I haven’t written an article here in months – maybe a year. A lot has happened in the past year and I’ve been busy.
MIL passed away. A wonderful trip to Australia. My son married and our first grandchild will be here soon. My mom has had some health issues. Life has been happening!
And, during all the above and the millions of large and small things I (and you) do every day, I have been walking. I have walked almost every day of the past year. I’ve walked around my neighborhood, my city, my country and I’ve walked in Australia. I was fortunate to visit Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, and Port Douglas. And, I walked in all of those cities. I even walked around the airport between flights to make the wait time go faster. Airports are so frustrating. If I didn’t want to be detained by TSA, I had to keep my cool through all the delays and passport clearance silliness.
Anyway, I think I’m back! I’ve been thinking of article topics lately which is a clear sign to myself that I need to get writing. Today, I walked with my friend Kris at a park not far from home. We have branched out to search out other parks and trails. I’ll share those with you in the next few days.
As for now, my dog is just happy that she gets walked most days and I certainly sleep better if I’ve walked. I am also still dancing – sometimes dancing and walking in the same day! For a preview of local walking trails I’ll be writing about, you can check into Castlewood State Park, Emmeneggar Park (Kirkwood, MO), Overlook Trail at Al Foster Park, and a mystery park I’ll share with you soon.
My dog loves to walk more than she wants to eat. She knows all the cues to indicate I’m getting ready to go for a walk, including recognizing the bleep on my phone of the text message from my walking buddy Kris when it’s time to head out. I love taking her for walks too. But, at about 10 years of age and with a full length black fur coat, she is no longer able to walk the three or more miles I can do in the heat of the day. Her vet has limited her to less than two miles and her own deteriorating endurance for the heat and humidity of a St. Louis summer mean that she misses out on most of my walks these days.
We have a fenced back yard, but if she is allowed to run freely without the presence of a human, she’ll jump the fence and be gone. So, on days when I can’t take her walking, I take her outside to ‘play’. That’s a new word for her and she loves it! She sprints to the back fence line to flush out the critters who thought they were safe in the shade of the bushes and vines there. Birds fly, squirrels and rabbits speed off in all directions, and some sort of critters head underground so Lizzie can sniff and dig trying to find them. She tries to jump up the trees to play with the squirrels or maybe fly with the blue jays. She sniffs, snorts, and generally makes a real nuisance of herself to these critters who thought the back yard was their domain.
Sadly, after less than ten minutes of this vigorous play time, she’s done. She’s happy to head back inside the house to plop herself down on the A/C register and deprive the rest of us of the cold air. It’s clear that she is no longer up to that three mile walk in the woods in this kind of weather.
This marks a milestone in our lives with this dog. She is now or soon will be ten years old. We adopted her in August, 2005 when she was 12-15 weeks old. I wanted a dog to motivate me to walk even on days when I didn’t want to. And, that she’s done. She still exhibits puppy-like behavior a lot of the time, but it’s clear that she is ‘sundowning’ each evening and showing her age. This breed (flat coated retriever) typically lives 11-14 years according to the vet. It’s hard to think of this family member being so ‘elderly’.
A good friend had to put down her beloved Max this past weekend. He suffered from bad arthritis, could no longer go on his beloved walks, and had difficulty squatting to ‘take care of business’ in the yard. I received a tearful call from my friend asking my opinion since Max still seems happy much of the time. I’ve been down this road before. My beloved Jasmine, a cockerpoo who was totally ‘my’ dog, became ill in 2004, shortly before I was due to be away from home for about a month then moving to a new house. I couldn’t put a sick, old dog through a month away from her own home and routine and then move her to a strange, new home. It became clear to me that although she had some quality of life, it was time for me to be the mom and make the tough decision. I truly feel it’s better to preserve some of the dog’s dignity, not waiting until the poor animal is completely devoid of quality of life, before helping her on to whatever comes next (doggie heaven).
While Lizzie misses her walks and I miss walking her, I believe that once the weather is cooler, she can resume longer walks. When she can’t, she’ll still be with us as long as she is a happy mutt. When she is no longer happy and/or healthy and is suffering from loss of her dignity, the tough decisions will be made. But, we will honor her by rescuing another dog who loves to walk, who will keep me motivated and moving, who will be loved as a valuable member of the family.
And, I will think of Lizzie in doggie heaven with Jasmine who also loved her walks. Jasmine was my very first walking buddy more than 15 years ago. She motivated me, loved me, and loved her walks in any kind of weather. Her ‘niece’ Lizzie is much the same kind of dog. If we are really fortunate, we’ll rescue yet another dog who will love to walk and want to keep ‘mom’ motivated. Jasmine and Lizzie will never be forgotten. Their faith in me will never be taken for granted. They will move over a bit to allow another dog to come into our hearts.
I love the old AA prayer which I can only paraphrase here:
Oh God, please let me be the person my dog thinks I am.
I wish I was as good as my dog thinks I am!
If you’re new to my blog about walking the neighborhood and the Twelve Steps, welcome! If you’ve been a reader of my previous walking blog, you’ll want to know that from now on, I’ll be writing about walking on this blog. You can read the many articles I’ve written previously on the subject at the previous site. I’ll migrate some of those articles here, but there will still be valuable content on the old site. Those will be the Old Archives. The articles written here will be archived here. So, enough of the business already! On to walking.
That picture up top is from November, but it could have been taken many days since. That was taken by my walking buddy Kris one day when we were in Castlewood Park. Castlewood is about a 10 minute drive from my home. And, as you can clearly see, we don’t wait for balmy, Spring weather to hit the trails. We are devoted, dedicated walkers. The most devoted and dedicated is my beloved Lizzie, my four-legged walking partner. Lizzie would rather walk than eat. No kidding.
So, with Kris and my other walking partners, I am on the trail or at the mall or in the neighborhood, hoofing it, seven days a week – sometimes twice a day on Saturday or Sunday. Why, you may well ask, am I so devoted to this simple form of exercise? Almost twenty years ago, I had to give up my passion, racquetball. My knees were shot and I was in constant pain. I needed knee replacements but I was a bit young for those. So, I took a page from the book of my mom (now still walking at age 92) and my friend Sally and began walking every day. My four-legged walking partner in those days was my sweet Jasmine, a 25 lb. cockerpoo who would rather walk than eat. Do you sense a theme?
My first goal was to be able to walk to my local grocery store, about a mile from home. That was a stretch at the time. But, before long, I was capable of easily walking to and from the store and most any other place I wanted. In the process, I lost 65 lbs and survived the teenage years of my three kids. When they started squabbling, I hit the trail. No more listening to all that teenage angst, anger, and wreaking of havoc! And, they survived too!
So, I turned a corner in my life, walking the neighborhood and then walking through the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon as an Adult Child. Refer to my 100% Guarantee below if you want to know how valuable that second part is. I discovered the simple pleasures of doing the most basic of physical activities for which our bodies were beautifully designed AND I learned to enjoy the journey of making my way through the Twelve Steps toward clarity and spirituality.
This is not a blog about spirituality. It’s not about weight loss or dieting. It’s not a blog about exercise. It’s just about walking. Along the trail, I will refer to some of these other things, but they are not my focus. My focus is on finding a way (for me) to maintain a level of activity that keeps me feeling good and moving forward. I hope that, along the path, you’ll find some motivation herein to increase your own activity level and feelings of wellness. It does not take long, once you begin to walk, to see and feel the rewards. They are cumulative and powerful. Powerful in the simple way that something as basic as walking 15-20 minutes a day, beginning maybe with only 5 minutes a day and increasing slowly, results in such feelings of calmness, inner strength, clarity, and yes, even spirituality (for me). More on that another time.
I’ll be sharing information about walking trails in and around St. Louis, Missour, USA, tips on good shoes and socks, other basic activities that enhance my sense of wellness, and the rewards I have discovered. I hope you will share yours too!
Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you’ll get back 100% of your former life – your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It’s from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.