The first time that I learned the importance of pacing, I was pregnant. The fatigue was really challenging. I was keenly aware of myself as a limited resource. I prioritized. I still ended up doing a lot but it was stressful and work was unsatisfying in many ways. Then I became a mother and it all became too much for me. I became clinically depressed, got treatment, and took a good look at my life. I was no longer depressed and with time, my energy increased and I was able to do more work than I had previously.

In 2012, my daughter was a teen and did not need my constant attention. I was working a lot at my private practice. I worked hours that I thought I “should” even though I was working more than full time hours during most weeks. I was working at a hard pace and if I am completely honest with myself, enjoying making decent money for the first time in my life.

Later in that year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I learned how quickly daily work schedules can be changed when they have to be. It was incredibly hard. Two years later, when I was done, I was still wiped out, though slowly regaining energy,  not to full strength, but to a higher level than before. I have not returned to full-time work since that time. I work about 80% of full time to allow for self-care.

Lately, I have been literally pacing myself. I am in training for a big hike. I am not naming it because it is a kind of hike and not really a specific hike. I want to increase my ability to hike uphill. I really enjoy hiking but I have avoided certain hikes for decades because I had trouble with elevation gain either due to injury or lack of fitness. I also had a fancy cardio test a few months ago and learned that although my aerobic capacity is better than average, my anaerobic capacity is less than average. I start building up lactic acid earlier than most. I wonder if this has always been true. It may explain why as a kid who was athletic, I hated running long distance and sports like soccer, which seemed like non-stop running. I am from Seattle and as you may have noticed, it is surrounded by mountains. There are a lot of steep hikes.

I am hiking a lot, gradually increasing the elevation of the hikes. I take photos, an activity I love to do, which also provides little breaks along the way. I am learning to hike at my own pace instead of trying to match the pace of others. Uphill, I am slow, but steady.

The frequency of the hiking is higher than before. I am going out 1-2 times a week to hiking areas. Sometimes I hike alone and other times I don’t. I am enjoying it immensely.

I do notice that it is a big difference in my level of outdoor activity. It reminded me of the second summer after my cancer diagnosis. I spent the first summer in surgeries, one after another, three total until the margins were finally clear with a right side mastectomy. At the end of the summer, I started one of many reconstructive surgeries. I had lost a summer of outdoor opportunities living in a place that has some of the nicest summers you will ever experience. By the next summer, I was bound and determined to live outdoors as much as I could, considering that I was still in treatment. We had a ball.

Two years ago, I was recovering from a SCAD induced heart attack and traveling to the Mayo Clinic. Last year, we were caring for my dad, who died in July.

At this moment, I am healthy and energetic, thanks to luck, exercise, healthy eating, yoga, and meditation. I am enjoying what I am able to do with this body of mine, which has been through a lot, and will be through more.  At this point, this pace is right for me.

April was wet but beautiful.

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May has been filled with splendid views and wildflowers!

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