22 January 2014

Barefoot walking

A couple of treasured blogs that I read have recently included a New Year's resolution of sorts: I shall walk. I'm with them on that, doing it and loving it.

Once upon a time - as in from 40 years ago stretching back to the dawn of humans - people didn't have to take daily walks as a separate part of their day. It was just a necessity to get somewhere. How things have changed. We need to purposely drag our soft bodies out of our upholstered chairs and car seats and get moving, because our bodies are not designed to slob around for extended periods.

I've continued to be fascinated with the idea of 'natural' human movement, how far we've diverged from it, and how we can get back to it in a pleasurable way. (I wrote about my initial discoveries of this concept here and here.)

Here are a few pics of a walk I do often. During term time I drop Anna at school and stride home this way. In the holidays I get up early to do it before Ian goes to work. We are so lucky to live just a couple of minutes walk from a beautiful natural place.

This cave woman forages as she walks... well,
for her chickens at least. They love greens. And
a girl who feels the cold can't resist a pinecone
 when she thinks about how easy they make
it to light the fire in winter.

Did you spot my barefoot shoes? I love them, although they look creepy, and stink after a few days (they are easy to wash though). I can walk over stones without so much as flinching thanks to their tough sole. It is fabulous to feel my feet walking as they should. I have some pretty barefoot shoes too, and on the rare occasions I have to wear 'real' shoes now (e.g. when doing DIY tasks where things could crash down on the top of my feet) it feels like I'm clomping around with a couple of barges on my flippers.

I've been going barefoot since November. For ELEVEN YEARS until June last year I wore orthotic inner soles and thought that supportive shoes were a moral imperative if I was to avoid the pain of plantar fasciitis.

But here I am nearly three months later, relying on the support of nothing but my own muscles, tendons and bones, with completely pain-free feet. It's a beautiful thing. I do, however, do certain stretches daily to give my feet a helping hand.

Also, I rarely walk on concrete or asphalt. I choose grass verges instead of the footpath (dog poo alert!) but most of all I go off-road and cross-country wherever possible. Healthy feet enjoy and need to walk over tree roots, hillocks, sand etc.

But the best thing about these shoes, as you can see, is that I can pick flowers as I walk.

4 January 2014

Sunshine at Christmas

Here I am, living on the side of the planet that tilts towards the sun in December. It's where I want to live, but I do prefer Christmas in the cold and dark! I spent two or three Christmases in this way, in England, where I would stroll home in the dark at 4 pm and see lovely Christmas lights twinkling in people's windows. I could eat roast meals at lunchtime and feel pretty good about it.

(It seemed very unnatural to have darkness at 4 pm though. The Christmas lights were the only good thing about that.)

Here the children wake at 5.30 am because the sun has risen, and it doesn't set until around 9 pm. There's absolutely no cosiness happening. So our Christmas break involved a lot of beachgoing.

(Excuse the dates on the photos. Why would my camera do that, out of the blue?)

Day after day the children swam and boogie-boarded, the latter preparing them for the surfing future their father is determined they will have. They're keen for it, too. They learnt so much about how to judge and cope with waves, and they had huge smiles on their faces the whole time!

It would be nice, though, to spread out the big celebration times of the year - Christmas, New Year and a summer holiday. Here they are all crammed together. The worst thing about it, I think, is the end-of-year events that all fall just before Christmas, distracting us from putting time into preparing for the big C. No gingerbread houses got made in this family!

But I don't mean to complain, just muse. New Zealand is the country I want to live in. This was very clear on New Year's Eve when we wandered with friends from a barbeque party down to the beach. It was a still, stunning evening, and the waves rolled in gently. One of our friends made up games for the children - who can write their name the biggest in the sand? Who can do the farthest long jump? Who can find a feather, a shell and a leaf? The children were in thrilled a 'We're at the beach and normally we're in bed by now' kind of mood, and we all loved being right there in that summer evening on New Year's Eve.

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