Neighborhood Hikes

So, my mother was in the hospital over Christmas Eve, and Christmas… and New Year’s Day. She was finally released on Jan. 2nd. This last hospital stint was a couple of weeks long, but this whole saga has been going on since October. I’m tired. My sister is tired. My mother is really, really tired.

I was not surprised at how long she ended up being hospitalized. What I was surprised about was how much it effected me. We’ve been through this before, this was her third time in the hospital in the last couple of months, after all. So, it almost felt routine. I had predicted that she would be in over the holidays, so I didn’t think I would be upset.

I was wrong.

I can’t really say that I am all that close to my mother. I love her and care about her, but we aren’t as tight as some parents are with their children. Still, I have spent every Christmas with her since I was born. I knew we would work something out – and we did – but that whole day, and the days leading up to it, I felt very fragile. I would be fine one minute, and then feeling like I was going to burst into tears the next.

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There is not really a lot you can do in situations like this. I spent time with her when I could, I kept my own holiday traditions going, and I did what I could to alleviate the stress. One of the main things I did was walk. We all know that exercise is good for stress, but the fact is, I hate exercise. Trying to do a bunch of push-ups in my living room was not going to help my mood. There is one thing I enjoy doing, however, that counts as exercising – I like to walk. When I can, I like to walk with someone else. But since my boyfriend was on a temporary walking hiatus for a bit and my best walking gal was in Rome for the holidays, it was me and my pooch, hiking the neighborhoods. I like to walk my dog. He’s happy, I’m happy, and I am never bored. So, that’s what we did: we walked, and walked, and walked.

I had to slow it down once the snow hit. I can walk in snow and ice – I have cold weather gear and ice fishing cleats, but I am walking a hound dog that thinks snowfall is heaven. He loves nothing more than to bury his head in a drift, following tracks and scents. He’s also pure muscle, so even though he is under 40 pounds, he could easily accidentally make me loose my footing on ice. Plus, walking on sidewalks with snow and ice is completely different than clear sidewalks. It is a little like walking on the beach – you find yourself using different muscles in your legs, but unlike the beach, you also have to watch your center of gravity. It’s a little nerve-wracking.

Even still, I managed to break a number of my walking records; and it felt good. My back tends to tighten up when I am under stress, and walking seems to loosen me back up again. Plus, as I have written about before, dog walking is very meditative for me. It was a good solution for a tough situation.

The good news is that Mom is back home and starting to feel a lot better. We all finally feel like things are looking up. We’re even starting to plan a second Christmas in January, so we can at least get together and have a meal together. And, as I look out my window today, the sun is shining and the sky is bright blue – looks like it is going to be a good day for walking.

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