The three of us made a promise to begin an outdoor walk every Sunday at 10am in our glorious river valley: rain, shine, sleet, snow, or sub-zero temperatures. We began on January 1, 2017. It felt right. It felt fitting. It felt needed and deserved. That trio, consisting of my mother and friend, has now expanded to a fourth, my husband, the Rooster (no really he is. That's his Chinese Zodiac Sign). He keeps an eye on his hens.

My friend and I had met for coffee one afternoon and updated each other on our lives. It was a while since we last spoke. Health was the main focus of the conversation. She talked about her latest visit to her mother this past Fall in France. She shared how she rode her bike daily and felt so invigorated. I spoke about a yearning to bring more routine into my life and a connection to nature and my body. And so, the river valley walk was born. First, to connect with nature, our bodies, and get heart-healthy. Secondly, to explore our river valley and be present and embrace the seasons.

BE PRESENT. Let me share this with you...the more we complain, the more we exasperate the issue. Sounds familiar, right? I was born and raised, and continue to live in Edmonton. I never liked Winter. Primarily the weather. When I was young, I was involved in a lot of Winter activities like skiing, skating, and tobogganing. However, as I got older, the desire to be outside lessened. That was the beginning of my journey into hating Winter, and disconnecting from myself during those months.

Over the past few years I have come up against some health challenges. I will share those in another post. Regardless of what the ailment of the day was, what I noticed was how dis-ease, pain, etc, is the key player in bringing us out of the present moment. We yearn for our old self, the one that was still okay; and we dream of a future where we are healed. Hallelujah! We get caught in this game of depression and anxiety, and that does not do a body, mind, or soul any good at all.

So now these weekly walks, and they are not a small feat people. We average around 10KM in just under two hours. What they have done for me is to bring me back to the present moment. NOW. NOW. NOW. HERE. HERE. HERE. I wake every Sunday morning (however this last Sunday when my alarm went off, I had no idea why I set it!), get ready, make my bullet proof coffee, get my husband up, we check the weather and dress accordingly, and we meet the rest of the crew.

We hit the trail. Feet connecting to the solid earth underneath. At times, covered with crunchy snow, or ice, or dirt. My ears turn on and tune in to the sounds of the Woodpeckers, Ravens, Crows, and other small birds that I cannot even see. Then my eyes adjust and are grateful that they are zooming in on squirrel and not a tablet or some sort of screen. The forest is alive with breath, animals, heartbeats, and feet. I smile, facing the Sun high in the sky whether it is hidden behind a hazy sky or blasting it's healing heat on our bodies. And then comes the cool, crisp air, kissing every inch of exposed skin. It's at that moment that I know I am alive and that my only purpose at that moment is to be HERE to FEEL. You dig?

All my senses are activated. My legs are moving and helping to pump the lymph in my body that is carrying waste ready to be discarded. My heart is waking up and pumping rich, oxygenated blood to every organ in my body. My spine is stretching and correcting. My hips are awakening with every step, and my pelvis is carrying me forward. I AM ALIVE AND I AM IN LOVE WITH WINTER. Every Monday I am excited for Sunday to begin again, because I get the privilege to be human in every sense of the word. That's what we signed up for: to be grounded in the physical. It can be tricky at times, but it is oh so worth it...BUT you need to engage, embrace, and surrender to experience the joy.

OK, now let me get to the part that I wanted to write about. Last Sunday, four beautiful souls ventured out onto their latest trek. We chose a new path this time. It was a delight for the senses as it took us along the river into the woods. Soon we realized, that it wasn't really much of a path and we were soon greeted with nothing but ice! There was no turning back as we were already in the thick of it. So onward we walked with our Rooster leading our pack. Team work rose to the occasion. We were grabbing on with sticks, catching each other, and making sure that we were all safely traversing this terrain.

Something interesting happened. As much as I want to comment on what I observed with the other three travelers, I can only really talk about my own experience. As the going got tough, I did not tap out. Instead I reverted to play. I recalled a time as a child where I scaled these very same paths, and cliffs. No fear. Well, maybe a little. As soon as I smiled and hugged this adventure I felt my body become opened, receiving, grounded and flexible. When we first started out that morning, I instantly overheated. I dressed for  cooler temperatures. I was peeling off the layers. That left me a little light headed and slowed me down. Then when we reached a tough part on the path, I perked up and became solid and sure in my steps. SOLID! I felt an overwhelming joy seep into each and every cell. Grateful. I was grateful. We were delayed 36 minutes on this part of the path. We could have been angry or agitated, but rather we welcomed the challenge and I know that we each walked away that day with the exact lesson that we needed.

You see, in life, we are all walking on the same path, trying to reach the same destination, however our journey is unique. We are given the challenges that we require to grow and overcome so that we evolve into that person that we know we are.

And being human, and scrambling across this gorgeous world, is nothing but our playground filled with challenges and surprises.

Being human is about sweet surrender.