Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Walking for the Great Lakes

Walking isn't something I take for granted anymore -- and I did it for four hours last night to earn a living.

It was an emotional journey. I was supposed to walk for five hours but thankfully I exceeded my financial goals within three and a half hours, so I could sit and chill for an hour before it was time to drive back to the office.

I was out canvassing for Clean Water Action, going door-to-door fundraising in a bipartisan effort to safeguard the Great Lakes Water Basin from off-shore drilling. Contrary to what I said yesterday, The Great Lakes Water Basin has more than 20 percent of the world's fresh water, not more than 30 like I had said accidentally. More specifically, we have about 22 percent of the world's fresh water -- about a fifth. People can't survive without fresh water. Protecting the basin is a no-brainer. It's something Republicans and Democrats generally agree upon quite unanimously when you stand on their doorsteps and converse about our wonderful lakes and rivers -- even though they have some trouble hashing out Great Lakes issues on the floor of the State Legislature.

But back to walking -- it isn't something I take for granted anymore, and that's not just because I wasn't wearing tennis shoes. The shoes I was wearing are called soft spots. They are meant to be comfortable although they have a little heel. To me they are much more comfortable than flip flops. I haven't canvassed for Clean Water Action in four years. Four years ago I wore Old Navy flip flops every day and had no trouble with the five-hour walking shift. My feet got a little tired in the beginning but this was a different kind of exhaustion. My steps are smaller today than they were four years ago. It's hard for me to keep up with normal walkers for any length of time. By the end of the night I had to lean on something to climb even a few steps, a handrail or a windowsill. Getting into the van at the end of the night, I had to swing my legs with my hands to move over. They wouldn't move by themselves. They were too tired.

I knew I had lost some mobility but I didn't realize until last night how much mobility I had lost to Multiple Sclerosis. The good news is, although I fell into bed late last night exhausted, thinking I might have to call them today and tell them I just can't do this work anymore, I woke up at 6 a.m. really excited that I DID do it and really excited that today will probably be a little easier than yesterday. Some of the mobility is lost from the condition of Multiple Sclerosis -- but I am certain the fact that I have not exercised regularly in a year has also contributed to that decline. Some of it, I think I can get back if I keep walking.

I am one of those people who really believe that God works all things for good in our lives if we just cooperate and surrender each day. That isn't to say that horrible things don't happen to wonderful people. They do, of course. It is to say that when horrible things happen, God gives people the grace to persevere and to keep peace in their hearts. God can give us a measure of happiness in the most stressful of situations. I have experienced this quite often in my life. A person doesn't have to believe in God to receive this grace, although having a belief in God sure helps. A person only needs to get out of the way and quit complaining about how unfair life is. A person basically just needs to roll with the program.

There tend to be hidden blessings in situations that seem unmanageable. For instance, while I was limping around this neighborhood in the rain last night, wondering how I was going to continue this for another few hours, I came across some people who were much more disabled than I am. It was largely a retirement community. When I was very fit and took walking for granted, I wouldn't have wanted to bother someone who was stooped over when they came to the door. I wouldn't have wanted to pressure someone who was using a walker. But today I know those people do want to be bothered just as much as anybody if they are interested in the issue -- and more people are interested than not. I guess I had always had a little bit of a prejudice about how willing people with disabilities might be to participate. It was very subconscious. But today I am certain it must have been there because I noticed last night that it had disappeared. I took my second largest check last night from a woman who is quite disabled. She was extremely interested and very friendly.

I'm going to rest for another hour before I start my day but I just had to report that God is really working in this situation. I'm very happy for that. If the computer unit I had ordered had come in time and if I had written business last week, I would not have canvassed for Clean Water Action last night. Because I canvassed for Clean Water Action last night, I learned some things that will be very helpful to me in my sales career and in life -- at the top of the list is the great value and importance of regular exercise. I had put exercise off because I have been so busy trying to climb out of a financial hole. I have been exhausted. seemingly too exhausted and busy for exercise. But this morning I am not exhausted. My spirit woke early feeling very happy to have, in a way, climbed a little mountain. No kidding, the flight of steps leading to the Clean Water Action office at the end of the night looked to me like a mountain. You better believe I used the handrail!

I plan to only canvas for Clean Water Action through about the third week in October. By then I will be settled in with what I need for insurance sales. This is just a wonderful opportunity for me and I am so happy to be working these days with Clean Water Action and this young bunch of activists. I am very happy that I am ABLE to do the work. So many people believe in the ideas of this organization but couldn't do this work for one reason or another.

No matter how financially successful I become, I think canvassing for Clean Water Action for a portion of every year is something I would like to do for as long as I am able.


  1. Well done Patty - on a variety of fronts. Walking all that way; working for such a good cause (I support it too) and absorbing the good from the experience. Also you have given me more impetus to exercise again, because I am fast becoming - if I haven't already become - a BLOB, and that is just not my way. Exercise and sports has always been part of my life, and you have again reminded me that I NEED it. God bless you and may His grace be poured out upon you every day. :o)

  2. hey Patty - i really liked this - so positive! we're glad to have you back at CWA!

  3. Hi, Patti! I work with Rox Ann Petoskey and she encouraged me to check out your blog. So glad she did! I really enjoyed your writing and am excited to subscribe so I know when you have a new post. I wish you the best, and hope you have a few seconds to check out the blog I maintain with my wife, Jennifer, at www.danandjenniferdigmann.com. I wish you the best with everything and I look forward to reading more of your entries! Dan