Stand Still and Use Your Inner Compass


Slowly, ever so slowly I am making plans in my head.  Some might call my plans dreams.  Well, so be it.  As always I’ve come to a stand still in my training.  It is a predictable predicament.  In the past I have made goals, announced my intentions and them – BAM – I freeze into pillar of stone with a head full of doubt and a feeling of failure.

I dig deep into my brain to understand
why when I set a goal, start towards it I drift away of the very thing I so desperately desire.

Learning to forgive myself for my lateral throws that get me nowhere is a personal goal.  It seems like progress, but we all know it’s just fluff.  I’m sidestepping to avoidfootball the hard stuff.  Or am I?

Reading articles of the successes and failures of others that have/had the same goal as I do,thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, prepares my mind, gets my adrenaline flowing and makes my mouth water for the taste of trying!  I examine articles and webpages to research the purchase of proper gear.  It is quite to fun to shop for the gear I will require to hike this trail.  My recent purchases include: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, water purification system and (woohoo!) sock liners.

Owning the “big three” (pack, tent and sleeping bag) compasswas a goal that I accomplished.  That’s at least a first down if this were a football game.  Now I need a touch down.  I won’t forget my compass.  I just need to stand still a second, look at my compass and it will point me the way to success.  Trailchaser2020, I forgive you for these so called lateral throws.  It keeps the game interesting.

Another day, another chance to keep walking.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015.  At work today the glorious sun beaming through the window panes lured me outside to eat lunch.  Today was the day “I start” walking during my lunch time.

Entering the concrete and brick picnic area outside my office I hatched my plan.  After gobbling down a healthy cold slice of pizza and washing it down with a protein shake I would walk 1 mile.  Grabbing my lunch bag, weighed down with a bottle of water and my latest reading material, I set out.

With the pizza churning into a nice dough ball in my stomach I walked briskly toward Main Street out of the courtyard of the brick office building where I worked.  The smell of freshly spread blacktop sealer seared my nose.  I patiently waited at the busy corner of Main St. and Harlem Road for the light to change to begin my latest adventure.  Walking across this intersection every day is taking my life into my own hands as cars whiz by without regard to pedestrian right of way.  Making it safely across I wished I had remembered to bring my walking shoes to work.  Walking in high-heeled sandals was a challenge, but I looked good.  I think.

I walked past a florist, three restaurants, a gas station and a drug store then found a quiet dead end street that I immediately knew was today’s walking path.  The street was residential with craftsman homes that all had neat, tidy yards.  I could hear birds singing and spied children coloring with chalk on the sidewalk across the street.  This neighborhood was idyllic and charming.

Unfortunately, I suddenly realized in my eagerness to “start” I neglected to start my phone app that keeps my pace.  Not losing stride I quickly started it up and chugged along.  My left foot had a funny twang that I disregarded to the fact that high-heeled sandals are not walking shoes.   As I came to the dead end of the street I realized I had to turn around.  Yuck.  I don’t want to ever turnaround, so I walked up the other side of the street, reasoning that this was a new path since it was on the opposite side of the street.

Slowing my pace I enjoyed the gardens of the houses I passed.   gardenflowers

There was a house with two Adirondack chairs in the front yard, just calling out to weary travelers.  I wasn’t weary, so I carried on.  Main Street was ahead and along with it, loud bangs from a garbage truck, cars honking and weaving around the street.  My feet hit the concrete sidewalk hard and I wondered if any of the Appalachian Trail was on a sidewalk.  I hope not much, if any.

Carefully making my way back to work, I resisted the urge to stop at TWO ice cream shops and a chocolate shop.  Walking on the concrete and black top is not my ideal conditions and I knew what I had to.  Approaching my office building I walked around to the side and found a lush green patch of grass.

Not much, but it was enough.  greengrassoasis

I was tempted to pull my sandals off, but a bee lurking at a wild strawberry flower stopped me.  I felt the tickle of the grass on my ankles and toes and breathed in a deep, cleansing breath.  I checked my pace, figuring in my “lost” portion with the map.

My pace was 1.1 miles and I was so glad “I Started” walking during lunch today.

Somewhere. Sometime.

Somewhere, sometime.  You have to start.  July 20, 2015.  It was a Monday, of course, starting on a Monday is cliché, but like the saying goes….You have to start sometime; so Monday it was.

Somewhere was more meaningful.  Backyard? Park? Trail? Sidewalk?  In the end, leaving the house was the important part.  Escaping daily routine and distractions is easier said than done.  “Your goal is too big!” “You don’t know what you are getting into!” “I’m not fit enough.” “I don’t have enough money.” “You don’t have enough time.”  Thoughts and people’s opinions get in the way of starting somewhere and starting sometime.

Monday.  July 20, 2015 at the backdoor of my house.  I started.

Not knowing where it was leading I took my first steps, bounding down the stairs to the driveway and reaching the sidewalk.  I turned right and headed into the village.  It was a beautiful evening and I set my pace quickly.  As I walked, I smiled at everyone and no one.  My soul filled with the joy of “starting.”  My feet led me to a walking path.  Not very exciting.  Keeping positive I rounded the bend and saw it.  The Joe Panza Nature Trail.  joepanzaIt was pulling me to enter enticing me with the promise of cool shade and solitude.  I did not resist the pull and easily walked into the trail head framed by tall trees.

With no small goal in mind when “I started” I realized there were many choices on this trail.  Left, right, straight, turn around?   forkinthetrailI would never, ever turn around.

Right then and there I set a goal.  3.1 miles or otherwise known as a “5K.”  It seemed a realistic goal and checking my pace, I found out I was half way there already.

With new confidence I quickened my pace around the nature trail, walking out of the woods and around the walking path, out of the park and I wasn’t going home until I hit my mark.  The daylight was fading as I walked out of the park.  I needed more distance and hurried around the Fireman’s Park and put blinders on past the cupcake shop.  I realized I was still short of 3.1 miles.  Walking home a little more slowly, I passed St. Aidan’s church.  I remembered the labyrinth they maintain in their backyard.  That will do it!

I paused just briefly before entering the labyrinth, remembering my bigger goal of hiking the Appalachian Trail.  I took the first little step and wound my way around the flowers and stones, breathing deeply as the meditative motion pulled me to the center.  The little red bench beckoned a short pause in my journey.  I pulled away from the center and wound out of the labyrinth making my way home.  The sidewalk was flat and easy to walk as I checked my pace.  3.2 miles.  I knew my bigger goal was possible because.   I Started.