I’ve always been a walker. And a runner.
I’ve run in the Adirondacks of upstate New York, on cold mornings visiting my family. I’ve run around icy ponds in New England (and, yes, once fell and got a serious concussion). I walked or run every day after work during my years of teaching, setting down my bags and changing into sweats immediately upon entering the door in the afternoon. I walked miles every day from Cambridge across the river to Boston during grad school to get to my classes. Even nine months pregnant I walked all around Boston and Cambridge. And when I went weeks past my due date I kept walking and walking and walking, hoping to jump start labor.
On one of our first days of graduate school, our department head talked to my doctoral program cohort about how to be successful in the program. His first piece of advice for us to become serious scholars and thinkers:
“Walk. Walk by the river. And walk some more.”
He told us to get off the computer sometimes and to think about all of the ideas that are important to us, what we’re learning and what we’re planning to write about. He told us that in his experience the best writers and scholars do their most productive thinking outside of the office, in the outdoors, connecting with the world outside and with their own physical bodies and spirits. For him, bicycling and walking had always been a way to feed his mind and heart.
And I took his advice to heart. When I was about to write a big paper, I would read what I needed. I would write an outline. And then I’d walk. I’d think about everything that I’d learned, and I could feel the panic about writing a paper lifting away. I would relax and feel rejuvenated.
Now I don’t walk, at all. I exercise barely at all, if ever. Part of this I can blame on the climate of Buffalo, New York, where I now live. If New England winters can be unpredictable and harsh, Buffalo winters are brutal. Right now it’s 0 degrees outside and about -15 with windchill with falling snow blowing all over the place.
So, yes, the climate is not conducive to meandering, peaceful walks.
But the real reason is that I’m a mom now. And I blog. And for the first time in my life I can officially say that I’m completely, entirely out of shape. In my almost year of blogging and life with a toddler, I have gained about ten pounds, but weight isn’t the issue at all. It’s that I am tense, I am sometimes anxious. I miss processing my ideas outside on long walks. I miss the feeling of peace and relaxation. And I was a better writer.
My body needs exercise and my writing does too. But it’s so easy to make excuses not to exercise after a long night with a toddler, when there are piles of laundry, or when there are endless numbers of blog posts to read and write. There is always something more pressing, more urgent (often right in front of you on the computer screen) to do than listen to what your body needs.
So my main goal this year as a writer, blogger, and mom is to prioritize myself. Exercise will make me a better blogger, a better friend, a better mother. It’s where my best ideas originate. I feel healthier, I sleep better, and I get sick less. But it’s just so hard to put on those shoes and make a commitment to do it every day. And to stick with it. According to this infographic from OTCSafety, only 46% of moms make it past six months with their New Year’s resolutions.
How long do your resolutions last? Which ones have sticked for you? Do you think there’s a connection between your blogging and your other resolutions or goals?