Keeping Promises to Myself

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I have a friend who said once that having a child “sets the Fun Clock back about five years.” It’s true — there’s some kind of threshold that kids reach at age five that allows families to return to adventurous things: staying up a little later, traveling a little further, hiking a little longer without having as many mishaps or meltdowns. No more strollers and diaper bags. No more revolving everyone’s schedule around naptime.

And then there’s kindergarten.

I’ve kept a running tally of things I promised to do for myself once Katie began kindergarten. I thought I would have to push myself to accomplish them once I saw her off on her first day of school, but nope: I’ve gleefully dived right into all of them.

I’m studying piano seriously for the first time in decades. (This is fulfilling a promise I made to myself when I was eighteen, to tell the truth.) My first lesson is this coming Wednesday, and I’m so excited!

I’m also writing again. My goal is at least 500 words of New Project (although most days I exceed that), then an hour of revising Old Project. Right now the revisions consist mainly of transferring files into Scrivener, a word processing program designed specifically for writers that I’ve wanted to get for years and can now happily afford. No, I will not tell you what either project entails. That usually lets the magic seep out of the balloon, as it were.

I went to the temple all by myself last week. It was great, but exhausting with the drive time, so I didn’t get any writing done that day. The new procedure is to write first, then outings after.

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And then I began the Seattle Stairway Walks. This is a book of urban hikes that are designed to travel along all of the stairway sidewalks that wind up and down the hills of the city. I completed my first one this week, in the Fremont neighborhood. (Yes, I wrote my 500 words before I left.)

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The hike started on the section of Burke-Gilman Trail that runs along the Fremont Ship Canal
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I love this mural.

Part of the spontaneity was from the weather — a warm, sunny day! Gotta take advantage of those while they are still around.

Fremont is a neighborhood that prides itself on a quirky, artsy atmosphere. I didn’t see much of that trademark quirkiness, though, as the hike kept mostly to residential neighborhoods.

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These dinosaur topiaries are a well known neighborhood landmark
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These boats are a whirligig, spinning in the wind. Cute.
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I saw a few Little Free Libraries on my walk. This one is dedicated to Prince.

The stairways were magical — often not immediately visible to sidewalk strollers, unless you knew what to look for. Railings and steps were tucked in between two houses at a street’s dead end, or tucked behind bushes or car guard railings.

It was a good workout, too. I went down 108 steps and up 306 steps, plus a lot of hill-climbing. The hike was a 3.2 mile circuit, completed in a little less than 2 hours. If that seems slow to you, keep in mind that I frequently stopped to take pictures, and also that I was often delayed by such things as traffic lights.

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Down we go!
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Annnnnnnd up we go. This monster was the longest stairway on the hike. I had to stop halfway for a little breather. (And I had to climb a hill to get to its base, too!)
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I was charmed to reach the top of the “monster” to discover these rocking chairs. The words “Enjoy the sunset” are painted across their tops.
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The view from the rocking chairs. I was really really kicking myself for not bringing a water bottle at this point

My only regret is that I forgot to bring a water bottle with me. I was parched by the time I reached the famous Lenin statue. Fortunately, there was a cafe nearby where I could buy a bottle of water. I thought I’d sip it slowly for the rest of the walk, but I ended up chugging it down in thirty seconds.

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This and the following images are from Fremont Peak Park, a tiny city park designed around an art installation called “Phases of the Moon.”
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More of the art installation
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The view from the park was amazing that day — you can see my hiking guide in my hands here.

I felt so wonderful on the drive home — energized and relaxed. Hiking is truly my favorite form of exercise, and now I can do it whenever I want, thanks to the Fun Clock being reset again. Hooray!

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This statue of Lenin used to be on display in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. And then it ended up in Fremont.
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The plaza around Lenin is peppered with odd found objects. Very fun.

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