I, like so many people am an exercise enthusiast. I used to go to the gym every day. No matter what. It was my all-purpose place to go to, knowing that at the end I would get a burst of endorphins that would sustain me throughout the day and give me that essential sense of calm. In addition, there usually was the same group of neighbors that would work out at a similar time so we would all chat, after our routines, giving us the feeling of community.
As we all know, at least in NYC, the gyms have been closed since mid-March due to covid-19. In the beginning I was like an addict without her fix. What would I do? How could I keep in shape? What could I now eat without gaining weight? Mostly how could I get my dose of daily endorphins? Of course, it was a godsend then to not know that the gym would still not be open at the end of July in NYC or without any timeframe given for reopening; it would have been too much to bear.
My amazing dog, Dea, was my catalyst. She was used to three 20 minutes walks a day, and now it all changed for the better for Dea (and eventually for me.)
We try and walk at least two plus miles twice a day. Dea is ecstatic with the extra time being with me, her mommy, and her new exercise plan, but it is I who have found an indispensable feeling of serenity while we are on our walks.
First of all, I love being with my dog. She is a trooper in all respects and my best friend and the only being I can safely touch now due to covid, because I live alone with her. Nowadays, during our walks, I try and see the world through her eyes, and not just looking ahead at all the people in the park with masks (and regrettably many without) but, rather, at all the squirrels frantically digging for their nuts, and watching Dea try to catch one in the process; picturesque, purple wild flowers on grassy patches and woody areas that allow me to imagine I am on a trail in a forest, all of which I used to just pass over without really noticing. Dea, now has an entire new world of sights and smells because we vary the terrain as per weather and heat.
When Dea and I reach the mid-point of our walk, my most favorite part aside from the feeling of breathing harder meaning that I am getting a workout, is finding the perfect bench in the shade under a gigantic, gloriously green tree with my dog on my lap. I position her like a two-year-old child holding her so she faces out front allowing her to look out. I give her some water that I always pack with us and there we meditate and gaze out towards the beauty of the Hudson River and lush summer greenery in front of us. I know I can anthropomorphize but I do believe Dea really does meditate with me!
When we are done with our meditative routine, we walk down a long winding path back towards the river on the way home. We pass children riding bicycles and other dogs frolicking with their owners playing ball. It gives me an immense feeling of normalcy during covid. This simple but necessary routine has allowed me to get through the stresses and sadness of the pandemic, day after day, and its restrictions on our lives, with more tolerance and acceptance. I have to thank my wonderful dog, Dea for that.
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