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January 28, 2019

Walking | Simple Pleasures

I'm going to start a new blog series on "simple pleasures."  It falls under my "everyday occasions" category, but it is also something different.  In our lives that seem to get bigger and busier, I try to keep a habit of lavishing in simple pleasures.  Good cups of coffee, getting up early, lighting candles, steamy showers, bubbly baths, slow Saturday mornings, nice pajamas, fresh sheets, and daily morning walks.  All of these things are simple, tiny and mostly easily attainable, but could be overlooked or forgotten in hectic schedules.  So this series here to remind all of us of the little moments that make big impacts.  The first in the series is absolutely essential for me everyday.  I would love to hear about your favorite little everyday moments.


Daily Morning Walks

I have walked (almost) everyday for 12 years.  Before that I did lots of various "workouts" from aerobics classes (that's what they were called 20 years ago...), yoga, running, etc.  Nothing really stuck for me or added anything to my life except to check the fitness box - not that I was even that 'fit.'

It all changed for me when I got Mr. Darcy.*  He was a puppy and he needed walks.  Lots of long walks. I found what started as a new daily chore has become my lifeline.  I have to walk everyday, no longer for Mr. Darcy, but for myself.

My walks are when I do my best thinking.  Almost instantly when I leave the house, I can feel how it opens my head, clears my mind and lifts my mood.  Literally, just steps outside of our drive I take that big deep breath and feel refreshed.  If I'm ever feeling at a creative impasse, or struggling with something (as simple as a new product idea, blog post or as complex as a tough relationship), I know I can always contemplate it most clearly on a walk.  I always come back from a walk full of energy, ideas and happiness.  My lungs are full of fresh air, my posture is improved, my body feels leaner and stronger and my head is clear.  Life can be so simple sometimes.

My favorite time of day to walk is early each morning as the sun comes up.  In the wintertime, our schedule is a little off as the sun is coming up at about 7:45.  Emma gets up at 7am and leaves for school by 8am, and I don't want to miss time with her in the morning, so my walks get pushed to 8am in the winter.  But soon, I'll be back on schedule, leaving the house at 6am and being back home by 7am, catching the sunrise at about 6:30.  Sunrise in the middle of the summer can be before 6am, and can be as late as 8am in the winter.  You know things like this when you are a morning walker.

This year, I've incorporated walking to my favorite coffee shop into my early morning walks.  They open at 6:30.  It takes me 30 minutes to walk there and 30 back, so being out of the house at 6am is always my goal so I can be back in time for Emma to wake up.  It is a 3 mile loop for me and I always come back warmed up from walking and coffee and it feels great.

To be up, outside before anyone else and to witness the sunrise on a daily basis is so special.  On most days, it is my motivation to get up and out early - to catch the sunrise.  In the warmer months, we often take sunset walks as a family.  I'm trying to pass on my love for walking to Emma, as it has been such a saving grace for me.

My minimum temperature is about 15 degrees.  I bundle and even wear ski pants if necessary.  It is amazing how toasty you get after walking about 10 minutes outside in the cold.  I always come back sweating and red cheeked - perfect start to a winter day.

The other benefit of walking outside is getting to observe nature.  We don't live next to a great park or have any trails to walk on, so I rely on finding the prettiest natural spots I can in our neighborhood.  We walk along a creek that lines a golf course where we observe ducks and ducklings, and watch the water freeze, thaw and observe the life that happens around it.

In the next couple of months, I'll watch tiny buds appear on the trees and get excited to see their progress each day.  I'll notice as more birds appear each morning and their songs increase.  I'll rush home to share the quince and daffodil report to Mike and Emma in March when I see the first ones appear, or in September when I notice the first maple tree begin to turn.  Such simple things.  All things that are within our grasp each day if we take the time to look.

In preparation for this post, I did a little looking around for great walking quotes.  Here are some that resonated with me.
All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.  -Friedrich Nietzsche
An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.  -Henry D. Thoreau
The most ancient exercise and still the best modern exercise.  -Carrie Later
And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.
The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best.  -Thomas Jefferson
Thoughts come clearly while one walks.  -Thomas Mann

There is also so much data on how healthy a daily walk is - mental health and physical health.  Reading the results to these were so fascinating - like mood-lifting depressed patiences as much as medications can do, adding seven years to your life (!!) and curbing sweet cravings.  I'd include the stats (you can find them here), but I really wanted this to be more of my testament.  Also, when I try to motivate myself with longterm goals it doesn't really work for me.  I am more of an instant gratification person and that is what walking does for me - instantly I feel better for the entire day.  That's what keeps me getting up every morning because I know I will feel great immediately.

Do you walk?  I'd love to hear the benefits you get from walking.

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