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June 18, 2005
You are definitely thinner, I tell Gypsy as she strolls by. She is not as delighted as I am when someone says this to me, and so makes no reply. But Gypsy, who weighed about twenty pounds, has been on special diet food for about six months, and her round body is visibly less round.

During dinner last night, though, we were surprised to see her up in the dogwood tree. She looked at us from a fork of two branches, and seemed as startled to be there as we were to see her. Gypsy hasn't been very athletic since her spaying -- it was too hard, too tiring. I remember that feeling: didn't like to move, didn't like to sweat, avoided climbing stairs, resented having to get up to fetch something across the room. Everything hurt. I guess Gypsy felt the same way.

But the svelte new Gypsy balanced uncertainly on a branch, peering up through the leaves, trying to locate the catbird who taunted her from a branch safely out of reach. After a time, she gathered her courage and leaped awkwardly down to the ground. Off she walked, her waddle a little closer to a saunter than it had been before her adventure. She will climb again.

I lift and trot, push and pull at the gym. I bend and carry, stretch, reach, dig and crouch in the garden. I am not as young as I was, but I love being able to move. Gratitude for ability fills me every time, even as I feel a twinge in my back I wouldn't have had when I really was young.

We're made to move, and we don't feel well if we don't. Counterintuitive, this: when we don't feel well, we want to lie down, rest, coddle ourselves --when what will really make us feel better is moving around a little.

It's Saturday. No school: we used to live for that day when we were little. Saturday, the day when you can go out to play, play all day. Maybe that's what we should do today: go out and play. Work in the garden. Weed it, and reframe the idea that this is a boring chore: you're looking closely at plants and bugs and worms, and these are interesting beings. If you're in the city, take a walk and look in the store windows, look at people's window boxes, at the neighborhood gardens. Or just look at people. Go to the park. Go to the gym and use a piece of equipment you've not tried. Go swimming.

Awkward? Slow? Stiff? Sore? Maybe so. But your heart, that muscle that has served you so faithfully for so many decades, will beat faster, growing a little stronger with each beat. Thanks, it will say. I was going crazy in here. Let's do this again.
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