Brand building through storytelling

The walking life

It started as a multi-tasking move. With one brisk daily walk to work, I could turn my commute into a fitness program. No more jostling for space on crowded subway cars, no more sprints to the gym between meetings. Come to think of it, maybe I wouldn’t need the gym at all (no more annual fees). What a plan!

My first walk downtown, on a perfect spring day, was literally no sweat, although it took me an hour and 20 minutes. I strode into the office, bursting with energy, while my workmates at Chatelaine were still contemplating their to-do lists.Our resident fashion maven rolled her eyes at my footwear: “If you must wear running shoes to work, couldn’t you at least find a pair with platform soles?”

To be honest, scuffed runners weren’t my only fashion crime. What really killed my silhouette was the bulging tote bag that contained my office pumps. As the mornings heated up, the bag got lumpier. Blouse, jacket, panthose…at this rate I’d need a checklist to get out the door. Not to mention more schlepping space for my gear.

A hard-working backpack, criss-crossed with serious zippers, replaced my streamlined shoulder bag. You could tell at a glance I’d become an urban hiker. In a city of drivers this caused no end of comment. Near-strangers would marvel, “I hear you walk to work,” as if they’d heard I was in training for Kilimanjaro.

By this time I walked for the joy of it, year-round. What started as a simple workout had become a cherished island of calm between the pressures of home and office. No milk to buy, memos to send or burning questions to answer; just the lulling rhythm of my steps and the ever-changing sights of a route I knew so intimately, it seemed to be mine alone, even though I shared it with other morning regulars. The father pushing his infant in a pram, the runner burning up the pavement, the woman with the friendly Lab…I came to watch for these people, just as I wached for tinselled shop windows in December and the first forsythia of spring.

While I walked that route, the new baby grew into a toddler pedalling a tricycle. His father and I exchanged appreciative smiles, as if we’d gotten away with something. And we had. We’d claimed some precious minutes just to take in the street life and the season.

It’s been a long time now since I took that walk. Early-bird meetings sent me back to the subway and the gym; then convenience lured me to an apartment downtown. Yet I couldn’t kill the legend of those hour-plus walks. Elevator chit-chat continued to touch on my daily trek to work, which by that time was a pleasant way to spend five minutes.

Make no mistake, though: I still log plenty of time on foot, just because it feels right. The most humdrum errand is an excuse to walk somewhere, not that I need a destination (I can get my kinks out or solve a problem just by ambling around). And each vacation brings chances to walk a new place with my husband, from the woods of Nova Scotia to the hills of Provence, knowing we can savour all the rich meals we want without gaining an ounce.

First published in Chatelaine September 2001. Copyright Rogers Media Publishing.

Posted by Rona

Leave a Reply

Stay up-to-date with Rona.

To see what’s on my mind these days, friend me on Facebook.

Miss my old site?

Visit the archive to find your favorite blog posts and Chatelaine editorials or browse my published articles. Sorry, I’m not blogging anymore.