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Friday, March 13, 2015

These Comfortable Shoes Are Made For Walking

I always liked Nancy Sinatra's song, These Boots Are Made for Walking. It was the "girl power" song of its day, a great break-up revenge song. But more than that it was about walking, about how movement and walking onward, away from something, toward something, around something was powerful on its own.

I have always liked to walk. I used to have to walk to school and I loved the transition period between the classroom where the teachers often found fault with me and my home where I believed I had to be a certain way.

On my walks home I could imagine myself as someone else, rid myself of what was bothering me and feel like my own self.

Flash forward to the third phase and walking is still important, perhaps more so. I haven't lost that ability to contemplate while walking, and I feel a greater freedom than my younger self did, particularly my twenty-something self trying to walk alone in European cities without being hassled. No one bothers me much anymore.

Walking has become over the years the best way I know to discover a place. Peter knows a lot more about the mechanics of walking. In fact, he wrote the book. I've been lucky. Except for blisters and some low back pain after overdoing it, I don't have to think about the physical side of walking which leaves me free to observe people, buildings, street art and more.

And it leaves my mind free to plan new projects, get ideas from everything that is around me, look for unusual camera shots. Whenever we travel, after Peter's had enough walking for the day, I continue on, sometimes for hours. Since the latest surgery on his leg two years ago I've explored the canyons of Death Valley, the parks of Valencia, Spain, the commercials streets of Buenos Aires and the back streets of Salta, Argentina solo.

So I want to keep walking as long as I can. My daughter gave me a Fitbit for Christmas, the small device that counts your steps. I've become obsessed with reaching the 10,000 step target each day - I do that about half of my days  - even adding exercise at the end of the evening until I reach the goal. Just yesterday, I thought I forgot my Fitbit when I went to the gym and joked that there was no point in taking steps if I didn't count them.

I'll get over that, but reaching my goal is really about something else - working hard to ensure my mobility lasts a long time.

I have never been a runner but I'm trying to build up my jogging. And for the first time in my life, I approached a personal trainer to reach a point where I could run for half an hour with ease. Jacyln did a long questionnaire with me on my fitness goals. I didn't care about weight loss or sculpted arms (although they would be nice) So she gave me not particularly glamourous exercises to strengthen my gluts, upper back and core to improve my walking efficiency and my posture. She was right; they probably are the best exercises for me. Jaclyn summed up my ultimate goal this way: "You want to live independently when you're ninety."

And I guess that is what it's all about now. I don't want to stop walking, stop seeing new places with my own two feet. I want to let my mind wander freely, not have to concentrate on each step. I'll move as much as it takes now to make sure I can keep on trucking, as they said in the day, until I stop completely. D

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