“Come for a walk with me”
My late husband’s voice echoed in my ear as I woke from a dream. I am sleeping well in my new premises. A small town house in the village of Jalon, in the Costa Blanca. My own house is rented for the next ten months again, but instead of rushing off, half way across the world, I have decided to staycation and set some new challenges for myself. There is a lot about Spain I should like to see and discover. My own village seems like a good place to start.
Paul’s voice is one hard to forget, It was always soft but each word was always spoken with clarity. He never mumbled, and he spoke with firm direction. Looking back, there were too many occasions I made excuses not to walk with him and I regret that now so much.
“I am walking a lot now and you know it” I voice out loud to myself. wondering if he will hear me.
We met in Camden Town, he was a director of a holiday company, I ran a fancy dress shop. It was the mid eighties. I was a real townie and my parents never were the walking type. He grew up in Nottingham and had a passion for adventure, Walking as far as he could go over mountains and hillsides would excite him, For me, I tagged along hoping we would reach a tea and cake shop so I could rest my sore feet and stuff my face.
As married life took us over, Paul soon realised, I was only accompanying him to keep him happy, He reluctantly stopped asking me. When we moved to the edge of the Exmoor Country Park, he had found his paradise and I was truly happy for him. However, I only ventured out on odd occasions, always finding some excuse not to go.
It is 4.30 am and I realise I have had the best night’s sleep in over two months. I have woken up NOT feeling like a bear coming out of hibernation. I have set a new habit, to do 50 squats when I wake up first thing in the morning. I have just finished reading a book, titled ATOMIC HABITS by James Crear, who says you can start new habits by attaching them to ones you already have, So long as they are essential and positive ones. (New Habit, Listen to an audio book at least once a week.)
It does not matter how small they are just so long as you keep repeating them. I achieved my squats easily. I have hung a skipping rope around my stair banister and I hang on to the handles as I do them. The rope is there to remind me as I come out of the bathroom.
Today, is day two of my walking challenge. The church bells ring to let me know it is five o’clock but I will have to wait until daybreak to go outside and now it has started to rain.
When you change your environment, it is the perfect time to set a new habit. Some triggers that lead you back into a bad habit are no longer there. I am trying hard to make some new ones. For the last two months I had been buying food to fill up my fridge. I had started to pick at things too easily. Since moving to my new place, I am avoiding the supermarket, I have an empty fridge apart from a few eggs and some bottled water. I have decided to stick to my protein shakes and eat out for one meal a day. I was spending more in the supermarket every week than it now costs me to eat out. Do not get me wrong, I love to cook, but lately I was getting very lazy and eating easy to reach food. Portion control went out of the window, as I dipped into pots of hummus, cream cheese and nibbled at the olives and bread sticks. I was finishing everything and I had already gone up a size. The bad habits I thought I had conquered were returning with valour, laughing and mocking me as I let them come back into my daily life. The 22kilos I had lost wanted to return like an annoying visitor you worry will never leave. This was affecting my mood and I was on a downward spiral, I am so happy I am getting myself focused again.
At 8,00am I ventured outside The rain had stopped and the sun was peering through the greyness of the broken storm clouds, Yellow light streamed across the valley and a rainbow faintly appeared in a broken arch across the sky. as the light reflected in the puddles I took a deep breath, 10,000 steps before 10 o’clock and this is day two.
Everything is closed in the town, a builder struggles with a key as he tries the door of an empty shop, a cat waits patiently by the step, missing the saucer of milk the previous owner religiously would leave outside. A cafe owner calls my name and offers encouragement as I acknowledge it is too early for coffee. I cannot stop, I have only walked 1,400 steps so far
At the bridge I see the 28 steps that lead up to the road. (New habit, walk up the 28 steps and back down again) In 30 days that will be 840 steps I will be climbing. In a year that would equate to 10,080 steps if I climb them every day.
Twenty eight steps does not seem like very many. Twenty eight steps will not make me any thinner, stronger or fitter. Over 10.000 steps will. Changes however, small, if turned into frequent habits will undoubtedly make a difference.
No longer will I walk past these steps and ignore them. Climbing the steps two at a time I reach the top and decide to walk over the bridge. This is not my usual walk and I feel inspired to walk up the hill instead.. I stop to take a picture of the water in the river under the bridge and marvel at the reflection. Morning light is magical, it makes me smile.
The gradual gradient of the hill is gentle under foot and I become mindful of my surroundings, Rosy red tomatoes in rows nestle neatly in contrast to the butternut squash in a field tended by locals, The pale stone walls frame the field and clad the old houses, An overgrown secret walled garden hides the stone framed window arch. Pink withered bourganvilla clings to dark wood wet from September rain. A plastic slide left in a garden waiting for weekend visits from the grandchildren. I can almost imagine their chatter. I walk higher and turn to look back over the valley view. Every vista commands a picture as I open my phone to take some pictures. The mountains and rolling hills are always awe inspiring, small tufts of wispy white clouds soft as cotton weave in and out between the folds of the hills. I can hear my husbands voice still ringing in my ears, “Come walk with me.”
If i had said ‘Ok, I will walk with you’ to my husband Paul all those years ago perhaps walking would have been one of my habits long before now. How much I have missed out.
Twenty Eight steps, a new habit has led me to new discoveries and thoughts. As I trek back down the hillside, I start to think about the smell of coffee. The mere thought plays with my senses. I feel good and calm, I am not thinking about cake or sore feet. Instead I am wondering which way I shall walk tomorrow. Perhaps if you are reading this and you are local, I may see you.
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