27 Day Walking Challenge

It’s time to do an update on the 30 Day Walking Challenge that I initiated on September 29th. Inspired by the amount of walking I did while on recent trips, the intention was to walk daily for a month, in a new location every day.

This was a great activity for me, interesting and fun because of the challenge of picking a different trail or area each day. I saw tremendous benefits, health wise. And then the unexpected happened. A problem with my left knee developed, and on Day 26, the Walking Challenge became a challenge to walk. I toughed it out that day and managed a short walk. However, recognizing I needed to focus on healing my knee, the 30 Day Walking Challenge ended on Day 27, after an extremely short, and painful, stroll.

I have to admit initial disappointment at this surprise ending to the challenge. However, I am not sorry that I created this game for myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the daily walks, and especially delighted in walking in a different place each day.

Most of my walks were outdoors. There is nothing more restorative to my soul and more centering to my body than walking through woods and along rivers. These meanderings through nature were meditative to me.

Destinations included the Joplin area, Springfield, and northwest Arkansas.

I also walked in each of Joplin’s city parks, discovering all have paved paths that loop around the perimeters. Each park offered different views, and most had some form of water on the property.

I met other walkers, joggers and cyclists at these parks, and appreciated the camaraderie that exists between people who desire to be healthier. Most simply smiled or said hello as we passed each other. One enterprising young man at Leonard Park impressed me with his energy, and the game he had created to challenge himself physically. He tossed a frisbee, and then ran to retrieve it. Over and over he threw the disc and then ran to pick it up and toss it again. We chatted about health and the necessity of challenging ourselves in playful ways.

I met my intention of walking with each of my adult children, exploring a neighborhood, a new trail and a family fun farm complete with a corn maze. I traveled to Columbia to walk across Mizzou’s beautiful campus with my grandson Dayan. Together we ventured downtown for a shared meal together.

My sister accompanied me on a walk that was impossible for me until recently. We climbed to the top of a bluff along Shoal Creek and gazed across the valley below. Greg was my walking companion on many of my treks. I appreciated each person who took the time to walk alongside, chatting quietly, and experiencing the beauty around us.

A couple of times, I resorted to cleverness, to fit the walk into a busy day. During an afternoon or running errands, I parked the car as far as possible from each stop, and once inside the store, did a lap around the perimeter. Doing this at five different stores gave me plenty of walking that day.

I only walked at the mall once, on a chilly overcast day. I combined that walk with visits to a couple of new vintage stores that had opened in the mall. Another day, when a sharp cold wind seemed to cut through me, I ended up at the new Joplin Library and walked around the perimeter several times before heading into the stacks. Funny story from there. The next day I ran into a woman who said she saw me, walking around the library, and she asked if that was one of my walking challenges.

Overall, I am very pleased with the results of the challenge. I felt energized by the daily walks. I enjoyed visiting different locations. My body responded by toning up, especially in my calves, thighs, butt and abs. I felt really good during those days of walking, and experienced an increase in stamina and flexibility.

Did the walking contribute to inflammation in the tendon and muscles around my left knee? The honest answer is, I don’t know. Intuitively, I feel this is a form of old energy working its way out. It is something for me to heal, and release. The flare up with my knee was very discouraging at first. I was walking SO well and with such ease. I felt frustrated with my leg, for bringing the walks to a halt, just days before the end of the 30 Day Walking Challenge.

This is part of my journey though. It is, after all, a healing journey, and apparently, I have more healing to do. My intention is to return to the daily walks, as soon as I am able to. After a week of focused care, that has included resting my knee, eating foods that fight inflammation, drinking daily cups of chaga tea and turmeric milk, topical application of Young Living Essential Oils, low impact stretching and brief walks, I am recovering. My knee is healing. I’ve battled impatience. I’ve run the “why’s” through my head and shrugged those off.

What matters is that I allow my knee to heal, by caring for myself in the highest possible ways. And when I can walk without pain, without a limp, with a knee that bends and flexes smoothly, I’ll be back on the trails and looping again around the parks.

30 days on the walking challenge…or 27…it’s all good. I have learned during this month of walking and not walking, and challenge ended up being the key word. I accept the not knowing and not being able to script things out. It is the journey and not the destination. It is during this time of walking in this world that I am growing and discovering new things about myself. Onward and upward.

Sunday Saunter

I love the slower pace of Sundays. Typically, this day is devoted to self care, and catching up on rest and laundry, while getting ahead on food prep for the week. On this bright day, made cooler by storms that rolled through overnight, the theme for the weekend continued. It was a family afternoon.

Grandson Joey finished the football season with his final game. This year’s super bowls were held in the little community of Carl Junction, northwest of Joplin. Family gathered in the stadium to cheer Joey and the Tigers to victory.

Conveniently, my daughter Elissa lives in this town. We made plans to walk together after the game. During this 30 Day Walking Challenge, one of my intentions was to walk with each of my grown children and with my grandson Dayan, who is away at college.

I’ve realized that intention. I walked with daughter Adriel and her husband through their neighborhood at dusk. I drove to Dayan’s college city and walked the campus with him. Friday night I walked with my son and his family in Exeter, around a fun farm which included a corn maze that we got hopelessly lost in. That adventure surely increased my steps for the day!

This afternoon my daughter Elissa, and her two chihuahuas, Beatrice and Agnes, walked with Greg and me through her neighborhood.

Talking with my daughter earlier in the week, she mentioned that there was a trail near her house. Our destination was that trail. Elissa said she had no idea where the trail led. My response was that we could discover that, together.

The dark clouds moved eastward, freeing the sun to deliver delicious and appreciated warmth. It turned into ideal walking conditions. The dogs were excited to join us, and being a small breed with short legs, we let them set the pace.

We easily found the well cared for trail, just a couple of blocks from the house. The gravel path heads west toward the Kansas state line, bypassing the high school football stadium where games continued. I looked this trail up later and realized it is the last section of the Ruby Jack Trail. The Ruby Jack begins in Carthage, and continues west 16 miles along an old train track bed, culminating at the Kansas line.

We enjoyed our walk, which with the pups busy checking out interesting scents, became more of a stroll. This pace was perfect for appreciating the beauty around us. I love how even common grasses put out tasseled stalks in the fall. These slender stalks rippled along the edges of the path, the shorter days turning the grasses shades of rust and coral and brown.

As we walked I thought about the parallels between what Elissa said about not knowing where the path led, and life’s journey. As I walk in life, I may know the general direction I am headed. However, I don’t know where the path is going, ultimately, or what is around the bend in the road.

I am okay with not knowing. What is important is that I trust the journey itself, and trust that all on this path is for my highest good. I am thankful for those who quite literally walk with me. And I deepen my growth during those times when I walk alone.

During this walking challenge, which concludes in six days, it has been my privilege to have companions. As it happens, they are my life companions too. I am grateful to share the journey with them.

Peace is the Path

As the beautiful and warm fall days continue, so do my outdoor walking jaunts. When my work finished early today, and Greg’s plans shifted, we made a spontaneous decision to drive to Springfield, Missouri.

We enjoyed a delightful light lunch and tea at the tea house located inside Relics Antique Mall. And although we did a quick walk through the huge flea market, that was not my chosen destination for today’s walk. Springfield has a botanical center, that happened to be near the antique mall. Within the center is a 7.5 acre Japanese garden. It’s been several years since I’ve walked through that garden. It was the perfect day for another visit.

Established in 1985, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden includes koi ponds, meditation gardens, a sand garden, a tea house, a Moon bridge, waterfalls, and numerous plants, trees, stone pagodas and lanterns, all easily accessed by winding paved paths.

The garden was created in honor of the relationship between Springfield and her sister city, Isesaki, Japan. Gardeners from Isesaki provided many hours of support and shared their knowledge and creative ideas for this authentic stroll garden.

The garden’s namesake, Yuriko Mizumoto Scott, was instrumental in bringing the garden into existence. She served as a translator and host for the Japanese architects, gardeners and carpenters who visited Springfield during the garden’s creation. The garden was named in her honor in 2004.

Strolling through the garden, it is obvious that great care went into the creation of this enchanted place. And it is just as obvious that great attention is given to its upkeep and maintenance. The garden is simple in its design and yet endlessly intriguing. Grass covered mounds of earth create interest while defining spaces, and natural elements, such as rocks, water and trees provide beauty and also healing benefits.

This walled Japanese garden is one of the most peaceful places I have ever encountered. Today there were only a few other people walking the paths and we saw them but briefly. It felt like we had the garden to ourselves. There was time to reflect as we walked, and sit on one of the many benches placed strategically along the path, and talk quietly.

As I walked, soaking up the sunshine and the beauty, listening to the twitter of birds and the gurgling of water, I was reminded of this quote by Dan Millman:

There is no path to Happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to Love. Love is the path. There is no path to Peace. Peace is the path.

These are my paths…Happiness, Love, Peace…along with Health. Ever my companions, they guide my journey.

I left the Japanese Stroll Garden inspired to add some creative elements to my own backyard garden. And I left determined to return to this gorgeous paradise more often. Next time I will bring a backpack full of healthy snacks, a journal, a sketchpad…and stay a while.

Something of the Marvelous

After hosting an open house this afternoon, I picked up my sister Linda, who had agreed to be my walking companion today. We walked at Mercy Park with our mom a few days ago. That walk didn’t count for my 30 Day Walking Challenge, since I walked there on Day 1. I walked in a new location that evening. However, I enjoyed the time with Mom and Sister, chatting and laughing as we looped around the park.

Linda expressed a desire to walk with me this afternoon, and mentioned Wildcat Park…a place she hasn’t yet visited. I’ve already walked at Wildcat too. But driving home to change clothes after open house, an idea presented itself. I knew where to walk.

I picked Linda up and told her the plan. We were indeed going to Wildcat Park. However, we were going to walk on the trail south of Shoal Creek.

Here was the first real challenge, in my Walking Challenge. I had not walked on that trail for seven years. It’s not because it’s lacking in anyway. The trail parallels the river for a short distance, after crossing a low water bridge. Then it climbs through woods to the top of a rocky bluff, overlooking the valley below that cradles Shoal Creek. The views are amazing.

No, I had not walked that trail in recent years because I couldn’t. I used to do the 75 minute trail once or twice a week, back in 2010. Even then, the climb to the top of the bluff was not easy for me, due to pain and weakness in my legs. By 2011, as the sciatica in my left leg continued to worsen, I could no longer walk that far.

Late this afternoon, my sister and I set off confidently, crossing over the river and starting on the path toward the top. I didn’t know if I could do it. I warned Linda that I might have to turn back. But I was going to give it my best effort. No matter the outcome, it was a beautiful day for a walk.

As the paved path wound upward, the river fell away below us. It had been so long since I had trekked on the southern side, that I veered off the main path too soon. Backtracking, we climbed higher still…and there it was. I recognized the worn path over rocks made smooth by countless sneakered feet. This was it. The ground leveled out as we reached the top.

A magnificent view was our reward for the climb. Far below the river flowed, already in shadows as the sun sank toward the horizon. We continued over rocky, uneven ground, watching our steps, until we reached the stone table nestled in the woods.

There was a group of young men seated around the table. We didn’t intrude. Instead, Linda humored me as we took a selfie, capturing the valley below in the background. It was time to make the descent.

We chatted as we walked down the sloping trail. The river grew closer and at last the ground leveled out and we were once again on a paved path. My sister and I are both drawn to water. After rains last night, the river was up slightly, its waters tumbling and splashing as it sang to us of its journey.

I felt such peace…and such incredible joy. I did it. I not only made the climb up the path, I did it easily. In fact, my walking today was markedly improved over my last hike here, seven years ago. I didn’t experience pain, nor did I limp or become winded. I was ecstatic. I don’t feel like I have my old legs back. I feel like I have new legs.

Linda and I enjoyed our walk so much, that we intend to return soon and do the whole 75 minute loop, from riverside to the top of the bluff and back down on the other side. We will bring along a backpack, toting bottles of water, fruit and nuts, and find a space high atop the hill to claim for a bit as we enjoy the views and the sighing winds.

I am ready.

Tanyard Creek

My adventures led me south today, just across the state line into Bella Vista, Arkansas. I have driven through this community many, many times unaware of a nearby nature walking trail, located just a mile from the center of town.

I explored the beautiful Tanyard Creek area, walking the 2.2 mile trail through woods, up and down hills, and along the meandering streams.

The day started off cool and overcast, and I dressed appropriately. By the end of the hike, which took approximately two hours, the sun had broken through the clouds and temps had climbed into the 50s. I was happy to shed my Mizzou hoodie and head band when we arrived back at the car.

Arkansas is known as the Natural State. With an abundance of conservation areas, rivers and lakes, the state is well deserving of the nickname.

This is Tanyard Creek.

The wide asphalt trail quickly turned into dirt, which I loved. At times the path narrowed so that we had to walk single file. And, I have to confess, more than once we lost the trail, with the heavy coverage of fallen leaves, and had to backtrack. And a couple of times, the trail became well placed rocks across a stream.

There were multiple bridges due to the many streams and creeks that crisscrossed the area. Near the end of the trail was a suspension bridge across the water. That one was fun to cross!

Tanyard Creek Trail has dozens of small signs, placed near the paths, identifying trees and plants and flowers. I really appreciated the info. Often, on a walk, I pause to wonder what kind of tree this is or what shrub that is. Today, I was informed. Some of the signs told bits of the area’s history, or identified ruins as an old farmhouse foundation or an ancient country road.

I love walking through the woods. Add water, in the form of lakes, ponds or rivers, and I experience deep bliss. The gurgling sound of brooks and streams or the splash of water pouring over ledges of rock are music to my ears and my soul.

Most of my photos from today’s walk have water in them.

I am grateful that my daughter Adriel and son-in-law Nate told me about these trails. The walking difficulty is moderate, and I did great, which is such an encouragement to me. This is the longest hike I’ve done during my challenge, and I marvel at what I can do now, that I could not accomplish in 2016. This daily walking is good for me, on so many levels.

Less than an hour from Joplin, Tanyard Creek is close enough to visit frequently and explore at different times of the year. I’ll be back!

There’s a Chill in the Air

What a difference a day can make! Yesterday temperatures were in the 80s. Today, we hovered in the high 40s. I made the determination, at the beginning of my 30 Day Walking Challenge, that I would walk outside, rain or sunshine, warm or cool temps. Today, I got to honor my own commitment.

I am holding the Northpark Mall in reserve, as a walking destination. In the last 12 days, I’ve only had one rainy day. I walked outside that afternoon, and the rain slacked off as I walked. I’ve primarily had warm weather to contend with, which is unusual for October.

I’m saving a walk at the mall for a really inclement day. Joplin only has one shopping mall. If I use that destination too soon, I’ll have to get very creative, should more bad weather occur within my 30 days.

Today was not the day to walk at the mall. Instead, I chose an area on the north edge of Joplin, Landreth Park.

Landreth is basically a very large, sloping hillside, with the usual playgrounds, pavilions and tennis courts. There is a stage for summer concerts. For years, this spacious park hosted the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration. Thousands and thousands of people would bring their lawn chairs and blankets and cover the hillside, in anticipation for the fireworks that would bloom in the sky at dusk. That event was moved to another location several years ago. I have not been to Landreth Park since.

On this blustery, gray day, the park was deserted, except for a woman cleaning out her car on a lot, and a man tossing a ball for his two dogs.

Greg joined me. We discovered broad walking paths, looping around the park over the grassy slopes. The wind had just enough of a cold bite to it that we pulled hoods up over our heads and protected hands in jacket pockets.

It was exhilarating, though, walking along at a brisk pace through the chilly air, feeling the energy surging through my body, knowing that day by day, I am becoming healthier and more fit.

The most beautifully shaped oak tree I have ever seen. The trail led directly beneath it and I marveled at its canopy.

Twelve days into the walking challenge that I adopted, and this is what I am noticing:

• greater flexibility and range of motion

• more limber hip and knee joints

• toned muscles in my legs, butt, back and abs

• looser fitting clothes

• higher energy

• heightened mood

• deep inner peace

• greater stamina and endurance

• appreciation and gratitude for the beauty found in nature, suburban neighborhoods and city parks

I am loving this challenge. I am finding incredible joy in the art and discipline of walking daily.

Twelve days completed, eighteen days to go. And…I already know I won’t be stopping there. A daily walk is becoming part of my health routine. I am embracing this practice, as I have a plant based lifestyle.

I intend to be the very best version of myself. I am making it so.

Body & Soul Day

This beautiful fall Sunday was perfect for nourishing myself, body and soul. The weather lured me outdoors. My desire to cook was present in full force. I had another new plant based recipe to try. And this afternoon I enjoyed relaxing and catching up on a new series. This was a day of deep self care.

My soulful Sunday began with caring for my body. This was Day 10 of my 30 Day Walking Challenge. Not only have I walked every day, I have also met my fun intention of walking in a different location each time.

With a relaxed schedule today, I headed south of Joplin, to the trails meandering through Walter Woods Conservation Area. I appreciate Greg accompanying me. In this remote location, it is good to walk with a companion.

I am loving the daily walks. My body is responding, feeling stronger and more flexible. The walks in neighborhoods and city parks deepen my sense of connection with my community. I’ve met some wonderful people as I walk. And the walks in nature nurture my soul as well as my body. The beauty found in streams and falling leaves, mossy tree trunks being gently embraced again by the earth and flittering butterflies on their migration paths, awakens my senses and fills my heart with quiet joy.

The last time I explored the trails at Walter Woods was before switching to a plant based lifestyle. My pain wracked left leg necessitated frequent rest stops. I was surprised today by how quickly we made the loop through the woods. I was immensely grateful for pain free legs that moved freely without a limp. And I was saddened to recall what I used to consider normal, in my health or lack of health.

We walked further, to the pond on the other side of the property, and sat on a bench, enjoying the darting dragonflies and the gorgeous weather.

Back at home it was more body care, mixed with creativity, which enlarges my soul. I’ve been in the mood to cook. This afternoon provided the perfect opportunity to cook up a couple of hearty and healthy plant based meals. After popping the Macaroni & Broccoli Bake into the oven, I made a large pot of vegetable soup, with lots and lots of veggies.

The Macaroni & Broccoli Bake is an amazing and very comforting dish. I use brown rice pasta and fresh broccoli. The “cheese” sauce is made from cashews, lemon juice, garlic and a chopped date, with sea salt and chili powder. With colder weather coming, this satisfying meal will become a weekly favorite. See the recipe for Macaroni & Broccoli Bake HERE.

I also tried another healthy cookie recipe. Similar to the traditional No Bake Cookie recipe, this version has just four ingredients.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Coconut No Bake Cookies by Beaming Baker

• 1 cup natural peanut butter (no sugar added)

• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

• 1 cup gluten free rolled oats

• 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Combine peanut butter and maple syrup in medium sized glass bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir, and continue, microwaving for 20 seconds and stirring, 4-7 times, until mixture is warm and fragrant and just beginning to dry out a bit. Add oatmeal and coconut flakes, stirring until well combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Press down on cookie mounds with a fork, to desired thickness. Pop into the freezer for 20 minutes and then enjoy. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 24 cookies.

This recipe was another success! The cookies are delicious and so quick to make. I enjoyed a couple for afternoon tea. I appreciate how wholesome they are.

As I had afternoon tea, and later a bowl of Macaroni & Broccoli, I settled onto my bed and caught up on the newest Star Trek series, Discovery. While some might not see watching Star Trek as a soulful experience, for me it is.

Watching episodes 2 and 3 today, my eyes filled with tears several times. I was deeply moved by the stories, which while offering hope in standard Trek ways, were much grittier and darker. I was captivated by the action and special effects, and quite on edge during episode 3!

My cat Shy Boy slept through Star Trek, only because I had ear buds in, to spare him the noise of space battles.

I am loving being back in the star Trek universe. Subscribing to CBS All Access is worth it to me, to follow these adventures featuring wonderful new characters amid familiar Trek favorites such as tribbles and the wise Vulcan, Sarek. It is hard for me to explain the teary eyes. So much of who I am is connected to Star Trek, in ways that most would not understand. No one has to get it, except me.

And even I can be surprised by the depth of my emotions for this long running series. When tears gathered after a starship was destroyed, full of characters I never saw, I muttered to my cat…“I didn’t even know those people…why the tears?” I can only surmise that my soul knows why. Under the tender care it is receiving, my spirit, my essence, is very expansive and responsive.

What a beautiful day. How perfectly suited it was for the care of my body and my soul. I feel rested. I feel nurtured. I feel nourished. I feel ready for more walks, and more creativity expressed in the kitchen…and another Star Trek episode.

Walking the MU Campus

With great pleasure, I had the opportunity to walk with my grandson Dayan today, on the University of Missouri campus. I had planned this trip to visit my oldest grandchild before I started the 30 Day Walking Challenge, but what a happy turn of events, to spend time with Dayan as he acted as tour guide across the beautiful Mizzou complex.

We didn’t let a little rain dampen our enthusiasm as we headed across campus toward downtown Columbia, where we would dine together. This was the first rainy walking day I’ve had and I was prepared, with umbrellas, a hooded jacket, a raincoat and a change of dry clothes.

Enjoy our walk with us. The University of Missouri has one of the prettiest campuses I have ever seen. Some of the buildings on the sprawling grounds date back to the mid 1800s. There are numerous plants, trees, flowers and gardens, giving MU a botanical garden designation.

Crossing over to the street on the MU pedestrian bridge.

This campus is like a city of 30,000 residents.

So proud of this amazing young man.

The banner says “Welcome Home”. This bustling complex is Dayan’s home for the next few years.

The Speaking Circle, where anyone can stand and speak freely about any topic.

I’ve never seen this plant before. It’s the “puffer fish” of flowers.

I love ornamental grasses.

One of the oldest buildings on campus, at the center of Red Campus, so named for the use of red bricks.

In front of the iconic six columns, which were originally part of a building that caught fire and burned to the ground.

Love this pic of Dayan.


Love this red courtyard.

Our dinner destination, in downtown Columbia, and we walked to it! The food was healthy and delicious. Dayan picked this cafe with my plant based lifestyle in mind.

Dayan’s favorite cookie company. We stopped so he could have a peanut butter cookie.

The beautiful, and massive, Ellis Library.

We climbed two flights of stairs for this amazing view.

Even the MU campus has a bell tower, which reminds my grandson and me of our trip to Italy, with its towers throughout the country.

I so enjoyed my walk today, and spending time with Dayan. He walks a lot, every day, across campus to his classes. I appreciate that he was willing to walk with me and his Papa, and tell us about his new home, his village, his university.

The campus is so beautiful, so inspiring. However the time spent walking side by side with my grandson was priceless. Dayan is doing well, already involved in leadership roles, and thriving, which brings great joy to my heart.

I can’t wait to visit him again…and explore more of Columbia.

Dancin’ in the Streets

This evening I took to the streets, accompanied by Greg, our daughter Adriel, and son-in-law Nate. Okay so maybe we didn’t exactly dance, but we did move and chat and enjoy each other’s company as we walked Nate and Adriel’s three dogs, Abby, Xander and Frances.

Tonight, on Day 4 of my 30 Day Walking Challenge, I was thrilled to walk with one of my children in her neighborhood.

There is something magical about an evening stroll. When I had a big dog of my own, nighttime was my favorite time to take her for a walk. I was never fearful, not when I was accompanied by Payton, a lab/chow/Rottweiler mix.

Walking past houses that are lit up inside feels cozy to me. Rather than feeling like I am on the outside looking in, or excluded in any way, seeing the glow of light through windows represents life and family to me.

The four of us headed out into the subdivision just as the sun was dipping below the horizon, and the moon was riding. Temps were mild and a slight breeze played with our hair.

Adriel and Nate are avid walkers, and typically include their two bigger dogs at least. Little Frances was excited to join us tonight. My daughter and her husband led the way, winding through their beautiful neighborhood. This area was heavily impacted by the tornado, resulting in mostly new homes that now line wide streets.

There was an easy camaraderie among us, walking together in the cool of the day. People we met as we walked were friendly and chatty. As we turned down streets and watched darkness fall, Adriel and Nate told stories about their neighborhood, their neighbors, their favorite houses.

This vacant lot is where a young skunk once surprised them, charging the dogs and sending them home with his distinctive, lingering scent.

This contemporary house is home to a large dog and a pack of smaller ones that like to greet everyone who walks by.

And this classic house is one of their favorites.

This one wishes passers by a Happy Halloween.

And at this house, the flag was at half mast, presumably in response to the recent tragedy in Las Vegas.

My daughter and son-in-law were in Las Vegas the weekend before. Their hotel was next door to the one the shooter barricaded himself in. We talked, as we walked, about the senselessness of that violent act, and the timing which allowed them to be safely home when it occurred.

How precious it was to walk together with Greg, and Adriel and Nate and their fur babies. How grateful I am for them. This hour of journeying together was not only good for us, health wise, it was symbolic of our larger journey together, through life.

The light spilling out of house windows, and beaming from front porches guided us back to Adriel and Nate’s home. I appreciate the time they took to welcome us to their neighborhood and give us a walking tour. I look forward to joining my other adult children on walks in their towns, and journeying companionably together, sharing stories and life and good health.

Dancin’ in the streets? Yes, life is dance, is it not? A twirl here, a skip there and joy in being with each other. It was a gorgeous evening for a walk…and a waltz.

30 Day Walking Challenge

Inspired by my recent trips, during which I toured towns and villages primarily on foot, and the nature walk I took yesterday, I have set a challenge for myself. It is called, appropriately, the 30 Day Walking Challenge.

My intention is to walk every day for the next 30 days. Fourteen months ago, I did a 28 day cleanse, in which I ate only fruits and vegetables. At the end of those four weeks I saw such improvements in my health and well being, that I chose to embrace a plant based lifestyle as a result.

My desire is to experience this challenge in an open, committed and yet playful way, and see what the resulting changes are. I am curious to see what impact a daily walk has on my life.

Because creative play is so important to me, as is cultivating new experiences, I’ve added elements of both to this challenge. The rules of this game are simple.

• Walk every day, preferably outdoors. Fall is actually an ideal time to begin a walking challenge, with its cooler temps. Rain or sunshine, cool or warm, I intend to walk outside and dress for the weather. In the case of thunderstorms or torrential rain, I can walk at the mall or find another indoor location.

• Walk in a new location every day. This is the new experiences part, the fun part. I can get easily bored, and boredom can kill exercise for me, no matter how beneficial it is. Changing the location for my walk daily keeps me challenged mentally as well as physically.

Nature is a great place to walk, and there are many walking paths through woods and along rivers in my area. I’m excited to visit some of these hiking trails for the first time. And, one of the things I love about travel is exploring new cities and villages on foot. I intend to do the same in my own community and the surrounding areas. There are places in Joplin that I have not explored, and I live, conveniently, in an area where four states converge. There are endless towns to explore within two hours of me.

Today, on Day 2 of my 30 Day Walking Challenge, I explored the Joplin High School Campus on foot. I drive by this impressive new complex, built after the 2011 Joplin tornado, and live just two blocks from it. And yet, I have never walked the grounds.

I peeked inside the on site greenhouse…

…and appreciated the colorful tennis courts…

…and paused for a few minutes to watch a high school soccer match.

The campus is large, and beautiful, with nature areas alongside manicured lawns, buildings and sports fields. Because there is an abundance of underground springs and water in this area, there are carefully designed ravines to carry off excess water and ponds for collection. In the middle of the city, in the middle of this school campus, there are wild places for flowers and ornamental grasses to grow.

I enjoyed my walk around the high school campus. As I walked home, through neighborhoods that are new since 2011 and still under construction, I mulled over possibilities for future walks.

I intend to take solitary treks. And walk with others as well, family members and friends, companions on journeys of exploration, self discoveries and good health. I’m excited to walk with each of my children, along with their spouses and children and pets, in their neighborhoods. I’ll travel to Columbia to walk with my grandson Dayan. I can walk to my sister’s house, to the library and in downtown Joplin. My mom and I can link arms and take a stroll in her neighborhood, and when I visit my other sister next month in Broken Arrow, for the family Halloween party, we can traipse through her subdivision, in costume or not!

I know from past experiences that when I play such an expansive game, the Divine plays along with me, opening doors and bringing opportunities I could not have imagined. I’m in a state of high anticipation. Join me on my journeys, literally if you want to extend an invitation to walk. Greg has already invited me to walk a golf course with him, while he plays. His desire to walk more has been part of the inspiration for my own walking challenge.

Where will my walks lead me? And how will my body, heart and soul respond to these daily excursions? I’m excited to find out.