Such a simple idea. But the first part of my “Summer of ME” was to develop better habits for myself. I thought walking was a good place to start. It’s easy, doesn’t cost anything, I have done before. All good. I naively thought my whole family would want to do this with me………….yeah………
Me: “Hailey, let’s go for a walk.”
Hailey: Deep sigh………… heavy eye roll………..deep sigh again…..”Why?” Mind you, she is literally doing nothing at this moment besides sitting on the couch at the lake.
Me: “It’s nice outside! It will be fun.”
Hailey: Deep sigh………… heavy eye roll…….. deep sigh again……”Do I have to?” This energetic and spunky 11 year old girl I am talking to, plays basketball and volleyball without really breaking a sweat. She runs up and down the court for minutes at a time. But the mere idea of going for a walk, is currently unthinkable for this girl.
Me: “Yes you have to go. I need a buddy.” Slight irritation in my voice. For crying in the rain, it’s just a walk…..
Hailey: Deep sigh………..slow movements………..she is up!!! “Fine, I will go. But I am not going to like it.” Oh the fun of a pre-teen girl…….People tell me it gets worse. I am not sure what that means yet, but I feel scared…..
Snails have crawled the length of football fields in the time it takes her to get ready. She needs to get her shoes on. Then she needs water, then she needs to put her hair up, then she needs to find sunglasses……. Finally, we go. We are at the lake. It is beautiful. There is no wind, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping. (This is great for most people, I am, however, deathly afraid of all birds. That’s right, all of them. I constantly scan the sky waiting for one to “get” me.) Before long we are talking. Really talking. I found out who she has a crush on, that she is still sad about Dodger being gone (we recently had to put down our dog of 14 years), she is nervous about this being her last year in elementary school.
During the chaos of the school year, there were not very many times when we were able to have a conversation like this one. We talk, of course, but it is more about how the day was, if she has homework, what she ate for lunch, that sort of unimportant, menial stuff we fill our conversations with. Then off to practice and then off to bed.
Pretty soon we are chasing each other, doing line drills from gym class, and holding hands. That thing they call quality time…….I think we just did that!! And it felt amazing…….
I have walked every day since I wrote my first post. Now I have walked in the past, mostly when I was going to lose weight before some big event only so I could gain it back. But this is different. The “Summer of ME is not about a number. It is about gaining balance, clarity and developing good habits for myself. Which in turn, seems to make it less stressful and less annoying. My walks have been much more focused on breathing and slowing down, then working hard and burning calories. I go in the morning before the rest of my house begins to stir. I know if I wait until later, something may come up that takes me away from walking. But there is not a whole lot going on at 6:30 in the morning. I have not brought my phone. Listening to the sounds of nature in the morning is very peaceful. I take deep breaths and just be. I even try to shut off my mind, which is really hard to do. It is the opposite of what we are trained to do. We are trained to use our brains and make them efficient. But after shutting mine off, I feel refreshed and calm at the end of my walks. Maybe that is why people do yoga? Aren’t you supposed to feel calm at the end of that? Anyway…..
So here is the challenge. Go for a walk. Find just ten minutes once, twice, everyday. Whatever you can do. Breathe, relax, take it all in. Take your kids, your spouse, or go alone. Go without your phone or bring it if not having it makes you nervous, but don’t look at it. Don’t even listen to music. Just be in the presence of whoever you have brought with you or be outside and listen. Then reply back to me. Did you take a breath and enjoy those short ten minutes? Did you have a conversation with someone you hold dear? Or did you hate every step you took? I look forward to hearing how simply walking went for you! Who knew it could be so much??