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#MondayMotivation - A Healthier Mike: June 2019 Check-In

There’s something in the air
I sense it
Like the wind, change direction
I can hear the storm is rumbling
Sounds like a freight train coming
— The National Parks "I Can Feel It"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 309,712

Average daily steps: 10,324

Highest daily steps: 15,096 (June 22)

Lowest daily steps: 5,347 (June 15)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 72.35

Total miles hiked: 0 (holy shit, not cool)

Sleep stats: 1 day at 7+ hours, 7 at 6-7 hours, and the rest below 6

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 19 minutes


Visiting fantastic places was a highlight of June.
Tahquamenon Falls

The Good

  • Had a great spurt of activity when in Michigan with gorgeous daily walks and kayak paddles

  • Total activity was 16.2% greater than June 2018

  • I closed my Apple Watch rings 21/30 days

  • I kayaked often for two weeks

  • I increased total activity

  • I’ve been increasing my speed to increase heart rate

  • I have new Texas State Park & NPS quests to help keep me motivated

  • I signed up for a year of membership at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge for kayaks and hikes - access was $5/entry and it would add up and it’s just the nicest place to kayak within the metro.


The Not-So-Good

  • I was straight up lazy when it came to hiking - as I’m trying to keep it fresh and non-repetitive and that’s requiring a bit more work with distance from home

  • I did not sleep well in June - road trips did not help

  • Absolute flop for hiking

  • As a household, we dined out too often

  • I stopped trying for any real results at the first sign of failure


One of the many sunsets over Grand Lake in Presque Isle, Michigan

One of the many sunsets over Grand Lake in Presque Isle, Michigan

Mental Health

  • Work was mentally draining the last three weeks of June

  • Had a lot of time in the car and a lot of time with my thoughts - finding a lot of clarity

  • I’ve stepped back from phone use quite a bit and I’ve noticed a difference

  • I don’t believe there was a single day I didn’t want to get out of bed.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • I needed an end goal. Big goals are great, but this month proved they don’t matter. I’m working on smaller, more attainable goals with steps towards the big goal. Common sense, right?

  • I signed up for support. I overeat. I can’t hold myself accountable. I literally lied or omitted things on MyFitnessPal because I was embarrassed. No more.

  • July is going to be my month. I hope.


Goals for July

More kayaking, please!

More kayaking, please!

  • Read/Listen to at least 3 books
    (A constant goal is 8, I’m always coming up short… so I’m making it more realistic)

  • Working on drinking less booze, and more water. Balancing out the booze is key - it got a little much throughout June. Everything in moderation.

  • Take a weekend off of social media (I’ve been taking an hour a day of no phone, which is cool, but I will take a whole weekend - hopefully in the mountains)

  • Add more jogging and more trails (I will continue to strive to do a 5k run, still working on a single mile)

  • Working on increasing my daily average for activity It feels good, both mentally and physically.

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind.
    (My state park quest should help)

  • Continued daily mindful breaks and reading The Awakening (also, maybe yoga or some reflective hikes)

  • There’s no reason I can’t hit 100 miles for July. (Daily walks and jogs + hikes = c’mon man)

  • I signed up for support related to diet and exercise to help keep me on track. I’m now on a plan to shift my life to healthier eating and increased ACTUAL activity. It is not an expensive ordeal, but more than I’d like to spend so that’s motivation alone.

  • I am going 50%+ vegetarian. For the planet, for my body, I’m reducing overall meat intake. I’m not going vegan or cutting all meats out, just less overall. It’s been quite easy so far, and cheaper.

And more treats with friends please.

And more treats with friends please.

#MondayMotivation - A Healthier Mike: May 2019 Check-In

Hey
I wanted everything I never had
Like the love that comes with light
I wore envy and I hated that
But I survived
I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don’t change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you’re taught to cry into your pillow
But I survived
— SIA "Alive"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 343,004

Average daily steps: 11,065

Highest daily steps: 27,649 (May 11)

Lowest daily steps: 4,366 (May 18)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 70.14

Total miles hiked: ~13.5

Sleep stats: 2 days of 7+ hours, 3 days of 6-7 hours, 26 days under 6 hours

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 18 minutes


Hiking in the Tonto National Forest - Superstition Wilderness area w/ Scott Jones.

The Good

  • Stayed active all but four days

  • Total activity was higher than May 2018

  • I closed my Apple Watch rings 27/31 days

  • I kayaked for the first time and fell instantly in love with the activity

  • I hiked in a different state (Arizona)

  • I’ve been adding in more running to my daily exercises

  • I bought a kayak so I’ll be doing more of that on weekend mornings before it gets gross outside

  • I signed up for the Little Backyard Adventure trail run in Olympia, WA on August 10. I can’t wait to see how it goes - my only goal is to avoid being dead fucking last.


The Not-So-Good

  • I got a bad sinus infection that took me down for 3-4 days. I tried, but it just sucked. Eventually, I pushed through the snot and got back out there.

  • I did not sleep for shit in May

  • While I may have a few extra miles on April, it was still a flop for hiking

  • It’s getting hot and the dog is even slower, so I will just have to increase everything by adding a second exercise to the day

  • I ate fast food WAY too often

  • I bored eat WAY too much


Full moon pontoon cruise!

Full moon pontoon cruise!

Mental Health

  • I probably had 91% good days in May

  • Overcame big obstacles in the “I can’t do that” mindset - and I fucking did the thing.

  • I’ve stepped back from phone use quite a bit and I’ve noticed a difference

  • I don’t believe there was a single day I didn’t want to get out of bed - probably because I didn’t sleep much anyway.

  • I’ve stopped the daily tracking of everything except my fitness and it’s helped greatly. My desire for statistics and order had been causing me anxiety. I have developed a better way for me to handle daily and weekly goals.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • When I stay busy, I don’t bored eat. Duh, right? Well, I guess I don’t stay busy enough so I plan to start attending local environmental meetings, exercising more, and kayaking as often as possible.

  • The majority of why I’m lazy AF is that I don’t want to drive through this metro area to do things. Once on the road, I’m fine, but it’s the getting through that internal battle that takes the most energy.

  • Summer is just the worst in Texas. Here’s to hoping my new State Park and NPS Quests keep pushing me to see new things and beat the heat.

  • I’m going to exercise more in June. No doubt about it.

  • I want to continue to get better, stronger, more experienced. It has always been my goal, and I know I’m better than I was a year ago or even more than that. I may not have lost the fat, but my legs are stronger than before and my endurance and will to keep trying are higher too.


Goals for June

Photo Credit: Adam Nutting

Photo Credit: Adam Nutting

  • Read/Listen to at least 2 books
    (A constant goal is 8, I’m always coming up short… so I’m making it more realistic. I think I had 1.5 in May?)

  • Working on eating better food, drinking less booze, and more water. (I really just need to eat less, and stop the eating out)

  • Take a weekend off of social media (I’ve been taking an hour a day of no phone, which is cool)

  • Add more jogging and more trails (like, actually hitting a trail on my way home from work or something)

  • Working on a 5+ mile daily average for activity (May was under 3, which is less than April which is annoying)

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind.
    (My state park quest and two weeks in Michigan should help)

  • Continued daily mindful breaks and reading The Awakening (also, maybe yoga?)

  • Read and write daily. (Focus on working shit out)

  • Dog walks daily, and a second walk just for me that includes jogging. (No more blaming the dog and his slow ass pace for my lack of running)

  • There’s no reason I can’t hit 100+ miles for June. (Daily walks and jogs + hikes = c’mon man)

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#MondayMotivation - A Healthier Mike: April 2019 Check-In

Northern lights in our skies
Plants that grow and open your mind
Things that swim with a neon glow
How we all got here, nobody knows
These are real things
These are real things
Oh, what a world, don’t wanna leave
All kinds of magic all around us, it’s hard to believe
— Kacey Musgraves "Oh, What A World"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 363,053

Average daily steps: 12,102

Highest daily steps: 22,851 (April 19)

Lowest daily steps: 7,302 (April 20)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 91.22

Total miles hiked: 10.75

Sleep stats: 6 days over 7hrs, 5 days between 6-7hrs, the rest closer to 4hrs

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 9 minutes


Trash Cleanup w/ my friend Jen from Illinois Park Project/Jennythetrailhead.com

The Good

  • Increased total mileage for walks/hikes/jogs from March

  • Daily step average is much higher

  • I exercised EVERY day this month

  • I closed the Apple Watch rings EVERY day this month

  • Hiking mileage is low, but overall mileage is up so I’m okay with this.

  • I managed to exceed April 2018 totals too


The Not-So-Good

  • I didn’t track food for most of the month

  • I likely gained weight

  • I did not sleep well or choose to sleep well at all

  • I haven’t hiked as much as I wanted to

  • I did not commit to jogging or running as much as I wanted to in April

  • Eating out is out of control - budget and body are not happy with my choices


In my happy place on a trail, by a waterfall, in the sunshine.

In my happy place on a trail, by a waterfall, in the sunshine.

Mental Health

  • Improved mental health overall - more happy days than not

  • Still quite insecure about everything

  • I want to take more time to relieve stress

  • I want to sleep more, which will help everything

  • The hikes I did this month, though not many, really helped me love life even more and restored my faith that there are wonderful people and places out there

  • I did not write as much as I could have, but it wasn’t because I avoided it or didn’t need it - I just got caught up in living life.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • Pizza just needs to be off limits because I have ZERO self control (this hasn’t changed since February)

  • When I’m feeling drained, I still went for a walk at the very least and it really helped.

  • I need to give up the convenience of eating out and make it convenient to eat at home.

  • I’m going to exercise even more in May.

  • I plan to eat frugally and more healthy in May.

  • Daily mindfulness is great for really centering my stress. The time I set aside for my book really helps me realize it could be worse and it could be better but it doesn’t matter. I need to be here, let shit go, focus on current shit, and be present in life.


April Wins & Goals for May

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip
  • Read/Listen to at least 8 books
    (Got 2 listened to, so still going to aim for this again in May)

  • Working on eating better food, drinking less booze, and more water.

  • Take a weekend off of social media
    (didn’t quite get this done, so I’ll aim for this in May)

  • Going to start running more often

  • I increased my days over 10,000 steps from 61% to 83% of the month and thus want to reach that 100% mark in May.

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind out in west Texas
    (Still working on this, need to hike more in May)

  • I want to incorporate longer daily walks and lunch walks.

  • I need to take a mindful break daily with my “Daily Awakening”

  • Read and write daily - more than April

  • Daily walks at least 7 days a week - even if it’s just a mile

  • Hit 100+ miles for hiking, walking, and jogging

  • Jog outside at least twice (obviously the more the better, but the treadmill is fine too)

  • Sign up for the LBA and train for it

  • Eat at home over 50% of the time

  • Start before work walks, jogs, or workouts.

#MondayMotivation - A Healthier Mike: March 2019 Check-In

It’s not enough just to live a life
Simple measures to survive
It’s like living should be easy right?
But there’s always something
Heavy on heart
Heavy on my mind
Falling on me all the time
There’s always something
— Said the Whale "Moonlight"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 340,702

Average daily steps: 10,990

Highest daily steps: 22,180 (March 23)

Lowest daily steps: 3,563 (March 18)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 80.83

Total miles hiked: 17.48

Days with over 7 hours of sleep: 9 days over 7, 7 days between 6-7

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 46 minutes


Standing up top the Lost Mine Trail
@ Big Bend National Park

The Good

  • Number of miles of hiking, walking, or running is way up from February

  • Daily step average is up from February

  • My commitment to daily activity is more of a second nature than before

  • Days of activity and days with closed Apple Watch rings are up from February

  • Hiking mileage is up from February as is my desire and willingness to hike

  • My average length of sleep per night is up a few minutes and my days over 7 hours is much higher than before


The Not-So-Good

  • I didn’t track food for most of the month

  • I likely gained weight

  • I ate my feelings and stress daily

  • I haven’t hiked as much as I should have

  • I had to stop couch 2 5k after week one because work had consumed me

  • My eating is out of control and I drank more often than I would have liked


IMG_3531.JPG

Mental Health

  • It’s been a long month filled with stress from a project at work. It’s over and so my stress should move back down to normal levels in regards to work.

  • I’ve been insecure about everything.

  • I found a book called “The Book of Awakening” and it’s sort of a daily dose of meditation and mindfulness that I’ve really enjoyed.

  • I’ve left the disappointment behind in regards to calories and food - I’ll get there, and I’ll keep trying so there is no need to get so upset over it.

  • Exercise is helping me clear my mind, find some calm, and take deep breaths.

  • I plan to read more actual books in April. I listened to a few in March, but want to actually read a few in April.

  • I’m journaling daily now, which is a big help also. It really helps to get shit out on a page.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • Pizza just needs to be off limits because I have ZERO self control (this hasn’t changed since February)

  • When I’m feeling drained, I don’t want to be good. I shall try harder.

  • I need to give up the convenience of eating out and make it convenient to eat at home.

  • I’m going to exercise even more in April.

  • I plan to eat frugally and more healthy in April.

  • Daily mindfulness is great for really centering my stress. The time I set aside for my book really helps me realize it could be worse and it could be better but it doesn’t matter. I need to be here, let shit go, focus on current shit, and be present in life.


March Wins & Goals for April

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip
  • Read/Listen to at least 8 books

  • I’m going to continue to try to drink less alcohol - to make it more of a special occasion instead.

  • Take a weekend off of social media

  • Going to restart Couch 2 5K on April 1

  • I increased my days over 10,000 steps from 57% to 61% of the month and thus want to reach that 75% mark in April.

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind out in west Texas

  • I want to incorporate longer daily walks and lunch walks.

  • I need to take a mindful break daily.

  • Read and write daily

  • Daily walks at least 6 times per week, regardless of Couch 2 5K workouts or hikes

A Healthier Mike - February 2019 Check-In

Don’t stop
When it all drops
Saying maybe something good is coming
Maybe something good is coming my way
— Dear Rouge "Little By Little"

Quick Stats

Total steps: 292,001

Average daily steps: 10,429

Highest daily steps: 19,013 (February 3)

Lowest daily steps: 4,050 (February 9)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 56.76

Total miles hiked: 14.82

Days with over 7 hours of sleep: 2, with 6 days at 6-7 hours

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 35 minutes


IMG_3348.JPG

The Good

  • Number of days with activity is up from January!

  • Daily step average is up from January.

  • My willingness to get out and do some activity is up from January

  • I closed the rings on my Apple Watch more days than January, with better days and higher goals.

  • More active days than January!

  • My jeans are too big now, which is both nice and really annoying

  • The dog is forcing me to walk on days I don’t want to because he basically expects his miles now


The Not-So-Good

  • My average sleep is down 11 minutes per night and that’s kind of depressing.

  • I broke even on weight, which isn’t bad or good, just a bummer. I know I did not try as hard as I could have to eat better, but I certainly walked more. Here’s to pushing it a bit further in March.

  • I have been so depressed this month and thus have been eating to comfort myself and that’s not always the most productive way to handle it. Exercise has helped and I plan to increase the frequency and difficulty.

  • I didn’t really take any “super” long hikes, and I’d like to do something a little more intense. Plans for March.

  • I lost a snowshoe in February, not really health related, but it needed to be said.


IMG_20190228_145208_2.jpg

Mental Health

  • It’s been kind of a shitty month.

  • I’ve been insecure about work because I’m learning how to do things, despite having wonderful coworkers who really do take the time to help and guide.

  • I’ve been grumpy because of the rain keeping me indoors.

  • I’ve been upset that I can’t stay on track with a moderate amount of calories.

  • Exercise is helping me clear my mind, find some calm, and take deep breaths.

  • I plan to read more in March, that should help too.

  • I’m journaling daily now, which is a big help also. It really helps to get shit out on a page.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • Pizza just needs to be off limits because I have ZERO self control

  • When I’m feeling drained, I don’t want to grocery shop or make dinner or clean up the kitchen afterwards. I need to work out a system for these days so I don’t fall so far off the wagon of trying to be healthy.

  • I honestly don’t recall the last time I went out of my way to order a pop.

  • Kombucha is still my favorite drink.

  • My body isn’t REALLY craving anything bad - I never desire candy or cookies. I want cheese and bread. All is good in moderation, but…ya know.

  • I think I’m truly lactose intolerant. I’m on a mission to avoid all dairy with the exception of hard/aged cheeses, Greek yogurt, butter, sour cream, and the occasional splash of heavy whipping cream. The real bummer is giving up ice cream, but it is for the best. (I know non-dairy ice cream exists, but what’s the point?)


February Wins & Goals for March

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip
  • Read/Listen to at least 8 books

  • I’m going to continue to try to drink less alcohol - to make it more of a special occasion instead.

  • Take a weekend off of social media

  • Going to restart Couch 2 5K on March 3

  • I increased my days over 10,000 steps from 41% to 57% of the month and thus want to reach that 75% mark in March.

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind out in west Texas

  • Found new routes in February and want to incorporate them more often in March.

  • Work on getting the household and friends on board with my life goals, so it’s easier to interact and live day to day together

  • Read and write daily

  • Daily walks at least 6 times per week, regardless of Couch 2 5K workouts or hikes

A Healthier Mike - January 2019 Check-In


Quick Stats

Total steps: 299,801

Average daily steps: 9,671

Highest daily steps: 23,594 (January 19)

Lowest daily steps: 4,187 (January 2)

Total miles walked/ran/hiked: 57.67

Total miles hiked: 25.53

Days with over 7 hours of sleep: 5, with 8 days above 6 hours

Average daily sleep: 5 hours 44 minutes


The Good

  • I lost 11.6 lbs this month - it’s not about the numbers, but it sure is encouraging since I’m doing this more as a lifestyle change than a diet or quick change

  • I tracked my food every day since setting out to do so, and it’s now second nature. Tracking my food keeps me in check when it comes to portions and balance.

  • I no longer grab candy or M&Ms at work. I’ve replaced my morning snack of Peanut M&Ms with an apple or a yogurt. I’m not eliminating candy completely, but I sure didn’t earn them by sitting around the office all day.

  • Overall, I’m not nearly as hungry as I thought I’d be by reigning in portion sizes.

  • I’ve been cooking more at home and almost always avoiding dining out. This is good for our budgets and even better for my health.

  • As a lifestyle change/adjustment it’s much easier to take this all in and adapt. Knowing I can have a beer or knowing I can eat poorly and not throw off a whole system makes it easier to stay on track and get back on track.

  • Increased daily exercise and hiked consistently throughout the month. There were some days I didn’t want to go for my evening walk or wake up and hike, but I did. I have to remember the benefits are worth the time.

  • My daily breakfast is oatmeal with a sliced banana and some sliced almonds for crunch. This breakfast is supreme and works to keep me full all morning.

  • When possible, I’m taking lunch or afternoon walks around my office building with plans to expand after the busy season to the nearby park.

  • I had 13 days over 10,000 steps and 19 days with closed rings on my Apple Watch


The Not-So-Good

  • I’ve had a few days that I’ll call binge-sessions. I went way over my daily caloric intake goals. These days were mostly caused by eating out, celebrations, or alcohol.

  • Some days, I can be lazy (depressed) and I’ve noticed those are also the days I eat too much. Those days are directly related to not sleeping enough, insecurities in my life, and general anxiety about everything.

  • I give in to peer pressure too easily and that leads to exceeding my goals. I didn’t need that Taco Bell after the four beers; I could have had 2 beers and no food and been FINE.

  • When I don’t plan ahead, I eat too much or am stuck making poor choices. Planning ahead is my best advantage in this whole shift.

  • I still have trouble saying no things I want, even when I don’t have room or deserve them that day. I don’t mean humanly deserve them, I mean in the realm of a balanced nutrition kind of way. If I’m already overeating, say goodbye to any chance at keeping it in check. I need to work on saying no and reserving the things I love for more of a reward scenario.


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Mental Health

  • Most days were good, but I’ve had several “cloudy days” that are usually the same days where I overeat thus directly relating my mental and physical health. Also, those days where I eat too much are also the days when I avoid any exercise.

  • I’m working very hard to avoid my 2018 scenario of falling victim to my “cloudy days” where I stayed in bed/indoors instead of getting out and getting exercise.

  • When I exercise, it’s almost an instant relief for my brain. I “talk” things out with myself, contemplate alternatives, or just completely turn off my completely.

  • I was on one of my evening walks and just kind of thinking to myself on how this walk really turned my day around and for that I am grateful. Evening walks are saving the day one mile at a time.

  • I listened to “Reasons to Stay Alive” on my flights back from Alaska early in January and it was beautiful and quick and just the inspiration I wanted. I’m reading through the book now, just to reabsorb it and would highly recommend it to anyone struggling with their thoughts.


Thoughts, Notes, Conclusions

  • Beets really make your life colorful - poop, pee, hands, kitchen… but they’re so good.

  • A bottle of prosecco can fit into daily caloric goals, though is completely unnecessary.

  • Loving a vinegar dressing on a salad - shredded carrots, chopped greens, feta, ham, tomato

  • Kombucha may be my new favorite thing. It’s a great fizzy, fermented alternative to pop (soda, coke, whatever). It’s a low calorie game changer.

  • Sometimes, I can close my Apple Watch rings without doing too much out of the ordinary and that’s misleading and not great so I have to be conscious of what I need to make time for during the day/evening.

  • My coworker recommended reducing my caffeine intake and I think he’s onto something. I’m going to reduce my coffee intake to one large cup per day instead of a half of a pot.

  • This is a slow and steady thing. Little by little. Life is good, this is easy and it allows for growth along the way.

  • When you first begin something like this, with yet another fresh start, you don’t know exactly how much progress you’ve made but it always feels good to see activity increase throughout the month.

  • I don’t want to cut anything out of my life. I did the low carb thing for a while, it didn’t work that well once I hit a point where I was bored or thought I could “maintain” my weight. I want to eat whatever I want, but in moderation. This is my first real attempt at doing this, in my entire life, with the exception of doing Weight Watchers for a few months and giving up on it. I’m finding it easier and easier to balance the food I want and the food that is good for me, but I’m still struggling with saying no when my mind takes over.


Goals for February

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip

Winter time at the cabin, off the grid, with my ass in the snow. Good views, good vibes, good beer, good times ahead. #annualtrip

  • Sleep more - work on getting to bed before 10 pm which can be a challenge but is totally worth it when I wake up refreshed and ready for the next day

  • Drink less alcohol, though I didn’t drink too much. I found myself making the worst food decisions when I was drinking, so reducing or eliminating that situation is better for everything. Also, my sleep quality is poor post alcohol consumption so this plays into the first goal.

  • I will be at the cabin for a few days off the grid, so I’ll do my best but I will not be worried about it overall. We may drink a little more, but we don’t overeat plus there will be snowshoeing and the whole trekking a mile across the lake things to get to and from the cabin. I’m looking forward to the exercise but also the mental break from society.

  • More exercise - including restarting couch 2 5K from the beginning because I felt really good while doing that or maybe just using NIke Run Club on my phone/watch. Either way, more activity or longer dog walks at the very minimum.

  • I’d like to increase my days over 10,000 steps from about 41% to over 50%

  • More adventurous hikes - I have a few spots in mind out in west Texas

  • Longer neighborhood walks - will achieve this by incorporating another loop or park loop adjacent to the area I already walk.

  • Weekly meal prepping so I can have things prepped and ready to cut down on overall time consumed.

  • Read or listen to at least two books and finish the re-read through of “Reasons to Stay Alive”

A Healthier Mike - January 2019

Another month is upon us and my health goals from December are carrying forward into January. I didn’t quite make the mark last month with fitness and health, so we’ll keep pushing through striving for greatness this month. I don’t do resolutions at the new year, but I do have ongoing goals through the year that I edit as necessary. These goals range from financial goals to hiking goals, with everything in between. I plan to write every month, probably at the beginning, about the previous month and where I am with my goals. These posts will be specifically related to a healthier mind and body. Last year, I attempted to write about these things weekly and I didn’t see it necessary. Most people don’t care, and I don’t want to take the time as I’m already writing and recording about my goals in a journal and spreadsheet.

Ongoing General Goals

  • Eat less food (overall)

  • Move my body more (overall)

  • Eat more fresh and whole foods

  • Sleep more

  • Read more

  • Hike more often

Specific Goals

  • Lose 35 pounds by my 35th birthday

  • Run a 5K by summer

  • Hike 52 times in 2019

  • Run a trail (or several, but at least one)

The Plan

  • Meal plan for each week (rough or detailed, just a plan)

  • Cut out processed sugars

  • Walk, run, workout, or hike 30 minutes at least 5 times per week

  • Limit eating out to 2 lunches per month, dinners TBD

  • Eat more vegetables with every meal

  • Track food intake in My Fitness Pal app

  • Get to bed before 10pm

  • Track fitness with Apple Watch

Things I’m not doing

  • Weighing myself daily

  • Beating myself up for missteps

  • Comparing myself to anyone else and their journey (though, I do look up to people and their abilities when it comes to certain things like hiking and running)

Generally, I have issues with eating the correct portions of food. I overeat, regularly. It’s something I struggle with and work on every day of every year. Being conscious of what I eat and tracking every item is the only way for me to grasp just how much is going into my body. When I track my food, I feel better and often maintain a better heads space about food and fitness.

I’m not doing this with weight loss as a main goal; I want weight loss to be a side effect. I am working on my health and fitness to ensure I’m around to enjoy life. I want to hike, kayak, and backpack without having to slow down all the time. I want to feel confident in group settings and get out with people a little more advanced than myself. I want to feel less smashed on an airplane and I want to be even more comfortable with myself just about everywhere. I want to run some trails and actually run an entire 5K. I want to do so much and I am going to keep trying.

The vanity of it all is that I want to look down and not see a giant belly. I want to look nice in my puffy coat and vest. I want to feel comfortable with fitted clothing on my body. So, all of the health things aside, I want to look good too. I don’t want to be some ripped guy and I know I’ll never have a skinny body, but I just want to be a little less fluffy.

Follow along, or don’t, I’ll be here the first week of every month recapping and rerouting the plan as necessary. I wish you a healthy month ahead.

Year in Review - 2018 was a little weird.

I found this prompt, maybe from Cait Flanders, maybe from somewhere else? I have no idea at this point because I saved it so long ago. Either way, 2018 was not exactly what I had hoped. It started strong, and had a lot of highlights, but ultimately I’m glad to usher in 2019. I’m ready for a new Outdoor Society calendar and ready for the “clean slate” that is a new year.


1. What makes this year unforgettable?

  • Visiting Mount Rainier National Park and seeing the mountain from many different angles and times of day

  • Getting a new job

  • Losing a grandparent. It was a weird whirlwind, all over again. Never gets any easier.

  • Visiting Alaska for Christmas into the new year

  • Visiting Washington’s Olympic Peninsula twice and getting to experience the difference in seasons

  • Meeting a few outdoor people I admire and respect so much

2. What did you enjoy doing this year?

  • The 31/52 hikes I did get done

  • Visiting Tahquamenon Falls

  • Being able to travel around the country and see the natural beauty

  • Our annual trek to New Mexico for camping and hiking in the Santa Fe natural forest

  • My annual BFF trip to Utah

  • Spending downtime at home with my other half, our Texas friends and family, and our pets

  • Family moments that were calm

3. What/who is the one thing/person you’re grateful for?

  • I’m grateful for travel. Travel is the one thing I can do with my other half, family, friends, and all of the outdoor people I am thankful for.

4. What’s your biggest win this year?

  • Getting a new job that is seemingly better for me as a whole. A job where I work on a team of people my own age and do work I enjoy. A job that is setting me up for the future in ways beyond money, setting up a career, and pushing me forward. I don't mind getting up for work these days.

5. What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year?

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders was one of the most inspirational pieces of literature I’d had in my hands in a while. This book goes beyond financial advice and offers so much varied life advice. If you're looking for something uplifting and real, look no further.

  • Love Simon - I know it may seem cheesy, but the movie made me feel like a teenager all over again and feel all those misguided feelings of being closeted and hiding. It reminded me that those feelings don’t just go away. It was a cute movie that made me feel powerful things.

  • Said the Whale released an album in 2017, but it carried on with me in 2018 along with their new singles this year. This band makes music that makes me feel things to my core. I get emotional while listening, but not in an annoying way. I sing along, I bop along, but almost always feeling SOMETHING when I listen. Great band.


6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?

  • I always worry about money. I've worried about money since I was a kid, but still don't know how to manage it well. I got a new job and I have a budget, but I still spent more than I brought in and that's the ongoing battle. December was a better month, and January should continue the trend as I've adjusted the daily and monthly goals to help.

7. What was your biggest regret and why?

  • Not completing my 52 Hike Challenge 2018. I feel like an absolute failure in some regards, yet part of me is says “better luck in 2019.” I hiked as much as I wanted to, or could, and that is something. I could have tried harder, could have battled the heat, could have found trails unaffected by the Texas rain, but I didn’t. I had 31 GOOD hikes and that’s what I need to focus on. I will complete 2019, mark my words.

8. What’s one thing that you changed about yourself?

  • My outlook on life has changed. My motives for doing things has changed. I’m focused on experiences and memories. I want to see everything, do as much as possible, and live life as much as I can before my end. More action, less contemplating.

9. What surprised you the most this year?

  • How much I loved solo trips. I knew I would like them, but hot damn do I love them. I love traveling and sharing memories, but solo trips are AHHHHHMAZING.

  • How terrible I am at making real life outdoor friends. My fear of rejection and my own self doubt really held me back in 2018.


10. If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?

  • FINISH your hikes.

  • Don’t get dragged into your darkness.

  • Don’t give up on those fitness and food goals by March!

  • Eat more balanced

  • Be nicer to people

  • Stop whining about doing things

  • Plan ahead and get annoying chores and tasks done during the week

  • Go out and meet people. I'm good enough and people will not just reject me…

Tuesday Thoughts

I’ve been in a funk. Not a “hide in a dark room” kind of funk, but in one nonetheless. I’ve been buying useless shit to feel joy instead of doing things to bring me joy. I’ve been avoiding the outdoors and finding any excuse to stay in bed all morning instead of soaking up the good weather. I recently suffered from a stomach bug, which brought all of this up to the surface.

I had to spend 3-4 days in bed and resting to realize things aren’t great in my head.  I’ve had no urge to do anything, haven’t felt good about my body, and certainly haven’t felt productive. My weekly blogs have suffered, but I’ve lacked creativity anyway. I feel this year has been a series of these bad spells, worse than many of the years before. Thinking back, it’s pronab much like 2005 which was easily one of the worst years on memory. When I think about, 2014 wasn’t great either because years like 2006 and 2015 exist where I look back and seem like I was living out of body and out of sorts. It was kind of a depression hangover fueled by selfishness and crazy decisions about life. So many parallels between those years. I am much more level headed these days, so hopefully the rebound is more level also. I’m hopeful I’ll rebound into nature and good choices again.

I am working on a plan to “get to my happy place” over the next few days. I need to exercise, for both physical and mental health. I need to eat a little better, so my clothes fit again. I need to stop spending and work out a strict budget. I need to figure out 2019 and what we have to save and prioritize for thought the year. I have a lot to figure out, but I know building a routine will help my brain and I look forward to regular, thoughtful posts. 

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#MondayMotivation - Try something new

Being an adult was not explained to me, and I’m sure it wasn’t explained to you. Choosing a job, or career path, was something that was sensationalized and it’s not nearly as glamorous as I thought it would be as a kid. There is a certain joy in finding something you love, though, and I think I’m getting closer to it as I make my way through life. Here’s to the changes, having the luxury to change, and having the support to change. I’ve never really left a decent job because I wanted to try something new, but when the opportunity presented itself I though I’d try. It may work out, it may not. I have good feelings about it all, really, but I’m no fortune teller. There’s always give and take when it comes to life, and I’ll be sacrificing some aspects for others, but I think it’ll be alright. I want to learn more and do more, so as I age I’m continuously employable. I didn’t always have the ability, skills, or luxury to change jobs to gain more experience. I’m grateful for the privilege. Not everything works out and not every bit of hard work is rewarded, but it’s the positive experiences that keep us all going forward. Happy Monday!

Who cares what might have been?

I try not to dwell on what might have been had I done something differently in my life. BUT, there is one decision I wonder about and it takes over my brain from time to time. If I had taken the city planning/code enforcement job with the City of Westworth Village (on the west side of Fort Worth) instead of the control room operator job at Quicksilver Resources, where would I be? Quicksilver paid better, a ton better, and it was an obvious choice from a financial standpoint. I was just starting to come out of my dark hole of financial depression - I had been paying my bills in full, and on time, for the first time in MONTHS. I was starting to know what it felt like to be an adult, despite having to borrow my aunt’s car to go to the job interview because mine didn’t have air conditioning. I felt Quicksilver was the responsible choice, and I don’t think I was wrong about that, in the end.

I accepted a job, in the oil & gas industry, and essentially felt I had backed myself into a corner career wise. There are a lot of energy jobs in Texas and nationwide, but I wasn’t learning skills that would make me valuable to many companies. I sat in a control room, a data center with 12 screens, and monitored natural gas production for three years. I finally found a way out and ended up in the environmental department to learn new skills. I started to learn about environmental remediation, permitting, and plenty of other marketable skills but was laid off within about 15 months because the company had failed and filed bankruptcy. I ended up back in a control center, for another failing company, as a contract employee on a non-permanent basis. I jumped at my current role, another environmental job, but have been there for two years and haven’t had many opportunities to learn new things or see any room for advancement. I don’t hate the work, but I don’t love it either. It’s pretty normal, from the sounds of it to feel that way about work. Who knows?

I wonder what I could be doing if I had accepted the planning job, for less money. Would I be happier, more fulfilled? Would I have a solid foundation for a career in city planning? Would I be struggling with my bills the same way I am now, or worse?

Things that wouldn’t have gone away: my habits. I have bad habits when it comes to spending and saving. I don’t think any amount of money, short of six figures, would solve that problem. I feel if I had taken the road through city planning, I’d be below my current and previous pay grades, which were higher, but maybe I’d feel more challenged and have more room for growth? I don’t know, like I said, I try not to waste too much time on the whole concept.

I do know one thing going forward, I’m not going to solely follow the money - unless it’s a LOT of money. I’d like to learn new skills, get into a career that offers room to grow and challenges me along the way. I’d love to work with a city, county, or state government. Only time will tell what happens with my current job, but I know if I don’t make the positive changes it’s going to continue to just be okay enough to stay.

Instead of going over the scenarios and wondering how my life could have been different, I will focus on the HERE AND NOW. I will try to find ways to improve my current life, career path, and mindset. Instead of wasting brain power on the “what if” thoughts, I’m going to harness it into “if this, than that.” I’m not always successful at getting out of my own head, especially when I’m having a bad day, but I have worked hard to be mindful about this topic and I plan to work hard to carve the path I want instead of what I “backed myself into” or “what the industry says I should do.”

#MondayMotivation - Personal, but maybe relatable?

This is from my road trip to Texas, in 2011 when everything changed for me.

This is from my road trip to Texas, in 2011 when everything changed for me.

**This topic is personal, revealing, and leaves me a little vulnerable. I beat myself up a lot about money, debt, and piss poor life planning but I'm excited and motivated about it all now.**

My first vehicle purchase, at an interest rate I'm not comfortable discussing. After moving and getting a new job, this was the next big credit builder for me. I loved this little car, and in hindsight, I love it even more now.

Having an end goal, a payoff date, or just a solid plan to get to the end of a financial path is exciting. I've spent years paying on my student loans and I finally have an end date in sight. It's not near, and it's still not the most ideal, but it's a finite date in which they will be paid off and in my past. By the time I'm 50, in 16 years, I'll be free of student loans. By the time I'm 40, I'll be free of personal and auto debts. The thought of these end dates really motivates me and excites me in terms of the new possibilities. In the next ten years, I may be able to buy a house, move to another state, or buy a small camper. Who knows?

I'm making a point to focus on the positive aspect of this, but don't be silly and think I'm immune to the negative thoughts. I still have hard days when I think it'll never go away, when I think I'll never be done. Some days feel like I'm in a hole and I just wish someone would bury me - that's dark, but it's real. I'm choosing to focus on the fact that, thanks to refinancing, I have an end date for my student debt. Thanks to refinancing, I have an end date to my personal debt. Thanks to improving my credit, I have a very low interest rate on a car that hopefully lasts me until my student loans are paid off. The hardest part in all of this is knowing I did this to myself. I made all of the choices to buy the crap or go to school. Some things in life are unavoidable, but that is not that majority of my problems. Coming to terms with habits and setting goals really helps me stay out of the negative mindset regarding finances.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015: I was laid off from a job at a company I thought I'd be at for a while. I didn't love the job anymore, but I certainly didn't hate it enough to just leave without other options. Sigh. This was a whirlwind of a time. I had to cash in my 401K from the past 5 years and still barely made it through the 3-4 months without an income. This experience forever changed me. I didn't have an "emergency" fund nor did I have other sources of income, and I still don't have either of those yet but it's a goal.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015: I was laid off from a job at a company I thought I'd be at for a while. I didn't love the job anymore, but I certainly didn't hate it enough to just leave without other options. Sigh. This was a whirlwind of a time. I had to cash in my 401K from the past 5 years and still barely made it through the 3-4 months without an income. This experience forever changed me. I didn't have an "emergency" fund nor did I have other sources of income, and I still don't have either of those yet but it's a goal.

I honestly don't care if I ever own a home, and who knows if I'll ever be able to do so, but I have days when I really want one. I know the value and I know the benefits, but it's not something I must do to feel fulfilled in life. I will aim for that goal, and at the very least, have some money saved for some purpose or another. Speaking of saving, I'm working on a few things related to that which also motivate me. I'm saving for a kayak and a bike in 2019. This is also the first time, in a long time, I have money in my savings account. Again, it isn't much, but it's a start and it's automatic so I don't even have to think about it or pretend not to spend it.

I still have months when I eat out too much, weeks I use too much gas, and days I buy stupid shit online just because. There will always be a desire for travel and adventure, and that doesn't come without cost. There's the whole deal with most of my family living 1300 miles away that also requires funding as well as friends getting married across the country. There will always be a bill or surprise expense I'm not excited about but I'm getting better about managing my financial anxiety. Learning to be content with the things I have and taking small steps to spend more consciously really helps. I read a book by Cait Flanders called "The Year of Less" and it it helped spark some introspection about what we need and what we have and how they relate. I'd highly recommend it for anyone looking for a little inspiration into finance, consumerism, or simplifying their life. This is not a sponsored post, at all, I just loved the book and her general message as a human in this world.

I had interviews, in 2015/2016, but had no luck until someone I knew knew someone else who had a temp/contract job for me. It was a step back, way less money, but I jumped at the chance. I was also eating my feeling hardcore at the end of 2015/beginning of 2016.

I had interviews, in 2015/2016, but had no luck until someone I knew knew someone else who had a temp/contract job for me. It was a step back, way less money, but I jumped at the chance. I was also eating my feeling hardcore at the end of 2015/beginning of 2016.

I'm hoping you can find motivation from my words. I'm not here to brag or ask for pity, I'm just here to share my story and hope that other people feel more comfortable in their situations because it is a real story. I have been following a lot of podcasts and blogs about finance, but most of them just made me even more depressed about my situation. Know that there are people out there who feel completely screwed and that life is an endless pit of hell, but there is hope if you just start crawling out. It's taken me over seven years to get my credit score up and it's only been in the past couple of months that I've felt like I can pop out of the water for air long enough to stay alive. For someone who struggles with finances, and has struggled for the past 15 years, it's been a process and I'm still learning. Be positive, be realistic, and be ready to make changes. May you find motivation this Monday. There is no set path that is suitable for everyone. You and I may have different timelines in life, and that is quite alright. It took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that my 30 wasn't the same as someone else's 30. It's the best realization because it is true freedom.

Contact me if you'd like to continue this chat and or swap stories and stuff.

Time Can Stand Still

I moved away so quickly in 2011, I don't think it hit until 2015. Seriously, I was away and working and trying to build a life and all of the sudden I just missed Michigan so much. It's now an overwhelming feeling I deal with on a daily basis. Being there for a few days recently was really nice, but really had me emotional on my four hour drive back to the Detroit Airport.

I'm not in a place, financially or career wise, to relocate, but something is really making feel that I will be or that I need to get back. Maybe it's the recent death of my grandfather, maybe it's my aging grandmother, maybe it's the rest of the family, or maybe it's the scenery? I don't know. I do know that I miss it more and more as I get older and even more as I visit so infrequently.

During my most recent trip, my grandmother and I took a little walk as we did many times for years before. In those moments, the brief 15 minutes, time stood still. I felt like a kid again, I felt as though I had never left the state, and I felt at peace. Reality came back, and I realized I was leaving the next day and had to say goodbye to her and everyone else.

I don't know when I'll get to go back in a more permanent capacity, but I do know I'm looking forward to another visit around Thanksgiving, even if it's only a day or two. I can't wait to drive up there and see everyone again. The trips and interactions don't always go as planned, but they usually contain more positive than negative energy.

I made the most of my three full days there including checking out our local apple orchard for hard cider and donuts, spending time with the family, and enjoying the little moments surrounded by nature.

No Resolutions

Things I'm going to accomplish or adjust in 2018:

  • Since I've discovered podcasts, my audio book obsession has dwindled so I'm going to read more.  I have a stack of books and a few more on the Kindle waiting, here we go!
  • I'm going to make sure my Subaru Outback is in every adventure photo I can so I can prove to them I deserve to be a Subaru Ambassador.  I was rejected in 2017, but here's to hoping for acceptance in 2018.
  • I'm going to increase my overall hiking distance to 300+ miles from the 212 last year.  Check out more at 52 Hikes With Mike.
  • I'm going backpacking for a long weekend.
  • I will climb a peak - hopefully Guadalupe Peak at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
  • I will visit more National Parks, Monuments, and Preserves here in Texas this year.  I'm hoping to include Big Thicket National Preserve, Padre Island National Seashore, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and maybe even a return trip to Big Bend National Park.
  • I will be moving this year, in March, and the new place will have a room to store my gear so it's not disorganized and cramped into a tiny closet.

If you'd like to follow along as I attempt to get healthy, see my intro here and check back weekly for updates.  Here's to a healthy, happy, and prosperous year ahead.  If you'd like to hike with me in 2018, contact me through my about page or find me on Twitter!

Seeing can mean believing.

**Seeing can mean believing... more of my opinions on inclusiveness in the parks.**

I know some people who have gone to National Parks.  They have seen the majestic beauty, right along side me, and have proclaimed how beautiful it was aloud.  These same friends, they don't really go to National Parks that often or at all anymore which is okay.  These people saw the beauty, believe in the beauty, and will remember the beauty of these wonderful places forever.  THIS IS IMPORTANT.

A National Park may not be their family vacation destination every time, but they may return someday.  These people understand the importance, value, and impact these places have on the general population.  They get it - because they've been there.  Because these people have been there, they get why it's important to protect and fund these places.  These people then connect National Parks and the preservation ideals to other natural areas that need preservation.  It can build.

Visiting a National Park, once or twice, has left an impression on these people.  Will they return? Maybe.  Will they remember the good times there and what those parks stand for? Definitely.  It just takes one time, even if nature isn't their thing, for someone to fall in love with the idea of National Parks, Monuments, Forests, etc.

Plant the seed and see what grows.  We need to continue to get people of all areas of life/status/etc to these place to see for themselves - maybe only once.  Maybe it isn't their thing, but maybe it is.  Even if it isn't their thing, they'll remember the trip and could see how important these places are for our country.

 

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Late Bloomer: How I fell in love with public lands in 2009.

**Disclaimer: This is a blog entry I've put together describing how I fell in love with our public lands and where I think we need to go with them.  I don't claim to be an expert and this blog entry is strictly my opinion.  My ideas are my own and are subject to change with conversations, education, and experience.  Thank you.**

Late Bloomer.

If we go back to my first National Park, it would be Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore or Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  I am almost sure I went to both as a teenager, with my grandparents, because my parents never took us anywhere out of the county - because of work, money, and time.  I grew up far away from the beauty that was Rainier, Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Rocky Mountain.  I knew not of these places until high school, but really not until college and beyond.  I've always had nature, just not public nature.  We had a couple hundred acres to roam, ample state land in Michigan, and plenty of friends with land.  I never really grasped the concept of National Parks, designated wilderness, or the like until college.  I took a course in wildlife management, learned a lot, and within the next few years visited some national parks.  I had student loan money, so I was invincible.  Not really, but it paid the tuition/rent and I had a few bucks left over for a spring break road trip.  I don't advise on having a few bucks left over - borrow only what is necessary.  I do, however, advise saving hard-earned money for a spring break road trip that isn't to some beach somewhere.  Traditional spring breaks did not appeal to me - but a road trip with my buds to places people weren't going sounded amazing.

In 2007, my two friends and I, set out on that spring break road trip driving from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Denver and through the Rockies and beyond.  We went right past Rocky Mountain National Park and visited a friend in Grand Junction, Colorado.  We drove down through Utah, right past the Arches and Canyonlands, and onward to Texas.  We drove past EVERYTHING because we didn't know much about it and one of us wasn't into the outdoors.  The next year, my outdoor friend and I insisted on a better, more thoughtful trip that included national parks.  We went from Grand Rapids to Seattle, down to Redwoods NP, and onward to Death Valley.  We saw two parks the entire trip - which was better than nothing for us;  we had to compromise for time and interest of the parties involved.  I mean, forget that we drove right by Badlands, North Cascades, Olympic, Crater Lake, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Petrified Forest.  If 2017 me went back to 2008, I'd punch myself in the face for being so dumb.  Anyway...

In 2009, my buddy and I drove out to Arches and camped - determined to see more of our public lands this year.  We traveled onward to some BLM land in Nevada and then over to the Redwoods.  Up the coast, we went to the Olympic Peninsula - which was pure magic.  Saw more, stopped more, spent more time on public lands - really understanding what they were now and what they meant to me.  This trip was the one that really cemented how important these places were.  When 2010 came around, and we were half in college, half not sure what life was all about, half employed, we naturally decided to go to Vegas in the spring.  Sin City was exciting, but I feel the real excitement was about the road trip to various national parks.  We hiked in Death Valley, saw the sights from high to low, and I saw how big that place really was.  From there, we went to Capitol Reef, Arches, and Zion before flying back to Michigan.  If 2009 cemented it, 2010 sealed that cement.  I was in love with our national parks.

In 2011, after moving to Texas I met a new friend and we went to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in October.  It is hard to put into words how I felt about the views, the yellow leaves, and the crisp air.  In love?  Probably.  2012 brought a revival of the random road trip with my outdoor buddy (since he moved to Texas) and we ended up in Tucson at Saguaro NP.  2013 Included Carlsbad Caverns, Arches again, and the Grand Canyon South Rim.  In 2014, we went to Big Bend in January and Rocky Mountain NP in August.  In 2015, my other half and I took our friend on a road trip to Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, and Zion.  Later in 2015, we went to the Arch in St. Louis.  In 2016 I made my return to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with visits to Redwoods, Oregon Caves, Point Reyes, and Golden Gate.  This year, we've visited Kenai Fjords, Redwoods again, and Sequoia/Kings Canyon.  It's true love.

In the past few years, I've spent more time exploring public lands than I had my whole entire previous existence.  I've hiked in national forests, visited the parks mentioned above, and have plans for so visiting so many more public lands.  I was lucky to find the parks in 2008 and luckier now because I can afford to visit more frequently.  The more I visit, the more I love these places and value their existence.  The more I visit, the more I want to fight to keep them public.  The more I visit, the more I see that they may be all of ours, but they're really not available to everyone.  The more I visit, the more I want to use my privilege to open these parks to those who have never visited or can't visit due to distance, cost, or any combination of reasons.  I can't imagine the level of passion and devotion I'd have if I'd been visiting these parks since I was a kid.  It is absolutely VITAL that youth of all backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, and age groups be exposed to (and educated about) these places.  Maybe these lands are not for everyone, but maybe a few of them will grow up to protect, love, and fight for them.  We need to work to include everyone in the outdoor world.  We need to diversify the DOI and hire people from all walks of life.  We need to designate more parks/monuments/etc in more places representing the spectrum of Americans that exist.

I'm not sure quite how to accomplish the tasks at hand, but I've decided a vital step is to find a way to get more people involved and interested in our public lands.  I need to immerse myself in projects, organizations, and maybe even a career shift to building a diverse following for our public lands.  It may be a new love, but it's a true love.  I feel as though I've finally found my place in this fight to make sure our public lands are open to all and I'm determined to make a difference.