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January 2014
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March 2014

February 2014

Give It Up for Feet

Have you ever been to a podiatrist?  Each time I've been to one I've wondered what made him (yes the ones I've known have been male), decide to devote his life to feet.  Hands I would understand.  A hand is visually appealing and connotes so many positive ideas: love, compassion, help, capability.  We don't have the same associations with feet.  Baby feet are almost painfully cute, but each year we walk on them they become less and less so. 

Feet by Bailey 111913

My yoga teacher always makes a point of having us do stick pose (sitting with our legs straight out in front of us) several times per class.  As we reach for our toes she reminds us to "gaze lovingly at your feet.  Appreciate your feet."  I've felt anything but appreciative the last few months as a tiny discomfort in one has become a pain - which brings me back to the podiatrist's office.

This particular office has the podiatrist equivalent of the dentist chair.  The lower section rises, bringing your feet high enough for the doctor to spend a day viewing them without destroying his back.  My doctor stepped out to get something and I sat there with my feet positioned quite unnaturally at eye level. 

I did a quick inventory to check that they looked presentable.  Toe nails trimmed?  Check.  Sock lint?  None.  And then I noticed it.  A tiny motion.  There.  Next to my ankle bone, just beneath my skin. 

It was my pulse of course, but somehow in all my years of living in this body, I'd never noticed it.  Had I ever seen my pulse anywhere?  I'd felt it of course, but never seen it.  That tiny flutter was proof of all the systems working together, out of sight, that make my life possible.  I was filled with awe at the marvelous nature of this body I take for granted.  As I looked at my winter-cracked and calloused feet, that flutter made them precious to me.

The doctor returned, did what he had to do and sent me on my slightly hobbling way.  That night I restarted a practice I'd let slip out of my routine.  You probably already do it.  Before I crawl under the covers, I take a moment to rub lotion into my feet, massage my toes and feel grateful for all they make possible each day.

North & South on CraftLit

If you've read this blog for any time, you know that podcasts are a key part of my walking experience.  One of my favorites is CraftLit.  It has all the benefits of those literature classes I loved in high school and college, without any of the homework!  I'm really excited that Craftlit is about to start a new book, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  This is not the US North & South (as I found out when I ordered the miniseries through Netflix a couple years back).  This is England and the conflict between the new age of manufacturing and the agrarian society of the past.  Oh, and there's a love story too. 

How does this tie into walking?  If you're trying to encourage yourself to walk longer or farther, listening to something engaging and longer (roughly an hour) is a great way to keep walking without realizing how long you've been at it.  You can learn the science behind why it works in an episode RadioLab did on Limits.  That's another great show to take along for longer walks.

Taking Stock - Gently

The house where I live has a cellar that for years I wouldn't enter after dark.  Its walls are made of giant stones, held together with crumbling mortar.  The roof makes me feel like I'm standing under a tree, truly under it, under the ground, under its trunk.  So above my head the roof/roots are a tangle of pipes, cords and cobwebs, signs of all the changes its gone through in its 150+ years.  But for all that, it is dry and has the much touted benefits of a cellar: cool in the summer, cool in the winter.  Which brings me to why I'm taking you on this tour of my home's underbelly.  This last week I went down to do the laundry and the detergent was nearly frozen.  Not chunks of ice, but thick and sluggish like refrigerated maple syrup.  If my usually temperate cellar had gotten that cold, then outside must really be cold.

I expect winter to be cold, and snowy, and gray.  That's winter.  But when parts of the country are getting blasted by weeks of sub zero temperatures, it can mess with your sense of what does and what doesn't count as cold.  Is 14 cold?  My fingers and nose say yes, but maybe I'm just being lazy when I see 14 degrees and decide not to go for a walk.  5 degrees?  Yes, there's no reason to expose yourself if you don't need to, but 18?  The other day 20 with sunshine felt balmy.  All of these thoughts are going through my mind as I look over my activity for the month of January.

Distance walked (when I remembered to wear pedometer) 12.66 miles

Time spent exercising (walking, yoga, shoveling, yard work) 11 hours and 15 minutes 

I started the month strong and then slipped into curling up under blankets instead.  The nearly frozen detergent tells me undeniably that yes, it has been cold, but could I have fit in more exercise?  Oh yes.  A fellow I was talking to at Starbucks the other day said he and his wife have moved their morning walk indoors to the mall for the winter.  "It's always open, but they're happier to see you after 6" he explained.  I may just have to take advantage of that next month. 

11 hours and 15 minutes = 675 minutes of activity

Divide 675 by 31 and you get 21 minutes per day.  Hmmmm

(I'm imagining pressing the mute button on the critiquing voices in my head)

21 minutes of activity per day.  Well, it's a start.

Time to start filling up February's calendar.