Author Archives: j.c.w. - Page 4


Colorful autumn trees.

I set goals. Every year I try to lay out a three year plan. It’s a little obsessive, but it keeps things moving and gives me a North Star for navigation in decision making. Every month, I re-evaluate them. And quarterly, I do a brain dump to see if what I’m thinking about now squares with where I wanted to go. I tried to do my monthly review at the beginning of the month and the associated brain dump and…it all stopped.

I looked at the different categories and some of them are just…meaningless in our current climate. So many things either don’t matter anymore or are not achievable that I have to toss out major chunks of The Plan.

Now look, I already did that when we made a massive move to another state during a global pandemic. But even the last bits of lattice I had from The Plan in the Before Times is now gone.

My wife and I walked the dogs at the park Sunday. It was quiet and beautiful. The trees are lit up in colors and the dogs got good and tired. I felt much calmer after that (and before the puppy threw up in the car on the way home). It occurs to me that I need to give more room to the recreational. Maybe what I need are goals around things that aren’t capitalized in “Plans.”

I’m starting to see that we’re not going back.


A campfire.

Parks. Hiking. Camping. Bicycles. Kayaks. It’s been all outdoors, all the time for a lot of people since the COVID train left the station. I will argue that this switch in how we spend leisure time, or how we keep ourselves sane, is a net positive from these Strange Days. For our family, one of the only activities that has managed to stay somewhat in tact is Scouting.

Scouts are very good at following rules. Things like masks and distancing are taken very seriously. I saw some pretty solid behavior on the part of some Webelos this weekend as they prepared for a hike and enjoyed a cooking demonstration by yours truly.

Yes, I was in fact gloved and masked during all food prep. We minimized at every step. The Scouts had a great time and so did the adults.

Since I was doing the cooking, I didn’t get to enjoy the adventure of wandering less than maintained trails with excitable fourth graders, but it’s the sacrifice we make for the program, right?

It was a beautiful day. Perfect temperature. Sunny. Breezy. The trees were colorful. It was everything one could ask for in a fall day of hiking. We could all relax and enjoy some time in the open air. It feels good. That’s why we’re all doing so much of it. Funny that we might have forgotten.

Heading Out

A daypack.

For years, the arrival of autumn was a time to bug out. Bags would be packed, a car loaded, or a train boarded. I would head out to Somewhere Else. I do get a strong sense of wanderlust in the summer, but when the air gets cool and the leaves turn, it feels like it’s time to hit the road. To bug out. To head off to… I don’t even know anymore.

This winter, we have our new home. We have new traditions to build. We’ll have to find a pumpkin patch and a place to get a Christmas tree. Our old traditions will need some minor tweaks.

But there’s an empty backpack over there. There are checklists. There’s gear that seems ready to go.

Being Engaged

Bella the Rottweiler

The hardest thing to do now, it seems to me, is to stay engaged with the real world. All of the “doom scrolling” and watching every blip and fleck of digital vomit fly forth from the mouths of people who are paid to be popular does very little to improve one’s life or to keep one engaged with the Real World. The truth is, whatever it is he’s doing this morning, the digital ruminations of the POTUS have very little to do with what’s going on in the room in which we sit.

There are things that pull us back out of the hole we seem to slip into all too easily. One of those things in our house is Bella. She’s about 3 months old. She’s a 45-ish pound rottie. She demands attention. It’s very, very hard to doom scroll when this spazzy, growing pup is trying to eat a shoe or chew on the furniture.

This really is the best time for a puppy. We’re all in the house. She has plenty of people to play with. There are creatures with thumbs to open the door for her or refill her water bowl. Even the daily walk happens. And for the bipedal denizens of the house, this is a great thing.

This is not to disparage Nacho, the elder states-dog of the house. He’s just way more relaxed and spends most of his time napping in my office while I work. He’s not as needy.

As I poke at my hobbies and get through the day, it’s important to me that I note the things that keep me engaged with my world. The things that bring joy.

Hiking in Fall

A park infographic describing the Power of Pollinators.

I went on a glorious hike with the Scouts on Saturday. My son got out with a crew that he seems to enjoy spending time with as he is slowly able to stretch out and tries to make new friends in a new place that we’ve been living in for over 6 months. And I got to walk with a dear, old friend. Hiking with this gentleman is nothing new. We’re older now and perhaps a touch slower, but it was fun.

I took no pictures but the one on top of this entry. It was far too nice a day and the hike was far too enjoyable to burst any bubbles with getting out a phone and tapping out pictures for a blog that I’m rather spotty about updating. Or for any other reason. It’s important to forget the tech and bask in the trees whenever possible. The world is more beautiful when not viewed through a camera’s lens.

I’m not sure how many sunny days there will be for the remainder of the year, but I don’t mind hiking under the lead grey skies of NE Ohio. In fact, I rather enjoy hiking in the snow.