My parents moved with my maternal grandparents to a small ranch in Northern California in 1969.
I am the first grandchild, and my grandfather bought a small horse, which I cared for, and rode for the 5 years we lived with them.
During college, I got a summer job on another ranch in the small Northern California coastal town where my husband and I lived.
I lead horseback rides along the beach, and through creeks in the hills overlooking the ocean.
I herded sheep and cattle on horseback.
I loved my 5 years on that ranch, too.
A horse and rider move as one - the rider rolling back and forth to the rhythm and gait of the horse that is her partner.
A husband and wife often do the same.
My husband and I have been walking side-by-side for 35 years.
His legs are longer than mine, but I have always kept up with him by matching his gait.
During college, especially, I mastered this art, and it has become as natural to me as breathing.
Whenever I walk beside him, our steps match.
All of a sudden, on a night in October, I shifted.
We were walking very fast, as usual, to our car from the stadium where we watched our sons practice their Marching show with the band. There was a narrow section of the path, where we had to walk single file to get around some slower walkers, and I just decided to slow down.
My husband continued on at a brisk pace, and glanced behind when he was about 20 yards ahead of me.
He looked shocked seeing me poke along at a much slower pace than normal.
He stopped, and asked, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," I replied, "I just don't want to walk fast any more. I'm walking at my own pace now."
Confused is the word I would use to describe his expression, but he walked a little ahead of me, clearly uncomfortable with this new pace, because as he started to break away from me, he would turn, and shuffle a bit until I caught up.
He repeated this pattern until we reached the car, and neither of us spoke of it again.
I wasn't angry, and neither was he.
I didn't blame him for my choice to match his pace for the last 35 years, I just didn't want to walk fast.
I wasn't in a hurry any more.
I wanted to slow down, find my pace, and enjoy the journey.
We walk our two dogs almost every night, except when the weather is either too wet or too hot.
The last two nights, as we walked the dogs, I remembered my change in pace.
I actually had to consciously focus on changing my gait, because whenever my focus faltered, I fell in step with him again with long, heavy strides.
I didn't want to slow down, I just wanted to take smaller steps - try to find my natural gait, my natural stride.
That actually made the exercise more rigorous, so it was a good thing!
If I had this realization even 10 years ago, I would have been angry with my husband.
I would have blamed him for making me match his gait rather than allowing me to find my own.
Shame on Me!
The choice has always been my own. He has never raised a hand to me, never forced me to do anything.
Yes, I was playing the role that many, dare I say most, women play. We adapt ourselves to those around us.
We do it with our parents.
We do it with our spouses.
We do it with our children.
Jeri, my neighbor, and I were having one of our frequent talks recently as her husband became more ill, and she said, "I've never lived alone."
She realized that she went straight into a home with her first husband when she left her parents.
When they divorced, she lived with her two children until she met Jimmy.
She and Jimmy raised the kids, and lived alone together as the kids made their own lives.
Jeri is in her mid 70's, and this is the first time in her life she is living alone.
The same with my father in law, who is in his 80's. When my mother in law passed 6 years ago, Bob faced his first experience living alone.
I'm not saying I want to live alone.
I want to uncover who I am, just me.
I want to uncover my gait...the gait that carries me along my journey through life.
I don't regret not uncovering it sooner.
All my choices have lead me to the person I am now, and my future choices will help me evolve and grow further.
I choose to uncover my gait now, and see where it leads me.
Day 12 of my promise:
- 40 minutes of PiYo
- Amo il mio viaggio - I love my journey
- Website content for a client
- BTT blog post
- BTT opt in boxes
- Another podcast
Whose pace in life do you match?
Have you uncovered your gait?