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Last Friday, I walked home from work on a glorious, sunny summer afternoon. For seven years, rain or shine, frigid winter wind and snow or sweltering summer heat, I walked just over a mile each way to and from my office. Many days, I walked over two miles each way, when it included drop off or pick up of my boys at daycare. I’m going to miss that commute… big time.
I suspect most people don’t have a commute to which they look forward, something that excites them. Commutes have a bad reputation for being stressful, long and arduous battles against other hurried and anxious foe, fighting to get home faster to their families. I get it. I’ve felt that way too.
My Commute Became An Investment In Myself
But when we moved to Chicago and my commute turned into a morning stroll or an opportunity to decompress from a long day at work, I totally changed my tune. My commute became an alternative to exercise, squeezing in at least 4,000 to 5,000 steps round trip. I found those steps particularly helpful when I had children and visits to the gym essentially ceased to exist.
Before kiddos, M and I walked to and from work together almost every single day. We work just a few blocks from each other. That was a really nice time to talk about whatever seemed relevant. After kids, daycare drop off and pick up duty took precedence over walking together, so we walked separately.
But I didn’t mind that at all either.
I discovered podcasts a couple of years ago which proved a nice complement to a solo commute. Here’s a list of a few of my very favorite podcast episodes that will have you hooked, if you’re not already.
With a steady flow of podcasts mixed in with an audio book from the library here and there, I had a plethora of engaging listening material to turn my “stressful” commute into an investment in myself. Commuting became bookends to my work day of simultaneous physical activity and mental stimulation to refresh both my body and mind.
As an introvert, I cherish time to myself (which we all know wanes dramatically with children). Commuting gave me an opportunity to do something for and by myself with no interruption for nearly an hour each day.
I really liked commuting.
Given the Chicago weather, our initial move here required a bit of an investment in the right gear. I bought winter boots and rain boots, an umbrella, a nice raincoat and two winter coats, a few pairs of gloves and some scarves. I also started thinking more strategically about how I dressed (sleeveless dresses in summer, tights in the winter, ankle pants when it rains, avoiding thin materials in summer that easily show sweat.. ewww… you get the picture).
With the right gear or in the right weather, walking to and from work is the best. Seriously the best.
A Tribute to My Commute
Last Friday, I took my last walk home from work (at least for this chapter in our lives). Our new town in the suburbs of Philadelphia offers little opportunity for walking and certainly no walking to work. That last commute came complete with a glowing sun, clear blue sky, and that perfect temperature that you can’t really even feel. I bet you know what I’m talking about. Basically, when it comes to weather, it doesn’t get better.
To capture the glistening sun on the Chicago River, I pulled out my phone and shot some videos as a bit of a tribute to my beloved commute.
To cap off my final walk home, I stopped into one of the two 7-Eleven stores not far from our apartment and snagged a little snack. It felt right to send off my commute in good, tasty fashion and the weather confirmed my intuition.
I’m not one to indulge often in an ice cream treat for myself, but when I do, I don’t shy away from “the good stuff.” I remember growing up, my parents would take us to the Häagen-Dazs® ice cream store in downtown, and it was our chance to pick out something fancy. Häagen-Dazs was for special little moments and occasions. This time, I chose the Vanilla Chocolate Almond Bar and… it was awesome. I wanted something I could eat while I walked the rest of the way home.
Feeling generous, I also grabbed pints of Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla to share with the boys over the weekend. We had plenty of warm weather in the forecast, and the little ones and M all love ice cream so we made little Neapolitan flights. My indulgent moment for myself morphed into an opportunity for some sweet treats for the family also (and more for me too… of course).
And yes, T didn’t let a single drop go to waste.
Finishing the Rest
Today, I’ll be sitting at my computer while hired movers (thanks to my husband’s employer) pack up our belongings, load them on to a truck, and drive them half way across the country. I hope to get a little bit of work done, but I know routine disruptions will make for a rather unproductive day. No worries ethical-self, I scheduled vacation on my work calendar, so I’m not pretending to put in a full day.
I won’t be walking to work anymore. I’ll have to squeeze in my steps and find time to listen to my much anticipated podcasts in other ways. I’m sure I’ll make it work.
But for now, there is still some leftover ice cream in the fridge, and we have to eat it before we leave, right? So cheers to one last bowl of the Häagen-Dazs ice cream that accompanied me on my last walk from my desk back to our well-loved Chicago apartment.
You Could Win $10,000
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