November 17, 2021 | View PDF
Research suggests that one way to a happier, more peaceful life is to count our blessings every day, to realize just how fortunate we are, and to appreciate the many small joys and pleasures we experience on a daily basis.
I know how lucky I am. I may fail to remind myself on a daily basis of all the goodness I enjoy, but I know that I have so much to be grateful for. I’m healthy and always have been; I have been able to make my own way with honest work, I have received the gift of fabulous friends and neighbors throughout my life journey that helped smooth rough passages and portions of my passage through this earth. I now live in an area just made for my mentality and lifestyle, so how can it get any better than that?
Regardless of time of year, I am truly blessed, not only because I have more than enough to eat, a warm house, plenty of clothing to keep me warm and dry, good friends and neighbors, extraordinary coworkers, but also because of the area I live in. My lifestyle and this area have combined to make me one of the luckiest people I know. Gratefulness can center around a lifestyle, a career, a family, or all of the above. I am truly thankful for all I have, and in my case, when I feel so much gratitude and give thanks, for the most part it centers around living the lifestyle that gives me pleasure.
Small activities that I generally take for granted remind me how lucky I am. For instance, my sister now lives in Washington State. In order for her to walk her dogs, go snowshoeing, pick berries, ride her bike, or engage in any sort of outdoor activities, she needs to get in a vehicle and drive literally miles to reach an appropriate spot for her outdoor activity. Sometimes it takes as long to reach the destination and return home as it does to enjoy the reason for the outing in the first place. Yes, she can walk miles on an abandoned railroad track by her house, but that track meanders through home sites, business property, and towns, and lies only a hundred feet from a well-traveled, busy highway. The atmosphere is not conducive to a happy amble by oneself or with one’s dog. She can haul her bike to town and ride the bike path, or take it to another safe spot to enjoy a jaunt, but again, she needs to drive to get there.
Me? I walk outside my house and within a dozen feet I can start to sled, ride a bike, snowshoe, hike, take my dog in any direction I choose, with never a worry about traffic, trespassing, or bumping into unwanted human contact. I don’t have to travel anywhere in a vehicle to reach a spot where I can enjoy the outdoors, and I can go alone or in the company of my canine companion. I cannot ask for more to make my day.
Sledding is an exhilarating winter activity for me. I started out with plastic sleds that crack and break easily, so I since have graduated to an aptly named Flexible Flyer, which really does fly in the right conditions.
To use the sled, I leave my house, walk out to the driveway, and take off. Or, if our lane is not overly snow covered, I walk approximately 400 steps to the road leading down the hill to Virginia City. This gravel road is snow packed all winter, so I can take my sled and fly down the hill. I have what I want in my own back yard. Granted, I have to trudge back up the hill hauling the sled behind me to enjoy another run, but that is part of the fun, and I can slide as long as I want. I don’t have to drive anywhere to sled, the road is 99.9% empty of traffic, so I have the space to myself to enjoy whizzing down the hill at breakneck speed.
If I am not sledding, I can walk myself or my dog in any direction I choose. The choice around here is either walking uphill, heading downhill, or making one’s way around the circumference of the mountain, which involves scrambling up and down the terrain We head up the hill, or we cut through brush and walk around the mountain, or we move downwards. My dog and I can walk as far as we want before turning around and heading home again. We hear all manner of birds, we often see wildlife, I hear coyotes in the distance, the scenery can be breathtaking, with golden and crimson leaf covered trees in the fall, snow covered pines in the winter, mountain wildflowers in the spring, and the long range of mountains towering on the horizon in the summer.
Watching the wildlife in our yard proves very soothing, and I am grateful to see the turkeys munching on grasshoppers and scratching for feed, the hawks flying overhead, crows and ravens that scold me on occasion for no apparent reason, the chirp and warble of birds, the deer that graze, the occasional moose that wanders through the property, the fox that called out a bobcat right on our driveway, and the list goes on.
I am so fortunate to have so much and to live where I do, and when it comes time to give thanks; I realize I am the luckiest person alive.