Sunday, June 26, 2011

Strangers Named Candy

I have a constant battle raging; a daily struggle between the limitations of my physical being and my tenacious desire to be well.

It's nothing new but as the years amble on, the war is harder won.
I swim, I walk, I run, I lift, I stretch. I ache in body and soul.

You see, the war is just as much emotional as physical.
The mental wrangling one must do to convince the brain that 60 minutes on the elliptical trainer is a much better choice than sitting in an easy chair with potato chips is, well, a really significant amount.
When your DNA also isn't akin to assisting with this plan AND the results of the efforts aren't apparent, you need all the encouragement you can get.

Everyday at lunch time, I walk. First, I walked a mile and then two and now it's four and some change. I walk through the lovely bucolic neighborhoods with light dappling through the trees. I never miss a day.
There is no good reason to stay at a desk at a hateful job for the hour that OSHA grants me. Nothing is that important. It's a bad trend in our culture that people would rather sit in misery than leave the building. I could happily expound on this and the hatred I have for the current employment I've found myself in but I'm pretty sure it's clear enough in these few sentences. So, we'll move on. The bottom line is that the hour belongs to me and I am using it wisely.

I've been walking the same route now for some time. Adding an extra block or two gradually but always loop back the same way.
One bright sunny day in April I was about to cross the street and this lovely blonde woman waves to me and says "Do you mind if I ask you something?"

I stop, taking the headphone out of my ear. "Not at all."

"Sometimes I sit on my porch with my dog and I've seen you walking. I don't know if you are trying to lose weight but boy, you look great!"

Now, with her first words it seemed a little scary. Someone watching me; that can be unnerving sometimes, but that quickly dissipated once she finished her thought.

"Thank you so much. I've been working really hard," I said.

"Well keep it up, you are really doing well and you are just melting away!"

"Wow, thank you, that's really nice of you. I'm Citygirl, what's your name?"

"Candy, and this is Tahsa," as she held up her dog.

"It's nice to meet you Candy. Thank you for making my day. It really means a lot!"

"It's nice to meet you too Citygirl. See you soon!"

And with that I was off to finish the last leg of my walk. Changed.
I was changed in those few moments and by the kind words of a complete stranger.

Her simple words of encouragement lifted me, told me that my commitment was worth it and that I must, at all costs, persevere in this quest.

Sure enough after purchasing my first scale in more than ten years, Candy's pronouncement was confirmed; I'd lost ten pounds.

This buoyed me even more. Her simple, easy gesture of a few words earned my eternal gratitude.

A few weeks later I brought her some mums and a note to say thanks. Telling her how much it meant that she would be so brave and so kind to a stranger. I was just going to leave it for her but she was home. We had a nice little chat on her porch for a few minutes and then I was on my way.

Of course I see her every now and then on the return loop and we wave and smile. The other day she told me she replanted the flowers and they were thriving. She also told me that my note was something she would keep forever. And that really got me because not only could I not even fathom that, it is the gift that keeps on giving, you see.

Her kindness, earned her kindness in return. It softened us both, which will soften us in traffic or at work or whenever softness is needed. This is not a new revelation; our eternal connected-ness. I've written it about it before, here and here (oh, and also here) but it's one of those lessons learned that is never remembered. The universe has to keep sending us reminders.

And I will remember her words again and again when my spirits are low or a I want a cookie or I'd rather have a tooth pulled than swim laps.

I will know that someone, a stranger named Candy, cared enough about her fellow man to speak up and offer encouragement.