Tomorrow I turn 60. I glide through most birthdays. The exceptions are the ones with the zeros. They invite me to be a little more reflective. And, so I am.
Almost two years ago, I started this blog. It was connected to my goal of walking 20,000 steps every day for a year. It was called Goal: 20,000 Steps. Clever, huh?
After I finished the 20k One Year Step Challenge (You can check out my daily updates HERE) I changed the blog name to what it is now, “Walking is Fitness.” Although, I still walk 20,000 steps every day, my bigger goal is to help you fall in love with walking and make it part of your fitness journey.
Walking can be great exercise, but it’s so much more. It’s how I process life. I think better. I’m less stressed and more creative when I’m walking. It makes me feel better! And, I believe it can do the same for you.
To that end, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to motivate and encourage you to walk more and enjoy the same benefits. Here comes the reflective part. This got me thinking about all the walks I’ve taken and remember. Which five are the MOST memorable?
I still remember walks I took a long time ago. I think I was five when my mom took me and my baby sister (who was in a carriage) on a walk in the neighborhood. She was collecting money for charity. Anyhow, I wasn’t paying attention and walked right into a metal gate. Do you know how much blood a simple gash on your forehead can gush? Very memorable.
I walked to school most of my childhood. I still have vivid memories from some of those self-propelled commutes. And, when I was a teenager we vacationed in Cape May, New Jersey. Every afternoon I took a long walk on the beach daydreaming about being on the radio. Many years later, I’m living what I dreamed about during those walks.
While those are fun memories for me, they didn’t make the Top 5. Here goes:
Half a lifetime ago, Ava and I spent my 30th birthday walking along the C&O Canal. It was a beautiful day. It was also a rare opportunity to spend some time together without the baby. We had become parents 16 months earlier.
What made this walk really memorable, wasn’t the surroundings. It was an overwhelming feeling that snuck up on me as we were walking. Looking back, it seems a little odd that it happened then, but it did.
For the first time in my life, I fully felt like an ADULT.
It’s odd because I had been married for almost six years. We were parents. We owned a house. And, I was doing a morning show on a Baltimore radio station. Yet, somehow, none of that had the same impact as turning 30.
What I felt in that moment was empowering.
I’ve enjoyed being an adult and can honestly say that each decade of life has been better than the previous. I’m also grateful to the younger me for decisions I made that have made life better for the older me and hope to keep paying it forward for the 70 year old me in ten years.
This is the only walk on this list that I can’t remember the exact date. In fact, I’m not even sure what year it happened. I think it was about five years ago.
There’s an 8-mile paved trail along the Baltimore Harbor that is a fun place to walk.
Lots to see and do and if the weather is nice, we could spend all day on Harbor Walk. I think that might have been our plan, but after about a half hour neither of us was in the mood for fun.
These are the five most MEMORABLE walks, not the five most fun.
Ava and I were starting to think about our future empty nest. Until then, any talk about the future was always in the abstract, “one day wouldn’t it be nice…” On this walk we went from abstract to concrete and pretty quickly realized we weren’t on the same page. We probably weren’t even in the same book.
It got tense and any sense of fun totally evaporated. But, two things happened that made this walk one of the most memorable for me.
As hard as our conversation was that day, it revealed the differences we had to work through which was crucial. I wish I could say everything was resolved by the end of the walk. It wasn’t. It actually took years until we had a shared vision.
The second thing that happened during that walk was I couldn’t leave when the conversation got tense. I’m embarrassed by how often in our relationship I’d just walk out of the room when it got difficult. I couldn’t do that when we were miles from our car.
Now, when Ava and I have something important to talk through we go for a walk. That’s had a profound impact on our relationship.
This walk had adventure, drama, excitement, and a little risk.
This walk also is representative of a whole bunch of memories I’ve enjoyed. One of my favorite things to do is to explore cities while walking…Washington DC, Las Vegas, Seattle, Dallas, Nashville, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, New Orleans, and many more.
But, the night I walked through Venice was the best.
I’ve written about this one in an earlier post and if you’re interested in the details go HERE.
This is one of the great things about walking. It’s so flexible you can find the thing that YOU love. Instead of exploring cities, you might love hiking on trails, enjoying the wilderness, or neighborhood parks. Just go for it!
In August 2018 Ava discovered a lump. She got a mammogram and the radiologist said he thought it was probably Invasive Lobular Carcinoma and she needed a biopsy. That happened a week later. The following week the doctor called with the results.
Because the radiologist gave it a name, Ava and I had time to wrap our brains around the likelihood of what was coming. We took a lot of walks those days talking about what might happen and what we needed to do.
We were on another of those walks September 10, 2018. It was a gray and misty afternoon as we were walking through the neighborhood. We had just reached the top of the biggest hill when Ava’s phone rang. She saw it was the doctor and put it on the speaker as she answered.
“You have cancer,” he told her.
We asked a few questions and walked a little further before turning around and heading home. Ava needed three more biopsies and eventually had surgery five weeks after that call. Four weeks of radiation happened at the end of 2018. Ava’s one year follow up, last fall, was clean and we’re praying and hoping that remains the same moving forward.
This walk wasn’t fun, but it’s one we’ll never forget either.
Our oldest daughter, Grace, got married on October 14, 2013. The day started cloudy and wet, but skies began clearing midday. The wedding was scheduled for the evening and by the time guests began arriving it was a beautiful autumn afternoon.
I loved Grace’s wedding more than my own. It was fun. I think I was too nervous at mine, but was much more relaxed at Grace’s. I also felt deep satisfaction about the job Ava and I had done as parents. We were so proud of our daughter!
Walking Grace down the aisle is easily my most memorable walk ever. It was short, but every step brought me closer to giving my little girl…the one I sang to every night as I put her to bed…to a wonderful young man.
My favorite part of the night, though, was my speech. I wanted to say more to her and the guests than simply, “Her mother and I,” so I asked Grace if it would be OK for me to say a little something before we danced at the reception. She agreed.
I actually used a walk a few days earlier to think through what I wanted to say. I wanted everyone, especially Grace, to know how special she is. I wanted to touch her heart.
Tomorrow is big day. As I write these words I don’t know where it will rank among the list of memorable birthdays, but I do know this. It won’t be number one. The day I turned 31 on May 14, 1991 will always rank first.
I spent that birthday in the hospital becoming a dad again. After our baby was born, examined, and cleaned up I got to hold my new child. As I did, I walked around the delivery room quietly singing a song.
That song, “You Are My Sunshine,” became the soundtrack for a very special dance 22 years later.
Happy birthday Grace. We love you!