Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sidewalk Signs

Have you ever noticed the lines, cracks, and chips in the sidewalk while you are walking? Walking with young children, jumping over lines, and noticing bugs on the sidewalk heightened my awareness of sidewalk signs. Sidewalks tell a story.

Today as I was walking, I looked down and saw straight smooth lines, thin cracks that spread through several sidewalk lines, and mottled chips. The sidewalk's unspoken language gave me a picture of what had come before me. Purposeful footsteps, playful toes, bicycle wheels, sun baked summer days, wind, floods, pounding, running, walking dogs, and conversations.

Watching the various dips, dents, cracks, and patches in my path made me think about my life's journey. I often see my life in blocks marked by memorable events. Like the blocks of cement on the sidewalk my experiences are sometimes smooth and follow a carefully laid out plan. Then there are the messy interruptions that leave small dents in my plans, there are lost expectations that leave mottled pits, and long cracks that add distinction. I can choose to walk over, around, or patch the cracks, but there will always be evidence of my uneven journey.

My ability to enjoy and appreciate the pits and cracks in my life gives me character and wisdom. Join me in a walking conversation with all of its dips and dents.

30 minutes walking

Friday, July 30, 2010

Around the pond

“Language is a mirror of the mind.”
- Noam Chomsky

 We visited a friend of my husband's who lives on 13 acres an hour and a half from the city. I was thinking that it was a long drive to meet someone for lunch. We were planning to just drive out to see his house and property. I don't have a great desire to be out in nature without a purpose. On the other hand, my husband loves being outdoors, enjoying nature, watching for birds, and hanging out.

I had the expectation of walking through weeds, bugs, and viewing a pond before lunch. The first thing I noticed as we started walking was the dry weeds, stickers, sun in my eyes, and some water. My description of my environment would sound something like this:

We walked through the dry trampled weeds around a blue algae encrusted pond. 

Then I felt the breeze coming across the pond, and my mood brightened. I love to see a lake, pond, or ocean. Being around water somehow feels like freedom to me the way that being out of town feels relaxing to my husband (and his friend.) On the walk back to the house I started seeing the landscape through a different lens. I would describe the walk like this:

This morning I walked through golden strands of flattened grass to gaze across an azure blue pond at the green trees in the distance.

The same experience can be described with very different language. The way I pictured the walk before we got there influenced my mood and experience. But the story I write in my mind creates a negative or positive experience.  The way I describe the experience influences not only how I feel about the experience, but also the mood and the memory I take with me. By writing my experience with positive descriptions and feelings, I create a pleasing memory to carry with me. I have fond memories of the blue pond, golden grass, and nice company.

There are times when it is necessary and important to see and remember the glaring problems of abuse, poverty, and war. We can make room in our minds to consider the suffering of the innocent if we reframe our daily negative thoughts about relatively pleasant experiences. Enjoy the good things: relationships, family, creativity, and health. Listen to your language, thoughts and feelings. Where are they taking you?

20 minutes walking

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Walking My Dog

My dog Pepper loves to walk. With head held high, he walks, prances, and runs as much as he can. Although he is a senior, he is always ready to go. He eats the same portions everyday. I could learn a lot from Pepper.

I find it easy to get busy and neglect walking. I have to plan to walk, eat vegetables, and exercise. It's too easy to snack and eat late. Somewhere along the way I lost touch with the love of the outdoors, running, and walking just for the fun of it. Too often I could substitute a snack for a walk. So, I stick with my commitment to walk and write everyday. Keep walking!

30 minutes walking/running (mostly walking)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Today I walked to the store to get a coloring book. I found flash cards, activity books, stickers and math exercises, but no coloring books. I wondered what happened to simply choosing your own colors and deciding if you want to color inside or outside of the lines. Observing all of the shades of color in nature, taking a big box of crayons and coloring the different nuances and textures takes observation and creativity. A plain piece of paper works too, but piquing the imagination with a drawing rather than a pre-colored activity book can be loads of fun. It takes imagination for kids to come up with colors adults might find unrealistic. They might be imagining another perspective or a new way of seeing something.

I’ve given workshops on vegetables and color. I hear parents tell children to color the carrot orange when the child chose a different color. Vegetables come in a variety of colors. The vegetable colors we are used to may depend on where we live. In the west people are used to carrots being orange, while in Afghanistan people still eat purple carrots.

As I walked home I noticed all of the shades of green in the trees, grass, and leaves. In the shade the leaves are a very dark green, while in the sunshine the tree branches look Yellow-Green, Lime, and Screamin’ Green. It would take at least the 133 standard Crayola colors to begin to illustrate nature. I came home and found a long list of websites that have free coloring pages to print. I have a big box of Crayolas in the closet. I think I'll try coloring a piece of my walk through the park.

110 minutes walking

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Never Too Old to Learn

Traffic lights, sidewalks, cool wind, and buildings. A short walk from the store to my mother's house to help her set up her new iPad. Sometimes called "senior," "elderly," or "the elderly" folks of all ages are sharing family and vacation pictures using electronic devices. My mother is a wonderful reminder that you are never too old to learn. In fact, learning keeps us young and alert.

At the end of a busy day, it is relaxing to take a few moments to visualize the green grass, tall trees, singing birds, and cool breeze. A moment of thankfulness is worth hours of healing.

20 minutes walking

Monday, July 26, 2010

Take a Picture in Your Mind

Wind in my face, movement, action, and growth. Today I took a picture in my mind of a tall tree, trees lining a path, and green grass. Then I looked at the shadows on the sidewalk. The leaves seemed to be taking a walk with me. The leaves rustled on the branches, and I realized I needed to take some videos in my mind. After my walk the pictures are still in my mind although not as clear, but the feeling of freedom and action are still with me. It helps to look at the picture shortly after you take it and then revisit the pleasant moments in meditations and quiet moments.

Take a picture in your mind and you will always have it with you. Take pleasant pictures to remember the good things in life and enhance your optimism. Go new places and look through new eyes. You can go to the same place many times and find something unique and different every time.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
— Marcel Proust

Take pictures of the little things you do to improve your memory. One reason we don’t remember things is that we are not really there in the moment. Stress, things to do, and thinking about tomorrow will distract us from taking a picture in the moment. If you can picture it, you can usually remember it. The next time you go for a walk, notice something new. When you solve a problem or look for a new career, look for things you have never noticed. Look through "new eyes" for opportunities you have yet to discover.

40 minutes walking

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Walking Conversation

I had a wonderful "walking conversation" this morning. Walking gives me energy and inspiration. Just being outdoors in the fresh air is healthy and gives me added Vitamin D, but I don't always want to walk. A "walking conversation" makes the walk enjoyable. I can walk for an hour without even noticing the time when I'm having a conversation. Talking and listening skills are important for relationship building, teamwork, leadership, and successful career development. Employers say that communication skills are one of the most important assets an employee can have. Entrepreneurs have an even greater need to communicate in a variety of different styles.

Variety makes life more interesting and keeps the senses sharp. I walk on a different path everyday or notice something new on the same path. I find it easy to have my mind on something I need to do, something I should have done, or something I can't seem to accomplish. Walking in nature and observing the birds and geese finding food, companionship, and exercise outdoors reminds me that I have everything I need if I just look for it. Expecting everything to come to me, doing things the same way everyday, and enjoying indoor conveniences can be very comforting. But stepping out of my comfort zone from time to time opens up new possibilities I hadn't thought of before. If you are experiencing a crisis or transition and nothing seems to be working, try something new. Walk on a different path or choose a different destination. You might find something more amazing than you ever imagined.

60 minutes walking

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's Not That Far

Today I decided to take a walk to the neighborhood lake and take some pictures of something I noticed. I had a short term goal of walking to the little lake. “It’s not that far,” I told myself. When I got there I took a few pictures of some geese nibbling the grass. I can walk a little farther I decided.

Long term goals are important. The vision of completing a book. But short-term goals keep me going. I like to set a reachable goal and then go a little further and see where it takes me. Walking and writing everyday are goals I know I can reach. I let my mind wander, my feet take me in different directions and I walk toward my greater goal of writing a book.

Today was a busy Saturday morning in the park. Families, grandparents, and children all walking. Bicycles whiz by, dogs run around, and birds sing. I remember a time when I didn’t have a place to walk. I used to run around the backyard, make obstacle courses for us in the house, and stair step at work, or stretch my legs while sitting in my office chair. Any kind of exercise helps with energy, health, and creativity, but being outdoors provides much needed vitamin D and fresh air.

Now I have an interesting adventure every time I walk. The only hazards in our neighborhood are the dog owners who let their dogs run loose. With a fabulous park in the neighborhood and adventures around the corner, why wouldn’t I walk?

Join me or tell us about your walking adventures.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Accidental Creative

I got out for my walk at a little after 8:00 AM PST. I am shooting for eight without sticking to an exact schedule. Time freedom is one of my values, but creativity and productivity require a certain amount of routine. At least that is what I heard on my walking podcast from the Accidental Creative. I am finding the words ring very true for me. I was thinking today that I need a routine for making sure I walk everyday at least 20 minutes and usually much more.

Walking elevates creativity, productivity, energy, and mood. Listening to the podcast about the increasing need for using your mind and producing on demand in the workplace, reminded me that I have the ability to spontaneously come up with creative ideas, but I can’t imagine creating on demand all day. By disciplining myself to walk and write everyday, I am generating an environment for greater creativity on a regular basis. I have never been able to get up in the morning and spontaneously write and create. Walking is making it easy.

Some of the creative disciplines discussed in the podcast are asking why, looking for multiple options, and practice. A LifeWork Coach asks: "what made you think of that?" "Why is it important?"and "What was important about that?" Creative “whys” take you deeper to find what is really behind the thought or idea to help you move forward with it. In career development and job search it is easy to feel like there is one solution, one perfect job, the best resume. Creating multiple options, working on the one that seems best, and surfing for the impossible, opens up unlimited possibilities. An accidental creative brings together many possibilities to come up with something greater than any one option. Contact Nancy Miller to continue the conversation.

Enjoy! Create! Walk!

20 minutes walking

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I didn’t want to walk today. I had too many things to do.  I could just wait until tomorrow.  I thought about missing a post, and decided to take my camera and walk through the park. I got to the park and found sprinklers spraying the sidewalks. Hum, I guess I’ll have to walk in the street to get around them. I wouldn't be able to take pictures today. I walked out to the street and observed the sprinklers. Some were low to the ground, one sprayed straight up in the air. They seemed to almost dance across the grass. I got out my camera to capture the magic. As I got closer I saw a faint rainbow of colors in the spray. I could have easily let the morning slip by without walking. It wouldn't have been very hard to miss the beauty of the morning by being annoyed.

My computer has been down for two weeks and I wanted to catch up, emails needed responses, and I had a CareerWell teleconference. It would be so easy to skip the walk. Journaling my walking experiences daily keeps me on track with my commitment to better health, my goal of walking everyday, and accountability to myself and to my audience through writing this blog.

Join me in a walking conversation.

30 minutes walking

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On a Mission

Wind in my face, dogs barking, machines humming, purple flowered trees, shade. It was another beautiful morning for a walk. July is usually warm in the mornings, and I tend to procrastinate about going for a walk anyway. I could easily have missed a beautiful morning. My negative thinking could have fueled my procrastination if I hadn't been on a mission. I tend to shorten my walk when I feel like I don't want to go. I have any number of excuses besides the heat. I'm too busy, I'll go in a few minutes, I'm in the middle of writing something and don't want to quit now are some of my mantras.

I made the pesto after getting the pine nuts on my trip to the store yesterday. Turns out you only need about 2 teaspoons for pesto pasta. I'm still not sure why the pine nuts are needed for a pasta sauce, but it was colorful and delicious. Now I have at least a cup of pesto left, thus my motivation to walk back to the store for pizza ingredients.

I listened to a podcast from "Living Green" on the value of being outdoors. As I listened to the athletic speaker talking about "Nature Deficit Disorder" in young people and even adults some of whom don't have opportunities to experience nature, I looked at the green trees and cool grass and felt blessed that I can experience the outdoors. In his recent book, "Last Child in the Woods," Richard Louv discusses the effects of not spending time outdoors such as increased obesity and depression. Why would a miss a morning when I have the opportunity?

You are invited to join me for a Walk About U! Talk about what's on your mind with a personal/career coach. An athletic trainer motivates, challenges, and holds the athlete accountable. A personal/career coach can do the same for you in your life/career transitions. A Walk About U! conversation can inspire you to walk and live a more healthful lifestyle. Contact Nancy Miller to schedule your first Walk About U! Use the Contact Form to let me know what you want to walk about.

50 minutes walking

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Perfect Mix

What a beautiful morning for taking a walk! After temperatures in the triple digits, a cool morning was wonderful. I felt the warm sun on my back and a cool breeze in my face. It was the perfect mix of warm sun and cool breeze as I walked to the store.

I like to have a destination in mind when I walk. Today I was on a mission to pick up some pine nuts for making pesto. A friend gave me 2 bunches of basil. I was motivated to make pesto, but I have never fixed it before. After seeing the cost of pine nuts at my local grocery store, I thought I might shop somewhere else or look for substitutions the next time I decide to make pesto.

Then again, there are times when it is worth it to pay a little more for a grocery item if it means a walk outdoors which costs nothing. The cost and added pollutants needed to drive somewhere else would outweigh the cost of the pine nuts. I wasn't sure if they are necessary, but since they are listed in all of the recipes, needing the extra ingredient was a good excuse to walk. There are so many things to observe outdoors.

As I walked, I looked up at the blue sky smattered with thin jelly fish clouds. A few brown leaves swept across the sidewalk under a canopy of shifting tree branches. I walked past houses, flowers, and crisp white sidewalks baking in the sun. There were dips, cracks, and asphalt to walk across. People walking dogs, dogs barking, grandparents strolling babies, and my daughter walking her baby and dog. The sights and sounds I experienced are now in my memory, in words, and feelings that will stay with me. Banking positive memories builds resiliency and optimism. I will let the sad and negative moments blow away and bask in the warmth of a perfect mix of sun and wind. Join me for a phone conversation outdoors.

50 minutes walking


I had a conversation with my daughter this week while walking. She was so excited about organizing the playroom. The kids had been dumping the toys, stepping on them, and tearing things up. She knew she needed to organize the toys and books but with 2 preschoolers and an infant, traveling frequently, and generally feeling overwhelmed, she hadn't gotten it done.

The military life has its perks but feeling settled often isn't one of them. Traveling to see family and friends, absence of spouse for training and tours of duty, and frequent moves left her family unsettled and disorganized. Without being in the military many families experience similar frequent transitions.

My daughter shared her frustrations and felt like she was having a meltdown. The two year old ruined his brother's glasses, tore up a special book, and wouldn't sleep. The playroom was full and the kids weren't playing with their toys.

As I walked through the park dappled with light and shade, I heard the excitement in her voice as she described the previous day of organizing and cleaning.

I heard the kids in the background and a little traffic from the road. I missed a few words here and there, but enjoyed the success story and enthusiasm. Before I knew it my walk was over. I hadn't looked forward to the walk but found it thoroughly enjoyable.

Recently I have been listening to podcasts on exercising outdoors, making an environment for creativity, and developing healthful habits.  The idea of creating a Walk About program for generating positive conversations while walking came to my mind. Join me as we walk together, have a conversation, and share our walking stories. I have committed to walking everyday. My next commitment will be to choose a time each day for my walk. I’ll let you know so you can schedule a walking conversation with me.