Category Archives: walking

Celebrating the Memories I

author ribbonIt felt good.

This sense of being a veteran. Of belonging.

When we arrived at the ACFW national conference in Indianapolis, I turned to my writing buddy, Kathy Kovach. “I’m so glad I’m not a newbie anymore.”

My name tag boasted ribbons, labels really: author, finalist, (represented by) Books and Such Literary Agency, Colorado Coordinator.

I’ve fought for years to live outside of identity imposed by others, to just be Paula, God’s little one, dependent on Him, but I enjoyed these ribbons as recognition of years of hard work–of titles I’d already embraced, like author. I wore it with joy.

The emotions around my first writing conference were much different. I couldn’t even say the words, “I am a writer” out loud, much less be totally comfortable with a name tag that included the word “author.” I packed pretty teacups and chamomile tea to ensure my survival at that conference 10 years ago. I also carefully prepared colored note cards full of hand-written Bible verses and inspirational sayings. Basically, I was petrified and needed these little comforts from home for survival.

But here I was years later: published, teaching, and even up for an award for my story!

This post and the one tomorrow don’t answer the question I left hanging in my last blog. Honestly, the answer is simple but the journey isn’t. I suppose sharing how important this 2013 ACFW conference was to me is a part of explaining the journey before we talk about the specifics of the recent curve ball pitched my way. So just relax and enjoy the view. Nothing too deep coming your way today.

Kathy and I kicked off the conference by teaching a workshop for area coordinators and zone directors. We enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones as well as meeting with authors, editors, and agents.

A delightful surprise was a gift from my fabulous agent, Rachelle Gardner, who congratulated me on being a finalist in the Carol Awards. She did suggest the treat might not help me meet my acfw giftweight loss goals, but I assured her I’d just eat the truffles one at time instead of the whole box at once so it wouldn’t set me back. The packaging is so pretty I actually kept the empty box and displayed it on my desk at home as a memory of my first book award nomination.

On top of enjoying the truffles, I found most of the meals at the conference boasted a yummy dessert, so I delighted in the moments we slipped away to walk in downtown Indianapolis and get some exercise.

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With Kathy Kovach

The Indiana Capitol Building is beautiful.

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Of course I always have to stop and smell the flowers.

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And I’m a sucker for churches, stained glass windows, and horse drawn carriages!

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A wedding party enjoyed the open carriages as well. Notice the cute little ring bearer!

This gorgeous fountain was part of a memorial to the men who from Indiana who’d fought in various wars.

ACFW fountain

The stroll with fun, but indulging in an amazing calzone (full of calories and wonderful, hot, gooey cheese) pushed the need for further exercise, so I swam laps in the hotel pool, which is a first for me at a writer’s conference! I love it that after 10 years of sedentary conventions, I now crave physical activity. Thanks to BENew and saying good-bye to all that weight I have truly changed.

I feel my Creator’s smile in that change. Here’s an example. Right before the conference I told the Lord I’d really like to swim while I was there, but didn’t have a decent swimsuit that fit since the weight loss. (Okay, I could have worn the famous bikini top, but it just wasn’t the venue for it.) Right before I left for the conference I happened to see a one-piece suit hanging on the clearance rack at Target. I quickly slipped it on, surprised that it not only fit well, but would provide the support I needed to actually swim for exercise and not just lie on a beach.

But could I afford it while saving for the spending money at the conference?

I flipped the price tag. Surely not.

$1.47

Oh, yeah!

So thanks to God’s good gifts and a clearance rack at target, Saturday evening of the conference meant unwinding in the pool and hot tub. What a great stress relief! I slipped into bed that night, totally relaxed and able to fall asleep despite the pending excitement Sunday promised.

I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow . . .

Singin’ in the Rain

*Warning – Playful post. I am not minimizing the trouble so many in our community face with floods and devastation. We’re praying for you!

We’re high and dry at my house–except when we choose not to be.

IMAG2351 Yesterday I decided sometimes you just have to embrace the rain.

Since I got my new shoes last week, I’ve been crazy busy. Though my feet improve daily, it’s been difficult to find time to do as much walking as I want. Yesterday my body craved activity, but it was drizzling, as it had been all day.

“I’m headed to the library.” Sam’s declaration beckoned, and I begged to join. He waited patiently as I tied my bright tennies. As he grabbed rain protection, I slipped out the front door coatless.

“You’re not wearing a jacket?” Not to be outdone by his rockin’ momma, he shrugged out of his. “No way am I wearing a coat if you’re not.”

I grinned at him, and off we went. IMAG2350 You guessed it. The rain then began in earnest. By the time we reached the library my clothes stuck to my skin, and water droplets ran down my nose and hung a moment before dripping off.

But my heart was oh so happy.

Sam checked out, “The Empire Strikes back,” and showed me how to put a book on hold that my business partner asked me to read. (Yes, business partner, but that’s a story for next week.) Afterwards we pushed through the library doors to the Great Drizzle, and I pleaded. “Take the long way home?”

Chuckle. Another eye roll. And we were off. He had his longboard. Sometimes I ran to keep up, which only made him go faster. For a while he let me grab his hand and run, pulling him along behind me, but at fifteen he is way too cool to let that go on for long.

Oh the sheer joy of it! If you’ve never been overweight, I don’t think you can understand what it’s like to go from lumbering to actually playing, running, laughing again. Enjoying your kid and being a kid yourself.

And at my age!

Soon it was time to cut through the park for home, but I kept walking the other sidewalk. He shook his head.

“Oh come on. It’s just the long, long way home, not the long, long, long way.”

And we continued. Somewhere in here I started singing phrases from songs about rain. Eventually we made a game of it. I’d sing a phrase, and he’d guess whether it was from a real song, or if I made it up. He became quite impressed with my ability to rhyme little ditties right there on the spot. The score was 5-5 as we rounded our yard. Then I think he cheated because somehow he sneaked ahead.

Soon we stood at the front door calling for an old towel so we didn’t make a puddle on the floor. A nice hot shower later, I was snuggy in my jammies. IMAG2352

The next morning Sam decided to enjoy the continuing rain his own way. I guess it needs to be a little wet to truly engage with one’s marine biology text.

With only one left home this year, I worried about homeschooling. About Sam being lonely. About ME being lonely. But this man-child of mine has delighted me by a willingness to share pieces of his day. And though we are alike in our love of family gatherings and need for people, we’re discovering how to enjoy our moments of being two instead of 4 or 6 or 7.

I hope you find a way to enjoy those you love today–even if it means singing in the rain.

Singing in the rain.

Opposition

IMAG2347I feel like weeping tears of joy as I post this blog today. I wrote it a few days ago and scheduled it ahead.

Yesterday morning I sat in my old blue recliner and told the Lord how very much I needed new shoes . . . how I couldn’t afford them, but missed walking. I reminded him that I’ve been praying about this for awhile. I was tempted to complain. Instead I simply slowed down and told Him that I was a daughter of the King, and I knew He wanted me to have good gifts.

That afternoon a friend asked me what I was doing for exercise. I admitted I’d been struggling due to the pain in my feet and my worn-out tennis shoes. Within an hour we were at a GOOD athletic shoe store. She bought me new shoes, inserts, and socks. Everything I needed and more.

Wow!

As you read my struggles below, do it with the delight of abundance, of knowing our LORD sees our struggles. Know that HE fights our battles. Stands with us when we are opposed in every good thing. That He is the Provider for all our needs.

HE cares about you and me, our struggles toward health, and even whether or not we have tennis shoes!

Here’s the post originally scheduled for today:

I’ve heard that every good thing will be opposed.

broken

A few weeks ago Jerry and I took a lovely 5 mile trek. Lots of time alone together to just talk while also doing something healthy. Glorious! (And free!)

Only I awoke the next morning with a returning case of plantar fasciitis. I’m told plantar fasciitis is often brought on by poor support in your shoes, especially if you walk or hike. I’ve been holding off replacing my walking shoes, despite the holes in the bottom and the worn away support system. Every penny has been needed elsewhere.  But my feet hurt, and the times I’ve tried to walk anyway in my old shoes only bring negative consequences.

So I’ve tried to do more pilates with my at home DVD. Wouldn’t you know it? The exercises are done with a long plastic band, and the band broke!

Sinister opposition if you ask me!

Today I’m trying to think of another healthy way to burn calories that doesn’t make my feet hurt, and I’m seeking to be especially mindful of what I eat, returning to daily BeNew meal replacement shakes to help me guard my caloric intake since I’m not burning as much off.

I didn’t come all this way to go backwards!

How about you? What things creep into your life to oppose your victories on your benew journey?

Standing against the opposition

Celebrating Good Surprises

Extraordinary Ordinary

Life’s simple pleasures come in the ordinary, especially when someone is intentional about eking extra good out of what’s in front of them. (After my sniffling momma post on Wednesday, I’m thinking I need to embrace the joys of the good days, not just wallow in “those” days.)

Extraordinary happened for me the end of July when Sam played a double-header. Jerry didn’t have to work until later in the day and got to come to the first game.

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While the boys warmed up, he took my hand and led me on an adventure.

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The games were played at Chatfield High, which is in the greater SW Denver area, close to the foothills. Just a few steps behind the school lay a golf course, tennis courts, and a soccer field. But best of all was an untamed area, wilder than my treks through the neighborhood with foliage more desert plain than what I’d enjoyed in the mountains.

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It sung its own song, and despite prickly flowers and dry earth, we found much beauty (and a tennis ball and two golf balls, but that’s another story.)

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As usual, I was especially drawn to the yellows,

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pinks, and purples.

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But even the dry browns held a unique artistry.

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Our walk was brief, but the long, repeated flights of stairs back to the ball field made me feel I’d earned my lunch.

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Working movement into our day was only part of the importance of this snapshot of living. It was really about grabbing hold of a little bit of life, a fleeting moment that could just as easily have been lost as I sat bored, waiting for the next game to start.

Instead my hubby invited me on a mini-date. We admired God’s creation. We held hands. We were together. We saw something new.

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Eking extraordinary from ordinary

Encouragement in the Curve Balls

pedi maniWhen you set out to do something good, chances are you will be opposed.

This summer my health journey has faced opposition. None of it life-stopping. No illness, just stuff. Some of it I’m ready to share; some I’m not. But here’s the battle of last week. If you’ve been around A BENew Journey for long you know my favorite way to burn calories (and bad attitudes) is to take a nice long walk.

Enter two of my nemesis.

I’ve fought seasonal allergies since I was a child, and in Colorado, this is the week. The family has been on lock down. The windows are shut tight from bedtime until late morning. This cuts the allergy reactions in about half. But since just walking out the backdoor set me off the other day, I’ve not been excited about walking for exercise.

About the same time my old friend, plantars fasciitis, decided to return in my right foot.

All this to say I didn’t walk for four days straight.

I did a few exercises in the living room–like crunches and such–and mostly was sedentary and feeling sorry for myself. Friday I decided I absolutely couldn’t let another day go without more determined exercise and pulled out the old Pilates DVD I hadn’t touched since the snow stopped last spring.

After the inevitable frustration of not being able to find the DVD, then not finding the work-out band, and then struggling to figure out the latest configuration of video game/TV/controller the boys rigged together, I finally dug in.ten minute solutions

The good news is that there is a marked difference in the way I handled the exercises! I could do some stuff I couldn’t do last spring, and I could do other exercises with more stamina.

The journey to a stronger, slimmer body can be excruciatingly slow. It is hard to see incremental changes, like it is hard to realize how much your children have grown until you see a picture from a few months before and notice the marked difference.

I’m not one of those people who loves to work out. You would not be impressed with my number of reps or the intensity of my efforts. But slow and steady DOES make a difference. A walk here. A few crunches there. A few leg lifts and push-ups. Simply being intentional about moving and focusing a few minutes a few times a week on strengthening my body, and today I got to see measurable CHANGE. 

I doubt I’ll ever work out for the sheer joy of challenging my body. I still look at my athlete son with a raised eyebrow when he calls that stuff fun. But even a small amount of effort over a few months makes a difference. In the midst of the curve balls that slowed down my walking, I got a little encouragement.

How about you? Where have you found unexpected encouragement? Would adding some simple exercise into your life help you toward measurable change? If so, start small. Build slowly. You CAN do a LITTLE something, and even a little something makes a difference.

(And if you have an off day like I did last Saturday and eat a bunch of junk and watch a bazillion episodes of Downton Abbey instead of moving and eating healthy, remember, it’s always the right time to make the next decision for health.)

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Even a little makes a difference

Grabbing Joy

I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve prayed for joy for at least ten years, yet I’m still processing the concept.

During a particularly down day a few months ago my Dad told me, “Well, Baby Doll, the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

I have a very sweet Daddy, but at that moment his words felt hollow. I bit my tongue really hard to keep the snide remark from bursting out.

Of course joy comes from the Creator of joy–but how do I access joy? How do I push through the crap of life to grab hold of it? What is it, really? Happiness? Something deeper? Is it like peace or hope? Does it always include laughter?

After ten plus years of thinking and praying about joy, I’m still not sure I get it. But I have figured out a few things:

  • Joy can be attached to circumstancesneighborhood walk 4
  • Joy isn’t only from circumstances
  • Joy can be a choice
  • Joy can be a supernatural gift
  • Choosing to be grateful brings joy
  • Choosing to be hopeful, to trust in Someone bigger than I, supports joy
  • Worry, fear, doubt, anger are enemies of joy
  • Taking a walk and eeling the sunshine on my face brings me joy
  • Bright colored flowers are my joy language
  • The stillness of a moon-lit night seeps joy into my soul
  • Physical well-being can support joy
  • You can be joyful without physical well-being
  • Loving people bring me joy
  • I can find joy when I’m alone
  • A bubbling stream reminds me of joy
  • Grabbing hold of the simple pleasures of life supports joy

The list could go on forever, and I still wouldn’t define joy. But this I know. Soon after I asked God for joy He asked me to trust Him through the next season of my life which He assured me would include a lot of CRAP.

It wasn’t exactly the answer I wanted.

And the crap of life came. During that period sometimes I had joy, and sometimes I didn’t. But while I recognize that joy can be easier to recognize in the easy, happy times, it can also be found in the bad.

In the gratitudelast few years of the trying season I took advice from the book, One Thousand Gifts, and recorded gratitude.

When negativity was especially tangible (or joy especially accessible), I’d grab colored sharpies and write on the basement walls everything I could think of to be grateful for.  I’d remember that every good gift comes from the One who created the good gifts. And I would remind myself that He cares, and I am loved and noticed.

This week I hit #900 on that gratitude wall. It lists everything from statements like, “The boys did their chores!” to “petals making a fairy carpet on sidewalk” to “Everyone together at Dairy Queen!”

Read with a discerning eye you can chronicle the joy I’ve found in the weight loss journey–comments like, “learning to walk in the neighborhood by myself” or “I lost 20 pounds” or “Jerry said I’m ‘stunning!'”

Maybe the biggest thing I’m learning is how all-encompassing joy is. Joy comes from a million different places, but has One source, for every good gift comes from the Giver. The emotion of joy is more easily grasped when I choose joy in my mind, spirit, and body. It is supported by how I take care of my mind (paying attention to the thoughts I deal on), my spirit (connecting with God), and my body (the foods I eat, how much movement is in my day).

And finally, while I have some responsibility for my joy, it is always, always, always a gift from Love.

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Journeying toward joy

Lifestyle Change and Companionship

neighborhood walk 17Mindful eating. Intentional movement. They DO make a difference.

With the support of BeNew, the changes I’ve made resulted in a body I’m comfortable in. But with contentment comes complacency if I’m not careful! When even the new clothes hang a bit big it is easier to take that extra slice of pizza like I did while watching a movie Sunday night.

But being obese for several years taught me that I can’t let that kind of thing go unchecked and maintain a healthy body. So I ate smart the Monday after and followed it up with a wonderful 5 mile walk with my hubby.

neighborhood walk 12Walking is such a simple pleasure. When Jerry joins me it’s like a date only with no calories or $$ spent! We roam the neighborhood together, and the conversation goes deeper. Everything looks brighter. We’re tapping into those love languages of quality time and companionship even as we get healthier.

Often we talk about the stuff that really matters, the kinds of things that just don’t come out over the dinner table. Investing in time together reminds us that after 24 years of marriage, we’re still best friends.

Even though we usually cover familiar territory, we often discover patches of beauty we haven’t noticed before. The bright yellow flowers next to a wooden fence take me back to my small town, turned country upbringing.

I was surprised when right night to a busy road we discovered grapes growing!

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I often see foliage I’d love to add to my yard, like these creeping flowers.

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The other day we walked right beneath a tree with something berry-like growing in the leaves. I have no idea what they are, but it was a fun discovery, seen only because we were at exactly the right angle to spot them.

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Starting a BeNew journey can feel overwhelming. Cutting back on unhealthy, high-calorie food can feel like deprivation. But it is truly worth the life-change when you get your body back, enjoy a walk, and smell the roses.

How can you embrace life’s simple pleasures, pouring into a new healthier you instead of giving into feeling deprived?

Many times on my BENew journey the answer was to simply take a walk and invite my best friend.

Back in the Saddle Again

 

empty plate

After eight months of consistently watching the scale go down (albeit sometimes slowly), I had the shock of seeing it go the other way!

Okay. I wasn’t really shocked. I knew there would be consequences of not thinking about what went into my mouth. We had several big meals here at home, including a huge steak dinner with all the fixings and a big going away cake for Alex, the amazing young man from Spain who stayed with us for a month.

This was followed by a day at the Broadmoor with my writing buddies–complete with two amazing meals out. And then I had an out of town guest who spoiled me rotten, buying my favorite treats, introducing me to a fancy Moscato, and taking me out to all her favorite restaurants. The picture to the left pretty much tells the whole story. That one was the desert at Carrabbas. Yes, I got every drop, but in my defense I did SHARE that dessert AND the main course. (It was the bread, wine, and mozzarella cheese sticks that were the real problem–or maybe the amount of food in all those courses.)

The other issue is that once you pull out all the stops and eat foods you haven’t had much of in a while, you crave them again. And once you give into larger portions than you need, it quickly becomes a habit. Still, I’ve always said I want to do this weight loss journey in a way I can sustain. To be too finicky about my food while in the midst of all these special events is probably not a sustainable attitude, for me at least.

So what’s a girl to do?

Go back to what she knows.

Thankfully after a few days of making a point to get in a walk, do some crunches, and eat reasonably, the scale started going the other direction this morning and that three pound pouch gone. It was easily fixed.

dance at broadmoor

What strikes me about this experience is how easily those pounds come back and how long-term this life change is for me. NOTHING, even the bread and spiced olive oil at Carrabbas, is worth putting that 50 plus pounds back on. It feels good to nip that whole gig in the bud and choose today to stay on the journey of health.

You may think that I didn’t blog for a while ’cause I was hiding out and feeling guilty. Nope. Honest. I was just having too much fun to get to a computer. And vacations, even from thinking about food, are okay if they don’t last too long.

So folks, had lots of fun this summer and enjoyed many flavors, but I’m back in the saddle again.

How About You?

Any helpful hints for me as I climb back into the saddle and stick to my life-long journey of better health?

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Make the next good choice, even if the last wasn’t so hot

Another Sidewalk . . . Uh Road

Who would’ve thought a simple neighborhood walk could be a slice of heaven?

Breck neighborhood 1

Then again, when the neighborhood is in Breckenridge, CO, maybe you’d expect it. Since one of my new life pursuits is seeing the world one sidewalk at a time, I couldn’t wait to pound the pavement near the cabin where I stayed with my girl friends a few weeks ago. The trek didn’t disappoint. It was a road, not a sidewalk, but the views were incredible.

Breck neighborhood 4

After 25 years in Colorado I can honestly say there is only one other time I’ve seen wildflowers as prolific as they were that week. And these pictures are in town, not even on the mountains trails.

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Of course even in Breckenridge some yards are more cultivated.

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Seeing the world on foot has many benefits. Your skin drinks in the sunshine, which includes vitamin D and helps fight depression. Your body is moving, burning calories and releasing endorphins. Your heart and lungs get a great workout–especially at elevation! And there’s plenty of time to chat with a good friend. The cars whiz by in a hurry, but you are enjoying life, breathing deeply, enjoying the little things.

You also never know when you might bump into someone else’s creativity.

breck neighborhood 10

The great thing about mountain living is a home worth several million can be right next to one where a man can park his dinosaur AND his tractor right by the front door.

tractot

My friends and I walked this route several times. Each one revealed something new. Only once did I return wet and cold. So cold, in fact, I couldn’t move my fingers.

breck neighborhood 8

I don’t know where the sidewalk might take you today, but I hope you slip away on your lunch hour or stroll your neighborhood as the sun is sinking. I hope you see something you haven’t noticed before– cool shadows from a skyscraper, a child selling lemonade, a beautiful flower, or the sunlight on leaves. As you walk, take a snapshot with your mind or with your phone. Then tell me about it. I’d love to hear what YOU discover as you burn calories one sidewalk at a time.

Burning calories one sidewalk at a time

If you’re considering walking, check out my friend Marie’s blog. She is the queen of exploring her world on foot and a real inspiration for me.

A Walking Tour of Montrose

Putting on tennies in the dark isn’t easy. Neither is slipping out the hotel door without waking your comrades. I wasn’t totally successful. In fact my friend and fellow speaker Kathleen E Kovach told me later she rolled over, emitted a soft moan, and asked God to keep me safe before she slipped back into slumber.

(This post relates to point #2 from my Little Bit Wiser blog a few days ago.)

It was the day after we’d taught Fiction FUNdamentals at the Montrose library. Soon we’d load five women into a truck crammed full of luggage and begin the 12 hour trip home. (Okay, Montrose is roughly 6 hours from Denver, but not when you travel with five women who like to shop and need lots of potty breaks.)

I needed some movement before the drive–and wanted to experience a little of the town instead of whipping through, speaking, and packing up. I’d walked a bit the morning before the library gig, but it was mostly a clear my head and pray kind of trek. I didn’t have time to go far and my wanders led to a very dry, ugly spot full of cracked earth, desolation, and old furniture dumped haphazardly. It was great inspiration to pray for opportunities to replace barrenness in a place where there seemed to be little community or support for Christian writers. It was not, however, especially attractive.

So this morning I headed the opposite direction, initially following a small river.

walk 01

Soon that path ended. Disappointed I headed down the primary road, unimpressed with the end of town that sported mostly old signage. (I later discovered a quaint main street awaited me farther down, but alas I saw it only from a moving car.)

signage

I turned down a side street and the adventure began. What I noticed most were the trees. Beautiful, diverse, and full of character. If you know Colorado you know that on either side of the mountains, or in long valleys, trees are not plentiful. This made the trees of Montrose even more treasured, and I wondered who planted, watered, and cared for them. How old were they?

walk 1 tree

I got really excited when I found a bike path, just sure it would lead to a nature walk or beautiful park.

walk 4

After lots of concrete I found myself at the city hospital.  At least I found roses hanging over a privacy fence.

walk 3

I gave up on the bike path and returned to the shaded streets of a modest neighborhood. I’m always grateful to those who take time to bring beauty into our world by planting flowers.

walk 2

Eventually I found my favorite site of the day, the beautiful Townsend House built in 1887.

walk 7 (2)

I was especially intrigued by the two sidewalks in front of the old place–a decaying brick path and a new concrete one. One of these days I’ll find the metaphor here, and we’ll have another blog post.

 walk 9

walk 8

I’d walked almost an hour when I met a lady who urged me to go past the swimming pool and the big red silos to the park on the edge of town. She said the path there would soothe my soul. I didn’t want to be late for breakfast, but I couldn’t resist. I set off for the park jogging a little and wondering if I’d have to run a good deal of the way back to be on time. That was not a pleasant thought, but it didn’t deter me.

walk 10

As I headed down the trail to the park I saw a sweet-looking woman walking alone. I asked the Lord if I should talk with her. Soon we were in conversation. She and her husband daily feed the cats and ducks at the park. When she discovered how far I was from the hotel she offered me a ride back. Her husband initially turned the wrong direction assuming my hotel was on that side of town. They were a surprised I’d walked the entire length of their community. (And I’ll admit it. I felt a bit of pride at the thought.)

When I returned Kathy rolled her eyes at my story of the provision of a return ride. I told her they were nice people who fed the wildlife. She said I needed to start watching Criminal Minds. I told her I prayed first and knew they were safe. That seemed to calm her.

(And don’t YOU start worrying. I don’t typically take rides from strangers.)

It’s a good thing I took a walking tour of Montrose before the road trip home. Five women pack a lot of snacks.

So there you have it–how to fight the battle of the bulge and see the world, one sidewalk at a time.

Hope you protect some time this week to find the little things a nice walk reveals. If you do, I’d love to hear YOUR story.

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Discovering the world on foot