When I take my walks, my primary goal, as it has been since last September when I started keeping track, was to shed weight so, some day, I could get back out on the ice with Colin. From those first walks, when eight measly blocks looked like miles, each step has brought me closer to better health.
Along the way, and I've logged more than 640 miles since then, I've found another benefit of walking: They're fantastic for clearing the clutter from my mind.
Thankfully, Colin's travel-team hockey season with the Brandon Jr. Bulls is over. Given all of the issues that went on, it's now time for all of us to chill out. Last Wednesday, I took a big step toward that, taking my longest walk (4-plus miles) in some time. And, man, did it ever feel good.
My route, mostly through one of St. Petersburg's oldest neighborhoods, eventually led me to the city's waterfront. That's where I took the picture. And, for the first time in a while, I took some deep, measured breaths. With each one, I felt tiny knots of tension slip away.
To me, there's something about being at water's edge. It's the gentle sounds of waves brushing against a seawall. It's watching brown pelicans cruise effortlessly, mere inches above the water. It's the subtle hint of salt in the air at high tide. Calming, all.
We all face pressures in life. Work. Bills. Traffic. School. Parenting. You name it, it causes stress. If I've learned anything from my first 50-plus years on this planet, it's that I should worry only about the things I can control. Anything else, to me, is wasted energy.
Sometimes, though, that's easier said than done. It's easy to get caught up in issues that are better to simply let go. Looking back over the past season, using that crystal-clear 20/20 vision that life calls hindsight, there were enough instances and incidents -- and not all were chronicled here -- that could have been avoided. Instincts, I know now, should have been trusted.
Were they mistakes? No, not really. They were teaching moments. And, trust me, plenty was learned. I'm more than happy, too, to share this wisdom. All you need to do is ask.
So, in a way, I'm thankful for those opportunities, just like I am for my walks. In some cases, you learn lessons that will serve you later in life. In others, you just forget.
You know what, though? You keep moving forward, step by step, until you reach your goal.