In her new book "Walk Your Way to Better," Macaroni Kid and 99 Walks founder Joyce Shulman offers 99 stories to inspire readers to meet their goals and live their best lives. Each section concludes with a prompt for further thought that Joyce urges readers to consider as they lace up their shoes and walk their way to better... and one step closer to crushing their goals. Order your copy of her book today!
Post a pic of you with "Walk Your Way to Better" (even the e-version!) on social media by March 31 with #WalkYourWayToBetter and you'll get a code for a FREE month membership to 99 Walks!
Here's an excerpt from "Walk Your Way to Better":
The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Got
My son was three years old, and I loved him more than I ever imagined possible. He was easy-going, inquisitive, and full of life and energy. Should the situation have arisen, I would have gladly stepped in front of a moving train to save him.
My husband and I are addicted skiers. The sight of snow-covered pine trees, the physical challenge of navigating a steep run, and that feeling when you put your skis on edge and carve a turn brings me unspeakable joy. It is also one of the things that my husband and I love most to do together. We “courted” on the side of a mountain and got engaged in front of a fire at a ski lodge. We’ve planned businesses on chairlifts and laughed amidst deep piles of snow following particularly spectacular falls.
However, having a three-year-old and being addicted skiers didn’t blend very well. But we were trying. Trying to capture a little bit of that pre-child fun, trying to reconnect with ourselves and each other. So off we went to Vermont with a plan to check our son into daycare and spend the day together on the mountain. The destination was a ski resort that promoted itself as a family mountain, so I assumed that the daycare would be warm, welcoming, and enriching.
Not only was it in the basement, but the lighting was dim, and the three-year-olds were contained in a relatively small gated area. It wasn’t unsafe, but it didn’t look like it was going to be particularly fun, and it certainly didn’t look like it was going to be enriching.
However, we had purchased lift tickets, were dressed to ski, and the sun was shining. So, we left him.
Oh, the guilt! He was fine and seemed none the worse for the day… but oh, the guilt! The next day I was talking to my dad, who has a truly remarkable understanding of people in general and kids in particular. His insights and advice are always spot on and often profound. Here’s what he said when I told him how awful I felt:
“You know, you don’t do your kids any favors by making sure every experience they have is perfect.”
Of course, he’s right. We want our kids to be resilient. We want to raise them to be resourceful and independent, and those skills are developed through all types of experiences, both good and bad. They will only learn how to get up again and again if we let them fall down in the first place. They will only learn that people leave and come back if we, well, leave and come back.
Looking back, I have two very distinct memories from that day. The first is of my son standing by the gate looking up at me as my husband and I left to ski. That’s the singular memory that sums up all of the mom guilt I’ve ever felt. But I also remember sitting outside in the sunshine, leaning back against my husband, his arm around me. We had just finished lunch and were taking in a few minutes of sunshine before heading back for a few more runs. I remember feeling more connected with him than I had in months, and more myself than I had in years. I literally remember taking a deep breath and feeling the tension leave my body.
The lesson is two-fold.
First, you deserve to do things that you love to do, that make you who you are, that fill your cup. You deserve joy, pleasure, fun, and happiness. The truth is you did not forfeit your right to those things when you became a mother.
Second, you have the right to do those things even if it means your family and your children make some sacrifices because—and here’s the rub—there are valuable lessons to be learned when not every experience your child has is perfect. When they are not living a perfectly curated life.
On today’s walk, think about the people you want your children to be. How do you want them to walk through their lives? What lessons do you want to teach them? We should all agree and believe that identifying those things helps us realize that making their lives picture-perfect, smoothing every rough corner, and helping them avoid every frustration and disappointment won’t actually help them become the people we most want them to be.
Joyce Shulman is the founder of Macaroni Kid and 99 Walks.
Her new book, "Walk Your Way to Better: 99 Walks That Will Change Your Life" is a book about walking your way to better. Everywhere you turn, people, podcasts, and gurus promise a simple path to the life you want. But few of them work. Why? Because simply reading the words is rarely enough to call your heart and mind to action. This book is different. Each section provides a thought-starter, insight, or story.
But she doesn’t just want you to just read it. Joyce wants you to read a section and then lace up your sneakers and head out the door. Because while walking, your brain processes in a unique way, enabling you to recognize the things that are truly holding you back and the changes you actually need to make. You will literally Walk Your Way to Better. Along the way you will forge a powerful connection between your mind and your body. And bonus -- you’ll feel better and become fitter.
Post a picture of you with Joyce's book by March 31 on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #WalkYourWayToBetter! You'll receive a code for a FREE month with 99 Walks! (Make sure your social media page is set to public so we can find your hashtag!)