Turning Left

An amazing thing happened while walking Sammy this morning. I set out to walk our usual 5km route, which takes about an hour when you factor in the P-mail and canine message board checking along the way.  It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud in the sky, not a breath of wind, and a deliciously crunchy minus 6 degrees. But I was feeling the slight edges of “broken-ness” creeping into my day. I don’t know why. I could just feel it encroaching – my balance beam was narrow this morning. Recognizing the signs and determined to turn it around, I grabbed the leash, put on my gear and out we went. I tried to puzzle out the why & how as we walked along, but the feeling only got worse. Finally I gave up and mentally called on my balance checklist for help. “What have I done on my checklist today”, I asked myself? Well, I haven’t done anything for the house. I haven’t taken my supplements. I haven’t taken a bath. I haven’t told my husband how I am feeling…wait, wait! Stop!

Let me try that again (standing in the middle of Falcon Street.)

“What have I done on my checklist today?” I asked myself. “I did something creative (I spent about an hour working out a new square for Nora’s quilt), I had a piece of fruit (a healthy food choice) for breakfast, I communicated with someone (made an inquiry about a depression skills workshop that was recommended for me called Changeways). I am getting some exercise. I recognized my beam was narrow and took action by going out for a walk in the fresh air and sunshine. I reframed negative thoughts.

Much better! Okay, now I will continue my story!

An amazing thing happened while walking Sammy this morning. Instead of walking our usual route, we turned left part way along and explored some new streets. There is only one reason that this is amazing. And that reason is…time. Usually when I go for a walk, it is for a pre-determined amount of time or distance. I will walk 5K, for example, or for 30 minutes.

Why? Because, like most people, I always have something else to do, and going for a walk has to fit around everything else. For example, I can only walk the dog for 20 minutes and then I have to make dinner because we have band practice right after that. Or, I can only walk the dog for 30 minutes in the morning, and then I must be home to get ready to go to work. Or, I cannot walk the dog at all because I just got home from work and I am hungry, and after dinner I cannot walk the dog because I have to leave to teach a class. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons that determine how long I can walk for. It is true that I have to be home in time to make dinner because one or both of us have band practice/dance class/ground school/pool league as soon as dinner is over. Because of that, I have created an artificial need to put boundaries around the amount of time I can give/spare for taking a walk, even if (as happened today) there is no reason.

“I can only walk the dog for an hour and then I must go home and… and… finish the quilt square?” (Really? Is that the best you can come up with, Nita?)

The amazing thing is that for the first time, I realized that I did not have to be home at any time in particular, for any reason in particular. I could just walk. And so I did. We turned left and explored a whole new neighbourhood. As we walked along, my mind wandered and wandered. How luxurious!

I realized how tightly I hold control over time, how everything has always been so scheduled in my life in order to fit it all in. For all of these 5 weeks that I have been away from work, I have walked the dog almost every single day. For only 30 minutes. For only 60 minutes. For only 5K.  Only because of that artificially self-imposed sense of urgency around not having enough time. How glad I am that after (only!) 5 weeks it has finally clicked into place for me! And oh, how I enjoyed that walk! In fact, as we were walking down one particularly lovely street, we passed a house that had the most beautiful quilt airing over the railing. I stopped and admired it for the longest time. It was a hearts & checkerboard pattern in red prints on a white background. I had the biggest smile on my face and felt utterly delighted at discovering this treasure. It seemed to be waiting just for me to walk past. It was A Sign of Good Things to Come.

Walking for pure pleasure is definitely going to the top of my priority list (as soon as I find time to make one – just kidding!)

Anyway, I feel like things finally have the potential to start coming together for me. Like I am standing right on the edge of something truly awesome and immense and GOOD. Today, walking along, I had the sense that I will be whole again, that I am well on the road to getting there. Like bones slowly knitting together, it all takes time and I don’t really have any control over that, it just is what it is and that’s okay.

I feel sorry that I am returning to work next Monday, because the luxury of having the time to embark on this (very slow) journey of discovery and healing will be over. I’m a bit worried about that.

Here is an example of only one small thing that I am afraid will happen: I will find myself saying, “I can only walk for 30 minutes and then I have to make a quilt square.”  When that happens, both the joy of the walk and the joy of sewing both become chores.

Forewarned is forearmed, so let me see if I can reframe that into a positive:

“With all of my evening obligations currently off of my plate, I will have the evening after work (and after supper) to take a walk or do something creative such as writing a new blog post or sewing.”

I would like my next task to be getting rid of that mindless urgency and guilt around time and never having enough of it. I can give myself permission to do only one thing each evening and let the rest go where it will.

Wish me luck!


  1. This mindful state you’re achieving can be dragged to work with you. It will take some effort to make it a new habit because there will be a tendency to take up where you left off, in the way you left off. Try envisioning that you’ve walked through a doorway. Life is different for you now, in a good way. And you’re not going back to the old way again. Try saying ‘no, I can’t’ more often too. People get older and slow down. That doesn’t have to be a negative thing. There are enough things about getting older that definitely can’t be given this positive spin, like taking SO much longer to heal from a physical injury.

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