As it’s the first day of 2017 (that’s going to be mis-typed as 2016 for at least a few weeks…) and the first day of January I woke up early today to export my Apple Watch data to see where I was with my walking goals.
Regular readers will remember that back in early September a jovial (and motivational) bundle of energy in my Slimming World group suggested that I track all my walking. At the time I was enthused that I had managed to walk the length of the channel tunnel (thanks to a different eagle eyed friend noticing the miles) – but she suggested that I take my data and make my SW start date the beginning of a larger journey, charting my progress over a virtual earth as I walked.
Just for a laugh a day later (post here) I decided that I would try to walk (over the course of the weeks and months that followed) a virtual path of 847 miles from Lands End to John o Groats. It seemed do-able but a LONG way away at the time.
Well it turns out I passed it a while back and I think I’m currently standing in the ocean somewhere above Scotland!
Honestly December has been a tough sell at times. It’s rained way more than the previous months, I had my third bout of flu for the year (which is what also nailed November) and for some reason I’ve been getting more blisters than usual and some fairly annoying back ache. I am also beginning to wonder if the big toe on my left foot is developing arthritis.
However, none of these are deal breakers. When it rained I either made up for it the following day or wore a coat. I covered my feet in tape and plasters and bought new blister resistant socks when things got painful and my big toe is becoming very familiar with ibuprofen gel.
Although it barely compares, a friend in the Czech Republic suggested months and months ago that I watch a Reese Witherspoon film called ‘Wild’ (IMDB here) when she read what I was doing. Although I didn’t watch it immediately when I finally got round to it I was struck by the power of this (true) story of a woman hiking 1,100 miles across rural America on the Pacific Crest Trail, in part to overcome her addiction to heroin, but also to deal with grief and the loss of her mother.
Although it’s not a quote from the film or even referenced in it (as far as I remember) afterwards I got the often over used phrase ‘every journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step‘ stuck in my head.
Like many people I’d heard and read this (overused) quote many times over. Each time I’d come across it before it before it seemed like internet ‘inspirational quotes’ bulls**t. It was the kind of phrase you’d stick into a meme generator with a picture of a mountain and a big black border and post on Facebook saying ‘only 3% of my friends will post this’ – and it had no relevance to me.
Until it did.
I slowly realised that I had been metaphorically, figuratively, and eventually physically on that journey. I’m travelling that 1000 miles (nearly there!) and all it took was a single step to begin. In my case that was back in February through the doorway of someone that would help me recover from issues relating to the death of my mother and the troubled relationship I’d developed with alcohol over many years.
This step enabled other steps. I began writing, and wanting to improve my body and mind so I could reclaim what I felt was a wasted life – so I also joined Slimming World.
In many ways the number of miles I’ve walked are now less important – although I think I’ll continue to keep a tally nevertheless because I like looking back on things like this. Instead what these numbers now represent to me is that I am capable (as we all are) of transformative change, and that all it takes is a move in the direction that we need to go in to take us to our destination.
Well, that and a smidgen of persistence…
Anyway – It seems quite apt that this is something I’ve added up and am about to post on the first day of 2017, and it’s a New Years resolution style ‘can do’ message for anyone thats thinking they need to make a fresh start and turn over a new leaf.
But it’s not the whole story.
While change often comes from within, prolonged change comes from a willingness to be be open, to let people into your heart and accept help.
If I’ve learned anything this year it’s not just that I can do more than I thought – it’s that engagement with people who could help me and that I in turn could maybe help back has been transforming my life. If you read my blogs from this year again you’ll begin to notice that most of my eureka moments (just like the ones in this post) have come from conversation with others and feedback on what I’ve written.
When I opened up in February and started to be truly honest about who and what I am – I didn’t just liberate my spirit – I gained a lot of new friends, and strengthened many friendships that were already there. A large amount of my walks have been with other people on their own paths through life, and we’ve shared our thoughts and feelings along the way.
So – every journey of 1000 miles does begin with a single step, but it’s soooo much easier when you’re walking hand in hand with a friend.
Happy 2017 internet! Tell someone something about yourself that they don’t know today and see what happens.