Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

~ Stevie Nicks
♫ (Landslide) ♫

I have put on thirty pounds since my husband survived a major heart attack and triple by-pass surgery two and a half years ago. A symptom… of what? Stress? Middle-age? Less than a month after the heart attack, my already frail and declining father fell and broke his pelvis, femur and a few ribs. He has since been confined to a wheelchair. Neither one of them wants to exercise… We won’t even go into the healthy eating question… A couple of weeks after that my son was hospitalized with an antibiotic-resistant infection, and in the course of treating that it was discovered that he has diabetes. No family history of diabetes. And eight months after the heart attack I had a highly suspicious (false positive) mammogram followed by the ordeal of a stereotactic biopsy and waiting days for the, in the end, negative result…

Last summer we went to a big family reunion at Shenandoah National Park where I made friends with my “stepsisters-in-law” as we spent four days hiking in the woods together. It felt so good to be active and immersed in the natural world! It began to dawn on me just how sedentary my life had become, the exact opposite of the changes in lifestyle I had started hoping for after the cardiac wake-up call.

spring 2009
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
bear we met while hiking

Last week I was food shopping and a special interest magazine on heart-healthy living caught my eye. Thinking it might have some helpful recipes I bought it, but inside also found an article on strength building exercises. As I read the instructions and studied the pictures I thought to myself that the exercises were too simple and easy to offer any challenge and have any benefit. Well…

This morning: “Stand with feet just wider than shoulders, toes turned out slightly. Slowly bend torso to the right, bringing right arm toward ground and left arm toward sky. Hold for 1 count and return to start. Do the given reps (5-10), then switch sides.” As I lifted my left arm toward the sky for the first rep it ached, oh so miserably, from that simple stretch! (I shoveled snow yesterday and it didn’t bother my arms – hmm…) I stopped at 5 reps and switched sides, right arm ached, too, but not quite as much. There were six more exercises and they stretched all kinds of long neglected muscles. Some of the exercises call for weights, too. Looks like I now have myself a workout to add to my walks!

I love to walk, especially in the woods. My friend Kathy, whose blog inspired me to begin this blog, wrote a lovely blog post, Why I won’t (usually) go cross-country skiing with you, which touches beautifully on the subject of meandering mystical nature walks vs. cross-country skiing (or for me, brisk hikes) in the woods. (I’d love to try snowshoeing one day.) I think both are needed for body-mind health.

12 thoughts on “changing”

  1. Barbara, I love your new blog! I am so happy that you have decided to start writing. Thank you for mentioning my blog…too bad we couldn’t go for a meandering walk in the woods together some time. Perhaps we shall, who knows?

    Your family reunion at Shenandoah National park–walking in the woods for four days–sounds like it must have been incredible.

    The health challenges we face so often make us think more often about getting outside, exercising, moving. And I have learned that the Mind that wants to stay in is the last thing to believe. (Will email you soon!)

  2. Thank you, Kathy! It took me a long time to figure out the technical aspects, but I kept pushing myself. 🙂 Now I’ve got to learn how to post pictures…

    Someday we will meander and explore together!

  3. I’m glad Kathy (whose blog I love and also read) inspired you to start this blog. It’s a good thing and I’m looking forward to following you on your journey – I’ve already come quite a way on your forest path with you, even though my accompanying you is virtual.

  4. I always loved that song by Stevie Nicks and those lyrics you set out work beautifully with this blog post Barbara. I like your picture of the bear and I admire that you took that chance to take a picture. A few weeks ago I saw a Great Egret at Humbug Marsh. The Marsh has this long walkway through the Delta area (you may remember from the article you read and the post) and it has no railings and is a bit daunting, especially to me who cannot swim. On top of it, it was a tad windy. But nothing would do that I would not traipse across that walkway, with no one around, to get to the end where I could take a couple of photos for the blog. This was two minutes after I said out loud “well, that’s too bad you’re there and I’m here because I’m not walking across to see you!.) The changes we make in our lives and the new normals make us stronger in the long run, though it sure does not seem that way at the time.

    1. That is a great song, isn’t it? I chose it for the mother-son dance at my older son’s wedding. My firstborn. No one tugs at your heart in quite the same way. I was only 18 when he was born and I did build my life around him, and of course the two little ones that followed him. I loved the reference to the snow-covered hills, too, because he was born in December and he got married on a bitterly cold day in January. And now he’s the one who keeps this blog going, paying for the server space and photo storage and technical help is his on-going gift to me. 🙂 I am so blessed.

      1. That is such a nice story to hear Barbara. So many tie-ins to this song for you. And how nice of your son to give you this gift which gives you so much pleasure … so very thoughtful. I always liked Linda Ronstadt as identified with alot of her songs … she put such heart and feeling into them. I played the album “Simple Dreams” until I nearly wore the grooves of the record down. (It sounds like the end of the world outside – I’m going to get through comments and shut down my computer again.)

        1. Linda Ronstadt is one of the best, up there with Carole King, Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell. 💙 It was a golden age for women singer-songwriters.

          1. Yes, that’s for sure – we like the same music. All songs were like stories and their sweet and melodic voices made them even more special. The music today does nothing for me and I don’t know who anyone is anymore. Both Carole King and Joni Mitchell were in the news recently for 50-year commemorations of their most-famous albums, ones that you and I enjoyed. I am not as familiar with Bonnie Raitt before the song “Something to Talk About” – yes, truly a golden age for them.

          2. When my daughter was a teen in the 1990s she introduced me to Alanis Morissette, another storyteller who I liked, but after Larisa left home I didn’t keep up too well with current music. These days I listen to an indie/alternative radio station online, WMVY. I’m not fond of pop!

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