by Carol Sokolsky
Sometime in mid-2010, I began walking. Like really walking… first around the neighborhood and then around more neighborhoods. Many times I walked with tears rolling down my cheeks because I felt like my life was spinning out of control. The love of my life was facing cancer, the biggest fight of his life. So, the one way I found to stay sane was… yup, to walk.
It didn’t take too long for me to realize that I was calmer after I walked. Nothing looked quite as intimidating after I walked. And my clothes began to fit better the more I walked. Trifecta!
I often used my 3 mile walk time—about 45 minutes—to conference with members of my team, or sometimes, if the day was really stressful, I just used it to pray awhile. And soon, I found myself using the alphabet for various reasons. I’d look for things to be grateful for, starting with A, B, C… and by the time I got to Z, I was usually grateful for the zoo or the zebra in the zoo! But my mind and my heart changed as I used 45 minutes a day as my gratitude time.
Now, living in Pittsburgh, the winter months were somewhat challenging. I often must have looked like the abominable snowman wrapped in a hooded parka, scarf around my face, and mukluks to keep my feet dry and warm. But I had my ear buds and my music, and sometimes just the crisp air and falling snow, but I kept walking.
By 2012, we knew we were facing yet another chapter of our love story. We both knew there was going to be an earthly goodbye in the very near future. I cannot even express that in words, but I still walked. I cried, I ran, I prayed, I hung onto every word of every worship song that held my heart. And then one day not soon after, I walked into an empty house… my new normal.
My walking course changed somewhat soon after. You see, there was now a beautiful black granite bench on a hillside only about 1 1/2 miles from me… uphill all the way. Seriously uphill. Like Pike’s Peak uphill. Just kidding, but if you know Pittsburgh, and especially Mount Lebanon, you know it’s just up. It was hard for me to say goodbye. I knew where Sid was; yes, he was dancing with Jesus. But my heart hurt so badly, and I was so sad, so I knew that walking and talking to Jesus—and walking uphill—would be another trifecta in my healing process. So, I put on my tennis shoes in all types of weather, and I walked up to that bench about once or twice a week, and then home again. A perfect 3 miles… and a good workout for my legs.
Now, I don’t suggest that anyone makes frequent trips to a cemetery; I don’t know that it’s even healthy. But for me, it was healing, because it gave me peace, exercise and a will and desire to accept what I thought for so long was just impossible for me to do. You see, I watched my Mama do the same thing years before. She was 55 when my Dad died. And she walked to find peace in the stress of such heartbreak. She taught me so much without saying a word. She walked herself right into healthy, and she just kept on walking (not quite like Forrest Gump, but close)!
For years, Mom walked LaFortune park every day with my sister, and I joined them when I came to Tulsa for visits. And let me tell you, that woman could walk faster than I could think! For years, we joked that Mom just never wore out. I’d be exhausted and she could have gone around the park again. She’s earned her silver sneakers, that’s for sure! But one thing is certain, she was healthier and stronger because she kept moving all the time. And often she’d tell us that it was walking that kept her sanity when Dad was so sick, and again, once he was gone.
Now I was walking in her shoes, and I knew it. Parallels that a mother and daughter shared.
It’s now 2017, seven years since I took up walking seriously. OK, I don’t walk every day, but I try to walk every day. I’m a Fitbit girl; I count my steps because I know the importance to my mind, my heart, and my soul to stay healthy… in all dimensions. And so I keep walking.
I walked today. It was 93 degrees when I walked. But somehow, it just feels good. Feels like home. I am home. My life has been a series of changes for longer than I can remember. I’ve moved across country twice—by myself. I’ve buried my son and my husband. I retired from the career I loved; it was time that I just came home. I needed to walk myself into finding who I am now and what God has for me to do. I know He’s not finished with me yet. So, just like Forrest Gump, I’ll keep walking…
- Mom was always in great shape—even now at 87 years old. She’s my hero.
- I want to live life, not just be.
- Reflection time—about absolutely everything
- Worship time—and yes, I sing along
- Prayer time—I love that time with Jesus
- ‘Writing-in-my-mind’ time
- Nature time—have you seen the pictures of the geese I post on Facebook?
- Sunshine—great way to tan and exercise… with 50 sunblock, of course
- Steps-on-my-Fitbit time
- So-I-can-eat-tonight time
And that I why I walk…
Carol Sokolsky is passionate about being the best she can be… in whatever place God plants her. She knows her limitations and her struggles; she also knows her strengths and how God continues to heal her heart. She is blessed with an incredible family… including her bonus family that she considers her own. Carol, a regular contributing writer for the918, loves to share life with her readers, and truly enjoys the feedback and support that she receives from so many. If you want to connect with Carol, she is on Facebook as Carol Sprunger Sokolsky, and on Instagram as Sokocarden. She’d love to hear your story and how the918 has made a difference. firstname.lastname@example.org.