First, let me say that our WWAD host, Dr. Jennifer Hone, is a delight. Jennifer is a schoolmate of my late wife and we all share a long enjoyment of A Capella ensemble singing. A couple years ago when we were struggling with a late stage cancer diagnosis and treatment Jennifer jumped in as a “physician/patient advocate” to help us understand the medical jargon, processes, and our rights as a patient, and I am very grateful for her guidance and friendship. Jennifer encouraged me to join the walks at that time, but it was some months later as I learned how to be single again that I decided to expand my activities and give it a try.
My first walk was about a year and a half ago, on a lovely spring evening along the shoreline in my hometown of Santa Barbara. I met 7 or 8 new people, had some enjoyable conversations, got an hour or more of exercise, and thought I should do it again next week. And then again the next week. Before too long I caught myself smiling as I walked along with these new acquaintances, and then I was hooked. Since then the only times I have missed our weekly walks have been when I was away from town.
Our group has a small but dedicated core of walkers as well as a number who occasionally join us, and we break up into groups of 2 or 3 for a while and then regroup into other combinations as we walk. By the end of each walk I have had interesting conversations with each of them, and naturally friendships begin to form. One new friend was Elaine, one of the dedicated core. We got along nicely and I enjoyed our weekly chance to chat, and after about 6 months of walking and chatting I found myself sitting next to her at a Thanksgiving table at Dr. Jennifer’s home and realized (duh) that she was someone who I wanted to know even better. We had lunch together for starters, and we enjoyed a symphony but had to miss a holiday vocal concert that was unavoidably cancelled. We took some walks with just the two of us. And then, as you may have already guessed, a romance blossomed.
Well, fast forward almost a year, with Thanksgiving coming up again, and Elaine and I now call ourselves a couple and have a very enjoyable relationship. We like cooking meals together and puttering about with our growing collection of succulent plants (over 80 so far). We even took a 3000 mile road trip together. And of course we still are stalwart walkers, out every week to enjoy some exercise and conversation with our Walk With a Doc friends.
“Walk with a Doc” has been part of my life since mid summer 2015. I saw WWD listed in the activities section of a local newspaper. I already liked to walk, but was not following through much. WWD seemed like a perfect solution. I liked it immediately. Dr. Hone was approachable and friendly. She emphasized that it was not a race and to walk at your own pace.
Fellow walkers are friendly. The conversations are interesting and varied. I always feel energized during and after the walks.
Craig joined the group and liked the walking and the group dynamics. As we became more familiar with one another, a friendship formed. Over time, this blossomed into a wonderful relationship which continues to grow.
Besides walking together, we also enjoy cooking together. Craig’s vegetable trio of sauteed bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions is a favorite. It occasionally becomes a quartet with another vegetable thrown in. We often say that “it does not cost a lot to make a healthy meal.” (To be honest, the possibility of ice cream for dessert dances in my head while I am downing the veggies). After all, there is always a walk on the horizon. If not WWD, a walk on the beach, in a park, or just walking in the local neighborhoods.
We have started a container succulent garden that has grown from a handful to over eighty. The gophers hijacked the vegetable garden. We are glad that they have added vegetables to their diet. We did get to enjoy the lettuce, tomatoes, one lemon cucumber (not kidding, just one). The Italian parsley and onion chives have endured.
So, put on your walking shoes! One step at a time. It is good for your heart and just maybe, someone will walk into your heart.