The Simple Art of Walking
Or How I Don’t Want Your Pity Walk Became Let Me Get a Sweater and My Shoes)
With gyms closed for much of the past year, I have discovered the value of the simple art of walking. We walk in all the weather, sometimes alone but often together. That’s been a highlight of this year actually. Walking.
Discovering the art of walking has been an unexpected positive in a year too full of negatives.
The Art of Walking
It started as a way to get the kids moving and a means for me to get my steps in for the day. Way back in March, when the pandemic was new and kids were still adjusting, my youngest was reluctant to do anything. She was (as is often her default state) pissed off at the world.
I Don’t Want Your Pity Walk
Her anger got the best of her that day. We can all still recall the day I drove both of my daughters to Fanshawe Conservation Area, and she refused to leave the van yelling: “I don’t want your pity walk.”
And she didn’t join us to walk that day. But Payton and I continued. WE walked and let her sit inside the van to calm down. Sometimes everyone needs a little space.
Disappointment Takes Time
It was the week that we learned the border was closed and our annual Vermont ski trip, was postponed until December (well here we are in December and yet the world is not yet safe for travel, but that’s another story.) And we were all upset and disappointed and a bit angry, but trying not to show it.
And Eventually She Joined Us Too
We continued several times a week. Some days, that was us joking and laughing as we walk. Occasionally it was, or is someone griping and complaining all the way about how cold it is, but still we go frequently together.
In a span of a few months angry, disappointed and reluctant finally became let me grab my sweater or my coat, or to be honest occasionally, let me throw on some pants. LOL.
How We Went From NO WAY to Wait for Me
Last week, my younger girl, the prickly I don’t want your pity walk teen, couldn’t wait to get going after dinner, every single night.
There are a few good things about 2020 for my family. Learning the art of walking has been one of my favourite parts of this questionable year.
One is that I continue to get more steps in than I did the year before. The outdoors is my gym now and it has been for months. That’s not a bad thing. I have genuinely enjoyed finding all of the trails and paths in my neighbourhood and at times I have also done my best to vary up the routine, adding jogging, running or just exploring to my walk.
More often than not, my kids come with me for our walks. Some days they bicker endlessly as siblings often do, and other days they have me doubled over laughing so hard at the absurd jokes and silly things they do.
As many of you know my kids have some mental health issues and anxiety is high on that list. The pandemic made that worse a lot of days.
Our Mental Health Routine
Our routine for supporting mental health has always been modelling that exercise, food, water and sleep are not negotiable. It pays off, and as hard as it is to get your winter coat, boots, scarf and mittens out some days, it is also important to do so.
Every single time we walk we end up feeling better when we come back to our home, where school and work are currently.
Our Serotonin Fix
My oldest girl calls it her serotonin fix for the day, mostly because we usually see either a small child out walking or trying to figure out a bicycle, or we see neighbourhood dogs that we end up petting. There’s a tiny miniature Morkie we adore and have come to know and a sweet little toddler who once ran right into our garage as we were leaving for our walk. There’s so much value in celebrating the small stuff and of course there’s merit in moving.
Laughter and Love
Reflecting on 2020, and what has gotten us through the year, I can’t help but think of these nightly walks as a highlight. We talk to more neighbours; we know the names of most of the dogs in our neighbourhood and sometimes we laugh until our sides hurt.
I’d Rather Be Here
While we would absolutely still rather be skiing in the mountains in Vermont right now, we at least have our walks and mastering the art of walking has been a highlight of this challenging year.
Disappointment and Moving On
We’ve all dealt with a lot of disappointment this year, and I am certainly not minimizing that in any way. We dealt with a lot of anger and stress at the beginning of the pandemic when I scrambled to plug in supports for my younger daughter, who seemed depressed. And my older girl recently was also struggling. We’ve since found a virtual therapist for her too.
Magic in the Moments At Hand
Even more reason to keep moving. The art of walking means that sometimes you also find joy where you didn’t expect to. If we hadn’t timed it precisely right one night we would never have seen the beaver working away underneath the bridge we were standing on and if we hadn’t stopped to watch him, then we wouldn’t have seen the two deer bolt out of the bushes. Magic.
Other nights we have seen numerous storks, herons and so many fireflies.
Morning or Night
WE walk in the mornings and sometimes at night. And we walk through snow, rain and heat. Often, we chase the constellations staring at the sky and naming them with an app in our hands to help.
It Might Not Be…
It might not be Vermont, Quebec, Ireland, Gulf Shores or even Ottawa but it could be one day. Right now, the art of walking is keeping us all sane, sometimes connected, and even mentally fit.
A Different Path
There’s also a point I am making every day by walking. It clears my head and gets my body started and also it’s a little bit about finding resilience and showing my kids you take the punches and keep on rolling. Life isn’t always going to roll out the red carpet at your feet. Sometimes you have to grab your boots, your coat, create a different pathway and just get walking.