My lab-mix pup, Bella, hurried me out the door extra early today for her morning walk around Pinkerton Park. Evidently no one gave her the memo about daylight savings time and I was still mildly perturbed with her as we made our way around the trail, an hour and a half earlier than usual. The morning air was crisp, the leaves a vibrant display of orange, greens and golds framed by the full moon setting into the west. Still, I was grumbling, mostly missing the magnificence of the day, as I waited impatiently for Bella to do her business.
As Bella paced and sniffed and sniffed and paced in search of the just right depository, I noticed a large woman, probably seventy pounds over weight, wearing a dark blue sweatshirt and sweatpants, hat pulled down over her ears against the cold morning air, making her way briskly along the trail toward me. She swayed as she walked, a pattern I guessed she’d developed from carrying the extra weight, and her arms swung back and forth in keeping with her rhythm. There was a bounce in her step that suggested her mood was happy. I caught her eye and smiled as she passed, “Good morning,” I said in greeting. “How are you today?”
She met my gaze with deep brown eyes and broke into a wide grin. “Good Morning,” she replied adding with a mix of enthusiasm and sweet southern drawl, “I’m blessed.” As she passed by me, waddling along the path, I caught myself smiling with the sunshine she’d just shared and thought what a wonderful way to answer that stale old question of, “how are you?”.
Here was a woman who showed no outward signs of what most of the world would consider “blessed.” Her clothes were old and well-worn, she wasn’t particularly pretty by most standards, and she was bordering on morbidly obese. Yet she was out at the crack of dawn, on a crisp autumn morning in middle Tennessee and, she was clearly celebrating her blessings.
I was humbled by her choice to recognize the blessings in her life and decided that, “I’m blessed,” will become my official and heartfelt response from this point forward. No matter how bleak the day may look. How empty my bank account may be or how quickly my deadlines are approaching, if I’m breathing, and I’m able to wait patiently (or even impatiently) for Bella to, ‘do her business,’ I will remember my new found friend and answer with a sincere and heartfelt smile . . “I’m blessed.”
A quick review of Denise Fayhee-Wolf’s life and it would be easy to conclude that one doesn’t have to die in order to be reincarnated. Throughout the past two decades, Denise has been a farmer, raising corn, beans, horses, cattle, pigs and chickens on a 1,000 acre farm in west central Illinois; a journalist, writing for regional magazines and newspapers; a radio talk show host; a marketing executive and owner of her own advertising agency; a tour operator, escorting little old ladies on bus tours throughout the Midwest; a scuba dive master working on a dive boat in Jupiter, Florida; and her most important job, a mother rearing her son, Joe (who recently blessed her garden with a new grandson, Beckett), and daughter, Kate. Her debut novella, The Bountiful Garden, draws on her vast and varied experiences along her journey filtered through a healthy blend of Christian, New Thought, and Buddhist teachings.