There are days that Izzy and I jump in the car and head for a forest preserve to do our daily walk together, but most days, we take advantage of the sidewalks in our own neighborhood. In fact, I have found that if I take Izzy somewhere new or different, she doesn't seem settled until we have walked around our own neighborhood. Perhaps for Izzy and me, the familiar brings a certain amount of calm. For me, I don't have to think too hard on where I am going and can instead let my thoughts flow in and out. I find that I am constantly learning new things about my neighborhood of close to 500 homes. Who is moving? Who has a teenager graduating? Ooohhh....new outdoor furniture. Nice. Lately, I have been focusing on what plants my neighbors are having success with and figuring out what I want for my own yard. I enjoy seeing friendly faces in the morning that greet me with a smile and I even get a kick out of figuring out ways to avoid those few who don't. Izzy seems to have her own needs of the familiar. At six years old, she has finally stopped trying to herd every bicyclist in the neighborhood and we both know which dogs are of no interest to her and which ones she would like to tear apart. Her favorite thing though is peeing in the same spots each day.
Recently, my son couldn't sleep and ended up taking a very early morning walk. Out of curiosity, I asked which paths he took. He shared how he left our neighborhood and visited the one next to ours. He mentioned a path he found that connected our two neighborhoods together. What? I have walked this neighborhood daily for the last six years. How could I miss this path? Whenever I have decided to extend my walk to the next neighborhood, I have always taken the long way around, thinking there had to be a quicker/easier way.
Yesterday I decided to do a little exploring. Although I feel like I have walked every street in our neighborhood, I never walk the cul-de-sacs. This must be where the mystery path was hidden. The first two did not expose any hidden paths. Then as I approached the third one I could see a path. I couldn't see from a distance where it lead, but it was a path. It was like a shining light came down on this path. I had found the right place. I felt relief. Izzy and I headed down the path and found it lead to a dead end. Disappointed, we headed back to the main path. The fourth cul-de-sac did not unveil any hidden paths. On the way home, I felt a conflict in my head going on. Did I want to continue the search the next day or was I content to continue following the path I have been to the next neighborhood?
My walks with Izzy always provide me with time to think and reflect. Yesterday's walking experience allowed me to reflect on my health. Lately I have found myself feeling the need to revamp my overall health plan. Currently, I am following the familiar path of taking medications for my rheumatoid arthritis, but it doesn't always feel right to me. When I chose to go back on medications, it was with the understanding that I would take them as long as I felt comfortable with that decision. I can't say I am completely uncomfortable taking them right now, but definitely starting to think of how to change things up a bit. Medications are often like my walks through our neighborhood, I don't have to think too hard about what I am doing which does create a certain amount of calm. It also allows me time to rest my brain from so many years of experimenting with alternative treatments while also looking around at what others are doing to see what fits my lifestyle. This time with the familiar has allowed me to do a little research into some things I would like to try in the future.
The basic belief system I had when I started this blog in 2008 hasn't changed. I still believe the body wants to heal. In many ways my body has healed, but not to a point I can easily go off the medications yet. Like my walk yesterday, I haven't found the path that my body needs to get me to the next place, but this time on medications is allowing me to explore while not feeling pain. Since my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, I have definitely discovered many paths to wellness, but something is still missing. My body still has lot of room to heal, but I need to keep searching for the path that is perfect for my individual body. The one thing I have accepted while chasing each of these different paths is that what I am looking for may not come easily or with a lot of guidance. There will be many dead ends. That is why it is so important to continue to be patient, open minded, and most of all continue to nourish myself both physically and mentally. With time, the path that is perfect for my body will be discovered. For now, I will continue to enjoy the calm that comes with the familiar.