Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Missing My Stride

I don't really think about the way I walk most of the time. But I am thinking about it now because there is a hesitant, ginger feel to my movement.

My normal walk is a STRIDE. Because no matter what my destination, I am GOING SOMEWHERE. I think this walk may be inherited. My father walks like that. I walk like that. My brother John has amazing military bearing - he walks like that. Brother Andy has always had a "cop walk" - he walks like that. My brother Matt walks like that, too. Jerry and James don't walk that way. While they have busy lives, they also have a more leisurely approach to time and their lives. Their walks reflect that.

But I don't walk that way now.

Now that I think about it, I've really only been walking that way for about 16 years. It has to do with knowing yourself and feeling self-confident. As a horribly shy teenager, I slouched. When you're as short as I am, you could practically disappear when you do that. Then I was married to my first husband, I tried to be as invisible as possible. The less he noticed me, the better as far as I was concerned. When I finally left him, I learned how to stand up straight. I walked like I meant it. I was a smart, determined, confident woman and walked as if I believed it.

I've traveled some - Washington DC, Las Vegas, London, New York City. I've walked alone and at night and never been accosted. My walk may have had something to do with that.

There are only a few times since I learned to walk that I've had to move differently. When I had my son, it was by C-section. I walked for a while doubled over because they cut me across the middle and it got infected. When my son was about 8 months old, another car rammed into me from behind. It took two years to walk normally again. Then I began having horrible back pain about two years ago. The doctor diagnosed osteopenia at age 43 and prescribed mega doses of calcium, along with load-bearing exercise. I took the calcium and walked, but as time went by, I was using a cane more and more. It got to where I was using a cane every 3rd or 4th day because it was so painful to get up out of a chair or walk down the hall.

Then I signed up for KenPo. They worked me hard. The first class, they told us to do 100 jumping jacks, 25 pushups, 100 crunches, 50 oblique crunches each side, 30 dirty dogs, and 20 squat thrusts. There were other things, but these are the BASICS of every warmup. I managed 20 jumping jacks, 1/2 a pushup, 70 crunches, 20 or so oblique crunches, 10 dirty dogs and no squat thrusts. Then the workout began. Every class, I did the best I could. After a month of class, I stopped using my cane altogether. I think I may have used it once since then for a very minor knee injury. I can do all the warmup exercises (except the squat thrusts - my stomach doesn't take kindly to changing directions so abruptly so I do a substitute exercise) without hesitation - and I do every single crunch or pushup.

And my walk came back. I had my balance and my stride. I stood up straight and walked with purpose.

But today - I'm walking carefully. I'm slightly hunched forward and my stride is considerably shortened. I've been cut in the middle and it hurts. But I also know it will heal. That I will be fine. That I will be walking my walk again in no time.

I am 45 - and nothing will stop me now.


noelle said...

I came to your blog last night after you'd commented on mine. I read for about an hour before i realized it was 11:30 and I needed to get to bed. I am fascinated by your everyday happenings and with your seeming fascination with Elvis. One question about this post, okay two: What is KenPo? And what the heck kind of excercise is a "dirty dog"? :) You are so right on about how our walks speak about where we are in life, I hadn't thought of it quite like that.

Sayre said...

Hi, Noelle! The Elvis thing is kind of a joke. It's actually Nikki at What the Hell do I do Now? (check the blogroll) who's the Elvis-lady. She had a contest where we would print out a picture of Elvis and take pictures of it in different situations. I LOVE taking pictures and work with a lot of creative people - so we all got into it. As a result, I have a bunch of Elvis pictures left over so I stick them in here every now and then to make Nikki laugh.

KenPo is a self-defense martial art. It takes its moves from nearly all the other martial arts and is one of the hardest ones to master. The dirty dogs are on your hands and knees - pick up one leg with knee bent out to the side, straighten it out, bring it back to the bent position and then lower it back to the floor. Switch sides. Do this with at least a one-count for each movement. When you first start doing them, they seem easy - until the next day when you can't walk.

I love watching people and how they communicate without words. Walks DO say a lot about people.

Thanks for coming by! Hope to see you again!

quinn said...

You are a very strong woman sayre..and you will regain your "stride" soon. you have a lot going on and so it reflects on how you do regular things. Once you hear back that all is good you will find your pace again.

you are right nothing will stop you.

Anonymous said...

That's funny, I never realized you were short. Always thought you walked tall--you did.and you my eyes...

nikki said...

your dad's comment is the sweetest thing ever. you are lucky to have the parents you do.

("these boots were made for walkin'.....thanks. now the song is stuck in my head. Thank God it's not Jessica Simpson's version.)

Nikki said...

It's outrageously cool that you got the walk back.

...but may I make a suggestion? Carry the cane around anyway...You can beat people with that..and there are so many of us out there that need a good beating.

Not me though...but my husband does.

Wanna start on him first?

Groovy Lady said...

Oh wow! I just fell in love with your dad! What a sweet, sweet comment!

I love this post. "Reading" people by their walk is something that probably most people do on a subconscious level.. but not something that people think about like you just did. I love posts that make me think.. I'm going to be watching people walk their walks all day now.

By the way.. your write like a woman who strides too. :)

Diesel said...

Wow, what a great story. I think my walk has changed quite a bit too (although I haven't had the dramatic injuries to punctuate my progress). I used to wear down the soles of my shoes on one side because I shuffled my feet and leaned to one side, but I've noticed I don't do that any more. It's nice, and not only because my shoes last longer. :)

Me said...

I LOVE this post.
You encourage me in ways you know not.
tons of hugs,

Pendullum said...

Soon you will be strutting!!!!

Oh, The Joys said...

Walk as tall as you can, Sayre.

HoosierGirl5 said...

I'm glad someone already asked what KenPo is, because I didn't know either. Hope you're feeling better soon. Thanks for stopping by my place so often lately. Everyone's words of encouragement have really helped.

Momish said...

Your stride comes through in your voice! Walk tall, friend.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I gotta start working out again

A Citizen said...

I haven't walked all this week- Except for Tuesday- And Monday and Sunday. Last two days it's been too cold.

I use Nordic Walking Poles to walk-It's weird and people look at me and strangely, but it makes you work harder- Trying to get a Nordic Walking Movement together in the States-

So far I am only getting weird looks--:-)

Liked your post!

Jeff said...

You have a great outlook - and dad.

Anonymous said...

(sigh) How did I end up being the only non-writer in the family?
Enjoyed your posts very much.
-Cordelia's Uncle

phred said...

What does he do now? Not nearly enough. The plan is to work full time on the house now until it is ready to sell. My dream for years has been to eventually live in or near the mountains and get serious about woodworking and some other interests. But my house needs so much work that it's overwhelming when I begin to think beyond the current project. Sinced I retired on 3/29 I've made very little progress turning my schedule around. I am still awake most of the night and I'm sleeping away the better part of the day. Having been mostly a nocturnal creature since my teens I guess I shouldn't be surprised that turning it around is so difficult.

phred said...

"Sinced"??? D'oh!

Mel said...