One More Day of Life

Today’s morning was cool, damp, and sunny following last night’s showers. I got up and started to work out on my treadmill then, gazing through the window, wondered why in heaven’s name I was not outside walking. I turned off the treadmill; gathered my excellent Playaway novel by local author Domnica Radulescu, Train to Trieste, and my cell phone; stretched; then jogged down the long drive out to the curved, uphill road. I inserted my earbuds but did not yet turn on the play button. As I focused on my breathing and the day’s elements surrounding me, I could hear my heart accelerating through the buds. What a way to open a lovely fall day!

Proceeding uphill, I gazed at the roadside scenery: graceful, gently swaying grasses, new and rusted beer and soda cans, pretty weed coverings, fallen branches, and some acorns. Many of my new neighbors smiled and waved at me as they passed in their vehicles, one a white-bearded man on his bicycle. I felt absolutely right with the world.

Then I suddenly wondered if I’d unplugged the treadmill, green grinch that I am. I could not remember doing so—which in recent years has become a completely unreliable measure—so, acknowledging that exercise is exercise either way home, I turned. My eyes continued to peruse the sides of the road until I noticed a small mound the size of a scoop of slightly melted chocolate ice cream with butterscotch sauce dripping down, several inches out into the road. Puzzled, I walked over and discovered, to my delight, a small box turtle completely closed away. Holding him in my palm, my thoughts slid back decades to the childhood hours I’d spent turtle-hunting in the woods, bringing them home, feeding them lettuce and raw hamburger (I now know that’s not the best turtle diet,) and keeping my board-and-brick turtle pen well supplied with water and grass. Mom’s wise rule was to let them go after two days and so I’d hunt for more, naming countless turtles Myrtle.

Now I recalled yesterday when I’d found a large turtle newly crushed in the road near my mailbox. As I buried him next to my roadside garden, I wished I’d come out earlier for my mail and perhaps been able to give him another day of life. Yet this was today and I took my young reptile home, placing him in my front deck garden with a fervent wish: “Be safe, little guy. There’s a stream right out back if you want it.”

In the house, I chuckled at the unplugged treadmill cord that lay on the floor, returned outside, smiled at the still-closed turtle shell, and started out up the road once more. Jogging again, still filled with deep peace, I pondered that unexpected, seemingly incorrect nudge to return home, which stemmed from that small inner voice that often speaks to me, the one I’ve learned to closely listen to and honor as I’ve (hopefully) grown in wisdom.

The mystery for me was this: was the nudge to get off the treadmill and go outside, then the subsequent nudge to return home to check the electrical cord really about my wish to conserve electricity in any small way, or was it all about that little turtle starting out across a dangerous road?

I embrace what my heart tells me is truth.

Yesterday, September 11th, I deeply grieved and every day I ache for our faraway soldiers. Yet this morning I celebrate this passing encounter with my small fellow creature and delight in the gift he brought.


About Mary Jo Doig

At the turn of the millennium, I arrived at a cross-road that brought me to a splendid, if unforeseen place, almost as if I were a traveler on Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled. I was single again, my three children were grown and building their lives, I'd experienced a health issue and was working on an improved lifestyle. I also ached to do two other things: (1) change my long human services career in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains, where winter seemed to be at least seven months out of every year, and (2) move to a warmer place in the universe. My decision: did I want to continue on the path I'd been following pretty much all my life, or could I gather my then-fragile courage and start life brand new somewhere else? These were scary thoughts for a single woman in her late 50s. Five hundred miles away, though, I fell in love with a new mountain range, Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where I knew not a soul except my daughter who was attending college in the Shenandoah Valley, and I moved. I rented a tiny cabin on a mountain in the woods and lived there in solitude for two years, working in a new career by day and, when home, communing with the incredible natural beauty that surrounded me. There I also began to write my life stories, which were aching for release. I joined the Story Circle Network in early 2001, a rich place in cyberspace for women life writers, where I strengthened my written voice and began sharing my stories. I found so many opportunities to grow: 10 year facilitator for an online writing circle of women writers across the country; thirteen year editor of the "True Words from Real Women" section of the quarterly Journal; a reader and reviewer of women's memoirs for the SCN Book Review site; program chair for two Stories from the Heart national conferences in Austin, T. Presently I'm teaching Women's Life-Writing and Older Women's Legacy workshops in my part of the world in Central Virginia and facilitating the ongoing Circle of Memories Writing Circle (formerly an OWL workshop that continued on) at the Crozet Public Library. I am blessed with three wonderful children, a son and two daughters; a small, huge-hearted family; dear friends; my beagle Addie and cat Button. My hobbies include reading, writing, editing, cooking, gardening, quilting, knitting, biking, and simply being with the profound beauty of the mountains that embrace my small two acres in the Blue Ridge. The life stories I began writing in 2001 have grown deeper with time, re-writes, and personal growth. All these years later, I'm scheduled to publish my memoir, Stitching a Patchwork Life, in 2018.
This entry was posted in Compassion, Gratitude, Kindness, Mother Nature, Mystery, Simplicity. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to One More Day of Life

  1. The pleasures of an outdoor walk combined with the need to “unplug” that treadmill–lovely. Perhaps life does offer us an internal signal to go do one thing while along the way another worthwhile gesture opens to us and we save Myrtle the Turtle, or Petey Rabbit (my newsest neighborhood pet.) Your blog is beautiful–keep it coming!


  2. susanideus says:

    Mary Jo, I loved this, beginning to end. I loved that you stopped to rescue the turtle. So often we can be so intent on getting where we’re going, we don’t see what’s right in front of us. I’m trying to slow down and really look these days. It’s hard–I’ve been so accustomed to living life at breakneck speed that I’m still adjusting. I’ll remember your story and that will help.


    • Mary Jo Doig says:

      One of the neatest things I’ve discovered from these early writings and responses on my blog are the many different ways that people respond to a story. Your perspective was one I hadn’t considered until you wrote and I liked it.


  3. 1newauthor says:

    This was a truly beautiful peace! It was soothing and left me with a sense of peace!

    PS. I am coming to you from my blog


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