On walking

First morning walk in Faversham

Faversham, 14 January 2014

Dear __________

I hope this finds you well.

24 June 2013. 6:30am. Memory is a slippery thing, and on reflection I’m not even sure this really WAS the first walk. It was a pretty one in any case – warm and sunny, and at this point my sweatshirt would already have been tied round my waist with my shoulders getting their full dose of Vitamin D. Ah, Summer! A great time to start walking. Here’s how it started for me…

I went to visit my new recently converted from twitter acquaintance to real life colleague and artist  Rod McIntosh for a cuppa, a chat and to see his studio space. We somehow got to talking about habits, and the need to have an awareness of helpful and not so helpful ones. Rod shared a book he had on his ‘to read’ pile called The Power of Habit.  It was relevant to our conversation, I made a mental note of it and that was that. I’d love to say that Mr Duhigg changed my life, but I’d be fibbing, because I didn’t read the book.

The title stayed in my head, though, and that evening, perched on the sofa with yet another cuppa, I read the blurb. And a teeny bit of the prologue that is available on Amazon. That’s it. I’m as impatient as the next person for sweeping change through minimal effort! I can be a bit lazy that way. I had probably run out of tea by then, too.

Anyway, one story in the prologue did make an impression.  It was about a woman who made one decision (to cross a desert) which led to a series of a whole bunch of other decisions (quitting smoking, running marathons – you know, the usual) – I’m paraphrasing, but you can read what I read here, if you like.

‘One thing, huh?’ I thought. I can do at least ONE thing. ‘Right?’ (A marathon is not on the cards. DO NOT watch this space.)

Over the years, I have had fits and starts of exercise, fitness, and ‘eating right’. It always makes me feel great. Improved mood, better sleep, more energy, the lot.  Years ago I ran in the Faversham 10K with a friend – far enough, thanks very much. It was brilliant to finish but it took 18 months for my knee to function normally again. Running was out, then.

Once my knee was back to normal, I was able to celebrate by dancing  all night in heels. Who can resist a bass line and drumbeat? Not me, apparently.  Cue another year of rubbish knee action. Now, dancing is a thing I will never give up, (DO watch this space!) but didn’t strike me as a realistic everyday pursuit.

I’m not sure how but I decided to go for a walk in the morning. In spite of the dodgy knee, I can walk. Slowly. I told myself that if I went everyday for 2 weeks, I’d buy myself some new trainers as a reward to replace my sagging and toe revealing six-years-old Asics.

‘I am going to walk everyday for two weeks!’ I told my friends. I told my family. I told myself. I told anyone who would listen. (This is my usual pattern!)

On the final day of two weeks, I took these pictures.

Ticklebelly AlleyFish & Chips IMG_20130707_064756 IMG_20130707_063552

29 weeks and a day later, I’m quicker, slimmer, happier, dancing and still hooked on walking. Lots has changed since 24 June 2013 but I’ll save that for another time. Write when you can!

Hope :)

9 thoughts on “On walking

  1. Never ever give up dancing… Ever. I am currently trying to find walking companions in Hove as, like you, I have knee trauma. Stupid things! This is inspirational. Carole x

    1. Thank you for the encouragement to dance, Carol! Good luck finding those companions – it is interesting how different it is to walk alone or with company. I like both and have been thinking of writing on that very thing! I hope your knee improves with the walking – I feel sure it’s helping mine. Thanks for writing!

  2. Dear Hope,
    I’ve been waiting for this second letter! I love to see your photos each day on Facebook,and it’s lovely to read this narrative as well. I am a captive audience right now,as I’m nursing an injured foot,..(long story) but forging ahead,nevertheless,with plans for a walking holiday later this year,so you are a source of inspiration! I’d like to know,is your knee better? Did walking help?

    Best wishes looking forward to your next letter.


    1. Dear David Beckham ;) I look forward to hearing about your hols walking. Yes, the knee has improved, which is just as well carrying a Surdo drum with the Samba band! Thank you so much for writing!

  3. Great post. As you know I love walking and I find I get lots of ideas for stories while plodding along – just need to get down to writing them!

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Anita! I’ll have to put a link in another letter for a radio broadcast I heard about walking and inspiration – we are not alone :) I use a voice recorder when I am out (which gets hastily stowed if anyone walks past me – lol). It feels silly, but it’s a good way to capture the ideas. Thanks for writing!

  4. How lovely to receive a letter on a very wet January morning and to know why it is that you started walking every day and cataloging your experience through pictures. I have to say when I see your pictures, it always inspires me to get out and have some fresh air whatever the weather. Well done you, I’m impressed by your decision to change just one thing!:)

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