I assumed once ingrained as a habit, it would remain as such forever. I was clueless yet again. No surprise there. How was I supposed to know this beast had to be nurtured and encouraged like my little tykes years ago? I was grateful it hung around as long as it did. But it’s my fault it disappeared, and now I’m fighting hard for its return.
There were a couple of glitches during the first decade, lengthy pauses, but I always returned with good intentions. Until I moved to Jackson. Can’t blame Jackson but a series of untimely events made everything go haywire, and I’m having trouble reviving my routine. I still think of it as my routine, but following through and actually completing the routine has not been a walk in the park. (Which is exactly what I should be doing).
Four years ago we were living with our daughter Shannon. We had sold our lake home, stored several tons of ‘stuff’ (this after a major purge, eliminating everything unnecessary in our lives, ha-ha) and bought a fixer upper (in our mid-60’s, what were we thinking)? At the time we didn’t give much thought and actually had a pretty good time working on our new crib. We moved a month later but there was still a huge amount of work to be done. The yard and driveway were a disaster but our main concern was getting the interior comfortable before winter, so we kept working.
It was late fall. For the first time in 20 years we were living in a different neighborhood. There was a small lake but no sidewalks which is different. I was accustomed to my morning walk along the lake and never wavered from the exact same route I lumbered along for 15 years. (Anyone watching me by day 2 knew where I walked, how long I’d be gone after I stepped out of the house, all no-no’s). Along my path everyday, I knew what time every man/woman left for work and what kind of car they drove. How many kids they had, who was getting divorced, if they got new carpeting, when they took vacations and where they worshipped. All because I walked past their house every day without fail. I memorized their license plates and knew as they drove past which driveway that car belonged in. But in my 4 mile stretch I knew the names of very few people. And I’m sure none of them knew mine. They might have had trouble recognizing me in a store when I wasn’t sporting dark shades, Mickey Mouse headphones, along with my long strides and swinging arms. To them I was invisible and I was fine with that.
Now in new surroundings, I looked up and down my long block (20 houses on each side) and didn’t know exactly where to begin with my good intentions. I needed a pattern which I was sure would become routine shortly. Late in 2015 I started ‘marking my territory.’ I wanted to utilize the pretty lake nearby because Muskegon Lake was a familiar, favorite part of my walk in North Muskegon. The lake here is a couple blocks away so I made it the focal point of my morning walk, going about a mile and a half from our house, then turning around. That lasted until winter hit hard near Christmas. I had taken 2 nasty falls (6 years apart). Both spills were when it was still fairly dark out and both resulted in a fractured left elbow. After the second break I determined no more walking when it’s dark or on a surface that is slippery. Period.
In February of 2016 we had some gorgeous winter days. Sunny with temps in the 40’s. And I was so ready to get back to my routine. Not a block from home I felt a searing pain in the back of my left leg. Wisdom wasn’t currently along during this walk, thus I decided to limp my way through the pain. The price for this little error was steep. Physical therapy, cortisone shots, prescriptions and a year away from ‘my good intentions’ before my leg was almost back to normal. Still had to be careful pivoting and squatting was impossible.
You know what happened during my year’s hiatus? I got out of the habit of walking every morning which I vowed would never, ever happen. I couldn’t imagine a day where I wouldn’t take a walk. (I can remember driving down Ruddiman on my way to work and being envious of a walker as I zipped by. Mind you, I had already walked 3 miles a couple hours earlier, yet I was jealous of her walking and me in my stinking car. What the hell happened to the gal who walked during torrential downpours, blinding blizzards wearing 3 layers, humid, scalding sun, winds that nearly knocked me over, live electrical wires on the sidewalk after a storm? Where had she disappeared? That euphoric feeling after the first half mile that lingered for the rest of the day. My daily mood enhancer. Didn’t I miss that? Heck yes, but obviously not enough to start anew.
Couldn’t get the gumption to get my fat ass moving every morning again. My good intentions were so far on the back burner my pilot light blew out. I reminisced about walking-how great my walks made me feel about life, how grumpy I felt if I missed a couple days. But the months passed with nary a guilty thought anymore. I took another fall which had nothing to do walking, (because the only walking I was doing was back and forth to the fridge) hurt my right leg and just for good measure, my left elbow for the 4th time. I waited a month (to see if it would get better on its own) before going to the doctor. The news wasn’t good. Neither of my knees were in good shape, the cartilage was gone and I was facing replacement, probably for both. The fall didn’t do that, it just finally made me go see an orthopedic dude. The pain wasn’t going away so 5 months ago I had my right knee replaced.
Unlike physical therapy for my bungled up elbow when Brunhilda (the PT sadist) harped, “time is of the essence and your window of opportunity for range of motion is slipping away at a fast clip,” my knee surgeon stressed my leg would continue to improve and get stronger over the next year. I was skeptical. But those darn professionals are proving me wrong again. I’ve noticed quite a change since I hit the 4 month mark. Stride is better, not using a cane, going up and down steps is easier, even my big issue-balance is much better.
So I decided it’s time to restart my ‘good intentions’ routine again. (For keeps I hope) First thing I needed was a walking stick (staff) for a bit of stability on our crappy, pot-hole infested, uneven streets. Had Hubs buy me this gnarly vine/branch. (I resemble Charlton Heston’s version of Moses parting of the sea. Perhaps I’ll try it on the lake when no one’s watching).
I’m on my second smart-ass phone (glutton for punishment with intelligent gadgets smarter than me). Once I started walking in 1998 it became mandatory to listen to music while I walked. I could still daydream, plan my workday, but to keep moving I required tunes. At first it was the Beatles, Doors, CCR but that grew tiresome. (Sorry favorite bands, I still love you) Face it, I’ve listened to those groups for 50 years. Josh, my tech guru ‘woke’ me to pop music in the early 2000’s. I listen to different music. Good stuff but a little raunchy (it’s ok, I’m really deaf so most of the lyrics could be spoken in Latin and I probably wouldn’t notice the difference, but it keeps my feet moving and my butt in arrears).
First walk was down to the corner and back with my walking stick. Nothing else. But if I’m serious about getting into the swing of things, I’ve got to go back to what was successful for 15 years. Music. I’ve used a cassette player (which was so big it also doubled as a weight around my waist), a CD player that skipped notes with every other step and drove me insane, and a tiny iPod, which is like an antique in the electronics world. Since I’m up on all the latest technology, I thought I could use my latest phone for music while I walked. (Honest to God until a few days ago I did not realize all my music was already on my phone). Sigh.
I couldn’t remember where anything was, my shoes, special socks, headphones, iPod but it didn’t take me long to rustle up everything, and get them charged. I looked all over my phone but could not find the small round hole to plug in my headphones. (This is so lame and makes me feel old and out of touch, yet Josh never belittles or tells me I’m an idiot when I ask stupid questions). Seems I need an adapter (which is more than Apple could afford to include with my iPhone 8. You think they’re made outta money)? So my 12 yr. old iPod will suffice for now, we’re old pals.
I’m not gonna tell you all is kosher in my walking world. It’s not. Geez I need some stamina, but it’s a start and I feel good. (I’m cranking out a half mile but still getting outpaced by a garden slug). My decision to start walking and how much improved my mood is afterwards. Actually it’s been my non-surgical leg that’s been more painful and tired. Gotta say, I did get a little weepy when I reviewed my old playlists. I won’t be shopping for any new tunes just yet. Black Eyed Peas, David Guetta, Enrique Iglesias, Flo Rida, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, JLo, Ke$ha, Kylie Minogue, Maroon 5, P!nk, Pitbull, Usher, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Train, plus all my old favorites from Huey, Neil, Johnny Cash, Beatles, Doors, ABBA and more! (Although I don’t have any tunes by Willie, I am on the road again. Yay. Appropriately enough, the last song I listened to while walking this morning was Johnny Cash’s, Sunday Morning Coming Down). I can’t remember how to buy music anyway, plus I’m overdrawn on my dumb question quota for Josh in September…