Last Friday, I had the day off work for the simple reason that I’d met my hours for the week. It happened at a perfect time, as our daughter from Washington state had arrived home for a visit on Wednesday. Kate hadn’t been home since last Christmas, so it did our hearts more than good to see her, her boyfriend and their puppy Milo. (Little Milo is a Vizsla, same as our 4-year-old dog Stella.)
As usual, when provided a free weekday, I began a mental list of things I should/could do — housekeeping, home projects, errands, etc. What actually happened, however, was a leisurely morning spent having coffee and talking with my husband and our daughter, and watching Milo try his hardest to get Stella to play with him. Spoiler alert: She wasn’t having it.
Later in the afternoon, the three of us took the dogs for a walk in our neighborhood. As Milo is still learning his lead manners, Kate had to stop quite frequently and give him the heel command so he would stop pulling. Bless her heart — it was literally every few steps. I wasn’t completely surprised though, as Milo was in a new place, filled with all kinds of interesting sights, sounds and scents. We were walking around the nature area adjacent to the river, and we reached the point where a trail runs from the paved path, along the river and leads us back to our house. Going “off-road” was perfect for the dogs, and they happily trotted along, inspecting sticks and catching scents of the various critters in the area. Walking along with Kate and Milo forced me to slow down my usual walking pace, which is a bit on the quick side. I realized, however, as we made our way along the river under a canopy of trees, that I was able to truly enjoy the surroundings for a change. This wasn’t one of my super-charged, power walks, where I focus solely on maximum effort for a good cardio workout. This was something completely out of the norm for me — an honest-to-goodness stroll.
And it was glorious.
I had been feeling kind of defeated that my mental agenda was cast aside earlier in the day, but I realized as we walked along that the time I’d spent visiting and chatting over coffee was exactly what I’d needed. And having the rare opportunity to saunter through the woods on a crisp, clear early autumn afternoon was another dose of goodness for my soul. I stopped walking for a moment and looked around. I took a deep breath. I paid attention to the trees and the sunlight filtering through the leaves. Most importantly, I gave myself permission to stop and enjoy it.
I started another mental list at that moment, but it had nothing to do with projects and errands. It had everything to do with slowing down and allowing myself to enjoy down-time on a regular basis.