encouragement

“Your best t-shirt should be like your bed; it just feels like home when you are in it.”      Ashton Kutcher

I have this t-shirt and when I put it on all the decades of my life come back to me. I can close my eyes and get a glimpse of feeling from each part of my past, bringing back my youth to fool my present age. When I wear this t-shirt I am any age and I can walk forever right along memory lane for encouragement.

Summertime, I am eight years old and my mother has given me a shiny Jefferson nickel for some minuscule chore. Happily, I decide to take a walk. I walk about five blocks to “Moldy Joes,” the neighborhood corner store, where the groceries are questionable but the gum/candy selection is out of this world. I trade my silver coin for a little red and blue rectangle of pink sugary delight. I begin my walk back home, carefully unwrapping the package. I place the gum in my mouth and as I chew, bursts of sweetness capture my taste buds and the blocks fly by.

Fall, it’s getting chilly, the sky is dramatically gray, I am a tween-ager walking over the “forever-long Laramie bridge” with my fellow cheerleaders. We are on our way after school to a basketball game. We are acting silly, blowing bubbles with our recently purchased bazooka bubblegum. Whose bubble will last the longest? Who will blow the biggest bubble? Whose bubble will pop on their face and leave sticky lines causing everyone to laugh until their stomachs hurt? This walk is easily an unperceived two miles of bubble-blowing fun.

Winter, I am in high school, volleyball practice doesn’t start for another hour. Craving some fresh, crisp air I walk through the cold and snow with some of my teammates to the local corner store for gum and candy bars. Each of us grabs a bunch of bazookas. (You never know when you’ll need to share.) As we walk back and unwrap our soft pink pillows of gum, we read our bazooka joe comics out loud and chuckle at the goofy humor. Every one gets quiet when it’s time to read the fortunes. Another inconspicuous walk.

Spring, there is new energy in the air and I am at college training for …everything. I need bazooka during badminton, bubblegum when jogging, bubble blowing when walking to classes and studying for finals. I can still smell the tantalizing sugariness at this moment, taste the cotton candy-like smack of flavor, feel the gooey, squishy blob moving from the right side to the left side of my mouth.

Sadly, it was around this time that I went to the dentist and found… I had ten cavities. Now I’m not implying the gum had anything to do with this but…it did significantly contribute to the end of my bazooka bubblegum chewing days. In my opinion, sugarless was just not the same, not the distinctive taste or the soft, palatable consistency for bubble blowing. This phase of my life had come to an end.

Aahhh, well, sometimes memories can be so …sweet!!

I’m off now, off to put on my home-filled memory t-shirt of encouragement and walk.

bazooka

how

As far as equipment needed for walking…it can be as much or as little as I like. I have different shoes to wear in case it’s rainy or wet, hot or cold; the shoe styles range from barefoot-like to ultra supportive, to boots for deep snow. I might vary my dress depending on the weather or on my mode of walking; stay warm, stay dry or stay cool and wick away moisture. Sometimes I have to drive to a walk if I choose to visit a nearby forest preserve, the lakefront, or a rural place. I also have various playlists on my phone for different tempos during solitary walks – fast beat music if I need the motivation to keep up a pace, or slower paced if I am in the mood to have a relaxing walk. Hats – if it is very sunny, I wear a visor. If it’s cold – a headband for my ears; sometimes just wearing something with a hood is nice because it can be on or off. Mittens or gloves are great so that a person can walk with a natural arm swing- no hands in pockets.

I also have technology that will measure and quantify my walks, or help me out if I get lost, or ring, beep,or chime if someone needs me at the moment. One of my favorite tools/apps (because sometimes numbers get me going) is my nike+ sensor. I don’t mean to insert a commercial here or endorse a product, I am only reflecting on the fact that we live in a wonderful day and age because technology can do so much for us. I use my little sensor everyday. I slip it in or on my shoe, and it tracks my distance, time, pace and calories. I realize these are “ballpark” numbers – maybe not as accurate as they could be, but they work for me. I have been using this sensor for about three years. I have found the sensors last a little over a year’s time, if I only use them for my walks as compared to wearing it “pedometer-style” throughout the day. At around $25 dollars a sensor, it is worth the investment. The app is free on my iphone, and I am lucky enough to have a foot that loves nike shoes (again, not meant as an endorsement).  If I use a little shoe pocket (amphipod) that fits onto my laces, I can also use the sensor with other brands of shoes. I love that the app tracks my history and sometimes shouts out congratulatory comments when I break a personal best. Of course I can go to the website and look at graphs and charts, but that’s where I draw the line.

nike+

clothing

What to wear?  As every native Chicagoan knows, there are two seasons in our windy city metropolis – construction and winter.

I have to admit, during the construction season the only specialty item I might purchase would be an app telling me what sections of the city to avoid and who knows… that might even be free if it exists.

But winter, now that’s another story. Having been incredibly spoiled in my past career with access to an indoor running track, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes etc. I spent more of my winter time inside for my workouts. Also, the strict parameters of a working day did not always allow for breaking outdoors when the weather was optimal.

As a newly-minted retiree, my goal is to bust outdoors and walk during any type of weather event. As I have been on walks throughout this Fall, I have discovered a simple truth – I know that if I am not warm and dry during my walk, I am not happy. I never want to walk and not be happy – life is too short! So this past week, I started perusing the internet and researching early winter weather gear like leggings, waterproof pants etc. I don’t really want skiwear, because I do own some outdoor ski pants, jackets, vests and stuff for when the temperatures are below freezing. I needed something more intermediary for the lower half of my body. After researching for about an hour, I noticed some of the items I found online were also available at a local REI store, so I made a trip. Given the choice, I do like to try things on in order to get a comfortable size and proper fit.

At REI, I was able to find some Smartwool leggings which I can wear out on their own or under any type of cold weather pants. Fortunately, I am a Smartwool fan – I have a lot of their hiking socks and they really make my feet happy, so it was a no-brainer to give these leggings a try.  Boasting the properties of wicking away moisture, cushioning, and providing warmth from the wool without the itch sold me even more than the awesome purple color they were available in. Next on the list – pants. I should preface with saying “I hate trying on pants” only because I have never been lucky enough to try on the first pair I like, with all of the attributes I like and they fit the first time around. No, there is always something about me or the pants that requires trips and trips to the fitting room before finding something that works. So, after trying on 3 different types of pants in 4 trips to the dressing room – I was content. I found some REI pants which were lightweight and water/wind resistant and (bonus) I could fit my leggings underneath if needed. Woo-hoo! Bring on the rain and snow! Best of all – they were not super expensive, an investment of course, but nothing to break the bank.

The last thing on my list were some e-tip gloves so that I can use my iPhone while outdoors in cold weather. I was shocked to find some of the e-tips were over $50.00. Luckily, I found some liners to suit my purpose at $20.00 and bought them thinking “ah… good deal” until a friend told me there are e-tip gloves available at the dollar store for….a dollar. I’ll have to check this out.

I now look forward to the fun of some messy weather knowing I’ll be warm and dry during my walks.

clothes

shoes

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world” Bette Midler

I love shoes, especially athletic shoes. As a gym teacher, I was lucky enough to have a different pair of shoes for any sport I participated in (and some that I didn’t). I also could match those shoes to whatever sporty ensemble I managed to put together for the day. This was one of the things that I loved most about my job. More importantly as I moved continuously throughout my day, my feet were happy which meant my knees, back and body were happy which meant I would be more inclined to participate again and again in any movement or activity.

Most activities have specific shoes designed to support, protect and cushion the foot according to the demands of the movement. For example, running and walking shoes provide cushioning, stability and motion control – very important when considering the constant pounding of the consistent forward motion on the feet. Basketball, cross training and tennis shoes respond to different demands on the foot – stability for side to side movements such as cutting laterally, outsoles with traction for pivoting, and greater flexibility of the sole to aid in low mileage running.

Technically, a person can walk in any shoe as most of us do day in and day out, but what fun is that!

Since it’s Fall, I recently purchased a new pair of running shoes for my walking that are made with Gore-tex. Gore-tex is a water repellent material that will keep my feet dry when stomping through puddles, or wet grass, or slightly snowy pavement. (Which might be here as early as next week according to our local meteorologists.) So far, they have worked amazingly well. I’ve walked through a rainstorm and some frosty grass and my feet stayed toasty dry.

I will be a walking conquerer!