Ok. let’s start with the weather. There is a reason why Canadians focus so much attention on the weather, and this is one of them. Today Ottawa achieved the distinction for the coldest June 4th, in the history of this city. This is our year of multiple weather breaking awards. We have had the coldest February; the most snow and the gold medal for the coldest capital in the world, on January 19th. Need I say more.
I keep hoping the weather will warm up but that is a pipe dream, a wish, a marshmallowy kind of unrealistic fairy/pixie hope that I have no control over whatsoever. I can subtly complain, as you have just noticed or I can acknowledge what can’t be changed and choose my clothing and activities accordingly. Which is what I did on Sunday morning.
You see, I have been neglecting my walks. I gave myself a pass for the
six seven months of winter due to extensive ice that can cause broken bones. Here we are in June and although it is pouring rain it wasn’t cold on Sunday, so, I dressed for rain and went walking. The motivation wasn’t just about getting my body moving, rather it had everything to do with walking a 1/2 Marathon this coming Sunday in Halifax. The fact that I am doing so with three wonderful cousins is the real reason that I went for a three hour walk in the rain.
The three cousins represent one of the most important resources we have in life. Other people we can count on. More and more research is coming forward on the importance of time spent with others. Besides all the other basics of eating, exercise, sleep and purpose, we all need people in our lives that we can count on and enjoy. It makes everything better.
In a recent book, Timeless: Nature’s Formula for Health and Longevity featured on The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, author Louis Cozolino, has this to say:
People who lead extraordinarily long lives are those who have maintained close ties to others. Centenarians, tend to be more extroverted and have higher morale, indicative of reaching out to others, giving and receiving support, and maintaining attachments…much of wisdom is expressed in how people interact with and treat one another.”
The famous longevity study, still ongoing after 80 years, out of Harvard, is very clear on the dominant role of our good relationships with others as an important factor in happiness and longevity. Dr. Waldinger, the current director of that study suggests that we try new things with old friends, to help keep our relationships lively. (our marathon walks are something like that)
Consequently, when it comes to health, healing and longevity our social interactions appear to be paramount.
When we combine a purpose/goal, in the company of others we up our chances considerably of accomplishing the goals we set out to do. Whether it is physical activity, creativity, or volunteering together. So many different opportunities to contribute and have fun. In my case, the long walk next Sunday is one of those opportunities. Because I am clear on the goal and not wanting to let others down, if not myself, it is easier to actually achieve it. We don’t let the weather or our feelings of lethargy be the only defining factors. They are there but they don’t call the shots.
When we make our goal or purpose public and join in with a few others we up the pressure to show up and do it. And guess what? When we do certain activities in the company of others we can have fun. FUN. When my cousins and I do these long walks once or twice a year we get to catch up. We live in different provinces but we now come together and we have a visit as we cheer each other along. If something goes wrong, we take care of each other. We aren’t there to win the race but to put one foot in front of the other – approximately 26,000 steps. And when it is over we celebrate with pizza and prosecco. And we laugh alot.
I am not able to run and I recall the exact moment in time when I discovered you could walk in these big race week-ends. It was October 2014, and I was cheering my daughter as she ran the Toronto Marathon that fall. I was near the finish line and I caught a glimpse of a woman about my age, walking and when she passed by she had an official bib on her back that said WALKER. That was it. I knew that the next year I would be a WALKER. And so it has been every year since.
I am definitely not suggesting that everyone rush out and walk a 1/2 Marathon. I am suggesting that having a goal or a purpose with a few others, where you also move your bodies, has a wealth of effects worth cultivating. (and of course we don’t limit ourselves to only physical activities.)
The last two years my Mother joined us in Halifax and Ottawa.
She, along with 40 more relatives, walked the 10 K and 5 K together. She was 97 and 98 for those two walks. This year she has the year off, as she prepares for her 100th birthday bash in Victoria next Easter weekend. In the meantime she still walks 30-60 minutes everyday; contributes to quilt making for refugees; plays cards; stays in touch with family on her I-pad (that counts too) and says YES to all invitations. She continues to cultivate her many wonderful friendships within and without the family and is graciously and lovingly blind to all of our flaws.
Staying in touch and reaching out to old friends and family members may seem like too much trouble. I am not consistently good at it myself and I want to get better. But it isn’t trouble. It is more like self-care. Taking care of your own precious mind, body and spirit. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that one of the best things you can do for your mind is (not just exercise) but spending lots of time with people you enjoy. And what could be better than that. Our entire community benefits when we take care of each other.
Note 1:) There is so much info on this topic on Harvard but this is a 15 minute synopsis that you may enjoy. Ted Talk with Dr. Waldinger
Note 2:) One of my goals is to become more like my Mother, the person and centenarian I admire the most.
Note 3:) Thanks everyone for dropping by and for all of your encouraging words. See you next week, shin splints and all. (only kidding, I don’t walk fast enough to get that painful condition) Warm regards, Trudy