Creating a new life – one sauntering year later

After a year of retirement I have – a different relationship with time, a few projects that are bearing fruit, and the realization that building a new social network requires more patience and finesse than I anticipated.

Having my time back feels good, really good.  It shapes itself to me in new ways, rhythmically, like a long, slow wave. Synchronicity has been peaking my imagination and leading to new people and opportunities. This is probably the most liberating aspect of having so much time on my hands

I miss the great conversations with my university colleagues, one of the things I treasured most about my job.  Fortunately, there are new projects to develop, another favorite pastime from my years as a program coordinator. Completing my training as a docent at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center put me on track to create and implement a sauntering tour and workshop.  It was time for me to define what I mean by sauntering and to share it with others.

The program’s architecture, its design emerged intuitively, as I asked myself what I really meant by sauntering. It was the first time I set about describing the act of walking mindfully, aesthetically. As I sauntered the lovingly cultivated trails at the Wildflower Center, the process became clearer.  I discovered three principals of sauntering: resonance, rhythm and rejuvenation.

They build on the 5 Benefits of Walking Mindfully (Lynn Korbel)

  • A settled mind – By staying open to what’s around you, you will begin to feel more peaceful. It may be as simple as recognizing what is around you, but walking mindfully may also allow your mind to open and see things more clearly.
  • An appreciation of nature – Many studies have linked being in nature with a sense of well-being. In your mindfulness walk, you can notice the things that nature provides us and appreciate them in a more complete way.
  • A chance to breathe deeply – Unlike yoga or guided meditation, mindfulness walking does not urge you to breathe deeply. But it’s likely that as you begin to walk, you’ll naturally take deeper breaths, which has several benefits. You can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, reduce tension, boost energy and improve your mood.
  • Problem-solving moments – Sometimes, insights occur when you’re walking mindfully. And sometimes they show up afterwards. Offering yourself time to come back to your center often frees us to think outside the box. Mindfulness walking can be a process of self-discovery and self-care. Mindfulness supports us in many ways to go toward wholeness and healing.
  • A sense of gratitude – Many studies have shown that feeling gratitude is a great antidote to stress. Mindful walking can stoke your feelings of gratefulness.

I’ve developed several sauntering guided tours for the Wildflower Center, which I will describe in my next post. Lady Bird Johnson remains my inspiration and a guiding star for everyone who visits our oasis of native plants and habitats.  Her spirit infuses the gardens and their caretakers with a deep love of nature, a premier destination for naturalists and saunterers everywhere.

“Some may wonder why I chose wildflowers when there are hunger and unemployment and the big bomb in the world. Well, I, for one, think we will survive, and I hope that along the way we can keep alive our experience with the flowering earth. For the bounty of nature is also one of the deep needs of man.” Lady Bird Johnson




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