Ten years ago, creative director Libby DeLana felt overwhelmed by work and parenting, so she decided to take a morning walk in her Massachusetts town. “I committed to going outside every morning, no matter what — rain, shine, snow, grumpiness,” she says. She hasn’t missed a day since. Here, Libby shares her approach to a daily walking practice, the funny thing she always carries, and how she cares for that incredible hair…
Why did your walking practice begin?
At first, it was just about spending time outside. As a mom who started a business, I found that my life was full meetings and appointments and conference calls. I realized that a significant piece of who I was — an outdoorsy nature lover — had gone missing. So, I committed to getting up every morning and going outside, no matter what.
And the habit just stuck?
I set out to do it for 30 days, which turned into 10 years. About a year ago, I did some rough math and discovered that I had walked 25,000 miles, which means I’ve circumnavigated the earth!
Your morning walks sound really meaningful. What do they look like in practice?
For me, it’s not about pace or hitting a certain number of steps. It’s more of a moving meditation. When I set out in the morning, I want to dial up all my senses. I want to smell the ocean, hear the birds, feel the breeze on my face. Say I wake up and have a big, powerful batch of the grumps. I’ll visualize that grumpiness like a knot of string, and as I start walking, I’ll imagine the knot loosening, untying and settling. I’ve found that adding motion to our emotions is a way to become friends with them.
Do you listen to music or podcasts as you walk?
About a third of the time I’ll listen to music, a third I’ll listen to Audible or the news, and a third is quiet. During the pandemic, I pulled my earbuds out more than I left them in. I discovered there is more to be found in the quiet.
At first, on my walk, I would glance at the same barn day after day. But by slowing down, I was able to observe how different it was — the light, the weather, my weather. I learned how to truly see, not just look, which was really powerful.
Of course, I have to ask about your hair. It’s beautiful.
I went gray when I was 32. It was salt and peppery, and I knew that it would take time and money to dye it. Then, one day, this little girl came up and said, ‘Your hair is like glitter! It has magic in it.’ And I thought, that’s right! It is magic. Now, it’s who I am.
How do you care for it?
I wash my hair once a week. I’ve switched to a Viori shampoo bar to cut back on plastic bottles. And I primarily air dry it.
What are your thoughts on aging?
I have no angst about aging. I guess you could say I’m anti-anti-aging! I’m 59, which I’m very grateful and happy about. When I was younger, I would look at pictures of Lauren Hutton and Jane Goodall. Their beauty went beyond the visual; it was their confidence, their truthfulness to who they were, that I found so beautiful. Or Iris Apfel, who is gorgeous not in the classic supermodel way, but in her integrity to honoring who she is.
That is true beauty.
That’s the spirit I want to embody. If I can help do for anybody what those pictures did for me — to offer a generous hand around wrinkles or to legitimize gray hair — then I’ll do it!
What is your morning skincare routine?
I try to minimize the time between waking up and walking, so my morning routine is simple. I brush my teeth, then put on Vintner’s Daughter face oil. Being outside has a weathering effect, so I wear the oil as a barrier. I also apply sunscreen; I like SuperGoop Sunscreen Oil with SPF50.
What about after your walk?
Afterward, I’ll have a cup of chai and take a shower. For my body, I use Dr. Bronner’s liquid peppermint soap. As a teenager, I did lots of backpacking, and we used that for everything — shampoo, toothpaste, we even washed our pots with it. I find that kind of simplicity really elegant, when you find what works for you and stick with it. Once a week, I’ll use a Hibiscus Clay Mask, which is really good for purifying and firming. Every now and then, I’ll use The Ordinary Peeling Solution, which I like for exfoliating.
Do you wear makeup?
The honest answer is, I’m terrible at it! think I look like a clown. But I do use a couple of products. When I first went gray, this beautiful elderly woman told me, by way of advice, ‘Good lipstick, honey.’ When I want a bit of color, I like Benetint, the liquid stain. I also sometimes put on a simple charcoal eyeliner in black.
Have you incorporated any special gear into your walking practice?
Over the years, I’ve slowly put together a kit. Socks are important. Some people like performance socks, but personally, I love men’s wool socks. I used to wear yoga pants, but now I like these tights because they have pockets! I also wear a running belt, where I put my phone; and a headlamp; and a warm hat. Finally, I always carry chocolate with me, even in the morning. I like Raisinets — who’s to judge! Some people eat a chocolate chip muffin for breakfast, I’ll have my Raisinets.
Tell us about your book!
It was published by the Do Book company, who hosts the Do Lectures at Campovida each year and it’s meant to be a how-to pocket guide. It contains the fundamentals of the practice, as well as some of my photography. It was terrifying to write! It was hard to ignore that little voice that said, ‘You’re no writer.’ But I told myself, ‘Just write what you know. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a phrase in there that’s inspiring to somebody.’
What would you say to anyone who is considering starting their own walking practice?
Walking can help you get through hard times; it’s a best friend and a therapist.
Thank you so much, Libby!
(Photos courtesy of Libby DeLana.)
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