by Mary Holtrop
As I have mentioned in previous blogs one of my favorite forms of exercise is walking. I wish I could say running but I had to give up that joy about 35 years ago. Ever since I had to give up running, I have walked. Besides all the physical benefits of walking, for me there is more, that is the mental benefits. Also, as I mentioned before, for several years I could not walk and turned to biking as my form of exercise. I am equally passionate about biking as I am for walking. But after my knee replacement I was able to start walking again and it brings me much joy.
Through this pandemic walking has also brought me calmness, peace, and sanity. Some days I walk twice a day just so I can be outside, listen to my book, pray, reflect and breath in fresh air.
As you also know, I work in a library. Last spring, we closed our doors to patrons for two months. Most of us hated this because we feel so passionate about serving our patrons and bringing them joy through reading. We were able to convince our director to begin curbside services and then open our doors in July. Through all this time, I continued to walk. Because of the nature of my job I still went to work every day. But I walked early in the morning and then after work. As employees started to return to the building two co-workers were asking me about my walking. Then in a board meeting, board members talked about all the places around town they have seen me walk. One of my co-workers who is older than me, walks on the treadmill. As she says, she will only walk outside if it’s over 60 degrees. Spring in the Midwest can bring us warm sunny days but us Midwesterners know it can also snow. This co-worker was amazed that despite the temperatures I would walk. Pretty much the only things that stops me from walking is rain and ice. When the co-worker came to our building when we were closed, she would ask about my walk(s), where I went, how far and what was the temperature. We live a few blocks away and occasionally I would see her or she would see me and we would walk together. One day she said “I will walk with you tomorrow but we have to start at 6:30 not a 5:00 (my usual start time). I said ok. She said “I don’t go fast and I won’t go as far as you.” I told her I was happy for the company. She then said “I will only go if it’s over 60 and two days a week.” I said that was fine. Those two days a week is now three, “over 60” has now dropped to as low as 19. Along the way she has said “50 is my limit”; “40 is my limit”; “30 is my very limit.” Last Friday when we walked it was 19 degrees outside. She won’t walk in the rain, or in the dark or in the snow or ice. But so far, this Midwest winter has gifted us no snow or ice. We start in the dark with a flashlight and she is ok with that because I am with her.
We walk past our other co-worker’s house on our walk and she has begun to ask us about walking. But she prefers to walk with her husband and later in the day. Chatting about our walks, she said “Mary, do you know how much you inspire us?” Honestly, I didn’t. But it warmed my heart to hear that I do. Yesterday the second co-worker told me she has walked every day in December except for 1. She was so proud of herself.
It has made me realize how inspired I am by their inspiration. I had no idea that all my chatting about my walks; what I see, sunrises, sunsets, houses decorated, a hawk, young boys fishing in the pond at 5:00 on a summer morning, gardens and flowers growing. I have seen houses get new siding, new roofs, new owners, fall decorations and now Christmas lights. They are all stories to tell my friends. But all this time, this has inspired them to walk. This morning it was 18 degrees and I was alone. The sky was bright, stars were clear and I felt good. I felt good because what I do has inspired others to do what they said they would never do.