Exercise has always been therapeutic to me. The benefits to my physical health have always been welcome, but the mood-boosting effects motivate me to keep a consistent routine.
Mostly I take a barre class, but sometimes I swim or find myself in a hip hop class at a nearby dance studio. When I’m particularly energetic and have a girlfriend with me for support, I’ll do a couple rounds of the Culver City stairs. I always feel lifted and inspired after I get my body moving a bit.
Movement is also important for Arizona. Having her run around and “get her energy” out has always been extremely regulating to her. In school, she often gets movement breaks when she is having a hard time focusing.
Last week marked the first day of 4th grade. We made a plan to walk to school like we do every year on day one. And even though it is no more than a 12 minute walk, we never do it more than a handful of times during the year. I am always rushing off to dive into my day’s to do list. GO GO GO, is my comfortable speed.
This year felt different though; almost as if Arizona and I were both ready for something new. She seemed especially focused and enlivened after that brisk walk on the first day (and, had a great start in her new classroom). As an animal lover, she was excited to see folks in the neighborhood walking their various breeds of dogs. She felt proud at stop lights, looking both ways before crossing safely. In fact, we both enjoyed it so much that we have been walking to school every morning since. I love the hilly route to Arizona’s campus, and after dropping her off to her classroom, I continue through the neighborhood for another hour on my own. I feel my body getting stronger.
It’s been such a beautiful centering exercise for me, not rushing into my day trying to get as much work done as possible before school pick up. And while I’m walking, I am thinking of my intention(s) for the day and week ahead. I feel peaceful, breathing deeply as I walk, conscious of my heart working harder.
I find myself looking forward to the morning, when I can walk with my daughter to school. Sweetly, she has started wanting to hold my hand again. As a pre-pre-teen, this display of attachment and affection has largely disappeared. But she has learned that when she grabs my hand, I am pulling her up the hill behind me and we are propelled forward together.
I am grateful for my new morning routine. What’s your favorite way to start the day?