Sometimes in life, you are lucky enough to cross paths with people that truly raise you up, add spice to your life and support you when you need it most. One such person entered my life when we moved into our new house in 2009. I like to call her the pretty Fiona from the Shrek movies (not that ogres can’t be pretty but that is for another discussion.)
I dedicate this post to my good friend and neighbor, Rhonda.
So next to our new house in 2009, our closest neighbors, in a sparsely populated development, had 3 girls - all close in age to our girls and therefore perfect relationships in the making. My girls were fast friends with their girls, my husband soon began working on projects with their father and I often spent time with their mother, Rhonda, due to all of the overlapping activities and interests, including scrapbooking and dance.
Over the years, our families have celebrated each other’s birthdays and kid’s graduations, memorialized each other’s passed away family members, enjoyed a few nights out on the town (including this past Friday night), taken snowmobile and 4-wheeling trips, and in 2020 alone, walked hundreds of miles together.
At the end of March, I started working from home, along with most of my co-workers, because my company was trying to mitigate the spread of COVID 19. Lots of businesses closed, including restaurants, bars and my favorite gym. Luckily, the weather was already starting to warm up, which is not normal for North Dakota, and I was able to get outside and walk for exercise. My little black cock-a-poo was thrilled to go and whenever possible, we would walk with my neighbor Rhonda. Since it was one of the few ways to “safely” get together with friends, we started walking more often.
When you are craving human interaction, along with activity, what better way than walking outside with a good friend while enjoying Mother Nature at the same time! We both wanted to burn calories but I never realized how quickly an hour could pass by when you filled the time with good conversation.
At the beginning, we walked about 3 miles a day, a few days a week, which coincided with nice weather, but once spring was in full swing, we made a point to walk every day and even bumped up the speed and added another mile, which equaled out to a pace of over 3.5 miles per hour. We both started noticing changes to our bodies, but more importantly, we had some amazing conversations.
As we all know, 2020 was a terrible year, but having someone by your side, listening to all of your woes, made them so much easier to take. We were both able to vent about our problems, which included all of the effects of the pandemic, along with the normal trials and tribulations of being full-time working mothers. We shared tears, laughter and everything in between. We both learned more about each other than we ever could have without those daily walks.
I give her the pretty Fiona name because she has a lot of those same personality traits. She is a tiny little thing but she loves to drink beer, eat spicy food, get loud and obnoxious, and is not afraid to be herself around anybody. (She also believes in the “better out than in” philosophy, which has cracked me up a few times when we are out walking, but I try not to interrupt our conversations.) She even drives a huge vehicle (a suburban I think) while her 6’4” (or close) husband drives a little 4-door car!
I just love her fearless attitude towards life. She doesn’t take crap from anyone and speaks her mind, even if it’s not the most popular idea. But she also respects the opinions of others – even if she doesn’t agree – and is quick to forgive, like when I say dumb things. (Crazy, right? When do I ever do that?) She exhibits these same traits in all aspects of her life.
She was one of the first people that learned about my plan to start losing weight and she was the biggest supporter right out of the gate. She held me accountable and celebrated each win along the way. Like I said, she is already a little thing so did not need to lose weight, but knew that walking was a really good thing for her health and she loves to visit while we go round and round. (Our little neighborhood has one big loop that connects all of the houses, so we literally go round and round!)
Once the days got shorter and winter weather arrived, we stopped walking, but as soon as spring comes again, you can bet we will be out there again, getting caught up on all the latest happenings and setting new goals for the year.
This journey, let alone the year of 2020, has been hard enough so having someone close by and in my corner has made a huge difference. Rhonda was with me every week and watched me go from 240 to about 210 pounds. She helped me walk off over 30 pounds, but more importantly, helped me let go of the extra weight on my shoulders brought on by a tough and messy life. I sure hope I did the same for her.
Cheer’s to you Miss Rhonda! (Picture me holding a cold Michelob Ultra, in smaller clothes, sitting by your fire pit, enjoying a beautiful 2021 summer evening with you and your family. It’s just around the corner!)