Walking Is Becoming a Challenge

Recently my family and I watched a lovely indie movie entitled Redwood Highway. We love small-scale movies that focus on characters who are going through some kind of rite-of-passage experience. This film was about a woman in her 70’s (Shirley Knight) who decides to embark on an 80-mile walk on Redwood Highway in Oregon to reach the coast for several reasons: to absolve herself of the guilt she feels about making a poor decision regarding her granddaughter; to fulfill a promise she made to herself decades ago; just to prove to herself she can still do it.

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Her journey was eventful, but walking was often difficult. The Oregon scenery was breathtaking as she made her way along the highway with several detours through breathtaking forests, including some with majestic redwoods. She was fortunate to meet many compassionate souls along the way, with one exception, who helped her to continue her journey. I felt every step she took, since I have been having difficult walking the past few months due to progressive spinal stenosis.

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Walking has always been my go-to activity because it allows me to relax and enjoy noticing the things that surround me in nature in any season. Now that walking has become such a challenge for me, I am fearful of losing my mobility. I recently had an epidural steroid shot which has eased the discomfort and increased my mobility somewhat and am due for another one this week which I hope will help even more.

On Saturday I made myself walk somewhat longer than I usually do, just to see how it would feel. For the first half-mile, I was rigid and achy and almost felt I would have to turn around. But I pushed on and soon my stride became more relaxed and less uncomfortable. The walk is one of my favorites: along a shoreline with a full view of the beautiful harbor near where I live. On one side of the road are gorgeous large homes, some built in the early 1900’s, many with balconies that loom over the harbor. The lucky one-percenters!

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When I reached my limit, about a mile and a half, I sat on a broken stone wall to rest my back and gaze at the harbor. I was surprised and delighted to see a lovely shorebird standing all by itself; one that was unfamiliar to me. I took out my binoculars and tried to memorize all its notable features: long, bright yellow legs; a long, needle-like beak for fishing; a beautiful spotted breast and brownish striated feathers down its back with a patch of white. I said to myself, “So that is why I came this far today; just to see you!” Feeling very proud of myself, I thought of the woman in the movie who also completed her journey with difficulty and was rewarded with a very special event, one much more significant than mine.

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As soon as I got home I looked up my shorebird and learned it is a “short-billed dowitcher.” I am an amateur bird-watcher, but always happy to add a new one to my personal list. I am sad that my walks can no longer be extensive as I would like them to be, but feel fortunate that I still can undertake several moderate walks nearby that afford me the opportunity to be surprised by nature. I hope this week’s injection will make doing so even more of a pleasure and allow me to continue to indulge in two of my favorite pastimes…walking and bird watching.

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29 thoughts on “Walking Is Becoming a Challenge”

  1. How I love seeing your picture, and hearing the story of how much it meant to you, Barbara. I hope that the injections will continue helping, too. And thanks for sharing about the movie, sounds interesting.

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    1. Actually that was not me in the picture; that was Shirley Knight, a famous movie star. But there are some similarities in age, weight, hair color, etc. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed watching her so much! The movie is very special…hope you get to see it.

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  2. Being outside and moving is a great gift. One that you shared so beautifully here. I’m so glad you are finding a way to continue your walking and bird watiching!

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    1. Thank you for your comment. “It is hard to experience not being able to do all we could in the past” sums it up very well. On the other hand, many things don’t bother me as they once did. It’s time to let go….

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  3. My morning walks are a very important part of my day. There have been times when I have been physically unable to take these walks and I appreciate the feelings you wrote about today. I hope the shot gives you much relief and you can continue your wandering, photo taking, musing and sharing with us.

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    1. So kind of you to commiserate with me. We take so many things for granted, including walking, until they are no longer available to us. I have actually never taken walking for granted, so it is troubling to me to have these issues. Thank you for appreciating my “sharing.”

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    1. Some people thought the photos were of me; they’re of Shirley Knight, the star of the movie. But she bears a close resemblance to me in some ways. Do try to see it; it’s a gem.

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  4. We take walking for granted, until our bodies protest. I hope you will get to continue walking and observing. I love that you were able to figure out what the bird was, I’d never have been able to remember those features.

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    1. It’s a skill I’ve had to learn and practice over a long period of time. And even so, I still sometimes forget important details. But it does “exercise the mind and the memory which is one reason I keep at it.

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  5. I loved this post for many reasons. First of all, I can sympathize with the walking issues. I have had back problems recently, have also undergone epidural shots, and missed walking for awhile. I am back to it now, but some days are better than others. Your perseverance and finding new treasures are inspirational! I wish you much luck.

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  6. Beautiful post! I hope you are feeling better and walking is easier. Your love of nature and being observant add to the beauty of your writing! Always look forward to your posts on Tuesday!

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  7. So glad you were able to take the walk. I, too, enjoy walking. Just to be outside enjoying the sights and sounds. Cell phone is turned off so that there are no distractions. Thanks for taking us along on your journey.

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  8. Before my mother’s illness I used to walk regularly the hour and a bit home from work. Now that I don’t need to care for her, I need to start walking again. I know that I will love and need it when I get into the swing. Your piece here has captured that sense of intimacy with the world when we are walking.

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    1. I am convinced there’s no better way to experience the world than by walking in it which is why I am so concerned about my present state. But I am hopeful for some respite, soon. Good luck with your own efforts to return to the world of walking

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  9. I’m so glad to read your piece. I too have a spinal stenosis and have a regimen of stretches and exercises to do every day. Walking is much less trouble for me than standing, in fact, if I am having pain when I start to walk, it will usually fade as I continue. I’m glad you were able to get your walk and to see that lovely bird. Keep walking! And I hope your next shot is as successful as the first one.

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  10. It is so good for me to hear from readers like you who also have issues with walking/standing/lower back. It gives me courage to keep trying. I have not been diligent with my stretching exercises, so thanks for reminding me of how important they are. Good luck to you as well!

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