Walking Tall (with a little dog)

My Try-Something-New today . . . walking tall.

Yesterday, I was held up in traffic.  It was a beautiful day, and I was rushing home from work to catch some evening sunshine.  Traffic started to back up, so I looked ahead and saw a very tall woman walking a very small dog at a crosswalk.  What caught my attention wasn’t that she was so tall and that the dog was so little.  It was that she was walking with great confidence and really good posture.  She was looking up.  She wasn’t rushing across the 5 lanes of traffic.  She was sauntering like she meant it, like she was paying attention.  And enjoying her stroll with her little pooch.

As traffic resumed, I thought about how poised she looked.  I have crossed in heavy traffic at crosswalks before, but I know I have done so almost apologetically — like the proverbial chicken crossing the road.  Like I am so sorry, People.  I know I am holding up traffic. I sometimes feel self-conscious.  My posture probably sucks.  Scurry scurry.  Probably my head is down, and I know that I am moving more quickly than I would if I were walking across a sunny cow field or strolling in the shade along a riverside trail.  The thought occurred: Why do I feel like such a nerd for holding up traffic? 

So, today . . . I was out walking my little dog.  I came to a crosswalk that connects the interurban trail.  I stood on the side of the busy street and  . . . the first car went blowing by.  Okay, I won’t take that personally.  The other drivers saw us, and we, my tiny and strange-looking dog and I, walked with vigor and buoyancy across the street.  Now, I am not a fraction of an inch over 5’4″ — but I felt taller.  On the inside, that is.  One driver even waved hello.  Maybe because my dog is such a weird mixture of genetics but then again maybe not.  Maybe she noticed that I was paying attention to her and not being all hurry-scurry.  We smiled at each other.  I finished crossing the street.  She drove off.

This action truly did not require any measure of courage.  To be clear, I am not paranoid about crossing the street!   But making a conscious shift in attitude is what caught my soul’s attention.  It caused me to wonder about all of those times I have felt apologetic for simply being human.  Like making a mistake at work or blurting something without thinking.  Like burning the birthday cake or backing into my neighbor’s parked car.  All of these ouch moments that only mean that I am human.

Paying attention means walking tall.  And walking tall means giving up on my apologetic default.  And giving up on my apologetic default means making small connections here and there.  It allows me to embrace that small part of myself that sometimes feels like a pain in the ass.  Maybe I am the only one who feels this way on occasion.  But there you have it.  I write this and take the risk so that it might speak to someone else who also hurries across the street.  Walk tall.

Wear who you are on the inside on the outside, too.  You are an ultra-cool person with so many experiences.  There is boldness in claiming who you are.  And rewards in looking up.   And gifts in walking tall.

One thought on “Walking Tall (with a little dog)

  1. This is very inspiring. I always feel a certain degree of awkwardness in being noticed, and I like the idea of “walking tall.” In reference to one of your other articles… baby steps!!! I like what you write about “a conscious shift in attitude” as well. Thank you for the inspiration!


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