“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu.
When, for whatever reason, you have been unable to leave the house and do a simple thing like walk your kids to school or take the dog for a walk even around the block, these much, much quoted words truly resonate…echo.
I don’t take that first step, or those first few stumbling steps which follow, for granted. I treasure and appreciate each and every step because even though I am out and about these days, I know they are precious… a veritable miracle.
When it comes to measuring our self-esteem, it is very easy to get caught up in so many complicated and convoluted traps and so many of us measure our self-worth by what we earn and not what we give back. Spending time with people is so commonly devalued, especially when those people happen to be our children…our very own flesh and blood who arrived in this world to such fanfare and yet…
I am as guilty of this as the next person and due to my chronic health issues, operate on a pretty short piece of string these days. One busy day, is usually followed by at least a day in bed. That means that managing my energy levels is quite a balancing act. I can actually be quite well but the chemo treatment around Christmas time, has sabotaged my efforts, leaving my memory shot and my time management abilities non-existent. It’s been quite difficult even getting the kids out the door to school. Strangely, while I’ve been struggling with so many things, I’ve ironically been doing my best writing ever, so things don’t always make sense.
After sleeping away most of yesterday after a big day Thursday, I woke up full of beans this morning and made us all traditional porridge and decided to walk to the shops to buy the ingredients for the pumpkin soup I planned to make for lunch. Pumpkin Soup is Mister’s absolutely favorite and yet, no doubt due to my difficulties cutting up pumpkin due to my muscle disease, I have never made it for him and he is now ten years old. We have been doing our home cooking project for 6 months now and while I’ve been intending to make it all along, it’s taken a long six months and many detours to get there. Winter has also set in and so it really is soup weather. Hot soup doesn’t quite seem right in a hot Australian summer!
This walk wasn’t quite as straight-forward as it seems. There was myself, two kids and the dog along with my walking stick and the shopping cart. I used to walk down to the shops with dog, pram and toddler detouring via the beach before the auto-immune disease was diagnosed. I was actually doing these walks right up until I was hospitalised because I was thinking that if I didn’t use it, I’d lose it so the worse I became, the more I walked and the worse I became. Not good!
I can’t remember the last time that I walked to the shops with the kids and the dog and we also took a trendified version of one of a granny shopping cart with us so we could get all our groceries home. My husband usually does the shopping at night on his way home from work without the kids. This has been a very conscious and deliberate strategy for us as the kids have been difficult enough without the added pressure of taking them to the supermarket.
But they are growing up. They’re no longer in the terrible twos and you would hope that by ages 10 and 8, that they could possibly be useful in the supermarket instead…and they were. Walking along, Mister took the dog. Miss took the shopping cart and I had my walking stick…just to be careful. I still haven’t recovered from my last fall and finished the antibiotics this morning. Yes, my grazed knee became infected thanks to my immune-reducing drugs. I don’t need another fall!
I also wanted the kids to have the educational experience of going to the supermarket and looking at the fruit and veg in particular and being part of the selection process. This was quite helpful as I have a lot of trouble finding foods which our kids actually eat and they both added healthy choice to the cart such a mandarins which are also in season.
Another reason for walking to the shops, is that I am starting to talk to the kids about reducing our food miles. Buying Australian fruit and veg is good but I am becoming more conscious of what we are eating to the point of trying to buy food which is grown in our local area. However, the easiest way to start reducing our food miles is to walk to the shops instead of driving the car. Depending on my energy levels, this is something we can change relatively easily and the dog will also thank us. He has been going for “walks” in the car unless we are on holidays where he can run freely at the beach. He is a big, burly border collie and historically he’s been very difficult to manage on walks.
I couldn’t help feeling like some amazing explorer as we set off. The shops are only about 400 metres away, including Woolworths and Aldi. It was hardly a remarkable adventure but for our family it meant erasing a very definite line in the sand and being free to go.
Of course, our walk wasn’t incident free but instead of Mummy falling over being the challenge, it was the dog. The dog often ignores us completely at home, earning him the title of “snob dog” but take him to the shops and tie him up and he turns into absolute jelly and he’s crying, howling, barking. You could say “Not Happy Jan!” He attracted quite a lot of concerned looks and pats as well as a few raised eyebrows and the kids took turns comforting him. He seemed to be alright when he could see me but was otherwise a blubbering mess…dreadful separation anxiety.
We also had a few extra purchases on route. My daughter has a thing for presents and after good school reports for both kids, I indulged a little.
These are all lovely reasons for going for a family walk but our walk also had a much more serious undertone. While everybody needs to exercise for about 30 minutes per day, for me this exercise is potentially a life-saver. Exercise prevents chest infections, which could very easily lead to pneumonia or worse. Exercise, along with getting a bit of sun (I am not allowed to get a lot of sun) is also very good for my mental health and fighting off the infernal black dog which has been creeping up on me lately. My recovery is taking longer than expected and I keep battling with all the chaos of chemo brain, infected knees and…life. By going walking with the kids, I am spending time with them while getting my exercise and they are also with me if there’s a problem. We also had my phone and my husband, who was at home working on the car, was prepped to come to our individual or collective rescue but only needed to help us get our rather overloaded shopping cart back inside the house. We managed to fit about a boot load of shopping into the cart, including quite a lot of fairly heavy items and I had no trouble managing it, although the kids could only manage short bursts.
We had a fabulous time.
Now, stay tuned for Pumpkin Soup.