Before today my longest walk was 8 miles. That was a 3 hour walk. Today was gorgeous and I had hopes of being able to take a very long walk. How long, I wasn’t completely sure about. I am in the process of completing all the areas north of 496. I had about five areas I need to walk before I will be able to say I have walked everything north of the highway. The chunk I walked today was actually supposed to be 2 separate walks. However, when it’s near 70 with perfect partly sunny weather it’s hard to take a short walk. If you add into that the beauty of everything coming into bloom at the same time and the harmonious bird songs filling the air, well that’s the perfect excuse to walk over 13 ½ miles (almost a half marathon) in a four hour walk-a-thon.
Flowering Trees were everywhere
Maples Lining the Streets
It wasn’t my intention of walking the most I’ve ever walked before. I just couldn’t help myself. It’s true that part of the walk was because of the facts already stated, but a much darker truth is that I am very stubborn. I set my mind to doing something and I will not fail. I might wail out a frustrated, “I can’t do this”, but I will pretty much be planning my next attempt at the end of that sentence. Some think I continue to do this project because I am kind, thoughtful, generous and full of positivity. Don’t get me wrong, I hope those things are true. Yet, another part of me just won’t let me stop. I started it and I’m going to finish it. Tell me I can’t, well I’ll show you! Stubborn. It was my stubbornness today that had me over stepping my abilities and left me panting for a small drink of water 3.5 hours into my walk. Towards the end, for an hour or so I had been searching all the homes I passed, hoping someone was watering their lawn. No one was. I hoped to pass a business I could buy a drink from. I didn’t. Finally, when I didn’t think I could make it (I was weaving as I walked at this point) I saw a woman in her home. I got my courage up and I went up to her porch and laughed at how ridiculous my statement was going to sound: “I went for a much longer walk than I had intended because I’m trying to walk all these streets in this area so I don’t have to come back and walk it again”. Well, it was something like that. I continued, “Could I have a glass of water. I’ll just drink out of your hose even.” She didn’t hear the last part because she had graciously turned back into her house and was getting me a much needed glass of water. When I saw the full cup of ice water in a plastic cup, I almost cried. She gave it to me and asked about my journey. I told her about my walking project but she then cut me off and ordered me to take a drink; (I’m thinking I might have looked a little rough). I finished that off and told her the rest. I do like meeting people while I’m out and talking to them. She loved the idea and wanted the blog so she could check it out. She then took my glass back inside for a refill. When she returned she had the glass full and a cupcake with a napkin. My Cupcake and Ice water.
It was her daughter’s birthday. She gave me my treasures and sent me on my way. With this boost of refreshments I was able to complete this entire section which I was thinking that after all this work I would need to come back to walk 4 blocks. But I did it! I walked it all; almost a half marathon of neighborhood walking for this project! That’s the most I’ve ever done, time wise and distance wise and I’m not too sure I’ll do it again. But I might. Just don’t tell me I can’t.
Tagged City Saunter, Lansing, Michigan, walking, spring, Ariniko Artistry, half marathon, flowers, sunny weather, flowering trees, bird songs, lilacs
Sometimes I like those days where the schedule is chronologically challenged. Yesterday was one of those days. It started at about 4:15 a.m. when a text came through Pat’s phone letting us know our nephew had been born. It’s a bit hard to go back to sleep after that but I did try. Pat and I already had a few things on our plate that day but thought we could include a visit to the hospital quite easily. We eagerly got the twins on the bus and quickly got dressed for the day. Pat had a client that needed some computer updates on the south side and I had some streets I needed to walk. Now our schedule was: kids on bus (done), trip to hospital, meeting on south side, City Saunter walk on south side. I also had a lunch date with my favorite elementary school teacher, Cathy Colando Riley. We had finally agreed to a time and place weeks ago and I didn’t want to cancel that. That was at 1 p.m. in Okemos. By 9:00 a.m. Pat and I were in the car heading into town. We didn’t eat breakfast. We decided to stop at McDonald’s. We had coupons, buy one breakfast sandwich get one. We each could go in, use the coupon and take the extras to the hospital. So now our schedule was this: kids on bus (done), get ready (done), stop at McDonald’s, drive to hospital, drive to client on south side, drop me off to walk south side roads (about 1.5 I thought), get back home so Pat can work and I drive to Okemos to meet Cathy. After eating our McDonald’s sandwiches in the car we started heading into Lansing. Should we bring a gift? What would they like, flowers, candy, a soy smoothie from Biggby? All were great choices. On our route into town is Frandor. We already needed to stop at World Market for coffee beans because it’s Wednesday and on Wednesday when you buy coffee you get double punches; no, not to the face, on your coffee card to get a free 12 oz. bag of coffee. We use it to try the really expensive Jamaican blend or some such kind. So we decided to stop at World Market. So this is our morning so far: get kids on bus (done), go to McDonald’s and use b-1-g-1 coupon (done), drive through busy East Lansing to crazy Frandor (I refer to it as the 10th layer of hell) and stop at World Market for coffee and gift, drive to hospital, drive to south side (Dunckel and Jolly), drop me off in random parking area so I can walk, Pat goes to meeting, he picks me up, drive home and I leave to go to my lunch date with Cathy Colando Riley former Gier Park and Otto teacher.
Well, it’s 9:35 and World Market doesn’t open until 10:00 a.m. So we decide against the gift because driving into the 10th layer of hell, yelling at Pat for not turning onto a one way when he had the chance and then not having our store even open yet took about 20 minutes and I was a bit frustrated. A few minutes later after parking at the Sparrow parking ramp (I will need to come up with a catchy name for this place as well) we soon find ourselves on the third floor staring at the sign on the maternity ward wall that states: Visiting Hours 11:00 a.m. We needed to wait over an hour to see our new nephew. Fortunately for us a social worker over heard us talking and called the nursing station to see if we could visit early. Ahaaaa, we finally get a break! We stop at the nursing station, get the room number and sneak our way through the very quiet hallway. I gently tap on the door, open it a crack and let them know we’re here to see the new baby. Yippee! As with our timing with World Market we again were denied. Our sweet little nephew was about two seconds away from getting his own breakfast. Back to the waiting room Pat and I went. I was able to pass off the extra breakfast sandwiches before leaving though; finally success! So we wait. And we wait. About 45 minutes pass when the new daddy pops his head in and walks us back to the room. We had a quick visit and had to be off to our other scheduled plans.
We quickly make it out to the south side and Pat drops me off for my walk and he goes to his client. This part of town is not made for walking but I often find those areas more interesting. My first interesting thing was a goose. He was sleeping about 5 feet from the road, directly in my path. What would a goose do if I snuck up on him? I found myself laughing all alone on the side of the road at the idea of goosing a goose. I stopped and took photos a few times hoping my shutter would wake him up; it didn’t. I move closer and he’s still sleeping. I move a little closer and he’s still sleeping! I am now about 5 feet from him when he picks his head up, looks right at me and hisses. I hate that noise. So now I am stuck with speeding traffic on my right, a sloping pond on my left and a hissing goose directly in front of me. I wait until most of the traffic clears (it’s quite busy here) and move out into the road hoping by keeping my head down and not giving the goose eye contact he won’t attack me.I’m walking in the road, with my camera, laughing out loud, with fast traffic speeding towards me hoping to not get attacked by a drowsy goose!
For the next hour I continued on my sidewalk-less travels and finished off this entire south eastern edge. It was almost 3 miles and it was quite close to 80 degrees outside. I was quite sweaty and very flushed. It was getting very close to the time that I needed to be picked up to make it home in time to drop Pat off and leave for my lunch date with Cathy Colando Riley, one of my favorite teachers. We spent a couple of months learning all the songs on the “Chicken Soup with Rice” record in 5th grade. One of my most cherished memories. When my twins came home from school a couple years ago singing those songs I exploded with joy; not literally, but I was really happy. I had a copy of the CD I had bought for my older kids. They never got into it, but Evan and Ellie know every song and often play it as they go to sleep.
My phone vibrates. Yes, Pat is done! We meet back at the random parking lot and head back home. We do indeed make it back through the 10th layer of hell, passing World Market, knowing full well that we need to come back sometime that day to get our extra punch from our coffee purchase. At home Pat gets out and I even have a few extra minutes to change into dry clothes and race off for my lunch date with Cathy Colando Riley who looks exactly the way she did when I was in second grade and I told her I was a hypochondriac to which she said, “that’s a big world for a little girl”. And she looked the same way she did when she met me at the Calbery Awards ceremony in 4th grade where I won 3rd place city wide.
She definitely looked the same from when I use to get off my bus from Eastern High School and walk up to Otto to visit with her. I spent about an hour and a half catching up with her then headed home. I had about an hour to upload photos before the twins got off their bus. We would be returning to the hospital so they could meet their new cousin. We also stopped at World Market for that coffee and even stopped at McDonald’s again so the twins could have some ice cream for being good during the visit. At the end of the day we were happy to say we got it all done! And that 10th layer of hell? We drove through it 4 times yesterday. I think that’s a new record.
Training for a marathon; I hear that phrase often. As someone who’s never actually ran a marathon I really don’t know what that means. I would assume there are strength training sessions and endurance sessions. I know my cousin, who’s run many marathons, watches what he eats and drinks very cautiously, especially around race time. I know there are hill work outs and speed work outs and then there’s the rest day. I think many of us have taken that specific day and ran with it. Sometimes I think to myself, why would someone want to work that hard, push that hard for something like a race? It’s a race where you actually have costs and no obvious benefit to yourself. To push it even further, why would someone who’s just finished running 26.1 miles continue to the nearest hospital to donate their blood? I am volunteering for Lansing’s marathon this weekend and it’s been said over and over how difficult it can be for some of these runners to think straight after completing this competition. I was told that the volunteers would cut the bananas in half so the runners don’t need to struggle with peeling it. Yet, after yesterdays Boston Marathon some runners had the ability to complete the race and then continue running to the nearest hospital to give the very blood that pulsed in their veins. Now, that’s strength endurance!
I never thought of this project as a true marathon. However, there’s another definition of a marathon; “A marathon is a long lasting or difficult task or operation of a specified kind”. I think, under that definition, I am walking a marathon. It will take me 3 years, over 400 miles, multiple pairs of shoes, strength training and schedule adaptations, to accomplish this goal; this self imposed, made up goal. Do I have some costs that went into this? Yup! Does it seem to have any obvious personal benefits? Possibly. Have I in return for setting this goal, working towards this goal and ultimately achieving this goal received some sort of intangible blessing? My answer to that is an unwavering absolutely.
So, what’s your marathon? Are you slacking in your training or are you pushing each day to excel? I believe it’s these type of activities, the ones that take so long to complete, are the ones that give us the most benefits; in the long run.
My walk: part 1 and part 2
Lansing Marathon is still actively looking for volunteers, especially course marshals. Please follow this link and sign up if you can!
Carefully I planned out my attire for this walk; red corduroys with matching top, my daughter’s pink poncho with hearts and peace signs all over it and a pink bow in my hair. I wanted to wear a sign on my back that said “Honk if you #LoveLansing” but Pat thought it was too much. The night before I had finished creating 24 Hershey Kiss rose buds. Today I planned to pass them out as I walked one of my final east side routes. I’d learned before that giving away things to people isn’t as easy as you’d think. A few months back I desperately tried to hand out 5 Biggby cards. People tend to be wary of a stranger walking around asking if you like coffee. I knew with this give away I would look the part and act the part; happy City Saunterer (it’s a noun now) dressed like a Valentine Card, handing out homemade treats. It mostly worked. I had a slow start as the streets I needed to walk were residential. As I worked my way closer to the busier streets I began to find more and more people to flower/candy bomb.
Here’s my route:
1. Lady walking her dog. The dog growled at me.
2. A man in a wheelchair on his front porch. He was feeding about 5 squirrels peanuts.
3. The mailman on Allen St.
4. I placed one on a set of delivered packages on a decorated home on Allen St.
5 & 6 I crossed the street where a man and woman whose disabled car left them abandoned in Lansing from out of town. I told them I couldn’t fix their car but I could try to cheer them up. It did.
7 A woman walking out of Ronald McDonald House.
8 & 9 Two girls walking down the street. Their response was ; “How sweet”.
10. A man walking on Kalamazoo St.
11 A young girl on Jones
12. A young guy on Holmes
13. Another guy on Pennsylvania
14 A girl walking down Pennsylvania with heart shaped balloons trailing behind her. She also had a package in her arms. When I gave her the flower she announced that it was also her birthday! What a treat!
15. Lady carrying packages into Rite Aid
16. & 17 Two girls getting on the bus on Michigan Ave.
18 A man hurrying across the street from Sparrow. He had a red coat on. I couldn’t resist.
19 Burcham Hill driver
20. A well dressed woman waiting outside Sparrow Professional Center
21 & 22 A couple also waiting outside the Sparrow Professional Center
23 & 24 A couple waiting for the bus down the road from Sparrow.
What a great day of giving!
When snowfall and thunderstorms meet on a crazy night in mid Michigan it creates fog; dense, thick fog. I was so captivated by its etherealness I decided to go walk in it. My house sits in a bit of a gully, between multiple hills. I joke, but to get to my house from any direction you have to go uphill and then downhill. My walk to Meijer is literally uphill both ways and I’m not saying that in a Parks and Rec kind of way. It takes a while for the snow to melt around our house, even on a 50 degree day. Yesterday was no exception. All around my house and yard was this super thick fog yet as I drove to Lansing the fog became thinner and more sporadic. I realized the melting snow had ended any hope of walking and photographing the fog. However due to a few events there was still a very odd feel to this walk. The first was a horrific car crash that happened on I-496. The accident itself occurred at around 7:00 a.m., however as I drove past at around 11:00 a.m. the entire 5 lane highway was abandoned. The only thing on the highway was the 5 crashed cars and a completely burned out 6th car. Two police cars were positioned to block any car that might have made it onto the highway that somehow got through multiple road blocks further up. There were no movements. Had I not read about the crash on line I would have been really shocked by this scene. However knowing that a life had been lost in this tragic crash also left me feeling quite upset by having passed it.
found at the corner of Donora and Mt. Hope. The letter is written from a son whose father was tragically killed.
Then on my exit off the highway I came right up alongside one of the folks that ask for money. Whether their decision to stand there comes from true need or some type of scam, seeing them there often saddens me. I still get tears thinking about last Thanksgiving when our entire family, dressed in our fancy clothes, and joyously talking to each other about the great meal we were about to consume at grandma’s house drove by this woman on the side of the road. Her sign read; “Pregnant and homeless, please help”. It wasn’t so much what her sign said as it was the day in which she stood there. Here it was a holiday of thanksgiving, a day to be grateful. And here she stood all alone, in the cold. Didn’t she have family? Did she have no one to cook for her? The sadness overwhelmed me and I burst into tears. We drove back around the corner and my husband got out and handed her $5 after I insisted we do something. Maybe I played into the game. Maybe I should have had a stiff upper lip and told her to go learn to fish instead of handing her one. I couldn’t. I wanted her to know that someone cared. I wanted her to know that someone saw her and acknowledged her on this Thanksgiving Day.
So here again, I sat for a seemingly endless time trying to avoid the gaze of this man, praying for him and hoping he could find what he needed.
My final unusual event was actually a positive one. As I walked along my walk, finishing off sections of a neighborhood I mostly had walked before, disappointed by my inability to capture gorgeous, foggy photos, I found a hidden treasure. I’d heard of them before and had no idea I was sauntering my way towards one. Up ahead of me amongst a sea of browns and dismal grays sat a large mailbox, practically glowing in bright rainbow colors.
Except it wasn’t just any ordinary mailbox. It was a library! I had stumbled across a Little Free Library!
This little gem completely changed my mood. It reminded me quite a lot of my Finding Rainbows blog.
So today’s moral is; lift the fog. Look around you and find the joys, even the little ones. Be aware of those around you. Pay attention to those in need. Can you help? Did you try? Lift the fog and enjoy life! Grieve the losses as it makes you appreciate what you have all the more. And when something really great comes along, revel in your blessing then reach in and grab at it.
It’s around this time of year I start noticing those who begrudgingly reside in Michigan. They greatly enjoy the temperate springs, lavishly sunny summers and moderately warm falls. However when winter comes they absolutely loath the cold. It’s hard for me to understand this. I feel the temperate spring only seems so because of the frigid winters. Then the moderate fall can only exist and cause so much excitement because we all know what’s right around the corner. A true Michigan winter is the gauge we use to extract the gifts of the other seasons. I love Michigan winters; love them. I love the snow. I love the winter sports. I love the bulky clothes and furry boots. I enjoy the warming drinks and romantic fires. I love walking outside and hearing the cold; the snow crunching, the tree branches chinking together, the air forming physically around you. It feels clean and sanitized. It’s amazing. I also enjoy walking my walks in the winter. I often get asked if I walk year round and yes I do. The winters are some of my favorite walks. I find these winter walks to be filled with peace and tranquility as I am often the only walker. Even today, as I walked a very urban neighborhood the loudest noises came from birds. I only came across one pedestrian, an elderly man who was walking to the bus stop. I offered pleasantries as I waited to cross the street and we both extended hopes of staying warm when the cold snap finally arrives this weekend. We haven’t had a true cold snap in over 2 years. If all works out as planned this deliciously cold winter will create the most abundance of flowers in the spring.
I am usually not a procrastinator. I tend to get things done as quickly as I am able. When I was in school I would sit on the bus, knees propped up on the seat in front of me, homework on my lap. It would be completed by the time I got off the bus. Yes, I was that type of girl. My walking for the months of November and December was anemic. It began with a single day delay, which then led to a week of deference. This provided the base for a couple more weeks of inaction. Ultimately I would look back and realize I’d put off walking for almost a month. This hiatus was unintended yet there it was. I had planned to do quite a bit of walking over the winter break; so much walking that I had hoped to complete this project this spring. Ambitious but I thought it would be feasible. Recently, though, I’ve had a change of plans. This change was not entirely because I didn’t think I could get it done, because I think I could. This change happened because I had a meeting with an art gallery manager. Amy Wellington is the new creative manager at Art Alley. Art Alley is located in REO Town and provides a non-traditional studio space for local creatives to display their art. I had thought that having a gallery presentation of my City Saunter photography that corresponded to the completion of this project would be a wonderful way to bring it an end. After speaking with Amy and Diane Wilson, the out-going Creative Director, they not only loved the idea of my project but would be delighted to showcase my photos; in October. Sometimes, what you are offered in life works out a lot better than what you had hoped for. This new schedule gives me the opportunity to not rush the last sections. It allows me time to put together my strongest pieces. It will also allow me the time to find sponsors to pay for this display. I will be coming up with some creative activities and sponsorship packages to make this a worthwhile venture for anyone willing to donate. After three full years of working on this grand idea to walk all the streets of Lansing, I will reach the end October 1, 2013.
Contact me if you are interested in being a sponsor for my Art Alley Exhibit.
Today I walked a “bad” neighborhood. The only problem is; it wasn’t. Yes, it was in one of the areas of town considered a bit rough and tumble but it didn’t seem that bad to me. Maybe it was because I was walking through this area on a very sunny, early December, Wednesday morning. I suppose living here might be different. Maybe there are stories that I could be told by residents. However, the more I continue on this walking project through Lansing the more I learn that there really isn’t a typical “Bad” neighborhood. Many times what I find is that there are a few “bad” houses that may or may not affect the area. On this walk, I passed residents and they smiled and said “hi” when I smiled and said “hi” to them. Yes, my pace might have been a bit quicker, I kept my camera discreetly hidden away and I perfected my nod and smile routine. I’ll admit that when I walked up a quaint dead end street that nestled up to the edge of the highway with only the one way in, I was a bit relieved by its isolation. But I also noticed some of the signature signs of a “safe” neighborhood: lawn ornaments, cars in good working order, cleanliness, flags, landscaping and nice people. These houses were just as ornate and positive as any “good” neighborhood. Despite all the negativity about Lansing, it seems that it doesn’t really have this heavy level of destitute and poverty that might be found in other hard hit recession Michigan cities. In fact, the more I walk the more I find quite the opposite. I find community centers that help provide services to the neighborhoods. I find non profits encouraging good and healthy behavior. I find neighborhood groups building urban gardens and promoting good habits. I also learn of family and friends buying houses in these “bad” neighborhoods and liking it there.
Now, I know it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. I did notice the abandoned belongings of homelessness under the overpasses. I know many people are without good paying jobs. I know drugs are a big issue on the streets. Maybe it is dangerous out there. Maybe my being out there is playing with fire. I was warned excessively when I first went public with this project that I was being too risky; walking in areas that are known for trouble. I trusted that I would be safe out there. I trusted that the crime issues wouldn’t really get me while I purposely walked from street to street without causing any trouble. So far Lansing hasn’t let me down. I don’t necessarily like walking in these rougher parts of town, but so far these nefarious parts haven’t lived up to their negative reputation. I hope it stays that way.
Last week I went on a 7.72 mile walk. I chose not to write my blog until today. I had headed to Old Town because I wanted to have a little bit of good cheer. Old Town makes me happy. Getting pleasant salutations first thing out of my car by Chad Jordon, the owner of Cravings Gourmet Popcorn, makes me happy. Walking the river trail makes me happy. One of the reasons I went to Old Town was I was creating a photo of myself for a project a group of #lovelansing folks were doing for a friend; a good friend. She had recently been diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer. It broke my heart to think about all she had been through and all that she was going to go through. I needed this picture to be in a good and happy place.
After taking my photo to my satisfaction, I started my walk. I had a destination to the north. I would get off the river trail at the Turner Dodge Mansion and walk Grand River to MLK. There was a neighborhood in the North West corner I needed to get to. If I had the energy I would walk Filley to Turner and back to my parked car in Old Town. I didn’t know how far it would be but I was prepared for a good walk. As I walked and after I got home I decided that this walk made me realize a few things I was thankful for. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving I thought that very appropriate. So here is my City Saunter list of things I am thankful for.
I am thankful to have made friends with an incredible, active, energetic and creative group of people. This is a group who is willing to take ridiculous, funny, spirited and creative photos of themselves doing crazy, happy, inspiring things to send a positive, hopeful message to our friend who started chemo treatments today. The printed book of these images was 50 pages and was presented to her yesterday.
I am thankful that I have the ability and stamina to walk 7.72 miles. I am thankful I don’t have injuries that keep me from walking. I know many who can’t.
I am thankful on my walks to be on streets that still produce such vivid memories of my childhood.
I am thankful to live in the Lansing area. My family is here and my husband’s family is here.
I am thankful to my friend who started cancer treatments because she gave me the courage to get tested myself and finally get some peace of mind. I had been putting it off for almost 10 years.
I am thankful for Old Town, because I love it there.
I am thankful for Lansing’s River Trail because it’s the heart of Michigan’s Trails.
I am thankful for Lansing’s rivers even if it stinks sometimes, it’s so pretty!
I am thankful for life and trials and death because it breaks the norm and forces growth.
I am thankful for friends who have supported this project and me.
I am thankful for family for loving me with all their imperfections and despite my own.
I am thankful for my faith because without it I feel I would be so broken I couldn’t move.
Apologies for the typo!
Tomorrow I will be thankful for a great meal cooked by my husband’s mom who is an amazingly loving and kind person.
I am thankful that I can laugh and be happy and trust that even something really bad can be turned into something good.