Jogging has been a good friend of mine through the years, something I have turned to at all times, in all seasons, in many moods.
The trail and I are buddies, so much so that every time out is almost like a mini-reunion, a chance to catch up with myself, to see where I've been, to assess where I'm going, to process life's blessings and burdens, to get my head on straight.
I'm with me and the road to reflect and reminisce, my thoughts dictated by life's events and the day's drama.
And that's why I like jogging, not just because it makes me feel better physically, but because it's my mental salvation, too.
It's an activity that Better Half embraces and encourages wholeheartedly, knowing that a happier Janice is a happier wife.
"Go," he says in earnest when he sees that look on my face when I'm contemplating whether to grab my tennis shoes and get in a little jog, which runs parallel - no pun intended - to life with all its hills and challenges along with its straight stretches and periods of recovery.
It's a path paved with promise and purpose, this route of mine along which I plod, that I am sure of.
The other evening I felt compelled to head up the hill and off on my usual route through my hometown, but after my traditional stop at the barn to commune with the equine population I have come to love, I opted for a slight detour, stopping to visit my dad's grave at Richmond Union Cemetery.
It seemed appropriate.
I hadn't been there since the Memorial Day weekend when the red and white geraniums had been freshly planted around his headstone in time for the holiday ceremonies there.
I apologized to him for the weeds, grabbing at them to play catch-up gardener.
Then I cried, the day's events fresh in my mind.
I realized then that the last time I had been to a Hout funeral it had been my dad's service more than 20 years ago, until that particular day, that is, this day when I thought a jog would help me make some sense out of a family tragedy.
As good as a jog is, it's no guarantee to solve everything, obviously, or to provide all the answers to all the questions, to understand why things happen as they do.
I headed home and parked myself on the back porch where I stared through blurred eyes at the solar lights in the flower beds taking their cue to begin their nightly glow and change colors at another arrival of another evening.
Then I heard the carillon from the Richmond United Methodist Church start its nightly concert, its first offering "How Great Thou Art," one of my favorite hymns.
I felt comforted as I did in re-reading one of the sympathy cards I got that came from a good friend.
It read, "Each new day God gives us another chance to bloom in a brand new way."
I'll contemplate that on my next time out with my good "friend."