Posts Tagged With: Belonging
Three short years ago, a doctor said words I never expected to hear. “You have a clean bill of health.”
After more than seven years of dealing with doctors, labs, blood draws, medication, therapies, treatments, shots, IVs, patches, and other things that I have thankfully forgotten, I was free. I was free to live. I was free to create. I was free to thrive.
During the past 36 months. I have marveled at the resiliency of not just the human body, but of the human spirit. I made my first trip to the gym in April of 2011. At a fundraiser for a local junior high trip, I won a year’s membership and ten sessions with a trainer at Fuel Fitness. On my first visit to the gym, I met my trainer, Brian the Brave (not his true name) who quickly told me I needed to get some endurance with the machines before he could start working with me.
The gym is about 8 minutes’ drive from my home, and it was common for me to spend more time driving one way to the gym than I was able to spend exercising. I use the term “exercising” loosely, as it usually meant riding the recumbent bike for five minutes or doing a few reps on a couple of the band machines. On more than one occasion when I was pedaling the bike, the machine would read “Paused” even though I was pedaling as steadily and quickly as I was able. In retrospect, I can only imagine that it was a little entertaining to the staff to see me arrive and leave in less than fifteen minutes. And, I kept going. Every day, six days a week, I kept going. By the end of July, Brian and I agreed that I was ready to start working out with him. By then, I was spending at least twenty minutes doing some cardio (bike, treadmill, or elliptical.) With Brian, I added weight lifting. My thirty minutes training session would be paired with at least twenty minutes of cardio, each day, five days a week. It became my habit. I was reliable for getting there every day, doing the work, and taking nothing for granted.
Also in April of 2011, I started participating in the Landmark Wisdom Course. My friend Ann Peterson had arranged for me to participate in the course by Webex, as she knew I was unable to travel or to sustain the time and energy of being in the course in person. By participating from the comfort of my Lazy-Boy, I was able to be fully engaged and still get the full benefit and impact of the course.
In August, I had the privilege of attending a vacation course in Sonoma, California (See? I was traveling!) I had the opportunity to look at failures in my life and see the opportunity for transformation. During the first days of the course, I got to see that I was well, and experienced for myself that well-being is a function of participation. I considered myself well at that moment.
I learned a few important lessons.
ELIMINATE ANYTHING TOXIC IN YOUR LIFE. I started with the easy stuff ~ the toxins under the sink, the bad food, and the harmful chemicals in some of the soaps I may have been using. The tougher toxins involved relationships, choices, and incompletions I had tried to sweep under the figurative rug. By completing and resolving those toxic things with love and compassion, first for myself and then for those I have loved and cared for, I was able to ‘cleanse’ my space. I learned to eliminate anything toxic in my life.
ILLNESS BEGINS WITH I. WELLNESS BEGINS WITH WE. Only when I allowed myself to receive the contributions of others was I able to return to life. The social commons held exponential opportunities that I could never amass myself. In the words of Groucho Marx, great American philosopher. “Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” I was learning, through struggle and effort, that I could gain strength, healing, and power by sharing and receiving. This is a game changer for me. Illness begins with I. Wellness begins with we.
WHEN YOU CAN’T AND THEN YOU CAN, YOU NEVER WANT TO NOT AGAIN. Many times during those first months, I was asked why I kept going back to the gym. It did not appear that I was getting stronger, slimmer, or healthier. Some days, it probably looked like I was struggling. The truth is I did not know whether it would ultimately extend my life or improve my health. What I did know is that I was not too far removed from having to use a cane to walk, nor from being unable to walk more than three minutes without sitting down and resting for ten minutes. Up to that point, I had taken for granted walking, dancing, and functioning in any way physically. Once I was able to start moving again, I knew I could not take it for granted. I learned that every day is a gift, and to use the gift to its greatest and highest benefit, I needed to do whatever I could. I learned that when you can’t and then you can, you never want to not again.
You are the reason. You are the gift. You are the possibility of a life well lived. I thank you for sharing yours with me ~ and I look forward to what we create next. What shall it be?
I am a Kiwanian. An international service organization, Kiwanis strives to care for the world’s children, one child at a time, one community at a time. My membership is to be expected. I was a Jaycee Woman, a Jaycee, and always a community service minded kid. What I find difficult to deal with at the moment is the loss of membership in these organizations.
Across the board, organizations like the Jaycees and Kiwanis (and all the animal clubs and other service organizations) have been losing membership. This is happening, even in the face of a growing population on the planet ~ and at a time when men AND women are welcome to be members.
I don’t think there are fewer people donating their time and efforts. In my community, people are involved in service around me every day ~ and almost every waking hour. Their interests are many and varied. And therein, I suspect, lies the problem.
Individual and personal service does not require partnership nor association. I can go to the Food Bank or the Salvation Army and spend time, with or without another going with me. I can make a financial contribution. Personally, I find that kind of participation a little less rewarding. I love the social aspects of belonging to an organization.
Belonging ~ there. I said it. I love belonging. Blame my childhood and a home with ten people in a neighborhood with almost one hundred children. The joy of sharing my glee and dividing my sorrows is unsurpassed by any solitude or individual satisfaction I get from service, work, or almost everything else I do.
Which gets me wondering ~ do our children have a sense of belonging? They compete in sports, for spots in the first chair of the band, for the top scores in their video games. They fight to win. But do they belong? For that matter, do we as adults belong? Do we know that our presence matters ~ that we make a difference?
I am taking on a mission this week. In honor of Holy Week, and a time when our differences may seem more accented than at other times, I will be including people. There are people to whom I nod at Starbucks; I don’t know their name. This week, I will make an effort to have them belong. When I pass kids in the store or on the street, I will make eye contact. I will say hello. I will work to be a community of people who have the experience of belonging.
And if those folks experience belonging, perhaps they will pass sit on. Maybe they can include others. Could be that they will help another to feel like belonging. And if we belong, we will, most likely, not feel isolated. We will not be separate. We will not have depressing feelings or thoughts. We will not do harm to ourselves or to others.
I guess, if we can do that, we can impact one child, one community at a time.