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by: Bill Greer, Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul

I've never been an athlete. I've never been much interested in sports, ever since I stopped playing touch-football with the boys, when I hit puberty. I've tried tennis. I hit the ball too high, too long, and way over into left field. I've tried softball. Thank goodness that ball is "soft" and big, because it felt just awful when it hit me in the eye. I tried running, but I couldn't get anyone to chase me.

I tried swimming, but even though I float like a cork, and have had numerous lessons, I can't seem to get over the idea, that I'm really going to drown. Finally, I settled on walking, and for a number of years, I walked 3 to 5 miles a day. I realize that there is an Olympic sport referred to as "walking," but when I tried that, all I succeeded in doing was throwing my hip out.

I'm definitely NOT an athlete, but I make do, especially in my "mid-life" years. Which brings a question to my mind. When did I hit mid-life? I remember when I hit thirty. I had to visit a grief counselor, because I knew my life was over. I remember forty. I had to see a grief counselor, the day after my first child graduated from high-school and moved out of the house, because I knew my life was over. I remember forty-four. For some reason I thought my life was over. Then I hit fifty, and I was all excited, because I was able to join an organization called AARP. My husband was, especially, excited because he is younger than I, and he got to join, too!

Fifty became the magic age. I knew that as long as I was in good health, in this day and age, I probably had a good fifty years ahead of me. Then came the asthma. O.K., I had that much earlier, but it only became life threatening after fifty. Then came the firbromyalgia. O.K., I had THAT earlier, but it's not life threatening. Then came the arthritis, and, more recently, at fifty-five, came the diabetes. Somewhere, along in there, I became very interested in pharmaceuticals, and, finally, one day, I became free.

I began by noticing the sunsets, and I had the time to stop and really wonder, at the beauty and the magnitude of it all. Then I moved onto the sunrises, and I quickly found out that if I wasted the early morning, I missed the loveliest part of the day. Then I began to notice how grateful I was to be able to witness the changing of the seasons. The first whisper of spring; the rustling of the leaves beneath my feet, in the fall; that first breathless covering of a winter's snow; and in the summer, all the flowers, and the buzzing of a bumblebee.

When illness would hit me, I found that I, actually, enjoyed the solitude. A time to reflect, gather my thoughts, and pray, at leisure. I found that I was "experiencing" this mid-life season, and I was no longer missing every moment, shackled to the chains of worry, and what "might" be. I found that worrying about tomorrow, only served to make me overlook the blessings of today.

It's not always easy. A few loads of laundry, and a pile of dishes can take an entire day; but then I don't push myself a lot. So, I forget to make the bed, as I watch the rosy glow of dawn meet the rising sun. I have time to walk our little, wooded acre with my little dachshund straining at the leash. I get to read the "signs," with my Happy Dog, sniff the air, and gaze out at nowhere, studying the sky, with the same intensity that my little dog studies the ground.

I get to meet the day, every day. I get to say "good-night," to the sunsets. I've studied a lot of sunsets, in the last five years, and I've never seen two that were alike. I get to know my Creator as I never have before, and I've gotten to make MY mind up, about the mysteries of life; and I have grown certain, that all this was no accident.

I feed the birds, and I take great delight in their multicolored hues, especially in the spring. I drag a chair to stand on, so that I can fill the feeders to the brim, myself. I say a little prayer, as I wobble, a little cock-eyed on the chair, and I laugh, at myself, and all the pretensions of my younger life. I take great delight in my life. I thank God for all the precious little things of every day. Friends. Family. Neighbors. And health. A health of the soul. For I have come to understand what real health is, and when you have REAL health, then you truly have everything.




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