The most peaceful way to spend one hour of every day…

In the past few years, I’ve made it a habit to walk outdoors for about an hour every single day, no matter what the weather is like. If it’s raining, I wear waterproof gear. If it’s snowing, I bundle up warmly. 

I spent most of my years pining for summer weather. The other seasons were lousy, in my book. 

My daily walking habit opened my eyes to the beauty that abounds in all types of weather. You need only be dressed appropriately to reap the joys of Mother Nature all year round.

During my walks, I listen to audio books that I borrow online from my local library and load onto my audio device. Listening to an author’s voice while I walk is like having a special companion who tells me the most interesting stories as we stroll along side-by-side.

Of course, during this festive of months, I’ve been listening to Christmas-themed audio books while I walk. I’ve found that at this time of year, the most beautiful time of day to go for walks is after dusk, when Christmas lights are ablaze throughout the neighbourhood. 

Picture this: I’m bundled up all warm and toasty, walking along the snowy sidewalks, breathing in crisp, fresh air that often carries the scent of burning logs from home fireplaces, dazzled by the myriad of colourful lights adorning most houses, while listening to the most wonderful Christmas stories. 

The end result…exhilaration saturated in a profound feeling of peace. 

In case you’re interested, here are a few of the audio books I’ve enjoyed on my walks:

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry 
(This was so incredibly heartwarming. If you like the classic holiday movie,
A Christmas Story, you’ll love this!)

NPR Holiday Favorites – NPR Susan Stamberg

NPR Tinsel Tales: Favorite Holiday Stories – NPR Lynn Neary;

NPR More Tinsel Tales: Favorite Christmas Stories – NPR David Greene
(NPR offers such an entertaining variety of holiday stories—all are so much fun to listen to!)

I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas by Lewis Black 
(LOL! Enough comic nastiness to balance out all the sweetness of the season.)

With tons more great audio books on my to-read list—I always look forward to my next walk!

How to like exercise, believe it or not

As is evidenced in my New Year’s Resolutions post, I’ve been fighting to stick to an exercise routine for the better part of my life, while the Demons of Sedentary cackle in my face as they pat down a fluffy couch in front of the TV for me to lounge on.

healthy-person-woman-sportJoin the gym. Avoid the gym. Do 30 walking lunges. Take 30 steps toward the instructor and lunge at his throat. Get moving. Screw moving. Year in. Year out.

At 58, I’m SO done with this tug of war.

It was a tug of war because exercise was always about the goal of looking hot. Exercise to be skinny. Exercise to banish cellulite. Exercise to sculpt long, lean legs. Exercise to show off bikini abs instead of having to hide your gut in a suit that looks like a body bag from the county coroner’s office.core-exercise

Joining the age 55-60 club changed my life on so many levels. When they say, “you’re not getting older, you’re getting better,” what they should be saying is, “you are getting older, but that’s a gift because you’re also getting smarter.” Suddenly, I don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not I look hot. What I desperately care about is doing my best to remain on this earth for many, many more years while enjoying the best of health, being able to fend off the aches and pains that so many in my age group and older have to deal with on a daily basis, being here to watch my future grandchildren grow up and being able to roll up my sleeves and play with them without pulling something.

The kind of exercise I need to do to be hot, involves a pricey gym membership, using machines that I don’t really enjoy using, working with an instructor who’s going to force me to do stuff I hate doing, joining classes where everyone moves like professional dancers while I stumble over my feet like an idiot. Never liked it. Don’t like it now. Will never like it. Ever.

BUT. I’ve discovered the kind of exercise that rewards me with the health benefits I need to extend my life, sleep well, raise my serotonin levels, strengthen my lungs and heart, burn some calories, grease my joints and muscles, and give me an overall feeling of well-being.

walking-1449015412a6dIt’s called walking. And I don’t mean going for an afternoon stroll through the park.

Since last fall, every single day, no matter what the weather is like, I dress appropriately, hook on my Sony Walkman that’s loaded with 800 of my favorite tunes, and I walk briskly for 45 minutes or so. I try to keep pace with the beat of the music, which gives my heart and lungs an excellent workout, and gets the blood flowing. The nicest bonus is that it’s not just about the exercise. I’ve also discovered the joys of being “in the moment.” While I walk, I’m also absorbing nature’s gifts—flower gardens and trees, blue skies and sunshine, rain pattering against my hood. I’ve never appreciated the seasons more since I’ve started walking with all of them.

I’ve also never felt better. Once I’d gotten into the habit of going every day without fail, I’ve actually begun to crave this feel-good midday break, and look forward to hearing the tunes that are up next on my Walkman.

The key here is that taking a brisk walk while listening to music is the one activity that I really enjoy. I’m not pushing myself to do a daily workout that I really don’t feel like doing. I’m doing something that makes me feel good on several different levels and that I look forward to doing. Am I going to look like Heidi Klum a year from now? I’ve never looked like Heidi Klum and I never will. But I’d say that I look pretty damn good enough for my age, and that’s good enough for me.

If I can live a good, healthy life in the years ahead by choosing to participate in an activity that I enjoy, and that helps make me a happier person—well that’s what I’d call hot.

hoodie-scarfA CROCHETED HOODIE PATTERN FOR WINTER WALKERS

My daily exercise walk has made me realize that I actually prefer walking in the winter months, a time of year that I used to despise. And why is that? Because of the awesome hoodie scarf that I crocheted to keep me as warm as a mug of hot cocoa with melted marshmallows.

It’s easy enough for a beginner to make, and if you use a soft, bulky yarn, it will keep you warm in any weather. Here’s the pattern:

bear-in-hoodieMy Warm & Fuzzy Hoodie Scarf

Approx. 8″ x 80″

3 balls of soft, chunky yarn; 6.5 mm crochet hook

Scarf: Chain 22

Row 1: (dc, ch 2, dc) in 4th ch from hook, *sk next 2 chs, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in next ch, repeat from * across, turn.

Row 2: Sl st in next ch-2 sp, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 2, sc) in same sp, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in each ch-2 sp across, turn.

Row 3-120: Repeat Row 2. Fasten off at end.

1Hood Assembly: Fold scarf in half with wrong sides together. To make the hood, starting at top of fold and on one side only, use yarn needle and yarn to sew through both thicknesses for about 10 inches. This creates the back of your hood.2

Hood Front Edging: Place a marker in 15th row down on each side of hood front.

3Row 1: With right side facing, join yarn in end of marked space on right side, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 2, sc) in same sp, *sk next row, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in next row, repeat from* around to other marked space. End in last marked space with (2 dc, ch 2, sc).

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Optional: Add fringe to scarf ends if desired. Here’s a link to an easy fringe tutorial at wikihow: http://www.wikihow.com/Add-Fringe-to-a-Crochet-or-Knit-Project

%d bloggers like this: