What walking has done for me!
The first physical challenge I remember was when in year nine my school, in their infinite wisdom, decided we should all be taken to Wales for a team bonding experience. As we struggled the last few hundred feet up Cader Idris, I realised that the girls who terrified me when I came across them in the school toilets were actually all right.
Whilst my father was of the sort who would drive three times round a city centre before finding a parking space as close as possible to where we were going, leaving me fit to vomit through travel sickness, I think I always felt a need to move. When I met the man who later became my husband, much of what we did from the beginning was to escape the flat landscape of Essex and drive to the Peak District where we could stretch our legs on hills.
Though close friends who walked with us a lot believe we bicker all the time, that is really just about erecting our tent, when we are out on the hills we are in a different place. Hills and open space take me to a place of pure bliss. We walked when we could and were thrilled when we eventually moved to South Wales and there were hills practically on the doorstep.
We punctuated our pre-children days with various walking challenges, training and pushing ourselves for the fun of it. Our last holiday before children included walking the Inca Trail. When our son was born we managed some good walking whilst he was small enough to be carried and then when our daughter arrived we had one of the first three-wheel push chairs that could cope with off-road. When they were both tiny I walked miles to various activities, which maintained my sanity with two very young children. Our walking for pleasure though had become more sedate and once the children were on their feet much more limited.
As the children grew, our walks got longer but were always slow and often preceded by a great deal of resistance to getting out at all. We regularly employed the tactic of having other families along, so that the children were together and didn’t notice they were walking. When we moved to a house in a village where we could walk into fields from our back garden I felt I had died and gone to heaven. When our son transitioned to secondary school he was unhappy and ran away one morning. I was thrilled as well as relieved when I found him on top of the Garth, the hill nearest our house. I felt he understood the support he could find by being outside.
A couple of years later when our daughter became very ill with anorexia, her nursing team could see as well as I could that when she was able to get outside and walk a bit it gave her some head space and stillness that she was unable to experience elsewhere. As I coached her through to recovery, we spent hours walking sometimes in conversation and sometime not. The outdoors supported us and held us through that time of misery. It helped Katharine reconnect with herself and eventually led her to safety again.
We celebrated her recovery by taking a walking holiday walking around Mont Blanc (a trip my husband and I had done 18 years previously). It amused me that now instead of us waiting for the children, they took off and had to wait at the top of every col for the “oldies” to catch up.
I love the fact that when either of our teenagers are feeling miserable they go out to walk in order to feel better. Sometimes when I know they need to talk we just go for a walk and eventually after we have settled down in to our stride and they are relaxed, they are able to tell me what is on their mind. I feel honoured to have teenagers that talk to me, which I believe is partly a result of walking.
When I decided to build another business and I asked myself what it needed to look like, I got a very clear answer that I needed to be outside more. Two pivotal things have happened since then:
1. I have committed to myself to walk every day.
2. I have committed to sharing the benefits of walking with other people.
The results are that I am happier than I have ever been; being outside walking everyday whatever the weather feeds my soul. I am constantly shown gifts, I am much more present and have experienced moments of pure bliss. I sometimes walk alone, I sometimes walk for a specific reason and I sometimes walk with clients or friends. Every experience is different and every one wonderful. As an aside, the last time I needed a pair of jeans I had to buy a size smaller than usual.
I am seeing that the people who join me are also experiencing benefits, their lives are becoming happier. They are appreciating and doing the simple things in life. They are healthier, happier and less stressed. This is impacting the people around them (particularly their families) in an immensely positive way.
Walking has made me happy and my mission now is to share that with as many people as I possibly can. I honestly believe that this very simple thing that we are designed to do can change your life too!