Transitioning through the phases of life and avoiding the dreaded plastic baggie of medicine bottles.

Tammy Hader
Feb 20 · 4 min read

In the beginning it all seemed well thought out and logical. I confidently told myself I won’t walk the same path as those preceding me around the circle of life. I’ve got this.

I tell myself that I’m still in control, that I decide what happens. I dictate how I’m going to age and when I move from one chapter of life to another.

The transformation was slow and stealthy, infiltrating my body and hiding from my mind with its gradual modification of my metabolic structure. One day I woke up and found myself over halfway around the circle of life, watching my sodium intake and eating kale.

How did I get here so quickly?

In my younger years I could eat anything and didn’t have to exercise to stay thin. Going to the gym was a social activity. A way to pass the time, meet people, make friends and maybe even end up with a date or two.

The thirties carried more weight. Literally and figuratively.

Eating healthier and going to the gym became essential for keeping up appearances. The workout experience was more about sweating than socializing.

Another decade in the books and the struggle continued. Those good old days of high metabolism had eroded away leaving pesky fat cells in their wake.

Exercise for me is no longer just the means to look good in a pair of jeans. Cardiovascular and respiratory health are on the radar, creeping up on the importance scale.

Somewhere in the forties I began to think of exercise as a way of avoiding that large Ziploc bag full of medicine bottles. A technique to tack on a few more years to my life before I sit at the dining room table with pill bottles strewn before me, methodically filling my weekly pill organizer.

I’ve managed to keep the dreaded Ziploc bag at bay well into my fifties. I have almost completely tired of the gym and now rely mostly on short walks and longer hikes to maintain a modest level of physical health.

Venturing into the exercise room no longer requires an audience. Solitude is preferred. Eating healthy and drinking more water is imperative to feeling well.

At this point in my life, I just want to be able to eat a few, or maybe a dozen, peanut butter cookies without gaining five pounds overnight. I dream of savoring a piece of decadent chocolate cake and washing it down with a full-bodied Left Hand Milk Stout.

And that’s when it happened.

The innocent walks through the neighborhood and more ambitious hikes to the river and back were a gateway to something more. I didn’t see it coming.

The idea seemed so practical at the time. The temperature outside was in the 20’s with a wind chill in the teens dipping down into the single digits with each strong gust of wind.

I won’t do this all the time, just this once, because of the weather. That’s how it starts.

Hello, my name is Tammy … and I am a mall walker.

Photo by noor Younis on Unsplash

The first time was awkward, but not unpleasant. I instinctively veered to the right and began a counterclockwise circuit around the mall, blending in seamlessly with the other mall walkers already on the counterclockwise journey.

I cautiously observed my new companions. There were all ages, colors and races. Some were solitary, others in pairs, and a few in groups of three or four.

I had no idea there would be such diversity within the world of mall walkers. It wasn’t at all like the picture in my mind of the stereotypical white-haired elderly ladies in velour sweat suits.

Music plays pleasantly throughout the mall as the aroma of freshly brewed coffee permeates the atmosphere. The elder members of this community eventually gather at a table in the food court, smiling and conversing.

Mall walking isn’t so bad after all.

So often we go kicking and screaming from one chapter of life to another, not wanting to let go and move on. Envisioning the next phase of life as the end instead of the beginning. Focusing on what was, instead of what can be.

It’s human nature to cling to happiness as it is. You never know for sure if what lies beyond the door of today will be tragic or delightful.

For now, I’m only going to peek inside the passage to the next phase of life from time to time, when the weather gets in the way. When the time comes to fully embrace a mall walking habit, I think I’ll be ready to adapt to this rite of passage.

Hopefully my transition will be one of graceful acceptance. In another decade or so it could be fun connecting with my fellow elders in the food court. I can picture myself, silver hair neatly secured in a ponytail and totally rockin’ a sweat suit as I cruise around the mall in a counterclockwise direction.

Journal of Journeys

Each of us are the narrators of our own unique stories, dramas and sagas. Journal of Journeys is a publication that takes pride in helping share those stories.

Tammy Hader

Written by

Ex-accountant exploring a creative path during the second half of my existence. Reflecting on past experiences as a guide to living in the world today.

Journal of Journeys

Each of us are the narrators of our own unique stories, dramas and sagas. Journal of Journeys is a publication that takes pride in helping share those stories.

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