Walk with me...
A simple pleasure that proves the best things in life really are free.
At the start of the pandemic, when everything was closed and there was nowhere to go and nothing to do, I found peace.
The calendar is creeping toward the three-year anniversary of an awakening I never knew I needed.
Surrounded by serenity in the small town of Yukon, Okla., childhood home of country music star Garth Brooks, I discovered the wonder-working power of taking walks.
A short, 20-minute stroll around a friend’s neighborhood at sunset became the highlight of my day. Some walks were so perfect I couldn’t help but to go around twice. Fresh air felt rejuvenating. Chirping birds brought calm. The thrum of a lawnmower’s engine was all that disturbed the tranquility of nature.
Those walks gave me time to think. Some people like to unwind by shutting off. I prefer to sort things out. Walks, unbeknownst to me, presented a daily window to do that.
Nearly three years later, I’m a proud walker. Morning, noon or night, it doesn’t matter.
Basketball used to be my thing, but knee problems forced me to hang up hooping years ago. I never liked running or lifting weights and, not surprisingly, they never stuck. Something needed to fill the void. I never imagined it would be something as simple as walking.
Best of all, it’s free.
My walks around my neighborhood these days average about 45 minutes. Typically, I listen to a podcast or audiobook. Sometimes, I make calls. Sometimes, I listen to nature. It’s a lot harder in Chicago. And it’s impossible to walk here with any enjoyment in the winter.
But before I knew it, a basic activity blossomed into a life-changing habit. I don’t use walks just to clear my head. I use them to exercise, explore and engage with my community. They’ve helped me become more disciplined, drop a little weight, meet some cool people and discover some fun places.
When I recently came across a challenge to jot down 15 easy things you can do to take care of yourself, “take a walk” was one of the first ideas that came to mind. It took me a while, but eventually I came up with 15. Here are my top four.
Pray: The truth is I don’t pray as much as I should. But my faith is at the core of who I am. I’ve learned that I’m never alone with God by my side. When I’ve needed strength, I’ve always known where to find it.
Walk: There is nothing better than a casual stroll on a sunny, 72-degree day. An impromptu walk on a cooperating weather day beats most planned nights out these days.
Exercise: It’s never been my favorite thing. But I’m not getting any younger. To stick around, I need to be active. No matter how much I might not want to exercise, I know a better feeling always waits at the finish line.
Go to the lake: Although largely limited to warm-weather months, the lakefront is my favorite place in Chicago. It’s perfect to walk and offers a beautiful view of the city’s skyline.
For far too long I threw money at shortsighted and self-gratifying purchases. Fortunately, I’m more aware of my money pitfalls. And now I’m armed with a growing list of healthy, low-to-no cost alternatives.
What are your simple pleasures? How many cost-efficient ways of treating yourself can you come up with?
Start your list and watch how it grows. Select the thing you love most from that list, commit to it and watch how it slowly starts changing your life.
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