How long would it take you to walk across India? For me, it took about a year.
Funny thing is, I never even left the United States. Actually, since it was 2020, I barely left my neighborhood. Make that two neighborhoods.
I’ve written about my daily walking habit before, and I promise not to talk about it in every blog post, but my unexpected India badge gave me an idea.
Like so many of us, I had to scrap travel plans last year because of the pandemic. A trip to see our daughter in March, a writers’ conference in Nashville in May, and another conference in Las Vegas in November: all canceled.
Instead, I spent 95% of my time either at home or at our lake cabin. Lots of working, lots of writing, and too much Netflix made up the bulk of my year. I bet you can relate. To keep my sanity, and a promise to myself, I also walked.
I don’t even want to do the math on how many times this means I circled our neighborhood because it would probably make me dizzy (we considered investing in a treadmill but I fear it would soon become an expensive clothes hanger). At least there was a change of scenery and some hills when I walked at the lake. But this still only meant two main paths.
My obsession to hit a minimum of 10,000 steps every single day gave me lots of positive benefits, but it didn’t take me very far from my house. This gets me back to my idea (see, after walking the same route for months on end, I’m even kind of going in circles here 😊).
If I had planned to walk instead of fly to Nashville or Las Vegas, would the culmination of my daily step count have gotten me there and back in a year? Thanks to easy-to-use map apps on my phone, it wasn’t a hard question to answer.
It turns out my daily walks added up to enough miles to not only get me all the way to Vegas, I could have tossed a few coins in a slot machine, turned around, and walked back as far as Rapid City, South Dakota. I could be visiting Mount Rushmore right now!
It’s been years since we last visited this national treasure, but the realization prompted me to dig for pictures from our one and only vacation there with the kids. True confessions: I couldn’t find those exact photographs, but it was still fun to thumb my way through a few boxes of fun memories. I really need to get all my pictures organized!
While I missed out on a fun week of learning from amazing authors in Vegas, I enjoyed this trip down memory lane today.
What about Nashville?
Turns out I could have made it all the way there, visited the Grand Ole Opry (maybe they were closed down like so many other things, but since we are just pretending here…), turned around, and made it back as far as Minneapolis.
Visiting Nashville is still on my bucket list, but I’ve made plenty of shopping excursions to Minneapolis with family and friends. I could be shopping at the Mall of America right now, or perusing one of the outlet malls. While I don’t like to shop as much as I used to, I am going through withdrawals these days and look forward to getting back there in the not-too-distant future.
Some shopping is in order, as is some time away with friends. My yoga pants and sweatshirts are getting worn out from over use! Dress clothes I bought in Arizona in February 2020 still have tags on them since comfy clothes have been my “go to” while working from home for the past year.
It’s fun to think back on so many weekend trips, and it makes me realize how much I miss those get-a-ways. I know there will be more fun in the future!
Last year didn’t turn out like any of us hoped, but there were undoubtedly lessons learned and unexpected blessings. I’m so grateful I kept up my walking routine. When I started at the beginning of 2020, I had little hope of sticking with it. But habits can be engrained if we give them enough time—one day at a time.
Walking in circles for nearly a year also makes me think how this can happen in other areas of our lives, too. If we keep doing the same thing and thinking the same thoughts, day after day, we don’t get very far! Heck, we might not even get out of our own neighborhoods.
Just look how much of this big beautiful country my feet would have taken me to if I’d have broken out of the pattern and followed different paths. This is all metaphorical, I have no desire to walk across the U.S., but it really makes me think about how impactful our daily habits and our thought patterns are on the way we live our lives.
I walked in circles in 2020 to stay healthy (and not gain thirty extra pounds eating popcorn and watching too much television) because the world shut down. Hopefully, we can see continued progress in the months ahead, and start traveling again.
But regardless, my walking paths have served as a powerful reminder to do what we can to avoid getting stuck in a rut. I’ve heard it said that if a ship veers off course by as little as two degrees, it can end up somewhere else entirely at the end of the journey! I believe the same is true for us. Tweaking small things in our daily routine can take our lives in totally different directions.
If you want to head in a different direction in some part of your own life, shift by two degrees and see where your feet can take you!
Walking this journey alongside you, Kim
They say hindsight is 20/20.
My word for 2020 was courage. I vowed to step through, over, under, or around my fear and pursue those things I’ve been dreaming of incorporating into my life. If not now, when? Life is too short to wait.
I wrote those words in January 2020. And we all know what came next. We’ve experienced nearly endless lists of challenges, heartaches, and loss that swept through our lives these past months.
As I sit with a hot cup of coffee before the sun rises a month into the new year, I’m reflecting on some important lessons I learned in 2020. Maybe some will resonate with you.
(1) Real heroes, whose work literally saves our lives, are everywhere. People willing to put their own lives at risk, doing the hard work that provides the myriad of necessities none of us can live without: healthcare, food, education, shelter, factory work, and endless other examples. Why are some of these same people often the lowest paid in our society, struggling now more than ever to keep food on their own tables?
Lesson re-learned: life isn’t fair.
Please . . sit with that for a moment.
Could we improve life for millions and reduce a few of our nearly insurmountable societal issues by getting our priorities straight around wealth distribution (don’t get me started on multi-million-dollar contracts for athletes)?
Absolutely. Do I think it’ll happen? Honestly, no. It’s a struggle as old as time. But 2020 has made me even more aware of these discrepancies and has increased my commitment to help where I can.
(2) How we work is changing. We learned many people can perform their jobs from anywhere. How will business owners react to the forced lessons brought about by a world-wide pandemic? Will they incorporate some of these lessons into their business models or revert to what they’ve always known when this health crisis is over?
Just as importantly, I’m curious whether people will even want to go back to old ways of working. Or will they use technology to build new types of careers with more flexibility and balance?
(3) Government alone can never save us. Government is critically important in providing a structure within which we can prosper, but some problems take all of us to solve, working in tandem and not in conflict.
(4) Fear breeds hate and nastiness. Loneliness kills.
Darn it. I wanted to avoid the darkness in this post. I’m tempted to hit the backspace and delete everything I just wrote.
But I can’t. If we learn nothing from this heartache and pain, what’s the point? None of us can know what the future holds. This has always been true, but the difficulties of this past year have made this more obvious than ever.
So, what do we do about it?
There are no simple answers, no “quick fixes”. But as long as we are lucky enough to witness another new sunrise, we can each work to bring some positive light into our lives and the lives of others.
My word for 2020 was COURAGE, and I needed it. We all did. I’m tired of the heaviness of it all. We aren’t on the other side of the troubles yet, but I hope we’re moving in the right direction.
I’ve decided my word for 2021 is LIGHT. I want more time outside, with my face to the sunshine. I want to focus on those things that light me up on the inside, that spark my joy.
I plan to redefine how I approach this new year. I want to focus on making the most of every single day and less on “achieving” specific things. Now more than ever, it needs to be about enjoying the journey.
My family is my greatest blessing. Spending time with them, even if it’s virtual, will continue to be my priority. Helping our young-adult kids navigate this crazy world where so much is changing and so many things we took for granted have all but disappeared can feel overwhelming. But we’ll find fresh ways to move ahead together.
I’ll work on my health. I challenged myself to walk at least 10,000 steps every day in 2020. While the number itself is arbitrary, the habit I’ve engrained has been life-changing. I have no intention of giving up on this daily activity!
I’ve taken my mental health for granted, but 2020 taught us we can’t do that anymore. I need to incorporate daily activities to protect both my mental and physical health in 2021. Creating habits is the key. Good rest and better nutrition will have to play into it.
Since last March, I’ve spent most of my time at home. It took time to adjust, but I’ve grown to enjoy it. My discretionary spending has changed drastically. I’m spending significantly less on gas, eating out, clothes, and other random items. Things we thought we “needed” no longer matter as much. Saving money in one area allows us to support more of the causes we care about. So many worthy organizations are struggling right now. Every bit counts.
2020 revealed huge knowledge gaps for me. To help combat this, I’m reading more than ever, and I’ve become a voracious podcast listener during my long daily walks. I want to learn more about so many topics:
I enjoy my days at home, but I miss my friends and family. Can you relate? I’m hoping the coming months will eventually allow for more time together, doing fun things and catching up.
2020 was a year of both heartache and blessings, revealing deep cracks, and we can only pull things back together by taking to heart so many tough lessons.
I love the idea of focusing on the light in 2021. The rising of the sun at the end of a long, dark night is like a beacon of hope. I hope that our world can begin to heal, to put the pieces of the puzzle together in a novel way that forms a better picture.
My hope is that you’ve weathered the storms of 2020, and though perhaps battered, I hope you’re able to discover a well of reserve within you that can allow you to look ahead with optimism and tenacity.
Sometimes it takes darkness to remind us how magical the light can be.
What are you focusing on in 2021? Do you like to pick a word that encapsulates your vision for the year ahead? If so, please share!
The days are slowly getting longer now in North Dakota (always a subtle yet powerful reminder that there is light after darkness). Life is a gift.
Sending you wishes for brighter days! Always cheering you along, Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!