Do The Walk

I just got back from my morning hike. Michael and I have been doing this every morning and we love it. Each day we try go a little bit farther. Today we got up to 9500 feet—our cabin is at 8900 feet. It took us 1 hour and 16 minutes, from start to finish, stopping to eat a little snack before heading back down the mountain.

It’s pretty cool to see that my body can adjust to the thinner air and climb the trail before me. I wasn’t always so willing to take this walk:

(I wrote the following post two years ago. I loved rereading it and thought you might enjoy it as well.):

(All photos for this post were taken on my iPhone.)

Let’s admit it. When it comes to doing things that you know are good for you, you can act like a little child. There are those times when you just don’t want to. Inwardly you feel like a rebellious little brat who just refuses. “You can’t make me.” “You’re not the boss of me.”

Or you’re like a whiney, pouty little kid. “I don’t feel like it.” “I can’t.” “Just leave me alone.”

Or there are those times when you are too cool and too smart to do it. “That’s okay. You go ahead.” “I’m fine.” “I’ve already tried that.”

There’s a little kid inside of each of us. Keeping us from getting what we truly want.

I just got through reading Do The Work. In it Steven Pressfield gets us to acknowledge that in the pursuit of any personal goal or creative dream we WILL meet resistance. Resistance is what holds us back. It’s what firmly stands in our way to keep us from achieving what it is that we want. Pressfield lays out a great strategy for overcoming this “dragon” of resistance.

The force of resistance can apply to a lot more than just the pursuit of goals. In truth, it rears it’s ugly head whenever good is pursued. It often shows up in the form of that spoiled little child.

That child showed up big-time for me today. Even though I am in the beautiful Rocky Mountains enjoying my first ever sabbatical, I was in a funk. A grumpy mood. So when Mike said it was time to get out and go on our daily hike I procrastinated. I protested. I pleaded. I found myself face-to-face with that inner “dragon” of resistance.

Hiking sounded like too much worrrrrk. I’d rather sit on the couch and stay grumpy. That was much easier. I had lots of excuses why I could skip going outside today. Thankfully, with Mike’s gentle coaxing, I found that I could put on my boots, grab my poles, and get outside.

Within five minutes of walking the rewards started to come to me. By the time we got back home (an hour and ten minutes later), my mood had drastically changed and I felt more like my true self.

How did that happen? What are the rewards? Why is it crucial to get outside—in and among nature—and walk as often as possible?

I discovered three reasons:

1. You find yourself living in the present.

Because the terrain is unpredictable, you have to pay attention. Unlike walking on smooth concrete or asphalt, you have to watch your step. You have to be alert. There are dips and rises, rocks and branches, twists and turns. There’s not a lot of opportunity to get lost in your worries or your fears. You have to pay attention. You get to be fully present.

2. You find that all five of your senses are awakened.

Being fully present to what’s around you automatically awakens your senses. All of a sudden you are alert to new sights, new sounds, new smells, new touches, new tastes. You feel fully alive. (HT: Ken Davis for teaching me about living fully alive.)

To give you an example, this is what was I experienced today:

Touch: The first thing I felt was the wind.

Stepping outside, a strong gust of wind whipped across my face and through my hair. It even blew my hiking poles out of my hands before I could get a good grip on them. I had to pay attention.

Taste: In order to get to our path in the woods, we had to walk up a dusty dirt road.

This is a look down the dirt road. We walked up the road.

(Here’s a view looking down that road.)

With such strong winds the grit on the road was lifted up and swirled about every which way. It stung my face as it flew in my direction ending up in my mouth and my nostrils. “Humm. Dirt has a distinct taste. I’m tasting earth, mud, a little rockiness…” Pewwy.

Sight: Soon we were on the trail. Now I really had to be alert.

There were rises and falls. Twists and turns. Rocks and branches.

And wonderful surprises.

There were signs of spring and new life everywhere. (Those are baby Aspen leaves popping out.)

Smell: It took me several minutes before I realized that the wind could not find its way into the woods. Instead of my nostrils being full of dust,

they were overcome by the sweet aroma of pine needles, cottonwood trees and freshly sawn logs.

Hearing: What I love the most about this little tucked-away, foot-path in the forest of the Rocky Mountains, is the companionship of the stream.

The trail snakes back and forth tracing the journey of the freshly melting snow from up above. The stream stayed close by my side, talking and keeping me company the whole while.

The gurgling, bubbling, splashing, swishing sounds, coming from this stream, are all at once invigorating, soothing, comforting, and renewing. I could sit and listen to it all day—every day. I just might.

3. You find that you have gained a new perspective on whatever is on your mind.

I can’t believe I almost stayed on the couch in a grumpy mood. I was in a funk. I couldn’t “do” anything. I couldn’t find one ounce of creativity or thankfulness in me.


I overcame the “dragon.”


I got up and got out.

By the time I got home I was full of optimism. I was full of thankfulness. It was as if God had set up a treasure hunt for me. All I had to do was get out and get walking. Get looking.

I was full of creative ideas, dreams and hopes. My perspective had changed.

I had been transported from the vantage point of a single, isolated couch to the vantage point of wide open spaces, snow capped mountains, forests, lakes and streams.

All because I didn’t listen to that spoiled child. I did the walk.

I challenge you to get out and Do The Walk.

Find yourself

—> engaged in the present,

—> alert to all five of your senses and

—> seeing your life from a new perspective.

Get out, and

Do. The. Walk.

Question: Where can you walk or hike close to where you live, or is this a metaphor for something else in your life? What treasures can you discover?

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41 Responses to “Do The Walk”

  1. I encountered many dragons last week…I’m glad I ran away, but I know there close behind. Can I beat them? No. but I can surely try. I got one today!

    Thanks, Myrna

  2. Awesome post!!! I feel the same way about getting out and running even though the trail I use is beautiful and calm!!! Thanks for the good advice.

  3. Gail,

    I want to be on that trail with you guys. It’s one of my favorite places!

  4. Oh me too. That would be fun. 🙂

  5. Hope you had a great day today. Treasures await. Let me know how it goes there in Eureka. You’ll have to find out the story behind the term “Eureka!”— extreme excitement and surprise. I’d love to know.

  6. Thanks, Lyndie.

    Thanks for your kind words. I know you’ll get out and discover all kinds of things. Enjoy.

  7. Thanks Kristie. Hope our paths cross soon. 🙂

  8. Great post Gail! LOVE the photo of you with your hair windblown. 🙂 You’re so fun.

    Sooo thanks a lot…I guess this means I better get off of my internet surfing/brochure designing couch and do that work out I’m committed to. 😉

    Thanks for your authenticity. It’s beautiful as are you.

  9. Treasures from my sultry run…

    The sweetness of shade and cool breezes against my clammy skin.

    The Franklin Fox crossing from one stone cemetery to another, right across my path. (Do you know she’s a mother now?)

    Orange juice, sweet and cold waiting for me in my Jeep.

    A couple of little haikus that formed themselves in my head as I ran.

    Roar decrescendos
    Cicada carnage litters
    The invasion wanes

    (Should all be over but the sweeping by the time you get home. :))

    Fur-clad femme fatale
    Tiptoes in black stilettos
    Foxy lady, she

    And I could have missed it all…

  10. Lyndie Blevins May 30, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Gail, your photos are inspiring me. I am also reading, DO the work. I have 2 wooded acres that I would like to have paths like your photos… What a reminder that I have to do the work to enjoy it.

  11. Thanks, Ken.

    Yes the scenery is absolutely GORGEOUS. Maybe you’ll be able to stay in a place like this sometime. If you do, Do The Walk.

  12. Perfect timing; on vacation with the family in Eureka,CA! And truthfully in my own little funk, not fully engaged.

    So…off for camping breakfast lovingly prepared by my husband, and will pack up the littles – including 6mo old Izzy in the Ergo – and do the walk (and blog about it later. :). )


  13. Great post Gail. Your point holds true in every aspect of life. How often I have to force myself to take the first steps and then after the experience wonder how I could have resisted. I face this with every bike ride, every run, every swim……… You post is so encouraging. The scenery is beautiful.

  14. Sounds wonderful. And I’ll bet you don’t have cicadas there. (Gonna have to figure out how to deal with them once I’m back in Tennessee.)

  15. Way to go! And thanks for your encouragement. Blessings.

  16. You photos are beautiful and enough to get me out of my chair and past my window seat!!!

    I enjoy upper Michigan and the Great Lakes region…my childhood home and a wonderful place to hike, too!

    Breathe deep and enjoy!


  17. This post is great, Gail! and you two are beautiful!!! Thanks for always being an awesome example of true love!!! 🙂

  18. I am blessed to have several parks and nature trails in my small town and surrounding area. I regularly find myself sitting in one of them, writing in my journal, taking a walk, and re-charging my life.
    Thank you for taking the time to capture these thoughts. It will be helpful for me to frame my experiences in the power of the walk to put me into the present.
    Thanks for the inspiring photos as well.

  19. The Rockies have certainly grabbed a piece of my heart.

    Thanks for your kind words. I wouldn’t classify myself as the grumpy type, but I definitely have my moments. 🙂

    Now go slay some dragons!

  20. Wow. 80º already. I’m going to have to figure out how to adjust to the heat, humidity and the cicadas by the time I get home.

    You are such an inspiration to me. You live your WHOLE life with eyes wide open. Expectantly. That’s one of the many things I love about you!!

  21. Thanks, Kelly. The grumpies can definitely be a part of my days. Hopefully less often!

    Five miles???? That’s fantastic.

    My goal is to walk/hike—something outdoors—for three hours every Saturday. My absolute minimum is 20 minutes. Something is better than nothing. I measure more on time than distance.

    Keep walking!!

  22. mamasgonecrazy May 30, 2011 at 7:14 am

    What a beautiful post and photos! (I miss the Rocky Mountains!) This is encouraging to me to start slaying that dragon of resistance! p.s. I don’t see you as being the “grumpy” type!!

  23. Battling a bit of resistance myself this morning, hence the late start to my run…which I will pay for since it’s already almost 80* outside. But…you have motivated me to hit the trail. Eyes wide open. Expectantly.

    Love you.
    Miss you.
    Thanks for this.

  24. I’ve been trying to walk for fitness throughout my neighborhood. I did 5 miles for the first time the other day! A HUGE milestone for me. It would be so much easier to stay home! There is laundry to do, Facebook to check, phone calls to make. And it takes me over an hour to walk, but the results are always worth it, once I make myself do it.

    I’ve found 4 snakes around my neighborhood the past few days, so yes, you definitely have to keep your eyes open!

    Glad you got over your grumpies, and so sweet you have an encouraging spouse. 🙂

  25. You’re my best dragon-fighter. You’re my hero!! 😀

    Thanks for encouraging me.

    Have I told you I love you today??? I DO!!

  26. I loved taking this walk with you. In fact, I love DOING life with you! We are learning so much together. I especially like how we support one another when one of us isn’t motivated and the other is. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes 4:9–10:

    “Two are better than one,
      Because they have a good reward for their labor.
      For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
    But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
      For he has no one to help him up.”

    I love you and am proud of you for getting this post written!

  27. Thanks, Meg. With the day you had yesterday I’d almost give your spoiled-child a pass.

    Getting outside really does reNEW and reorient us. Do it.

    What I’ve got to do when I get back to Tennessee is figure out when I can walk without getting bombarded by cicadas—especially in the woods. Let me know if you figure that one out.

  28. First of all, I must say, that you were totally my inspiration for this post!! I loved the creativity of yours from yesterday:

    Secondly, thank you for the quote from Madeleine L’Engle’s book. I have that book. I started to read it two years ago and for some reason got distracted and never finished.

    I will definitely pick it up now. Thanks for the push.

  29. It really is. I put his principles to work when writing this post. I didn’t want to do it. I really struggle with writing. But I decided that I would just DO IT. I wouldn’t over-think it. I wouldn’t keep editing myself along the way. I’d just do it and ride the wave. It was a totally different experience. I really enjoyed the process. All the best.

  30. Absolutely. Treat is as non-optional. It’s part of your “job.” ENJOY!!

  31. Twenty acres? Right in your own backyard. Fantastic! You’ll have to take some photos next time you go. And post them… Outdoor Sweetness. 🙂

  32. Megan Hyatt Miller May 30, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Mom…thanks for the encouragement. I’ve had a lot of the “spoiled-child-syndrome” lately, and it’s not good for anyone. Time to kick my own booty out the door to do the same. Excited about what you are learning (and teaching) during your sabbatical.

  33. thesingingnurse May 30, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Wow, you had your own inspirational photo walk, nice pics and great words of encouragement. Glad I couldn’t sleep and decided to check you out a little closer, what a treat.
    I shall check out the book you mentioned as well.
    I read Madeleine L’Engle’s book “Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art” a great read on creativity, here is part of the book description.
    “For over twenty years, Walking on Water has called thousands of reader to the tasks of the artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation by creating…L’Engle speaks again to the creative soul, offering a gentle invitation to believe, celebrate, and create.”
    That about sums it up huh? It would be a great read while on your sabbatical.
    Enjoy, One of His, Dawn

  34. Gretchen Hunter May 29, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Loved your post. I’m reading Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work now and am enjoying it. Resistance is a powerful thing.

  35. I live in Folsom, Ca where there are so many trails to take advantage of and only an hour from Tahoe. So much to take advantage of, need to take more time to do so!

  36. I’ve been to Germany and LOVED it!! I can see why you miss it.

    I don’t know what part of Pennsylvania in which you live, but every place I’ve been to in PA was beautiful.

    I remember one summer Mike and I attended a Sales Conference in Lancaster. While he was in meetings all day, I went for walks. One day I saw a whole row of wild raspberries. I picked up a discarded MacDonald’s container and filled it with the berries. Then I went back to the hotel. Washed them and ate every last one of them. (He never knew.) I can taste them even now.

    Here’s to believing you can find a little treasure trove where you live.

  37. Yep. Putting on my boots was the hardest part!!

  38. The “dragon” is so hard to beat but you did it! We have more than 20 acres on which to hike and I haven’t done it in a while – I’d say it’s time for me to take a new look around. Thanks for sharing your day (and great photos) with us, Gail.

  39. I sometimes really miss that in this country. In my home country of Germany, everyone and their brother is out walking in the forest or in the rolling green meadows on weekends. Did I mention I miss that? You are right – it delivers a ton of opportunity to learn and reflect.

  40. Excellent point. The first few steps can certainly be the hardest but once we’re in motion the momentum takes over.


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