Start Here…It’s Never Too Late

Today is the day; Now is the Time, To Begin Again.
If you breathe, you have everything,
Everything you Need, Can you Feel it?
It’s true, tomorrow may never arrive.
So, Waste Not Any Thing, especially,
This moment, This NOW.
Let the Rising and Setting of the Sun,
Instruct us towards Wisdom.
It is our one and only wealth, Now!
Breathe in – Breathe Out.
Gather, curate, luxuriate!
Moments, strung one after the other,
Suspended animation, wondrous vapor,
For the curious of heart and mind,
To Those who Embrace the Wind,
And Dance with the Fleeting,
Fragile Moments of Being.
To those Brave enough,
To Be Fully Human, Holy, Wild,
In The Eternal World of Now.
Every Heart Beat Pulsing Awareness,
Beating on the shoreline of each life
Oceanic waves of Joy, Suffering
And Unfathomed Mystery.
Receive it or not, the choice is always ours,
Start Here…It’s never too late…to Embrace,
The Gift, The Present, Is Real, It takes form,
When we stop believing it’s too late.
Now is the time to engage, because,
We do not know how much breath,
Is left to breathe. Remember,
Please, won’t you: Today,
Today! Is A Great Day to Be Alive!

Help! We Need Somebodies!

This past weekend I just finished reading a very funny and inspiring book by Susan Latke (Life’s Too Short To Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons From An Epic Friendship That Went The Distance). I highly recommend this read, especially if you think you are not an athletic person and eschew those whom you are acquainted with who enjoy individual sports like running, biking, swimming. This book is a testament to the life-giving, life-changing power of an enduring friend/mentor relationship.

I think it is not a coincidence, that I happened across this quote this morning. It strongly iterates the beauty and vital importance of the connectivity we need from each other.

In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Just a little reminder for all of us. If I had a wish that could be granted, I would wish to be or have a friend like Carlos Nunez was to Susan Latke. Such a friendship can change the the world…

Help! by the Beatles (lyrics below)

(Help!) I need somebody
(Help!) Not just anybody
(Help!) You know I need someone

[Verse 1]
When I was younger so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self-assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

[Verse 2]
And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze

But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

New Things

I am of the opinion that the hype and celebration of the incoming new year is perhaps, a tiny bit overrated. Is it not just another occasion to excel in over-eating, drinking and merriment? On the other side of all this festivity, what do we have to show for our annual exuberant abandonment of decorum? Well, I’ll give you two weeks, three weeks tops, to answer that question for me. And then I am certain that life will settle itself into its dull, mind-numbing routines.

Now isn’t that a dreary opening! I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading this post right now! So I’m going to get right to the guts of today’s post.

Regardless of how I feel about it, the NEW YEAR 2023 has arrived. And in its wake, I see on the horizon the forecast of things to come. Yes on the horizon, brooding and heavy with winter’s cloak I see dawn breaking. I see the rays of hope beaming through clouds of gray; I see ripples in the fabric of sky and sea casting buoyant expectations for new ways, new days. The possibilities for change, for new peace, and new meaning is abundant. This is the stuff of January! And I want to drink deeply of its sentiment; I want to soak and luxuriate in the potentiality of its fresh aliveness. Yes, it is a time to celebrate…it is a time to embrace and activate a new way of being. If not now? When?

“The world is for newness, not for oldness. New, new things we have to create. Then only the world will progress. If not, we will come to feel that there is nothing new under the sun. We have to create new things to keep our joy. If there is no newness, how can we have enthusiasm? And if there is no enthusiasm, do we make any progress?”

Sri Chinmoy

So without further adieu, I would ask you to do this one exercise with me this month; to stop and think deeply about this question: What NEW THINGS do you want this year? What would you like to change? What do you want more of? Less of?

Like so many things in life, these questions are simple, but the answers are NOT. Because to acquire new things for ourselves always requires us to change; to let go, to empty, to clean out and drop old things, old ways of being. To become an updated version of ourselves this year will require us to be open-minded so we may embrace new thinking and new thoughts; overused and worn out beliefs about ourselves need to be reduced, recycled and reused as the overlays of our continuing personal evolutions. Ridding ourselves of worn out beliefs about ourselves will unshackle us from the old versions of being. Remember, old things cannot continue to live in us unless we continue to feed them with our attention; the old ways only become fodder for wisdom when we let those things die which no longer serve our well-being. It’s time my friends…it’s a NEW YEAR…it’s time for us all to do NEW THINGS!

“So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.”

Neil Gaiman

START CLOSE IN – by David Whyte

Start close in, don’t take the second step, or the third,
start with the first thing close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

Start with the ground you know,
the pale ground beneath your feet,
your own way to begin the conversation.

Start with your own question,
give up on other people’s questions,
don’t let them smother something simple.

To hear another’s voice,
follow your own voice,
wait until that voice
becomes an intimate private ear
that can really listen to another.

Start right now, take a small step
you can call your own,
don’t follow someone else’s heroics,
be humble and focused,
start close in, don’t mistake
that other for your own.

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third,
start with the first thing close in,
the step you don’t want to take.

START CLOSE IN ~ David Whyte : Essentials
Many Rivers Press © David Whyte

A New Year’s poem, if ever there was one. Carrying that certain air of self-admonition we all need to go in the right direction, and do the right thing. This piece was inspired by my growing familiarity with Dante’s ‘Comedia’, particularly the first lines, written in despair after being exiled from his beloved Florence. It reflects the difficult act we all experience, of trying to start again when everything has been taken away; the necessity of stepping bravely again, into what looks like a dark wood, when the outer world as we know it has disappeared, when the world can only be met and in some ways made again from no outer ground, but from the very center of our being. The temptation is to take the second or third step outer step, not the first inward one, to ignore the invitation into the center of our own body, often into the source of our grief and our reluctance: an attempt to finesse the raw vulnerability and the absolutely necessary understanding at the core of the pattern, to forgo the radical and almost miraculous simplification into which we are being invited. For a better, truer New Year – the invitation is always, always, always, to ‘Start close In.’

Woman Walking
Yorkshire Dales
Photo © David Whyte
December 2015

Exercise Challenge: Week 52 – 2022

Wall Sit – The last Exercise Challenge of 2022

Challenge: perform as many repetitions as possible while maintaining good form. Do this exercise for at least four days of the week. Keep track of your repetitions on your calendar or journal. Which day did you perform the greatest number of repetitions? Celebrate your improving strength and share your outcome with a friend or training partner.

This Winter’s Invocation

In less than two weeks we will be flipping the last page of our 2022 calendars. And this is the time of year when the cold winds of winter blow and cause us to shutter to the interiors. To the warmth of the home-lands; to the inland of the heart-lands; to the solace of winter’s wonder-lands. It’s the magical time of year when I spend a little more time on my innermost world; and since the chilling temperatures drive us to seek warmth and safety among kith and kin, it is a fitting time to be drawn to the glowing embers of reflection and contemplation as another new year approaches. So it is in this spirit that I post this winter’s petition for the new year.

Gratitude…this is what comes to mind as I contemplate the blank, white pages of the new year approaching. The calendar behind me is overflowing with activities: work, play, joy, sorrow…there is much, too much, to hold and appreciate. Life is an abundant, on-going menagerie of experience. I wish only to become more proficient in allowing the fullness of life (the beautiful and the obnoxious) to move me (nudge me please, no shoving) towards a greater love of living; so that I may appreciate the gross and profane to be as necessary as the beautiful and profound. It is the yin and yang, the both/and paradox which I am learning to embrace without the need of certainty. It is gratitude I feel most deeply; and living this life without preconceived ideas about what it should look like lends more life for the living. This life is like one grand, ongoing research project…for my continued growth and evolution.

I had rather live and love where death is king, than have eternal life where love is not.

R.G. Ingersoll

Love…this is the foundation which gives meaning to everything I feel and do in the hours of my days. If I had only one wish for the new year it would be that LOVE would reign front and center in the hearts and minds of those who walk the earth with me in 2023. Love is the language which created the universe. It is the mystery of life which is encoded into every cell, every atom of the cosmos. There is no need to translate our native tongue for the other; we must only learn the dialect of love and take it to all the places we go, whether we are home or abroad. We are not strangers or aliens to ourselves when we love, truly love one another.

True love always involves renunciation of one’s comfort.

Leo Tolstoy

The weakness of love, if there was a weakness, comes from our inability to express and communicate love clearly to our loved ones. It is our ineptness to express love in a manor or language that is recognizable to the beloved. If the oft quoted saying that ‘Love conquers all’ is true, then it can only be false because of human shortfall or failing. The way I see it is this: Love cannot ever lose because as long as the universe exists, Love is! Love is Being without end. And as every beloved knows without fail, true love is felt and known as such. True love conquers all because it does not expect or require reciprocity…true love is a burning bush that does not consume itself. True love is infinite and inextinguishable.

Love has a thousand varied notes to move the human heart.

George Crabbe

Oh, how I wish to ignite true love in my world in 2023! Oh, how I wish to be LOVE, true love, for all who come across my path in 2023. That is my one and only wish…that Love would heal the wounds…the wounds I have created, the wounds others have created…it matters not, who did what…Love being love is the only thing which matters. Yes! May Love be my rule and guide. With an undivided heart, loving into one life at a time. That’s all I hope for…and this will be my anthem for the new year! I will work it out at home, at work, in the gym, on the road, in the community center, in the choir, in the work details and endless appointments yet to fill my days. Yes, I want more of this Love…for all of us…let there be no end.

Exercise Challenge: Week 51 – 2022

No Rope Skipping

Challenge: perform as many repetitions as possible while maintaining good form. Do this exercise for at least four days of the week. Keep track of your repetitions on your calendar or journal. Which day did you perform the greatest number of repetitions? Celebrate your improving strength and share your outcome with a friend or training partner.

Exercise Challenge: Week 50 – 2022

Lying Hip Crossover

Challenge: perform as many repetitions as possible while maintaining good form. Do this exercise for at least four days of the week. Keep track of your repetitions on your calendar or journal. Which day did you perform the greatest number of repetitions? Celebrate your improving strength and share your outcome with a friend or training partner.

A Day in My Life…as A Personal Trainer

I love my job as a personal trainer! I don’t think I’ve ever actually said that to anyone lately; nor have I written about it in my blog. But I do feel oddly compelled today to extol the virtues of my current employment as a personal trainer. Working on my own, in my own studio (home-based) at the age of 61 is an adventure my younger self would never considered possible or enjoyable. In my youth, I had no designs or plans for myself as a ‘working’ adult. Perhaps this is a result from having my children at age 20. But most likely it is due to the fact that I never veered strongly toward any one interest or career path. But regardless of my lack of planning or career drive, I have found my happy place in my current role. The ever changing activities I perform in my day-to-day duties as a full time personal trainer are strangely fulfilling.

What does my typical workday look like? While no two days are alike, here’s a sample of any one workday (Monday through Friday).
-5:00am: Wake up; coffee; respond to and/or clear emails; check social media; check weather, review the day’s schedule and appointments.
-6:00am: Eat something light (toast with almond butter or yogurt parfait); run on treadmill or go outside to train for upcoming 10K or 1/2 marathon.
-7:30am: Shower, dress, write exercise routines for client’s training sessions.
-8:30am: In the gym: Wipe surfaces, mats, dumbbells, and equipment; take care of indoor/outdoor chores (pets and plants).
-9:00am-Noon: Client appointments (some days the appointments start at 7:00am!)
-Noon-1:00pm: Whip up a quick meal from whatever is calling to me in the refrigerator or pantry; pick up mail at post office.
-1:30pm-3:30pm: Client appointments (or group training class1-time a week at the community center).
-4:00pm: Prepare dinner, begin evening chores, practice new exercise routines and/or choreographies.
-5:00pm: Prepare to teach Zumba Gold evening class (2-times a week) at community center.
-7:00pm: Home again! Finish outstanding chores; reply to any new email correspondence; bookkeeping; etc.
-7:30pm: Time to read, relax and sip bedtime tea.
-8:30pm: Under the covers; soon I’ll be sound asleep and dreaming about tomorrow’s adventures!

Some day’s of course, have the added bonus appointments (board meetings, doctor appointments, friend meetups, administrative office work for spouse’s business), which can crowd my already busy calendar to distraction! But mostly, I am happily engaged with multiple people throughout any given day…advising, instructing, coaching, demonstrating, cajoling, teasing, admonishing…whatever the day brings my way, I try not to have rigid, preconceived notions of what it should hold or become.

I have found that the happiest people are those who do the most for others.

Booker T. Washington

I have learned to embrace lightly the gift of each day with open hands and heart. My role as trainer has taught me that every day brings its own challenges, for myself and my clients. Mostly though, I am in awe of the honor I have to work with so many folks who return happily for their weekly or
bi-weekly training sessions. My life’s work at this moment in time keeps me engaged socially and physically with so many folks who live in my community. Even though my current phase of life as a personal trainer is fulfilling, rewarding and frequently physically challenging, I have to thank my clients who continue to spur me towards becoming my best self. This is, of course, is a reciprocal relationship. For all my striving to become, is to their advantage as I am constantly seeking to provide them with the best training for each of their individual fitness goals and needs. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do for myself or my community right now than what I am doing each and every day. I am grateful to help so many, one member at a time, become their strongest most healthy selves too.

If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.

Anthony Bourdain

While every work day as a personal trainer requires stamina, focus, passion and a deep desire to impart and influence exercise and healthful activities to my many clients, it is my greatest challenge to manage my own healthy work/play balance. After more than ten years in the business, I have discovered, the hard way, that I must not neglect my own needs for exercise and wellbeing. Admittedly, this is the challenge I will be happily chasing and embracing for all the days ahead in which I have the blessing to work!

What do you think? Would you like to become a personal trainer? Ask me how…I’d love to hear from you!