Thoughts

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?

Walking with a Friend can make a Positive Difference in Your Life

If it wasn’t for my walking buddy, I really don’t think I would get myself outside for walks. She is my support, my accountability and my encouragement. Having a friend to walk with 1-2 times a week has changed my life for the best.” Cheryl, WomenWalking member

Having someone to walk with can make all the difference in your life. It’s not just having someone to talk to, but having a companionship to stretch your boundaries and explore a little.

It may sound weird, but sometimes the thought of going out into the open space, even around your neighborhood, can feel scary; it can feel vulnerable. If you know you will be with someone, the whole idea of being exposed drifts away.

You are more willing to go and explore places you wouldn’t go by yourself. Just think of all the places you’d like to go and see but the very idea of going alone, stops you in your tracks. It ain’t gonna happen.

There’s something about the rhythm of walking that seems to seep into your very being, inspiring you to be aligned with the world around you. Walking is the pace of the earth. You can notice all the things that are unseen when you move in any way faster than a walk. 

The Extraordinary Within the Ordinary

Walking can be a joyful experience; bubbles of extraordinary contained within the ordinary of everyday walks. When was the last time you took pause to notice one of those small moments that brings such richness to life?

Shoes on, door open, slide back the ceiling to reveal the magic of the outdoors.

Even if only for a walk around your neighborhood. Nature is alive and perfect company. Birds are busy, flitting here, chirping there (have you ever witnessed two tiny birds chasing and screaming at a hawk?). What about the riotous colors, shapes and fragrances of plants and flowers (yes, we can dream of spring). Or the first snowfall that is so quiet, gentle and soft.

If you were inside exercising or on a treadmill, you might be thinking, “When am I going to be done? I’m so bored.” But if you were out for a walk, you’d be deep into the weave of it, living and breathing that fragment of day; caught up in that indescribably delicious space between sunset and dark.

The action of walking is different for each of us. A woman in a wheelchair came alive as she excitedly told about meeting a woman friend for a “walk” uptown. “We strolled around the town looking in shop windows, talking to people, having a bite to eat at a restaurant. It was just lovely.”

Walking is Life

You think about getting out for a walk but somehow time passes and it doesn’t happen. You think about joining a walking group but the timing never seems to work with your schedule. You think, Oh, if only I had someone to walk with, I’d feel motivated to go out. But you just don’t have anyone and it’s time consuming and frustrating to try to find someone. Now what?

Time for a change. Now. This moment. Time passes and whether or not you make a choice, you’ve made a choice. Even though saying it out loud can feel scary, take the step for you.

Nature awaits you right outside your door. Start small. Small successes grow and flourish. Go out to walk around the block. Or call a friend to meet you at the park or around town for a walk. Or find a group that’s out walking when it’s convenient for your schedule. Get yourself one or two women to walk with 1x a week that are looking for support and accountability, too.

Why is being outside so important? So many reasons but perhaps the more specific reason is that you are connected with nature from deep inside yourself and the you inside yourself knows it. It’s where we come from and part of who we are; part of the cycle of life.

As humans we often separate ourselves from our planet. We get inside our heads and forget that the life happening around us that’s non-human is as important as our lives. For what would we do without it? Who would we be without everything else?

Staying in connection with anything nature, even if they seem to be playing in the background – plants, flowers, weeds, pigeons, crows, squirrels – helps to keep our beings grounded and calm and inspires joy and creativity.

Plenty of studies show again and again, that nature in whatever form you find, has a calming effect on the human psyche.

Time to give yourself the gift of a small success. Step out for a walk with a friend today. You’ll be glad you did!

What’s Your Story?

The other morning early, out for a walk on my usual loop, I was heading east through the neighborhoods and out to the pasture that borders the houses. Turning to pick up the sidewalk that runs adjacent and then a cross over the wooden bridge and away from civilization.

This may be a bit of an exaggeration since if I turn around I can see tons of homes, but facing forward feels like an adventure into nature. Wide open land, trees, cattle, horses, birds, hawks, geese, sky, clouds and fog.

Maybe it’s because they’re mammals, but cows are always endlessly fascinating to watch. Standing there observing, there’s a hint of movement out of the corner of my eye in the next pasture. A fox? It’s hard to see clearly through the morning fog and the blending of leftover summer brown grass that hasn’t yet turned its winter green. And then there are ears bouncing. And then more ears bouncing.

A pair of jack rabbits that were almost at the fence near where I was standing, turn and bolt away in the opposite direction, deeper into the pasture. And then another pair of ears, and another and another.

As my eyes focused, there were at least 10 rabbits dashing, hopping, bouncing, jumping and playing with each other as they found new territory to cover. They were playing and having fun. What a sight!

When they got further away and barely visible, I turned to continue on my walk with a bounce in my step (was I a practicing rabbit?) and a smile in my heart. Seeing these moments feel like a gift that I received because I was there in that moment of their play.

It’s a story that I can share with you, in hope that you will be excited to go outside and find your own story to share. Stories are a part of our collective history. Curiosity becomes contagious.

 

Celebrating 2017 & Welcoming 2018

Why does the arrival of December seem to come as a surprise?  Perhaps it’s the turn around; the looking  back instead of ahead. It is the end of a calendar year. But if you take away the idea of “time,” as in a calendar sort of way, and instead proceed as usual on to the next month, it doesn’t seem quite so extraordinary.

Recognition of the conclusion of one year and the beginning of the next does offer us the occasion for celebration. A time to stop and consider life.  A time to reflect and take it all in.

A time to let go of the resistance we hold: to time, to change, to what we don’t like, to what makes us unhappy.

When we let go of resistance it feels a lot like relief. And feeling relief really is a cause for celebration.

What is it about resistance that feels like such an integral part of our daily lives? While it sounds good as a form of not tolerating or accepting things we don’t like, is it really a productive path to be always focused on what we don’t like or want?

Consider this: resistance creates resistance. The war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on anything.  It’s still a war full of resisting.

Dedication to Humans

In Honor and Tribute
to Firefighters, Police, Medical Personnel
& All who give of themselves, opening heart and home 

 

What happens to community when there’s a crisis?  We humans come together!

October 9, 2017, fire broke out near where I live. It became multiple fires and spread very quickly due to the fierceness of the winds.

People died; more than 7,500 homes and structures were dstroyed; many more people were and have been displaced and evacuated to evacuation centers, to friends and family homes, hotels/motels, anywhere people could find a safe place to bring themselves and their beloved animals.

People woken abruptly in the middle of the night, groggy and disoriented, having to flee from the fire with nothing but the clothes they wore, not knowing if they would return to a home or to ashes. Not knowing if they would make it out alive. Not knowing where their animals were.

Neighbors and strangers knocking on doors to get people out of their homes and safe. 

Smoke filled the air for miles around as the fire raged and burned, carrying small particles of the structures that were burning, making it dangerous to breathe, to be outside or even open windows and doors.

Help and welcome has been everywhere and abundant. So much so there were signs saying, No More Donations Please. So so many people pitching in to help strangers who needed it; to help one another. Strong, incredible leadership. So much kindness.

What a world we live in. One day people are hating on each other, the next they’re diving in to save a life.

The Shape, Sound and Colors of our Conversations

What shape, sound or color does a conversation feel like? Is it bold and brassy or intimate and whispery? Does it feel hot like the sun or frigid as ice? Does conversation draw you in like a magnet leaving you wanting more or does it feel so scary that you want to run as far and fast as possible? Is it the size of the moon or as small as a dandelion?

The conversation that can be experienced with some when walking outdoors for could be all of the above, but the likely hood of it being a positive powerful experience is profoundly possible. Why? Because the movement of walking incites the flow of energy and thoughts. It delivers vitality to a space and place for thinking. When life force and emotions get to connect with the wonderful world of the outdoors, spurred on by the blood and muscle that’s thrilled to be moving and shaking, the content of your talk will invariably be spontaneous, powerful and real.

Give yourself the freedom to walk where you want and for how long it feels comfortable to you. Tune out any voice that says you should do this or that. Any walking is inspired walking. It doesn’t matter how far you walk. Give yourself the permission to step out if only for 5 minutes. Remind yourself that what you are doing is with the intention to feel good and this is only the beginning.