Dan Loves his Fitbit

Hannah and I have been over-the-top uber exercisers forever.  We began running the canal paths of Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona as twenty-somethings.  Each with a degree in physical education, we were road runners for thirty years until, in our mid-50s, our knees creaked, No mas.  Putting the uber into uber-rageous, we biked the 190-mile Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia with its 15 degree mountain inclines; we both believe that’s the most difficult physical challenge we ever attempted.  (How do you like that humble brag in the lead paragraph!)

Now into my seventies, I pickle, workout at the gym, play ping pong, and walk the trails and side roads of Maine and California.  I don’t need a Fitbit measuring my every step to know I am rocking active senior until…

Tau Fitbit

…this past January when our son Will and daughter-in-law Laurel sent Hannah and me Fitbits to the house where we were staying in California for the winter.

For those new to Fitbit-dom, Fitbits primarily register the steps one takes in a day; the default goal is 10,000 steps per day.  Fitbits calculate our weekly average as well as allow Hannah and me to compete playfully to see who gets the most steps during a work week.  In addition, Fitbits scroll vibrating messages that show me my latest text or email.

It turns out that being in temperate California in January and February was the ideal breeding ground to fall in Fitbit Love.  Away from the ice and cold of the New England winter, Hannah and I walked daily along the Pacific or through the town of Carpinteria to add to our pickleball and hiking step totals.

But what I never expected was that my Fitbit would enhance my active life in at least six ways.

Fitbit york harbor cliff walk

Cliff Walk at York Harbor

One, I just exercise more.  My Fitbit regular reminds me to get some more steps and think to walk to the Cliff Walk in York or for twenty minutes in our neighborhood.

Two, I just move more.  My Fitbit has vibrating and visual reminders to get me up and moving around when I sit at the computer or read and write on our front deck.

Three, when in the early afternoon, after picking up 6000 steps at the gym or 8000 playing pickleball, I say to Hannah I need a neighborhood walk to get to 10,000.   And so we do.

Fitbit pickleall

Four, I no longer just stand around waiting on the court when playing pickleball.  When the other players are chasing the ball, getting into position, or preparing to serve, I walk around to stay loose, and equally important, rack up valuable steps.

Five, I no longer just sit for long stretches on the sidelines waiting for my next turn to play pickleball; I walk around to stay loose and be less likely to pull a hammy or rip an Achilles.  I’m ready to play without being stiff from sitting.  (Just a thought.  Perhaps, considering their serious injuries in the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson could use Fitbits.  I’m just saying.)

Six, I just dig the satisfying feedback that quantifies my activity.  The daily numbers reinforce that I am a mover and groover.

That’s Fitbit Love!

Here’s a Fitbit screen shot from my iPhone for June 21, 2019.  Notice the 17K+ steps for the day that came from an hour and 40 minutes of pickleball this morning, mowing 3/4 of our lawn this afternoon, and evening walk in the neighborhood with Hannah.  Do take note of the sweet nap I had earlier in the afternoon.  I thought it was 30 minutes, 40 tops.

Fitbit screen shot 2

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Dan Learns of Antidotes to Fear and Worry

It’s not a deep dive to say these are challenging times.  Climate crises (not merely climate change).  The current president.  School shootings.  Polarization that eviscerates our nation.  White supremacy.  Poverty.

Antidote curiosity 3

Do these challenges have a way of overwhelming us to the point where spiral into worry and fear?

Justine Willis Toms speaks to me along these lines.  Curiosity is the antidote for fear.  Optimism is the antidote for worry.  Curiosity can support our understanding of our fears.  Optimism is its own reward.

Speaking of fear and worry, Hannah has a powerful question to put things in perspective.  When a certain mindset, habit, or behavior pattern distresses a friend of hers, she might respond, How is that (e.g. fear or worry) working for you?

Antidote optomism

I close with my guy of the heart – the Dalai Lama.

When someone asked him, Why are you so happy all the time, even while there’s genocide going on?  The Dalai Lama’s answer was simple: because it makes him feel better.  He said he doesn’t know how it’s going to turn out, so each day he’s just going to do what is right and good to do.

Hello Dalai, my kind of guy.

 

(Inspired by “Deep Dialogue” by Mallory Herrmann in the Unity Magazine (May/June 2019)

Dan Hikes Around Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park (Maine)

Jordan map

I awake before dawn in the queen bed at the Bar Harbor Motel; my friend Bill in the next room.  After yesterday afternoon’s climb up the Gorge Trail in sunshine (Click here for that posting), today’s forecast is for mist and drizzle.  It’s no morning to climb any of the rock faces of the many mountains here in Acadia.  A hike around Jordan Pond becomes an ideal trail choice.

After checking ESPN sports on my iPhone in bed, I slip into my hiking Merrell’s for an early morning walk to check out the weather and warm up on the Carriage Roads of  Acadia National Park just beyond the motel property.  A ball cap and Ithaca College jacket are enough to shed any light rain as I walk for 45 quiet minutes.

Meeting up with Bill for the motel continental breakfast later, we agree that hats and jackets will ward off any light precipitation.  Taking delectable small bites of a blueberry muffin while sipping my decafe black, I have my dose of morning nirvana.

Jordan Park Look Road

Park Loop Road in Acadia

Driving twenty minutes on the Park Loop Road, we arrive at a nearly empty parking lot at the Jordan Pond House.  Like most hikers today, we have come from away and are not going to let a little rain deter us.  Walking down the trail in front of the Jordan Pond Lodge, we are met by two unleashed, large labradoodles; I agree with our grandson Owen who likes his dogs small and not barking.

I am leery of new dogs, having been nipped and bitten before by dogs that “would never bite anyone.”  The female hikers see us, but as we approach the white demon barks wildly at us.  I step back immediately.  She says, He doesn’t like to be startled.  Ya think!  You saw us coming!  I think but don’t say.  Fortunately they head to Pemetic Mountain and we begin our circumnavigation of the pond.

Jordan 6 B and D back at start

Bill and Dan at Jordan Pond

The eastern side is a pleasant easy going, winding gravel trail within an arm’s reach of the water.  Though we see no beavers, we do see their handiwork; and, in this case, their impending triumph.

Jordan 2A beavers at work

Jordan 2 gravel trail

Jordan 2B Bill on gravel trail

My friend Bill

By the far end of the pond, we cross a man-made causeway, then a wooden bridge through the marsh and over the creek emptying into Jordan Pond.

Jordan 3 D at bridge

From here things get interesting as the granite boulders come down to the shoreline from Penobscot Mountain.  Never too difficult to climb over, the low lying rocks have an orange sheen (painted?) which guides our way.  Always within 10’ of the water, we never feel we might slip on the moisture-soaked rocks.

Jordan 4 bouldery trail

Jordan 4A more of bouldery trail

Then, for what seems like ¾ of a mile, we have a succession of planks a foot or two above the rocky, uneven terrain bordering the east side of Jordan Pond.  Though slick, the planks allow us to walk with a steady rhythm back towards the lodge.

Jordan 5 plank trail

Jordan 5A more planks with D

Jordan 5C newer planks

Two couples from Ontario, Au Canada and parents of a darting up and down the planks five year old boy with his three-year old sister brighten the morning as the drizzle ends.  With parents like these, these kids will grow up not letting a little inclement weather deter them from getting a healthy dose of Vitamin N (i.e. Nature).

Jordan 6A D and B again at end

Misty morning in Acadia (Jordan Pond)

Dan is Breaking Up with Facebook

Facebook Neil Sedaka

You gotta love Neil Sedaka’s classic “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.”  But in this case, it just doesn’t fit my divorce with Facebook after eight years.

Of late, I have been on a nine-month break from Facebook, but I just wasn’t ready to cut the cord completely.  The final straw was being reminded by David Brooks on a podcast (The Ted Interview) about the lack of meaningful connection that comes with a steady diet of social media.

Facebook no

Just because I wanted to break up, Facebook didn’t make it easy to sever ties (what they call deactivating).  It wasn’t exactly clear to me how to close my account.  My go-to response in tech uncertainty is to email our son Will for support.  But, before he responded, I thought, I bet if I googled “Closing your Facebook account,” I would find the key to unlock this door.  Ta-da!

Was the Russian hacking the reason?  No.  The ubiquitous ads?  Not really.

That I can be lazy and click on Facebook to just pass time (and by that, I mean waste time)?  Guilty as charged.

Primarily, though, I am disappointed that going on Facebook didn’t foster connections with others that I naively thought it might.  In fact, I think friendships wither when folks think posting on Facebook is enough to keep friendships going.

Facebook adios

So, I bid adieu to Facebook.  Adios, mi non-amigo.

By the way, Hannah has never had a Facebook account.  Wise beyond her years!

Dan Hikes the Gorge Trail in Acadia National Park (Maine)

Gorge map

York is to the east of Portsmouth.  Notice how much of Maine lies north of Bangor.

Looking to break up my 215-mile drive from our home in York to Bar Harbor at the gateway to Acadia National Park, I stop off at the Armstrong Tennis Center in Bangor to play pickleball with these central Maine “experienced” players.

At the indoor courts, the cacophony of whacking plastic “wiffle balls” fills six pickleball courts is sweet music to my ears.  Within five minutes I am in a game of doubles with Lisa as my partner v. Mark and Doug.  “Experienced” enough to give them a decent game, I have just the pause from the road that I wanted after two hours of steady play.

Driving on an hour to Bar Harbor, I am primed for an afternoon of hiking with the Canadian, my friend Bill Buggie of New Brunswick, from our days at the University of New Hampshire.

Arriving at the Bar Harbor Motel just after noon, I chat up the hospitality worker, Kim.  In response to my question about hiking, she suggests the Gorge Trail, a family favorite.  On a sunny afternoon near 70F, it’s an ideal 2-3 hour hiking choice for the two of us, who coincidentally, are on either side of 70 ourselves.

Taking the Park Loop road, I squeeze my Toyota Prius into roadside parking for five vehicles.  Being the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, and still not in-season, we are ready for an afternoon dose of Vitamin N (i.e. Nature).

Crossing a small creek, we hike 0.2 of a mile to the Gorge Trail itself.  For ten minutes we have the sweet level dirt that allows us to walk side-by-side, catching up on our lives as “give it our best shot” parents, long-time husbands, quasi-athletes, and former classroom teachers.

Gorge 1 B on gorge trail

Bill creek crossing on the Gorge Trail

Gorge 1AA D on stones on gorge trail

Dan hiking in shorts and an IC tee shirt on the Gorge Trail

Skirting the Gorge Creek for nearly a mile, we hike the very manageable rocky assent that will lead us to Dorr Mountain.  Crossing the creek multiple times, we have granite steps of master trail builders at our disposal most every footstep of the way.  The climb through the gorge comfortably warms us as the ascent is never strenuous or risky.

Gorge 1A mini-falls on gorge trail

Eight foot cascade tumbling down the Gorge Creek

 

Gorge 1B steps of gorge trail

The artistic and functional steps of the Gorge Trail

Gorge 1C D on gorge trail

The mostly functional Gorge Trail hiker on a trail that was not as difficult as this picture makes it seem.

Reaching the intersection on this well-marked trail, we have Option A of scrambling up the steep and boulder-y Cadillac Mountain, a truly nasty skyward climb.  No fools, we choose Option B, the less severe mountainside to Dorr Mountain.  Slow and steady with some hand climbing, we summit guided by mountaintop cairns (piled rocks to mark the trail).

Gorge 2 stones to Mt Dorr

The less severe mountainside to Dorr Mountain

Gorge 2A view to Cadillac Mt

Looking to Cadillac Mountain from Dorr Mountain.  By the way, Cadillac Mountain is the first land in the continental United States that the rising sun shines on each morning.

Gorge 2B D and B on Mt Dorr

Billy and Danny on Dorr Mountain with the Atlantic Ocean in the background

Taking the North Ridge Trail down the rocky crag, we have sloping rock faces for ¾ of mile that have us shortening our stride and cramming our toes into the front end of our hiking boots.  As the heroes you know us to be, we just tough it out.

Gorge 3 smooth stones in descent

The toe crunching descent from Dorr Mountain

 

Gorge 3A B on descent

And the rocky descent coming down from Dorr Mountain

Completing this three mile loop in just over two hours, we are ready to chill with our game of choice (Scrabble) and our Robert Mondavi wine of choice (bourbon barrell cabernet).

Topping off our day in this Atlantic paradise, we walk a mile and a half into town to Geddy’s, where we celebrate a mountain well-climbed with their primo Burrito Grande.  (You may be thinking, Dan, no seafood in this coastal town?  I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of le lobstere or les clams.  My roots in Arizona have me pining for Mexican food any time I can get it.)

Gorge 4 Geddy's

 

Dan’s Good Friend’s Quiz

What could be better than a quiz with no grades!

There are old friends, occasional friends, distant friends, new friends, and family friends.  There are good friends.   For me, a good friend is a regular, supportive part of one’s life.  To paraphrase Thomas Fuller, If you have one good friend, you have more than your share.

It’s a “true, false, maybe yes, or somewhat” quiz.  Let’s rock.

Friends and adventure

Uno, do good friends both like and actively show their interest in you?  Duh!  Pretty simple?  Many people may like you (i.e. find you pleasant, nice) but don’t really have much interest in your story, the details of your life.  With a good friend, you have a voice in the relationship.

Two, one of the primary characteristics of good friends is that they listen, and then listen some more?  (Not a hard quiz, yes?)

Three, do good friends have common interests?  To develop as good friends, must there be a meaningful intersection of mutual interests (i.e. being, say, physically active, talking politics, the same faith, involved in the community, or literary topics)?  However nice and decent two people may be, can their friendship jump into the good category without common interests?

Quatro, time.  Some folks in retirement have lots of disposable time.  People who are working, raising kids, and/or tending to extended-families do not often have the same amount of time.  Do those most reasonable demands by one party make growing a good friendship a challenge?

Friends and wine

Cinco de Mayo,  between times together, do good friends connect, evenly briefly, by say text, phone, or email?  Such digital communication may be just a line every week or two, but is it necessary to keep good friends connected?

Six, let’s throw in geography.  Without the casual contact friends, whether it be in the neighborhood, over coffee, on the pickleball court, while walking in town, can distances of even 10 or 25 miles away keep friendships from making it into the good category?

Seventh heaven, maybe a good friend is just someone who makes you feel special.

 

 

Dan and Hannah Hike the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain in New York State

Bear map of BMSP

Before an evening of wine and reminiscing with my 101-year old Aunt Ilene, cousin Suzanne, and her husband Lou near Newburgh, New York, Hannah and I seek some Appalachian Trail Love at Bear Mountain on Palm Sunday.

Bear 2B AT sign

Arriving just after noon at the Visitor Center/Bookstore on the Palisades Parkway just south of Bear Mountain State Park, I ask the ranger where we can access the Appalachian Trail and still find any place to park.  You see, there is no way there is a parking spot at the hilltop trailhead of BMSP on this first sunny Sunday in spring.  We hit gold as we learn that just a half mile up the road at Exit 17, there is access to the AT from the nearly empty 2,000 vehicle Anthony Wayne parking area.

Bear 1 H on Fawn Trail

Small F trail marker on the tree to the right of Hiking Hannah

Bear 1A H on Fawn

Hiking in the Northeast is a rocky affair, not the sweet sandstone that caresses are feet in the national parks of Utah.  Taking to the well-marked Fawn Trail, we zigzag for 25 minutes before spotting the holy grail – the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail.

Bear 2 H on rocky trail

Bear 2D D at Rocky steps

Being the Sunday when Tiger Woods wins his 15th major at the Masters (Do you find that a troubling name for a golf tournament in the South with its reference to slavery and plantations?), we have done him one better by hiking in the mid-70s on this iconic trail getting all the Vitamin N we could want! (i.e. Vitamin Nature).

Bear 2E H at rung in rocks

Bear map

Appalachian Trail

It’s too early in the spring for thru-hikers to have begun the AT in Georgia to be here 1500 miles later, but we come across Jeff who is perspiring heavily in the midst of a ten-hour trail loop.  Graciously, he stops to answer our “where to go” questions and suggests we take a picture of his map to have a reference for our climb.

Bear 3 motorcyclists

Crossing the mountain away from the Palisades Parkway, we hear the roar of motorcycles racing down the country straight away.  I wonder if any of the loud motorcyclists who hit speeds of 100+ on the weekend do so in part because they have little control in their work life and, perhaps, don’t have the happiest of marriages?  Well, that’s a stretch, Dan.  As I think about that, it does sound a tad judge-y.  My bad.

Bear 2A Bear Mt in the distance

Bear Mountain in the distance from the AT

On a mid-April day where the trees have not leafed out, we get an excellent workout over two hours.  In the distance, we see the fire tower at the Bear Mountain peak.  Though we will not summit today, we have two hours of trail walking.  Tiger can have his 15th major, I’ll take an afternoon on the AT with Hannah any day.

Dan and Hannah Hike to Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, New York

Tau map of falls

Two things before I begin this blog.

First, a pronounciation quiz

Try correctly to pronounce the name of these local falls – Taughannock.

Now give the local Finger Lake a shot – Cayuga.

Check out the bottom of the page for the locals’ pronunciation.

Tau Fitbit

Second, Hannah and I are new Fitbit owners.  These sleek wrist watches primarily calculate how many steps one takes.  Typically, 10,000 steps is the daily goal.  We LOVE ’em.  We never thought of ourselves as Fitbit folks since we get plenty of exercise anyway.  But we do love the affirmation of our exercising life and the reminder to move rather than sit for long periods of time.

As you might have already guessed, my Fitbit reinforces my shallowness and the pathetic measuring of my self-worth by how many steps I get each day AND whether I beat my brother Richard (which I haven’t yet).

Tau map of Ithaca

After a morning of babysitting our ten-month old grandson Brooks, we know that though the forecast is raw with rain, we are going to find a hike and step, step, step to our Fitbit content.  With gorges aplenty here in central New York, we choose the Taughannock Falls, ten miles north of Ithaca, for our chilly willy hike with layers of clothes, gloves, and ski caps this mid-April Thursday.

Tau 2 south rim steps

The initial stone steps to the South Rim

With many of the local falls’ trails still closed this spring day because of ice on the stone walkways, Taughannock is ice- and snow-free.  Soon we are climbing the stone steps to the South Rim trail, hundreds of feet above the gorge below.

Tau 2AA above the gorge

The gorge

Having the trail mostly to ourselves, we, as exercise-first hikers, appreciate that there are no roses to smell or crowds to get in the way of our mission for 10,000 steps!

The south rim offers views into the gorge, but, as yet, we don’t see the waterfalls themselves.  After crossing over a century old bridge above the falls, we descend on the fenced-off north rim trail where waterfall viewing awaits.

Tau 3B D and H at overlook falls

Taughannock Falls, photographed by a Canadian

Arriving at the stone work overlook, we ask two folks to take our picture.  We soon learn that they are among the nicest people in the world (by that I mean, they are Canadians).

Tau 3C D above north rim gorge to lake

From the north rim out to Cayuga Lake

Once completing the rim loop in just over an hour, we have part deux – the popular gorge trail for our hiking pleasure.  Twenty feet wide, bordering the Taughannock Creek, the trail is ¾ of mile of levelness to the base of the falls.

Tau D and H at falls

The Taughannock Falls from the Gorge Trail

At the end of the trail, we ask another couple to take our picture.  In turn, Hannah asks if their family would like one as well.  Mom demurs.  And then this is where Hannah’s persistence and understanding of the human condition shines brightly.  Three minutes later, Hannah sweetly asks one more time.  They agree, I shoot, and they are so damn pleased with the result.

Fact is, “Yes” has been our go-to answer when someone offers us something.  It’s amazing what doors that affirmation opens.

Tau 1B B and H

10 month old Brooks and his Omi

Two hours after we start, we are back at the trailhead ready to hang out with Brooks pleased that our Fitbit step goal has been destroyed.

 

Pronunciations:

Taughannock – Ta-GAN-ick.

Cayuga – CUE-ga.

How’d you do?

 

Additional photos from Taughannock Falls

Tau 2 sign at start of falls

Tau 2A falls above the falls

Tau 4A rapids on gorge river

Tau 4B gorge walls

Looking up to the North Rim Trail

Dan and Hannah with Owen and Max Explore the Santa Barbara Zoo

Our grandsons, Owen (kindergarten) and Max (preschool), have come with their parents to California during February school vacation week in New England.  Whether it is including the boys at an evening potluck with local friends in California, exploring the beach in Carpinteria, or taking them on a train ride to Ventura, we look to make memories with our guys.

Rattle 3B Rawdings at meadow

At the meadow two miles into the Rattlesnake Trail in Santa Barbara

Yesterday, Hannah and I with the Family Rawding hiked the Rattlesnake Trail in Santa Barbara.  Click here for that adventure.

Today, we will take the boys to the Santa Barbara Zoo while their parents hike up Gaviota Peak 45 minutes north on The 101.

Zoo map

Arriving at the zoo fifteen minutes from our home-away-from-home in Carpinteria, we have a sunny, blustery day for los animales.

Zoo 1 flamingos with O and M

Flamingos that are worth a good thirty second for Owen (in red), Max (in orange), and me

At each exhibit, the boys’ age-appropriate short attention span matches mine.  While Hannah reads about the animals and tells us one of the listed fun facts, I take a good thirty seconds to take in the tropical birds or the elephants or the lions or the giraffes.  Then the boys and I move on.  I am not a stop and smell the roses animal lover.  I gotta be me.

Zoo 2A tortoise 2

 

 

Pausing in front of the tortoise enclosure, we learn from the keeper about these forty year-old tortoises.  As herbivores, they are making a comeback from endangered status thanks to zoos and private owners.  Unfortunately, their shells are still harvested, which, upon removal, immediately kills the tortoises because their backs are directly attached to their shells.  Some kill the tortoises for their livers, which they believe have wonderous medicinal properties.

Zoo 3 giraffe skull

Giraffe skull

Zoo 3B giraffe hoot

Giraffe hoof

On the path by the giraffe enclosure, two volunteers intrigue us all with the skull of a giraffe.  Next to them they have a 15” bicycle tire tube that represents the length of the giraffe’s tongue.  Then the volunteers set a rubbery mat on the ground which indicates the size of the giraffe’s hoof and lets the boys compare their feet to that of a giraffe.

Zoo 3 giraffe

Giraffe with the Pacific Ocean in the distance

Lions, elephants, alligators, anteaters, and penguins rock our world, albeit briefly.

Zoo 1C Max with lion

Max checking out the lion

Zoo 1CC the lion

Tough life tanning 200 yards from the Pacific Ocean

Zoo 1A O and M with elephant

Elephante

Zoo 1B Omi as zookeeper

Perhaps I should have taken this picture when the sun went behind the clouds

 

Zoo 4A alligator

See you later

 

Zoo 6 anteater

The anteater is one big dude!

Zoo 6B penguin with max

Max at the penguin aquarium

Zoo 6D O and M with penguin

Owen and Max check out Peter the Penguin

Wisely constructed in the center of the SB Zoo, a favorite spot for our young guys, is the AstroTurf mound at the playground where Owen and Max slide down the hill on cardboard.  Owen teaches his brother how to surf down the play hill.

Zoo 5 more playground

Zoo 5 playground

With cool temperatures near 60F, we are not exhausted after nearly four hours among the mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.  That said, once home, we turn the boys back over to their parents, and have one sweet siesta.

Dan Wonders If Being Hopeful is a Habit that Can Be Learned

Hannah and I get the New York Times most every Sunday.  For me, it was a tradition started by my parents back in the 1950s in New Jersey.  My Sunday morning begins with a cup of joe, one of Hannah’s biscuits, and the Sunday Sports section; next, before I try to decipher the Sunday Crossword with my trusty iPhone, I read the Sunday Styles section.

NYT sunday styles 2

The Sunday Styles section has the weekly Modern Love column which has folks writing about their relationships (e.g. For last Sunday (4.28.2019), the titled piece was It’s Not You, It’s Men: I re-evaluated my life after two long-term girlfriends broke up with me while coming out).

I then move on to Social Q’s by Philip Galanes who gives advice about, again, relationships.  (e.g. My good friend, who is white, is raising her young biracial daughter as a single mother.  She is a loving mom, but in my opinion, she has not given enough thought to helping her daughter form a healthy self-image as a person of color…)

I then move on to the wedding stories, and this is where I get to my point.  Cheese and rice, Dan, it’s about time!

NYT Small Victories anne lamott

Under the Vows heading, the piece is titled A Writer Finally Gets to That Happily-Ever-After Part.  It’s about Anne Lamott!  I have been a fanboy since the 1990s when she wrote the popular guide for writers, Bird by Bird.  She gives Ted Talks with humor and insight.  Click here for here for her entertaining 15-minute talk on 12 Truths.

In the review of her wedding to Neal Allen, Lois Smith Brady offers background on each one and how they met.  Married at 65, Anne says, Never give up, no matter how things look or how long they take.  Don’t quit before the miracle.

NYT Neil and Anne

Anne with Neil at their wedding

What caught my eye was this paragraph.  In some ways, they are opposites.  She [Anne] is afraid of almost everything, whereas he’s [Neil] afraid of almost nothing.  ‘It never occurs to me that anything will go wrong,’ he said.

That makes me think , could being fearful be a choice, not part of one’s DNA.  Many of us learn to be fearful at a young age and hone that “skill” over a lifetime.  But could it be that with some self-talk, or what some would call prayer, we can “reprogram” ourselves from looking for the possible pitfalls, the dangers, and the roadblocks to being hopeful.  I’m not suggesting the transition would be easy, but it seems feasible if one has the “want to” to transform from fearful to hopeful.

NYT choose hope 2

Case in point.  Hannah and I have water issues in our upstairs bathroom.  The stains on the plaster walls are disgusting.  With a  contractor coming in the weeks ahead, I am hopeful that any damage can be dealt with successfully.  I’ll not go down the path of what could go wrong.

Being hopeful, like getting to Carnegie Hall, takes practice, practice, practice.