My arms are sore. My legs, my back, my ...
Hang on; let's start again. Instead of telling you what is sore, let me tell you what's not. My face. My face isn't sore.
Over the past week's storms, I shoveled my driveway and sidewalks no less than six times. It needed to be shoveled a few times during each storm and right now, I feel every single shovel full, I'm so hopped up on Aleve and coffee, you might want to take what comes next with a grain of salt.
I can still hear the shovel scraping asphalt in the back of my mind.
At the end of the day, though, there is very little that feels better than coming into the house, sitting down in our mudroom to pull off my boots after shoveling out our driveway. I'm wet, cold and achy, but I feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.
I started shoveling out of necessity when we moved to northern Minnesota. I wasn't working full time, so money was tight and we just couldn't afford to buy a snowblower. I remember one of my neighbors was a little skeptical.
"Oh, you'll never make it up here without a snowblower," he said.
This did not make me happy.
"The hell I won't," I thought to myself. "My driveway'll be the best-looking driveway on the block and I don't need a bleeping snowblower to do it."
I don't know if I really had the "best-looking driveway on the block," but I worked hard that year to make sure the driveway was clear, especially on those dark mornings when my wife was headed up the shore to Silver Bay.
I also discovered something about myself. I like shoveling. When I think back over the past six years, some of the best alone times I've spent were in my driveway.
I remember when I was still working nights and I came home to 8 or 9 inches of snow on the ground. It was about 11:30 p.m. or so. I bundled up, got my gloves on, put my headphones in and went to shoveling, finishing about 3 a.m.
At one point, my wife said she was going to come out and tell me I was being silly and to come in.
"But then I could hear you from our bedroom singing along with your music," she said later. "I could tell you were happy as a clam and I didn't want to bother you."
Shoveling has become my own personal therapy sessions where I work out whatever is bothering me. I think about articles I'm working on (including this column), problems at home or work and sometimes I don't think about anything at all.
When something is bothering me, I often find through the process of shoveling, whatever it is, wasn't such a big deal at all.
A month or so ago, something happened at work that really made me mad. I could feel my ears turning red - it was just burning me up. I mentioned it to a friend of mine and she basically told me there wasn't much I could do about it, so what's the point of being mad.
She was right. I didn't like that she was right, but it doesn't change the fact that she was.
I went home and there was maybe 2 inches of snow on the ground. It certainly wasn't worth shoveling - it would have been gone in a couple days either way - but I did it anyway.
Afterward, as I was pulling off my boots, I realized I couldn't even remember what I was mad about.
It's exhausting, it's occasionally painful, but I find myself looking at the weather every now and then hoping for a good snow storm just because it means I'll have to shovel. It's not only a great stress reliever for me, it's also a good workout and it gives me a some of that alone time we all need every now and then.