Looking Back, Looking Ahead, Being In The Here And Now.
Hello, you lovely lot. Greetings from the Bergische Land in Germany. I hope all of you had a lovely Christmas time, were able to enjoy some peaceful days with family and loved ones, and had a good start into the new year. May 2022 be a good year, a peaceful year, a year with just the right balance of quality time at home and mind-boggling adventures out in the wild. Be healthy, be happy - all the rest is background music.
As you might have noticed, it’s been quiet here on The Active Amputee. Blog posts have been seldom, far and wide in between. I have been pretty disengaged from the various social media platforms. I managed to keep the podcast going. But just about keeping it alive. Why? Well…
Choosing My Priorities
In 2022 I had to refocus my attention and earmark time and energy for other things. Yes, I like posting regularly. Like the routine. And the commitment that comes with it. But The last two years have taken quite a heavy toll on us here.
The family moving back from the UK, finding our feet here - both in terms of our private lives, our businesses, the new schools for the kids, their wellbeing in a new environment - needed its time. Dealing with the pandemic, homeschooling for three kids, moving training and other services online from one day to the next, convincing customers that work can continue on schedule and in line with the quality they have been used to was an enormous challenge. And once things seemed to slowly return to a more manageable pace, mother nature thought it was time for a bit of flooding here in Germany. So while we have been out canoeing in Germany’s lake district up in the country’s northeast (the first real holiday in three years), our house was flooded and the renovation is still keeping us busy. But most likely, things will be done and dusted by the end of January.
As my work in 2020 and 2021 was mainly online and in front of a screen, with sometimes insanely long hours, I tried to spend the little spare time I had outdoors. Partly with the family, partly alone. Unfortunately, the blog, as well as social media, were some of the first victims of this decision. But my body as well as my mental health gave me some clear warning signs that it was about high time to re-balance and slow down. And so I did.
Walking - a simple solution to so many of our problems
As a result, I managed to walk a lot. Almost 1,000 kilometers in 2020 (for proper walks, in addition to the miles I clock in with my daily routines). In January I joined Sean Conway’s WhenYouReOutYouReIn-Challenge. A walk each and every day. Starting with one kilometer on January 1st, increasing the daily milage to 16 kilometers by the middle of the month, before reversing the process so that by January 31st I was back at one kilometer. A great exercise which was great for my overall wellbeing, which gave me time to reflect and let my mind wander, while also building confidence in my abilities. I loved it. And I am already repeating it this very January.
In March, I embarked on a 100 kilometer stretch of the Bergisch Trail, one of Germany’s countless long-distance trails. And as we were still in a semi-lockdown, I decided to spend the nights at home. The path goes right through our village and getting to and from the trailheads was simple. And while the walk itself was pretty much a five-day mud fight while battling with some health issues on the remaining leg (a new one I wasn’t expecting), I am glad I managed to pull through and successfully complete my first 100-kilometer walk of the year.
In June, long-distance walk number two was lined up. This time with all my gear on my back, as I planned to spend the nights out in the woods or with friends along the trail. Starting at the source of the river Lahn, the idea was to follow the river all the way to Marburg. Marburg is a lovely medieval town, it’s home to the oldest still operating protestant university in the world, and it’s where I studied way back in the 1990s. The 100-kilometer hike was just what I needed. And it was great to see that I managed to cover a decent daily milage (of between 18 and 25 kilometers) even with 15 kilograms on my back.
The walk planned for September was scrapped. With the flood here at home and the work that needed to be done around the house, another 100-kilometer hike looked like the wrong priority.
But in late October it was time for the last one of the 100-kilometer walks of the year. This time in the Eifel region between Cologne in the east and the Belgium border in the west. This time with even more luggage on my back as there was the chance of night frost and pretty shitty late autumn weather. And as I had planned to stay in my tend with only limited opportunities to stock up on food along the way, I was carrying 24 kilograms on my back. A bit too much, if you ask me. But possible. And the reward for the extra effort was well worth it. Mother Nature spoiled me with a week of sunny late autumn weather. Indian summer at its best, vibrant colors, lots of migratory birds, clear nights full of stars, and hardly anyone around. What a treat. One that is less than an hour’s drive from where I live.
So much for last year. So it’s time to shift our focus and look ahead. What do I have in mind for 2022? Well…
On the one hand, there will be more walking. I love the slow pace, the opportunity to be out, the time it gives me to be me, to reflect, to let the mind wonder. It allows me to explore the area around the very place I live. It provides a good opportunity to unlock the wider region and appreciate the little wonders along the path. And I tend to meet lovely people, have rewarding conversations. For this year there is no special walk project (not yet, at least). But I already started making plans to visit areas I haven’t been to yet. Many of them are breathtakingly beautiful and within a three hour radius of where I live.
In addition, I plan to spend more time canoeing and being out on and in the water. Maybe try windsurfing again. Or stand-up paddling. Or water skiing. Or something along those lines.
On the other hand, I want to focus more on providing content for people with a limb difference and creating a community. So there will be regular blog articles again. Normally one per week. Partly by me, partly by guest bloggers. In addition, there will be a monthly podcast. And there will be more content in German, both on the blog as well as for the podcast. Many articles have been translated in recent months and they will be published here on the blog soon.
But I also plan to provide more audio and audio-visual content. I aim at a monthly video about life as an amputee and more podcast-style conversation around amputee topics.
Last but not least, there will be more live events and speaking engagements. But more about that soon.
How about you? Any exciting plans for this year? Anything you can share with us? I would love to hear from you.
Post by Bjoern Eser, the creator of The Active Amputee.
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