For the whole day

Teresa and I enjoyed a lovely walk from Bourton-on-Water to Lower Slaughter, June 2017.

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”Henry David Thoreau

OK, I can just hear some of you thinking “Great quote – but how would YOU know about early-morning anything?” Good point. However, I’m quoting Thoreau, who supposedly knew it quite well. Still, I think there have been a few times when I’ve found myself outside walking in the very early daylight hours, and, against all odds, I found it delightful. So I can wholeheartedly agree with Thoreau despite the very limited experience I’ve had with venturing outdoors at daybreak.

But afternoon and evening walks are delightful, too. They might not have the advantage of jump-starting the day the way a morning walk can do, but they are great for untangling the stresses that tie one’s mind into knots during the busier hours. Birdsong in the morning, crickets chirping in the evening, afternoon sunshine on a chilly day– all gifts there for the taking when we make the time for them.

Exercise gurus have written a great deal about the advantages of walking as a means of keeping fit. For me, the mental health benefits are even more important than the physical ones. Since Jeff’s death I have all but dropped my once-steady habit of walking two to five miles per day. It’s a practice I am gradually trying to adopt again. I fell out of the habit, but I need to get back into it, if only to help me beat back depression.

The weather has been unusually warm, but the leaves are finally beginning to show some dazzling colors here and there. For those of you north of me where foliage is already at peak, or those south of the equator enjoying the glories of springtime, it’s a perfect time to get outside and bless our days with some invigorating strolls.

Grab a portable device that holds some of your favorite tunes, or an interesting audiobook or podcast, or just use the time for quiet meditation. If you take a camera with you, feel free to send me a photo of something you see on your walk this week. You can email a photo as an attachment to defeatdespair@verizon.net. Let’s channel our inner Thoreau and get moving!

Eric sends us this lovely sight from one of his favorite walks:

If you’ve tasted those North Georgia apples, you know why the deer loves them!

And Susan reminds us that one can enjoy a stroll indoors or outdoors:

Airports can be great places to walk, even when you have no choice but to do so.

 

44 Comments

  1. Since my little dog Max has been ill I have done a lot less walking than I used to. It saddens me, but I am getting my exercise swimming before he wakes up in the morning and spending quality time with my little canine friend, who probably won’t be around for much longer. On holiday, however, we had some lovely walks and no doubt it’s a habit I will resume when Max no longer needs my care.

    • Oh Jan, I’m so sorry to hear that Max is not doing well. When our Pasha died after 16 wonderful years with us, I dropped pretty abruptly from 5 miles per day to only 2. I used to take him on the 2 mile walk and then did the 3 miler by myself, but walking was never the same without him. I’m glad you have a swimming routine. Meanwhile spend as much time as you can with Max — just as good for the heart, in a different way. ❀ I hope you have as much more time as possible together.

      • He has perked up a bit with some careful management of his food, and we are trying to make the most of every day with him.

        • ❀ Give him a special head-scratching hug for me. ❀

  2. Mike

    Greetings from Canton, Ga. Kind of under the weather. Caught a bug on the plane, Will write more later. 32 degrees out here this AM. Yesterday is was 70 degrees in Seattle.

    • Oh, no! I hope you are better soon. WOW, you got some cold weather as an intro. It has been warmer than usual here up until this week. I hope you are at least getting some autumn sunshine. I don’t know if Seattle is like central and northern California, but October was always our warmest month while we lived there. I had to make sure the boys’ Halloween costumes weren’t too hot to wear. October and November were always lovely, and then came the rainy season from December to February. I think you’ll like the Georgia weather once you get used to it. Get well soon!

  3. Good morning, Julia!
    First, I should apologize for forgetting that you’re not an early morning person. I think I’ve become confused over the years, when your blogs magically appeared around 5am! Ah, technology!
    Second, I have to testify that there’s not much that seems more hopeful and encouraging to me than a walk to see the sun rise. This becomes easier as winter comes on, LOL.

    • Yep, all those blogs are pre-scheduled. Until Jeff died, I had them scheduled 2 weeks in advance, so I was never up late writing one the night before publication. Now I just crank them out right before they’re due, but I hope to get two weeks ahead before too much longer. Of course, I’ve hoped that all year…Yes, sunrise comes later in the winter, but it’s SOOOOOO cold!! BTW, which is chillier, Boston or Minneapolis?

      • Minneapolis, hands down, in the winter! But we don’t call it “chilly.”
        “Chilly” is what it becomes indoors, when the furnace can’t keep up with those outdoor temperatures (that are sent from Canada – with love!).
        Bundling up today! Patrick wanted me to take the afternoon off to go sailing with him – but it was snowing yesterday!
        On the other hand, I’ve never been sailing when it’s snowing, so maybe I shouldn’t knock it. πŸ™‚

        • Susan, your revised definition of “chilly” made me smile; it reminded me of the time Jeff and I were in the Bahamas where it was an unseasonably “chilly” 65 degrees, with a breeze– and we saw people bundled up at the straw market and one vendor– I kid you not– wearing a SKI MASK!! It’s amazing the range of temperatures we humans can adjust to, eventually…I honestly don’t know if I could survive even one Minnesota winter. But I bet it’s beautiful there. Now, sailing in the snow is not at the top of my list…

  4. MaryAnn Clontz

    Ah! Yet another thing we have in common: rarely greeting the day at sunrise! We are kindred spirits in myriad ways! I do enjoy walking, but my favorite way to get going is swimming. Both have been on hold. My plan is to send you an update.
    You & Matt are in my heart forever & in my prayers. Sending much love!

    • Mary Ann, please do send me an update! I need to send you one too. Hope you are OK. Wish I was a good swimmer, but all I want to do at the pool or beach is lie in the sunshine and nap. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers! Let us know how you are doing. Hugs, love and prayers from us!

  5. Walking is amazing therapy: It clears our head, strengthens the back, opens our hearts to the world of nature, and with a cool wind on the face or even a light mist, it’s invigorating, no matter the time of day. I’m glad to hear you are getting back into it.

    • Thanks Alys. I’m still lagging far behind where I need to be, but it’s my priority for tomorrow morning. I think once I get back into the habit I’ll be a lot better about it. I always feel so much better afterward, and it’s lovely to have cooler weather for it.

      • Julia, a walking partner might help. I know you enjoy the solitude, but perhaps finding a walking club that you can join to help get you out the door. Here there are groups that walk inside the malls early in the morning before the stores open. They’re warm, dry, well-lit, etc. Sometimes it can be really hard getting going again. Best of luck.

        • Alys, I do think I need to get into mall-walking. I tried it a few times before but kept stopping to look in store windows, sample tea, chat with salesclerks, etc. πŸ˜€ So walking before the stores open is a good move, no pun intended. If I did that, I could use the shopping as a reward AFTER walking! When I chide myself for “lapsing” and recall how, for many years I walked 5 miles per day, EVERY single day, year round, no matter the weather, I then remind myself that there is a lot of difference between being 50 and being 60, and maybe a climate-controlled area in the heat of summer or the very cold winter months is a wise idea. For now, I’m doing good to get in a 2-mile walk on a sunny, mild day. But I’ll keep working on getting back to it.

          • Julia, I’m 58 and really notice the difference in what my body can bare. It’s a bit disappointing admitting to myself that I’m aging, but there you have it. I like the idea of shopping as a reward after the fact. That’s a fun motivator.

            And please: no more chiding yourself. xo

            • I’m trying to put a positive spin on it all by saying it’s nature’s way of granting me more time for reading, writing and generally slowing down. I will hereby cease chiding myself about walking! But I will keep you posted on any mall-walking rewards I might find, hee-hee.

              • There you go. The silver lining is alive and well. xo

                • πŸ˜€

  6. The Fitbit my daughter bought me for mother’s day this year has helped motivate me immensely. I do 7000 steps 5 days a week. Usually as soon as day breaks. I like to get moving early as I’m one on “THOSE”

    • Marlene, Jeff got me a Fitbit several years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. I was most unpleasantly disillusioned when I found how few calories I was burning each day, even with the walking. But it was great incentive to ramp things up. I’m on my third Fitbit now and I find that if I don’t get my calorie burn on pace early in the day, I can pretty well forget about catching up in the afternoon. (I prioritize calories burned instead of steps, but I normally do at least 2-3 miles per day just running around the house; walking usually adds 2 miles more.) It’s the sort of thing one has to stay ahead of. And if the Fitbit calculations are right, moving early in the morning gets the calorie burn going much more effectively for the rest of the day. Thus my resolve to walk tomorrow MORNING. πŸ™‚

      • YAY! That’s today! It’s probably light there by now, too, so I’m sending encouraging thoughts – go – go – go!
        πŸ˜€

        • I did take that morning walk, but oddly, it didn’t have much effect on my overall stats for the day. I guess that proves my theory that I run around the house and up and down the stairs just as much when I don’t take walks. However, the mental health benefits of walking make it worthwhile.

      • Keep moving and it’s a scientific fact the exercise in the morning jump starts the metabolism so I do my big walk first thing then try to move some every hour. The rain even held out for me today. πŸ™‚

        • Hooray! That “move some every hour” is a hard one for me to master. I have tried various approaches but if I get involved in some sort of work that keeps me seated, I go way too long without getting up and moving about. I tell myself that making cup after cup of tea is good, if for no other reason, than that it gets me out of my chair regularly! πŸ™‚

          • It’s those trips to the kitchen for a walk that get me…at the waistline. 😦

            • That’s one more thing we have in common. πŸ™‚

  7. Well, I don’t know how that happened. Message sent halfway through. Yes, I’m an early bird much to the annoyance of others. The walks do help with the depression and that’s when I can have my conversations with God and no one knows. I have headphones on but rarely listen to the music. I’m always listening for the answer. πŸ™‚ The Fitbit helps me to challenge myself. My daughter has a full time job so keeping up with me is hard but she tries as she has her own to challenge her. Anytime of the day to walk is a good time though as you said. Keep on walking when you can. It really does help.

    • Marlene, that happens to me whenever I’m using anything with a touch screen — I send stuff halfway through or delete stuff or somehow end up pressing keys I never meant to press. Walking is a real blessing and it’s even more fun now that we have our Fitbits to keep us on track. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to go public with my stats the way some people do, but I like having some sort of record. I have an Aria scale to go with it, and that’s not as much fun because weight loss is not something one can control as easily in the sort term. But it keeps me from kidding myself. πŸ™‚

      • I keep my stats to myself as well. I’m the only person I want to compete with. As for weight loss, hard as I try, nada. But I’m still doing all I can to stay as healthy as possible. That’s all we have to do. One foot forward then the next. Breathe. Sending hugs.

        • Marlene, I agree. I’ve never been a competitive type. Good thing, since I’ve also never had any really outstanding skills! πŸ˜€ But there is much to be said for being satisfied with progress toward one’s personal best. Hope you will have a great week this week.

  8. Ann

    Hi Julia, I look forward to and read your blog every Monday and Thursday although I rarely post these days.

    I admire your spirit and determination to Defeat Despair.

    Ann

    • Thank you, Ann. I’m so glad you are here with us and I’m happy to know you still enjoy the blog!

  9. Julia,

    “Footprints in the Sand”

    One night I dreamed a dream.
    As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
    Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
    For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
    One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

    After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
    I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
    I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
    especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
    there was only one set of footprints.

    This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
    “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
    You’d walk with me all the way.
    But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
    there was only one set of footprints.
    I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

    He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
    Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
    When you saw only one set of footprints,
    It was then that I carried you.”

    Take that walk my friend; you won’t be walking alone.
    -Alan

    • Thank you, Alan. Sometimes I can look back with the benefit of many years and see times where I was being carried, but as this classic poem suggests, it’s often hard to realize it at the time it is happening. As I’ve gotten older, though, the reassuring memories are enough to affirm my faith that I’m not alone even when I may feel that I am. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  10. Sheila

    Happy belated week, my friend. I wish I could have sent a photo this early morning, as I only walked as far as my front PORCH and witnessed a most unusual view. At 6:00 the contrast between the pinkish sunrise and a dark cloud system on the horizon made for a mountainous appearance. When I brought it to Bill’s attention he agreed that it looked like trees in the distance. It’s a beautiful season, though it’s taken a long time arriving. I’m so glad that y’all have enjoyed Halloween. πŸŽƒ I was thinking of Drew earlier, anticipating the World Series game 7. Of course, we’re pulling for Houston! ⚾️ I enjoyed the photos that Eric and Susan shared. Thank you for pushing forward and “Defeat Despair”! πŸ’–

    • Thanks, Sheila! I think it was satisfaction enough for Drew that the Yanks lost (he is always for whoever is playing the Yankees), but after what Houston has been through, I think we are all pulling for them. I haven’t seen any of the games but from the few details I’ve heard, it’s been a great series. How about that November Verandah! Rocking chairs, hydrangeas, and books! What more could we ask? (The tea kettle is on in the kitchen, of course πŸ™‚ ) Happy November!

  11. Harry Sims

    Some of the best crying I ever did was when my dog died.

    I’ve nearly always had a doggie.
    Right now she’s Daisy Mae.
    Daisy Mae is her name, doggie is her game.

    Harry

    • Harry, I remember how much Jeff cried when Pasha died. It was one of only a very few times I ever saw Jeff cry. I think Daisy Mae is a perfect name for a doggie.

  12. Amy Hill

    Lovely post. Perfect time of year for walking here. I do wish we could get a good hard frost to kill all the little no see um’s and the see um’ s as they make me crazy but outside of that I love to go right now more than any time of year. There is a trail near Lorton I am wanting to check out We should plan a day and meet there. Love you.

    • Yes, let’s do! BTW I have been going crazy with the no see ums in the HOUSE at York — I think they came in on the plants from outside as I started to bring them back into the sunroom. Hope they die out soon. I don’t want to spray anything toxic. There aren’t many but occasionally one will crawl across my computer screen where they suddenly become “can’t miss ums.” πŸ™‚

      • Amy Hill

        ;0

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