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“I don’t get this!”

Author: Judith Barton

I walk every day. It originally started as an improvement in physical fitness and stamina, overall stamina, some2½ yrs ago. Now, thanks to all of the apps and my little Fitbit, then my target, like many millions of people, is 10, at least 10 thousand steps each day, and my aim is to achieve that even if the last few steps are going up and down the stairs at home! I’ve done this through all weathers and I actually surprise myself as someone who likes clothes quite a lot and I’m careful in what I choose and I even enjoy wearing the wet weather gear and I now have quite a wardrobe for all weathers. A colleague of mine who retired about 10 years ago always used to say that there’s no bad weather only the wrong clothes, and from a fellow walker thank you, Ray, for that reminder. As part of my walking, I’vefocussed not just on my physical fitness but also on my mental fitness as well and the headspace that walking really creates for me.  I’m very fortunate that close to my home there is a really pretty place which is known as the Water Park. Not the usual one with rides and people whooshing and really being sent through chutes and down slides, but a natural one, part of which is looked after by Natural England, that’s a marshy part which is my favourite.

I walk around, observe and notice, and very quickly my head moves from my ‘to do’ list to the space it gives me and I have noticed a remarkable difference. Along with other techniques I’m doing and really focussed on, I’ve noticed a great difference in my own head and when I reflect on the significant reduction in migraines. My close family and friends and colleagues would know that I would be stuck with those over a year maybe 10 times in a year, and I’m pleased to say that throughout 2020 and everything that brought us 2021 I think I’ve had one moment where, as I would describe it, I’ve had to take to my bed. So with this, if you like, dare I call it an elixir, I’ve been able to build my stamina. It’s often commented that I do walk very fast, and the opportunity to see the greenery, the nature, and yet be very close to the things that I also need for daily life. I recognise I’m very fortunate. On the headspace then I would say, I’m not sure how I can explain my gratitude for the sort of sense it brings me, and like sharing this with you, the ideas that flow from the space to walk.

And I suppose areal test of this is that when I’m not able to walk in the same space – yes, the 10 thousand steps are my daily goal and I may do that in a more industrial setting, or going about my daily chores – and the difference is that I really benefit from the space, that the outdoor, that the natural setting gives me, and leads me to think about many things around working practice, coaching practice and where I choose to live or am able to live. But last week, and this is where this conversation started in my head was, I was walking in my usual place and part of my journey home is to go through a track which separates one side which is fields and one side which was fields and is now housing. I often see and meet people on the track and they’re dressed in their walking, running, cycling, dog walking gear – whatever they have or they need –and we nod and during the pandemic, we did a lovely dance to separate ourselves. I think certainly the advantages, if I can say this, were about the increasing strength in the community, the bond of smiling and nodding, which I’m sure is not just a northern thing, I think it was something that was built during the pandemic. So, my point and my shock were that we’re doing this, we’re getting healthy and, along with my anonymous but friendly community of dog walkers, runners, cyclists, meanderers, on the floor was this carton of protein shake that had been tossed on one side, you’ll see that in the picture at the top of this. I really had to challenge myself and made myself go back and take a picture. Why is it that that’s OK, that someone felt that they could throw that on the ground? When, according to what it is they were consuming how their own self-care, their own health care was a priority to them, so their physical care and their environmental care seemed not to fit. I couldn’t understand that and it just reminded me of how we all connect and it took me to my role as a coach – that is this something that we need to place on our agenda, whether it’s the connection that’s the physical, the headspace, the wellbeing, how does all of that connect but someone felt so comfortable that they could throw it on the ground. And that lack of connectivity, that they are as healthy as the environment in which they sit really surprised me. I ponder this, flabbergasted.

It brought to mind what is our role as coaches, mentors, and supervisors in connecting all these elements?

Do we have role?

Would we have a conversation if our client was missing something that would assist them?

Do we have a role in helping clients and our profession see the connections?

Does the Global Code of Ethics offer an insight?

“2.8 Members should be guided by their client’s interests and at the same time raise awareness and responsibility to safeguard that these interests do not harm those of sponsors, stakeholders, wider society, or the natural environment” page 6 Global Code of Ethics 2016, Updated June 2021.