I made the mistake of trying to figure out how far I walked. It turns out there is an app on my phone that gives me this information. But it does not stop there. This app has decided that I have a goal. It determines that I must walk 10, 000 steps each day. It admonishes me when I don’t and over-congratulates me when I do. There is a spinning target and large whizzing print when I hit the app’s goal. It even accumulates weekly data.
I have always prided myself in being quite happy to go through life without goals. I truly do not care if I walk 5 or 10 km., I just was curious to see how far I had gone. Now this busybody on my phone thinks I have to reach a particular number – and it admonishes me when I do not. It wants me to enter my weight and create a “ranking.” It challenges me to “Get started on the life you want.”
Well, thanks very much Mr. App. I have been living the life I want for quite some
time. I really don’t like being encouraged by this thing. So why have I not removed it from my phone? I am still trying to figure that out. But watch out – it is asking to be introduced to my friends.
Like Emily Dickinson, I waited all year for March, believing that surely release would come! And maybe it will for many of us! I love the breathlessness of this poem!
Dear March—Come in—
How glad I am—
I hoped for you before—
Put down your Hat—
You must have walked—
How out of Breath you are—
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest—
Did you leave Nature well—
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me—
I have so much to tell—
I got your Letter, and the Birds—
The Maples never knew that you were coming—
I declare – how Red their Faces grew—
But March, forgive me—
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue—
There was no Purple suitable—
You took it all with you—
Who knocks? That April—
Lock the Door—
I will not be pursued—
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied—
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come.
Many times, women of a certain age are seen (or rather, unseen) as no longer making a contribution to society. The TPW walkers know this is nonsense. This week alone, I have had the privilege of cheering on our “junior seniors” who became role models for the rest of us by being among the first to be vaccinated with the Astra-Zeneca inoculation against COVID-19. These are some of the same folks who for the past year have encouraged us to look on the bright side of lockdown. They have helped point out light at the end of the tunnel and have managed to stay cheerful and hopeful when others may not have felt the same way. We have walkers who make plans, baked goods, masks, and wry comments – all in as a way of keeping the rest of us going. My hat is off (largely because it is sunny and a bit warmer) to those special people who have made this very long year a lot less grim. You know who you are: Please give yourselves a big hug, because we are not yet safe enough to hug one another. But it won’t be long now!
Believe it or not, there are a few things I am starting to quite like.
1) Masks in winter. They keep my nose warm. Maybe I’ll keep wearing masks during flu season forever. Can’t hurt, might help!
2) Phone calls with friends. I’m spending a lot more time on calls and Facetime. Not just calling to check what time we’re meeting (which I’d do on text) but long, intimate calls where we explore our feelings, our thoughts about current events, our positions. This is a lot like a long walk with a TPW friend but I’m doing it with many other friends, as well.
3) Zoom. I won’t miss it all but it is pleasant to meet a group of people without travelling and to only have to dress the top half of my body.
4) Daily walks. The pandemic has really pushed me to make a walk my priority every day. I get outside in all weather. I spend the walk musing aimlessly. Healthy for mind and body!
5) Having more time to cook. I’m not baking bread – I dread the covid-19 pounds. But I am taking the extra time to cook myself the foods I love
There would be no reason not to continue these things when we are all free. But will I take the time?
Some thoughts on Community. I believe human beings are hard-wired to seek out a community wherever they are. When I think back to training for my first marathon, over 10 years ago, I recall what a bonding experience it was to do the training, finish the race and share in the celebrating afterwards. That cycle has been repeated often since then, through so many other events with fellow TPW members. The sense of community within TPW is one of the most valuable aspects of this wonderful, supportive group. Whether celebrating a new career, or transitioning from a career into retirement, celebrating happy family events such as weddings or grandchildren, or even learning to adjust to the loss of family members, the support of this group goes far beyond just the physical side of training for a marathon. For this I am grateful, as I suspect many other members of TPW are as well. This pandemic year has magnified the need for a sense of community in all of us, and although we have not all been able to walk together as a group, the spirit of community remains strong and we look forward to the time when we can all be together again.
Sitting on the shelf I noticed more and more unlikely “athletes” wander into the store. I thought, who are they kidding?
Then one day in walks this woman looking around hesitantly but determined. I heard her ask a staff person what type of shoe she should buy for long distance training. WHAT!! She looked like the furthest she had walked in the last few years was to the corner store.
After some discussion and measurement, the clerk had her try me on. She walked quickly back and forth with more speed and agility than I expected. She then tried on a few other pairs of shoes. Finally, she took me home.
At first, I spent more time in the closet than on her feet. As Spring approached, we spent more time outdoors together. As the weather improved so did our distance. I was now remembering the days when we only walked a Kilometer or two. We were going hard and fast. She was talking about doing ½ marathons (OMG). Little did I know what we were going to do together.
Over the next 6 months we crossed the finish line for two ½ marathons plus many other shorter races. October had us heading to Washington. I was gently packed into her carryon so I would not be misplaced. I heard chatter from other shoes that we were heading to a MARATHON!
Early Sunday morning we headed quietly with a large group of friends to the start line, surrounded by thousands of other shoes all anxious and excited to go. The buzz was contagious. We crossed the timing mat and listened to advice from veterans to keep your pace and remember your training. Distance and time stood still, then flew. Up the rise and across the finish line was exhilarating. Surrounded by friendly caring marine boots was comforting and congratulatory.
I have since been retired and replaced by many new shoes. I found a new home in a Peruvian village with relatives of my original owner’s friend. Life is good.
As we enter this last week of January, some random, positive thoughts to focus on:
- This wonderful, unexpected, warmer than normal January temperatures. Wherever each of us has walked, this has made getting out and walking so much easier and pleasant.
- Amanda Gorman. What a gift she gave us. To witness such talent, strength, beauty and wisdom so far beyond her years. And so much hope.
- The vaccines are coming! Yes I know some challenging setbacks, but as a group it looks like we’ll get our jabs by the end of the second quarter?
- Plans and planning! It is my belief that being able to plan anything helps to normalize this abnormal, almost woozy state we are all living in and through. From Sporting Life to Banff, and events in between. How sweet it is to share in those details and planning, knowing how special the experiences will be – but also building on all our prior races and adventures with so many memories that bring smiles to our weary faces
- Our circle of support. In this pandemic, the term “family” has been tossed around in different contexts. From policy to practicality. Bubbles and visiting. All somewhat confusing. For those living alone, and for those whose family members are stretched far and wide, or just not being able to see (or hug) our loved ones, we have relied on our friends and those important social connections to help sustain us. Here’s to our TPW family – wherever you are and wherever you walk. We know we are likeminded in spirit and connection. And we also know that the joys of walking all together, once more when that time comes, will be even more sweet.
I spend a lot of time trying to get a handle on what is a known known, a known unknown, an unknown known and an unknown unknown about this pandemic. Mostly I want to know when it will be over so I don’t even have to plan when I’ll be walking with the TPW again. It will be Saturday morning and, if I don’t have a meeting, Tuesday evening.
I checked the “vaccine calculator” this morning. Although some vaccines have been held up for delivery, it still forecasts that I will have my vaccine between February and June. That gives me something to plan toward. I watch the numbers of new cases in Toronto and make little games for myself. For example “if the numbers of new daily cases are coming down for 3 consecutive days, I will go to the store instead of ordering my groceries.” They haven’t and I haven’t.
I won’t list the unknowns! This is an amazing unintentional psychological experiment. What is predictable is that TPW members stay in touch with one another! Thanks to you all.
Someone – maybe in a seed catalogue – said that gardens are a belief in the future. Well, so are seed catalogues. I have been sitting in the same chair for what feels like months now and it has been pretty gloomy. Even walking on cold, drizzly and overcast days has not done enough to lift my rear end out of that seat. I even tried the polar bear swim on New Year’s Day. It was invigorating but didn’t look like a long term plan. I don’t think I can talk anyone into joining me until the ice has melted.
But gardens! I can look at seed catalogues and gardening websites for hours and think about how to make my postage stamp garden and flat roof into a whole farm. Well, not really. Even though I can buy seed to grow a 500 lb. pumpkin, I don’t think I will. Now arugula is another story. So are every sort of flower and vine that grow in my heat zone. I may even send to the Netherlands for lisianthus seeds – even though I likely don’t have enough sun to grow the beautiful blooms. As someone once said, “Which plants do gardeners want?” “ALL OF THEM!” “Where will we put them?” “WE HAVE NO IDEA!”
My shopping has been on-line. Some things weren’t the colour I expected and some didn’t make it all But then…
And he did hear a sound coming over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it was merry! Very!
He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It came!
Somehow or other it came just the same!
And the Grinch with his grinch feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling. “How could it be so?”
“It came without ribbons, it came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
(Thanks, Dr. Seuss)