It is the first part of a song by Eric Clapton that was first penned in 1974. Perhaps you, like me, were in high school at that time. These lyrics remind me of our friends who have chosen a positive fork in the road, even amidst great adversity, in the past couple of years. You can listen to the song here.
Donny and I were making our five-hour annual October trek home from VA to GA yesterday in the torrential rain that Hurricane Nate left in his path. As we traveled, my mind wandered through the past couple of years, 945 days to be precise.
'The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It's about what you're made of, not the circumstances.'
Back on March 7, 2015, our dear friends, The Read’s son, Taylor Heston Read, age 23 passed away. As the miles clicked by in Virginia, and soon Tennessee, a question kept coming to my heart and mind.
“How Does A Family Move Through A Life Loss Like This?”
While we have not lost a child, Donny and I have faced the passing of all of our birth parents. We have also gone through the home going of some precious friends and other family members. We all experience grief in one way or another as we journey through this thing called life. Grief is certain in each one of our lives.
Since we have been closely connected to The Reads during this season of grief, I have some reflections I feel compelled to share here.
'Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It's the only thing.'
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, German Theologian, Organist, Philosopher, Physician, and Medical Missionary to Africa (1875-1964)
Marrying just 48 days before us, in 1982, The Reads have maintained a strong marriage partnership. They have taken in good music to soothe their soul, and enjoyed yummy food from their Big Green Egg. They have made sure to welcome continual fellowship with family and friends. The Reads have stayed connected to their church family which nourishes each other during times of need. This decision was clear after Taylor’s passing when this song was chosen to be played as the family was ushered out following his Celebration of Life service.
Along with the help of friends, family, the community of Abingdon, Virginia and the Virginia Creeper Trail Club, this family has brought about a unique “shelter from the storm” alongside The Holston River which was dedicated in October 2015. Designed by Taylor’s talented sister, Megan Read, this is a picturesque spot all should visit at some point in the future.
Already, this shelter has brought rest and has been a refuge to many including bikers, kayakers, visitors to The River Cafe in Alvaredo Station. Taylor’s Shelter has even been a venue for a few weddings.
As the miles clicked by and we grew closer to our home state of Georgia, the rain continued to splatter our windshield. Soon another song came on that brought The Read’s willful and purposeful choices to mind. They have ended their days by looking for hope in tomorrow. By Jim Croce, this song Hey Tomorrow was first penned in 1972., and it starts like this:
'Taylor was honored and God was glorified.'
Paul Read, in talking about the 3rd annual Ride for his son, Taylor on October 7, 2017
I have a couple of questions for you and for me today. How we will respond in our time of grief and hardship? Will we follow the example of this courageous family, looking up with hope in the future? I hope I will.
You can make a difference with CAL or Catch A Lift, which began in memory of Army Cpl. Chris Coffland, and has gone on to help many veterans since its founding.
After 9/11/01 and every anniversary of September 11th since that horrific day of tremendous loss, a phrase sticks out in my mind:
We Will Never Forget!!!
We say we will remember forever the true sacrifice, day in and day out, of men and women in uniform, whether they be first responders or part of our strong military services.
And yet, is that statement really true, other than the usual times of remembering, Veterans’ Day, the 4th of July, and other red, white, and blue celebrations? Do you and I really remember these souls who serve and their families in our prayers? Do we truly recognize that freedom is not free, and how many grave sacrifices have been made on our behalf? Do we intentionally share our resources in causes related to wounded veterans?
'Shake off any dust that may accumulate from stagnation of purpose.'
Army Cpl. Christopher Coffland (1966-2009)
Our daughter, Leah, is running a 10k in February, and she is showing her support for our veterans by running in honor of the Catch a Lift foundation, founded in memory of Army Cpl. Christopher Coffland (1966-2009).
Founded in memory of Army Cpl. Chris Coffland, Catch A Lift Fund (CAL) enables post 9/11 combat wounded Veterans to regain and maintain their physical and mental health by providing granted gym memberships, fitness programs or in-home gym equipment, anywhere in the United States. If a veteran has an appointed VA certified caregiver, the caregiver is eligible as well.
In addition, CAL’s M.A.P.S. Program ensures success by tracking progress and offers motivation, accountability and peer support through small squads of Veterans who heal together Vet to Vet. CAL Veterans are not only losing weight and moving away from obesity, but also eliminating the need for multiple prescription medications and finding their “new self”. CAL Veterans are thriving, reintegrating, healing and saving each other’s lives through newly established comradery; filling the void left after military service.
Won’t you jump on board and support this important cause?
The longer I live, the more I have realized that LIFE is all about the HEART.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Both the physical, beating heart, and our inner, soulful heart. Now in my 50s, a continuous change of heart is one of my greatest desires: to keep my physical heart as healthy as humanly possible, and to keep my inner heart engaged, honest, connected to my God, and linked with others.
I shared here in my recent post 10 Things That Organized People Do, that in late January, 2016, I decided to rejoin a Weight Watchers Program to give me some assistance with my health goals.
As I sat in a meeting last week, I was inspired by a woman about my age who shared that she had been in a wheelchair for the past three years, and just that week had completed her first fitness walk! Inspiration is everywhere when we are looking for it. I have come to realize that the “new” Weight Watcher’s program is emphasizing the inner heart. Not just a number on the scales. The program encourages the participants to look after him or herself. In fact, the tag line on their planning guide is:
LOSE WEIGHT….GET HEALTHIER…AND LIVE HAPPIER!
Here are some of the posters in the new Weight Watcher center in Kennesaw, Georgia:
If losing weight is your primary goal, it is important to know that the Weight Watchers Program, if followed pretty closely, promises 1-3 lbs of loss per week. This is consistent with the results I have seen since restarting on January 27, 2016. I have appreciated the ease of scanning foods, and then deciding if consuming them will be worth it, and also knowing that ALL fruits and veggies are free! As long as you consider quantities and choices, the plan is fairly easy to follow, allowing chocolate, wine, and other luxuries.
Life-style change and a healthy state of well-being is what I am going for. If you still have children and/or grandchildren in your weekly life, consider Kitchen Twins. Emily and Lyla have a mission to get the family in the kitchen together cooking healthy foods. But, this post is not just about weight loss. It’s about our hearts!
Did you know? Our hearts, both inner and outer, need daily attention, just like many other things do.
What? “Something else needs my attention???” While I did not get the speaker’s name, I recently heard a radio show and I liked this idea of checking in daily with your inner heart:
“As you drive along in your car, stopping at stop lights or in traffic jams, notice when the car stops, therefore stopping your body, allow your mind to stop, as well. Just for that couple of minutes, do some deep breathing, allowing your mind to rest. Your inner heart will reap the benefits.”
As you practice this daily, be sure to silence that inner critic voice that tries to rear its ugly head. Read an earlier post, Fire The Bad Boss Inside, by clicking here.
While I am glad I was able to finish the planned hikes earlier this month on our visit to The Rockies, I must tell you that I could tell a difference in my endurance level during those same hikes only a couple of years ago. I know a slower metabolism and less physical endurance is a natural part of the aging process, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t fight back!
In a book I found back in 2008, and one I have mentioned before, the authors boldly state in the first chapter:
Take charge of your bodies.
Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. Authors of Younger Next Year
“It’s hard to summarize this book, but there are three important things, EXERCISE, NUTRITION, and COMMITMENT.
The biggest one—and the biggest change for most people is exercise. It is the golden key to great health. You should exercise hard almost every day of your life. And do strength training, lift weights, two or three of those six days. Exercise is the key to great aging.
Quit eating the things that you know are rotten for you, like fast food and lots of fat and simple carbs. And eat less of everything.
Commitment. What I mean is, you have to be involved with other people. And you have to care about something. Goals. Charities…people…family…job…hobbies. Be engaged in life.” (page 36)
As we have watched my husband’s father increase his strength after a very grave season of illness in the past few months, I questioned his physical therapist, Reid, about aging and strength. What he told me has stuck with me:
“It is much harder to age as a
sedentary person than as an active person.
Your bones, muscles, everything,
really, weaken the more we SIT.”
I realize that not everyone can be super mobile. Illnesses and disabilities can hold us back. Still, each of us who has a beating heart can do some kind of moving each day.
Even though I have always enjoyed a high level of activity, I must admit I have also always had a hard time “fitting in FITNESS”. No matter what season of life we may be traveling through, I KNOW it’s important to have regular exercise as a part of it. Yes, I have known this for most of my life, but doing it consistently, well, that is a different thing!
From my journal on January 1, 1997 when Walker was 4 1/2 and Leah, age 8 were living under our roof:
Regular Exercise! Spring Tennis is coming, but until then, I must get into some regular 3X a week-something! Either early A.M walks, Nordictrack, or rollerblading with Leah…something! Fitness can be done anywhere, home, neighborhood, Health Place, as long as you DO IT!”
That was nearly 19 years ago, and here I am still wanting to make it a consistent goal to fit fitness into my weeks, my months, and the rest of my days. Perhaps that is a sure sign that this is something others struggle with too…Keeping Fitness a Priority.
Let’s consider what some good options are for fitting fitness into our busy days:
Our long-time friends Jan and David have determined that an early morning, simple walk in their neighborhood does the trick for them. Janny has especially been faithful to this habit for decades, and David is realizing how their daily walk truly does impact how he feels the rest of the day. During the Summer of 2013, Jan and I made up a silly statement that we still use today to keep us ever mindful of our need to MOVE: “If we don’t walk, we won’t walk.” <smile>
Our daughter, Leah has been attending Orange Theory Fitness Classes near her home for several months now and she can see a big difference in her stress level at work and how her clothes are fitting her. I attended a class with Leah and her friend, Carly on Tuesday night and it was a great workout. This is a financial sacrifice for them as young marrieds, but as long as Leah attends the classes as she has committed to, then both Scott and Leah feel it is worth the extra expense. It was fun running into some familiar faces leaving the class just before us, Patty, Vickye, and Bonny. And Vickye’s daughter, Jessica was our awesome OT Coach for the night.
SWIM AWHILE! Check out your local YMCA’s schedule for times the pool is available for adults only.
My friend, Jackie has a Tuesday weekly commitment of instructing senior citizens in “chair yoga” at a nearby Assisted Living Home. They love it as they circle up the chairs, move slowly in different “poses”, including a Sun Salutation chair style, as Jackie directs them. Jackie reminds these residents during each class to be grateful for their lives and to smile at each other even if no smile is returned. Many of these chair yoga folks are in their mid-late 80s and one is 95! This engages Jackie, while it helps these folks to “keep moving.”
How about a RUN? I jogged throughourBrookstone neighborhood a lot during the years of 1989-1999, running “the four-mile loop” as we called it. Donny and I participated in the 4th of July Peachtree Road Race for many years and we always loved the challengeandthe excitement of this vigorous 6.2 race every time we ran or walked it.
Don’t forget about nearby Kennesaw Mountain where you are sure to get a good workout! Meet up with one or more friends to get your fitness in. A 30 + minute walk, jog, or run in your community or at a nearby park is a great way to fit fitness into your busy life. Just be sure to wear a reflective vest if you are running at dawn, dusk, or after dark.
BIKE! We are fortunate to have the Silver Comet Trail not too far from our home. The Silver Comet Trail is located 13 miles northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s free of charge, and travels west through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. This quiet, non-motorized, paved trail is for walkers, hikers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, horses, dog walkers, and is wheelchair accessible.
What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?
Robert H. Schuller
The Silver Comet Trail is 61.5 miles long, and starts at the Mavell Road Trailhead in Smyrna, Georgia. It ends at the Georgia/Alabama state line, near Cedartown and The Esom Hill Trailhead.
Save your dollars to invest in some exercise DVDs or even a piece of home exercise equipment such as a treadmill, a stationary bike, a set of free weights. If you store them in your bedroom, do not allow yourself to use them as a clothes rack! <smile>
One of my favorite fitness programs to participate in is Bikram Yoga. Well, it is not my favorite while I am doing it, but I LOVE how I feel when I am all done and showered. I am ready to TAKE ON THE DAY after one of the 90 minute hot yoga classes there. Click on Bikram Yoga to watch a short video! And we also have other great yoga studios in our area such as Be Yoga and Hot Yoga and Wellness Center in Kennesaw, just to name a few.
Set a good example by MOVING with your young family! My Dad lived healthily for 93+ years, walking daily until he passed. I remember as a young girl, he would get us to help him line up 10 or more pinecones for his daily jog around our big back yard. Every time he came to the line of cones, he would kick one and that is how he kept track of his laps. Perhaps that is where my interest in an active lifestyle happened.
These are all great ideas for fitting in fitness, but what about MOTIVATION and COMMITMENT?
Remember, it is never too late to start doing something that will benefit your health!
Following are some of the ways Donny and I stay dedicated, motivated and committed to get our fitness in each week:
How will you and I fit fitness into our lives in the days ahead?
“Respond to yourself like you would respond to a friend.”