Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Walk With A View

Nature walking has proven to be magical. In fact, I cannot recommend this enough to any mother out there who is also struggling with poor self-esteem and isolation.

So, yeah, self-esteem. I hadn't mentioned that, had I?

I have a low one. It's a deceivingly low one. As long as I am setting goals and striving for them -- and making some here and there -- I am OK. But the second things don't go my way, I look in the mirror and start blaming. Myself. Others. Mother Earth. You name it.

Anyway, walking has become my time. I've even found a way to mix it in with errands so that I'm not wasting gas -- because I drive to my walking destination. Monday I walked before a moms night out dinner. Tonight I walked and then hit the grocery store that's along the route to the park.

Cake.

Why didn't I do this sooner, I was wondering?

Easy. Life just was different. It's always different -- even when it's the same. The girls were born in the dead of winter. That spring and summer I worked outside the home. That fall, when I became a SAHM, I started freelancing and just relished my time with the girls. Winter came and went and my freelancing became my priority.

Essentially, I stopped thinking about me and only thought about my career as a writer.

A month ago, I stopped writing for money. At first it felt great. Then I was feeling inadequate. And now I'm trying to come to terms with this new life of not being a professional writer anymore. Just being a mom and a socially conscious woman who loves to write. I think this is who I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm letting these posts be whatever they are going to be now, too ... which is a mess, I realize, but my mind is a mess so it's all good.

Walking alone in a busy park -- preferably near really nice houses that appear perfect -- is my sweet spot. I like the longest trails I can find so I can't cut it short. I like a nice average walk, right now, because really I am in no hurry. If I lose some pounds walking I'll be happy but that's not my motivation.

My destination is also important. I walk all the time in our city. Walking has always been my sanity as a mother. In fact, I once walked the entire span of the west side one morning in search of yard sales that never existed. I am always the only mother walking her kids. I am always an outcast. I'm stared at because I am the mom with the really nice jogging stroller. Oh, and who has two girls who look very much alike and, oh, "Are they twins?"

And, to be brutally honest because that's my place right now, I am the only white, educated mom walking.

Basically, I'm a freak when I walk near my home. I've never fit in and will never fit in and that doesn't stop me from walking. In fact, I wore freakdom proudly yesterday as I donned a Maine Moose T-shirt -- just for my girls. Gawd, who knows who drove past! I never think about that until three days later someone at the grocery store says, "I saw you walking!"

So ... my purposeful walk in the suburbs is important for me. I love seeing the high school kids playing soccer and baseball, whole families riding bikes, newly married couples walking hand-in-hand and the aging walking their dogs or with their canes.

They all seem so normal. They aren't sitting on the curb, waiting for the homeless shelter to serve its next meal. They aren't standing on the corner looking suspicious. They aren't cursing across the street. They aren't smoking and carrying a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. They don't glare or even turn their head.

No, they smile. They say hello.

I had forgotten these images. I had forgotten the smell of trees. I had forgotten the sound of laughter. I had forgotten about the sound of a bicycle bell, and scooter wheels rolling on pavement. I had forgotten that whole families went out at dusk to get exercise.

These are not things I see and hear in my neighborhood. I see and hear many good things near my home, but lately those things haven't been enough for me. That sense of community is missing. Just another face in a sea of faces. Just another body in a crowd of thousands.

No wonder I've felt so alone.


Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

12 comments:

Shelli said...

Walking has always been my savior. When I first moved to Georgia, and I knew no one, I found the Botanical Garden, and I walked on the trails there 2-3 times a week.

Keep walking and get out of your neighborhood when you need to. But you have a rare gift here. Someday when you move you'll relish your home and neighborhood even more for having lived where you do now. Many of us take our homes/communities for granted.

Threeundertwo said...

I used to walk so much more when my kids were babies. You're reminding me of those days. I'm so glad you're doing it. Sounds very therapeutic.

You are a great writer.

She She said...

What good advice. As soon as it stops raining, I'm going to get out and walk. I need to get out of my own head. I'm glad it's working for you.

Claroux said...

My girls were born on October 26, 2006. Once I was able (had a rough recovery from c-section and lots of bleeding) I took them for a walk sometimes 4 TIMES or more per day. Thankfully the time I was home from work after the girls were born (Oct.-Jan.2) the weather was fairly mild. Still cold enough to warrant bundling up but not so cold that I felt like an irresponsible parent taking the girls outside. Those walks are what kept me SANE. I must have looked like a freak to everyone in the "neighborhood" (we don't have neighbors and live in an isolated area but through the woods behind us is a small neighborhood of newer homes). They all must have thought "there goes that girl with the twins again -she always looks so tired - and sometimes I see her cry." I would often cry when I walked - especially at dusk because I would catch glimpses of people in their homes going about their business and I felt like my life would never be that predictable and normal again. Regardless...I wanted to comment because this post reminded me of how good the walks usually made me feel. I was recently thinking I should start again - especially when I get home from work and the girls are in prime "witching hour" cranky moods. Corralling them in the stroller and walking seems like a good way to get some peace amongst the chaos that my life has become! So, as usual, thanks for such amazing insight. Keep it up!

patriciadolan@comcast.net said...

Hi Shawn,

Walking is a sanity saver and saviour. It gets you 'out' of your head which can spin stories, theories, predictions and into the world where there is distraction, movement, color, clarity. Walking to save your sanity, save your equilibrium, save your life. It is free, heart healthy, community involved and brings on the endorphins. Walking is like movable art, you're constantly observing new scenery, gathering new perspective and quieting the gremlins that visit in your head. Walking wears out the what ifs to embrace the right now. Salutes and cheers to you for exercising your spirit, your soul, your body, hooray!

Trish
patriciadolan@comcast.net

Jena Strong said...

Absolutely, hands-down, the best medicine. Walking. (And being brutally honest.)

Love to you.

justagirl said...

Fresh air does something to your brain...

Momma Bean said...

I'm also going to take your advice and walk more. I need to clear my thoughts and plan and breathe. The one thing I love so much about reading you (besides your way with words) is that you are so honest. I wish I could be more like you, but I'm afraid. Thank you for your honesty.

Samantha said...

I often have to push myself out of bed in the morning to go on a walk, but it is always worth it because I always feel more focused. Lately though I haven't been doing very well with this, I think I found your blog and this post for a reason. Thank you!

Jozet at Halushki said...

It's amazing what a walk will do. Or a bike ride. Just getting out of doors clears my head, and yet it's unbelievable what inertia I have to overcome.

Well...with gas prices going the way they are, there may be more walkers soon. That will only be a good thing. We are social animals. All these self-contained bubbles of house and car are not what 10,000 years of biology has prepared us for.

kat said...

i always leave here the better for it. you're wonderful at putting my thoughts into words. as a fellow walker, i thank you.

The Myers Family said...

I feel like you! I LOVE the suburbs. LOVE THEM! I'm already planning on our move in 2011! I live in the city and i don't fit in. We love our big yard...but the suburbs are soo nice and fresh and clean to me. I feel like i just stepped out of a shower...but living in the city is different. You see homeless people everywhere...you see people begging for money on street corners everywhere. THEN i have to explain to my almost 4 year old why that guy is standing on the corner with a sign in his hand...as we drive home from her private school...because i can't put her in public school where we live! Your writing is soo uplifting...thanks for sharing!