Rediscovering What Brings Me Joy

I forgot how much I love to go on walks.  I used to walk in the early morning hours with a friend.  In 2011, I decided to walk 11 half-marathons and my circle of walking friends grew.  I even joined a Portland to Coast walking team and spent 36 hours in a van with a team of lovely ladies.

I’m not sure why I stopped walking but recently, plantar fasciitis pain has made it easy to say “no” when friends or family invite me to go on a walk. My activity has greatly decreased since I retired nearly two years ago.  This is a huge surprise because I was sure I’d have more time and energy in retirement but I haven’t made moving a priority.  Occasionally, I’d explore a trail but for the most part, I’ve becoming increasingly inactive.

Water aerobics made reentering the world of exercise a bit easier.  As part of my New Year’s resolution, I bought a pass to our local parks and recreation center in January.  I had so much fun in the pool that I invited a friend to join me and we talked while treading water several times a week.  As my muscles started to take new shape, I felt good!  My mood was enhanced and my brain less foggy.  While I didn’t lose weight like I’d hoped, I felt like I’d started something I could stick with for years to come.

Fortunately, Oregon’s governor was proactive by issuing a Stay at Home order in March and lives were saved as a result of her actions.  As of this morning, 127 lives have been lost in Oregon due to COVID-19.  Nationwide, 78,771 people have died according to the Center for Disease Control.  By staying at home, Oregonians reduce the rate of transmission but this means no pool.

Unfortunately, the At-Home Aquatics suggestions offered by our parks department were aimed at kids in a bathtub so my movement in the pool stopped in March.  While I don’t have a home pool, I have a soaking tub that is big enough for my creative brain to consider possibilities for some sort of new home workout but books go best with bathing so I’ve come to see this space as a leisurely literacy spot.

I stopped moving at about the same time I started cooking at home.  On March 10, I visited Starbucks and A&W on a road trip. If I’d known that it would be my last meal out for a while, I may have been more mindful of what I ordered.  Since then, I’ve learned how to make my own double espresso with cream (thanks to my Bellemain Stovetop Espresso Maker for just $20.50 at Amazon) and I’ve failed many times at homemade fries and cheesecurds.  My love of Laura Ingalls Wilder  and my rule following nature has meant  that a Stay at Home order has inspired a new way of eating. I’m making everything from scratch!  A bit of butter makes all things better but a bit of butter seems to also make my butt bigger.

Luckily,  my village has reminded me about the importance of moving to mental health and physical well-being.  My sister-in-law was inspired by my mom to get 10,000 steps a day.  My mom is a marching maniac.  She marches in place while she brushes her teeth or does the dishes.  She’s constantly checking her pedometer to see how far she’s gone and planning her day to make sure she hits her target.  After just a few weeks of tracking her steps and aiming for 10,000, my sister-in-law was down six pounds and she felt great.

Inspired by her enthusiasm but discouraged by the steep streets in my neighborhood, I searched my area of paths or trails that were wide enough to allow for 6 feet spacing and along routes that would be close enough to my car.  At a certain age, proximity to restrooms becomes part of any decision.  All public restrooms are closed so my car needs to be nearby so I can make it home quickly.  Once I’d determined a place I could walk and still meet all the requirements of social distancing, I sat with the information.  Literally, I sat and read and ate with the location of a park on a sticky note in my book. I ate and thought about moving.  I read and thought about taking a walk.   Our first warm day of the year came last week and it took me having a not a single pair of shorts I could zip to finally put a plan in place.

I publicly declared where I would be and when.  I threw out an invitation  just in case anyone wanted to join me for a walk.  This level of accountability made me get out of bed and put shoes on this morning.  I would have walked a lap or two on my own around the park but two friends showed up and we ended up walking three miles.

Today, I rediscovered one of the things that brings me joy.  In this time of uncertainty, I’m happy to reclaim this information.

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Oregon’s “Stay at Home” order started in March.

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