Every morning Belle and I take a walk on our caliche road. We have a set path of about 1.5 miles. First we head in one direction where the road twists and turns and dips, then we backtrack past our house and up a short hill before turning around and returning home.
Belle sets the pace, mostly at a fast trot which means I'm jogging to keep up with her, but there are a considerable number of stops along the way as she picks up scents and has to investigate. She will also stop and wait for me as I photograph heart rocks and flowers or when I pause to listen to the birds singing to one another.
In particular, there's a mockingbird living at about the halfway mark on the first leg of our adventure. I always stop to enjoy his performance for a few minutes. He is so talented!
I also pray along the way, counting the decades of a Rosary on my fingers in time with my steps and breathing.
In the quiet of the morning, I reflect on all that I have to be grateful for... like heart rocks, flowers, birds, our dirt road...and of course also my family, friends, and clients, asking for the health and safety of each one, along with any other special prayer requests for the day.
Even before COVID-19 introduced extra challenges and new fears, life could be pretty chaotic and challenging, making it easy to get distracted by what-ifs or worry about things I have no control over.
Some mornings I wake up already feeling overwhelmed by all I should accomplish that day, wondering how I'm going to prioritize them or where the strength will come from to stay focused and get everything done.
And that's where the hill comes in.
As I said, it's a small hill. Maybe 1/10th of a mile. It doesn't rise at a steep angle and even levels off in a couple of places.
But I'm 61, and even though I have run up this hill almost every morning for a few years now, it always feels like a huge challenge. Each time I take that first inclined step, I hear a voice telling me I'm just not strong enough for it that morning. It tells me it's okay to just skip it.
I've learned to ignore that voice and tell myself, instead, to just move forward, one step at a time. If I really need to, I can stop, but I remind myself I've done it over and over and over, and somehow I always have the strength to get to the top.
Just focus on taking one step at a time. Keep moving forward.
Some days I'm slower than others. Some days I walk a few steps on the level parts. And some days our neighbor's dog notices us and comes out barking a warning, whereupon out of respect for Frankie (the dog) I give myself permission to cut it short and head back downhill.
But I don't let the fear of Frankie's bark keep me from heading back up the hill the next morning.
I'm not sure when I started applying the lessons of the hill to the rest of my life, but I do now. Whatever challenge lies ahead of me that day, as I'm running up the hill I remind myself that I just need to take it one step at a time, keep moving forward, and that God will give me the direction and strength I need for it, if I just ask.
Beyond the physical benefits of running up that little hill, I also find peace.
Besides my morning walks with Belle, here are a few other sweet!s from the past week...
A bluebonnet still blooming!
Tom making it to his mom's safely
Referrals from friends and past clients
A watercolor of my grandson in his rain boots painted by my daughter-in-law's mom
Fireflies lighting up the woods
Two closings, including this cute condo
Finding someone to install my large sign on a commercial listing
A virtual happy hour with friends
No lines getting into the grocery store
FaceTime with my grandson
Listing a charming bungalow built in 1923
An in-person-with-social-distancing gathering with other friends
Watching a lightning storm at night from our covered back deck
The roadside exploding in wildflowers
Heart rocks in my path
I hope you've found sweet!s throughout your week and I pray you don't let fear keep you from stepping forward to climb the hills in your path.
I pray you find peace.
And even in the madness, there is peace
Drowning out the voices all around me
Through all of this chaos
You are writing a symphony...
- "Symphony" by Switch
(If you haven't heard the song "Symphony", I encourage you to take a listen HERE. It's one of my favorites.)