sober lifestyle


Fat, wet flakes started falling as I neared the causeway at Tyler State Park, smacking me in the forehead and occasionally the eyeball, and my face broke into a self-satisfied smile. This was my plan: To be out in nature when the storm started, and before every other human within miles crawled out of bed.

My mom is somewhere cringing, picturing this scene — “Do you always go walking alone?” she once asked me with alarm — but the truth is I much prefer the park when it’s deserted, and even sometimes when it’s dark. To take in a sunrise, witness a change in weather, or just stare at an early morning sky, is such an intensely personal experience for me that I think something would be amiss if anyone else was there.

I guess you could say that it’s when I am isolated that I feel most free.

I’ve been a loner all my life, and at 42, with an annoying habit of getting up at 2AM, I’ve pretty much given up hope of ever fitting in with society. I was always one of those “morning people” that seemed to perplex all the normies. These days, I feel like I’m at my best in the wee hours, when I write or do yoga while excitedly awaiting the dawn.

(Flash forward 12 hours, when some of y’all are just eating lunch):

Continue reading “Freedom”
sober lifestyle


What to say about the sky? I haven’t really known, so thus far, I’ve let my pictures do the talking.

The above was taken just a few hours ago in one of my favorite places on Earth: the top of the big hill on the main road into/out of Tyler State Park. The huge expanse of unobstructed, endless openness that greets you when you’ve hoofed your way up that steep incline has an effect that I can only describe as spiritual. Transcendent. Other-worldly. I’d say that the view “takes your breath away,” but unless you’re a world-class athlete, you don’t have much left to lose after completing the climb.

Today’s humid, stagnant morning air had me wheezing even more than usual.

Physically, right now, I’m not…shall we say…in great shape. At 13 months sober, walks in the park are my go-to form of exercise (when I do ramp it up to running, I head to the all-flat canal path). And at 42 years old, with a sedentary job and an increasing affinity for big meals, long naps, audiobooks and Netflix crime-show rabbit holes, I’ve…shall we say…lost some leanness from my old CrossFitting, strict-eating days.

Pre-Climb Selfie on Day 391
Continue reading “Expansion”
sober lifestyle, Uncategorized


Tyler State Park. Newtown, PA. October 20, 2019 (Day 106).

The forecast called for rain, so even though it was Sunday and the only opportunity I had all week to sleep past 5 a.m., I sprung up at 4:30 for some weightlifting in my basement gym — current whiteboard hashmark tally: 105 — then laced up my Asics and hit the road.

I’m currently at the step in recovery when you ask a higher power to restore you to sanity, and for me, that’s setting out on nature walks, every single day, weather be damned. I take lunch walks along the riverfront to break up the work day. I go for hours-long morning walks in the local state park on weekends. Through hair-trigger hamstrings, boots that cause blisters, insufficient outerwear, full bladders, busted headphones, rain, mud, 40 mph winds…if there is time and even a little bit of daylight, I’m out there trying to calm the emotional cauldron that’s bubbling away inside.

Fresh air and movement are the only two things in the universe that ever made (the sober version of) me feel sane.

My grandparents’ farm. Brodhead, Wisconsin. Fall…1988?

My grandparents lived on a farm in Wisconsin throughout my childhood, and we went up there several times a year to visit. We would set off from our house in Chicago’s northern suburbs on Friday night when it was already dark, Dad driving the old brown Ford Fairmount station wagon (and playing one of his legendary mix tapes), Mom next to him on the front bench, and my younger sister and me in the back.

I remember staring out the window as we rolled along on the two-hour trip, and excitedly waiting for the point when the bright lights of civilization faded into the countryside canopy of stars. Continue reading “Nature”