivable at the height of summer.
Before I go any farther this I want to acknowledge that being able to afford different activities for my family is a privilege. To make it work we prioritize our spending around the things that are important to us, which in this case are these activities. And we lean on community-based groups that offer low cost options to make them fit into our budget, or keep our eyes peeled for annual sales — and that applies to winter clothing, gear and activities. We also source gear through used gear sales, lean on friends to pass on their used items and happily pass ours on, too.
OK, so here’s what I have planned for us this winter.
To keep myself running outside in the snow — which let me tell you looks magical but can be oh so hard when it’s time to get dressed and go — I’m planning to join two community groups for weekly runs at least part of the year so I have other people to join regularly.
I’ve pre-booked two weekends at State Park cabins. These adventures are major to-dos if I’m being honest, and when the dates come it can feel really hard to get out the door. I will admit that last year I had three planned and talked myself out of the most challenging one because of the wanting thing I mentioned earlier.
Even though the sun sets early, we’re going to be doing the local Junior Nordics program again this year. This will be the third year that we’ve done it, and while the kids take their community-sourced lessons, I get out my skis and hit the trails for the 50 minutes they’re out there. I can sit in the car and read or work — and sometimes I might if I need to — but I’m already going to be literally in the parking lot. Most of the time I might as well get out and ski, too.
With the opening of our nonprofit ski lift we bought our kids season lift tickets last year, but I didn’t get myself one because I didnt think Id want to use it. But then it was too expensive for me to buy one-off day passes as often as I wanted to. This year I bought myself a pass, too. Our on-base gear rental has really affordable season snowboard rentals, and if I can sign up in time I’m getting one, registering for a few lessons, and learning that new skill this year.
Which brings me to this: It’s kind of fun how much I’m looking forward to this new skill over the winter — it’s an achievable goal that will motivate me to put on all the layers and get after it. And I know that works for me, because last year I decided to learn to skate ski, a type of Nordic skiing. I already had a pair of cheap skis in my garage, so I dropped $45 on lessons and learned. And by the end of the year I had completely new skill. It was spectacular.
These winter plans by Current Me for Future Me don’t sound like that much when I list them out, and that’s a pretty good sign. Winter is long, and thanks to them I’m not dreading the changing weather or the coming darkness. Instead, I’m filled with that optimism that Future Me is going to have a great time. And I don’t think Current Me is going to be mad at Past Me this time around. But only time will tell.
You can see photos of what Current Me is up to outside right now — this has included some running, of course, as I get ready for the Marine Corps Marathon which is at the end of October. I won’t lie — I’m looking forward to spending less time logging training miles and more time playing outside. But I think that’s how you’re supposed to feel at the peak of training, so we’re right on the money.
I want to see your outdoor photos too. So tag me with #humansoutside365. And until next time, we’ll see you out there.