Walking Women

Walking Women: Karen Bacon

Today’s Walking Women Interview is with Karen Bacon of Queensland, Australia.

Q. Karen, what inspired you to start walking?

A. I am not sure that I had a bolt of inspiration to start walking, but I do know it started as time out on my own, when my kids were young. It was a mental reprieve from being Mum, a wife and an employee. Time to just be me.

Literally, I would sneak away to the beach to collect my thoughts, gain back mental clarity and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, which I have always found so very soothing to my soul! In those early days I had to wait until my husband was home to watch the kids, to have the chance to be alone!

Q. How long have you been walking?

A. I have been walking regularly on that same stretch of beach now for 30+ years and I have such a love for it! I feel it’s my sacred place, comforting when needed and inspiring most of the time. It’s the place I also go to sit quietly to reflect and be in my own thoughts. I also love to walk in any of our beautiful National Parks here on the Gold Coast in Australia, and I’m happy to say I live nearby quite a few.

Laguna Park, Karen’s fave to walk around.

Laguna Park, Karen’s fave to walk around.

Q. What changes have resulted from your walking?

A. I think anything you love to do has the capacity to change you, not only physically but in mind and spirit equally. There is nothing I love to do more than walk away my problems, it is a great equalizer for me. I have in my younger years, suffered from mild depression, and walking, along with exercise in general has been a lifesaver. Physically it helps keep the weight down, particularly getting older, so I can have the extra piece of chocolate if I desire! Yes please!

Q. What happens if you don’t walk?

A. I feel very sluggish when I miss a day of walking. My attitude is off and I don’t have the same clarity at the start of my day. I feel lazy, and don’t have the same focus in my work. One day I will allow myself falling off the bandwagon (I’m human after all) and obviously when not well, but most of the time the benefits of my walk far outweigh the occasional day of apathy.

Q. What does walking mean to you?

A. Getting into nature and being surrounded by supreme beauty helps me understand that we are so small in the scheme of things. It gives me a perspective I can’t find doing anything else. It is empowering to understand the world and everything in it does not revolve around you. As a physical exercise there is no better; you need nothing special and it requires of you simply to place one foot in front of the other. It’s availability to all is simple and pure!

Q. What advice would you give to women who know they should be walking but aren’t--yet?

A. Definitely the mental health benefits are worth talking about. If more women walked, the reduction in stress, anxiety and depression levels would be noticeable. To any woman who suffers from any of the above, I would love to say please walk every day for one week and see and feel the changes within yourself. It is enough to keep you going back for more.

Make walking easy for yourself. Go somewhere close by, local parks, the beach, your neighborhood, anywhere you can get to quickly and easily, so you can incorporate walking into your everyday routine. If something is easy for you to do, you will choose to do it more readily, and then it becomes habit!

Being in nature involves all of your senses, it allows you to feel grateful in every moment, and alive! It has a way of wrapping you in its arms and carrying you forward with joy! It sets you up for the day and is possible for everyone. Fight your excuses and reap the benefits of walking. You’ll be so glad you did!

Karen’s neighborhood in Palm Beach, a suburb of Queensland. What great walking!

Karen’s neighborhood in Palm Beach, a suburb of Queensland. What great walking!

Karen, thank you so much for sharing your walking story with us, you’re an absolute inspiration!

Karen Bacon is a Certified Life Coach, Spiritual Rutbuster, Writer, Speaker, and member of One Million Women Walking. She lives in Palm Beach, a suburb of beautiful Queensland, Australia.

Prior to becoming a life coach, Karen was a partner in a six figure, all-female trade service business in the construction industry. She was also a wife and mum, with a family she loved very much! Despite her successful career and beloved family, she always knew she was meant to be doing something else, something that fulfilled her and gave her meaning and purpose. Karen found it by looking within! Now she helps other women find their life calling, “Finding their Mojo”, so they too can live and work feeling fulfilled, happy and successful. As Karen says, “Life Coaching from the inside out”! Learn more about Karen and her work at Karen Bacon, Rutbuster Coach.

Author Rachel Aldrich Rader!


In honor of this special day, allow me to introduce Rachel Aldrich Rader, author of the just released, Stop Making Yourself Miserable, How to Climb off the Diet and Exercise Hamster Wheel and Step Into Authentic Wellness. I’m especially thrilled to be bringing this interview to you on Valentine’s Day because Rachel is all about Self-love and Self-care and how these are the absolute starting point to authentic wellness. Welcome Rachel and her timely message!

Q. Rachel, I love the title of your book. Where did it come from?

A. I am glad that you love it because coming up with the title was the hardest part of writing the book for me!

I spent 7 years working as a personal trainer in gyms, studios and people’s homes. Most of my clients were women. They were different in many ways but the one thing that everyone had in common was that they were unhappy with their body in some way and hoped that a good fitness routine would be the thing that finally clicked for them.

It made me realize the subtle messages that women receive from our culture. We have this vague notion that our bodies aren’t quite right and we need to fix them. We do that with some combination of diet and exercise and when we don’t see the results that we think we want, we change that combination a bit and try again. Over and over and over again. The result is that we’re stuck in this cycle of thinking “I just have to get it right, this time it will work!” In the meantime, we remain unhappy in our bodies convinced that the problem is us trying to force ourselves through diets and fitness plans that are not authentic.

I wanted to wave my arms, jump up and down and yell “Stop!” There is so much noise out there in the fitness and wellness world. Women spend a tremendous amount of energy on trying to change their bodies. And most of the time, it doesn’t make them happy! My message is all about noticing the patterns that we are stuck in and intentionally opting out.

Q. There truly is so much noise out there—I completely agree. To that point, you let us know right off the bat that we’ve been lied to and worse, that we’ve bought into the lies. What are the lies that are really aggravating you these days?

A. One big misconception is that fitness or wellness has to look a certain way. That it has to look like a fitness routine and a diet. Generally when a woman feels unhappy with her body, she’ll start thinking about one or the other. Or if she already has those things as part of her life, she’ll try to tweak one or the other to make it just right. Again, getting stuck in the cycle of looking for “The Answer” in one of these places. What happens is that she adds to her stress and takes away from her wellbeing. The truth is that wellness is individual. “The Answer” looks different for everyone.

This leads to another misconception. That is that if something works for one person, it will work for someone else. We are so connected with each other through social media. It is an easy trap to see what someone else is up to and think, “Oh, she looks great, I should do what she’s doing,” without considering that her lifestyle, her body, her goal is completely different. Any habit that you set out to create has to be in line with who you are, not based on someone else’s life.

Another major myth is that diet and exercise are the big pillars of a healthy lifestyle. And if you find yourself believing this one, you’re not alone and it’s not your fault! Weight loss is a 60 billion dollar industry. Just think about that. This is an industry based on convincing you that your body is wrong and you need to fix it - and they have just the product or plan to help you out! It’s easy to see how we have come to believe that if our body looks a certain way and we’d like it look different, we just need a new diet or workout. The truth is that of course nutrition and movement matter, but they are only two pieces of a big puzzle that, again, looks different for everyone. Stress plays a huge role on how the body’s systems work. Sleep makes a difference. How you monitor your thoughts and manage your emotions matters. It’s worth taking the time to look into all of the things that affect your health. You are a whole person, you’re not just your calorie count or your workout schedule.


Q. Rachel, you’re so clear about addressing the whole person, the whole self on a very personal journey to health and wellness. What are your specific steps for us to stop making ourselves miserable?

A. The first is to take a realistic look at where you are now. What types of messages are you internalizing from outside sources and from your own thoughts? Is your inner monologue empowering or discouraging?

Next is to sift through those thoughts and weed out which are the messages that you’re receiving from this weight-obsessed culture and which are your own voice. This sounds easier than it really is! When you’ve been internalizing these message for years, or decades, it takes a bit of introspection to decide what you really, truly want for yourself.

With that internal guidance, it’s then possible to create an authentic goal or vision for your life and your health and decide what you’re going to do to get there.

Setting the strategy involves looking back on what you’ve done in the past and pinpointing which elements have worked well and which haven’t. It all requires being very, very honest with yourself and recognizing that you really are the boss. It’s not your trainer or your friend or even your doctor. You are the one with the power to unapologetically live this lifestyle that you want, and it really has to be what YOU want. Oftentimes, women are stuck in “shoulds”. It takes a little bit of time to be really real.

Don’t rush and don’t give up on whatever it is that you truly desire for your life.

Know that things will not work out perfectly, they never do, and that’s ok. There will be times when you’ll have to regroup or even completely change your plans and neither of those things equal failure.

Q. Rachel, your message and your method are so inspiring and so hopeful! What’s your hope for your readers?

A. My hope is that my readers will feel empowered. A lot of women go through life with this vague notion that whatever they are doing in terms of fitness and wellness is wrong. They are pretty sure that they know what they’re supposed to do, what they’re expected to do, but they just can’t quite get it together enough to get it done and reach this magical place where all is well and they are at peace with their body. The message of my book is to take notice of that thought pattern, to stop it from continuing and to build the lifestyle that brings them joy.

Q. Rachel your book needs to be in the heads, hearts, and hands of every woman in this country--where can we get a copy?

A. The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rachel, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your wisdom and caring with us on this Valentine’s Day. Your book is a loving gift to give ourselves and I’m so grateful you wrote it! Thank you!

cadillac mountain fam.jpg

Rachel Aldrich Rader is a Wellness Coach, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and a former perfectionist. She is a lover of Mexican food, red wine and crime novels, and is grateful for a career where yoga pants and sneakers are considered professional. Rachel lives in New England with her husband, three boys and one judgemental cat.

Follow Rachel on Instagram or Facebook, or join her fabulous Facebook group, Wellness Over Weight Loss!

Walking Women: Peggy Hubbard!

Today’s Walking Women interview is with Peggy Hubbard of Lewisburg, Tennessee.

Q. Peggy, what inspired you to start walking?

A. Several years ago I was working a full time job and caring for a disabled husband. Each day melted into the next and I was losing my identity to my roles in life: business owner, caregiver, volunteer. One way to squeeze out some private time was to wake very early before the day’s caregiving duties began. One morning the sun was out and spring had arrived to Middle Tennessee. So, I leashed my beloved dog, Pepper, and we took off walking up a country road that led to our home. I discovered sights, smells and sounds I had not noticed from the car. I knew I had to give myself this gift over and over again. A habit was born! 

Q. How long have you been walking?

A. I’ve walked/hiked consistently for 6 years.

Q. What changes have resulted from walking?

A. Naturally my body changed as my legs and lungs became stronger. My soul opened to the joy of a sunrise, the smells of fresh hay, and the sounds of nature waking for a new day. I found joy in the baby goats at a nearby farm and took time to stop and watch their prancing and playing. I happily waited for the neighbor’s horse to exit the barn and head to the fence to greet Pepper with a quick snort. So, patience, a badly needed trait, was gained. The sound of my feet and Pepper’s paws hitting the ground became nearly hypnotic as I thanked God for all His goodness and grace.  

Q. What happens if you don’t walk?

A. Recently having a hip replacement has helped me understand how central walking is to my life. After a couple of weeks of being unable to move much I became stiff and unable to sleep well. Now that I can once again walk I’m limber, feel stronger and sleeping better. Mentally I find that walking keeps me grounded and causes me to take the time to practice gratitude which keeps me in tune with my blessings - which are many.  

“This photo is from Henry Horton Park. I love the walking trail there and love that this hollow tree looks like a heart...heart healthy walk!” ~ Peggy Hubbard

“This photo is from Henry Horton Park. I love the walking trail there and love that this hollow tree looks like a heart...heart healthy walk!” ~ Peggy Hubbard

Q. What does walking mean to you?

A. Walking is so much more than getting from one place to another.  It’s the opportunity to take in nature.  It’s the opportunity to find the path less traveled and saunter down while taking in the delicious sights, smells and sounds.

Q. What are your biggest walking challenges/obstacles?

A. Like most people, time and weather are often challenges. But now that I get the senior discount at our well equipped Rec Center I have many options for rainy day walking and the hours give me a safe place to walk after dark. Sometimes my heart wants to tackle trails longer and steeper than my body desires! 

Q. What advice would you give to women who know they should be walking but aren’t - yet?

A. Take it one block at a time. Start by perhaps thinking of things that bring your life joy and voice gratitude for them. Use the time to experience your own breath, the feel of your body moving and the sounds of your feet connecting with Earth.

Peggy, thank you so very much for sharing your walking story with us. You’re an inspiration in every way!

Peggy Hubbard is a State Farm Insurance Agent.  She maintains an office in Lewisburg, TN and conducts business throughout the state. She is also an adjunct instructor of Criminal Justice at Columbia State Community College, a Rotarian currently serving as an Assistant District Governor, a volunteer for several charitable organizations, a lover of nature, and a member of One Million Women Walking!

Peggy is married to the marvelous Paul Kingsbury who is her frequent hiking partner, travel companion and all-around best friend. They have two adored kitty cats, Libby and Lizzy. Peggy loves music of all kinds, reading both fiction and non-fiction, and exploring nature.  

Peggy’s passion is using her skills and talents to help others be their very best. She loves to be surrounded by positive, happy friends and believes in a hands-on approach to charitable work. 

Walking Women: Karla Deal!

Today’s Walking Women Interview is with Karla Deal of Nashville, Tennessee.

Q. Karla, what inspired you to start walking?

A. Mostly, my dog. He requires daily exercise, like myself. ☺ But due to my chronic pelvic pain, I was unable to walk him for years. We had to default to dog parks, where he could run and I could watch from the sidelines. Not the life I wanted but had to learn new skills to find ways to exercise with the pain. Since that has become more manageable, my walking has taken on a whole new meaning.

And my feet taking me to new places that I can photograph. Photography is a huge passion for me and I see so many photo ops while out walking.

Q. How long have you been walking?

A. More consistently, about 2 years now.

Q. What changes (body, mind, spirit) have resulted from walking?

A. My body is much more mobile, my mind is a lot less cluttered and my spirit feels much more connected, especially to nature. I love nature and it fills my soul to be out in it. My level of gratitude has also increased since my body is allowing me to get out and walk. Walking was something I completely took for granted, until I was unable to do it for 15 years. Now I get out and walk as much as I can because…….I can. In my case, it’s a privilege that I absolutely no longer take for granted.

Q. What happens if you don’t walk?

A. I think I start feeling depressed and sluggish. You know what they say—”A body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion, stays in motion”! My body craves the movement.

Q. What does walking mean to you?

A. FREEDOM!! Just for the fact that I can now incorporate it into my life. And it is a part of all I do on a daily basis to bring my Body/Mind/Spirit into alignment. Walking is now an integral part of my overall healing and it is very healing for me to walk. And it’s my way of being able to connect with nature in an uncomplicated way. No reservations are required. No walking partner is required. Just pick a place and Maverick and I are off and walking. In addition to all of the mentioned benefits, it allows Maverick and I an opportunity to bond even more.

Q. What are your biggest walking challenges/obstacles?

A. Finding trails that allow Maverick to walk with me. I prefer ground trails to asphalt, as I like feeling the connection of my feet to the earth. The heat and humidity here in the South can also be challenging. My body has apparently never adjusted to this heat and humidity, even though I have lived here my entire life.

Q. What advice would you give to women who know they should be walking but aren’t—yet?

A. Walking is healing. Nature is healing. And both create alignment for your Body/Mind/Spirit. Give yourself the gift of healing and connection and start walking. You will discover new things about yourself and the world you live in.

Karla, we must be Soul Sisters! Thank you so much for sharing your walking story with 1MWW!

Karla Deal is a Copper Artisan and owner of Copper is My Canvas, where she creates gorgeous custom copper for both residential and commercial clients. She is also a student of Buddhism and a lover of life. Most importantly, Karla is Mother to Maverick, her 7 yr. old rescued Standard Poodle, who lives the good life! “My BFF,” says Karla.

Karla is a lover of all animals, nature, photography, sunrises and sunsets, walking, hiking, exploring, traveling, art, waterfalls, theater and volunteering with rescued horses. Her Self-Care practices include daily meditation, walking, hiking, Pilates, swimming, restorative yoga, silent meditation retreats, breath work and dharma talks. Karla is also a member of 1MWW.

Karla’s passion is working with copper and surrounding herself with people and teachers she can learn from.

Her 2019 Word: Curiosity.

“Peace and Metta”~ Karla Deal

My Favorite Walk

Radnor Lake in Winter.png

I am an avid outdoors woman. Outdoors is where I feel my truest Self, my most authentic Me. I was born in Tennessee, went to college in Utah, traveled and lived in several western states and then lived in Minnesota for 25 years. Despite the brutal temperatures, I spent many hours of my Minnesota winters cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, skating, slipping on ice, swearing at ice, shoveling snow, hauling in firewood, scraping windshields. Minnesota winters are accompanied by many outdoor activities–not all of them pleasant and not all of them the exercise you had planned on.

Radnor Lake in Spring.png

Now I live about 15 minutes south of downtown Nashville. Middle Tennessee, where Nashville is located, is blessed with a temperate climate, which means being outside is pretty comfortable year round. (I mention this in contrast to the 25 years I lived in Minnesota.) Here, outdoor activities are much simpler, much easier to access, and much kinder in many ways. We rarely face frostbite or hypothermia. We just don’t do that here. For me this means that my daily walks are dictated more by time than weather. Obviously I dress for the weather–rain, snow, wind, sun, heat and humidity–but I do so knowing that exposed skin is not going to freeze in 10 seconds. This gives me a certain confidence that some (notably my Minnesota friends) might interpret as smugness. To this I say perception is reality.

My favorite walking spot here in temperate Nashville,Tennessee, is Radnor Lake. Radnor Lake is a 1,300+ acre State Natural Area with over 6 miles of walking trails. I have several walking routes based on the time I’ve made for the day’s walk but my favorite walk is to combine the Lake Trail with Otter Creek Road, thus walking all the way around the lake. It’s a walk of about 2.5 miles with stunning views and lots of wildlife. The Lake Trail is mulch and Otter Creek Road, which was at one time a road for vehicles, is paved. Both are easy to walk briskly and a delight on all levels.

Radnor Lake in Autumn.png

Walking is my daily sanctuary, my refilling time, my workout, and my moving meditation. I am an addicted walker and I am blessed to have my favorite walk be less than 3 minutes away. I walk through the woods listening deeply to the squirrels scolding, to the barred owls calling across the lake, to the geese flying overhead, to the turkeys gobbling on the hillside. I watch the silent deer pick their way to the lake for a drink and am captivated by the wind through the trees on the ridges. The lake smells of algae and time in the summer, leaves and dust in the autumn, countless blossoms in the spring, and smells of cold and patience in the winter. Radnor Lake is a place I can absolutely count on to return me to my center, to help me solve my problems, to ease my mind and settle my soul. The walk around Radnor Lake is my favorite walk because in that now familiar 45 minute moving meditation, I know that I am walking myself full circle–from who I was when I started to who I will be when I’m done.

Walking Women: Kim Baker

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”.

Kim's favorite place to walk!

Kim's favorite place to walk!

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.

One of Kim's many gorgeous photos from her walks!

One of Kim's many gorgeous photos from her walks!

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.

Aruhe Cottage. Heaven on Earth!

Aruhe Cottage. Heaven on Earth!

Walking Women: Debbie Wood!

Today's Walking Women Interview is with Debbie Wood of Broadview Heights, Ohio.

Q. Debbie, what inspired you to start walking?

A. For me, the inspiration was just to feel better. There’s something about being out in nature, whether it be sunny or pouring rain that just melts your troubles away, even if it’s only for a while.
Having the realization hit me--that I could feel better just by walking--was what inspired me to expand my knowledge and hiking ability and figure out just what it could do for me.

Q. How long have you been walking?

A. I would say that my walking/hiking really started when I joined the Cleveland Hiking Club in October of 2010. Being a part of an organized club is an inspiration in and of itself because there are events, challenges, and plenty to keep the mind and body occupied. I had been walking in the parks and on sidewalks since I was a little girl, but in my early 50’s I had gone through a pretty heartbreaking divorce. That was when hiking found me, and I truly believe it was a divine intervention that saved me.

Q. What changes (body, mind, spirit) have resulted from walking?

A. This is probably my favorite question of them all. I LOVE sharing with women all of the improvements that happen when you begin to walk/hike. It’s actually a bit of a minor miracle, and for me, it was on steroids.
I don’t think it really matters when you get into hiking, what matters is when hiking gets into you. There is a change that takes place that’s pretty hard to explain, but I’ll give it my best shot.
For starters, I began to see all aspects of my life through different eyes. I was less stressed and as a whole, just felt better.   
When you hike the hard hikes, (like for example I did a fourteener in Colorado, which means that you climb to 14,000 feet in elevation) you realize that all those people who ever told you that you couldn’t do ANYTHING in your life were wrong! You stand on top of that mountain and you are all of a sudden 10 feet tall. You know you’ve accomplished something that a very small percentage of the population will ever do and something inside of you changes. You grow in a way that you can never go back from.

Debbie summiting Mount Cameron, in Colorado.

Debbie summiting Mount Cameron, in Colorado.

Q. What happens if you don't walk?

A. Major crash is the only way I can describe it. My sleep quality tanks, I begin to feel fat, my energy goes right down the drain and my overall well-being suffers tremendously, most of all my attitude and mental state.

Q. What does walking mean to you?

A. Walking to me means pretty much everything. I really don’t know where I would be right now if I wasn’t able to get out and hike! I am eternally grateful that I have two strong legs to carry me through the most difficult hikes, two good eyes and ears to see and hear the beauty of the forest, and most of all a sound mind to enjoy it all and let it have its way with me.

Q. What are your biggest walking challenges/obstacles?

A. I’m going to have to say the only challenge I have is that because of the fact that I work full time, I don’t have the amount of time to devote to hiking/walking as I would like. For me, the biggest challenge is to sit in an office and look out the windows at a beautiful, sunny day and listen to the trails calling my name. (I can seriously almost hear it!)

Q. What's your favorite place to walk?

A. Oh I have so many, but I think that given the fact that my roots are in Northeast Ohio, I would have to say that anywhere in the Emerald Necklace or the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are my favorites.

The Emerald Necklace is an amazing series of parks (eighteen trailheads in all) that cover over 21,000 acres. You can walk, ride your bike or your horse or just find a really cool picnic area and spend the day relaxing. There are also nature education centers, golf courses, and many spots to cast a line and catch some fresh fish. The Cleveland Zoo is also a part of the system, which is one of the only spots that I knew inside and out as a child.

High river crossing in Burr Oak, Ohio.

High river crossing in Burr Oak, Ohio.

I’ve hiked pretty much from coast to coast in the U.S. and I still feel that we, in Northeast Ohio, have the most beautiful parks in the country. People actually come from all over the world to visit, so there has to be something to it. So come visit and look me up. I’d be glad to be your tour guide.

Q. What advice would you give to women who know they should be walking but aren’t yet?

A. In the words of the great tennis shoe… Just Do It!  In my soon to be released book, The First Mile is the Hardest, I deliver this message loud and clear. The hardest part is getting up off your easy chair and just beginning! Once you start it becomes addictive and you will notice all the sudden changes that happen to you mentally and physically and you will seriously wonder what took you so long.

But most of all, it's just plain fun!!!

Debbie, it is plain fun! I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for sharing your walking story!

Debbie Wood is a legal secretary by profession but her real love is writing and internet marketing. She also loves everything hiking and nature. Being outdoors is clearly her passion and she is eager to climb more mountains. Two of Debbie’s biggest hiking accomplishments are receiving her hiking club's 10,000 mile patch (in seven years) and hiking all of the fifty-nine cities in Cuyahoga County (in five years).

Debbie is a proud grandmother of three: Anthony, Luca, and Layla, and she's looking forward to more as her kids have only just begun their lives as parents.  She's also very eager to be hiking with her grandbabies! 

Debbie is the author of the soon to be published book, The First Mile is the Hardest, Seven Hiking Lessons That Will Change Your Life, which is due to be released this holiday season. You can learn more about her book, her hikes, and her love of life on her Facebook page: Addicted2Hiking.

Three Simple Daily Steps For Surviving Divorce

Divorce is a hell like nothing else. It’s the death of dreams, it’s the death of a commitment you took on fully, willingly, lovingly. It’s the death of family as you’ve known it. Divorce is hell fiscally, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Divorce can damned well kill you because you are in such uncharted, ugly territory. Divorce is not where you thought you’d be when you said, “I do.”

You never imagined you’d say:

“I felt like I was going insane--absolutely insane!”

“I’d be happy, then all of a sudden I was really sad, then I was furious, then I was happy . . .”

“I lost a ton of weight--I looked like hell.”

“Oh god I gained so much weight--I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I’m still trying to get it off.”

“My kids hated me because I was divorcing their dad.”

“My daughter told me it was about time.”

“Our friends chose my ex.”

“I have never felt so alone.”

“There was so much to understand--to figure out. I was overwhelmed every day.”

“This was supposed to be cheap--a collaborative divorce your know? It was so expensive!”

“Divorce messed up every single thing in my life. But deep down, I knew--I just knew I was doing the right thing.”

“I was so scared to sin and go against my church but I had to. I just had to.”

“I loved him. I still loved him. But I felt like my soul would die if I stayed married to him.”

“The whole thing was a mess. One huge freakin’ mess. But I felt this weird freedom along the way and I knew I was doing the right thing for myself. And that felt good. Finally, I felt good.”

Sound familiar?

Seven years ago I was in the mess of divorce and it was pure hell. The years it took to decide to get divorced and then to actually get divorced were the longest, most incredibly painful years of my life. I was moving from the home I loved; I was unemployed and my only child was graduating from high school and moving away to attend college. To ice that cupcake, I was entering menopause. To my surprise I had become a single, unemployed, depressed, menopausal, nestless, empty-nester. In my scramble to make sense of my new circumstances I tried to think, drink, and eat my way out of the mess I was in. I sat and worried and fumed and spun the same negative thoughts around in my poor tired brain--a cyclone of self destruction! I was drinking way too much red wine at night and eating way too much chocolate during the day. Talk about a downward spiral!

I vividly recall one night when the stress and grief took hold of my like a physical force--like a horrible, all-consuming black cloud. I lay on the floor, curled up in the fetal position and cried until I threw up. I remember being absolutely amazed that I actually woke up the next day--I believed I’d shattered to pieces.

Shortly after that night of deep grief, I literally stumbled onto a survival path that kept me sane, leveled out the roller coaster, replaced binge eating and drinking and helped me get physically, mentally and spiritually stronger every day, despite the mess I was in.

Robin Roberts said, “Let your mess be your message.” She is so right with this excellent advice. Because I had discovered a survival path, I was able to navigate the hellish mess of divorce. I want to share my path--three simple daily steps--with you so you can survive too. I was so blessed to “discover” these steps when I did--they made all the difference for me during those dark, confusing divorce years.

I’ve practiced these steps every day for the past seven years and now I’m living a very different life. I’m running my own company doing the work of my heart and soul and I live in a new city with a culture and climate I love.

Divorce is a time when you and your life are the most messed up. Yet, divorce is the most critical time in your life to stay healthy, focused, clear headed, and confident so you can advocate for yourself in a way you never have before. These three steps will help you do just that. Click below to get yours now!