accessibility · challenge · fitness · walking

We’ve made it to Saskatchewan!

We’ve got some fit feminist groups doing the PaarticipACTION challenge this year. You can read about our kick off here. There are at least two teams that I know of. Teams are limited to 8 so we had to break into groups.

My team has made it to Saskatchewan so far.

We’re in Saskatchewan in the ParticipACTION challenge.

So far I’m enjoying the challenge and the hope of winning the team trip to the Yukon. It’s been a good reminder for me to get out and walk everyday. I’m still biking lots too.

With my horrible end stage osteoarthritic knees, I’m never sure how much is too much. Yes, walking hurts but it’s not making things worse and I like being outside and walking with family members and our dogs.

Mallory, Sarah and I are considering a hiking back country camping trip this spring and I’m really curious to see if I can do it. Knee replacement seems to be on hold forever and I’ve got to get on with my life. I’m not sure if I’m just getting used to being in pain or if walking is actually less painful some days.

Here’s galleries from three of my walks since the challenge began!

Walk with London kids after emergency dental visit!
Beautiful fall colours on my morning walk with Cheddar
Mum and me and the dogs walking on one of the Guelph trails
fitness · nature · walking

Walking To Catch Up

I think I am developing a new Sunday habit – a walking chat.

Or maybe a chatting walk?

Either way, I’m having a great time catching up with friends while we walk along various trails in my community (and near by.)

A selfie - I’m sitting in the driver’s seat in my car wearing sunglasses, a black  baseball cap, and a blue fleece jacked with a Fastsigns logo. The sign is shining on the lower part of my face and I’m smirking.
I always bring my smirk on a walk. You know, just in case. Image description: A selfie – I’m sitting in the driver’s seat in my car wearing sunglasses, a black  baseball cap, and a blue fleece jacked with a Fastsigns logo. The sign is shining on the lower part of my face and I’m smirking.

In the Before Times, I probably would have just waited until we could swing a time to sit down together in someone’s house or a cafe and we’d catch up on each other’s lives while we snacked and drank tea.

I’m still strongly pro-snack (and pro-tea) but here in the During Times I don’t find it as relaxing to be in cafes or even in other people’s homes. I’ve met a few people for tea – sometimes on patios and sometimes inside – but I’ve also missed seeing a lot of people who I would normally catch up with in person every few months.

Recently, my friend Elaine wanted to bounce a few ideas off of me and I was about to suggest that we meet on Zoom on Sunday morning when I impulsively suggested that we meet for a walk instead.

As I was starting out on my ideas walk with Elaine that Sunday, my cousin Sheri, who I haven’t seen in ages, texted me about walking with her later that day. I jumped at the chance for two walks and two chats and I really had a relaxing, connected-feeling Sunday as a result.

This past week, my friend Sandy and I realized that we had gone too long without a chat and decided that this Sunday, we would take our conversation on the road. (Ok, so it was actually a path but it had the same effect.)

We did an hour’s walk and crammed in about 3 hours of conversation. I suspect that anyone overhearing us thought we were on fast- forward 😉

And, once again, my Sunday found me feeling relaxed and connected.

Two people's shadows among the shadows of leaves on a gravel pathway. There are fallen leaves among the gravel and there is a patch of greenery on the upper left side.
Sandy and I are VERY shadowy figures indeed. Please note that Sandy is not that much taller than me nor does she have a triangular head. Shadows can be deceiving. Image description: Our shadows among the shadows of leaves on a gravel pathway. There are fallen leaves among the gravel and there is a patch of greenery on the upper left side.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d still love to cozy into a chair with my hands wrapped around a cup of tea and have in-depth conversation but right now those conversations aren’t as relaxing as they once were. I get distracted by the ambient anxiety of living in our Covid-world.

And Zoom chats are good but they can’t fully replace being in someone’s comforting and invigorating presence.

Walking to catch up is the perfect solution for me. I get to have a bit more movement in my day, I get to actually SEE my friends and, we get to have the sort of wandering and satisfying conversations you can really only have in-person. 

I’m definitely making plans to do this regularly and catch up with everyone I have been missing. 

Who’s up for a walk next Sunday?

A wide gravel path with trees and grass on both sides is in partial sunlight. A park bench painted in rainbow/Pride colours can be seen ahead on the right side.
This not the road less travelled, it’s the path we took! Image description: a wide gravel path with trees and grass on both sides is in partial sunlight. A park bench painted in rainbow/Pride colours can be seen ahead on the right side.
ADHD · dogs · fitness · meditation · mindfulness · walking

Christine and Khalee Try Walking Meditation

Ok, full disclosure: *I* was doing a walking meditation.

Khalee was just walking and sniffing everything and deciding where to pee…which is being really in the moment, I guess so she’s got this mindfulness thing sorted already.

I usually set out for my walk with one earphone in, using my walking time to hear some cool podcast stories that I would forget to make time to listen to otherwise.

Today, though, my mind was busy and I didn’t think I could focus on a story. So, I decided to try a new walking meditation that I bought last week.

Image description: Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash is standing on an asphalt path and looking back toward the camera. Christine’s feet in black and​ white sneakers can be seen at the bottom of the photo.
At this point, Khalee was doing a ‘waiting for Christine’ meditation practice. She has to do that one a lot. Image description: Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash is standing on an asphalt path and looking back toward the camera. Christine’s feet in black and white sneakers can be seen at the bottom of the photo.

I’ve tried to do walking meditation before, figuring that the movement would help me focus, but I found it was the opposite. Trying to make myself think about how my feet were landing, over and over, was enough to make my brain want to crawl out of my skull.

(Note: I have only tried two walking meditations before and they were both really foot-focused. Perhaps that was an unfortunate coincidence and most aren’t like that.)

Last week, thanks to a tweet from someone with ADHD requesting ideas for meditation, I came across a walking meditation from Anna Granta, an ADHD Coach from the UK.

I figured that a meditation from an ADHD coach would be a bit more tailored to someone with ADHD, and I was right!

For starters, she has a great voice. Lots of meditation leaders have voices that grate on my nerves but Granta’s is sensible, even, and friendly.

The meditation is short – less than 5 minutes from start to finish, including instructions.

And it’s very practical – leading the listener to tune into what they could see, hear, smell, and feel while they walked.

And once it was done, I kept my podcast off for the rest of my walk, noticing the sounds, smells, and the details of the sights around me.

It was a short practice but it was really refreshing. And it would be easy to do in the future.*

I returned from my walking feeling like I had untangled a knot in my brain.

Neurotypical people or those with an established meditation practice might find this practice too short or too quick but my ADHD brain loved it. It was short enough to feel doable, long enough to calm down a bit, and clear and inviting enough that I could keep practicing even after the audio finished.

I’ll definitely be using this meditation in the future. Not for every walk, because sometimes hearing a story is exactly what I need in a given moment, but I love having it close at hand for when my brain needs to smooth out a bit.

Khalee’s walking meditation was also successful. She left the house untroubled, returned the same way, and just walked when she was walking and sniffed while she was sniffing. She’s a mindfulness expert, really.

Image description: Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash is walking away from the camera while she sniffs the ground. She is standing on some grass and there are large decorative rocks a bit further ahead. Part of an asphalt path can be seen on the right side of the photo.​
Here’s Khalee during the sniffing part of her meditation practice. Image description: Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash is walking away from the camera while she sniffs the ground. She is standing on some grass and there are large decorative rocks a bit further ahead. Part of an asphalt path can be seen on the right side of the photo.

*Her instructions are clear and now that I have followed it once, easily done on my own even without the recording. I will still go back to it, though, to help me ease into the process.

Sat with Nat · self care · sleep · walking

Nat tries to keep an East Coast mindset in Southwestern Ontario

Recommended Soundtrack: Blow Up by The Beaches

It’s only a few weeks of being back in Ontario and I can already feel the sense of calm contentment slipping that had settled over me in New Brunswick.

It’s partly that I know more about what to do here, where to go, who to see and there is just more of those things and so little time to do them!

Thanks to my partner, we had taken a bit of a tourist’s view of New Brunswick and we are looking to bring that with us in London. If you only had a weekend here, what would you do? Where would you go?

So we are making plans to see more sections of the Thames Valley Trail. Walking has remained our foundational activity, rain or shine.

It’s low cost, low equipment and easy to just get up and go!

Natalie and Michel smile at the camera with a beautiful walking bridge behind them. There are young people enjoying the view in the background.

Last Saturday we accidentally walked 10 km of the North Branch so I could see the beautiful new path and bridges. It’s along the river and through the southern portions of property owned by The Sisters of St Joseph, Scouts Canada and the Ivy Leadership Centre. It’s beautiful.

I’m grateful we have both cultivated enough mobility to spontaneously go on a decent walk. Good shoes help as well as all the little walks we do each day.

My legs are strong and flexible, my feet feel good, it’s nice to be a pedestrian tourist and see new sides of the city I’ve lived in for 16 years.

So I’m working on staying in the moment, carefully leaving unspoken for time in my life and scheduling time with friends.

What are you up to this month?

fitness · walking

To all the dogs we’ve walked this year

Where would many of us be without four-legged friends to help us through the past 17 months? I didn’t actually adopt a pandemic puppy (I’m waiting until after my sabbatical to do some serious looking), but have been knee-deep in new and long-standing dogs in my life. And I’m grateful to all of them. We walked together, played outside, cuddled, and had such a good time (this includes their generous owners as well).

In honor of all the therapeutic and joyful recent dog walking, I composed a little song. It”s meant to be sung to the tune of “To all the girls I’ve loved before”, a very sappy country crossover duet by Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias. You can find it here. I happen to like my version better, but you can be the judge.

Herewith:

To all the dogs I’ve walked this year….

To all the dogs I’ve walked this year
To do a favor or as volunteer
I’m breathless and agog
I dedicate this blog
To all the dogs I’ve walked this year.

To all the dogs who’ve strolled with me
At times when they don’t have to pee,
They lifted my brain fog,
I dedicate this blog,
To all the dogs who’ve strolled with me.

(Time for the bridge…)

This damn pandemic’s paralyzed me
But when I was scared to leave
some wagging tail would tantalize me
and once outside I’d feel reprieve

(back to the verse)

To all the dogs who love to snoop,
who jump in trashcans and then roll in poop,
or even eat a frog,
I dedicate this blog,
to all the dogs I’ve walked this year.

To all the mutts of my best pals,
to pooches everywhere in all locales,
I’ll be there with a treat
or something good to eat
for all the dogs I’ve loved this year.

(back to the bridge one more time)

This damn pandemic’s paralyzed me
But when I was scared to leave
some wagging tail would tantalize me
and once outside I’d feel reprieve

(last verse, raising melody a half tone to indicate impending emotional climax)

To all the dogs who’ve shared their time,
who brought me happiness and bright sunshine,
I’m grateful and agog
I dedicate this blog
to all the dogs I’ve walked this year.

(fade out in some way or other)

The cover photo (also below) is a sampling of the dogs I’ve walked this year. They are, clockwise from top right blond dachshund: Columbo, Monty, Kiwi, Bailey, Ruby, Wylie, Dixie and Kita. There are others to whom I’m also very grateful. Treats for everyone next time I see y’all in person!

Some of the beloved dogs I've walked this year.
Some of the beloved dogs I’ve walked this year.
Sat with Nat · walking

Nat plays tourist in her parents’ hometown of McAdam NB

I’m writing from McAdam, New Brunswick which is situated on the traditional lands of the Peskotomuhkati. Canada is renegotiating with the Peskotomuhkati as we work towards honoring the 300 year old relationship between our governments. Across the river in Maine the Peskotomuhkati have a seat in the state legislature.

On a weekend bracketed by Canada Day (July 1) and American Independence Day (July 4) it’s especially important to take steps towards Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous people. The truth is settlers not only ignored our commitments in treaties/peace & friendship agreements, we allowed our governments and churches to perpetuate violence on people we agreed to treat peacefully, as equals.

In Canada we are openly starting to come to terms with the truth of residential schools. It will be a long time in seeking truth before we can get to reconciliation.

I am glad that land acknowledgments are becoming more common but I worry folks don’t think it applies to them and the land they live on. Let’s keep trying to do better.

It’s been a week of being in McAdam, working and visiting. As soon as restrictions around COVID were lifted I made the mad dash home. Partly to see family, partly to be in nature and definitely to give my adult kids a break from our 18 months of 24/7 togetherness.

I didn’t grow up in McAdam, most of my memories are visiting grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins on weekends. Thanks to social media I’ve been able to keep a tenuous connection but I’m so grateful to be here in person.

Every walk my partner, our dog Lucy and I go down a different street or path. 3-5 walks a day mean we get to find new loops for 15, 30, 45 and 90 minute walks.

There is a fantastic walking trail around the pond next to the historic railway station. We are loving going there!

Michel & Natalie smile at the camera with the pond behind them
The McAdam Railway Station in the background behind a small island in the middle of the pond.

Plus there is the McAdam Campground on Wauklehegan Lake. So beautiful.

Lucy, the dog, looks at Michel, her human. Michel is looking across the water of the lake. It’s a gravel beach with a single wooden dock. Rounded mountains covered in evergreens in the distance.

I hope you are having moments to appreciate where you are today and also look to how we can all play a part in honoring the treaties.

fitness · inclusiveness · walking

Fast walkers, virtue, and fitness

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'People That Walk Fast Are Reported Το Be Less Happy The faster you walk the more unhappy you are. TYO OTODAY FEOE shalina @jambufloyd Damn right. I'm unhappy cause I'm trapped behind a slow walker now move'

I’ve written before about becoming a slow walker, becoming sensitive to all the boasts from friends about their walking speeds whenever ‘fast-walking=longevity’ makes the news, and feeling sorry that I was ever among their ranks, boasting of my fast walking ways and complaining about getting trapped behind slow walkers.

I’ve even stopped judging the ‘texting while walking crowd’. I always assumed that phone attention was making people slow, that if only they put away their g-damn phones they’d speed up, and now I know it isn’t so. Sometimes I check my messages while walking b/c I can at the speed I have to walk at.

Talk of step counts and walking speeds now sounds boastful to me. I know that people who talk this way aren’t boasting really. I know people don’t think they’re better than me because they walk more or walk faster.

I talk about cycling distances and speeds. I don’t think I’m morally superior for my cycling accomplishments. I don’t think people who don’t ride bikes are lazy. And yet, I’m getting a sense about why others might hear it in that way.

I think walking feels difference because almost everyone walks and it’s touted as the exercise for everyone. (And no, it’s not, not really.)

I do know I get more sympathy and understanding when I’m either wearing my knee brace or using a cane. I suspect without them people just think I’m lazy.

Yes, walking is wonderful. I miss it. But not everyone can walk for fitness. Not everyone can walk far or fast. We’re not worse people for walking slowly.

#ThingsIWishMyPastSelfDidNotSay

Blurry walkers on an autumn day
dogs · fitness · motivation · walking

On this glum day, Christine is grateful Khalee needs a walk.

You’re reading this on Tuesday but I’m writing it on Monday.

I’ve been stuck between metaphorical gears all day.

There’s nothing wrong and I’m not feeling down or anything, I’m just not…something.

It might be because I had a lot of administrative dreams last night. (You know, the kind where you spend the whole night putting things in order?*) So I woke up tired.

Or maybe it’s because the weather looks like this here today.

A paved path with trees on the side on an overcast,  foggy day.
It’s just so inspiring and uplifting, isn’t it? (Does sarcasm work when you can’t hear me say it?) Image Description: a paved path with sparse trees on either side. It’s overcast and foggy.

Whatever the reason, I’ve spent the day feeling glum and kind of vaguely dissatisfied with the work I was doing.

I know how to shake this feeling, of course.

*All* I have to do is to get moving.

But when you are feeling meh, it’s hard to motivate yourself.

And when you are feeling meh and you have ADHD, motivation is even harder to come by.

That’s where our heroine, Khalee, comes to the rescue.

Because she needs a walk, it’s an automatic part of my day.

A light haired  dog in    a red and white shirt sniffs the air on a paved path.
I love how Khalee sniffs the air like this when we are on a walk. I think it helps her decide which path to take each time. (We follow her nose.) Image description: a light-haired dog in a red shirt covered in white hearts is standing on a paved path. She is facing away from the camera and her nose is lifted as she sniffs the air.

So, despite the fog, despite the chill, despite my lack of motivation, late this afternoon, I bundled up and took Khalee for a stroll.

As we walked along, looking around and taking deep breaths, I started to feel a lot better.

I started smiling at Khalee, sniffing her way along, wearing the dog shirt that I refer to as her ‘pyjamas.’

And I was filled with gratitude for this good pup whose simple need for exercise helped drag me out of today’s doldrums.

A light haired   dog looking directly into the camera.
Here’s Khalee Pup (a.k.a. KP) after I called out ‘Hey, Good Girl!‘ so she would turn around. She knows how good she is. Image description: a light haired dog, wearing a red shirt with white hearts on it, looks directly at the camera.

I was still tired but I didn’t feel meh at all anymore.

Thanks for taking your Christine out for a walk, KP, she really needed it.

*Last night, in separate dreams, I was searching for a piece of paper that doesn’t exist in real life, I was trying to remind my husband of things that aren’t happening in real life, and I was trying to teach a sewing class over Zoom (also not happening in real life- which is best for all concerned.)

fitness · gear · hiking · walking

Christine’s boots are made for walking…well, hiking really.

I bought my first pair of hiking boots recently and I LOVE them.

I’ve *meant* to buy a pair for YEARS but somehow never got around to it.

I do a fair but of walking but I haven’t done a lot of hiking in the last. It seemed weird to buy special footwear when I could just wear my sneakers and do just fine.

But I plan to do more hiking and there’s a difference between doing ‘fine’ and doing well.

Any time that I *have* gone on a hike, my sneakers have let me down. Either my feet have gotten wet or I have slid around a bit or I have almost turned my ankle. My sneakers were fine but I looked in envy at my friends in their hiking boots who seemed to be having a smoother hike than I was.

Often, I’d get home and scope out hiking boots online and then put the search aside for later…and never get back to it until I was once again annoyed on a hike.

Recently though, I came across the perfect hiking boots in my price range.

They remind me of a pair my most outdoorsy sister had years ago, so that’s inspirational. And the fact that she used to wear them out clubbing almost as often as she wore them out hiking bodes well for their potential comfort. (She used to call them her ‘dancing boots, in fact.)

Anyway, I have been wearing them on my walks with Khalee lately and I am really understanding the difference between doing ‘fine’ and doing ‘well.’

Now that spring is here-ish, I would normally have ditched my winter boots for my sneakers. But, since I have hiking boots I have been wearing them instead and they are the perfect in-between for right now.

My feet are dry, I feel sure-footed, and I like how my boots look. I can’t wait to try them on an actual hike.

Bring on hiking season!

A top-down photo of the author’s feet in a pair of brown hiking boots , she is standing on some snow.
There’s still snow on the ground in lots of places but let’s take the upside and note how nicely my boots contrast with it. 😉 Image description: Top down photo of the author’s denim-clad legs and feet. She’s wearing pair of chocolate brown hiking boots and standing on some snow that is lit by sunshine.
dogs · gear · nature · walking · winter

For Christine H, A Little Planning = Big Fun

Last winter, I made an unfortunate error in judgement.

I left our snowshoes in the shed, planning to take them out once it snowed enough to use them regularly.

I didn’t realize that when it finally snowed enough, it would actually snow TOO MUCH and my shed door would be blocked by ice and snow for months.

In fact, I never did get around to snowshoeing last winter. Not even once. And that was annoying.

Annoying enough that I actually made a solid plan this past fall so it wouldn’t happen again. This year, when I put the patio furniture in the shed for the winter, I took my snowshoes out and stored them in my basement.*

Last week, as I was walking Khalee down the snow-covered sidewalk and distracting her from attempting to detour onto the walking trails near our house, I realized that I was missing an opportunity.

A n outdoor photo of anwan and a dog. The woman is looking toward the camera. The dog is looking at the woman and partially blocking our view.
I tried to get us both in the photo. I guess I was sort of successful. PS: I am wearing my hatphones! Image description: An outdoor photo of Christine and her dog, Khalee. Christine, a woman in her late forties, wearing a black toque, scarf and jacket, has a reddened nose and cheeks because of the cold, she is looking toward the camera. Only the right side Khalee’s face is visible, she is looking toward Christine and partially blocking our view.

If I took out my snowshoes, I could let Khalee bound around in the snow on the path while I sauntered over the top of it without sinking up to my shins.

Now our afternoon walks are mini-adventures for the two of us. (Something Sam and Cheddar and friends clearly know all about!) Snowshoeing on a snowy path with trees on one side and a river on the other is much more relaxing than walking on a snow-smudged sidewalk with a dirty bank of snow on one side and the road on the other.

A snowy footpath extends through some sparse woods.
Even though there is a school just on the other side of the trees and there are houses on the other side of the river, this walk feels a lot more nature-y. Image description: a snow-covered path, covered in footprints, extends forward. There are lots of trees on the left and a few on the right. There is a lower spot to the right where a river lies beneath the snow.

And yes, there are a few challenges involved in the process. For example, Khalee is not a fan of the fact that I have to go out first and put on my snowshoes before letting her outside and she gets a bit worked up about that. And it is tricky to manage a bounding dog on a leash while trying to walk on snowshoes. And then there is the maneuvering involved in trying to ‘stoop and scoop’ while wearing snowshoes and being connected to a dog whose business at this location is complete and who is ready to move quickly away to the next adventure.

A medium-sized blond dog in a red sweater with white hearts on it stands on a snowy path.
Does Khalee need this sweater? I don’t know, I can’t tell if it’s too cold to be out in ‘just’ her fur but I use the same principle I used to use with the kids – if I am going to have to worry about you being chilly, we have to bring a sweater for you. Khalee has to put hers on in advance because I would never be able to wrestle her into it while we were on the path. I’ll bet it would be funny to watch me try though. Image Description: A medium-sized BLOND (This was autocorrected to blind initially but that is incorrect, she isn’t blind.) dog in a red sweater with white hearts on it, stands on a snowy path. She is on a leash attached to a harness and she is looking away from the camera. The path is covered in footprints.

But, even with those challenges, it’s still a lot of fun and it feels a bit more cardio-y than our usual walks.

I’m really glad that I had the foresight to do that little bit of planning back in the fall.

*This kind of planning may not seem like a big deal to the neurotypical but the capacity to think ahead like this has never come naturally to me, especially about stuff that is just for fun. Just another way that my medication has made a positive difference for me.