June 5, 2018

Weekend Recap: Essentialism in Scheduling

This was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time! A huge variety of activities, quality time with a lot of wonderful people, and some epiphanies about how I want to schedule my weekends in the future.

Friday was pretty hectic at work, but it ended with the bimonthly women’s book club that I run. This month, we were discussing Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, which I found fascinating and inspiring – I’d highly recommend it. I had thought that essentialism was going to be primarily be about cleaning out stuff, a la Marie Kondo, but it actually focused on living an essentialist life overall – paring down your focus at work and in social situations, and only doing things that are a “hell yeah”. I could definitely stand to do more of this – I’ve been saying yes to a lot of things that I don’t love, and they end up feeling like obligations even if I was mildly interested in them to begin with.

But after book club was an event that definitely didn’t feel like an obligation: Razzle Dazzle! This is an annual event my friend Shannon organizes every year, to raise money for Boulder Valley School District. I didn’t go last year, but saw tons of photos from the event that made it look fantastic – so many of my neighbors go and I didn’t want to miss it this year. I ended up sharing an Uber over to Louisville with a few neighbors who are becoming good friends, and our table was a fun bunch that included our mayor.

I was madly in love with my new dress, which was this one by Calvin Klein. I need to find another event to wear it to!

I bid on a ton of items at the auction and did my best to win, but I was also trying hard not to go overboard and donating way more money than planned. I ended up losing out on last minute snipe bids for a bunch of things, but fortunately did win a package of tickets to the Colorado Symphony and a gift certificate for dinner beforehand. I had just gone to Red Rocks the previous night to see the Colorado Symphony play a collection of Rachmaninoff pieces, and had an absolutely incredible time, so I was super jazzed to win another opportunity to see the symphony!

The event ended fairly early, at 9pm, but I ended up extending an impromptu invite to a few friends to come back to my house after for more drinks and dessert. I hadn’t really planned for this, and so spent some time rummaging around to see what I had in the pantry/freezer to offer, but we were all having so much fun talking about anything and everything that it didn’t seem to matter! (Or at least that’s what they told me the next day when I worried that I hadn’t been a good hostess.)

In the morning, I was up at 5:30am, but rather than immediately going out for a hike, I opted for some lazy time in bed reading a novel. That was a nice treat to kick off my weekend! After finally getting up and running a few errands, I headed out to hit the trails a little after 9am.

I wasn’t meeting up with anyone, but I had still blocked my calendar for a hike – and that tactic worked. While I considered going for a shorter hike given my late start (and general laziness), the fact that I had planned it and literally put it on my calendar made me feel like I couldn’t skip it. Note to self for future! I started at NCAR Trailhead (which I realized I never visited once in 2017 – oops!), and headed up to Bear Peak from there, via the Fern Canyon trail.

I was doing the route totally from memory, which turned out to be a mistake when I hadn’t hiked it in two years. I ended up having to pull out my phone for a trail map at one point, and when I got to the saddle below Bear (as seen in this pic), I was so confused! Turns out I was remembering the saddle of Bear and South Boulder peaks rather than the saddle of Bear and Green. But there were lots of other hikers at this point (most people take the Bear Canyon trail rather than Fern Canyon), so I knew I was on the right track.

I was hiking at a decent pace, but I was still surprised how quickly I reached the top of Bear Peak, in 1:41. Since I knew from a previous Bear Peak blog recap that it once took me 5.5 hours roundtrip, I thought it would take me at least three hours up. 1:41 was awesome! It felt great to get there so quickly, since I was pretty tired from the climb.

View from the top! You have to scramble up these rocks for the best view, which is always a little scary (lots of exposure!), but it’s totally worth it.

I hung out on the rocks for a while, eating an Rx Bar, and then started my descent down the other side of the mountain. Rather than go back through Fern Canyon, I chose to take Shadow Canyon down – a little bit longer, since I’d have to trek back a few extra miles on the Mesa Trail at the bottom, but I thought I was up for it.

Here’s that saddle of Bear and South Boulder that I remembered! I didn’t take the extra time to go up to South Boulder Peak this hike, but I think doing the double ascent will be on my list for next time.

Shadow Canyon was a beautiful descent, but when I met back up with the Mesa Trail, I was pretty tired… and I still had several unshaded miles in the afternoon sun before I’d get back to my car. I always underestimate how bad this part is when I do the loop! Thanks to all the rain we’ve gotten lately, the scenery was at least really pretty and leafy green.

Rolling hills from the Mesa Trail. So beautiful!

I used Google Maps to make sure I was taking the right turns on the Mesa Trail and not inadvertently going back to the wrong trailhead, and with about two miles to go, my friend Chris texted me that she was on her way home from a birthday party and was excited to nap. (Her boys had in fact already fallen asleep in the car.) With that inspiration, and the trail being pretty runnable at this point, I kicked it up to a jog so I could get myself home faster and perhaps get some couch time in myself. I ended up back to my car in almost exactly 5 hours – so a decent chunk faster than the last time I did this loop two years ago! I definitely want to hike it more and see if I can improve this summer.

After stopping home for a quick shower, I headed back up to Boulder for a unique event to round out my afternoon. One of the Meetup groups I’m in was hosting an informal screening of some TED talks, with discussion in between. We all brought snacks and drinks to share, and emailed our suggestions of good TED talks to the organizer, and it ended up being a really cool experience! I think I might like to host one of these at my house sometime…

But speaking of house events, I had to jet out of the TED talks event a little early, because I was meeting some neighbors for our monthly “cookblog club”. As I’ve written about before, we choose a cookbook (except all of us get our recipes online, so our source is usually a blog rather than a cookbook) and each cook a different recipe, then bring them all together for a potluck event where we can try all the dishes. It’s a really fun way to explore several recipes from one author… and of course, enjoy some great conversation with friends.

We posed for a pic inside, but then took our plates outside to eat on the patio… it was an absolutely perfect and peaceful summer evening!

We started with a bacon and strawberry salad topped with an orange vinaigrette, made by Cathryn. Karlin took on the challenging task of spinach artichoke twice baked potatoes, while our host Elisabeth made this yummy pesto baked chicken. And I rounded out dessert with chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. Everything was so ridiculously good – we couldn’t get over how every single recipe was a total winner! Highly recommend our blogger of the month, Paleo Running Momma – if all her recipes are as good as those four, she’s a star.

I had thought I’d take care of some chores around the house when I got home, but we had such a nice time talking that the evening ran long, and I didn’t have time for much before bedtime. Totally worth it 🙂

I woke up on Sunday morning super duper sore from my hike the day before. 10 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation climb was no joke!! But I dragged myself out for a trail run anyway. I had plans to meet a trail running friend for breakfast at 9am, so I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to run Rattlesnake Gulch up to the Continental Divide overlook, but I swapped it out for two loops of one of my favorite easy trails, Flatirons Vista, instead.

This field of yellow daisies around mile 2 is SO beautiful and so photogenic! I love this view.

I did a full loop of my usual 3.6 miles, then headed back out the same way but turned left in the woods to come back on a shorter 2.4 mile loop, bringing my total to almost exactly 6 miles for the day. I spent the entire time listening to old-school albums by Rascal Flatts (from 2000!), which were what I used to listen to during marathons. The nostalgic music made me really happy and relaxed, and I felt fantastic and like I was keeping up a strong pace. But when I actually looked at my time, it was 9:58 / mile – whomp whomp! I found it interesting that my legs being so tired made me totally unable to estimate what pace I was running.

I wished happy National Trails Day to everyone I passed, but there weren’t that many people on Sunday. I’m always surprised more people don’t run this trail, as it’s just stunning!

After finishing my run, it was off to a coffee shop in Boulder to meet my new running buddy Ryan and hear about his epic trail ultra the day before, doing the Dirty 30 in Golden. If I thought my ascent of Bear Peak was bad, he basically did 3 times that and conquered 7,250 feet of climb over 30 miles! Insane. I don’t know if I’ll ever be up for something like that (which seems like pure torture), but I am inspired to get out on the trails more, and maybe even start trying to run some of the (easier) hikes I do.

Another thing that contributed to me opting for Flatirons Vista trail on Sunday morning: one of my neighbors only a few doors down found a huge rattlesnake in her driveway on Saturday. I hadn’t realized it was snake season already, but I was a little leery of going to the appropriately-named Rattlesnake Gulch. To make up for it, after coffee with Ryan, I went to the National Trails Day celebration at my neighborhood trailhead, just in time for the free presentation on snakes. It gave the kids a chance to hold some (friendly) snakes, and I got some more tips on avoiding them if I see them on the trails. Hopefully it won’t happen!

You’ll note from this pic that I didn’t get up close and personal and stayed a few rows safely back… even though this particular snake was too busy eating a mouse to take any notice of the dozens of people gawking at it and taking pictures.

After a shower and lunch, my true “activities” for the weekend were over, and it was time to just take care of some chores (like putting together a new bedframe) and then relax. I capped off the weekend with a walk around the Highlands neighborhood in Denver, and some delicious sesame pork belly ramen at Sera’s Ramen Enclave. Yum!

This weekend had a lot going on, but when I reflected back on it, so many of my activities were low-key things at someone’s house (or my own), and mostly with neighbors rather than friends I made before moving. Over the last few months, I’ve been finding myself staying in a lot more than wanting to go out. I’m so grateful to live in such a beautiful and amazing neighborhood, and find myself wanting to take advantage of it! Maybe it’s the ex-New Yorker in me, but it still makes me so happy that I can have people over to my house (or go to someone else’s house) rather than having to go to restaurants / bars just because I want to catch up with someone.

I’ve also been loving my neighborhood pool, which just opened Memorial Day weekend. I love how I can walk over spontaneously and still be likely to find a friend hanging out on the pool deck and watching their kids frolic in the water. This weekend may not be the best example, since I made a lot of plans, but I’m finding it refreshingly relaxing to be a little bit more impromptu – to not have a plan (usually created via some complicated back-and-forth of where to meet and when), but instead just see if someone is around when I’m feeling like company. Neighbors make this so easy, and I can’t get over how lucky I am to live in a place that has so many awesome people that share many of my same interests. Between Razzle Dazzle, Cookblog Club, the National Trails Day events, some pool time, and some town politics I’ve been getting more involved with, I feel like I’m finally starting to fit into my neighborhood and become a real member of the community. (Rather than being just the weird single girl who doesn’t have 2.5 kids and a dog like everyone else.)

Next weekend, I’ve already got a lot of plans – from our annual work baseball night at Coors Field, to a music / beer festival downtown, to volunteering with Boulder County Parks & Open Space all day Sunday. But while I’m excited for those activities, I’m also looking forward to more weekends like this last one, with room to improvise and no anxiety that I’m wasting precious social time by not scheduling down to the minute.

Being on the other side of the country for work so much can make me feel like I need to account for every minute that I’m home. And for so long, I’ve scheduled to the max to try to make up for the time I’m gone. However, I’m learning that lately I’m happiest when I have a healthy mix of plans and some room for spontaneity – even if that means letting go of some obligations and saying no a bit more. Essentialism in action! Now let’s see if I can stick with it.


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