Still Walking and Writing After All These Years

The Elephant Table

Forty years ago, in 1982, when I sat down to write the first Beaumont book, I thought I was writing a stand-alone book. I had no idea that Avon Books would buy that book as the beginning of a series, and I certainly had no inkling that all these years later I’d be looking forward to the publication of Beaumont # 25, Nothing to Lose.

A little over six years ago, when I set out to walk 10,000 steps a day, I had no idea that years later, I’d still be doing that as well, but I am. As of Monday of this week, I just passed the 15,000,000 step mark. That amounts to 7,130 miles and a lot of worn-out pairs of Skechers.

Years ago, at an event in downtown Seattle, a woman mentioned that she got out of bed each morning, put on some clothes, and then went straight to the gym. At that time, I thought she was pretty weird. Now that thought has come back to bite me in the butt, because I’m the same kind of weird.

Walking 10,000 steps takes at least an hour and a half of my life—every single day. Inside steps take longer than outside steps—34 minutes per mile as opposed to 28. There are lots more turns in my inside-steps route than the outside ones on our front driveway.

In the beginning, I could only walk a thousand steps or so without stopping to rest. Now I can do 7,000 or 8,000 in a row and still come up smiling.

It has not been easy to write during the pandemic. The lockdown combined with the constant barrage of bad news on all fronts tend to wear down psyches and eat away at creativity. I’ve struggled more with the book I’m writing now than with any other, but I’m still working. Through it all, walking has helped me maintain my sanity. It’s my daily prescription of self-help, and, as my mother, Evie, always used to say, “God helps those who help themselves.”

I’m 76 going on 77, as opposed to 16 going on 17. I’m well aware that, for one reason or another, walking isn’t a possibility for far too many people my age, and no doubt my walking days are numbered, well, but what I’m encouraging my readers to do today is this: First, turn off the news! Do something on a daily basis that helps your head—something just for you; something that makes you happy. If it’s crocheting or knitting, do that. If it’s painting, do that. If it’s swimming, do that. If it’s reading do that. And if people think you’re weird, so be it.

My daily stress antidote is walking. There is nothing magic about getting those 10,000 steps. That’s an arbitrary goal—a line in the sand, as it were. In my natural state, I walk less than 2000 steps a day. I know that for sure because, once I get my ten, I usually don’t add on more than another two, I suspect that some of you are like that, as well—in the under-two crew.

I also understand that many of you may not have access to a step-counting device, but you do have access to a step-counting head. We have a near bathroom and a far bathroom. I always use the far one. Between here and there is an entryway table—the elephant table, we call it. Walking around the elephant table takes fifteen steps, and ten of those add up to 150. And I try to take five trips around the elephant table every time, coming and going. One trip around the chairs in the family room, twice around the kitchen island, down to the elephant table and back amounts to 200 steps, and five of those make a thousand.

So, count off a few lap locations inside your house, walk around them, and keep track. You don’t have to go to a gym, and you can do it in your PJs. We have a very private lot. Earlier this week, when I got overheated doing inside steps, so I put on a hat, went outside, and finished walking with driveway steps done in my robe.

When you add a few steps to your usual count, you’ll be doing your body a favor and your head, too.

And one more thing: Know the score, keep the score, report the score. The score will improve!

42 thoughts on “Still Walking and Writing After All These Years

  1. Proud for you. I still try to walk daily for 40 minutes at almost 86, but foot neuropathy makes it difficult some days. I intend to continue (of course, walking my dog!) for as long as I can, thru ice/snow or heat/wind.

    Keep on writing! A fan…

  2. I love the Beaumont series! I just ordered #19 &20 from Amazon. As far as exercise, I just started on line classes with Silversneakers. I am 74 and need to get my strength back up. Thank you for the incouragement.

  3. I don’t think I could walk around inside my abode. I much prefer going outside. Good on you for sticking to it though.

  4. Very timely! I haven’t been out walking since the icy conditions made walking treacherous and just plain NO FUN. So I get flabbier and more out of shape as the days go by. But this blog gives me an idea–I can park my car just a little further back in the garage, so that I can walk around it while listening to a J.A.J.–or other, if I have to–audiobook. I don’t have a step counter, but I do have a timer, and even 20 minutes of walking around the car will be better than no walking at all.

  5. Once again your thoughts this morning resonate with me. While I’m 10 years younger than you it always seems as if we have a broad path of shared experience.

    In 2017 my daughter gave me a step counter which I’ve used ever since. One of the things that you wrote about this morning was that given the choice between the closer bathroom and the further bathroom you always were often choose the further. Like you I’ve Incorporated a strategy like this to effortlessly get more steps in my life.

    Whenever I go to the store I always select a parking spot as far away from the front door as possible. This drives my wife nuts. During the summer in Arizona this does impose an additional cost. While I spend most of my time in Flagstaff there are times I’m down in the valley of death I mean the Valley of the Sun and during those times my wife refuses to go to the store with me. She says it’s insane for me to try to get additional steps when it’s 110 outside.

    As I write this I’m an hour early for a step class that I take Monday Wednesday Friday. I always get to the gym an hour early so yes you guessed it I can take steps for an hour before my step class.

    Thank you again for your regular communication. I know your loyal readers look forward to your weekly thoughts and comments I know I do. Your advice today was dead right on. Reading your comments is positive and engaging while listening to what passes for news is the opposite. I’m glad I have the opportunity to choose the positive on a weekly basis with you.

    • Drop your wife off at the door to the store, park as far away as you want and join her once you get inside.

  6. I’ve never really enjoyed exercising much, but occasionally throughout the years I have taken different exercise classes. Before the pandemic I was going to the Y on a pretty regular basis, but since the pandemic I haven’t. So that is two years of not doing any exercise. I do walk every once in a while, but usually find reasons not to. But, your blog today is just the inspiration and push that I need to get outside and walk on a regular basis. I’m 69, and if you can do it at 76, then so can I, by golly! Thanks for that. Today is a lovely day to get started. The fog has lifted and it’s bright and sunny, although cold! I will keep track and maybe report back on my progress. By the way, I love your elephant table! Cheers!

  7. I have always admired and respected you for your attitude toward life. You cannot change what is handed to you (or the past), but you have complete control over your own actions and responses. I think today’s blog is 100% on the mark. I have always tried to be an optimist and take control of my thoughts and actions, but this winter the news, confinement, weather (we live in Anacortes) all began to get me down. Reading your blogs helped me pull myself together, start some projects, and improve my outlook. We are currently in Tucson for 3 months and I’m eagerly anticipating the TFOB in March. Hope to see you there.

  8. Thank you, blog came through on regular e mail approx two hours later than normal. and had moment of Panic. YOUR thoughts are uncanny in filling the need (motivation for walking) this time. just about finished w/Trial By Fire…sincerely Chuck from Tacoma.

  9. What I’ve started doing since Christmas is designing and knitting clothes for Barbie dolls. It is fun and garments go fast because they are small. The best thing is that my model doll stands there smiling and never complains. It’s good exercise for my arthritic hands. The clothes go to my daughter who has a charity to send them to.

  10. Thank you for taking the time to write these short essays. I always look forward to them.

    A few years ago, I too, set a steps goal. I also only averaged at the time between 2000 and 3000 steps a day. I first set a goal for 5000 steps as I wanted to set goals I knew I could achieve. Once I was able to do that on a regular basis without even really thinking about it then I added another 1600 steps to the goal. I now am doing 6600 a day without really thinking about it so am ready to move the goalposts once again. It is a good feeling looking back at where I started to where I am today, having lost some weight, gained some strength and stamina, and headed toward a healthier lifestyle.

    “Stress antidotes”, as you call them, really make more difference in our lives than we might think when we are not actively working on them. I did not realize how much peace, joy, and calmness oil painting brought me until I picked it up again a couple years ago. After having stopped oil painting when I married and started having children at 19 years old, it was frightening and challenging to start again at 55 years old. But it has paid off not just with the peace and joy it has brought to my life, the joy it has brought to others, but it has become something that puts a little money in my pocket. I never had the courage or faith in myself to dream someone would pay me for a painting. It was terrifying when someone asked me to paint something for them. I still find that fear comes up when I am preparing to start a commission but once I sit down, get it sketched in, and put paint to canvas; the joy and peace I find is worth more than any amount of money.

    Finding those things, no matter what our age, which bring us joy, peace, and reduce our stress in these stressful times is more important than I ever imagined it would be. Sometimes in life we just have to find the courage to take that first step and when we do the world opens up and our lives get better.

  11. Janice,

    I am 74 and try for the 10,000 each day – much easier in the warm weather when I get to play golf. My wife thinks I am nuts some nights at 11:30 pm when I am doing circles around our island to get that last 200 steps.
    Keep moving much harder to hit a moving target.

  12. Many of us carry smart phones all of which have free pedometers an part of their basic apps. Sometimes I am amazed at the number of steps being recorded just in casual walking . My cardio suggested that I walk 30 minutes every day not looking at distance but a minimum of 30 minutes. More is good. Thank you for sharing your life experiences and I have read all your books. I do love them on audio.

  13. At the beginning of the pandemic I amassed a full set of all three of your series and set about re-reading them all. You and your writing have been my saving grace during the grind of this pandemic and I am forever grateful. I too had a moment of panic this morning when your weekly missive was not in my inbox upon waking…so glad to hear your voice every Friday.
    Thank you~thank you~thank you!

  14. Your blog reminded me of how much I miss walking. I usually walk 2 miles in the early morning with my husband, but haven’t done so since Nov. 11 when I was diagnosed with a ruptured tendon in my foot-leg. I had surgery Dec.3 and was.. not allowed to bear weight on my foot for 5 weeks. My foot is still swollen but I’m now walking with a cane. Yesterday the Doc told me I could walk more. Hopefully I’ll be back to walking 2 miles again soon. I see my son Jonathan wrote a comment this morning. Keep up the walking, you are an inspiration to all of us. I love all your books, but Beaumont is my favorite.

  15. 7,130 walking miles is amazing. You could have walked to the tip of South America.
    I turned 90 years old on Tuesday. I was very active until an accident three years ago. I am now bedridden. So now I spend most of my time reading. Yesterday I bought a “JA Jance List and Summary”: by Allie Berkeley, on line. I have an excellent memory, but the first Beaumont book was nearly 40 years ago. So now I will be ready and up to speed as I await Beau’s next adventure. When will the new book be available?

  16. You are an inspiration! I truly need to do more walking. I’m 72, retired, and much too sedentary. I too love elephants, although mine is on the wall. Thank you for your encouragement; I’m going to heed your words and start counting my steps! I certainly can’t walk as far as an elephant can but I’m still going to get moving! Looking forward to 2/22/22 and hopefully by then I will have increased my step count!

  17. I have never darkened the door of a gym, and never will- However, I have always loved to walk- I admit that since March of 2020 I have been in hibernation mode-
    I find it very challenging to actually make it outside- I live in a spacious loft apartment, but not one that lends itself to taking inside walks-
    Your thousands and thousands of “Steps” are awe-inspiring!

  18. Congratulations on your steps. That’s great. I just turned 74. I work out with my trainer three days a week. I love to dance so I take Zumba on zoom in my kitchen. I love to do destination walks but the pandemic cut down on that. I love to walk for an hour then go to a coffee shop and get tea and sit and read for an hour then walk home for an hour. I will resume that as soon as the numbers drop. Meanwhile I will continue my neighborhood walks.

  19. Judy, several of my walking friends used a Fit Bit to keep track of steps. between them and you, I finally broke down and got one for myself. Some days when I don’t make 10,000 outside, I walk indoors from room to room, but that is so boring. With my new little dog, Benji, I will enjoy walking as soon as it’s light outside. You are so right about walking time being a super way to get your thoughts in order. As everyone else, I’m anxious for the next new book, regardless of which series. Thanks for encouraging us.

  20. Lol, I think of you every day when I walk my dog and cat around my five acres. I do this twice a day. Around the pond and up the hill thru the pasture, the pet cemetery, the garden and the space between my brother’s place and me. Then I add in going to the deer feeder to fill it and back, then the bird feeders, then across the road for the mail. Add to all that cleaning the house, cooking, filling the bird feeders and bird baths and feeding my dog and cats. I have no idea how many steps that adds up to, but if I just sit on my fanny I go nuts. I am 79 working on 80 and feel great. So hang in there. You are my favorite author and I need more of your good stuff to read. I like that JP is in the same boat we are.

  21. I prefer walking outside, but in January in Toronto, that means walking over snow banks and over slippery unshoveled sidewalks. I just came home from a 4.4 kilometer walk, and I am done in, but I still feel better than not walking.

  22. “Use it or lose it.” How many times do we hear that? Keeping active, especially in those areas where your body needs encouragement (euphemism for keeping your important muscles toned) is imperative, especially at 7 decades of age.

    JA, I always have a smile on my face when I read you—your books and your blog. You have such gift. Thank you.

  23. Made my 10,000 tonight! Glad I did since you wrote about it! I have Nothing to Lose ordered for kindle arrival on 2.22.22! Thanks for all you do for your readers

  24. I love your positivity and encouragement. You are truly imspiri NG with all you do. Turning off the news is setting I started doing long ago because it upset me and ruined my day. Cuddling up with one of your books is relaxing, despite the fact it is difficult to out down until finished. Thank you for everything!

  25. I was thinking this week that you must be close to the “banana peel” of the book, since you will probably be doing book tour events starting in about 25 days and might need to have it done by then. But maybe, given what you said at the beginning of the blog, not yet. Hope you get there soon.

    When the blog did not show up by breakfast this morning I was a bit worried about you! Was relieved to see it there when I got a chance to scan the incoming emails after work, though I didn’t get to read it till 20 minutes ago.

    My seasonal job is getting VERY busy as of about 2 days ago, so I am going to have to do some serious thinking about how to stay sane for the next 11 weeks. Lots of good suggestions in blog and comments.

  26. Love your post today! The news is a struggle to watch/read/listen to, for sure. I can’t change people and I don’t care to be scared by other people. Thank you for positive thoughts and good steps forward.

  27. I walked for years, then did the gym for years, and once you had to wear masks in the gym, I was done with that for a long while. On March 16, 2020, I was at our beautiful sculpture garden here in Loveland, Colorado to get some snowy pictures. I went back the next day when the snow was gone to take the same pics. This began my love affair with my new happy place. I have been there a majority of the days since then. I walk there from my house, 2,000 steps, 4000 in the park, 2000 back. I get the other 2000 randomly throughout the day. I had a foot injury that stopped me for a couple weeks (ironically from wearing insufficient Sketchers), then had a hysterectomy which stopped me for a couple of weeks, then a broken wrist in April last year which stopped me for a day or two after each of the 3 surgeries I went through. The walking in that place has kept me sane through these insane months.

  28. I so enjoy your blogs-it is like hearing from a friend. At 71 I am catching up to you and admire your dedication to all your steps. My ortho doc told me no walking because of a bad knee and to ride a bike. I did that until allergies got too bad. Now I have an inside one and ride 11 miles every day. It becomes an every day goal that I am proud of. Have had to switch to other mystery writers because I read all your series. Nobody is as good as you at putting a story together. Can’t wait to get to the end but don’t want it to end. Thank you for all the pleasure you give to us avid readers. I look forward to the next one

  29. Just ran into an person we have known for years. Six months ago he looked terrible. Two months ago, he and his wife, acquired a puppy. He has been walking the dog ( the dog has actually been pulling him around) , and our friend has never looked better. I feel, the exercise did it.

  30. Thank you for an inspiring and kick in the butt post to get moving 🙂 I thought I was staying pretty active but after reading your post I realize I need to do a whole lot more. Please keep walking and WRITING.

    PS: I love elephants and collect them. Yours is beautiful.

  31. I love your thoughts. It seems as if our thoughts are so often similar and that too amazes me! Your walking experiences are helpful and recognizing that it helps during this crazy time is even more reassuring. Right now I am not able to walk like I want to because of my knee but look forward to the days when I can again. Thank you for sharing your positive reminders and I am looking forward to the new Beaumont book!!!

  32. Good advice. I am your age and I walk 2.5 miles nearly every day. The dog and I walk a trail along the Bitterroot river here in Lolo, MT. I don’t count the steps but I know it does me good. In my teens I walked to West Seattle and back from Queen Ann hill two or three times a week. Backpacked and hiked the Cascades into my 60’s. So I know your advice about walking is worth mentioning now and then. Looking forward to the next book.

  33. I loved the elephant story and would very much like to have the book if it is
    Available anywhere. I have not been able to find any info on it such as
    Publication date , or publisher. I have the author as Ralph Woods.
    Do you have any other info?
    Thanks so much for any help.
    P.S. Love your books. Have been a fan since day one.

  34. Your books are wonderful friends! I read while my husband works on his graduate degree (yay him @ 54!)
    I got him a pair of Vessi sneakers that are waterproof – just the ticket for British Columbia when he walks our dogs!
    Thanks for the books – I’m so grateful!

  35. Judy,
    Since I’ve become an addicted reader of yours, the actions and antics of Joanna Brady, Ali Reynolds and J.P. Beaumont have enriched my life. I’m currently awaiting February 22 because I pre-ordered your next J.P. Beaumont installment on Kindle. I am 73 and I, too, wear Skechers when I have to put on shoes like days at the gym. Your commitment to 10,000 daily steps…and reaching 15,000,000 steps in the process…is inspiring to me as a way to bring me a healthier lifestyle. I’ll take up wearing a FitBit and start my own journey. Thank you for so very much.

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