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Walk Like Nobody’s Watching

May 22, 2020

While walking through my neighborhood not long ago, I passed a home with signs on the lawn that read “You have now entered the Silly Walking Zone!” Below the sentence were images of British comedian John Cleese doing various silly walks from his renowned “The Minister of Silly Walks” sketch on the Monty Python show. It was refreshing to see that people are still having a little fun, even during ongoing pandemic isolation. I did a half walk-half dance across the sidewalk. I didn’t know if anyone was watching, and I didn’t mind if they were.

Safer at Home orders are being lifted, but we still have a long way to go before returning to pre-pandemic life. Like the Silly Walking Zone, we can still entertain ourselves with fun and humor. Here are a more few ideas:

Do you play— or sort of play—a musical instrument? An informal front porch or backyard family jam session with not-too-obnoxious instruments like acoustic guitars, djembe, or shakers like maracas can unleash some creativity while engaging the neighbors.

Window and sidewalk art: Decorate your windows with fun cutouts of hearts, the peace symbol, or animals, or write an uplifting message of thanks to our frontline workers. Can’t find chalk to draw on the sidewalk? Several parenting sites recommend a simple way to make your own sidewalk paint with cornstarch, water and washable paint or food coloring: mix equal parts cornstarch and water in a bowl and stir until you have a paste. Separate the mixture into equal parts, based on how many colors you want, into muffin tins or other reusable containers or squeeze bottles. Add several drops of food coloring or washable paint to each container and stir vigorously to blend. Apply with a brush or squeeze. The online consensus is that the stuff washes off easily, just like chalk.

What’s a hobby or a practice you are passionate about? Host or join a watch party. A brief online search yields results for cooking, baking, craft cocktails, yoga, exercise classes, author and poetry readings, music, and more.

Scavenger hunts: Make a list of things found in nature to look for during a walk, hike or bike ride. You can do a variation of this for a walk down city streets (traffic signs, certain cars, particular items in stores window, etc.). Compare the list with family or friends to see who finds the most.

Neighborhood dances and sing-alongs: More neighborhoods are coordinating sing-alongs and dances, getting neighbors out of their houses to perform as seriously or as lightheartedly as they wish. At a coordinated time, neighbors step outside onto their front lawns or porches and sing a previously chosen song or do a little dance.

Staying connected while still staying safe will help us physically and mentally weather the pandemic. So, create your own Silly Walking Zone and stay well!

Sheila Julson is a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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