The other day I woke up feeling super crappy. Not your average, run-of-the-mill crappy. SUPER crappy. I hadn’t slept well, allergies were in full force, and everything in me screamed, “Don’t get out of bed!” But luckily for me, the healthier part of my brain kicked in, and I went for a walk in my hood. Actually I went for a Wellness Walk, and I highly recommend it.
What’s a Wellness Walk? To be clear, I didn’t start out with the intention of it being anything unusually healthy. I just knew I had to get outside and clear my head and move. I wasn’t breaking any speed records — this walk wasn’t for fitness, it was for mental health — and I had my iPhone with me. Walking at a slower pace, I began to notice things in my neighborhood that I’d never really noticed before, and I started taking pictures.
And then, magically, I started feeling better. Not on top of the world better, but better.
And I thought, “This is a Wellness Walk, and I need to write about it.” So here we are! And here’s what I saw:
Just two houses down from me, my neighbors Jennifer and Darrell, have a fairly utilitarian chain link fence around the front of their yard. But it has this spectacular passion vine growing on it, and I covertly took one of the flowers and put it in my hair. Thanks, neighbors!
Just around the corner, a young couple has a Little Free Library in their front yard — and for that matter, the Montessori school on the other end of the neighborhood has one, too. I love these because they not only encourage reading, but a sense of hospitality, sharing, and community. Note to self: Get a Little Free Library.
I see this agave every time I’m out for a walk, and it’s a head-scratcher. Do they not like their mail carrier? I love agaves, but….maybe where they won’t poke someone’s eyes out or impale their forearm? Just a thought.
As I made my way around the corner, I decided to go through my neighborhood park — after all, what’s a Wellness Walk without a park thrown in? I love this park. It’s not fancy, but it’s well-kept and well-used. It was Labor Day, and I spotted this dad out for a little Wellness Walk of his own with his daughters. Love.
I’ve never been to this pool, but I really should. I’m a terrible swimmer and don’t actually enjoy the water, but swimming is good for the lymphedema in my left arm (thanks, breast cancer!), and I love the sound of children playing. Note to self: Go to the dang pool next year.
I always loved the playground as a kid — I’d pretend I was a super hero that saved the day, and was always grateful my mom made me wear shorts under my dress because I loved hanging upside down from the monkey bars.
On my way back home, I came across a neighbor’s garden with tons of beautyberry — aren’t those berries stunning? They look like glass beads to me. If I was on a fitness walk rather than a Wellness Walk, I may have missed this altogether.
Ah, community pride at its finest! Austinites are fanatic about our Longhorns — who cares if we haven’t had a winning season in forever? Hometown pride like this makes my heart swell.
This mailbox cracked me up — I live in South Austin, long known for its hippy-dippy-trippy individualism. As you can clearly see, our neighborhood is not controlled by an HOA. Thank God.
Coming around the corner to home, I saw this on another fence — it’s a vine of some sort with these wispy balls of something or other on it. What is it? Tell me if you know! Then you’ll get a prize for embarrassing the garden designer who should probably know.
When I got home, I still had allergies and I was still tired, but I felt markedly better. I checked the stats on my phone — I’d walked 2 miles at a leisurely pace, saw the sights in my neighborhood, and felt engaged with my community. I appreciated small details I’d not quite noticed before, and my head was clearer and more focused. Plus, I was outside in the sunshine with a slight breeze on my cheek and the sound of the world all around me. I felt cozy and connected — the very essence of wellness.
Want to try your own Neighborhood Wellness Walk? Stroll around your neighborhood with your phone and take pics of different things like:
- Something that makes you laugh
- An item that makes you scratch your head (like, what were they thinking?)
- A sight that makes you unexpectedly happy
- Something beautiful
- Something new and different
- A house you love
- Something that recalls a memory
- An item you want to add to your home, garden, or yard
I’m telling you — Neighborhood Wellness Walks are the next big thing. Now, if one of my neighbors had a cocktail to hand out along the way, that would be a major score.
Want more ideas on feeling cozy? Check out my post on hygge. Never heard of hygge? You’re in for a treat!