2013 is hours away and I am excited. The total toll of 2012 was rough, but it left me with two things: improved physical condition, and a better heart.
Back in the spring, an $11 per month gym caught my attention. Just five minutes from my house and open 24 hours per day, every day of the year, it overcame all of my barriers to exercise. When I began I chose a few minutes on the treadmill and a few strength-building weight machines. I gradually worked up to 20-30 minutes on either the treadmill or recumbent bike, and a regular sequence of upper and lower body weight machines. It only took a month of twice weekly visits for me to notice an increase in leg strength. My endurance increased rapidly, too. I had to stop for a while in late summer and early fall due to a series of skin Candida infections, but I didn't lose the benefits. As I finish the year, I can climb stairs using both legs without relying on the handrail, I can go down stairs without a rail to check my balance, and I get off the floor much more easily.
This conditioning was the basis for my ability to work more frequently at the market. It takes strength and endurance to load and unload, set up and take down all the equipment to make my store each week. In the past I could only do it with a significant amount of help. Now I can go to market alone and handle all my equipment, and a day of working in my store doesn't make me take to my bed for the next three days.
It still remains that my illness can crop up at any minute and change my plans and keep me down for weeks, but it doesn't deplete my strength to the point that I must start from scratch and feel so disabled for so long.
The other benefits are probably obvious - I can get out more with friends, do household chores and run errands, and the additional strength is a confidence builder.
This other thing-the better heart-is a trickier concept. First, let me say that I don't believe that "What does not kill me, makes me stronger". I don't know what Nietzsche was talking about, but I rarely see anyone who damn near died feeling stronger, at least not for a long time. So I don't mean that the crap we were mired in this year left me a stronger person. Instead, the ring of loving people around me helped to protect me from the pervasive crap, and with that protection, I was allowed to grow and do some good and not sink into the mire. Having that special ring of friends and family is a palpable thing for me-in my mind I can feel their love and support, and I know they wish me well. They buoy my daughter and me, share their own strength and heart, so I am not depleted. God is also there, making us all better than the molecules that form our flesh. She infuses us with the desire to stay alive and make life count, to stay connected and be part of that caring circle, feeling and supporting and giving, communing, and altogether radiating something lighter and better.
2013 is for that lighter, better thing. Peace.