Morning walk or not – poem

In this morning

this cold morning

the sky touched with the pink the color of rose petals,

of Magnolia blossoms just beginning

I wonder how long it will be

until the sun is awake before quarter till seven

the sky aglow with the sure quiet joy

of awakening.

Because until then

I will wonder how I could possibly have dragged myself out of bed

with time enough to go for a walk

before work,

even on a Saturday

those many months ago,

or so my journal says.

Because right now,

I can’t even imagine getting out of bed

at all

it is so cold and cave-like.

And so I sit here

and write a poem


And I think maybe this is a kind of walk,

too. Or maybe

I am fooling myself,


Waiting by the fountain 

He waited for her by the fountain for over an hour. She said she’d be there. After the first 15 minutes (the standard in college to wait for the professor) he checked his watch again. Maybe it was fast? So he asked a bystander, a mother watching her children frolic in the little geysers that were part of the park. She switched from texting to the homepage on her phone and showed him the time. 2:15. His watch was right.

Then he wondered if he was in the right park. “Excuse me ma’am. I’m sorry to bother you again, but is this the only Coolidge Park?” She assured him that yes, it was, and gave him a funny look which he ignored. He didn’t feel like explaining that he’d once waited for someone at Nashville’s Centennial Park, having not correctly heard Bicentennial. They were less than 3 miles apart, but because he was on foot it might as well have been 100 miles. It would take him an hour to walk there, and then he would have been truly late.

He had learned from his Papa that you could be at the right place but if it was the wrong time, you were still wrong. Later he learned that everything depended on the right amount as well. Something might be the right time and the right place, but too much or too little effort and you might as well have not done it at all. Or you can have the right amount of effort in the right place, but too late or too soon and it wouldn’t work out.

He had plenty of time to ponder this while he waited, but an hour was the most he was willing to sit around. Was she making fun of him? Did she not want to meet and sent him on a a snipe hunt? Maybe it wasn’t like that. Maybe she forgot. Or worse, he thought with a shiver, maybe she’d been in an accident. He would have called her if he could find a payphone. Of course he had a couple of quarters with him. His Mama had taught him that. Too bad her good advice would only have worked well in the era she grew up in. Then it was easy to find a payphone. Now, because everyone (everyone except her son, he mused grumpily) had a cell phone there was no need for payphones everywhere. And how was he supposed to find one? With a smartphone you could turn on ‘maps’ and ‘location services’ and type “payphone” and you’d have a handful of little red dots all over the digital map in your hand telling you which way to head towards. But (he thought ironically) if you had a smartphone you wouldn’t need to know where a payphone was.

Maybe he’d have to bother that distracted mother again and ask to borrow her phone and give his (maybe) girlfriend a call. Or maybe he would just walk home and call it a night. He didn’t want to appear desperate. But he was.

Step by step

How is health achieved? One step at a time. You just have to get out there and do it.

You have to be active about your health. It’s not something you can find in a pill. The simplest thing you can do is to go for a walk. There’s no special equipment to buy, no gym membership required.

Sometimes I come up with every excuse possible for why I can’t go on a walk. I’ll tell myself I don’t have enough time. I’ll get lost. I’ll be too far from the house when I want to pee. I’d rather make art. I want to sleep in.

I don’t like exercising. But I do like that I have exercised. I like how I feel in my body after I’ve moved it in a purposeful manner. But I think more importantly I like how I feel in my head for having made a commitment to myself, to my body, to my future, and having gone through with going on a walk.

Some mornings I don’t have a lot of a lot of time to go for a walk but I realize that even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Even five minutes is better than nothing. And then I resolve to get ready earlier to go out earlier the next day. And I forgive myself if I don’t. And then I try again.

Taking care of your body is like putting money in your bank account. It is worth every step. It pays you back double in a stronger body and lower stress levels.

My work schedule has changed so that we go in 30 minutes later and therefore leave 30 minutes later. Rather than lamenting getting out of work at six, I have chosen to celebrate going into work at 9:30 because that gives me 30 minutes in the morning I didn’t have before to go for a walk.

I could have used that time to make art. I’ve chosen to walk instead because it’s important. I know people who say that they don’t have time to eat well or exercise. They don’t get that if they don’t do both of these things they won’t have any time to do anything because their life will be a lot shorter and a lot less worthwhile. Who cares if you live a long time but your body is feeble because you didn’t take care of it? The years of your life are important, but the life in your years is important too.

We only have one life.
We only have one body.
It is your choice how you use them.


(This picture was taken by me on my walk this morning. I recited all of this into a dictation app on my phone so I could encourage you.)

Poem – go walk yourself

How interesting that people will
buy a dog because
want to go for a walk.
They know that the dog
has to be walked at least
once a day
and so they have to
take him out.
They get the dog
as an excuse
to go for a walk.

It seems like it would be far cheaper
to forget the dog
and take yourself
out for a walk.

Why do we put more value
on the needs of others
rather than ourselves?
Why is a dog’s need to walk
more important than
the fact that
need to walk?

We have all been trained that we
should be
and serve others.
But they should not be
at the expense
of not taking care
of ourselves.
There should be a balance
where both happen.

So, skip the dog.
Skip the dog food,
the shots,
the veterinarian bills,
getting her fixed,
taking him to the groomers,
the whole thing.
Skip all of that.

Save your money
and go take
yourself for a walk.

On quitting smoking.

Many people stop doing something bad or start doing something good for their New Year’s resolution. Why not combine the two? If you are going to stop smoking, I suggest you start walking.

Take the time you were going to use on your smoke break and go for a walk instead. Many people take a 15 minute smoke break. 15 minutes is a great amount of time for a walk – but even 10 or 5 minutes is good.

Walking does for you what smoking does, but better. It is calming. It is a mental break. It takes you away from your problems, both literally and figuratively. But while smoking takes away from your health, walking adds to it.

Walking clears out your head like nothing else.

You can walk anywhere. You don’t have to have a walking path around your workplace. You can go for a walk inside your building. While it is better to go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine, it is important just to walk. Walk up and down some stairs. Walk around the hallways. Get outside and walk around the building. But just walk. If you limit yourself to walking outside, 90% of the time it will be too hot or too cold or too wet. Rarely will it be just right. Savor those days when it is nice outside, but don’t just walk on those days. Walk every day.

You don’t have to walk fast. Just walk. Ambling is fine. A stroll is good.

Think you are too out of shape to walk? All the more reason to walk. Just get going. Do what you can. You’ll get stronger. People don’t walk because they are in shape. They walk to get in shape.

Some people use this as an excuse – “I’ll walk a mile and then I have to walk a mile to get back where I started.” Walk in a circle. Find a path and loop around.

You may be self-conscious at the start when you are walking. That is normal. You are doing something different. You are taking care of yourself. The shame you felt from sneaking away to smoke will be replaced with pride that you are doing something to help yourself. Try to recruit others to go walking with you instead of smoking. That way you have a group. You can cheer each other on.

Realize that every excuse you come up with is your unhealthy self trying to stay that way. Your healthy self is really weak right now and you can’t hear its voice very well. See those excuses as a sign that you have to stick up for your healthy self. Just go ahead and do it. The more you put it off, the longer it will be before you start feeling better. Every little bit you do towards the good will give you energy and momentum to do a little bit more.

Go walk instead of smoking. Your life will thank you for it.