When I was little, and complained of not feeling well, my Mom's first response was always "go outside and run around the house three times". While at first glance that may seem a trifle harsh, especially in this politically correct age, there was a gem of wisdom there. If I was truly sick, I would simply look up at her with glassy eyes and wipe my runny nose on my sleeve, and before I knew it I was dosed with a combination of honey, whiskey, and lemon juice and propped up with pillows on the sofa. If I was just feeling sort of punky and she chased me outside, I would run around in the fresh air and sunshine and usually feel better right away.
Scientists today have all sorts of names for this phenomenon, speaking of endorphins, or getting vitamins from the sun, and so it may be, but really I think it's more a matter of attitude and a sort of toughness. Fighting through feeling sluggish and out of sorts to get muscles moving is an accomplishment that can make all the difference. To this day it's still her stock answer, and one I use on my own daughter. We even use the phrase on each other as a way of motivating ourselves to go do something fun when we're so tempted to just sit on the deck in the comfy chairs.
This evening was another such time. After spending the weekend putting up fifty pounds of potatoes, canning twenty jars of green tomato relish and another fifteen of hot pepper jam, then rushing through endless files at work, I really wanted nothing more than my recliner. Mom has a pretty stressful, lousy sort of job too, and was ready to just chill. But the air was warm, the leaves were gorgeous, and the lake was calling. We just HAD to get out there in the kayaks! I mean, how many chances will we have yet before the water gets hard? So instead of sitting on the deck, we pushed each other to hauled out the 'yaks and trek out to the water.
Ahhhh, how worth it! The water was a dark, moody gray, choppy with small waves but with also with flat, smooth areas mysteriously reflecting the cloudy sky. I could feel the stress just fall away as I dug and pulled, dug and pulled, hands tight on the paddle, shoulders straining, heart pumping. The wonderful scent of burning leaves drifted out to us as we paralleled the shore, the water gently slapping against our boats. A dozen deer, a mixture of yearlings and does, barely paused their browsing to watch us float by. Turkeys moved among the deer, occasionally chortling and cooing to each other, and a couple of mischievous squirrels chittered loudly as they chased each other in circles up and down the trunk of a giant oak. The deer would waggle their ears at the squirrels, as if to say "quit making so much noise". Sometimes we paddled and chatted, sometimes we simply sat and drifted, enjoying the peace, the scenery, and each others company. It wasn't until we heard rumbles of thunder in the distance that we headed in for supper.
By the time I left, we were both feeling better, more relaxed, and quietly energized. I'm so blessed to have such a wise Mom, who has taught me well and been a wonderful example; and it's so good that we live where we can grab a kayak and put it in the water any time we want. Having the Great Lakes to play in is truly great!
So remember the next time you're feeling sort of down and out of sorts, go outside and run around the house three times. (Or paddle a boat, ski down a hill, maybe even just go for a walk.) You'll be better for it!