A commitment to change | Reporter’s Notebook

It’s time for a change. To be perfectly honest, it’s well past time, and to make those changes I am going to need your help.

Let me explain.

I have had the good fortune to live on Orcas for the past four years. Yet, I am embarrassed to say I have not hiked one trail since I’ve been here. Not in Moran. Not on Turtleback. Nada. Crazy, right? The “why is that?” is not as important as the “what am I going to do about it?”

Knowing I need to be more active and build up my stamina is not news. A while back I was walking a few days a week with a friend on the island. I’m not sure why I stopped but I did. When the athletic club reopened, I bought a membership to take advantage of the pool, then COVID shut us all down again and I lost my momentum. But I did manage to get my bathing suit and towel to the back seat of my car. So, there’s that.

Every day, or at least once a week, I vow to at the very least go for a swim. But, like my grandmother used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” and, while I don’t believe in hell per se, all my good intentions aren’t cutting the mustard. I’m also not getting any younger, and the years ahead are fewer than the ones behind me. So, if not now, when?

Writing for this paper has given me an opportunity to explore several life-altering events. The most challenging was my breast cancer diagnosis and surgery three years ago. Through the RB (Right Breast) Chronicles, I explored how I felt about the changes to my body, my self-image and the joys and challenges of aging. I’ve written about my search for affordable housing and the strength and power of community. In turn, I have found support and encouragement from friends and from people I don’t know, support that has gotten me through those tough times.

I know I need to move more. I sit for hours in front of the computer, both at work and at home. We know that’s not a good thing. Stretching and I are virtual strangers; emotional eating and I are too cozy. For months I’ve been examining what is keeping me from following through with my desire to be more physically active. I know that once you do something for two weeks, it becomes a habit and I’m well aware of the benefits of being outside, and the meditative qualities of any exercise. Now that the Sounder offices are in an upstairs office, I at least get a bit of cardio in the morning, but not the 20 minutes every day a cardiologist suggested I needed right before COVID hit. Single, I don’t have the benefit of a close and constant source of encouragement (or nagging, depending upon your point of view).

I’ve wondered what would provide enough motivation to get me moving when it occurred to me: accountability! What if I challenged myself in front of the community, so to speak, to follow through with a change of habits? What if I said to the entire island: okay I’m going to do this, I’m going to commit to making a change. Here’s the deal: I am asking you to hold me accountable. If you see me in the market, ask me how I’m doing with the swimming routine. Run into me at the hardware store? Ask how Pilates is going or how I am enjoying those morning walks. Keep me on my toes. Within the next week, I’ll be adopting an eating program recommended by my nurse practitioner called “Eat like a bear,” which appears to work very well and produce noticeable results.

Every month I’ll write an update of how I’m doing and what I’ve accomplished. Have I been diligent with my walks, with my swimming? Is my body experiencing positive change? I’ll let you know of my accomplishments and any challenges, and I suspect there will be some. Believe me, I’m more than a bit apprehensive about putting myself out there like this. Still, I’m determined.

According to the Life Expectancy Calculator using data from the US Census and the Social Security Administration, I can expect to live to 87.6 years old. I intend to live much longer. I have at least one book to write and at least one more trip back to Cornwall to make. Plus, if the elder population in the San Juans is any indication, I may live longer than that.

I’m tired of feeling older than my years and I’m ready for a change. With your support and encouragement, I can make those changes happen. There are two reunions happening in March: one of my collegiate alma mater and the other of high school classmates from 1961-63. I’d like to attend both feeling every bit as young as my 74 years, and on my way to my best self.

Besides, summer is coming and the island’s trails are just waiting for my boots.