Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Should've known I gotta get this off my chest

Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. On my way to Bear Peak

On Nov. 3, 2022, this blog turned a staggering and somewhat embarrassing 17 years old. I distinctly remember the day I launched it, from a desktop PC wedged into the corner of our cabin loft in the bluffs above Homer, Alaska. It was a blustery November evening, a Thursday, and I was still thawing out from an evening flail through the darkness on cross-country skis — a sport I was never going to mesh with. My then-boyfriend had taken a gorgeous photo with our shared 2.1-megapixel digital camera, that showed fresh snow coating the forested hills behind our house with the sunlit Kenai Mountains glistening in the background. I wanted to share the photo, but my strategy of mass e-mailing everyone in my address book had recently been blasted by an acquaintance who admonished me to stop “bragging all of the time about your great new life in Alaska.” 

But that was exactly what I wanted to do. And 2005 offered the most perfect social media platform ever created, before or since. After 10 minutes of online searching, I landed on Blogger.com, and within 30 minutes had a brand new Web site, “Arctic Glass” — my own misinterpretation of a Modest Mouse lyric that I’d grown to love for its simple evocation of beauty. 

 “So this is my new online journal about moving to Homer, Alaska — a place where it snows in October, where moose traipse through my backyard, and where everyone can spell my last name but if you can’t spell “Xtratuf,” well, so help you God.” 

 I’d been an Alaska resident for all of two months and was already certain I’d live there forever. My life was going to be amazing, full of summer’s endless sunlight, autumn snow, coaxing my underpowered sedan along snow-packed roads, weekend adventures, and moonlit skis … although I still hoped to find a winter sport that was better balanced between the tedium and terror of skiing. Fat bikes weren’t yet a gleam in my eye, nor was endurance racing, the Iditarod Trail, the Tour Divide, ultrarunning, Montana, California, Colorado. Launching this blog, in many ways, launched all of that. 


Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. Ethereal November snow returns. 

Exactly 17 years later, I was sprawled under a weighted blanket on the floor of my current loft in the foothills above Boulder, Colorado. It was a cloudy November dawn, a Thursday, and I’d been awake for sleepless hours searching online for therapists in the region. The prospect is bleak right now — so many people are in crisis and no one is available to help. The weighted blanket was a paradoxically comforting embodiment of the way I was feeling — pinned down, flat, vaguely anxious about nothing and everything all at once, and tired of myself. So tired. Bone tired. I wondered how anyone can aspire to live forever when I couldn’t even make it 43 years without daydreaming about a future when my molecules will become rocks or trees or rabbits or anything else. 

A poet I admire, Elisa Gabbert, recently wrote on Twitter — the worst social media platform ever created — “I think writing gets harder as you get older for the simple reason that you’re sick of yourself.” 

 This. So much this. There’s no rule that anyone has to write *about* themselves, but I think writers are in denial if they believe they’re not projecting self into any genre they pursue. Still, what am I if not a writer? It’s the one identity I’ve always held. Even before I could read, I’d grasp Richard Scarry books and see myself in their pages. I could quit anything else in my life — cycling, ultrarunning, adventuring — and still be myself. But without writing, without a narrative thread to weave through the chaos of life, I may as well just be a rock or a tree or a rabbit. Therein lies the intrigue. 

Elisa tweeted, “I may fantasize about quitting writing (a kind of self-indulgent death wish), but what I really want to do is quit striving. I want to try not giving a shit.” 

 I hovered over a button on the neglected and decaying UI of Blogger.com. It read, simply, “Delete blog.” That’s all it would take. One click. Seventeen years. Poof. The thought was so enticing that I felt a dopamine rush, one of my first in a while. Sure, I’ve written much more than just blog posts in the past 17 years, but here in one place is my core, my history, my sanctuary. Thousands of hours of work. Removing it all would be a step into the unknown, an acknowledgment of a fresh start, not unlike dropping everything in my life to move to Alaska. But I couldn’t do it. I chickened out. I scrolled to a different button and changed the blog’s settings to “private” as a way to temporarily step back.  

Unsurprisingly, few people noticed that I knocked my blog offline. Since Nov. 3, I’ve received about three dozen messages, some personal and touching, mostly from people I’ve never met. After 17 years on a blog that once received upwards of 10,000 hits a day, the hiatus showed just how few readers remain. Even friends and family don’t check in anymore. But as I said, this was not surprising. No one reads blogs these days. All of that time, all of the tears, all of the joy and sadness — everything could be distilled into an unreadable string of hashtags over a pixelated image destined to disappear from Instagram Stories and no one would notice or care. 

 This is also a frequent source of angst for me, because seriously, why do writers bother? Any of us? There are a few who scrape income from their writing but the vast majority don’t. Even Elisa, a published essayist and poet who writes reviews for the New York Times, doesn’t think writing is really worth it. Writing is a compulsion. A sad one. But what choice do we have? 

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Not my best moment.

On Nov. 9, 2022, I laced up my favorite pair of trail runners and bounded out the door. It was a bright November morning, a Wednesday, moving into my favorite time of year. Daylight is short but gorgeous, saturated with rich color even in the middle of the day. The cool air is refreshing, the cold air invigorating. There’s no more pollen, no wildfire smoke. I can draw deep breaths into my lungs and luxuriate in this wealth of energy. 

Despite the inexplicably poor mental health that clouded most of the past month, I’d been running increasingly well. Waking up each morning to awful anxiety combined with a suffocating schedule — thrice-weekly allergy shots, medical and car appointments, chores, and an afternoon work shift — meant I had almost zero motivation to run. But I knew I needed it, so I created a routine. On Mondays, I ran Green Mountain. Fridays, SoBo or Bear. On weekends I usually rode my bike trainer, which yes — judge me because it doesn’t fit the narrative I’ve created for myself, but I needed the physical release without the mental stress of planning and executing a real adventure. 

Wednesday was swiftly becoming my favorite day of the week. On Wednesday, I ran Walker Ranch. My Wednesday Walker follows a 10-mile lollipop loop along a trail that I consider “mid-tech.” It’s entirely runnable but it’s not a stroller ramp; there are steep grades, tight switchbacks, and like any trail in Colorado, a whole lot of rocks. This makes it the perfect mental health run — I can’t fixate on daydreams or ruminations; I need to be present for all of the obstacles. As I push my pace, I slip into flow, each step finding its place until there’s nothing else. 

 “It takes concentration and a quiet mind to run well without any splats,” I wrote in a Nov. 2 description on Strava. “I had a few close calls so I was slower and more tentative this week, but still, a worthwhile two hours of meditation.” 

The following week, I decided I could earn a new PR. I’ve been running this loop for seven years, but it was within my grasp. I just needed to not think at all. I fired up my Shuffle. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Tom Rosenthal during my runs, which is funny because his own daughter once told him that his music made it sound like “everyone in the world had died.” Honestly, sad or contemplative music when you’re a little bit depressed can become hopeful and inspiring. Still, PR runs require something more upbeat, so I started the new album from the Silversun Pickups — a band I discovered while living in Homer. By mile four, I was in perfect flow — unencumbered molecules in motion — and vibing to “Empty Nest.” 

Did you notice, did you notice, I’m feeling uninspired? 
I think I’m crossing wires. 
How’d we get here? How’d we get here? Did we get here on our own? 
The seeds are overgrown. 

There’s a strange rhythm in this song, a skipped beat. I’m not sure I can blame the music, but I noticed these blips. One moment, my feet were dancing over the rocks as I rocketed through the universe. The next thing I noticed was the rough surface of a boulder, mere inches from my eyes. 

I must have tripped. I don’t remember catching my foot or losing my balance. I don’t remember the Superman launch through the air that must have happened to put me in this position. My arms were still at my side. Mere moments had lapsed, but these were important moments. Blissful flow instantly collapsed into “oh shit” terror, and then I smacked down, chin first. My chest slammed into the rounded side of the rock. A weird combination of my right elbow and left knee took the rest of the impact. 

Flooded with shock and humiliation, I scrambled to my feet and crawled up the hillside. I couldn’t risk anyone finding me in this crumpled, embarrassing state. Nausea swirled in my gut and I staggered wildly, punchdrunk from the hard uppercut. My jaw throbbed and I couldn’t draw a breath. It felt as though my chest had been crushed, though I understood this to mean that the wind was knocked out of me. I supposed it could have been something more serious than that, but my initial instinct was to fear a broken jaw, not a collapsed lung. 

I lay in the dry grass for some time, drawing thin, high-pitched breaths through clenched teeth. Finally, my chest relaxed and I could draw enough air to sit up. Blood had splattered all over my favorite shoes. There was a mile of climbing to the nearest trailhead, but this part of the hike wasn’t that hard. With the exception of a shallow scrape on one knee, my legs were fine. My arm was drenched in blood. I tried to hide this from the two hikers who passed along the trail. A quick phone selfie assured me that my chin didn’t look that bad. It is humorous that my first concerns were appearances and dignity. I felt like a deer after a car collision, shambling into the woods to die. 

Another way I felt like road kill was complete bewilderment about what hit me. Yes, I know it’s easy to trip and fall while running. Yes, I know I do this a lot. But this time was particularly strange, a total lapse in consciousness before I left the ground. I complain about balance and proprioception, joke about how I don’t know how to use my body, and haha I’m such a klutz. But I admit that underneath all of this, I fear something more sinister. Something that can’t necessarily be fixed by yoga or dance classes or anything I could control. I remember my father describing strange episodes, skipped beats while we hiked together. I remember when he was rushed to the emergency room after inexplicably falling off the trail on Mount Olympus. I remember how he died. 

 I called Beat from the trailhead, but he didn’t hear his phone ring. I left a message, knowing I wouldn’t have cell reception for the next 2.5 miles. I started the limp home. Endorphin-suppressed pain cracked open as I walked, encompassing my body like a dark cloud. I decided I hadn’t broken my jaw, but damn, things weren’t right. I staggered and gasped, drawing into myself, focusing on each shallow breath until I found peace beyond the pain. Just like running — a return to a quiet mind. 

Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Trying my best to smile while walking to a physical therapy appointment.

Wednesday afternoon was a work day. I didn’t want to deal with the embarrassment of calling in sick because of a splat, so I dissuaded Beat from taking me to urgent care. A couple of days later, my mother begged me to visit a doctor. My clinic couldn’t squeeze me in until 15 minutes before closing time on Friday afternoon. The doctor seemed rushed but assured me that my jaw wasn’t broken, brushed off my chest bruising, and made me feel like the hypochondriac I was. Beat, wonderful husband that he is, bought 15 different kinds of soup and reminded me regularly to ice my injuries. I visited a friend who had been injured much more seriously in a head-on car collision. Sitting next to her in her wheelchair, I felt silly, sad, grateful, angry, lucky, all of the emotions that arise after yet another realization that life can change swiftly and permanently with the skip of a beat. 

For the next month, I did no running or writing, even the regular writing practices I’d committed to — my gratitude journal and sorting through the contents of my childhood trunk (that trunk is a whole other can of worms that I probably should not have opened.) I continued to languish in pain, struggling to sleep and do daily tasks, and lacking an exercise outlet beyond slow hobble-walking and upright spinning on the bike trainer. My jaw is still bruised. I probably broke a rib or two. And seriously, what is going on with my sternum, am I having a slow-rolling heart attack? 

Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at South Boulder Creek with Danni. Chin is looking better, no?

Inexplicably, my mental health continued to improve. I no longer woke up feeling like the world was collapsing in on itself, even after terrible nights of sleep. I no longer felt sick of everything about myself, maybe just sick of my usual bullshit (why can’t I stop thinking about signing up for races?) I spend less time ruminating about the unknowable future, the skipped beats. 

 I resolved to start the New Year with yoga classes and regular strength training at a gym that I have yet to join (I’m going to be one of those people, because there’s almost no chance I’ll be up for lifting weights before Jan. 1.) Beat and I drove home to Utah for Thanksgiving; it was lovely. The following week my friend Danni flew out from Montana for a mellow visit of hobble-walking and laughing. (She reached out in November when she knew I was struggling and offered to plan an adventure. True to form, the very next day I fell on my face.) 

December arrived. It’s my favorite month. The light is beautiful. The promise of Alaska awaits. I have no races on the calendar. I’ve let go of my fitness. I am free. 

 So I decided to open up my slowly decaying blog once again. I wanted to explain where it went for a month, and true to form, vomited out a 2,500-word post in two hours after struggling for weeks to tap out even simple social media posts. No one wants to read all of this, no one cares, but that — at least until the next time I have an anxiety “flare-up” — doesn’t matter to me. I am free. 

Should've known I gotta get this off my chest 
I'm allowed to keep around this empty nest 
It's so much to clean up a clever mess 
Should've known, should've known

50 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your life. I’m a 74 year old low thyroid warrior. I understand completely. Keep on keeping on. I love your writing and your stamina for figuring it out… life that is! Hold your chest high and do what you need to do. Life is short.

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  2. For what it's worth, I read every post, and still appreciate your writing. And if you didn't write, I would never have met you and ridden 5 Montebellos in one day! I still kinda wish I'd been able to stick around for the full 10, but such is life. And it's helpful for when I do my twice a year bike ride because I can tell myself, "I once did this 5 times in a day! No matter how out of shape I am, I can do this once!"

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  3. Been here since those early days in Alaska and continue to read every new post. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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  4. I actually noticed the blog was private when I tried to get to the original from the RSS feed I use to read it (how's that for an outdated concept?). I almost sent a message to let you know that the RSS feed did not seem to be blocked by the private setting, but I figured so few people are probably still using RSS that it probably doesn't matter. I think I added your blog to my feed around 2006, so not quite the full 17 yrs, but it's been a while.

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  5. I'm glad you are starting to feel better mentally and healing up from your fall. I'm also glad the blog's not completely dead (yet).

    I also hit the 17-year blog mark this year and have had very similar End of Blog-Life discussions; however, I'm not what most people/anyone would call a writer, so I think most of my thoughts are WTF have I put 17+ years of my mundane life out there?? Then for some reason, I do it again a few days later!

    Whether it's on your blog or another platform, your photos and words about your adventures (and even your anxiety flare-ups) will always have an audience.

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  6. Thank you for continuing to do what you do. It makes a difference in my life.

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  7. Very glad you're back. I've been reading for, god, ten years now? You inspire me to get into the mountains. Write on.

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  8. Glad to see you posting again. I always read your blog. But I can’t figure out how to get my name on here again so it doesn’t say anonymous! Corrine

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  9. Although I don't comment, I still read every post of your blog and enjoy your writing. I was dismayed last month when I discovered your blog went private! I'm glad you came back.

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  10. I too am glad you are back - and OK

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  11. Love your blog Jill, been a silent reader since the time you were in Alaska. I can only aspire to the adventures you have the demands of life, work, kids hold me back..I find ways to do much smaller adventures here in the Midwest with an eye on tacking bigger ones at the next phase of my life..thanks for the years of inspiration and transparency..Kristin

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  12. I read your posts and appreciate hearing of your adventures. Been reading since you were in Juneau. Keep writing!

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  13. Thank you for writing your blog, I frequently read it and your adventures have inspired me to embark on much less impressive adventures of my own. I think you write beautifully, the landscapes you pass through and your emotions are vivid. I hope you continue enjoying the outdoors and sharing it with others in your blog.

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  14. As you know, I made my blog private. It isn't as satisfying because few people decided to accept the invite, didn't see it...etc. I keep thinking about stopping because...I am sick of writing about myself. But for some reason I keep on. I didn't want to keep putting myself out there publicly and for free, but I do miss the interaction. I love your blog but I totally support whatever you decide to do.

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  15. Glad you feel your mental health space is healing. I'm a long-time reader and marvel at your adventures and your open writing style. I'm glad you are continuing to share.

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  16. I love your blog! I'm in the UK and not sporty or outdoorsy but you write like I can imagine I'm there doing it all. It's amazing x

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  17. I am family, I’ve always read ur blog! Your my go to entertainment 🥳🥰 love you sweetheart 💞

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  18. I’ve been a regular reader since you were in Juneau. I was bummed when the blog went private. I find your stories and photos to be very inspirational. I’m glad your back. Take care of yourself.

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  19. I have been reading your blog from almost the start. I'm glad you kept it, as it has inspired me to keep active. I am 68 now and still mountain bike and trail run but nothing as intense as what you have accomplished. I also just tripped over a root this past week. I have told you before I loved your photos of the places you go.

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  20. Been a silent reader for years. It’s a long and winding road- as someone said. Keep on it please.

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  21. I noticed! I've been silently reading for about 14 years... but who the heck am I to ask for permission? I admit I wondered if it was a hard nudge to substack, but thought you might have told us. I've seen so many great blogs disappear into the ether over the years, and am thrilled yours hasn't succumbed. Your writing has been beautiful, inspiring, touching, thrilling, and occasionally devastating, and I have enjoyed it all. Thank you!

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  22. Missed the blog. Take that as a compliment!

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  23. I'm a regular reader, but infrequent commenter. (Ok, mostly silent!) Alaskan born and raised, have been living for 16 years now in Zurich with my husband.
    Your writing, sharing, brings me along on your adventures, the challenges, heartaches, and joys. I wish I was more adventurous, but I'm more of a walker/wanderer. Sticking close to the wanderwegs here in Switzerland. Thanks for your blog and books, as well as your beautiful photos. Wishing you a lovely winter season. All the best to you and Beat.

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  24. Found your blog a few years ago on the sidebar of a local cyclist I know. Started reading because your title looked interesting, “Outside” and the beautiful pictures of you doing “outside things”. I’m not a regular reader because my life is busy with work and trying to keep active with my outside activities. Keep writing and sharing your thoughts and photos of the wonderful adventures you enjoy! Dennis

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  25. I noticed. I am glad it is back and that you are better.

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  26. I'm another one of those RSS feed readers, and I have enjoyed your blog for many years, commenting (I think) once. It has been a pleasure to share glimpses of your ups and downs, and to think about how they relate to my own ups and downs. Thank you for allowing us those glimpses. I hope you continue for many years to come.

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  27. for what it is worth, I, like others, did notice that you hadn't "blogged" in awhile, but since I keep up with you via your facebook posts didn't think too much about it. I have really appreciated the deeper level/insight blog writings, They often give depth to one of my life reminders "Perspective- Use it or Lose it", and this one has as well. May you and Beat enjoy an adventurous (whatever that looks like for you now) but uneventful (i.e., no icky stuff) December and new year.

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  28. I’m so glad you’re back. As I’ve told you before, the difficult life events in my own life have paralleled yours in strange ways. And so reading your words and having someone so eloquently articulate the highest highs and lowest lows makes me feel a little less alone in a world that’s gotten exceedingly isolated. So I’ll continue to read as long as you choose to write.

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  29. Ohhh Jill, I have been reading your blog for years and rarely comment. Like you I have been blogging for 18 years, first on blogger and now wordpress (someday maybe I will combine the different blogs). Don't give up on blogging if only for yourself. The ability to look back at life 10-15 years or more years ago is priceless. For me, my parents were alive and living in my childhood home, my adventures were frequent and more exciting, I was younger. These days, my writing is less adventure related and more about "what I did last week", but I can get lost for hours in past blog posts. I glad I spent that time writing.

    Take care of yourself, take time to heal your body and your spirit. Life, with all its ups and downs is beautiful! And keep on writing, you will appreciate that you kept a journal of your adventures and the time you spent doing things you love!

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  30. Jill,

    I am at a loss for words. I am one of those that have not read one of your blog posts in a very long time. I’m not sure why I did today, but I did (perhaps it was because I am, once again up in the wee hours unable to sleep despite my deepest wishes and desperate fatigue).

    I started off reading with a nominal level of interest—just checking in on an old friend—one I have never seen in three dimensional form, but have developed a deep fondness for after many years of reading, and occasionally communicating with in a half-duplex, asynchronous sort of way.

    I was totally unprepared for the anxiety (panic may not be too strong a word) I felt when you wrote about you finger hovering over “the button”. The sense of loss I felt at the mere thought of your virtual life ceasing to exist was deeply visceral and instantaneous. So much so, that I had to let it out by writing about it. I could have written it anywhere, but I wanted to write it here, so you would know.

    As I read on to the end, the swirl of emotions and connectedness I felt was incredibly powerful, and therapeutic. I too have been in a dark place—struggling to find motivation enough to pull a bike off the rack and ride—or run the beautiful (rocky, root-tangled) trails around my house (dare I call it “home”; am I really trapped in MD now?). I realized I have never been in group therapy in the physical world, but I feel like I’ve been in “virtual group therapy” with you for years. I’ve just been silently listening to you during every “session”. Thank you for this latest session; it pushed me to reflect and open up.

    Over the last few weeks, I have forced myself to slow down and read; I love to read, but who has the time in the thrash of life? I have forced myself to slow down and read. I am finishing up “After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000”. Not lighthearted stuff, but I have re-learned that I love to read. I am glad I took a break from that heavy stuff to re-connect with your long-form, personal humanity.

    I also know I love to write. But who has the time for that? I think you may have just open my floodgate. The paragraphs now spewing out of my thumbs in a dark basement are a unitary sample, but they may be the leading edge of something big…time will tell.

    I’ve rambled a long way. I value your existence more than I can comfortably admit. Thank you for being there. Thank you for sharing your life. Thank you for being my best long-term therapist/friend.

    Warmest regards,
    Eric

    P.S. As I went back to correct autocorrect, I laughed at my opening comment, “I am at a loss wor words”. It seems I quickly got over that.

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  31. Yes, your writing means a lot to me for several years. You are a glimpse of what young people want to be, and older people like me wish I had been. Your writing tells me there is hope to be 1 tenth of all that you are. Your sorrows tell me I may share mine. Peace and love to you for the holiday season, and winter outdoors. Rich.

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  32. I started reading just after you left Alaska, and still read every post. They quiet my brain after a long day.

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  33. Hi Jill!

    I've been reading your blog for over fifteen years (since I was a junior in high school, when I would go to the guidance office and pretend to """"research colleges"""" on their creaky old desktop during study hall so I could check for updates) and have been along for the ride ever since. Reading your blog inspired me to start hiking, bikepacking, and touring (hobbies I've kept) and was almost certainly the reason I ended up working in the cycling industry for much of my twenties. I truly can't thank you enough.

    And yet, I don't think that sense of gratitude (no matter how how strongly your readers feel it!) should take precedence over what you feel is best for you and your own needs.

    If you decide to continue publishing your writing online, I'll gladly read it. If not, that choice doesn't take away from the joy I've experienced reading your blog, nor the wonderful outdoor experiences I've had because of it.
    I hope whatever paths you take in the future--metaphorical or literal--bring joy to you first and foremost!

    Best,
    B

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  34. So glad you're back! I'm a dedicated reader of your blog and I have missed it terribly!

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  35. Glad you're back. I've been a reader since the beginning when your blog was mostly about inspiring biking. Its been a pleasure to grow (older) with you all these years and watch as your activities and life have changed. Welcome back! I think there are more people than you think still reading this blog.

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  36. Your absence was noticed, and I am glad that you are back.

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  37. I have followed your blog since your 1st year. I don't think I've ever posted and we have never met yet you got me out on a bike in the freezing rain many times. "If Jill can do it I can do it." I had an overwhelming since of sadness when I couldn't see your blog. Your words matter even when you think they disappear into the nothingness of internet. If you could possibly use your "influence" and convince TEAMDICKY to post more my world would be complete again. :)

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  38. Others have said it but you’ve made a difference in my life, too. So much so that when your blog went private I had an existential crisis of sorts. Life gets harder as we age and reading your adventures is something I look forward to for comfort and perspective, even when your days aren’t perfect and even when you struggle. Your stories and perspective mirror my experience and I am comforted that I am not alone. I am a woman in my late forties, I am also an athlete and I relate so strongly to many of the things you are going through. Thank you for continuing to be contemplative, caring and a fighter. I love seeing all the beauty of nature through your eyes and it helps me to get back out there. I hope you remember to give yourself grace and that you feel the love from fellow adventurers who are grateful that you share so openly, and that we are in your corner, rooting for you.

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  39. This is the only blog I read these days, from time to time. When it got replaced by a login screen for reasons unknown to me I realized again that I would miss it. There must be something special here we all share. It's your decision what to do about the blog but I'm glad it's back. Things are never easy, good luck with whatever you do and experience.

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  40. I'm so grateful for you sharing your adventures, photos, struggles, and writings with all of us anonymous internet strangers. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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  41. Having read every blog post since 2012, I felt such a great loss when I was met with the harsh words “this blog is private.” Please know that you have created community through your thoughts and connection through your writing.

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  42. Hi Jill, I’m so glad you decided to keep this blog running. Your insights and introspection and your ability to express yourself through writing is a true gift to us. Just because thousand aren’t tuned in doesn’t mean anything. As the above comments make so clear, you have made an impact on many lives. Please keep up the good work. You are bright light in a sea of darkness. -scott h

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  43. Silent reader here… I’ve been reading your blog for about 10 years now and love the way you write. I would be sad to your blog (and its archives) go. Don’t interpret the lack of response as an indication that it would not be missed.

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  44. Oh! You are back! I missed you, while ofcourse respecting your choices.

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  45. I was very surprised when I realized some time ago that I could no longer read your blog, which I have been following for many years.
    But I am very pleased that you made the right decision and are now continuing it.
    I wish you all the best for your further life - stay strong.
    Günter from Tyrol/Austria

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  46. Another reader here glad to see you back. I have been following your blog since you were in Missoula. I think I was looking up reports from the Rattlesnake Wilderness and found one of your entries, and got hooked. I don't believe I have ever left a comment, but was really bummed when I saw your blog was private, but also completely understand. It took me several days to even post this. Your blog has given me so much inspiration, and helped me get that extra push during low points on hard outings. Its hard not to go out for a couple of hours when its 10 degrees, knowing what you have been through in on the Iditarod trail. Not only that, but you are a fantastic writer, and your musings on life are so touching. Oh, and I'm a big Modest Mouse fan too.

    Glad to see you back, and wish you and Beat all the best.

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  47. I'm glad you decided to keep the blog going. I've not been here for years, but was wondering where you are in your adventures. And now I know.

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  48. Hey Jill- I too have not visited your blog for a while. I started following it whilst training for the ITI in 2009. I agree think I was nostalgic for the blog days, I agree it is a superior form of communication to the feed of the algorithm. You are a writer, I am inspired that you made the choice to keep on doing what you want to do. There's a dude here in Mexico City that self publishes small books and walks around in a big jacket with like 10 pockets full of his wares to sell. He's got books on diabetes, poetry, just about everything. If you choose you can always "go to art", creative expression truly is a gift we all have the potential for, and one we should never give up.

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  49. I’m someone who stumbled across your blog after reading your book about the Tour Divide. I went back to the beginning and read it all, and it was like reading an epic novel, particularly the time you spent in Alaska, from someone in NZ it was a complete world away. I now don’t have as much time to read, but check in occasionally and am very glad the blog is still here. Yours is still the only blog I’ve ever read!

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Feedback is always appreciated!