Our Blog: Thoughts from the Path

The Details of Landscape

West County Regional Trail

Maybe it’s the slanted light cutting through the willows of the Atascadero Marsh Ecological Reserve, or perhaps it’s the call of geese fading across the spring evening sky, but there is something inherently nostalgic about this four-mile long rail-to-trail stretch of the West County Regional Trail.

We use this particular trail when we want to go easy and be transported by sweetness of cutting through farmlands and open space. We always begin our walk across from the Post Office in downtown Graton, an easy meeting place.  If we walk from Graton to Forestville, we’ll cover four miles.

We’ll pass through farms, vineyards, and open spaces. Our first jump off the trail happens when we walk west less than a quarter of a mile along Green Valley Road, but once we drop back on the trail, we cross the bridge and enter the wetlands.

A New Sense of Belonging

I am your average woman in her early fifties. I work full time and love what I do, but not how much I do it. I have been on the same street in my peaceful neighborhood for more than 15 years, I know my neighbors well.  I have a comfortable home that even feels spacious now that my children have moved out, but there is a silence some days that I don’t easily recognize. Over the years, my friends have married, had children, some divorced, some widowed, all at different times. None of us stayed in sync with our life stages like we once thought we would. I never thought that I would one day be faced with a common yet unspoken dilemma for women my age- I was lonely and to be honest, I was feeling a little trapped.

And it wasn’t the type of lonely or trapped feelings that would compel me towards romantic relationship. On the contrary, I missed feminine camaraderie that seemed so easy to come by in my younger years. I have friends, lots of them, I just don’t get to see them very much due to demanding schedules. When I saw WomenWalking on Facebook, it suddenly clicked. I wanted to be outside, with women, walking. I wanted to take in new sites and sounds and places, I just didn’t have friends who could do this with me.

Really, the premise is brilliant.

Spring is here. Discover it all on a walk with a friend.

Each day we humans rise in the morning to what can feel like a deluge of thoughts and experiences from others. Whether it’s our family, the news, the people on the road as we drive out into the world, busy co-workers, social media, school, television shows, books we read. We spend a huge portion of our day wondering what and how others are doing and often thinking about why they’re doing it.

What about the me in you? Where are you in all that other?

Walking outdoors slows down all the crazy nervous stressful energy. Walking brings you to pace with the whole wide world, bringing the you into focus, bridging the connection with self, others and community.

“Studies have shown the health benefits of nature range from more rapid healing to stress reduction to improved mental performance and vitality. We’ve found nature brings out more social feeling, more value for community and close relationships.” –Richard Ryan, University of Sheffield, UK

When you take a walk outside, what others are doing, thinking, feeling or saying, drops away. It all fades into the background and the delightful You comes into focus.

No matter where or how far you walk. Take a moment to stop and allow yourself to be entranced by the small things.

It could be as tiny as a bug waddling across the sidewalk or as cool as a hawk treading water in mid-air, intent on its next meal. Or walking past a gopher hole just as the little critter scampers back into its home, hiding away from you.

Joy. One step. One moment at a time.

Do you ever think about how much time you devote to thinking or worrying about what other people are doing, saying or why they’re doing or saying it?

Where does it get you? Do you ever discover the answer? If so, does the answer bring you joy and a feeling of well-being and connection?

Let me pose a thought for your consideration.

Each time you find yourself wondering why someone did or said something, instead of staying on that train of thought you moved your focus away from them and brought it to yourself. And when you bring your thoughts to your self, you let your thoughts float as you wonder about what it is that brings joy to your heart and tender self.

What if, instead of expending time and energy on other, you spend time and energy on you. You, the only person who has any control over how you live your life and what affects your life. You, the only person who can do anything about what you do or how you feel. You, the divine woman that you are and all you bring into this world.

What if, by noticing how you feel at any given point in time, you begin to see that how you feel directs your life. Do you want to feel good? How can you get to feeling good from thinking about all the wrongs in the world done by others?