Walking my way home

the walker

My version of the Park and Walk. Bucket hat optional.

I drive to a lovely historic neighborhood near my condo to walk almost every day because where I live doesn’t have sidewalks. Today, I was halfway there when I realized that I had forgotten to put my Fitbit on my wrist. I almost turned around to go home and get it until that tiny voice of reason in my head said, “Fuhgeddaboudit.”

fitbit meme

Bad attitude.

I started my current walking practice – and that’s what it is for me – about a year into Trump’s presidency. Prior to the electoral apocalypse, I would mostly get my exercise at the gym near my home. I would listen to a playlist on my iPhone while I did the cross trainer for 45 minutes or so, but even with my ear buds on, I could not avoid the sea of televisions hanging above me like Mission Control. Almost all the sets were turned to cable news and invariably, I would see the BREAKING NEWS crawl on every screen and even though I couldn’t hear what the announcers were saying, it made me anxious – even MSNBC – my propaganda of choice. I would leave the gym filled with sweaty angst. Trust me, not a good look.

gym tvs

Must Not See TV.

I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided that I needed a more nurturing venue for exercise. So, I started walking. I mean seriously walking because, well, it’s not like I haven’t been walking for several decades. Now I don’t mean power walking. I certainly respect your choice if this is your deal, but power walking is just too portentous for me. And besides, it makes me flat-out giggle.

My sister-in-law got a Fitbit a few Christmases ago and crushed her step goal every day and got into great shape. I was still not convinced I wanted or needed another device to keep charged and updated, but when I made a break from the Television Zone at the gym, I decided I might as well measure my efforts each day.

fitbit time

If only it were that easy.

 

At first, I really liked the Fitbit. It was kind of fun to see how far I could go without collapsing and it is certainly a very encouraging and friendly device. It shoots off a display of fireworks and vibrates when you reach the all important 10,000 steps and sends you fun badges each time you hit a milestone. I was a Girl Scout, so the badge incentive really appealed to me. The Fitbit also gently nudges you to get up and walk every hour. And it keeps track of things like your resting heart rate and how you slept. I don’t really enjoy that feature because I don’t need empirical data to tell me that I don’t sleep well so I usually take it off when I go to bed.

fitbit sleep

I count sheep, but still see red.

 

I also don’t wear it out like a regular watch. It’s not at all pretty and I enjoy wearing a nice watch when I’m not exercising. Yes, I know Fitbits come in pretty colors now, but at the end of the day it’s still a device and not a fashionable accessory. This is not negotiable.

woner woman watch

Wonder Woman kicks Fitbit’s ass.

The Fitbit does reinforce discipline which has never been my strong suit – so I do appreciate that, or I did, until today. Today, I just walked – naked if you will. Just me and my podcast. And it was delightful. I wasn’t checking my wrist every so often to see how far I had gone – or how far I had to go. I just walked like in the olden days before Fitbit.

It was a gorgeous spring day – finally – warm and sunny and bursting with colors. I passed the tennis courts on my usual route and saw a tennis ball on the sidewalk in front of me. There were several folks playing doubles on the courts near me and someone must have lobbed one over the fence. I thought I should be a nice person and toss the errant ball back closer to the courts, but I guess I’m not that nice and I decided to pick it up and keep walking. And then I did something I haven’t done in years – I started bouncing the ball while I walked. And gosh darn, it was fun.

tennis ball

Multi-tasking.

So, I kept walking and bouncing my way along and I felt like a 12-year-old – only 12-year-olds don’t really bounce anymore unless it’s on an app. I finished one podcast and started another and saw the time on my phone. I had been walking about an hour and twenty minutes – pretty much my usual trek, but somehow, I had enjoyed it more.

I got back to my car and pondered what to do with the contraband tennis ball. Yep, I’m keeping it – right there in one of the cup holders. I definitely see more bouncing in my future.

I’m also going to try and be more mindful of why I started walking in the first place. There’s a rhythm to distance walking that I find very settling and peaceful. And I often feel connected to the other folks I pass along the way – strangers mostly, but we almost always acknowledge each other with a smile or hello. It makes me feel happy and I don’t have a clue what cable news they watch.

walking each other home

I just hope ya’ll are way better with directions than I am.

The spiritual teacher and author Ram Dass says that on our good days we’re all just walking each other home. I like to think this is true. And I love being outside with the birds and trees and so many delightful discoveries. I started taking pictures on my walks and posting them on Instagram with the tag #walkinginardmore. I often write in my head when I walk, and I love getting lost in the words and images. My intention is for these posts to convey hope and kindness and maybe even a smidge of joy – so many of those precious things that have been stifled for what feels like a very long time.

Here are a few gems that caught my eye over the past several months and they are all way better than BREAKING NEWS:

tulip tree

ardmore church

ardmore dad.JPG

 

ardmore rocker

ardmore peace

I love finding these treasures on my walks and  most days when I finish, I feel more grounded than when I started. That said, I have no plans to kick my Fitbit to the curb any time soon. It helps keep me honest about regular exercise and no harm can come from that. No, I’m just going to try to remember today’s lesson: Walk like no one’s counting.

kindness ardomore

Just do it.

 

 

 

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Sidewalk samba

sun pic

I’m fascinated by the concept of the alter ego – the idea of being the opposite of your “normal” personality. I’ve often said that my alter ego would be a Rockette – it really doesn’t matter which one. I’ve always considered the Rockettes to be the 8th Wonder of the World and well, the costumes, the high kicks, the Christmas Spectacular! I am, at  best, a pedestrian, albeit enthusiastic, dancer. Oh well, a girl can dream.

24xp-rockettes-2-master675

This week I’ve been thinking that if my alter ego were a song it would be The Girl from Ipanema, that sexy, seductive Brazilian bossa nova tune. It has long been one of my favorites – the classic Astrud Gilberto version and, of course, the Frank Sinatra rendition. I love the bouncy first lines – “Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking.” You can see her, can’t you?

astrid gilbreto

Here’s where the alter ego part comes in for me. Tall? I’m 5’7” – not short, but only tall when I’m standing by my friend Jerri who is 4’11” with her boots on. Tan? I am loath to admit that I spent many a summer’s day in my youth baking in the sun with – don’t make me say it…No. Sunscreen. The memory of it actually makes me nauseous but today, I am a ginger vampire and while I don’t actually burst into flames when exposed to the sun, summer sightings of me outdoors are as rare as Big Foot.  Young? Shut up. That leaves lovely. I’m not fishing for compliments here. I have a moderately healthy ego and on my good days I’m pretty okay with the face I see in the mirror – especially in low-wattage.

So back to that girl on the beach. To me the song is much more than just an ode to a beautiful woman – it’s the definitive theme song for summer. It’s a warm breeze, it’s sand under your feet, the beat of the ocean. Just add a cold Brahma beer. It’s the rhythm of summer – sultry and sexy.

Oh, by the way, I hate summer. I think I may have buried the lead here. Let me explain. Even though I was born and raised in Virginia and have lived in North Carolina for over twenty years, I can’t stand summer. Heat and humidity are the bane of my existence as a Southerner – okay, those two things and the NC legislature.

So, you’re probably wondering why I have been waxing sentimental over a summer song for most of this post. Well, a funny thing happened to me this week – this gloriously wonderful week of cool morning temps and low humidity – I fell in love with summer. Our affair has lasted four days. Hey, that’s almost as long as Kim Kardashian’s first marriage. Sadly, the meter is running on this fling – the weekend forecast looks seasonally oppressive.

But oh, how I have savored these days. I’ve taken a long walk each morning through my favorite Winston-Salem community – Ardmore. It’s a charming historic neighborhood distinguished by classic bungalows, sidewalks and lots of big trees.

ardmore porch

I’m not a traditionally outdoorsy person – I don’t camp or anything crazy like that – but I do really enjoy being outside in nature – it’s just not usually possible for me to do that in the summer here in the Dismal Swamp.

But this week I got a Get Out of Summer Free Card and everything was different – my glasses had a new prescription – my vision sharper and more defined. I saw tiny dew drops – glassy bubbles sitting on top of all the yards. My senses were keener – the green, wet smell of freshly cut grass took me back to “helping” my dad mow the lawn with a plastic lawnmower when I was a little girl. I heard the joyful jingling of dog collars sounding like chimes as four-legged creatures enjoyed their morning exercise, too.

I hardly recognized myself. I was outside in late June and I was giddy. I think I could have walked to Greensboro (30 miles). The first day I found myself looking around at the other people I passed – to see if they were noticing it, too. I feared I had just conjured up 43% humidity in my head but they all looked really happy, too. Each subsequent day, I’ve opened the front door and slowly poked my head out like a turtle – was it safe? Day 2, I was pleasantly surprised and by today, I just figured I was being punked – we could not possibly have had four days in a row of a summer that was delightful.

I can’t stand too much of a good thing – it’s a serious character flaw – and I knew this jaunty jig was almost up – so this morning, I hit Girl from Ipanema on my iPhone playlist and I strutted down the sidewalks of Ardmore like Gisele Bundchen on the runway. And for those three minutes, I was tall and tan and young and lovely. And I didn’t hate summer.

giselerio-olympics-opening-_webf

Don’t look for me outside again until sometime in September. In the meantime, I’ll be inside my climate controlled condo practicing my high kicks.

bigfoot shadow.jpg

patio addy

Sidewalk samba

sun pic

Ardmore morning.

I’m fascinated by the concept of the alter ego – the idea of being the opposite of your “normal” personality. I’ve often said that my alter ego would be a Rockette – it really doesn’t matter which one. I’ve always considered the Rockettes to be the 8th Wonder of the World and well, the costumes, the high kicks, the Christmas Spectacular! I am, at  best, a pedestrian, albeit enthusiastic, dancer. Oh well, a girl can dream.

24xp-rockettes-2-master675

Career goals. Photo credit: The NY Times

This week I’ve been thinking that if my alter ego were a song it would be The Girl from Ipanema, that sexy, seductive Brazilian bossa nova tune. It has long been one of my favorites – the classic Astrud Gilberto version and, of course, the Frank Sinatra rendition. I love the bouncy first lines – “Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking.” You can see her, can’t you?

astrid gilbreto

The sound of summer.

Here’s where the alter ego part comes in for me. Tall? I’m 5’7” – not short, but only tall when I’m standing by my friend Jerri who is 4’11” with her boots on. Tan? I am loath to admit that I spent many a summer’s day in my youth baking in the sun with – don’t make me say it…No. Sunscreen. The memory of it actually makes me nauseous but today, I am a ginger vampire and while I don’t actually burst into flames when exposed to the sun, summer sightings of me outdoors are as rare as Big Foot. Young? Shut up. That leaves lovely. I’m not fishing for compliments here. I have a moderately healthy ego and on my good days I’m pretty okay with the face I see in the mirror – especially in low-wattage.

So back to that girl on the beach. To me the song is much more than just an ode to a beautiful woman – it’s the definitive theme song for summer. It’s a warm breeze, it’s sand under your feet, the beat of the ocean. Just add a cold Brahma beer. It’s the rhythm of summer – sultry and sexy.

Oh, by the way, I hate summer. I think I may have buried the lead here. Let me explain. Even though I was born and raised in Virginia and have lived in North Carolina for over twenty years, I can’t stand summer. Heat and humidity are the bane of my existence as a Southerner – okay, those two things and the NC legislature.

So, you’re probably wondering why I have been waxing sentimental over a summer song for most of this post. Well, a funny thing happened to me this week – this gloriously wonderful week of cool morning temps and low humidity – I fell in love with summer. Our affair has lasted four days. Hey, that’s almost as long as Kim Kardashian’s first marriage. Sadly, the meter is running on this fling – the weekend forecast looks seasonally oppressive.

But oh, how I have savored these days. I’ve taken a long walk each morning through my favorite Winston-Salem community – Ardmore. It’s a charming historic neighborhood distinguished by classic bungalows, sidewalks and lots of big trees.

ardmore porch

Ardmore was made for summer porch sitting – at least this week.

I’m not a traditionally outdoorsy person – I don’t camp or anything crazy like that – but I do really enjoy being outside in nature – it’s just not usually possible for me to do that in the summer here in the Dismal Swamp.

But this week I got a Get Out of Summer Free Card and everything was different – my glasses had a new prescription – my vision sharper and more defined. I saw tiny dew drops – glassy bubbles sitting on top of all the yards. My senses were keener – the green, wet smell of freshly cut grass took me back to “helping” my dad mow the lawn with a plastic lawnmower when I was a little girl. I heard the joyful jingling of dog collars sounding like chimes as four-legged creatures enjoyed their morning exercise, too.

I hardly recognized myself. I was outside in late June and I was giddy. I think I could have walked to Greensboro (30 miles). The first day I found myself looking around at the other people I passed – to see if they were noticing it, too. I feared I had just conjured up 43% humidity in my head but they all looked really happy, too. Each subsequent day, I’ve opened the front door and slowly poked my head out like a turtle – was it safe? Day 2, I was pleasantly surprised and by today, I just figured I was being punked – we could not possibly have had four days in a row of a summer that was delightful.

I can’t stand too much of a good thing – it’s a serious character flaw – and I knew this jaunty jig was almost up – so this morning, I hit Girl from Ipanema on my iPhone playlist and I strutted down the sidewalks of Ardmore like Gisele Bundchen on the runway. And for those three minutes, I was tall and tan and young and lovely. And I didn’t hate summer.

giselerio-olympics-opening-_webf

When she walks, she’s like a samba.  Photo credit: NBC Olympics

Don’t look for me outside again until sometime in September. In the meantime, I’ll be inside my climate controlled condo practicing my high kicks.

bigfoot shadow.jpg

Bigfoot was here.

patio addy

My affair with summer is over but I’ll always have our song in my heart.