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I blog about my Catholic faith, my prayer life, good books and good movies.

Have Strength of Heart

Abigail Benjamin

On Monday, I ran a mile in 17 minutes and 5 seconds. On Wednesday, I ran a mile in 15 seconds and 7 seconds. Those are pathetic times, I know. When I was 18, I used to be able to run 3 miles along my steep West Virginia Hills in under 22 minutes in various Cross-Country Meets.

What makes these new running times so hard won is that I'm now 41. I've had 4 pregnancies in the last 6 years. My last pregnancy left me with 14 weeks of bedrest. 18 months later, I'm blessed with a handsome son with curly red hair. I love my baby boy, but I'm sad about the 20 pounds of pregnancy weight that stubbornly cling to my tummy despite 12 months of nursing.

This was the week that I decided to self-nurture myself with a gym membership. We don't have a lot of money, yet my health is worth a small piece of our grocery budget. This was my third trip to the gym this week. As an unexpected benefit, my teen gets to come along free to my workouts. Our Mother/Daughter fitness routine is mutual encouragement at its best.

I was born before Title IX, The Federal Sex Discrimination Law, went into strong effect into our public schools. It meant that I grew up in a time when girls athletics was chronically underfunded. I grew up before there was girls intramural soccer teams or rock climbing taught in gym class. We did things like crawl up a scratchy rope or do a 45 second "flex arm hang." None of these awkward experiences encouraged me feel strong and confident in my body. 

This is the week that I take my crummy gym memories and change them into something new. 

In 5 weeks, I'm driving to Charleston, West Virginia. I'm taking the West Virginia Bar Exam in July. I want my Law License back and I want to be a lawyer for the first time in my native state. It's time to put some muscle behind my viewpoints on how to better treat our environment. I joined a gym this week because I didn't want to miss the license point cut off because I was too tired to think well during my 12 hour exam. 

I'm finding that the more impossible things that I try to do, in a calm and consistent manner, the better that I start to feel about myself. This year I'm writing a book. This year I'm getting my law license back. This year I'm getting my body back.

I used to think that you had to pick one--I could be smart or pretty or strong. Now I know that true holiness is a blend of all three: beauty, brains and brawn.