Monday, October 15, 2012
We're fortunate enough to live close to a small university. The buildings are the old weathered brick type and most are covered in ivy. We love walking our dogs through the campus. The university is almost two hundred years old and I could go on and on but suffice to say it's really, really cool. One side of the campus borders the same street we live on so I see students coming and going all the time.
This morning after I dropped Joan off at work I was headed home when I saw a young lady walking down the street. She had on a pair of flannel bottoms , a sweat shirt, and flip flops. Her hair was scrunched up and she was carrying a back pack. In one hand was a container of good old Vitamin D WHOLE milk. In the other was an, I'm not kidding here, enormous donut. Did I say she appeared to be about 100 pounds soaking wet? As my car snaked around the bend, she looked over and grinned and waved to me. Not a single or solitary care in the world.
Now, the 59 year old curmudgeon in me stuck his head out from his cave and found like a million things wrong with this picture. Whole milk!!!! Donuts for breakfast!!! It was in the mid-forties and she was barley dressed!!! If she didnt die from a thousand assorted viruses, the sugar and fat in her breakfast would bring her arteries to a grinding halt one day and she'd fall over dead in her tracks. The old curmudgeon could almost predict it! I was having a judgement fest here and my righteous indignation just kept urging me forward! Those da*n kids!!!
It was then I recalled her smile and her wave and that she REALLY doesnt seem to have a care in the world. She'll figure out the health and fitness part of life soon enough but she's got me beat hands down on the Worry Free Zone. I pulled the car into the driveway and wondered how many of my health issues were driven by my worries and fears. It's something to ponder for sure.
Did I tell you I feel fortunate to live near a small university?
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
“The only thing we really control is how we react to the changes and circumstances in our lives.”
I’m not sure when I heard that for the first time. I know it was a long time ago and it pops up in my head on a regular basis. In short, I control nothing and oh my goodness that’s scary. I could win the lottery tomorrow and be “set for life,” as they say or a tornado could flatten my home 10 minutes from now and take away everything and everyone I hold dear. Both extremes are possible (Though not probable.) without me moving one centimeter from where I’m currently sitting. Sure, I make choices. We all do in some form or fashion. Each of us chooses a path or course to walk. I won’t win the lottery unless I buy a ticket and I promise you if I hear the storm warning sirens I’ll lead the way to take cover. My decisions or reactions are what I can control. No use crying over spilt milk and all that rot.
I was exercising in the therapy pool earlier this week when a young lady walks up and sits down at pool side. Julia is the new aquatics director and she’s noticed me in the pool exercising. She’s observed that it must get awfully boring just walking back and forth. I introduce myself, tell her about my back and stuff and she smiles and says she knows Joan. (Everyone knows Joan!!!) She asks if I’d be interested in aquatics personal training. She rattles off all of her certifications most of which mean little to me. She’d love to work with me. Let me just pause for a moment and say I sensed my wife’s fine hand at work here somewhere - Decision time.
Do you realize we face these opportunities hundreds of times every day? God, The Universe, call it what you will presents us with all sorts of opportunities to move forward. So as I floated getting water logged I had a decision to make. See all the cool kids train upstairs. Those of us who are limited physically or emotionally; well we work out in the warm water therapy pool and you know what they call us don’t you? I’m not going to say because it’s taken Joan close to 40 years to teach me how to be politically correct. The other factor is, well we’re all friends here right? Come close and I’ll tell you my dirty little secret --- I can’t swim. I tromp around in 3 to 5 feet of water and my actions often scare little children into believing there really is a Loch Ness Monster. So here I am with someone built like an Olympic swimmer and she wants to train me in the big kid’s pool!!!
Anxiety, insecurity, low self-esteem and BTW there really should be a chocolate cake dispenser in the pool area so I can toss crumbs to the emotional eating mind monkeys. I smiled, told her I’d think about it and tromped away. I’d moved about three feet and I heard her. “You can’t swim can you?” This is where walking ON water would be a major gift. “It ok, we can start there and it’s cheaper than personal training. No one has to know.” When I turned around she was smiling. I may be out of town all of next week so I told her I’d let her know by Friday when we MIGHT start. She turned and walked away leaving me looking somewhat prune like in the water.
Opportunities--- they are there at every turn. They scare the snot out of us and reduce us to our lowest common denominator along with the rest of creation. Intellectually I embrace this opportunity. It makes sense and Joan agrees LOL. Emotionally I cower and run away. When I’m in the gym I wear a tee shirt, shorts, etc. In the pool, well I have my suit and that’s it. I mean gosh, I have man boobs!!! Now ya want me to stand in front of someone and show them myself just as I am?
Opportunities - Makes ya grin don’t it
Namaste, my dear ones, Namaste.
Sunday, October 07, 2012
I walked into the kitchen one afternoon in late August to find my wife and daughters sitting with their arms crossed. After close to forty years of marriage I smelled only one thing – trouble for me. When Joan begins with “Let me start by telling you how much we all love you…..” it usually means it’s the last positive thing I’m going to hear for the next half hour. I was half right, lol. She realized I’d been through a lot in the past six months with my dad passing away and my back injuries, but, she added, my weight had ballooned to a really unhealthy number. I’d gained back the eighty pounds I’d lost plus added another ten pounds to that. Like the government, she and the girls were here to help.
Their proposal was simple. We would all make a real conscious effort to live and eat healthy – from food choices to exercise options. Maybe that would help me get back on track. We did the ceremonial cleaning of the cabinets and stocked it with good stuff. Katie and Maggie both joined Weight Watchers. It’s what works for them. Katie is a lifetime member having reached her goal weight and keeping it off for a year a long time ago but by her own admission she had slipped a bit. Maggie said it would be good to feel good again. Joan has major food allergies so eating is always a challenge for her. She has always used a high protein diet with success and of course I use Spark People.
Our goal wasn’t to lose weight as much as it is to live healthy. In the past six weeks we have eaten out much less, gotten rid of the sugar and carbs that always tempt us and it’s been fun working out with my adulate daughters a few days per week. It’s been nothing to adventurous – walking and swimming. Joan and I exercise together in the pool three to four days a week and she and the girls have their own regimen. Everyone is much more relaxed. It’s good to turn to either side of me and know I have support at home as well as here at Spark. When I open the cabinet I see healthy options rather than all the junk. We go out to eat, as a family, every two weeks, and the options are healthy ones, fresh fish, chicken and veggies. The French fries are fading in the rear view mirror.
I weighed myself yesterday – a 1.4 pound loss for the week and a total of close to 16 pounds, in the past five weeks. Katie sat back and said, “Between the four of us we’ve lost right at 60 pounds. That’s a small child.”
It’s a child I’m glad to be rid of.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
I was looking forward to catching up with a friend last night. It seemed like forever since we talked. I knew from the first hello that something wasn’t right. Her boyfriend found himself in the unenviable position of not only losing one job but possibly two. You can only imagine the stress. Going from three incomes to one in the blink of an eye can set you into a real quick tail spin. I see many of you nodding your heads. You’ve been there, so have I. It’s the fear the unknown brings when it comes-o-callin’. Things that were inconsequential last week now seem to be a matter of life and death – and in many cases they are. So I did what a friend does, I listened.
After a bit I sort of scratched my head, contorted my face in one of those half-crazy looks and said. “You realize you’re one of my heroes don’t you?” There was a long moment of silence. “Look at everything you’ve endured in your short life, and each time you’ve always been much stronger.” My friend spent most of her youth and adolescence caring for a parent who was chronically ill. She missed out on a lot of things you and I take for granted, coupled with the unimaginable stress of not being able to help a parent get better. Eventually she had to make the tough decision to remove life support. In a phrase she amazes me and I reminded her yesterday.
I’m not discounting how tough life may be for her in the immediate future, I just reminded her of the reservoir of strength within her. That same reservoir resides in you and me. I felt a bit small as I lie in bed last night thinking of my friend and her plight. She can summon the courage to deal with life altering events and I fall apart trying to restrain myself from eating a donut. It’s not that I’m weak – far from it. I am ignorant of the amazing positive strength, resolve and love that are inside of me. I refuse to look in the mirror and see that warm glow that emanates from me; I only see the warts, the fat and a body that is slowly aging. I fail to take note of the amazingly strong person staring back.
So many times during the course of my day, people will tell me how great I am and I just don’t see it. That’s because I’m not looking hard enough. Thank You “A” for showing me that even in the things of life we find hard to deal with there is a moment of light and life to help us grow.
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