I’ve been living in a foreign country for about seven months now, and honestly, even though the first day I came was like navigating a minefield of people who didn’t speak the same language, now I often forget that I’m even abroad. When I first arrived, I kept looking at people and seeing foreigners everywhere. Now I just see people from my neighborhood. It’s not like I recognize them or anything, but they don’t seem so strange to me. It feels like this town is becoming, well, kind of my home. My roommate and I go to the same grocery store all the time, or the same restaurants, and the cashiers and waiters often recognize us as the English-speakers, and sometimes I’ll even see one of my kid students walking down the street. Just a couple weeks ago I was walking near the center of town and one of my little nine-year-olds ran past me on her way to music school, and she just said, “Hi, *Chloe*!” and kept running, her backpack bouncing around. (Of course she said my real name, not Chloe, hence the asterisks.) Really, this place is starting to feel like home, like I forget that I’m not in America.
Then sometimes my friends will take me somewhere or make plans that involve some sightseeing, and suddenly I remember where I am. And that is also a great, valuable thing.
On Friday, I realized that I had NO PLANS for Saturday, which is something that is now becoming a red flag for me. I know that I don’t have a ton of weekends left to do cool things in this country, and so if I have a day where I don’t have something planned, it feels a bit wasted. So I texted my friend (who shall be called Oriole…you remember how I called my other friend Ibis? Well, this friend is one of the most stunning people I’ve ever met, so I’m calling her Oriole, which is a beautiful kind of bird). Oriole has been completely critical in getting me out and about in this country. She’s organized most of major excursions that I’ve participated in; she’s set up weekend get-togethers and parties and basically everything. I owe a lot to her. So I texted her on Friday night and said, “I have a free day tomorrow; should we go to a museum or something?” Instead of a museum, she suggested a walking tour of our town–just the two of us. Now, of course I live in this town, but it’s quite a historic place. So we decided on the walking tour.
Damn, did we walk.
We met up at around 11:00 in the morning and walked in pretty much a gigantic circle around the town. We stopped a couple times to snack or rest, but we basically walked for about four and half hours. She showed me everything–old buildings, beautiful woods, parks…things that I knew about or had seen from a distance but had never gotten the time to investigate. She took me to gorgeous churches, to a little cafe, and even to her cat’s grave. We really left no stone unturned. And even though by the end of the day, I had what felt like a stress injury in my right foot (my winter boots are not really meant for that kind of walking, but I don’t have anything else), I was feeling that much more accomplished. And that much closer to Oriole (I mean, you can’t visit a cat’s grave without really feeling something). We can talk about basically anything, and for that–for finding a true friend in this place–I’m really grateful.
Now, this post is supposed to be Discuss Goal of the Witch #11: Exercise the body. And, even though it didn’t seem like that was what I just talked about, it was entirely. Oriole and I didn’t just get together and sit around her apartment and talk (we did that later); we got outside, got fresh air, walked for miles and miles, discovered new places, and came home at the end of the day feeling tired but accomplished. Any Witch can tell you that exercise is important for physical health, but so will any doctor. As Witches we see beyond the fact that exercise is for your body–it is also for your soul.
I think it’s easy to make a lot of excuses in life for why we don’t want to get out and exercise or why we don’t want to eat healthfully, and yeah, that’s fine sometimes. And body positivity is a great thing too. I don’t want to look in the mirror and beat myself up for how big my thighs are or for how round my face is. But I also have to remind myself daily that self love is synonymous with self care. No matter how much I want to be body positive, I can’t be entirely so unless I do put in some work, because without self care, my self love falls flat. And vice versa.
I don’t need to tell anybody how lucky I am that I get to spend all this time in a foreign country–everybody already knows that that’s a blessing. But I’m also incredibly lucky to be able to enjoy it in this way. I love being able to put on my coat and shoes and go outside and see new things. That is how I choose to exercise my body–I take it far and wide.