An essay & prompt on getting out of your head and into your body
My walks with my dog have saved me again and again. He is 14 now, so we can’t go as far, but we go just as long so he can sniff and meander and I can settle my mind. I’ve learned not to pull him along or be in a rush--this is the time we have and I am grateful for it.
Suleika, what you said about having to put so much on hold creatively, and learning how to pick it up again when you got sick resonated so deeply with me. My husband Daryl died of colon cancer in October 2020, I had just agreed to take over a storytelling nonprofit that meant a lot to me, and I had finally finished a decent draft of my novel and just had received edits from my agent. I so wanted to be able to push through and pursue these projects, but grief destabilized me. I tried and I failed and could not connect in the same way, especially to the novel. I realized that I was mad it had outlived Daryl. That this book would never be read by him. Grief took my love of fiction away for a bit. I had to let these projects go (let them lie, I told myself). Three years later, I finally felt capable of holding one of them again. The loss of my love is now tied up with it, too, but I am learning how to be gentler with my expectations of myself, to know that surviving him, waking up each day to walk the dog is all I had to do the last three years. Thank you for all you write and share ❤️❤️❤️
Yes Dear Suleika I remember this prompt! Sending healing vibes to you and anyone in our community suffering. Walking is great but dancing does it for me! I can be in the foulest of moods and I put on music I love, dance around my apartment and the next thing I know a smile is on my face. Dancing was a huge connection with my dad, whose been gone for 30 years. I remember at my sis’s wedding when I was 13 the band played an old fashioned dance called “The Charleston” and dad and I got up from our seats, dressed in all our wedding finery, me kicking off my shoes, and dancing the Charleston with him. Just remembering the joy on my dad’s face and the joy in my entire body, and the joy of the wedding guests watching us. A memory and vivid picture in my heart.
With my new job, my daily yoga practice was shelved and I suffered because of that. I started feeling less and less, "Mary of Now," and more and more of "Mary of Young Adult." This, was NOT good! I set aside the time and space for my yoga and when I completed those glorious 26 minutes, I was back to Mary of Now. Oh, it was so satisfying to be back in the mind and body space of lived knowledge and security of being me. I had to just giggle at my "Mary of Now" title. I feel like I need a medival tall hat with a matching scarf attached to top, billowing in the wind, announcing, "She's back! All hail Mary of Now."
I know that towpath, Suleika. I’ve been to that glorious town pre-pandemic, maybe 8-10 years ago. Walking is my go-to for clearing my head. I have the good fortune to have a condo by the beach and will walk by the water for miles to untangle the thoughts and worries that build in my mind.
It never fails me. The physical exertion, the salt air, the soothing sounds of waves crashing and seagulls laughing. I feel lighter after.
I absolutely love walking my dog everyday. We have an area I call ‘The little forest” close by and I love it there. The sunlight is often streaming through the trees in certain spots, making the forest seem even more magical. My dog runs free, sniffing and exploring. It’s so beautiful there and changes in all 4 seasons. Soon it will be my most favourite time of year, when the leaves change to glorious reds, yellows, and oranges...my feet will crunch under the sound of fallen leaf piles. Ahh... my church.
A WONDERFUL book: WINDSWEPT: WALKING the PATHS of TRAILBLAZING WOMEN, by Annabel Abbs.
It's her memoir of how walking transformed her life woven together with stories /profiles of women i.e. Anais Nin...who found walking liberating, redemptive, healing iand much more.
Solo walks have been my saviour in some of the most challenging times of my life recently. I think there's nothing better than a walk in the neighbourhood to experience a moment of peace. It's crazy how movement of the body helps slow down the mind.
Lovely post. I hope you feel better soon!✨
When I walk out my door directly opposite you Suleika on the northern California Mendocino coast, the dead end 1 mile road is UP. It starts off as a physical question, "Are the oral chemo and it's side effects/meds going to allow me!?" Then I remember I can walk so slowly, like a curious child or naturalist. I usually make it to the top. There is an END sign marking success. Ironic, because it is usually the beginning of a good writing thought, certainly a sense that I am more than just a body. ♥️
Walking does the same thing for me Suleika. It gives me a calm mind from which ideas typically spring.
It also makes me grateful, like most of us on an illness journey, that my body is able to move.
I used to do a lot of endurance racing pre cancer. Always walking versus running. 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathons. I loved it. And I still do the odd one. Only 5ks and for my Team 4CHIP a team I created 16 years ago to honour my dad. We walk to raise money for a variety of charities in his memory. $126k and counting so far. Today I am doing a 5k as Team 4CHIP for the Terry Fox Foundation. An incredible foundation that raises $ for cancer research. Terry Fox is a Canadian hero and an inspiration to me and so many.
But other than those times I mostly now just walk for health, peace, joy. All those things amazing things a great walk brings me 🥰
Happy Sunday All ♥️
Little did I know how walking the Camino Portuguese in January/February 2020 (right before the pandemic) would be tremendous preparation for the pandemic itself. It gave me so many things: time to think; being in nature, every single day; learning how to persevere day after day; among many, many other things. As a small business owner who really had to wrangle to get my business past the pandemic, the gifts from walking the Camino truly helped me to get through.
Oh how I miss taking a good walk. In 2006, I had a bad fall at work and did get a small sum from workers compensation. Hindsight is 20/20 and I should have seen a lawyer after the physical therapist said I would have a permanent disability in my neck. I didn’t want to lose my job so I accepted the money offered and continued working when I was cleared to do so. Eventually I quit and got a better job. But I noticed having more problems with my neck when I try going for a walk. I noticed that when I go to the grocery store and push a grocery cart my neck doesn’t hurt as much. A friend recently told me that I should find a walker that is taller and I would stand erect. I want to walk around our neighborhood and not about to push a grocery cart. Haha
I will try to find one of those walkers and this 76 year old girl is going to be a street walker again 🤣
Now you know how I meant that!!😀
I drove from Santa Barbara to Parowan, Utah - the Mother Town of southern Utah I’ve learned. I arrived a scant 20 minutes before sunset and as soon as I had completed check-in I hustled out to shuffle the car out of my hips, legs and feet.
The sunset was stunning. The sky was both a smooth bowl of pinks and oranges, like an iridescent glazed piece of pottery, and scuffed towards the east with grey scraps of cloud. I have always loved noticing how skies change according to the physical landscape below them, and the temperature and moisture of the air.
I am driving away from a busy hectic week staying at my parents house which is under construction and the similes that came to mind first for this gorgeous sky were about laundry, tools, cement. That strange association squeaked open a little creative impulse, it was so unlike associations I’ve drawn before and I have been unable to land on anything new for months.
Wide skies and laundry - two ideas as I drive on into Colorado!
Cherish the ability to walk... for when you want to and cannot, for one reason or another, it is hellish.
Right on! I and going through a health crisis and walking solo at sunrise helps the head significantly!! Really enjoy your insightful ness! Peace and hugs, Iris
This morning, i moved Aunt Annies' needlepoint. Then I moved Marlon Brando in The Wild One, and a painting purchased on Haitian streets. Movement, interior and exterior is my life..
I am loving imagining Sunshine’s prance as she catches up to River. I learned from Tom Cox here on Substack that there is a Latin phrase, solvitur ambulando, which means it is solved by walking. Isn’t that perfect? I love walking alone, walking with my dog, walking with my husband, walking with my best friend...so much is solved in these walks. I actually wrote about this, this week and the transition tools that help us navigate change you can also see a cute pic of our dog https://pocketfulofprose.substack.com/p/every-year-i-swear-i-forget-how-fall