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Stronger - Remix

The intensity of this past week reminded me of “Stronger,” a piece I wrote back in the summer of 2020. While that column centered on physical strength, the past several days have included challenges that were physical, mental and emotional. Now as we wrap up the week, I can say I AM stronger, but only because of the support received from my faith, family and friends. 

I hope you’ll relate to this piece written during the height of the Covid pandemic.

 It was 2011. Pop icon Kelly Clarkson released an album called “Stronger.” The title track’s catchy refrain makes the claim: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I was reminded of this song and its familiar chorus earlier this week when working at our farm. 

It was my turn to take care of the farm animals. Our Kunekune pigs have a high fenced pen for nighttime, but during the day we move them to another area of the property for grazing. They spend the day munching contentedly in a shaded area, lolling in plastic swimming pools, all while secured inside portable electric fencing.

One of my jobs on that particular day was to fill the pig’s food bucket with the protein pellets they love so much and lead them to their daytime enclosure. While the pigs ate the food scattered on the ground inside their fencing, I began the process of filling their pools and troughs with water from the livestock pond (commonly referred to as a “tank,” since it’s used for livestock). 

My husband Houston has a generator and pump set up to draw water from the tank, with hoses attached so we can take the water where it’s needed. The weight of the hoses, combined with trees in the path makes the chore daunting, at least for someone as uncoordinated as me. And just to make things more interesting, the hoses are never where they’re needed, because the last time they were used, the pigs were going to a different area. 

This chore is made even more fun when the heat index is 108. When I have double duty - morning and evening chores - I sweat completely through my clothes and sweat trickles into my eyes, burning and making it difficult to see. 

Anyway, as I was pulling hoses and traipsing back and forth between pig enclosures, I was reminded of this song. As rough as the chores have been, they haven’t killed me. And in fact, they’re making me stronger. 

Physically, my arms have never looked better and I’m finding it easier to do planks during my morning workout. Mentally it’s been a boost as well, empowering even, just knowing that I can do work I haven’t done before and that no one got hurt or went hungry on my watch. A bonus is that I’ve learned some tricks to make the job easier, like doing as much of the evening prep in the morning hours as possible, when it’s much cooler. And my best friend these days is a cooling towel, saturated with cold water and draped around my neck. 

How about you? Is there a challenging situation - physical, emotional, mental - that you find yourself in? My hope is that we’re all able to look beyond the difficulty we’re experiencing and be encouraged that as tough as it is, in the end we’ll be stronger. 

This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the March 30, 2024 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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