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Perspective or Take a Step Back

PERSPECTIVE: TAKE A STEP BACK: I tend to do well when life is going well. I think we all do. When a crisis, or a personal setback, or another health issue, or an unanticipated bill pops up—that’s when the road ahead gets bumpy. At least that’s what happens to my road. And sometimes, the journey seems insurmountable. And then I either go along like a slow hamster on an exercise wheel that’s rusty and squeaks, or I get stuck with my feet in the mud unable to go further, unable to see further. That’s when I know I need to do something.

I have a list of fixes for that feeling of ennui. If one doesn’t work, I’ll try another. I’m sure you’ve figured out what works for you if you suffer from the same malady. Last week, I discovered another fix. One so simple that I had to chuckle at my forgetfulness, for I’m sure that someone somewhere told me this before: take a step back.

It was a pumpkin that brought me to that ah-ha moment.

Friday of last week held the promise of a beautiful autumn day. I had a doctor’s appointment in mid-morning, but when I returned home, M and I decided to make the most of the day and drive around Lake Pepin. For those of you not familiar with Lake Pepin, “it is a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River on the border between the U.S. states of Minnesota and Wisconsin” ( The day was, as one of our local television stations dubbed it, “a top-ten weather day.” And it was a crowded day—not on the road, but in all the little towns along the route. I think every retired senior who could still drive got up in the morning and said, “Let’s drive around Lake Pepin.”

We ate lunch at the Pickle Factory in Pepin, Wisconsin, then stopped at the orchard down the road to buy Macintosh apples so I could make applesauce. It was there that I saw the pumpkins; it was there that I regained perspective.

There was a huge pumpkin, but it was only huge because I got almost on top of it to snap a photo. And then I took several steps back and looked at that pumpkin again. Wouldn’t you know it? It was just a miniature pumpkin sitting on a wooden shelf with a lot of other miniature pumpkins. It was so small.

When I got back in the car for the trip home, I felt reenergized. The air was fresh, the sky couldn’t have been bluer, the sun danced on the brilliance of the leaves showing off their new colors. Was it just the pumpkin? No, it was the fact that I got away from my regular routine; I got away from my chores and appointments; I got away from my familiar existence; I got away from the problems that appeared insurmountable. I took a step back. My problems didn’t go away, but just like that pumpkin, they looked a lot smaller. Think about it. Take a step back if you need to. I highly recommend it.

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