(It has been so long since I last posted that I had difficulty remembering my password to log in - this simply has to change!)
While life here in Kendallville is very definitely good, it is by no means easy. I often find myself battling against a tendency to focus on life's difficulties, to wallow in negativity or self-pity....seems I am too frequently having to repent of the sin of grumbling. I find that I have to battle discontentment with very deliberate and focused counter-measures.
One frustration I've wrestled with over and over since our move relates to the seeming impossibility of my getting exercise on a regular basis. At our last house, we lived one mile from the local YMCA. I could pop over to the Y, swim a mile, shower, dress, and return home recharged and ready for whatever came next - all in less than an hour. Now, living out in the Boondocks, I have no Y, no fitness center, not even a walking trail. I'm getting fatter every day, and my energy level is at an all-time low - who wouldn't complain about such an untenable situation? Oh, how I have missed my thrice-weekly swims!
The words of a wise friend, spoken years ago, came to mind recently. Katherine once told me, during a discussion about how much exercise was necessary to be effective for good health: "You don't have to exercise every day. You don't even have to exercise three times a week. You only have to exercise once - and that is today, if you're able." Remembering her words, I resolved to take them to heart anew. Okay, I can't swim laps, my all-time favorite way of "working out." There's not an elliptical walker or a universal weight machine for miles. But it occurred to me one sunny afternoon about a month ago that "Today, I can take the dogs for a walk back on the farm." And so I did just that. And now, more days than not, you'll find me taking OB and Jesse for a walk back on the farm, sometime shortly after noon. (For an explanation of just why farm dogs have to be "walked," see earlier post - A DOG TALE, 11/19/08.)
Actually, it would be more appropriate to say the dogs take me for a walk. I commented to a friend recently that my new fitness program is called "Fat Lady Dragging at the End of a Dog Leash." OB weighs 64 pounds, and he is all muscle and all forward motion. How on earth can a 64-pound dog possibly pull a *@#! - pound woman up a 45 degree incline? Beats me. Suffice to say, my arms get as much of a workout as my legs! And, this "fitness program" seems to be working - I've lost five pounds since we began our "program," and I'm less winded on our long walks than when we began.
So what does my almost-daily drag with the dogs have to do with my anti-grumbling campaign? There is a long field waaaaay back on the furthest side of the farm - we call it "the back hay field," although we no longer cut it for hay. It's just a long strip of lush pasture, bordered on one side by the creek and on the other by hills rising up into woodlands. One day last week, I took the dogs out for a drag. I was grumbling to myself because I'd had to wait so late in the day for our walk, going out in the evening instead of the afternoon. I was grumbling to myself because OB had bolted across the creek and drug me through water that came over my shoes and soaked my socks. I was grumbling to myself because I had walked through a spider web (blech!) as I pushed through the cane thicket lining the creek bed. Finally, we emerged from the creek, into the back hay field. Because it was later in the day - very near sundown - the air in the bottomland was noticeably cooler than the air out in the open fields. A shiver tickled my spine. Then, an amazing aroma filled my nostrils...what on earth was perfuming the air so sweetly?! As we waded through thigh-high grass to the far side of the narrow field, I saw the answer to my question. Wild roses - mounds and mounds of wild roses - were blooming all along the hillside leading up to the woods. And all their scent was bottled up in the cool air settling in the little valley in which the dogs and I were walking. It was one of those rare fairy moments - I just had to stop and breathe, and breathe, and breathe in the sweet perfume.
Standing there gulping in the fragrant air, I realized that I could savor the moment - or I could continue with my previous grumbling and miss the magic altogether. I resolved to savor the moment. This is a wonderful place to be, I thought, and I'm so grateful to be right here, right now. My socks were soggy with brown creek water, and my hair was sticky with yucky spider goo - but the roses...the roses were amazing.
No, I cannot swim a mile three times this week - but today I can finagle 45 minutes to go for a drag with the dogs. And today, I will find something beautiful to be grateful for and to enjoy. Maybe my grumbling - like my excuses for not exercising - will fade away as I endeavor to savor the very simple pleasures that God has given me in this moment.
4 weeks ago