Walking: It’s a good thing at Genesis House

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“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Take time to smell the flowers…walk.

Pink peonies greet walkers along village sidewalks

For the  folks at Genesis House, the clubhouse in Fowlerville affiliated with Livingston County Mental Health organization, the daily mantra might well be: “All Things Walking.”

To clubhouse member Bea Eldridge, it definitely includes taking time to smell the flowers. Eldridge helps keep the flowers around the clubhouse blooming all summer long; and during the daily noontime walks about town, she slows to appreciate the colorful beauty of blooms flowering along village sidewalks

This May clubhouse members experienced their 9th walkathon, an annual fund-raising effort held during that month, which is also national Mental Health Month.  For the past several years they’ve been inspired by a walk, talk and visit with Clayton Klein, Fowlerville’s own walking hero – who walked each year from 2005 to 2009 (to benefit Michigan Hospice & Palliative Care Organization) from Paradise in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Hell in his home county of Livingston and on to Ohio – a journey of about 420 miles.

Klein (while saying that last year was his last Paradise to Hell walk) at 91 is still actively walking and promoting the benefits of walking to everyone he meets. He’s the first person who’ll tell you that walking is one of the best ways to improve and maintain physical health.

Klein and Lee Kellogg, director of Genesis House, agree wholeheartedly about the power of a good walk for our health.  “The walkathon,” explains Kellogg, “helps focus on our collective wellness and the many tools we can use to help all of us create more balance in our daily lives.”

Although it took awhile to get clubhouse members used to the idea of walking on a daily basis, he says, “now  they walk year round.”  Beyond the walkathon, you’ll find clubhouse members walking uptown and back as part of the daily routine. “We walk for our physical and mental health,” Kellogg says,” and for a chance to socialize and get fresh air.”

Clayton Klein is a favorite guest at Genesis House

Clayton and Genesis walking friends

Michelle Kozak, her mother Nancy, Bea Eldridge and Lynn Wertman posed for a photo with Klein as the Genesis club members rounded out the 2010 Walkathon month.  Klein and I enjoyed lunch at the clubhouse, and then the walk that day to help raise money for clubhouse projects.

At Genesis House, he is a legend, and an inspiration. Each May he has been a luncheon guest during the walkathon.  As he tells his always-encouraging-story of curing a back injury 40 years ago by simply walking, he’s able to share the wonderful ways that walking has helped him live a happier and healthier lifestyle ever since.

That day, another luncheon guest heard Klein’s walking tales. Francesca Pernice Duca, professor at Wayne State University, was in town for conference planning with Kellogg: the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association Conference in Idaho.  Their workshop was called “The Social Discourse of Recovery: The Role of Clubhouse Staff in Recovery Promotion.”

Speaking of staff, each year at the May Walkathon, I’ve enjoyed walking with staff members, and during Klein’s September walks in previous years, Kellogg and staff have walked with Klein when he arrived in Fowlerville. I often think how the example of Clayton Klein has been influential in helping to create the enthusiasm for walking and health at Genesis.

As Kellogg puts it, “We are thrilled to have exceeded every goal of our walkathon. We exceeded our goals for both the number of walkers and our total mileage.  Our goals were 60 walkers and 270 miles and the actual was 63 and 278.”

“We have also implemented a wellness campaign,” he adds, “where every member and staff of the Club is identifying wellness goals that are visible, measurable and trackable.”

Francesca Duca, Clayton Klein, Lee Kellogg

“Clayton is inspiring,” says Kellogg. “He is a wonderful role model for all of us at Genesis House, as we work towards improving our collective health.”

Over the last couple of years, joining the Genesis group walking – both during Clayton’s long distance walk events and during the clubhouse walkathon – I’ve admired the daily diligence of the clubhouse members and staff to their walking schedule.

They’ve inspired me to keep up my own walking program. Sometimes it goes in fits and starts, although I  always have Clayton Klein to call if I need to put on some steam, and not just stroll leisurely, as I often do…always with my camera in hand.

Good strong walking is a good thing, and one of the best things we can do for keeping our body going. I’m convinced that all the walking Klein does has contributed to his positive mental attitude. If walking makes you think younger, I figure, I’m all for it.

There are so many benefits to walking that countless books are written about it. This one caught my eye most recently: Walking Your Blues Away: How to Heal the Mind and Create Emotional Well-Being by Thom Hartmann. It’s a great book to help you understand the way the bilateral movement of walking affects our body and our emotions…helping us to “get over” the stuff that muddles our lives. In fact, it’s one of the best therapies around, and it’s with us all the time.

Hartmann explores the benefits and explains why walking works as a tool for emotional well-being. My favorite excuse for walking, as he points out, is that this kind of bilateral activity “gives access to the whole brain, making walking and other forms of bilateral work/play useful for enhancing creativity and problem solving.”

“The legs are the wheels of creativity,” he quotes Albert Einstein as saying. Now, then, as Clayton Klein likes to put it: “Stand and walk.”  OK…sounds good to me. Like the Genesis folks, let’s devote some time daily. Let’s get motivated; let’s get moving!

For more information on Genesis House and their walking program visit  www.genesisliv.org.

For updates on Clayton Klein:  www.claytonklein-thewalkingman.blogspot.com

About Susan Parcheta 101 Articles

Susan G Parcheta dreamed of being an inspirational writer, even as heading off after college to a teaching job. While teaching was not her passion, words were — writing many years for Livingston newspapers, especially in the areas of education, health and wellness. The dream continues: to inspire creative, healthy living and to explore new concepts of body, mind, spirit. Her signature theme “All Things Beautiful” invites you to embrace the beauty and imagine the possibilities that life has to offer. She lives in Gregory with her husband, Jerry, and their fluffy, pointy-eared — and always lovable — cat, Spock.