I hardly recognize the person (it is still me, I’ve checked) who started “walking with purpose” in 1998. So much has changed. Apparently twenty-two years account for quite a bit of aging. Who knew? Back then, I had just started to lose my hearing, soon after was diagnosed with Meniere’s, and had no clue exactly how either would impact my life. I walked with fairly long strides, swinging my arms for momentum. Absolutely nothing hurt! Good times. Probably the biggest difference during my walks was the willy-nilly ease of simply letting my mind wander-unfettered. Listening to music, daydreaming, planning my day and watching 1,000 foot tankers loaded down with coal lumber past to the Cobb plant.
North Muskegon had an odd layout. Sandwiched between Muskegon Lake and Bear Lake, the small town was very narrow and long. There was one main drag which was the hub to everywhere, thus the majority of people used this busy conduit to & fro every day. I was a predictable and consistent walker so after several months (and the loss of numerous pounds, yay me) I recognized cars/license plates as they zipped by and knew where they were headed.
Oh yeah, there’s the guy who turns on Plymouth, second house on the left.
That mom (left on First Street and down the hill) must have stopped at the store, she’s late.
That beautiful Caddy sits in the driveway on Mid Oak. Wonder why they never park it in the garage? (Yeah, the mind is a terrible thing to waste).
There goes the guy from the W. Circle Drive who sets up a tent in his yard every fall for Irish Fest. Yeah there’s definitely not enough room in that 7,000 foot mansion for a party.
Wasn’t really house envy, just honing up on my sarcasm skills for future use.
I didn’t think much of my peculiar people/car watching habits and where they belonged for the night-at the time, just something to do while I walked. Alas times change, so two decades later I no longer have the luxury of studying cars as they race by. One big reason is the speed limit. With one main street and a 30 mph limit I had ample time to study cars and plates in North Muskegon. Here on Ann Arbor Road they’re moving right along at 50 mph and I would be hard pressed to read their license plate, let alone memorize it. Not nearly as much residential traffic here either. A huge portion of the traffic are semi’s heading to I-94.
The other problem is I can’t afford to take my eyes off the path right in front of me for more than 2 seconds. I use a walking stick because my balance is not good. I miss a lot of what’s going on right before my eyes because I’m vigilant about where each foot is stepping at all times.
One thing that has not changed in 22 years of walking. Listening to music to pass the time. Some of my music preferences are different and my listening methods have changed a half dozen times, but the fact remains-when I walk, I’m playing tunes. (Singing along, making a fool of myself). It lightens my mood, keeps my feet moving and makes me smile. Like a dork.
A couple of months ago I deleted all my playlists. I needed to switch things up a bit so I started over from scratch. I decided to go with the European calendar, thus Monday’s the first day of the week instead of Sunday, so I wanted my favorite 20 songs on Monday to start my week off on the right foot. Or left. No multiple songs from any one artist/group on each playlist but every list would include a song from: Neil Diamond, The Beatles and The Doors. (I have my standards). I have 3 exceptions. Since I don’t use shuffle, once the last song on my playlist has ended, my phone just pauses until I ‘do something’ to start it up again. So the last song on all ten playlists is one of three tunes, Jump by Van Halen, Somewhere by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole or Better be Good to Me, by Tina Turner. When I hear one of these songs and I’m not yet home I just push repeat until I hit my driveway because they’re some of my favorites that I can listen to repeatedly.
I always used ‘shuffle.’ (Shuffle randomly chooses a song from your playlist in a haphazard fashion). It’s like a little surprise, “wow I haven’t heard that song in awhile.” Not anymore. This time I’ve downsized my song total on every playlist by half. At least. And decided to use my daily playlist for a stimulating brain game instead. When the first song on that day’s list (Monday is-The One, Tuesday’s-Twice Baked, Wednesday’s-3’Sums, Thursday’s-4th’s B with you, Friday’s-5th of Oldies, Saturday’s-6th Sense and Sunday’s-7-Up. The 8th Wonder, To the 9’s & Perfect 10’s are extras) there’s about a 5 second gap of silence before the next song begins. My intention is to memorize the entire list so I know exactly what song is starting so I can start humming. Lofty goals I know.
I don’t have much hope for memorizing my 8, 9 and 10 playlists. I keep these handy for when I’m dinking around outside or I need a change of pace for the day, but I continue to be optimistic and hopeful about the remaining 7.
Since July there’s been 2 days where walking outside was impossible because of drenching downpours but I persevered and got my steps in roaming the aisles at Meijer. (Takes a long time and I’m so easily distracted). This fall has had some great weather for walking. But I’ve also lowered my expectations significantly. Sigh. 10,000 steps a day was causing my original knee all kinds of discomfort (and I really want to die with that crummy knee still in place). Another replacement is a year out of my life-at least. Plus I’m now that much older. Still, if my original lefty starts affecting my quality of life I’ll have to consider having it replaced too. Ugh. Really.
So I changed my daily steps goal from 10,000 to 9,000 and the dull ache in my left leg has cropped up with less frequency. I walk about 7,500 to 8,000 steps on my morning walk which is about 3-1/2 miles. The rest I do around the house. There’s been a few days (where I’m writing a blog and sit too much) and discover I need another 700 steps before midnight and walk loops in the basement. Boring, but I’m loathe to miss my goal. I’m shocked how competitive I’ve become with this damn step app. Out of the last 166 days, I’ve missed one day of walking because of blisters, but more importantly, have logged at least 9,000 steps every one of those days.
I’ve also realized my daily routine now mirrors the life of a top model on the fashion runway in Milan. (Well except for the lithe body, cheekbones you can rest your coffee mug on, diet of Altoids and monstrous paycheck). I sleep in shorts and long sleeves (my arms are always cold) year round. I wake up, start the coffee, use the bathroom, change into old capris or sweats and add a comfy flannel shirt. A short while later, I don my sports bra, New Balance shoes and walking duds. When I get home an hour later and a sweaty mess, I strip and wear something very old to cool off, until I shower. Normal day clothes after my shower. Change into sweats and my pj top after supper, then into my pajama shorts when I’m heading for bed. How can I possibly accomplish anything? All I do is change clothes…