For your mind
“Sometimes the best thing you can do for your mind is take it for a walk.”
— Ashleigh Brilliant
Ashleigh can speak with authority on this topic. He’s lived over eight decades without using a car very much.* In fact, I don’t know whether he even owns one. I’ve only ever seen his bicycles, parked on his front porch, and I know that he walks (or bikes) almost everywhere he goes. Of course, that’s easy for someone who lives in the heart of a lovely place called Santa Barbara. But the rest of us are without excuse, no matter where we live.
Everywhere I’ve ever been, there are nearby charming little towns (or charming areas within not-so-charming towns) or at least very interesting places, to explore on foot. And I totally agree that often, the thing my mind needs most of all is to go for a walk.
After a few of you exhorting me (via the comments section) to get back to my long-neglected habit of walking at least 2 miles a day, I walked that distance three different days in my neighborhood this past week. But on Friday, I was returning from a yearly planning meeting with Matt and the various agencies involved in his life. The weather was gorgeous– not too hot, sunny, and just a faint breeze. So I decided to do something I’ve intended to do for nearly ten years now: spend some time exploring the nearby little town of Occoquan. This marker gives a bit of its history. By the way, it’s pronounced “Ah’ ko-kwan” (I think).
I’ve been there for errands and appointments just outside the historic district, so I knew it is a picturesque waterside village that would be perfect for a walk. I only had a couple of hours to spare, but I decided that would be better than nothing. And it was a great way to spend that two hours, better than any therapeutic intervention I could have asked my insurance company to provide. I decided to invite you to go along with me, virtually, and see if you agree.
One of my favorite shops was formerly a stately home, now filled with delightful furnishings and accessories. I could easily have spent my entire time in this one shop alone, but I had to tell myself I’d save it for another time.
Along with the charming shops, tea rooms and restaurants typical of such places, there’s a unique new town house development called Gaslight Landing. Need a place to dock your boat, or wishing for your own elevator inside your home? Those things and more can be yours for “only” $899,900 or so. But enjoying the sight of them as you stroll through town is free, and much easier than owning and maintaining one.
One of the things I enjoy most about wandering through these little towns is that I always see things here and there that remind me of some of my favorite people. Whenever I see red, white and blue (and there is plenty of it on display the week before Memorial Day) I think of my patriotic friend Mary Ann. When I see anything with a seashore motif I think of Sheila and her lovely oceanfront home. And when I saw one particular shop, it may as well have had a sign outside saying “bring Alys here next time she comes.”
First of all, there was a Little Free Library outside. Many of you know Alys or someone else who has generously provided such a “book stop” for the community. Each Little Free Library is unique, which makes them special, but all share the wealth of reading and encourage others to do the same. As if that wasn’t enough, this particular Little Free Library also offered seed packets for flowers that benefit local wildlife while beautifying the landscape. Of course I picked up a packet, snapping a photo to show Alys, whose blog is rightly named “Gardening Nirvana.”
When I tore myself away from the Little Free Library and actually entered the shop, I noticed another reminder of Alys. As a professional organizer, she introduced me to Marie Kondo’s books and their wonderful advice to “Spark joy.” How could I not take this photo to share with her, and with you?
Even the little “nooks and crannies” had colorful photo-worthy sights. I snapped this little alley just as my time was running out and I had to leave.
So this is the closest I could come to having you with me that day. But I’m pretty sure that you have lots of fun, cute or interesting places near wherever you are, that you can enjoy exploring. It’s good exercise, for body, mind and spirit. Next time you feel a little bit crazy, remember Ashleigh’s advice, and take your mind out for a walk!
*despite– or maybe because of– his PhD dissertation at Berkeley being about the effects of the automobile industry on Southern California in the 1920’s.