Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Summary: 90 Days of Walking In All Weathers

I did it!! Today was the final day in my 90 day challenge to walk every day, in all weathers.  I have covered hills, flatland, sandy beaches, rocky beaches, parks, lochs, cities, towns, shops, and ruins.  I've walked in snow, ice, rain, sleet, blizzards, slush, wind, gale force winds, sunshine, and under dull grey skies.  Early morning, late at night.  By myself, with a friend, with my sister, with a group.  Some only ten minutes or so, others four or five hours long.  Some days I barely made it outside and back for a short walk, others I clambered up hill and dale and stood proudly atop a mountain.  Sometimes I attempted a mountain or hill and couldn't make it to the top.  I've been too cold, too warm, and many times just right.  My wellies have never let me down, and neither has my trusty iphone.  There were a few days I just couldn't go out - being sick or unwell or worried I'd get pneumonia again - but those were very few, and were the exceptions that proved the rule.

If I've learned anything these 90 days, it's this:

1.  You truly can walk in any kind of weather. It's a matter of having the right clothes, and being bound and determined not to let the weather win.

2.  It's not about hitting a certain target or length or a certain weight, even.  It's about consistency.

3.  The small things matter.  The shortest of walks were sometimes all that kept me going - because at least I was doing something.  Skipping a day here or a day there would have ended up in not achieving at all.

4.  My favourite walk of the entire 90 days was the day I walked Helensburgh in driving, fierce, cold, pounding, freezing rain.  The sea was angry and hurling itself at the sea wall and at me, and I was almost the only person out walking.  That day I truly fought the elements, and I still made it.

5.  You don't have to have a reason for walking (a dog, preparing for a marathon, a destination).  It truly is its own reward.

6.  Scotland is the most beautiful country on earth.  And it is worth every second of any horrible weather I've ever had to go through.

I'm taking a friend's very good suggestions and rewarding myself for the achievement with fuzzy socks, a hot stone massage at a beauty clinic in Glasgow (thanks to a 70% discount through LivingSocial), and some new camera equipment.  (Not sure of what yet, will keep you posted.)

I'll also be starting a new 90 day challenge after a 5-day breather.  

May you all be, not impressed, but inspired to walk your own way.

Walk on!

(P.S. I enjoyed this so much I started a new walking blog at www.teainallweathers.blogspot.com.  Join me there for a new kind of tea every day!)

Day 90: The Summit

Today was the last day of my 90 day challenge, so I felt that just a little walk around the block wasn't good enough to celebrate the final stride.  So, Pin and I set off for a walk near Callander, which appeared to have everything I wanted:  a new walk, one I'd never taken before; woods and streams as well as hills and views; varied countryside; greenery; and most of all is within my beloved Scotland!

We had all of this and more.  The walk is called Callander Crag, and winds its way up hill...and up hill, and up hill, and up hill....before it rises to a summit and then goes down dale as well.  I loved every minute of it, even the ones where I was struggling to climb the stone steps to the final summit, or the bit at the end where we stopped at a bench and I didn't want to get up again.  I know I live in Scotland, but I've rarely seen woods so green.  Everything was green, and so many different varieties of it!  Spring green, mossy green, pine green, watercress green, emerald green, and hundreds of other versions I never had imagined before.  Every tree was covered with moss, or little tiny ferns. 

It had rained all morning, so a local told us, and yet we managed to arrive when the rain was off and yet there were still water droplets hanging off every (mossy green) branch.  Every once in a while the sun would break out and shine through the trees, lighting up the covered green and also the burnished copper colour of the fallen leaves.  We passed only two people, and the rest of the two hour walk we had all to ourselves.  It was so quiet, and yet filled with the sounds that only the woods can make.  We saw deer, and a little frog (Pin saw several frogs), and a tree that looked either like an elephant or an octopus, a hawk, and countless other birds that we could hear even if we couldn't see them. 

We climbed all the way up to the Queen's Jubilee Summit, and stood proudly looking out over the vista of Callander, and then beyond to Stirling and, supposably, the Wallace Monument (although with the mist and the clouds we weren't really sure what direction we should be looking in order to find it).  Off to our right we could see Loch Venacher, and Ben Ledi and Ben Lomond.  Well, perhaps we couldn't quite see that far, but we like to think we could. 

It was definitely a proud moment for me.  After being diagnosed with chronic fatigue/M.E. about seven years ago, my ability to exercise as I used to has seen a significant change.  But if I've learned anything it's that it is not about competing with what others can do, or (what is much more likely for me) to compete with myself, the self that I used to be, the running I used to do, the energy I used to have.  I've learned that there is great accomplishment in achieving something that seems small, but changes my whole perspective on what I can and can't do in my life.  It's not about setting my mind to anything and achieving it; I'm not so foolish as that.  Rather, it's about setting goals and challenges that are just that slight bit harder, that bit extra beyond what I'm currently doing, and just pressing on and pressing on and taking joy in the journey, not just at the summit at the top. 

We did some celebrating at the top, taking photos, and me sounding my barbaric 'YAWP!' over the rooftops of the world.  (See 'Dead Poet's Society', and the writings of Walt Whitman.)  Pin hugged the jubilee cairn in her joy.  "O frabjous day! Calloo!  Callay! She chortled in her joy."  (roughly stolen from The Jabberwocky poem) 

Then it was a winding, slippery slope all the way down, in some ways more difficult than the way up.  Pin and I both nearly fell two or three times, which gave Pin great glee, at least.   By the time we reached the last little uphill slope towards the car park, I felt like I couldn't go another step - but that's the beauty of what I've learned in 90 days. You can always make it to the final step, whatever that is.

We celebrated with steak pie and chips at the Tudor for dinner, and now it's once again home for jammies and hot tea and the comfort of knowing that we didn't let the day - or the weather - prevent us.  We walked on.

Walk on!

Walk length:  2 hours

Monday, 7 March 2011

Day 89: Is Walking Its Own Reward?

Only two days left of my 90 day challenge!  It's so exciting!!  I'm really looking forward to actually completing this challenge - it really does help in accomplishing other goals in my life, knowing that I have pressed on through snow and blizzards and wind and rain and cold and a lot more in order to achieve this.

Just before I finish, though, I'm taking suggestions as to what reward (if any) I should give myself once I hit the 90 day mark!  Any thoughts are welcome, although the better you know me the more apt your reward suggestions will probably be...!

Today's walk was, typically, one I didn't really feel like taking.  The house is warm.  It wasn't raining, but it was cold, and I was quite tired simply because it's a Monday.  The sky darkened to a cobalt blue, almost black, as we walked on...I was amazed by the beauty of the little moon sliver, but when I tried to capture it with my iphone, it appeared as a small white dot between two brilliant yellow street lights.  Funny how those same street lights would be as nothing if they got anywhere near that incredible light source, the moon.  My sister and I intended a half hour walk but barely made it...sometimes I wonder what in the world good this challenge has done me if I'm worn out within the first 10 minutes, but that kind of thinking has only gotten me less exercise and less energy and less happiness, so I'm going to press on regardless.
I'm also planning on continuing with another 90 day challenge once this one is done...more to come tomorrow!

Walk length:  20 minutes

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Day 88: A Sabbath Manifesto

This week a friend of mine directed me to a website about something called the Sabbath Manifesto - a National Day of Unplugging, it was called.  Whilst I'm not Jewish, and don't celebrate the Sabbath on a sunset-to-sunset basis, I feel very strongly about our need for rest and about God's command to us as Christians that we must rest.  My resting is done on the Sunday, the Lord's Day, but I've noticed lately that I do have a habit of letting technology and other things sneak into my day of rest and make it less restful.

The Sabbath Manifesto lists 10 excellent principles.  My only addition would be, not number 11, but number 1, which is to ensure meditation on God and on His Word. Finding silence (number 9) is excellent, because therein we do often find God, but sometimes we just find our own thoughts.  So, I will add that to mine. 

At any rate, I'm going to attempt it on this Lord's Day.  Starting tonight (I'm rushing this blog post to be done by the time it's dark), I'm turning off the computer and even turning off my mobile phone!!  I have no idea how I will manage, but I'm greatly looking forward to it. Pin and I are going to make a meal, light candles, eat bread (tiger bread!), drink wine, avoid technology, and most of all, my favourite of the ten items, find silence.

May you have a beautiful day of rest tomorrow.

Day 87: A March In March

This afternoon I walked out to visit one of the housebound members of our church.  On my way there, I heard what seemed like a lot of shouting and hollering, like a group of guys who just got out of the pub and were celebrating a game.  As I got closer, though, it was confusing as to what kind of march this was.  There was a huge crowd of them, spilling out into the street, and just as I came up near it a policeman went running past at top speed.  I saw six or seven policemen restraining the men, trying to herd them into a group so that all the cars piling up on the road (onto which the group had spilled out) could carry on.  The odd thing was, they didn't seem angry, but they seemed like they could become angry soon if things went on.  They were singing songs and chanting loudly, but none of them were wearing football colours.  It was almost like an impromptu Orange march, but it's only the 5th of March!  Very odd. 

I went in to visit Georgi and told her all about it, and she laughed.  "Daft!" she said, pointing to her temple and repeating this several times.  "They're daft!"  After I smiled and nodded she added, "stupid!" just in case I wasn't quite sure, which  made me laugh.  Finally she added "Daft in the heed!" so I think I got the idea!  After we had talked for a while, the group of men had clearly made their way in a circle round the town, because out Georgi's other window you could see them marching past, herded carefully by several policemen.  I pointed them out and the two of us laughed, and she insisted again that they were indeed daft.

I had brought flowers for her - three carnations that were so beautiful I just had to share them!  She loved them - inhaled their fragrance, felt the petals, and set them right next to her so she could enjoy them.  We talked about what I was up to and what was happening in the church, and how  my sister is visiting, and how we are going to Amsterdam at the end of the month.  "I'm going to come with you!" she said, and then sighed. "I wish I could go," she added.  It really reminded me that as much as I'm used to her being an older woman who can't really get out of her chair, she was once a young woman who loved to travel and go to the church and be involved in all different things outside.  I told her about the new building we had for the church in Glasgow and she said she wished she could go to that too - that she and her sister "used to go to all those things".  It made me very thankful for my sister who is here now, with whom I can go to all those things.  We talked about heaven, and eternity, and Christ dying and being raised from the dead, and how His resurrection makes it possible for us to have a resurrection, too, and one day a new body that never gets tired or old.  Now that's beautiful.

Afterwards Pin and I walked around Bothwell Castle and noticed many little indicators of a coming spring! It's exciting!

Walk length:  40 minutes

Day 86: A Strange Sort Of Fogginess

Tonight I didn't make it out for my walk until around 11pm.  I had been going all day with plenty on, but when I had been out driving around, I noticed that the whole town looked a bit...dusty.  Like someone had taken a dry paint brush with some white or grey on it and brushed it over the houses, the sky, the buildings, and made everything else.  It wasn't fog, because fog you can see, and it floats around like little wisps of cloud.  It wasn't mist, because mist leaves water droplets all over the windscreen of the car, your hat, your hair, even your eyelashes.  It was almost like smog, actually.  I haven't seen smog in years.  I was born in California, and any time I go back to Los Angeles I'm amazed by smog - I'm not sure where that word comes from, but 'smut' or 'smoke' and 'fog' maybe go together there.  It's just kind of a dirtiness all over everything.  At any rate, I wondered at it a bit.

When I finally went out for my walk late at night, just round the nearby area, it had become more like an actual fog, because it made stars out of the street lights and covered things a bit more.  I had a few things on my mind so it was a walk in which I thought everything out and was pretty surprised to find myself back at the flat within 10 or 15 minutes...it seemed as though a few seconds only had gone by. 

Walk length:  10 minutes

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Day 85: Strathclyde Park

Tonight Pin and I took a drive over to Strathclyde Park, where we walked round about half of the loch.  We got there just after 5, and it was pleasant to watch the light slowly, so slowly fading.  When we got there the light was lifting the colours of the trees on the far side, and a very tiny mini-sunset was happening to our left.  I pointed it out to Pin, who is used to the entire sky being lit up and on fire for a typical Arizona sunset, so she laughed a little at our small cloud that shone red and pink and gold.  But we both enjoyed the stillness of the water, the swans coming over to greet us and ask for food, the little duck that went skimming past all the swans as though to prove his speed and worth.  (You could almost hear him squealing with glee as he went zooming past.) 

It was cold - colder than we realised, and I wondered that I hadn't brought a hat.  I think the fact that the sun is actually out, and the sky is clear, makes me forget that it is still March in Scotland.  I did have a warm coat with gloves in the pockets, so I did pretty well...but we passed a few people who didn't do quite so well, and were shivering in the early evening air. 

As we walked along, the light began to fade.  We stopped once, to stand and look out onto the loch, and I loved how the light faded from a dark blue to a lighter blue, then a cream colour, and a pinkish purple with a grey tinge...then past the trees it faded again on the surface of the water, so that if you weren't looking at the scene in a three-dimensional view (as in this photo here!), it was just fading from one to the other and back again, with a dark line in between.  It was beautiful.  The birds sailed majestically - and silently - across the sky, not even calling to each other as they went.  We passed a good number of other walkers, but we were fairly intent on our conversation and hardly noticed they were there. 

By the time we drove home, all this beautiful light had faded to darkness.  But tomorrow is another walking day!

Walk length: 45 minutes