Pace Yourself


Trees and the moon, Fort Worden, Washington. © Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved.

The long and winding road (including airplane aisles) has gotten the best of my exercise routine. If I’m getting up at 5 a.m. in Dallas, my body thinks it’s 3 a.m. I’m not going to push my luck and run on a treadmill.

When I’m in Flagstaff at dawn, I’m not walking in freezing weather in an unfamiliar neighborhood. But I’ve been home for three days, so it’s back to the discipline of to-do lists and travel laundry, chores that didn’t get done while I was gone, and answering accumulated emails. And walking.

When I started out this morning, my knees protested. They began to convince me that a short walk around the block would be enough. I told them that the airplane rides and teaching yesterday had been long, so they might be creaky today. Halfway around the park one of my knees began to send threatening messages–serious pain every step. I thought of turning back. And then I had another idea. I slowed down. Stopped. Stretched by standing on my toes. And began to walk slowly ahead.

The other knee chimed in, encouraging me to turn back, go home. I took another step ahead. Slowly. No longer in aerobic territory. Hardly classifying in the exercise category at all. But it was forward motion. I continued at this snail’s pace around the rest of the park.

Cloud stepping-stones. © Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved

Cloud stepping-stones. © Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved

At the intersection, I stepped off the curb. No pain. I walked deliberately across the street. Worked just fine. With each block I stepped it up a speed–first purposeful,  then stride, then arm-swinging walking, then aerobic walking. Letting my knees catch up with my determination had done the trick. No complaints from them for the rest of the three-mile walk.

When you face creative work, you may hear the same complaints from your heart–it’s too hard, you need a rest, it’s not great timing. Don’t leave the studio. Slow down, put hand to paper in an exercise, then begin to move slowly ahead. Push ahead to do some thinking about what you are creating, pick up the pace, and keep moving. Pushing ahead clears the road, and the mind. You can push through the frustration and reluctance. You can. If you leave the studio, it will be that much harder to come back to it.

–Quinn McDonald talks to her knees frequently. She keeps them in action pretty much the same way she encourages her coaching clients to stay in action.

8 thoughts on “Pace Yourself

  1. Start small, slowly, limber up and then, let it flow. Such good advice for so many activities. Expectations should be grand however beginnings can, sometimes necessarily, be small.

    Small steps Wendy, small steps . . . be kind to yourself.

  2. My idea of a perfect day would be a little creativity – a long walk – followed my a longer spell of creativity. These days I take what I can get. Even take 15 mins of round the block if there is nothing else I can fit in. I no longer catalogue my creative time like I used to do with business time. Maybe I should start again. Might make me find just another 15 mins….

  3. Bam.

    This post of yours resonates with me on so many levels – I sat here and read it through three times before I could even comment.

    Now I’m going to go write – thanks, Quinn. As trite as it may sound: I needed that 🙂

  4. Quinn…hubby and I go through the same thing very often with strange, unexplained pains that show up and go away for no apparent reason. We are always amazed when suddenly the pain stops and we can keep going. Good for you for slowing down, taking it easy and working through it.

    This is a great analogy for doing creative work…just what I needed right now. You are always so spot on! Thanks for being you and thanks for sharing all of your insights.

  5. Hi Quinn, often your posts are synchrone to what’s happening in my life at the moment and what kind of issues are important to me. Well, one of them is ‘ action’ or ‘ movement’ as in going outside, losing weight by walking or exercising ………but I don’t….I have excuses of having so many assignments and promise myself to do it when they are done….but they are never done…….and I stay inside like a hermit (which I very much like being one) And than I think of the time that I was an instructor of sports, I was moving a lot……but that was 7 years ago now…….it is a red thread through my life…….experiencing extremes on both sides.

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