Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a strange and powerful thing.

Allow me to explain.

Every Spring, the elementary school I attended (McFarlane School in Detroit.  Go Falcons!) had a school-wide race around the perimeter of the school.  Every kid participated and every kid wanted to be the supreme winner for their grade.   (I feel like there might have been a prize …  like a coconut ice cream bar … but that just might be a dream of mine).

You had to be in First Grade to participate, so when Spring came in 1958 (dear me), I was excited to participate in my first race.

The race began.

The race ended.

When my grand-parents came to pick me up from school (they were babysitting), I was sobbing.

I did not win the race.  In fact, I didn’t finish the race.

My grandma tried to comfort me, “Jill, honey, don’t feel so bad.  Of course you didn’t win the race.  You have braces on your legs”.


Cognitive dissonance is a strange and powerful thing.

Here’s the back-story.

I had Polio when I was around 18 months old.  It settled in my right foot and leg, but years of love, therapy, braces, casts, crutches and a brief stint with a wheelchair (I gave the neighborhood kids rides in the wheelchair so my parents decided it wasn’t particularly helpful) assured that my teenage and young adult years were spent with few problems.

Evidently, swimming was good therapy.   It didn’t occur to any of us that I should have learned how to swim first.  On the other hand, my sisters, Karen and Cathy, channelled Esther Williams on a regular basis.

My Mom and Dad (aren’t they beautiful?) never treated me differently, never stopped me from trying anything and, evidently, never told me that there might be a reason I couldn’t win a race around the school.

Because I never considered that I shouldn’t be able to do most things, I managed rather well.  To illustrate….

…while my down-hill skiing style was a rather drawn out slalom to the right and chicken walk to the left I did, ultimately, make it down the hill.

As the years have passed, post-polio syndrome has depleted my gas tank a bit, so I’m back in a brace and sensible shoes.  Somewhere along the way, I began to believe the post-polio mantra of “if you are running, stand still.  If you are standing, sit down.  If you are sitting, lie down”.

Guess how that’s  working out?

So, I’ve decided to embrace my youthful cognitive dissonance and begin walking.  I’ve heard that you should walk 10,000 steps a day, so that’s my goal.

In a seemingly unrelated incident, on the same day I decided to start walking, I received a lovely note from one of my readers.  I visited her web-site (I love to check out the websites of my friends), and was moved by the philosophy in the website    Ten Thousand Things refers to a Buddhist expression representing the dynamic interconnection and simultaneous unity and diversity of everything in the universe.

This is just another way to say ‘everything else in the universe.’   Ten thousand things is also a caution to not get too distracted by the “ten thousand things” that can consume your life (have they been looking at my ‘to do’ list?).

This was a clear message

Sometimes things happen in life that point you in a direction you may not have ever considered.

And so it happened to me.

So, I’ve decided to take my own 10,000 step challenge.  It may take me a few days to achieve, but dog-gone it, I want my own 10,000 steps.

Since I don’t want to be bored, since and I won’t be walking at a brisk pace, and since I have resolved to take better pictures this year (supported by, I will take my i-phone to capture things that delight, surprise or fascinate me.  Maybe this will help prevent me from filling my mind with the 10,000 things I still have on my t0-do list.

Here are some things I’ve “discovered” this week:

One perfect shell is serenely beautiful

If you find flip flops on the beach, it’s just possible that a mermaid discarded them before she went back into the water

Parrots are thieves.  Feral parrots are big thieves.

You get the drift.

If you are interested in joining me on my journey, you can find me on Instagram under Grandmama51 or use hashtag #10kthings.  Be sure to include your steps and some pics.  I love company.

If you feel you really can’t take the challenge.  Just remember.

Cognitive dissonance is a strange and powerful thing.


Category: Memories and Traditions, New Traditions, Old Memories, Smile
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(2) Comments and (2) Replies

  1. Jan B | February 5, 2013 at 9:15 am | Reply

    I have recently found your blog and really enjoy it. We have several things in common. Grandchildren, travel, blogging , and photography. I too am at Clicknmoms and am trying to take better photographs. Plus I need to move more and get off the computer. Ha!
    I will be walking and photographing. My name on instagram is BrierPatch

    • jill | February 5, 2013 at 10:45 am | Reply

      Oh I am so excited. And, yes, it seems we have a LOT in common! I’ll look for you on Instagram. It’s good to have a partner in crime!

  2. Misha | May 28, 2013 at 11:59 am | Reply

    Ooh, I love taking pictures on walks! I can hardly get anywhere because I find so many interesting things to photograph. I always try to bring a bag or basket with me, because I always end up collecting neat rocks, flowers, sticks and such. I’ve found those condiment organizers work the best because you can keep things separate and safe! =)

    • jill | June 2, 2013 at 11:22 am | Reply

      Oh, please post the pics. I stopped walking (at least long walks) for a bit (but will start again soon…new brace) Then pics again!!! I love your idea to collect. I think I’ll try that!! Thanks

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