Today’s Walking Women Interview is with Kim Baker of Whanarua Bay, which is on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
Q: Kim, what inspired you to start walking?
A: I don’t really know. I had always had a dog but I wasn’t particularly aware of the benefits of walking my dog. My partner Karen wasn’t especially keen on dogs but I already had Jap when our relationship began and so for most of our 24 year relationship I had a dog. Sometimes Karen would walk with us but it was clear that she didn’t really enjoy it so mostly I went alone. So, in some ways I regarded dog walking as a chore.
When the relationship broke up I felt discarded and abandoned and I was totally miserable. Jap had been dead some 6 years or so. Within 3 months of Karen’s leaving I purchased a wee dog. I have always taken my dog care responsibilities seriously so we would have two walks a day--once in the morning before I went to work and then, a longer walk as soon as I got home in the late afternoon. It dawned on me slowly that walking improved my mood and I was able to forget myself for a time. Kuskus was an absolute delight and not taking her out was out of the question. She was so “in the moment” on these walks, so overjoyed to be running along the beach, chasing seagulls, running back to me with the biggest grin on her face. It was impossible not to smile and feel love. Over the weekends I would sometimes find myself in the depths of despair and we would go to the beach and just walk and walk and walk. I hadn’t been a religious person but I found myself praying, asking for help……and it came. It was miraculous and I there would be peace for a time. I began to notice my environment; to become more aware of what was outside of me. Pretty soon I was taking the camera out with me and over a two-year period I took hundreds of photos of everyday plants, trees, flowers and I still have them. I guess it helped me to focus on something outside myself.
Q: How long have you been walking?
A: I’ve been walking consciously and with pleasure for almost 10 years. Dogs have become a central issue in this because within 3 months of Karen’s leaving my work contract expired and because of joint mortgage responsibilities I had to move. To cut a long story short I became a pet sitter and stayed in other people’s homes caring for their pets whilst they were on holiday. It provided me with a roof over my head and there was enough money to feed myself and Kuskus, buy petrol and even the odd coffee or movie. Most of the dogs I sat were big and required walks twice a day. I had done yoga for 35 years but there wasn’t enough time in the day for everything so the yoga was abandoned. Now that I have a home I still haven’t got back to it and spend that time on a set of daily spiritual “exercises”.
Q: What changes (body/mind/spirit) have resulted from your walking?
A: I have a belief in a power greater than myself. I live consciously, having not done so for a very long time. I am more grateful than ever and it probably isn’t entirely due to walking that I have a whole new philosophy about my place in the world, who I am, and what I want or what I am capable of. I have a belief system that I spent most of my life searching for despite having majored in Religious Studies. I keep reasonably healthy, physically speaking and I spend time every day improving my mental and emotional health. I like to think I am calmer than I have ever been but that has never really been tested. I live a quiet life, and I’m not in a relationship.
Q: What happens if you don’t walk?
A: The same thing that happens if I don’t do my spiritual exercises. I’m all over the place, irritable, stressed.
Q: What does walking mean to you?
A: If I’m not looking after dogs, I usually walk in the morning. It’s an essential part of my day and I don’t walk far. It is uphill all the way home. Although I don’t work at it in a conscious manner, it’s the time when the things I need to attend to rise to the surface. I get home with a little list of “important things to do”. They’re often things I’d forgotten about – well that’s how it seems.
Q: What are your biggest walking challenges/obstacles?
A: After Karen left I tried a running regime, with absolutely no knowledge of what I should do – I just got out there and ran. I knew I had to do something, I just didn’t know what (I tried swimming too). Anyway whilst I was out running, someone called me and I turned around and twisted my knee. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time and now, on occasions, it’s sore and makes walking a little difficult. Walking in the rain can be a bit of a challenge. Actually it’s not being in the rain that is the challenge – it’s getting home and drying off, drying KK off and then finding somewhere to hang sodden jackets (hers and mine). Hardly a challenge really, is it? Hahaha! So lucky, I am.
Q: What’s your favorite place to walk?
A: I’m an ocean lover so it will always be by the sea.
Q: What advice would you give to women who know they should be walking but aren’t--yet?
A: Just do it and smile at, or say hello to everyone you see, even if you don’t feel like it. If you have to, then get a dog to force yourself out there. The dog will add immeasurably to your pleasure and if you stick at it you will come to feel the benefits. No dog? Well look around you, take a camera, think about the beauty that surrounds us. We are so fortunate and we have so much to be grateful for. Not even a bad idea to think about 5 or 10 things that happened during the day that you can feel grateful for. They don’t have to biggies – someone’s smile, your comfy bed, the coffee you drank that morning, the electric jug you used to heat the water. It’s all GOOD.
Kim, it is all GOOD and so are you! Thank you for sharing your walking story!
Kim Baker lives in New Zealand in the most beautiful place overlooking the ocean. She is the owner of ARUHE, a BnB holiday home. The website is: www.aruhe.nz. Kim is whakapapa to Ngai Tahu meaning she has tribal roots in a South Island Maori Tribe or Iwi. Kim is an entrepreneur, a curious lover of life and a self-described “work in progress” who lives consciously and gratefully every day.