While I Was Away ……

walk indian paintbrush 0615

Yes, I’ve been walking.  I just haven’t been writing about it.  On Easter, my mom, the Queen Of Walking, at age 92, fell off a chair and broke her hip.  It’s been a long journey with her back to independence.  She has amazed her physical therapists, doctors, and everyone who has helped on this journey.  In the rehab hospital, she was likely the eldest patient and one of the few with genuine potential to return to an independent life.  Why?  Well, good genes – and a great walk ethic.  She still walks every day and was held back only because of hospitalization and severe fatigue after general anesthesia and her hip replacement.  She’s downright remarkable!

But, no, I haven’t been napping.  In addition to helping her in a variety of ways that only a daughter can, I’ve kept to a pretty rigorous walking schedule thanks to my walking buddies.  We have suffered from so few rain-free days.  Even on the days with no rain, the trails we prefer to walk amidst the woods are just too wet to maneuver.  This past week has been about the best in a month.

walk carnation 0615

Kris and I have walked pretty regularly at Emmeneggar Park despite the weather.  The good drainage there and the well maintained trails have drawn us back repeatedly.  Also, the lack of bikes!  We took a rugged, uphill trail a couple days ago and were rewarded with the site of these lovely flowers that Kris took pictures of.  I had heard of Indian Paintbrush but had never realized why it earned its name.  The color is so vibrant!  And, the lilac flowers, slightly different than those we’ve seen before, turned out to be a carnation variant.  Who knew?

I’m not much of a gardener but I do love the color that nature so freely and generously shares with us.  These beauties are great rewards for hitting the trails.  We also saw 4 deer atop the same ridge as these pretty flowers.  That marks the first time we have seen deer in this park!  We’ve seen there footprints in the mud but never the animals themselves.  This time we were not walking with my dog which may account for the presence of the deer.  They were not afraid of us and took a leisurely walk away from us.  One wonders though.  Just the day before, a deer could be seen feasting on my neighbor’s hostas in the front yard in the middle of the afternoon!  I love deer – unless I’m driving and I see them on the road.  No close encounters of the car vs. deer type for me, thank you!

Lessons Along The Walk Way

old people walking 0415

My 92 year old blind mother fell on Easter Sunday and broker her hip.  She dragged herself to her phone and called me.  I was out with my husband (the doctor) and we were able to get to her in just under 30 minutes.  That put her about an hour from the time she fell til we got there and my husband diagnosed her broken hip.  A few minutes later, EMS was on the scene and two very competent and compassionate muscle men got mom onto the gurney and on her way to the ER.  I texted my brothers who actually beat me to the hospital.

My mom lives in an apartment in a facility that has both assisted and independent living units.  She lives independently despite her blindness and advanced age.  Her recovery since surgery the Monday after Easter has been nothing short of miraculous.  She’s not a soft, fuzzy kinda gal.  She was a registered nurse since 1944, served in the US Army mostly in the Philippines during World War II, and worked full time throughout my youth.  The last 20 or so years of her career were spent as the Director of Nurses at large nursing homes.  She knows old people.  Now, she is one.

child cartwheel 0514

Believe me, it sneaks up on all of us.  One day you are agile, capable, independent and the next you are old, frail, and asking for help from those around you.  No one plans that.  It just happens.

broken hip 0415

Why has mom’s recovery gone so well?  You already know the answer.  Even at 92 and robbed of most of her vision due to macular degeneration, she walks at least a mile every day inside her facility.  She uses no walker or cane.  She takes the stairs, shunning elevators due to fairly severe claustrophobia.  Her blood press and cholesterol are lower than mine.  As my husband would tell you, she chose her parents well.  Despite her years of smoking, she has no lung disease.  She lucked out in the genetic lottery and has maximized her health by continuing to walk and push herself when most of her younger apartment mates are sitting around complaining of their aches and pains and sharing tales of the horrors of hospitals.

PT 0415

Not mom.  She had no aches and pains.  In fact, since two days after surgery, she has taken no pain medication except right before bedtime – and then only Tramadol, a non-narcotic pain reliever.  She requires assistance with a lot of things right now – like getting up and down to walk, help ordering from the menu (she’s blind),and dealing with ‘hip precautions’ which require someone else to put on her socks and pants.  This phase won’t last long.  She is already bending too forward (than the hip precautions allow) to pull up her own pants.  She receives visitors and chats on the phone.  All 3 of us kids visit almost daily and the grandkids, inlaws and outlaws have all made appearances.  She’s really lucky that way.

Mom has no mental deficiencies.  Since she has become blind – about 15 years ago – she REMEMBERS all the dates that I write on her calendar – hair and doctor appointments, laundry day, and which friend will be visiting on which Friday.  She calls me to remind me to pick her up for the beauty shop.  If she could see, she’d still be driving and giving the people at Walgreen’s grief for not having her eye drops ready!

Most of us will not have the same durable, healthy genes mom inherited.  But, we all have the ability to keep ourselves agile and physical strong.  We can all work on our endurance.  We can all get off the sofa to walk the neighborhood or march in place in front of the TV during our favorite TV show.  If we are really lucky, one day when we least expect it, we might have an accident resulting in a broken bone requiring surgery, but we’ll recover much more quickly if we’ve worked to keep our muscles strong.  And, there is strong evidence that the same exercise that flexes our muscles also flexes our brains so we retain our mental abilities right along with our physical ones.

You go, mom!  Such a good example is impossible not to follow.  Join me on the Walk Way.

NOTE:  Here’s a picture of my mom when she was about 19, during nursing training.  Wasn’t she pretty?  St. Vincent’ss Infirmary School of Nursing, Little Rock, Arkansas.

NOTE:  The photos in this article of anonymous people (or someone’s xray) from bing.com

A Little Walking Drama

helicopter 041815

Kris and I hit the trail again at Castlewood State Park in hopes of seeing those lovely bluebells again.  We got a bit of a late start since I had a busy schedule then a friend in from Albuquerque.  We got to the park and walked the route in the opposite direction from yesterday.  Once we rounded the bend in the trail that mimics the river’s bend, we were greeted with the delicious aroma of the bluebells which seemed even more numerous than yesterday.  Probably because it was nearer to dusk.

This end of the park has two wooded trails that edge a central grassy area that is easily the size of two soccer fields.  When we entered this meadow, we saw a fireman across the meadow who indicated that we were not to walk across the meadow to the next part of the wooded trail but to divert to the parking lot.  Then, Kris heard the unmistakable thumping high in the air from a helicopter.  So, we stopped to watch the copter land and then to try to figure out what was happening.  Things were calm, but it was clear this was no drill.

castlewoodEMS0415

When we had entered the park, we had seen first a huge EMS unit (necessarily large as it must be ready for injuries on land and in the river) and farther down the road, a cluster of smaller emergency vehicles.  We didn’t think much of it since they let us pass under the single lane opening under the train tracks that surround and crisscross the park.  Unconcerned, we took the dog and walked away.

castlewoodems20415

Once the copter landed, we watched one of the large fire department SUV’s load up the copter pilot and the other EMS guy from the copter and drive away.  Hmmm.  This was getting curious – and interesting.  We loaded up the dog and headed back home.  Then, as we passed under the train tracks, we could see the lineup of emergency vehicles.  Later, Kris reported that the a train was stopped on the rails at a highway overpass just outside the park.  Curiouser and Curiouser.

What we know about this park is that there are some extremely steep and rugged trails.  There are bluffs over the river and bluffs over the railway right of way.  There is a steep set of stone steps over one part of the bluff just above the train tracks.  Bikers, runners, and walkers scramble high and low through this park every day, no matter what the weather.  Further, the river draws boaters and fishermen, floaters (a term dear to the hearts of St. Louisans.  If you aren’t familiar, please ask.), and photographers.  The park is tucked into one side of a sharp S bend in the river and links at one end via a railway right of way (that is illegal to trespass on) to a small river town and a large park upstream.  It’s a popular place.

We surmise that someone fell or jumped from some height onto the train tracks or from the tracks into one of the culverts that follow the train tracks.  The tracks themselves form a levee to protect the park and farmland from the river.  Sadly, the railway trestles and bridges have been the scenes of many teen deaths, either by accident or suicide.  But the ruggedness of the trails lend themselves to body beating falls.  The only thing worse than falling while you’re walking or running is to fall from the greater height of a bike.  Something as simple as a broken leg could easily require a team of first responders to safely remove the victim from the trail. Something more happened today since we saw 10 or 11 first responder vehicles in addition to the helicopter!  Probably not a simple fracture when more than one fire protection district responds to the call.

bluebellsmore0415

We may never know what happened today.  Our fingers are crossed that it’s that broken leg on the train track rather than any of the scarier scenarios.  Either way, we had our dose of drama for the day.  We prefer the silent beauty of those fragrant bluebells.

An Uphill Walk?

bluebells0415\

My life has been mostly uphill the past couple months.  Life can get like that, right?  But, due to my perseverance and the support of good friends, I’ve been able to keep walking through most of it.  Walking in sickness and in health is one of my mantras.  It keeps me going so that the uphill days get leveled off to more stable territory and I sleep better and have a better outlook in general.

bluebelldetail0415

Yesterday, my friend Kris and I walked at Castlewood State Park, one of our favorite locations.  We have had so much rain over the past few weeks that we had to walk on concrete to give the trails time to dry out a bit.  Yesterday was our first off-road walking in a while.  And, it was glorious.  The weather was totally wonderful.  But, the Bluebells.  OH, my!  They were splendiferous.  The walk through the Bluebells was worth all the difficult days I’ve been through lately.

violetflowers0415

Kris is an excellent photographer, even with her cellphone.  Plus, she’s a faithful walking buddy who is as devoted to walking as I am.  That’s hard to find!  So, enjoy ‘my’ Bluebells and the tiny violets we saw also.  We even saw wild carrot blossoms!  There’s no telling what beauties you could find in your own neighborhood.

If You Start Now…….

walk daffodils 0315

So, we can take a step each day toward goals we establish – not those cast upon us by others.  We all must complete our jobs, our chores, and the other necessities of life.  But for most of us, there are at least a few minutes most days we can devote to ourselves, to moving forward, to creating

One person, two hands, two feet, one brain.  That’s all it takes to make something wonderful.  The article I’m linking here is not about walking, but you’ll see how it applies to what we each can do in our lives the progress we can make, the beauty we can create, the satisfaction we can attain.

So, if we start today, and continue most days toward a goal, the results are inevitable.  The same is true if we continue to sit on the sofa and watch Jerry Springer.  No progress will be made toward anything positive – except lining Jerry Springer’s pockets with more money.  I’m much more interested in doing things that benefit me and my family rather than the likes of Jerry Springer, Judge Judy, or even Oprah.  Real life is far more satisfying, stimulating, and well, real, than the passive life one might live in front of a TV or computer.

Little By Little, Learning To Climb

walk climb a hill 0315

If you can’t climb a mountain, then
climb a hill,
That’s much better than
standing still,

I saw this line of poetry and it grabbed my attention.  It’s exactly my philosophy for getting moving.  I’ve written about this many times (check my old blog for earlier articles).  No one climbs Mt Everest on the first try with no practice!  Even the most experienced of hikers and mountain climbers must prepare, push through, and increase strength, technique, and endurance to attain a goal.  So that’s it.  This little poem pretty much says it all.  Below is the entire poem.

Inch by inch,
Day by day,
Step by step,
All the way,

Piece by piece,
Bit by bit,
Little by little you’re there!

If you can’t climb a mountain, then
climb a hill,
That’s much better than
standing still,

There’s a way if you’ve the will,
And little by little you’re there!
If you can’t swim an ocean, then ford a stream!
Just “remodel” your basic scheme;

Don’t give up till you reach your dream,
And little by little you’re there!
Good things that are here to stay don’t get done in just one day.

Once you start you’re on your way, so keep on going.
If you can’t make a million, don’t draw a blank!
Just keep filling your piggy bank!

You’ll have only yourself to thank,
When little by little you’re there!

Every rose was once a bud,
One small raindrop starts a flood,
Acorns planted in the mud will grow you know!

If you can’t walk a mile, take one long stride,
Move along with a sense of pride,
Step by step till your satisfied
And little by little you’re there!

By Natalie Sleeth

I Did It Today!

walk st louis arch 0215

We got 7 inches of snow at my house in about 12 hours, beginning about 2 PM on February 28.  I was supposed to help with a Casino Night for a youth group and was relieved when it was cancelled.  My husband had the flu and his car wouldn’t start and had been sitting at his work place overnight.  A friend drove me to it and another friend showed up to help sort out what the problem with the car was.  A wonderful fireman from next door drove over with his own car and his jumper cables to help us get the car started.  An hour and a half later, I was able to drive the car home.  But, that left no time to head to the mall to walk.  Rats!  Knew I wouldn’t sleep well that night.

So, I turned on Family Feud which is always entertaining if not a bit silly and began walking in front of my TV.  I made a deal with myself to walk for the entire 30 minutes of Family Feud.  Got interrupted in the middle of my ‘walk’ but then got back to it and added a few minutes to be sure I got in at least 30 minutes.  It worked!  I slept well that night.  No leg cramps – the kind I get on the nights I haven’t walked during the day.  Even when I’m sick.  No kidding.  How fair is that?  But, I do know that if I do the work (walking), I won’t have the leg cramps.

The next day was a Winter Wonderland so long as I stayed inside.  But, I had to go out and clean off the cars and try to hook up my husband’s car to the trickle down charger so he could get to work the next day.  Later, we decided that poor hubby was going to take his first sick day in many, many years.  But, I got both cars cleared of their load of snow, enjoyed the little girls next door sledding down their hill and across my driveway, and took note of the fact that my street had been cleaned down to the pavement.  Hmmm.  Can I get to the mall to walk?  Probably not.  Sick husband and sick cars.  But, a friend called, saying the roads were all clear as she had just returned from the airport.  We agreed to meet at the mall in 30 minutes.  Joy!  An outing.  And a good walk to guarantee a good night’s sleep.

Walking at the mall is not my ideal but it’s more interesting than walking in front of the TV.  Once the snow melts and the trails dry out, I’ll be trekking through the woods.  Now, that’s walking!

Have You Found A Way To Motivate Yourself?

 

gratitude list 0215

 

Motivation – continued motivation once the luster is gone – is difficult to maintain.  It doesn’t really matter how much we know that something is good for us.  Unless it feels good, we might just forget to keep it at the top of our list.  Taking care of ourselves is already difficult for women.  We have so many other things that we place ahead of our own wellbeing.  Kids, husband, job, scouts, ballet, cleaning, cooking, laundry.  The list seems to be never-ending.  At least at my house that’s how it goes.

I learned some years ago when my kids were teens to place myself high on the list.  With a house full of teens, a part time job, homeschooling two kids, a huge house and yard to maintain, and all the other things that need a place on a To-Do List could get me down.  Only when I determined a few realities was I able to get myself a starring spot on the list.  If I don’t respect myself and make time for myself, no one else would – certainly not a mess of teens.

Then, I discovered another reality.  So far in my life, no matter how tense or sad life has become (and, we’ve all had those moments – or months), if I really thought about it, I could come up with something to be grateful for.  Recently I heard a guy speak about being grateful for the electric bill he couldn’t pay.  Why?  Because he had heat provided by the power company AND if he had to provide that heat himself – go out, find wood, chop wood, bring wood home, light a fire, tend to a fire – he’d not have time to do another thing!  Hmmm.  I get it!

I recently ran into one of my 7 ‘bonus kids’.  These are 7 boys who have lived with me for at least 3 months (and sometimes for almost 3 years) who I consider my bonus kids.  The circumstances bringing them to me were all over the map.  But, in all cases, I was able to provide a safe, stable home environment for them while they did their job of growing up.  This particular kid lived with me for over a year when he was about 15.  He’s now almost 30.  It was a delight to see him.  I hear about these kids from  my own kids all the time, but I don’t actually get to see the bonus’ very often.  They really are all over the map as adults!  He reminded me of how grateful he had a place to live when his mom had to leave town for schooling when he was so young.  I was reminded of how grateful I was that my kids had such good friends and how fortunate I was to have a big house, several sets of bunk beds, and a life that allowed me the luxury of bonus kids.  When I had my last (biological) child 29 years ago, I thought I was done having kids.  The Universe called me to have 7 more!  How lucky am I?

So, think about what you’re grateful for.  Make a list.  Make a list every day.  List 5 things you are grateful for THAT DAY.  Every day will bring you a new list of things for which you’re grateful.  Here’s my list for today:

1. my son’s phone call to me

2. the mail man who brought my mail to the door

3. the mall that was open for walking

4. finding a old postcard from my SIL

5. the yummy leftovers my DH and I shared.

So, you may well ask, what does a gratitude list have to do with motivation?  What could be more motivating than a conscious understanding of the good things in my life?  I can walk.  I have two legs that work.  It makes me feel good and sleep better.

So, when you lack motivation, pick up a pen and paper and jot down a few things you’re grateful for.  An attitude adjustment becomes hard to avoid.  Move on!

BungyPump Your Walk

walk bungypump 0215

These aren’t ‘regular’ walking sticks.  I have not used them or seen them in person, but they look very interesting.  Somewhere, lost in my house, I own two high end walking sticks that were prototypes sent to me by my son’s former roommate who designed them for some company he works for.  I have not used them much because of the upper body strength/endurance they require.  And, I have been too lazy or disinterested or hmm, let me think up a good excuse, to work on upper body enough to make use of walking sticks.  There are certainly times on certain trails where I could use the stability that a walking stick can offer.

But, back to these sticks.  They have some sort of spring in them, hence the name BungyPump.  They look like they’d be a lot of fun – and that they’d encourage me to work on my upper body.  The price is not even steep if you’ve ever shopped for walking sticks.  I wish I could see them in action before I put out the cash, but that’s unlikely unless they really take off in popularity.

In the meantime, I should probably find the two walking sticks hiding in my house.  They’ve been hiding since I moved in late 2004, early 2005.  It wasn’t a normal move.  In the middle of said move, we went to India for a month.  So, a very disjointed move with an intervening earthquake and tsunami for comic relief while we were in India and moving my mom out of the house I now live in and stuffing 11 rooms worth of household goods into 7 rooms of house – well, you get the picture.  Not only am I not well organized in general, I live in the midst of what could pass for a furniture store.  So, the cylinder holding those two walking sticks is hidden behind a box or door somewhere.  I’d probably build up my endurance greatly if I just spent 10 minutes a day looking for those darn walking sticks…..

Walk On Anyway

I’ve had a difficult few days.  Nothing major.  Just a cluster of those annoying days in one’s life when all you want to do is:

* someone make it go away

* hide under the covers

* stomp my foot and yell!

None of those options is a good choice for me!  Know what I mean?  No, the annoying stuff doesn’t just disappear.  Hiding under the covers gets boring.  Stomping my foot and yelling never ends well………never…..

My solution is to hit the bricks.  Um.  I mean, walk.  It has been bitterly cold here with snow and ice, so no one buy my dog actually wants to walk outside.  I think this weather is what God created malls for.  So, I’ve taken my annoyances to the mall and left them in all the trash bins along the way.

Really.  Name it, think about it, mentally roll it up and throw it in the trash bin.  It really does help.  You can even use the trash cans at home.  Walk in place in front of the TV or while gazing out at the inclement weather, reach into your mind and find those nasty bits, mentally draw or write them on some mental paper, then crumble that paper and throw it away – or burn it – or do whatever you need to do to get rid of it.  Magically, when you rid yourself of the mental piece of paper, you nelp yourself get rid of the problem.

I prefer burning.  If they’d let me do that at the mall, I’d take my own matches.