One recent morning, when my “old girl” Hunny didn’t want to do our regular walk, I knew I had to make some changes to our regular routines. My precious pup was now twelve and a half years old and just didn’t have the same energy she did when she was younger—kind of like me. It was clearly time for a change. One of my absolute favorite things to do is to be in the woods with my “girls,” something we do twice a day, regardless of the weather. Our explorations used to be four to six miles per day, with one walk in the morning and then another when I got home after work. We were all tired by the day’s end.
Our morning walks together got shorter and shorter. It was a change they clearly needed, but it wasn’t working for me. I started trying to figure out how I could continue to be active and not have them feel left out. I did a little investigating online to see what trails were in my home and work communities. Wow, I didn’t realize the resources available for this! I was able to find lots of different trails through various town websites, groups like Five Rivers Conservation Trust and other random sites.
I made up my mind to pack a bag every morning before I left the house: sneakers, hiking clothes, water and a snack (I like to eat a lot). In the trunk they went and off to work I went. I would plan where I would stop on my way home the night before so I could let my husband know. Monday, I would do Carter Hill trails to Swope in Concord. Wednesday, I would do the River Walk by the red barn in Contoocook. Friday, I would hit up the trails in Hopkinton. This was fun! Even though I didn’t have my girls with me, I was able to get home at a decent hour and had energy left to take them around our loop and let them enjoy some time in the woods!
As I walked along these trails, it felt good to explore on my own. I knew I was doing something good for my body and mind. It turned out to be a great way to unwind after work, leaving the day’s problems behind.
Routines are great, but it turns out that changing them can offer unforeseen benefits, like getting to know some of the beautiful trails out there that I had no idea existed. Often times I will try to coordinate with friends to see if they can meet up with me to share the walk; it’s always fun with a friend, even if they aren’t furry.
When I’m in the woods alone it gives me a lot of time to think about life. It’s all about adjusting, making changes when necessary and finding ways to be happy and feel good. Just as importantly, it gives me a chance to just be quiet and enjoy the beauty of the woods, while still getting some gentle exercise.
~ Melissa John-Pendleton, Office Manager