My Sweet looked at my feet a few days ago and said, “Don’t you think you should go see a doctor about that?”
“Ummm…no. No I don’t.”
What I preach about going to see the doctor and what I practice are often just slightly off-track. I may be a bit stubborn about stuff like that.
“Besides,” I told him, “I already googled my symptoms and I know exactly what’s wrong. I have extensor tendonitis.”
What’s that, you ask?
Well, that’s what happens when you walk roughly 65 miles over hills and crags, and across pastures and through the woodland of northern England in less than a week. (That’s only the trail walking and doesn’t take into consideration the distance walked from the trail to our accommodations, to wherever we were getting our supper each night, and around every Roman fort, museum, and landmark along the way.)
My Sweet and I just came back from walking the lion’s share of Hadrian’s Wall in England. It was a phenomenal experience and I highly recommend a walking holiday to anyone who thinks they might like to try one!
We walked a lot in preparation, broke in new hiking shoes, and researched as much as we could. England’s weather is a lot like the weather in Vancouver in the spring – sunny at times, but more often cloudy with light showers and the occasional downpour. We made sure we had good rain gear and I hoped and prayed for good weather. Apparently there were some very important lessons I needed to learn on this trip and the weather and landscape played an important role which is a hint that the weather may not have cooperated as fully as I would have liked.
We had a few light showers while we walked but the sun came out almost as soon as the rain had passed and dried us out pretty quickly. The third day though…well…I’ve never been that wet with my clothes on in my entire life! Even with rain gear, after a few hours of steady downpour the moisture still made it through the layers. My shoes were full of water too, squishing and sloshing with every step.
Naturally this also happened on the day with the most difficult terrain. We climbed up and down steep crags and hills all day. We slipped and slid down smooth stone trails, trying to keep our balance and our footing. I remember passing the marker that indicated we were at the highest elevation along the Wall and thinking how grateful I was that we had just climbed the highest hill (but not the last, not by far).
The health app on my phone tracked us at 26 373 steps, 18.2km, and 140 flights of stairs climbed.
I’m a firm believer in the power of 10. Counting to ten has been a standard practice for me in challenging situations. I once worked with a student diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). I can’t tell you how many times I counted to ten in my mind in an effort to thwart the attempt to tick me off which was the student’s intent. If they weren’t happy, nobody was going to be happy.
Counting to ten (or twenty or fifty or whatever multiple of ten was required for the situation) gave me time to stay calm, time to come up with alternate strategies, or just time to weather the storm.
Climbing the hills of Hadrian’s Wall required multiples of ten. Ten steps at a time because I was pretty sure I could take ten steps. Then ten more. Then ten more. Head down and one foot in front of the other until I realized I was at the top of the hill and could catch my breath.
Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Since we’ve been home and have told people about our trip, many have commented, “That must have been awful, walking in the rain like that.”
But it really wasn’t.
It should have been.
When I talk about it – the rain, the gusting wind at the top of the hills, shoes full of water, the blisters on both feet, the tendonitis – it doesn’t sound like fun. But I can honestly say that the entire day, in fact the entire walk, there was not one word of complaint from either of us. Not one cross word about our circumstances. And that in itself is a bit amazing as well.
We stood on top of those hills and looked out at the expanse of northern England and marveled at its remoteness and the beauty of its unique landscape. We looked beyond the rain and cloudy skies and were in awe of the men who packed enough stone by hand to build a wall 3 meters wide and 5-6 meters tall and 84 miles (135km) long, never mind the mile castles and forts along the way. Rarely have I felt such a sense of pride in an accomplishment as at the end of that day when we finally walked into our Bed & Breakfast and could peel of our rain gear and soggy shoes.
I can’t imagine there is a person out there who hasn’t heard the saying that attitude is everything. I think after our experience walking the Wall, I can say it’s true.
We had determined, long before we left on our trip, to enjoy every moment no matter what weather came our way or how difficult the walking was.
There have been few times in my life I think I have been so determined to do something. That may have been due in part to the looks we got from people when we told them what we were planning for our holiday. We don’t exactly look like long distance walkers and there is something very fulfilling in being able to accomplish something that others didn’t think you were capable of.
I would be lying to you, and to myself, if I said I didn’t have my own doubts before we left. But it’s okay to have doubts. What’s important is to set your doubts aside and try anyway. I don’t think you should recklessly charge ahead, but by all means, prepare, do your homework, challenge yourself, and do it. Don’t let doubt, or the doubts of others, stop you.
Set your mind. Direct your attitude. Think positively.
Whatever your goal is, whatever your dream is, how you approach it will be a huge factor in determining your success. Attitude is everything. It can stop you in your tracks or it can help you achieve things you thought were beyond your reach.
What’s your goal? Are you making progress? If not, maybe it’s time to check your attitude.
You are the ultimate authority on the tone of the thoughts that go through your mind every minute of every day. You decide what your attitude will be. Negative or positive, it’s up to you.
I wanted to be a walker, a hill climber, and now I am.
What do you want to be?