Large eagle doing a stupid walk.

A guest blog written by Emily Ashton @Emilyjashton.

It’s a lovely misty morning, warm enough for a light jacket and I am going for a short walk before work, as I do most mornings. The idea of going for a walk makes me think of someone casually strolling along, a gentle smile on their lips, relaxed hands in pockets, possibly sipping tea from a reusable cup…

This morning I start off listening to the end of a podcast I started yesterday, about organising my kitchen. I think I have ADHD, but it doesn’t stop me obsessing over the idea that somehow I can fix the clutter by just trying another organisation strategy. But that’s another issue.

Anyway, I listen to the lovely Southern American twang of the speaker who is very non- judgemental and kind about the state of the listener’s cluttered Tupperware drawer. I walk alongside the traffic resisting turning up the volume because it’s bad for my hearing. Out of the corner of my eye there is a young girl, maybe 9 (?) she is wearing Angus Young grey school shorts and is scooting down the path. She catches my eye, gives a really genuine smile as I pass and I start thinking about my daughter and how I hope she is that sweet and cool (the shorts) one day.

I turn left up the narrow snicket (I think its also called an alley, ginnel, path depending where in the country you are from) away from the morning traffic on the road to town. This is in no way a dingy or remotely creepy alley, so I definitely wouldn’t call it an alley. More like a path, anyway, semantics. It is straight out of English country garden-type charm. In fact at one point there is a hanging wisteria or something branching out between the walled gardens either side. Bit different to the ones in Bradford where I grew up. Those were definitely snickets and you didn’t have headphones on walking there, just as a point of safety.

Anyway, I reach the end of the path, podcast still discussing the best way to organise Tupperware (FYI it’s using a drawer instead of a cupboard, which I do, so I feel a bit smug). Over the road and down a private road with massive and gorgeous houses either side. Did I mention I live somewhere really frikking beautiful? There is a house at the end of the road, just on the left that is old. It is higgledy piggledy and has all of those tudor beams but at odd angles and it looks as though it has about 20 ghosts. There is a hot tub in the garden. I cross the final lane and into the place I aim for every time I go for a walk. There is woodland to my right and straight ahead is a view across to Bedfordshire. It is in a very small way, like being home. My own piece of copycat Yorkshire down here. It feels like space and air and breathing. I look out over towards the horizon as I do every day and inhale. My podcast ends and instead of starting a new one I decide to pocket my earbuds and try to walk back without any distractions.

There is a lady out walking her dogs, she has three and they look well trained and healthy. She has a whistle around her neck and I have full confidence in her ability to manage them. So does she, she is relaxed and aware of the surroundings. When one of the bolder dogs growls at another passing pup, she immediately but calmly responds with a whistle and a call diverting all three away from the scene with apparent ease. To me, someone who has never had a dog and has a healthy respect for them (read: I’m a bit scared) this is super impressive. She has likely never considered how easy it is for her. The lanyard and whistle suggests that she either works with dogs or trains them and clearly if I asked her or told her how impressive it was she would think I was weird. I have a tendency to gush at people when I am impressed. It’s usually a bit embarrassing.

I’ve reached the end of the open space now and am heading through another snicket towards another row of houses which curves around to meet the private road again so I can head back home. I start thinking about what to write when I get back and think about the girl on the scooter or the lady with the dogs and how I can formulate some kind of life lesson from them. Maybe I could write about overwhelm, maybe I could not write at all and tidy the kitchen or paint my daughter’s bedroom. ,I feel my heart beat in my chest and start to sense that familiar tightening when there is not a next right answer. Perhaps I could read my book or clear my work inbox or plan for the meeting this afternoon. What problems do I need to solve? How can I make the biggest difference? How am I feeling today? Should I do something for me? Is it time for some self-care? What even is self-care? I could write about that… I keep walking, and take a deep breath the small rational part of my brain desperately suggesting that I try some grounding techniques- what are they again?? erm what can I smell? Damp earth to my left and petrol fumes. Okay, I can see tree branches. Keep breathing, count the breaths.

I have reached the private road now and the thoughts have turned more critical. ‘God I can’t focus on anything for more than a second,’ how do I know which thing is the right one to do first?’ ‘Which should I prioritise?’ ‘How can I live in this mess and clutter?’. Maybe I should make a plan for what to clean on different day’, maybe I should organise the Tupperware drawer, maybe I should make a plan to support my daughter to be as confident as smiling scooter girl when she is 9. Should we get a dog? How about a horse?

I can see what is happening as its happening, its like one side of my brain is doing a massive eye roll at the other and being like ‘ here we go again, not going to get much done today are we?’ It starts to then feel like I can’t get a hold of the runaway train part of my brain, why can’t I control it? Heart is beating really fast now- remember you need to breathe, slow down the walking a bit you’re sort of walking weirdly fast. That thing yesterday what did it say, that other strategy? Okay so…

I take a deep breath and say to myself; in my head (I’m not that weird). ‘Even though I am all over the place right now, I accept myself fully.’

(God this is lame).

I repeat it again, maybe even close my eyes for a second. Thankfully the road is deserted.

Even though I am overwhelmed with simple choices right now I accept myself fully.

(I can hear the birds. It’s beautiful).

Even though I am thinking all the thoughts and winding myself up, I accept myself fully.

(I can feel my chest starting to relax, there has been some sort of release at the top just below my collarbones).

Even though it is going to be hard to focus on work today, I accept myself fully.

By the time I reach the pretty snicket again, my racing thoughts have calmed and I think oh, maybe I could write about this. This walk. The hanging lilac flowers come into view, they are just above head height and I hold one in my hand. Its velvety soft and smells so good. I wonder if I can grow one of those, maybe I should research planting a garden when I get home, maybe I could make the kids their own little patch. I should grow vegetables.

I smile to myself and carry on. Another little girl on another scooter across the road on her way to school. I smile again. My mind quiet. There was a point in my stupid walk I wondered if there was any point in doing this stupid walk.

I think I might have figured it out now.

I believe in helping people be the happiest, most effective and most authentic versions of themselves. Through my work as a teacher, coach and wellbeing expert, I nurture self-belief and self-awareness and remind you that not only are you not alone, but you have more control than you might imagine. You deserve, not just to survive, but to thrive.

Built by Robinson Web Design. Designed by DW Creative.

Privacy Preference Center