April 14, 2020

The following is the third in a series of essays from a local young mom, Laura Barton, from the Vankleek Hill area. You can find her writing in The Review, in addition to here, on our website.

Sunshine- rays of bright light that mark the beginning of a new day; another fresh start. As we sit together in our arm chair, he finishes up his bottle of fresh milk and I breath in the smell of his sweet shampoo from last night’s bath party. Our chair faces our big deep window, a defining characteristic of the original log structure of our home. The rays of sunlight are shining through, beckoning to us. After yesterday’s rainy day, the sunshine brings new hope for motivation. The motivation to move and get outside. To get our hearts pumping and fresh air into our lungs. This type of motivation can only be brought on by the brightness and warmth that sunshine brings to us.

But as we continue to sit and rock, I look behind me out the other window and see the trees blowing in the wind. The howling sounds still fill our ears, but are not nearly as spooky as the night before. However, it does make me shiver at thought of going outside. Would it really be worth the effort to get bundled up for just fifteen minutes of walking? Inner debates like these are what I face every day. Lately there always seems to be one excuse or another, that keeps us from getting outside or from doing something active in the house. Lack of exercise and fresh air is hard on my mental health and self confidence. But then I look down at my bundle of joy. I see the sunlight reflecting in those sky-blue eyes and I know today is the day we face that howling wind and those excuses, head on, because the motivational pull of the sunshine trumps the howling of the wind.

So begins the process of getting ourselves out the door, which is a lot easier said than done when you have a little one to dress for the colder weather. Many times you reach a point where you wonder is it really worth the trouble, especially when they are being uncooperative, but then I remind myself that we are lucky to be able to go outside. With public parks and community centres being closed these days, many families do not have a safe place where they can go out to get their important dose of vitamin D. The thought of not being able to take my little man out to splash in puddles or for a change of scenery terrifies me. So many people use the outdoors as a way to clear their heads, to cope. To be told you can no longer do something as simple as go for walk down your street without risk of getting a fine, or worse, the chance of getting sick or getting someone else sick, is heart breaking. Therefore, as I struggle to get my squirmy worm into his snow suit, I am thankful to live in a rural area where we can still go for walks and play outside in our big yard. Life’s cheapest therapy is some good fresh air and some warm sunshine!

Then comes the hardest decision; what do we face first? The howling wind or the bright sunlight? Better to start tough and take it easy on the way back. If the goal was to burn calories this morning, it certainly was accomplished. Facing huge gusts of wind was like walking into a brick wall and then trying to push it out of the way. The stop sign seemed to be getting further away as we moved closer. My baby is crying, uncomfortable in his seat, not liking the wind barrier I duct taped to the stroller. Did it start off as a peaceful reflective walk? Certainly not. Looking back on it now I realize it’s a good comparison for how many people are feeling about life right now. The brick wall of wind acting as the many obstacles we must find ways to overcome. Loss of jobs, bored children and spouses, new mandatory online learning systems, slow internet; the list goes on and on. But no matter how hard I had to push through that brick wall, I could feel the warmth of the sunshine on my back, reminding me that it will be easier on the way back.

We made it to that stop sign and we put the wind behind us. As we squinted up at the sun, we both smiled. There is the reason we are out here; our sign of hope and motivation. On the way home I practically had to run to keep up with the stroller because the wind was no longer a barrier, it was helping us move forward.

I realized that the obstacles which may lead us into brick walls and want to keep us from pushing onward, can also be used as a way to help us rise above the hardships and find new ways to embrace and face reality. As long as the sun keeps shining, we should be thankful for every new dawn we see. We also should be grateful for the howling, windy obstacles that we can turn our backs to. Allowing them to help us change our attitudes towards the wonderful life we often forget we are lucky to live.