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Breaking the Spell Tuesday August 30, 2016

It's late summer in upstate New York, with endless days of sunshine, temperatures in the afternoon of 85 to 90 degrees F (29 to 32 C for the rest of the world) and plenty of humidity.

My body tells me that I should walk every day, but air-conditioning feels so good, so I often delay my walk until early evening when the temperature drops. Of course, I may also be too tired, too hungry, or too lazy.

The logical alternative is to walk early in the morning, but I love getting up at six, making a pot of coffee, and reading a few of the big pile of books on the kitchen table. I feel so lucid, focused and expansive in my thinking. It's the most precious part of the day. I have thought many times of breaking off for a walk, but I would also be breaking the spell of a beloved habit.

Yesterday, I didn't walk at all, so I decided last night that I must walk this morning. I made coffee, ate a bowl of Weetabix, read a fascinating book and took off resolutely at nine. The grass was dewy, the air was soft and sweetly vegetal, and I didn't feel bored in the walk around our wooded neighborhood. But by ten, when I returned it was hot and I was sweaty. Tomorrow, I'll leave at seven. And I may even look at birds.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Orangeblossom Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 6:35am

Thanks for the blog Graeme. I did find it resonating for me very clearly. Thanks for being very honest about yourself.

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 4:25pm

Thank you, Orangeblossom! I am very happy that it resonated with you and I appreciate your kind remark about my honesty. I try! Moodscope and our beloved members, like you, bring so much joy.

DAVE Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 7:53am

Hi Graeme,
It's quite refreshing how different we all are, and how our routines vary, if you are comfortable in yours, that's good, but I detect that, maybe a change from the norm, will give a different slant on how you cope with adversity.
Change I believe in our mental outlook can also benefit us physically, and I believe that these are avital part of the repar process and which go hand in hand.
If suffering from depression and/or bipolar, a change is vital as so many Sufferers have built up a routine or groove, which becomes a 'Comfort Zone' and to break this routine is one of the most difficult processes to achieve.

But once we've experimented a different course it gives us that inner confidence to keep trying, it brings 'light' into our lives.

Personally, I rise at 5:30am, have breakfast and take myself off for a 'Purposeful Walk', not a power walk, but a determined walk round the block, there are many different routes which I can take.
So early in the morning, so quiet and peaceful, I feel grateful to have been placed upon such a beautiful world, I see animals and birds, the colours of the flowers, plants and trees. There are no demands for my attention, no adverts, television, computer or phone calls, just myself and nature.
I occasionally meet up with people walking their dogs, and pss a few words.

Serving two purposes this gives me excersise and fresh air at the same time. It's invigorating, coupled with my own diet, (non boring), a most vital part of my mental and physical wellbeing.

With this routine each day, summer and winter, rain or shine, it sets me up for the day, resting, relaxing, and soothing the mind, a 'Springboard' so-to-speak, enabling me to cope with all that people and life throw at me.

Embrace the change Graeme and experiment with slight variations.

Good Luck


Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 4:54pm

Excellent advice, Dave. Thank you. The description of the joys of your walk is so evocative. We are lucky to live in places that are natural and beautiful, but even industrial areas can have a magic in the early morning, in my observation. Nature finds a way in! As you sensed, I was glad to break that beloved routine with another joyful experience, but I have found that the most important breakthroughs have come when I have isolated myself from people, indulging a very introverted nature, and a smile or a few kind words invite me back into humanity.

LillyPet Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 8:22am

Hi Graeme,
I have a similar dilema with walking. It has been easier to fit a lovely walk in while on leave from work, but when working, I get so absorbed in keeping on top of my responsibilties, that it just has not happent and I feel full of regret that I havent prioritised what I enjoy and is good for me.
Early morning is possible, it was easier when I was motivated by a companion who walked their dog. When not together we would message each other or send a picture of something beautiful in nature.
Without that motivation, I've to be super on top of things so that I get to sleep on time. I managed it once, before work, on a random morning when I woke up to a beatiful sunrise and thought, I'm gonna go for it! Sadly it was a one off!
My work isn't physically demanding, so straight after and before I get into an evening routine is probably the best time. I just have to make it happen!
I was very interested in Dave's reply, it's given me food for thought.
Thank you for the inspiration to get out there! Sunshine and smiles to all LPxx

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:02pm

Thank you, LillyPet! I was surprised to see responses this morning, and it is exciting to hear from the people whose posts I have been reading with pleasure, like you. I have found that it is best if I don't attach too much significance to whether or not I fulfill my resolutions every day. If it's three walks a week (or six as I assure my doctor) and whether it is three miles or two, I try to be happy and proud that I got out there. We are only human, though that is miraculous in the extreme. Sunshine and smiles, plus gentle rain on the face (so we don't sound like greeting cards) to you.

Hopeful One Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 8:37am

Hi Graeme- I am a lark no matter when I go to sleep. Advanced sleep phase disorder the sleepologists tell me. I enjoy those early morning hours as there is no interruption and in winter its too dark to do anything outside. I try and get my Vitamin N everyday but I have no fixed time as I don't really fancy getting wet in the process.

The Joke Squadron felt it should rise to the occasion with a laugh to share with fellow Moodscopers in the USA.

A Maryland State Trooper is patrolling before midnight off the main highway.He sees a couple in a car, with the interior light on.He approaches the car to get a closer lookand sees a young man behind the wheel, reading a computer magazine.He notices a young woman in the rear seat, filing her fingernails.Puzzled by this the trooper walks to the car and gently raps on the driver's window.
The young man lowers his window. 'Uh, yes, Officer?'??
The trooper asks: 'What are you doing???
The young man says: 'Well, Officer, I'm reading a magazine...??
Pointing towards the young woman in the back seat the trooper says: 'And her, what is she doing?'??
The young man shrugs: 'Sir, I believe she's filing her fingernails.'??
The trooper is confused as he is expecting something inappropriate.
The trooper asks: 'What's your age, young man?'??
The young man says: 'I'm 22, sir.'??
The trooper asks: 'and her ... what's her age?'
The young man looks at his watch and replies: 'She'll be? 18 in 11 minutes...

LillyPet Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 11:03am

Not sure what bitamin N is HO, but I enjoyed today's dose of vitamin L ! :)

Hopeful One Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 12:52pm

Hi LillyPet- I am afraid a typo crept in - it should read Vitamin. I like Vitamin L!

Bearofliddlebrain Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 1:43pm

Ha Lolilol! Have just had a phone call from daughter and told her that one....tee hee, thanks HO! Bear x

LillyPet Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 2:52pm

Just seen my typo too! :))

Hopeful One Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 5:33pm

Hi LillyPet - N for Nature. May I adopt your L?

LillyPet Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 10:35pm

Please do! Love vitamin N for nature too! :)

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:07pm

Excellent, Hopeful One! Thank you. I think the age of consent for the nail-filing girl is 16. Google tells us: Like most states, there are some situations in Maryland where people under the age of consent may legally have sex, as long as there is only a small age difference between them. In Maryland, persons aged between 14 and 16 may consent to sex as long as the other partner is not more than 4 years older.Jun 30, 2014

The Gardener Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 8:38am

Replying to Carol Anne yesterday, sorry, confusion with blog arrival. She said, re suicidal thoughts, 'talk to someone, straightaway'. In utter despair a few months ago I phoned French Samaritans - recorded message 'we are inundated, please try later'. My generation has a distinct reluctance to 'open up', stiff upper lip still applies. A bit sad, I have an excellent friend here, my children's age - her mother is further down the line than Mr G - and her step-father is manipulative and difficult, worse than my Dad. We are both extroverts, and end up doing more giggling than crying on shoulders. We DO unload on e-mails, when she is at end of tether clearing up mess she encounters back in UK. Now, the sad bit, her husband no longer speaks to me. He is a very dour Yorkshire man - and I think he resents the friendship (though he's knocked back an awful lot of wine chez nous). I also think that his wife finds giggling with me an escape from home. Sorry to muscle in on Graeme's blog, will reply later - but this 'talking to somebody' comes up again and again, and confusion is rife chez the Gardener.

Leah Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 9:47am

TG I think the fact you are so honest here and I assume with your friends it helps.Always learn from your blogs and enjoy reading your perspective on life. Hugs Leah

Bearofliddlebrain Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 1:48pm

Ugh...isn't it just the way the dice plucked up the courage to ring Samaritans and got a recorded message! That's so sad, I am sad for you TG. But, I'm so pleased you have good neighbours and friends and in particular the one you share giggles with - that's a comfort for you, knowing someone over there who can relate to your own situation with Mr. TG. I don't think Graeme will mind you sharing here today - no one will, because we all have things we need to get off our chests and sometimes Moodscope is the only place to do it. I'm hoping you get a peaceful day today and are enjoying your belle jardin :) hugs, Bear xxxx

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:10pm

I didn't mind at all, and learned from your post. Thank you.

Leah Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 9:40am

Thanks for your blog with its delightful descriptions.
I hope you find walking as relaxing as I do.

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:13pm

Thanks, Leah! I do love to walk, mostly alone to take in the world, but sometimes with a friend to talk and walk. Women seem very adept at this. A group of four women passed me recently walking fast and, I swear, all talking at once. They were decoding the stream.

Anonymous Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 10:02am

I often find the "Thought for the Day" below the blog as helpful as the blogger's views and readers' comments. Did you choose it today, Graeme? If so, thank you for this too. Go well.

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:40pm

No, I claim no credit.

Andrew Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 10:57am

Hi Graeme - thanks for sharing these thoughts. Your walking is my running, and often my body says 'let's go for a run' but my mind says 'Really? Can i really be bothered??' - and I have found that the best way to strengthen the weak spirit in the face of a willing flesh, so to speak, is immediately to don my running kit. Once I'm dressed for it, the spirit becomes willing too! And guess what? The flesh becomes stronger and fitter yet, as a result of the win!
So if you feel the need to walk but you cannot be bothered, maybe just put those walking shoes on, and let it happen!
Go well - and stay cool!

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:45pm

Thanks, Andrew! You are exactly right. One step at a time, and that's usually all you need.

Gramma Mimi Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 1:22pm

What a really nice post: stating concisely and relateably. Thanks.

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:14pm

Thanks, Gramma Mimi. You are welcome, as Americans often say.

Bearofliddlebrain Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 1:54pm

Graeme...I have to walk twice a day as I have every morning, come hail, rain or shine, depression, sadness or unbelievable joy, we are out there!!

I agree with you that sometimes it is hard to do it, but I always feel better having done an hour or so in the the mo, I am a hot Bear, so this heat isn't helping the afternoon walks, but we go later in the day, so doggit isn't a hot dog either!!

One of the loveliest things is seeing the wildlife...a lot in the ten miles of parkland here so I am very lucky!
Funnily enough, my OH sent me a link to which shows the health benefits of taking a stroll...even in a dull office building! So there's really no excuse!
Good luck on your next early morning walkies!
Bear hugs x

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:27pm

Thank you, Bear. Calling you "Pooh" would make us sound like public school boys, and "Winnie" is obviously far too familiar. There does seem to be so much evidence about the relationship between activity and our mental state, but when lying with the black dog nothing seems further from possibility. I use the library in our village as the stimulus to get me walking, because it's a nice walk along the Erie Canal and books are always awaiting pickup or return.

The Gardener Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 2:40pm

Bear, everybody should have the equivalent of a doggit. When house, dog and cat sitting in Singapore hound had to be taken out regularly. Had his own maid for a while. He refused to do anything in the compound flower beds - so we had to go out of security, and the beastly animal would go round bend after bend to get the right 'smell'. He was a nice dog, really, but there was forest either side - which housed cobras - the reason, together with aggressive monkeys that the cat could not go out at all. For years after first coming here we walked with a group every Monday for two hours. Then we had a lovely choice of walks for all weathers and moods. The 'constitutional' is personified by a little round man in this town - he does at least 20 kms on his bike in the morning and about 3 kms on foot in the evening. Always the same route, in the right 'gear' but with a wide variety of hats. Question, how DOES he stay so round? As Mr G started sight problems I chose short routes with no potholes or tree roots - gradually, he found any excuse not to walk. Now, not just atrophied muscles but, the Doc says, more serious, the start of hallucinations - part symptom of Alzheimers but just as much immobility - poor blood circulation, stiffness, no fresh air or sunshine. I seldom get a chance to walk - but two big houses and two gardens provide much more physical activity, and more various, than walking - but I do miss it. HO's joke, as ever, funny - but has a sting. Our sons were very tall and always looked five years older than they were. There social milieux contained girls whose parents could not care less about their whereabouts, made up like 20 years old, putting out all the 'come and get me' signs. Several men got done for under-age sex, and I felt very sorry for them, you don't ask a pretty girl for her birth certificate. If the joke is correct, is the age of consent in the US really 18 years? Sounds impossible.

Hopeful One Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 5:35pm

Hi Gardner- I would not be surprised. I hope Graeme enlightens us.

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 5:44pm

No, as I posted to The Joker, it is 18. As you probably know, the United States already has the highest incarceration rate in the world by far, and sixteen would surely double it.

The Gardener Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 2:44pm

Oh, just thought of most enchanting walk ever (other than along long beaches). We stayed, while we could afford it, at the Leela Palace hotel in Goa. Vast gardens, lawns, lakes, spectacular flowers and bird life - never in bed after 6 a.m in order not to miss anything. Rumour that dolphins called be seen at that hour, but we never did.

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 4:31pm

I could feel the warming tropical air full of flower smells and life. Thank you! I hope that you visit more beautiful places for early morning communing.

Nurse Tilda Tue, Aug 30th 2016 @ 3:23pm

Hi Graeme - thanks for your post. just wondering... what's the name of the fascinating book?

Graeme Wed, Aug 31st 2016 @ 4:44pm

You are welcome, Nurse Tilda. Your nom de plume exudes caring. I usually read a lot of books at once, because I enjoy the intellectual stimulation and the connections one can make between them, which is the very stuff of creativity. At that time, a couple of weeks ago, I was reading "Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens (whom I love like my own brother), "The Spectacle of Skill: Selected Writings of Robert Hughes" (a much loved fellow Australian), "The Art of Memoir" by Mary Karr, "Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story" by Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century" by Steven Pinker, and "The Only Game in Town: Central Banks, Instability, and Avoiding the Next Collapse" by Mohamed El-Erian. I hope that you find something you like in there. I have great respect for Dr. El-Erian, but that book was not very good.

Nicco Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 3:25am

Thanks for your blog. I've been thinking of getting into a walking routine for some time but have either been incapacitated or too busy catching up on things that didn't get done when I was out of action to fit it in. I know I should walk more and your blog has inspired me to at least try, so thank you.

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