The Simple Joy of Going for a Walk

Here’s a value I’d like to instil in the kids: the simple but unfailing joy of going for a walk screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-38-18-pmoutside.

It seems overly simplistic, overly optimistic, easy to brush away as pointless. I know this because unless I’ve gone for a walk recently, I forget just how important it is. But I’m glad that I do know, that my parents valued (and still value) “going for a walk” as a worthwhile pastime and that they passed that value down to me.

I know people who hate to walk. I’m not sure why. (Of course with the exception of ability, assuming that walking is not painful, difficult or impossible for you.) If you are a healthy person with a way of walking comfortably and no health limitations (including mental health) to getting outside and going for a walk, I have to chalk up the dislike of walking to a lack of positive experience. Yes, walking is more work than taking the car. You don’t really seem to accomplish anything, when given a superficial glance. You cover ground, but unless you’re going on an errand, what for? It’s not even much of a workout by most people’s standards.

Maybe if we called it “urban hiking” (or, in the country, just hiking), it would have more legitimacy. I think at the end of the day walking is written off as … too pedestrian (forgive me). We have to walk to get around, at least some of the time, and any of us who are able to walk do so every day. Therefore, it can’t be special.

Like eating.

img_7307I disagree (about both eating and walking, but the issue of eating as a spiritual experience is a different post altogether).

Walking is rewarding for so many reasons, and you don’t need to do it regularly, go anywhere special, or own special shoes for it to be so. It offers that much sought after element of INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

I rarely come back from a walk and say, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t bothered. What a waste of time.” No, basically every time I return from a walk, I’m saying (or thinking), “Wow, I’m really glad I went. I feel so much better now. I didn’t really want to go but that was fantastic.”

Why? Going for a walk, whether it’s for five minutes or an hour or more, offers an unpredictable mix of some or all the following:

  • fresh air – which probably contains more oxygen than the air in your home, and if it’s chilly out, wakes you up.
  • conversation – a walk, like a drive, is a great time to talk to your kids, partner or friends. Even if you’re walking alone, you might find that you run into a neighbour and start chatting. Walking builds community.
  • discovery – finding new amazing things in your neighbourhood
  • exercise – you might even be inspired to work out more!
  • energy
  • inspiration – it’s amazing how getting outside and being active can clear your mind. If there is a problem or project you’re stuck on, a walk can get the gears moving smoothly and bring ideas, solutions and inspiration.
  • bonding – maybe a friend or family member will want to join you!

I’d be well-served taking my own advice – I haven’t been going on many walks lately. What could we all be doing tomorrow to feel just a bit better in general? Going for a walk!

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-46-03-pm

Advertisements

Here’s What Happened While I Was Gone

Oops, bad blogger. So, Justan (that’s my husband) went away for about seven weeks. He came home for 1-4 days a couple times in there for a total of about six days, but mostly, Neko and I were on our own. I had all these work engagements scheduled (classes, speaking engagements, trade fairs and so on) during the first couple of weeks, so those two weeks were really stressful. But mostly I just didn’t feel like doing anything by the end of each day, after being “on” all day. So, I didn’t write blog posts. Sorry about that! I’ve got a little rundown here of some fun things that we did, some of which I wish I would have blogged at the time. In fact I might still do separate posts for some of these because there are lots of photos and I want to write more detail.

On February 10th, we made personalized muffins. Mairead and Finn were over, and I made a basic muffin batter and let them each choose two fruits to put in (we had a variety of dried and frozen).

The muffin making process.

We ended up with blueberry-strawberry, strawberry-apricot and blackberry-raspberry. Yum!

On the 13th we were up in Red Deer, where Justan was working on a Hellman’s TV ad. It was a TV spot about a Red Deer school that had decided to get rid of their deep fryers and only serve fresh foods in their cafeteria. If you’re not getting this, Hellman’s pitch right now is that they are mayo made with whole ingredients and therefore… a health food? Anyway. We won’t get into that. It was fun to see the commercial being filmed, because it featured a monster truck crushing a deep fryer, which is something that is, of course, on everyone’s bucket list. It was a neat morning out for Neko and for me. I would have done a blog post just about this, but my mother in law doesn’t have WiFi, so I felt a bit lost while we were there and didn’t get around to accomplishing anything online when we got back.

The deep fryer in its final moments.

I wanted a somber feel for this photo. This is immediately after they killed the deep fryer. Death by monster truck.

While we were at the school, Neko took the opportunity to play for a while. There was a big stack of strawbales that they had initially used to conceal the monster truck, and first she played on those. Then, she used the teeter totter to catapult her stuffed animal and we learned about levers and fulcrums.

Mid-air!

As some of you may have heard, winter skipped Canada this year. February 16th felt like April. So, we invited friends over and went for a walk. We have some really beautiful river parks in our neighbourhood, and we love to spend lots of time in them. We see wildlife like beavers, bald eagles, deer, assorted other birds and coyotes.

Can anyone out there tell whether this is a bald eagle? I find it easier to tell when they’re flying.

We checked out Homeschool Day at the new Telus Spark Science Centre, and I won’t include much on that here, because it deserves its own post, especially since there are lots of people out there interested in reviews. Sure, it was a month ago, but it’s still worth writing about. But here is my favourite shot from that day:

Neko watching the marble as she and her friends test the marble run they built. They did a great job!

Another favourite activity of late was Sharpie tie dye. A friend posted it on Facebook, and I’ve also seen it on Pinterest. It was a huge hit! We’ll definitely be doing this again. Find detailed instructions here: http://theartgirljackie-tutorials.blogspot.ca/2011/10/tie-dye-t-shirts-with-sharpie-markers.html.

The girls tie dyeing their shirts with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol.

Sunday: Anything is Possible

Yesterday, I wrote about Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. That post provides the context for this one.

Sunday is a day of pure potentiality. The message for today is, “Everything is possible, no matter what.”

Today was our first day of talking about the “Seven Laws” with Neko. We didn’t do a specific activity today (and I don’t expect to every week), but I did tell her that we were going to be talking more about spirituality and the big ideas involved in that. I didn’t go into a long-winded explanation of the idea behind “everything is possible,” but kept it simple and will wait for the questions to come naturally.

Today, we read several chapters of “The Magician’s Nephew” (the first book in the Narnia series) and also watched Spirited Away – and we talked about how seemingly impossible things happen in both.

On future Sundays, some activities I’d like to incorporate include:

a) meditation or quiet time – probably guided. The idea behind “everything is possible” is connecting with the larger consciousness and understanding that we are one with the universe and everything in it, so even some quiet meditation provides the groundwork for a lifetime of tuning in to higher consciousness.

b) nature walk – by examining small and large objects in nature, from a stone or some moss, to an old tree or the ocean, we can connect with nature or a higher power very easily. Plus, of course, it’s very important for kids to be in nature on a regular basis. And by talking about the amazing things that are possible in the natural world, we can be reminded that there are powers much greater than ourselves.

c) discussing problems or situations in our lives, and possible solutions – this wouldn’t be a planned activity, but if Neko is having a problem, or we’re having one as a family, talking about solutions could be a great way to open our own eyes to different possibilities.

d) build a labyrinth for a walking meditation – I think this could be really fun in the winter, but you could also do it with stones in the summer.

e) draw or colour a mandala – this is yet another way of reminding ourselves of our connection with a higher power, and our place in a complex world, and universe. MandalaProject.org includes some great information and ideas about both mandalas and labyrinths. Mandala colouring books can be purchased from mandali.com, or you may want to print off single colouring pages.

You may also want to simply read a book, or watch a movie to tie in with the “anything is possible” idea. Fantasy books and movies tie in, in a simplistic way, but for more of a message, how about:

Book ideas: Stone Soup (Ann McGovern), Oh The Places You’ll Go (Dr. Seuss)

Movie ideas: March of the Penguins, A Dolphin’s Tale, Ponyo, My Neighbour Totoro, Babe