Natural beauty, and internal reckoning, in Santa Fe


Today I got a slow start, leaving the house around 2 pm. Actually, though, I’m realizing on this journey that that’s just how I roll. Sometimes I find myself shaming myself for “being lazy” and “wasting daylight,” but that’s just my natural rhythm. I’ve always been a night owl, and I often go to sleep around 1:00 or even later. In the mornings, I like to wake up slowly, and then check my blog post responses, emails, social media, etc. Then maybe I’ll have some breakfast. Then maybe I’ll take a shower. Then maybe I’ll do some “administrative” tasks, such as dealing with financial stuff, or contacting people to arrange or fine-tune my lodging arrangements over the next few days. Heck, if I have time, I might even enjoy a phone call with a friend or relative. There are also some physical therapy exercises I need to do each day. (I had been putting them off, but when I stayed with my friend Michelle in Albuquerque, she is a physical therapist, so she helped me to get going on that again.)

So it’s often close to noon, or even later, by the time I get outside. I had noticed that back home in Portland, in the early days of the pandemic, too. On the days I didn’t have to go to work, sometimes I would stay in bed until noon or even later. I would eventually make it outside in the afternoon, and then spend a couple of hours enjoying the natural beauty (and afternoon light!) of the neighborhood… and then head back inside for dinner.

The part of me that was raised in a Puritanical culture that frowns upon such diurnal rhythms and “sloth” would sometimes shame me. And I find myself fighting that inner voice on this trip sometimes.

But really, I am harming no one by these behaviors and preferences. And I am living the life I love! I’ve never been particularly athletic or outdoorsy. (At least not since before adolescence.) So this journey is pushing my edges. It’s OK if I only experience a few hours of outdoor exploration some days. I savor those hours. And I savor my slow, self-care pace.

It’s interesting to find myself in this magical, extremely lucky position of having a year to live exactly as I wish to live. Things have been going so well. I’m so incredibly grateful. And, interestingly, even living such a “perfect” life right now pushes me up against the edges of my comfort zone sometimes, in terms of confronting “shoulds” and internal voices telling me I’m “doing it wrong.”

I’ve got plenty of time ahead of me this year, though, to practice sinking deeper into myself and my own joy. I celebrate that!

So today, I left the house about 2:00, and headed into town to visit the Santa Fe outpost of the La Montanita Co-op. I took the less-busy-road route that my host had suggested, rather than Google Maps’ first suggestion. I was glad I did; the traffic was low, and the scenery was pretty.

But then I had a mini anxiety attack at the co-op, sitting at an outside table eating my grilled tofu wrap: Was I squandering my time in this new-to-me city? Where should I go? How could I maximize my experience of this place? How could I best appreciate this wonderful weather? (I had just looked at the Flagstaff forecast for when I plan to be there in a few days, and was shocked and concerned about the low temps, so that knowledge was hanging over me.) Was my phone going to run out of power before I could take all the photos I wanted, and/or before I could use it to navigate around town and then back home? (I had brought a power cord, but not an extra battery.)

What should I dooooo??

I decided to take a 15-minute time-out, and flip over the phone, and just sit quietly and feel into what I really wanted, rather than trying to use my mind to “optimize my experience,” lest I commit the sin of failing to make the most of it.

I decided I wanted to visit Annapurna’s again; I hadn’t been to their Santa Fe location, but I always love their food, including the other day in Albuquerque with Michelle and Steve.

I looked it up on the map, and was delighted to find that getting there could be done mostly on a beautiful bike trail. Once again, I was rewarded for following my heart’s desire, by finding myself on a beautiful off-road path. As I pedaled, I reflected that what I most enjoy while traveling is connecting with locals, experiencing local parks and bike paths, and visiting local co-ops and vegan restaurants. Other “shopping” (and thus shopping districts) does not appeal to me, especially with my limited budget and very limited space. I do enjoy local attractions sometimes, such as gardens and museums, but not always the most popular or obvious ones.

So… here I was, a late riser and late get-out-the-door-er, bicycling in beautiful weather along a dedicated bike path, from the local co-op to a local vegetarian restaurant. I was absolutely living my dreams. There was no need for stress.

I even passed a cool labyrinth in one of the parks I biked through. I didn’t feel called to walk it myself, but I enjoyed seeing it.

I got a lovely meal at the restaurant, dining on the patio in the late afternoon light. On my way in, I got a compliment on my bike.

I love this bike!

I love this life!

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