Monday, March 1, 2010

Today I dusted off my old mountain bike, strapped on my helmet rode the trail. Everyone in our family calls it the trail, but it is officially known as the Du Page River Greenway that connects the west side parks to the historic Hidden Lakes Trout Farm. This is the first time in 2010, that I have ridden the trail. I usually ride it a couple times a week during the warmer months of the year. In the late summer months, maybe even once a day. Riding the trail is not a physically grueling experience, but a rather recreational smooth ride that covers about 3 miles of asphalted trail that has been rolled out across the backyards of homes, prairies and some wooded areas of forestry. It is home to many Midwestern animal families such as the possum, woodchuck, deer, coyote, snake, mice, and an occasional red fox. I have personally witnessed all of these creatures from afar, as well as roadside prey, along the trail.
I took a special interest in riding the trail this morning because it is March 1st and March is the official entry into the wonderful season of spring. The sky was grey, the air was cold, and sparkled with bits of freezing rain, but I was determined to welcome spring whether it wanted to be here or not. Most of the remaining snow that surrounded the trail appeared to be plowed or shoveled off so the ride was cold, but smooth. As I rode, I saw the ducks sitting on the pond behind the first group of houses just east of the park. They looked as grey and cold as I felt pedaling myself over the rolling curve around the pond. As I neared the open area in the prairie section of the trail, the wind grew a little stronger and I heard the rushing water of the creek now completely thawed out and moving freely into the east branch of the Du Page River. I noticed that some of the bushes and trees along the side of the trail had already sprouted some buds on their branches. As I sped through the clearing of the shrubs, I greeted two bundled up elderly gentlemen walking their dogs; our greetings were as short and as crisp as the morning air, with a couple of yaps by the dogs and a quick mornin’ by the men.
By the time I reached the Trout Farm, I passed through some mud and yuck that was strewn across the path and noticed I was headed for some thicker sheets of ice that now glazed the trail ahead. I attempted, but quickly retreated from going any further, as my bike tires lost their grip and spun freely over the ice.
With three more weeks until spring, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. We definitely need to get rid of the snow, boost the temperature up another 30 degrees, and begin to think about what we would like to plant this year in our gardens. I like to think of myself as the unofficial ground hog of spring here in Bolingbrook.
Not the one in Pennsylvania on February 2, who stumbles out of his warm hole to declare six more weeks of winter, but the one who climbs onto his bike, rides the trail and looks for the little things that mark the beginnings of our spring to come. By the way, I did not see my shadow! Spring is coming you just have to believe!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Today after scooping out the last of the coffee wedged between the crevices of the plastic Starbucks bag, I knew that I would need more coffee before I sat down and attempted my next blog. Today I wanted to try something different, I wanted to do something physical and not spend any money. As I took the empty bag and placed it back in the cabinet on top of all of the other empty Starbuck bags, I knew my next mission.

I was saving these bags now since the summer because they had the coupon printed in the corner describing an opportunity to receive a free tall Starbucks coffee. I always thought that one day I would use these and today I was inspired to redeem. So I bundled up for the outside temperature of about 22 degrees and headed out for my walk for a free coffee.

It took me about 15 minutes to arrive at the ¾ mile location. When I got there, I was greeted with the friendly hello, how can I help you this morning. So I proudly took my empty bag out of my coat pocket, not knowing how much of the actual bag was needed to validate a free coffee, and the barista just looked at me and said, “Oh!” I guess that was better than “Oh, Oh, or Oh no,” but I questioned her anyway, “Is there a problem?” The barista, now frowning, said “no, I guess we have to take these, but it’s a shame because we don’t even sell these bags at this location.” I smiled back and said, “But you do receive credit for these from the corporation, don’t you?” Her reply indicated yes, but her face gave me the impression that the reimbursement may be a burden. I cheerfully said, “Well I really have a lot of these at home and plan to use them, so I guess you may be seeing a lot of me in the future.” I didn’t want to spoil the rest of her day, so I didn’t give her the details of my plan to arrive every morning for the next two weeks and expect a handout, but she’ll find out soon enough!

As I arrived back home about 30 minutes later, I realized that this can be the beginning of a great workout program. 10,000 steps and a free coffee! Can’t beat that! This is day one of my Starbucks fitness program. I am planning to walk to my local Starbucks everyday for the next two weeks and lay down my coupon from the empty coffee bags that I have collected over the past few months. The coupons are found on the top outside of the bag near the expiration date. The coupon states it is good for a one free tall coffee drink. After two weeks of the program, I hope to report the following information a weight loss, an increase of physical endurance, and list of possible complaints regarding my attempts to receive my tall Starbucks flavored a’la gratis.

Have a great day!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hello, my name is Steve and this is my first blog! I am writing this blog for many reasons, but primarily to prove to myself that I can do it. This is my first official post on the internet, other than any comments that I may have written on a Facebook page under the protective umbrella of my friends and family. Therefore, I am officially out there somewhere in cyberspace as a target for anyone who wants to take a shot. My hopes in writing this blog will be to provide an opportunity for me to learn about the people who share my interests. My interests have changed over the years and even though I am still interested in competing in things like team sports, rock bands, and driving fast cars, I find that it has become just a little bit more difficult to do because of arthritis in your knees, prescribed medications that make you less coordinated, and basically the fact that I may be getting more than middle-aged (if there is such a term).

I find that I now have a little more time to do the things I wanted to do when I was younger, but seem to lack the energy to do them , now that I am older. I hope that makes sense. ( I'm really not senile, yet...I don't think).

Anyway, getting back to the purpose of this blog... there are some things that I wanted to do and may have started with a bang, but ended up unfinished. Just like you may have some things that you wanted to have completed by the time you were thirty, and were pushed back until forty and then something happened in your life and now you may be fifty and these projects or plans are either unimportant, less of a priorty, or just not going to happen. I am not talking about some get-rich scheme or "if I only won the lottery" ideas here. I won't be referring to any of those things in this blog. I also won't be participating in any of the so called "Bucket List" ideas, as noted from the movie with the same title. I am not a dare-devil, just a regular guy who would like to finish some of the things that he has started in his life and may be inspiration to helping others get off their own buckets to do the same.

I'm talking about things like taking a class, maybe teaching a class, eating a new food for the first time, going on a real diet, joining a gym, learning to play a musical instrument, participating in a 5k, and maybe even writing your own blog. These things are feasible, don't require a great deal of money, and are possible at most any age. These are things that I have tried, some I'm still doing, and others I plan to get involved with.

I find that finishing projects helps bring a sense of satisfaction and calmness to my life and I then can look forward to completing my next task at hand. Let me give you an example of a friend that told me that he looked around his house to see all the things he started and hadn't finished and how he felt unsatisfied and unhappy. So he declared that he would start this morning before leaving his house to set off and complete his unfinished business. He finished off a bottle of merlot, a bottle of tequilla, a package of Oreos, the remainder of his old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a bag of marshmallows. He then exclaimed to me, "You have no idea of how freaking good I feel right now!"

Well, that may not be the way we all want to finish things off, but it sure was a start for my friend.

Sometimes I think the reasons, why alot of us don't finish things we may have started fall under a couple of assumptions. One assumption may be that we are afraid of finishing the task because then we are accountable for the results and noone likes to be judged or look bad. So if we don't finish, we don't have to worry about the failure. Another assumption may be that we don't finish because we really enjoy the ride. Sometimes the anticipation of starting something new is more exciting than the actual process of doing it. We may become disenchanted with the task and less inspired to continue. I am hoping to avoid both of these assumptions with reporting my results and progress through this blog. Hopefully, this blog will help me maintain the confidence to continue with my personal pursuits and make me believe in Steve.