Walking with Intention

Lately I’ve been thinking about my feet.  Literally and figuratively about my feet, about walking, and about marching.  In May of 2016 I did something brave – I retired from my job of 25+ years, not knowing what my future would hold, but knowing that it was the right decision. Three days later I was hiking on the North Shore of Lake Superior, I tripped on a rock in the path, fell hard (splat!), landed on my arm, and broke it (badly) in two places. Two days later there was surgery with all the hardware and therapy to go along with it. Was there a lesson? Maybe I’m clumsy. I should stop before I turn around. I should look where I’m walking. I should slow down.
Proceeding on with my retirement, I decided to do another brave thing – walk the Camino in Northern Spain, a 1000 year-old pilgrimage route that requires 10+ miles of walking a day, and a bit of intestinal fortitude, or so I heard. While training, I began upping my daily walks from 3 miles to 5 or 6. What happened? My feet – killing me. I worried (obsessively) that I would not be able to make the trip. I told my traveling partner Greg about my woes and he was zen about it of course. I went to a physical therapist, they x-rayed my feet (nothing wrong with them), asked me a few questions, and determined that I had tight calf muscles. Yup, you heard it right. So what did I do? I worked on my calves and carried on. I made it through the trip with sore feet yes, blisters, yes, but my feet carried me.
And then the election happened. What, you ask, does this have to do with my feet. Well before I get to my feet I need to tell you about my gut – for the first two months after the election I had butterflies in my gut, constantly. Anxiety. Stress. The Country Is Going Down the Tubes. We’re all gonna die! Back to my feet. I figured out pretty quickly that we were in a world of shit and that those of us who had basked in the comfort of a president who was trustworthy, smart, thoughtful, and kind, would have to get off the proverbial couch and fight like hell to keep things from actually going to hell. So I did another brave thing (for me anyway). I figured out that I needed people to talk to face-to-face about the state of the union, for support, action ideas, motivation, etc., and instead of waiting for one to appear, I decided to form one myself. A couple of people I didn’t know volunteered to help, and in early December we had the first meeting. I was pretty stressed out about it, but the meeting went well and we made plans for the next. Yeah so what you say. So I was walking out of the restaurant where the meeting was held, it was dark, my arms were full of stuff, and I tripped on a pipe sticking up out of the sidewalk, fell hard (splat), landed on my arm (the same one), and broke it again ( this time the humerus), and off I went to the ER. Arm in sling for six weeks, followed by physical therapy, month of healing, etc. This was the biggest WTF moment of my life. Breaking my arm once was bad enough, but twice? Was the universe trying to tell me something? Was it karma for something bad that I had done? Was there a lesson? All I could muster up was WTF.
And then I, along with my two sisters-in-law, 3 nieces, two of their friends and 5 other women from MN, WI, and Illinois went to the March on Washington in DC in January, the day after the inauguration. Again with the feet. A March. You March with your feet. More on the March later.
Onto February 2017 and a Yoga retreat in Guatemala. I travelled with a friend from Wisconsin and our first stop was Antigua, a small city about an hour outside of Guatemala City. While there was lots of interesting architecture, cathedrals in ruins, colorful markets, great shopping, food, what did I see? Tripping hazards everywhere – sidewalks elevated 8 inches above the street, uneven, cobblestone streets cobbled together out of every size stone imaginable. Hazards hazards everywhere! I envisioned the trip, fall, splat, break scenario, but this time a 3rd world hospital and flight home and cancelled yoga trip. You know, the worst case scenario. But that didn’t happen and after a windy van ride and choppy boat ride we made it to Villa Sumaya, a retreat center on Lake Atitlan in central Guatemala.  It was like Fantasy Island (remember, da plane da plane?).  Palm trees, thatched roofs, beautiful fabrics, volcanoes in the distance, just lovely.
On the first day of the retreat, the owner Wendy gave an orientation for the retreat participants on Villa Sumaya, it’s history, “rules” (don’t flush the toilet paper, don’t drink the water, be patient this is Guatemala not America etc.).  But she said one thing that really stuck with me – she was kindly and pragmatically pointing out that the paths on the property could be hazardous – they were uneven, made of stone or wood, could be slippery, etc.  “At Villa Sumaya, every step is intentional”.  Well there she said it.  Every step is intentional. To keep from tripping, falling splat, breaking a bone, every step needs to be intentional. Literally.  Figuratively. Be intentional in your steps. That’s the lesson for me.
So back to the March on Washington. Some people were puzzled at why 3 million people world-wide would show up to March. For me it was the start of trying to be a better citizen. My intention. And when you think about it, isn’t a March simply a walk with intention?  I guess what I know is that my feet will carry me, literally and figuratively, that I will trip again (hopefully not literally, seriously I don’t need more broken bones), but I will get up, and I’ll keep on Marching.  Keep on Walking with Intention.  I hope you will too, and maybe you can join me for a March, or even just a walk.

© Rebecca Larson 2017

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