Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Listening Walk


It was such a strong urge, to get out, clear my head, find the rhythm in my soles; they were squeaking. The overwhelming need to feel underwhelmed. Sometimes it all gets a little too much, sometimes I just have to stop, to quit the thinking, to shut down the task.

I'm dressed in lounge wear; black yoga pants, neutral sweatshirt, a blue jacket and raspberry crocs dusted in dried earth from weeding the borders. Casual clothes for a casual walk. There's a slight chill and the lightest breeze, but in the sun it feels good and warm, like I'm wrapped in an eiderdown of yellow feathers. The streets have that dozed-out feel, stationary and quiet, the tuned-out lull of a bank holiday weekend. I close my eyes and walk slow, with purpose, filtering the life around, stealing the detail, all the sounds and smells, trusting in my feet as they scrape against loose and buckled pavement...

... Husky wood pigeons and a crow, its caw-caw'ing like a shrill firework. Children's voices behind a garden fence, the bounce of a ball, the lower tones of parents, library murmurs, and the charcoal aroma of a BBQ. I stop to take pictures. A dandelion head, an iris, the pink tree. A woman is vacuuming her car, dried blossom crunches under my shoes; I love the crisp sound, the disintegration, the brown powdery afterthought. Some driveways are precise, manicured, while others are overgrowing in weeds and sky-blue forget-me-nots. I close my eyes again, hear water slosh and music thump, the guttural rumbling of a light aircraft over head and a bus engine's old-aged strain as it climbs an easy hill.


I need to make more changes, prioritise my yoga practise, cut down on sugar and wheat. I've been thinking about a fundamental change in my diet; I'm drawn to the paleo way of eating, I was thinking of trying it for a month over summer. I like the thought of hormonal equilibrium. I used to wake up at dawn and meditate for an hour, a graceful beginning that assembled me for the day. Then I had a baby, and motherhood became the eternal contemplation. On my shelf sits a book, Buddhism Plain and Simple, perhaps I need to read it.

Another walk, this time early evening, a dusky walk in melon light. Again in yoga pants. Again in squeaking crocs. I close my eyes and think of the moment, full of birdsong and the smell of spring warmth rising. I open them and watch a pigeon fly low over telegraph wires and bungalow rooftops, like a fat grey missile. I have my camera, and take another picture...

What do you do to chill?

I have been shortlisted in the Writer Category of the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards (BiBs). If you enjoy my writing, please vote for Older Mum in a Muddle; I would love to make the final six.   

My seasonal linky, #oneweek, returns 19-21 May, and it's spring! For more details, take a look here.

70 comments:

  1. Beautiful post x

    I always had time to relax, prior to having children, which is ironic as I never really needed it then! I suppose a bath and a book is how I chill out these days ..... which is a rare occasion it has to be said.

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    1. Thank you! If you don't have them, you have no idea what life is like having children, all that free time taken for granted. I always love a good book and a bath when I can!

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  2. How do you make a simple walk sound so beautiful. I love taking my camera out and was just saying to hubby I need to get out somewhere with just me and the camera! When it takes me I can get lost in photography.

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    1. Thank you very much.... well I did have sentences and ideas that came to me when I was walking, and always have a little note book on me :o)..... Like your photography, I can get a little lost in words.

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  3. Oh how wonderful. A simple walk, through new and fresh eyes!

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    1. Thank you! Closing my eyes certainly made a difference!

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  4. Just beautiful, I felt a little voyeuristic reading this, as though I was intruding on a private moment.

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    1. Thank you.... and I wanted you to take a little walk with me, that's why I wrote it :o).

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  5. Oh what beautiful writing, I really enjoyed that I could even hear the squeak of the crocs! I love reading, crochet, photography oh and blogging ;)

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    1. Thank you very much... I love reading you, and want to get a little on the crafty side this year, take up knitting again! :o)

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  6. I've been considering the paleo diet too. I seriously need to make changes. Shortly before my Mum passed she urged me to read a Buddhism book, sadly it was the last book she ever gave me. It's an interesting read xxx

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    1. I've already started to cut out as much carb and sugar as I can and that's already having a positive effect - I'm looking to go paleo over the summer when things are a little more chilled - very busy at the moment. Lovely your Mum gave you that book. X

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  7. beautifully written as always - bet those pink crocs are well worn now ;-) xx

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    1. Thank you very much, and yes they are :o). X.

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  8. A beautiful walk that cleared your thoughts and raised new ones. I find it impossible to get the time to meditate now but I do love a walk to gather myself and remember I am alive, the world is spinning and light, air and birdsong have their own cleansing power on my soul x

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    1. Walking is a wonderful thing, especially when you make it really mindful - really does help me to chill and bring me into the moment. And completely agree, nature is awesome for the soul. And I want to get back to meditating. X

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  9. Beautiful post. I take to the road and drive my cares away in The Lakes listening to music.

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    1. Thank you very much. You lucky thing living so near The Lakes - I love the Lake District - used to drive up there so much when I was at Uni.

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  10. Writing like this is why you're on the shortlist for the BIBs. Gorgeous.
    I like to take a leisurely walk to chill too, maybe peruse some antique or book shops, go for a coffee. Be alone with my own thoughts. Once, I also liked to get out alone with my camera but that feels like a distant memory these days - my walk/coffee/ peruse rarely takes longer than an hour but it's enough to recharge and reinvigorate before going back to the madhouse! x

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    1. Thank you very much my dear.... perusing antique and book shops followed by a quite cuppa sounds like my idea of heaven.... sometimes an hour is all you need. Hopefully though as EB gets bigger, you'll be able to get out with your camera more again! X

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  11. Ahhh I feel more relaxed just reading this. For me chill time is time offline, pottering in the garden, walking through the forest, free from distractions, just time to enjoy the view is enough for me :) x

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    1. I am glad you are feeling relaxed. Couldn't agree more about time offline and pottering in the garden - you live in such a lovely part of England, perfect for chilling :o). X.

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  12. Beautiful writing (as always!) :) There's something so special about that time of day too, the unwinding hours... xx

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    1. Thank you very much! :o) And I couldn't agree more - dusk is a lovely time for day. Unwinding is the best. X.

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  13. ...and relax! What a beautiful piece of writing and I love how you have found so much detail to share

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    1. ...exactly! And thank you.... as soon as I arrived home, I wrote down all the details!

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  14. Such a beautifully written post and so special to read. Like Liz, I felt as if I was there with you, walking along with you.

    I find a walk along the sea most relaxing, but Pinterest, a hot bath or a chat with my mum work wonders too x

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    1. Thank you very much, and I'm glad you felt you were there. How fab to live by the sea... and a hot bath always works wonders! X

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  15. Love the way you pick up on everyday details and describe them so perfectly.

    Outside chilling for me - pottering in the garden or walking x

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    1. Thank you very much my dear! Outside chilling is always the way to go - I love walking and gardening too, even yoga feels better outside! X

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  16. I love the idea of closing your eyes on a walk - I think it brings other senses alive and your writing captures this perfectly. I felt I was there with you. I love to relax with a good book or a favourite tv program... or - in the right weather - just sitting in the garden!

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    1. Absolutely spot on..... it so brings the sense alive, and then the imagination - great for writing. And everything you mentioned you like doing to relax, I love doing too!

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  17. reading this was like meditation - I'm kinda doing paleo and feel better for it. I'm still having too much sugar but gone is wheat and gluten. Jane at northern mum has inspired me with paleo but i can't give up wine!

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    1. Thank you..... the walk itself did feel like a meditation. I was inspired by Jane too... so far I have mainly cut out wheat and it's already making a big difference, next it's the sugar - and I don't blame you with the wine :o) !

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  18. I slowed right down to walk with you then - just lovely. As you know I like to walk down the beach and I listen too - to the waves crashing or not (!) - there's nowhere like it (apart from where you are obvs now) to be able to relax :) xx

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    1. I'm glad you slowed down with me :o).... walking by the sea, all that sea air, has to be one of the most relaxing activities there is - how lovely to have that on your doorstep :o) X.

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  19. I think I need to find something to help me chill out, maybe go back to Pilates. I'm also thinking about trying Paleo. Let me know how it goes, if you try it.

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    1. I've heard Pilates is very good.... I'm a bit of a yoga girl at heart, and that and fresh air, a good book, and my garden tends to sort me out... and I will give an update on the paleo.

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  20. Like you, it is all about getting out for a walk, but I leave the squeaky crocs at home (I'm picturing you in them). Grab my camera and off I go. Mich x

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    1. Walking alone with just the moment in the air is simply the best thing.... where you live must be so wonderful for walking! X.

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  21. Just loved this, gorgeous rhythm! LIke you I have been trying to walk more, I adopted a greyhound and he makes a great companion. I also went to yoga on Tues and have vowed to go for a run tomorrow. I know all this sounds like I am really good, but until last week I hadn't been prioritising chilling and my work was suffering. I had forgotten how many ideas I have when writing or running!

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    1. Thank you very much.... so glad you picked up on the rhythm - that's something I love about good prose; the rhythm in well structured sentences and phrases. How fab to have a dog to walk - bet that's so chilled. And same as you, if I don't prioritise relaxing, my work and writing suffers. Isn't yoga great?

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  22. "Dozed-out feel", "stealing the detail" - love these. Such an atmospheric post, felt I was on your walk with you - wished I was. Sounded so peaceful. I need to follow your lead, I love to walk in the spring evenings. Husband needs to get home earlier... Beautiful writing as always, Sadie. xx

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    1. Thank you very much... it was a lovely walk, and I need to do them more often. They really allow me to retain some peace and relax fully. And walking in the lighter evenings is the best! X

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  23. Oh the echoes...lovely piece x

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  24. Lovely lovely post :) I felt infused with a sense of calm just reading it. And I so want a pair of raspberry coloured crocs now! It's so important to carve out little pieces of time for ourselves and, like you, getting to for a walk always fills me back up again. Big love, keep taking care of yourself xx

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    1. Thank you very much lovely.... I am rather fond of my raspberry crocs, even though they're a little noisy :o). A good mindful walk always fills me up! X

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  25. I take long baths and I read to escape..sometimes I just sit quietly in the garden early monting with a coffee. we need our space..all of us

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    1. I love long baths too.... I've been known to sit in one for well over an hour, and how lovely to sit quietly in the garden in the early morning - especially at the moment!

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  26. So atmospheric. We got a dog recently and although I thought the daily dog-walking would be a bind, I am really enjoying having that time to myself just to think...

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    1. It must be lovely having a dog for that purpose alone! To get out and have time with yourself, I bet you feel so refreshed afterwards.

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  27. Beautifully written, as always. And I feel very connected to what you're talking about here. I am really trying to make some small, positive changes in my life; hoping for them to accumulate into something wonderful! The key starting point for me is committing to getting out for a walk first thing every day with the dog. Sets me up for the day, physically and mentally. xx

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    1. Thank you very much! And I couldn't agree with you more, just making one small committed change can make such a difference to our well being. I bet your walk with the dog first thing is both refreshing and calming - not surprised it sets you up for the day. X

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  28. 'The overwhelming need to feel underwhelmed'
    You have put that urge… no, that NEED perfectly!
    Emma :-)

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    1. Thank you. I get that NEED quite a lot when I'm doing too much and my head is swimming with stuff. :o).

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  29. I like the sound of your changes and a lot of them sound familiar... ;)
    I take some time for myself early in the morning, meditating and doing stretches.
    Doggy and I go for long walks.
    An undisturbed bath, a couple of hours reading on the terrace, a massage, going to the sauna...
    I find time for myself is very important to re-focus and re-energize. xx

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    1. I really wish I could wake up early in the morning to meditate and stretch, I'm just not a morning person though. Bet those long walks with doggy are fab. And yes to bath and reading and a sauna. Time for yourself is so important. X

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  30. You could have called this The Mindful Walk, its a brilliant detailed description of how to be mindful! I love to mediate when i can but i'm bad at doing it regularly. I love to sit in my conservatory, the sky and garden are my palette, with a cup of coffee, to pray, talk to God, reflect and meditate. I also love to paint or sketch to relax but don't do it enough....(so glad i finally got to comment. I tried to on my phone when your post first came out but it crashed and i forgot!) Sx

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    1. And that's exactly what it was - a very mindful walk, and I so need to start a meditation practice again. I love how your conservatory is such a special place for you, a very spiritual place - so nice to have a place in the home that's only for calm. X.

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  31. Actually, just getting out of a summer's evening, with no purpose, would be so relaxing. For me though, it is a run, with an audio book in my ears. I zone out of the day to day and really focus on my story, as my feet do what they need to do, almost completely detached from where my head is.
    Need to do more of that :)

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    1. I couldn't agree more, to get out with no purpose on a summer's evening. I am very impressed that you can run and focus on listening to an audio story at the same time - do ever bump into anything? :o).

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  32. Such a lovely post and beautifully written as always. It's rare for me to feel stressed. I don't often sit still and I tend to fill most minutes with some project or another but I've always been able to completely empty my brain and simply sleep. My husband says I have the equivalent of a TV 'power save' mode :-)

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    1. Thank you very much my dear! And you rarely feel stressed? Could you send me some of what you have - I need it :o). I'll bet you are a pretty calm and grounded person to be around! You so have 'power save' mode :o).

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  33. Just beautiful lovely, you are so well deserving of your shortlisting x Like you I have neglected my practise since the children came along. Buddhism for Dummies sits on my shelf *sigh*

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    1. Thank you very much, and thank you very much! And I so need to get back to a meditation practice. Do you reckon you'll read that book and get back into it again?

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  34. A lovely gentle post. A walk on the beach does it for me, every time. I have moments of clarity with regard to making changes in my life, to shed a few pounds to become healthier. Then along comes a meal out or a bank holiday and I let all my plans go to hell! I must start anew...... tomorrow ;) xx

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    1. Thank you very much... you live near a beach? All that sea air and crashing waves is so the best tonic, and yes, my moments of clarity tend to fade to dust too; bank holidays are for naughtiness :o) X.

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  35. I knit to restore balance; or write to empty my mind and calm the unquiet thoughts - it sounds like a good walk does the trick too!

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    1. I think knitting is a great way to relax, and it's something I want to get back into this year. I've always written to clear my head, always does the trick, and walking, obvs.

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