Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Grrrls, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Walking

5 by 30

We're looking for new routines here. After 8-and-a-half years, life without a dog or two is very quiet and very strange. I've been waking up early, coming home at lunchtime, walking morning and afternoon, letting furry paws out and back in at the latest possible hour…that's all gone. 

I remember that in the early years, I stressed about fitting in enough activity time for the dogs around my work schedule and parental responsibilities. I may possibly have groused about having to get up early every single day to try and prevent accidents or disasters. But now, of course, I only want to do all those things. 

While revhoney was here visiting last week, we talked about exercise, and I acknowledged that I loved being out with Sam and will miss the walks through our favorite parks and the neighborhood. He was a fantastic dog, on leash and off. Being in the fresh air (even in the winter) was good for my brain chemistry. 

"How can we get you walking?" she asked.

Good question. 

Just last week I clicked on a link at an RA blog, leading to My RA Fit Kit. Amazingly, my RA has been pretty manageable despite the extreme stress of the past six weeks. I took the exercise survey and got advice that was actually unsurprising, because it echoed the advice given my my primary care doctor when I first started to take better care of myself, pre-RA, in 2007. I should be aiming for 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise. That's 5 30-minute walks, which is about the length which my knee and the joints in my feet and ankles will tolerate. The rest of me would like to walk longer, but I have to listen to the joints.

RA is improved by exercise, but not by overuse.

Keens LP and I talked, and we agreed that we both needed that walk in the afternoon. So today, even though it was brisk, we put on our sneakers and took off for Walk #1. I had to guess what would make a half-hour walk. It's been a while since Sam took one of those, because even before he had cancer, he had iffy elbows beginning this time last year. 

It was also good for us to get back in our neighborhood and walk, to reclaim our space and not let it be lost to grief.

So we took off on a familiar route, and we walked and talked, and when we got home, having moved faster without a dog then I could do with him, it had been 27 minutes. 

I'll be scheming a way to make it take a little bit longer. But that's a good start.

(The strength training? We'll see about that.)


Preparing the Way

It’s become a regular part of our lives, the 45 minute loop from our house that takes in Renowned Middle School, the Expo, Adorable Minor League Baseball Field, Red Logo Dairy and a loop around School That Has Seen Many Uses. I’ve walked it late on a spring night and early on a summer morning, and this week I walked it in the snow.

This path, with some variations, has been the opening of a new way in my life. Last spring I realized that if I didn’t take care of myself, no one else could, and I asked my husband if he would walk with me. Now, you have to understand, I am a woman who didn’t even own a pair of walking shoes, and he is a man who through-hiked the Appalachian Trail. I am a mere 5 feet tall, and he is around 11—well, all right, he’s 6’4”. But I hope you can see that as walking partners we are not the best match in the world. And when we began in May, I was in poor shape, with the wind for a 15 minute stroll on our nearest residential streets. It took me a while to work up to more.

Wednesday afternoon, we took the path in reverse, trying to calculate which part of our walk needed to occur in daylight, and which would have adequate illumination as the sun set. These days are short, so short, and then the darkness closes over us.

Long ago, a poet and prophet named Isaiah wrote,

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

As we tromped over unplowed corners, past Christmas trees for sale, over railroad tracks, as I trotted to keep up and realized how much harder this walk is in the snow, I thought of Isaiah.

While it was still light, we headed down a long side street, and I said, “Time goes by so quickly.”

“What made you think of that?”

“We’re passing the Water District, and I was thinking about how short the time between bills seems to be!”

“Ah, I thought you were going to say something more profound.”

Apparently he still doesn’t understand that preachers are always looking for the profundity in the light bill.

We crossed the street and walked past the Cute Outdoor City Pool, where my children learned to swim, sort of, all of them reluctantly. We walked along beside the playing field. The sidewalk had been plowed by the city, and I noticed how the cleared section seemed to narrow in the distance, like the darkening sky, the shortening days, the waning year. Where will the path take me in the coming year? Isaiah paints a picture of a world transformed. What is my part in bringing about new highways of the spirit? Will I know the glory of the Lord when I see it?

Meanwhile, we make the turn to walk toward St. J Street. The subject turns from theology to politics. We will walk this way again, and the days will grow longer, and the nights will grow shorter. But when will the rough places be a plain?

The year rolls by, so much more rapidly than it did when I was 26 or 36. Some things do change. I can walk this path more quickly, even in boots, even through the snow and the slush, even over the icy patches. As Christmas approaches, I am mindful that our faith story is all about embodiment, the birth of God in human form. My feet and legs, my heart and lungs, carry me forward, enable me to see a way, and allow me to hope for a time when all people shall see it together.

Don't Let's Call It a Diet, Walking

It’s So Much Easier To Do This Now Than Later

It is unusually humid here in City By the Sea, 93% humidity already at  7 o’clock this morning. It’s Saturday, and I was tempted to roll over and go back to sleep a bit longer, but I knew if there was going to be a walk, it would be better to walk early in the day. The temperature is still fairly low (mid-70s), but due to reach the high 80s. We put on our shoes and socks and got out the door.

As we started off, I said to Pure Luck, "Please keep reminding me it’s easier to do this now than later."

"It’s easier to do this now than later," he replied.

As we rounded the corner, I said, "Hey, did you hear that it’s easier to do this now than later?"

"I just said that."

We continued on in this fashion, and as sweat broke out much earlier than usual, I amended my remarks: "It’s SO much easier to do this now than later."

This is of course true of many things in life we might be inclined to procrastinate. On the terrible occasions, for instance, where life events conspire to put off the writing of a sermon until Saturday evening, I know these words are true. When I discovered a set of flannel sheets, which never received high laundry priority and rested for a long while in the basement, had been used as a substitute litter box, I was reminded again that it’s easier to do this now than later. The rescue of the sheets, if possible, will likely involve an expensive gallon or two of Nature’s Miracle. Buying new sheets sounds pretty good at the moment. Sometimes later is too late.

What might you be inclined to resist that would be so much easier to do now than later?