Since turning forty-nine with a bottle of wine, a piece of cake and a single candle to mark the moment, I’ve been trying to decide how to celebrate my 50th this October: a spa vacation? a big bash? five good girl friends and me on a Sex In the City night in Manhattan?

None of the usual suspects appealed to me. I wanted a rite of passage rather than an extravaganza. A unique celebration that might make me feel I’d arrived at the mid-point of life with a good idea of who I am…and one that wouldn’t leave me with a big hangover the next day.  

I’ve always fantasized about walking for a month through France, Italy, England, or Ireland: pub crawl, vineyard tour, Renaissance seminar, Blarney Stone, you get it the idea. But that didn’t seem to fit into my present lifestyle. For one thing, I have a husband with a fulltime job who thinks husbands and wives living apart from one another for months at a time can lead to, shall we say, trouble.  And while my daughter’s away at college, I do have a son still in highs school. Those who know John know that he pretty much runs the house anyway, but that doesn’t mean he should be handed the keys and left on his own. We all know sixteen-year-old boys  + an empty house = shall we say, trouble.

What to do? Visit an ashram? Take my sisters for a week at the beach? Meet my daughter in Montreal and go on a shopping spree?

One morning, while sweeping my front porch, I realized I could take that urge for adventure — the urge to walk, to see, to explore, to saunter, journey, sojourn, pilgrimage — and do it right here, from home. Rather than making my celebration an adveture apart from my life, I could make it a new venture within my life.  And so, My Big Walk was born.

It’s my plan to walk for one hour, every day, 365 days.  Through sun, rain, fog, sleet, snow, hangovers, hangnails, sprained ankles, bad moods, menopause, hot flashes, cold spells — you name it, I’m walking through it.  Get a plan, and stick to it.   Over the years I spent a lot of time with therapists and doctors with varying degrees who by and large taught me that there are few things in life that you can’t get through by simply getting up, getting dressed, and getting on with the day. In other words, put one foot in front of the other and then do it again, and again.  If it scares you, do it anyway. If you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. If you’re tired, definitely do it.  It may not seem like a very sophisticated life philosophy but I’ve found it’s one that gets me up and out  and started on the journey of each day pretty reliably.

I don’t excatly think that walking every day is going to reveal itself as some big metaphor for how to live my life. I thiwoman-finding-happiness-denk walking each day is exactly part of how I want to live my life.  Every day is a small journey. Every walk is a small journey. How you live one day is how you live your whole life

So that’s me: One Woman. One Year. One Thousand Miles.   

A year long walking project to mark my fiftieth birthday.   Maybe I’ll get to Italy, London, Paris, Rome, anyway. And you can be sure when I get there, I’ll be walking.