There I was, slumped at my desk with a case of the Mondays.
My motivation was as locked down as New Zealand after that one COVID infection. Deadlines to meet, dishes to wash, small human to single parent: my mental state was equal parts fatigue and self-pity. You know the recipe.
But—because we can’t let this stuff win—over the past two years I have trained myself to ask a question in such situations.
What can I do to feel better?
The answer landed quickly.
Go for a walk.
Sorry. Not today. Too tired.
No, no, not your usual daily half-hour walk. 15 minutes will do the trick today.
(Sighing and pulling on trainers) Okay. Fine. I’ll go.
And while you’re out there, list three things you’re grateful for.
Three, that’s it? Alright.
This is how I ended up taking my first gratitude walk around my neighborhood.
The moment I began walking, my perspective shifted gears, ratcheting up into openness, then curiosity, and then into this weird glow of what I can only call well-being.
Things to be grateful for.
One. That entertaining hour-long phone call with my friend last night.
The sun flashed from behind the clouds; the rain-slicked gum trees beside the railway line shone.
Pad, pad, pad, went my trainers along the pavement.
Two. A quiet working day.
At frigging last, after those hectic weeks, but let’s not dwell on stresses past, okay?
A row of Edwardian houses appeared on my left with deep verandas and curly ironwork.
Three. My daughter’s godmother is fetching her from school today and taking her to a toyshop, and that means I can rest for an hour and a half after work. Fantastic.
Jees! What is this place?
I’d walked down this road a few times before, and never had I seen it—the most beautiful, unkempt garden.
There were snowdrops and a pink camellia tree, and lavender and white roses shedding petals lining the path to the front steps, and blow me down, two magnificent king proteas standing like promises fulfilled. It reminded me of the garden of my childhood home, long gone.
Four. My bonus gratitude point: the secret garden of Brent Road.
I walked home sparkling with the magic that had found me.
My entire state had changed from woe-is-moi to wonderment.
Not bad for 15 minutes.
Try it, okay?