Frankie's bull
Frankie Little is all smiles after harvesting this magnificent bull on the San Juan.  He lives a full life which includes regular physical, mental, and spiritual exercise.

Isn’t it absolutely amazing how nature, with a little help from us, can take smelly animal wastes, mix them with soil, and produce a magnificent rose bush from a trimmed down stump of yesteryear. The year 2020 has been much like the early stages of preparing the soil and getting a bit stinky on the way!

The English Philosopher James Allen wrote an impactful and memorable essay entitled, “As a Man Thinketh.” In the famous work he describes how attitude can change a person’s life for the better or for the worse. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read it, I recommend it to you highly. In the piece he compares life to a garden.

Before the introduction of the essay Allen penned the following short verse:

“Man is the master power that molds and makes and man is mind and ever more he takes, the tool of thought and shaping what he wills; brings to pass a thousand joys, a thousand ills, he thinks in secret, it comes to pass, environment is but his looking glass.”

All of us, cowboys and cowgirls, farmers, ranchers, producers and distributors (both male and female) are struggling to prepare the garden of our lives for the 2021 harvest, having great hope for a brighter future.

Often, that harvest has more to do with one’s attitude than any other factor. Scientists have proven, through numerous studies, that exercise can have a profound effect on a person’s attitude towards life and those around him or her.

Exercise can be broken down into three basic categories, two of which you may not have given much thought: physical exercise, mental exercise, and spiritual exercise.

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise can be different than just a day’s hard work. You can cut hay all day, build fence or gather cattle and still not promote good physical activity. The older you get, the more important it is to devote time to real physical exercise.

The Mayo Clinic lists seven ways consistent physical exercise can improve your life. Exercise controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, puts the spark back in your intimate life, promotes better sleep, and finally, exercise can be enjoyable and fun.

Our bodies lose their elasticity as we age. Stretching can increase mobility and lessen the threat of injury due to a tear or strain. There are plenty of regiments you can follow. Many are posted on the internet or your doctor might recommend a routine for you.

Cardio-vascular exercise is essential to a healthy life and longevity. Getting the heart pumping and the blood flowing is like adding a fuel additive to your tractor; it cleans the system and improves operating efficiency. Walking, biking, hiking, walking the treadmill, and a host of other activities which place the body in motion promote good cardio-vascular health.

The rural lifestyle requires a lot of lifting, and this may be the one area where your hard work can be focused exercise as well. The term for lifting in the fitness world is called “Resistance Training”. You have to be wise on what you lift and how you lift it. At the feed store you can watch a young buck place two or three sacks of sweet mix on his shoulder and toss them in the back of your pickup. The feller thinks he is invincible, but in a few years the strain he puts on his body today will catch up with him.

Be wise with resistance training and gather information and knowledge on the subject before buying a set of weights or heading to the gym.

Getting and keeping the ole body in good physical condition will increase your quality of life and boost a positive attitude.

Mental Exercise

The human mind is an amazing combination of matter and electrical activity. Just like the physical body, it needs to be exercised and challenged regularly in order to function properly. Your mind really is the master mind of our mortal existence.

Mental acuity or sharpness of mind can be defined as memory, focus, understanding, and concentration.

One of the most gratifying experiences you can have is to spend time with a person who is well into the aging process, but has a mind as sharp a tack! Their wit, wisdom, and experience operate together to weave a tapestry of life that is both colorful and inspirational.

A common thread in a majority of these near centurions lies in their habits of reading and doing it often. One old timer may read the newspaper daily and another scripture (most of them read the obituaries to see if they are in them). Memorizing a poem or verse, compiling your life’s history, working puzzles, learning a new skill all promote mental alertness.

Spending time associating with others is a major factor in mental alertness. Karen Salmansohn, a bestselling self-help author, encourages people to, “Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around people who inspire you, support you and help you grow into your happiest, strongest, wisest self”.

Spiritual Exercise

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, suggests spiritual health includes a purposeful life, transcendence and actualization of different dimensions and capacities of human beings. Spiritual health creates a balance between physical, psychological, and social aspects of human life. Spiritual health, according to Westpath, is achieved when you feel at peace with life.

Reading scriptures, attending religious services, praying, and meditation can bring you closer to the God which you believe in. Research shows that one of the key elements in experiencing spiritual wellness is through service to others. Visiting the elderly, feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute are all simple ways to make a difference in your life and those you serve.

Let me give you an example of a person who works to keep a balance in his life through physical, mental, and spiritual exercise:

Frankie Little is retired and in his late 60s. He and his wife walk together almost every day. He reads regularly and he serves as an ecclesiastical leader in his church. A few years ago he suffered a severe break to his leg followed by shoulder surgery. After months of rehabilitation he was back doing the things he loves.

He recently completed a successful elk hunt on the San Juan. He had waited 27 years for the opportunity. He promised himself he would not hunt on his Sabbath and would rather not field a trophy than break that commitment. His group and guide hunted hard for an entire week. They weren’t able to spot the bull he was looking for. On the last evening of his hunt they spotted a magnificent animal a great distance away. He was able to make the hike and collect his trophy just as the sun was setting into the west. He had the physical stamina to get to the animal, the mental toughness to reach his goal, and the spiritual awareness to keep his commitment.

May your hard work and perseverance in 2020 bring you a rainbow of color to your rose garden in 2021!

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