Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quality vs. Quantity.

The other day I was pouring over my Facebook news feed riddled with health articles like “How to lengthen your life” or news stories sprinkled with the latest on chia seeds, goji berries, chlorella, cacoa nibs - “the new super foods that will help you live longer!”

That's all great, and I am all FOR living our "best" life, but something else struck a chord with me.

“Who” told us that if we live the longest life that we will have the best life? The question I ask myself is, What if a 90 year old man just muddled through life with little purpose, little gratitude for this life? Maybe he lived a life of aches and pains, never really with vibrant health, or passionate about serving others. No deep and meaningful relationships in his life. Complained a lot and existed to exist. Does that mean he lived a “great” life because we as a society believe that since he lived to a “Life expectancy” age deemed by the medical world, that his life was rich and whole. Isn’t a day filled with health, love, gratitude and service a day well spent or is it a day complaining and stomping our feet at the unfairness of life?

"You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. But you can decide how you’re going to live now." -Joan Baez

Enter Mattie Stepanek.

Matty Stepanek was a poet, best-selling author, peacemaker, and motivational speaker who suffered from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, He died a month before his 14th birthday. His sister and two brothers also died from the disease during early childhood. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show numerous times, leaving our hearts full with his nuggets of wisdom and in awe of his sweet sincerity. He was a big, BIG soul living in a small child’s body.

He popped into my mind because I thought, well, didn’t he live a full life? Didn’t he serve his purpose to inspire the world to do better, be better, and live with passion? Who says that because he didn’t have children or his mom didn’t get him for a while longer that we should mourn his death and not celebrate his life? Of course, we mourn, and we cry and we get sad when a person leaves this Earth. We must feel that loss because its BIG. The world misses him but I know he has planted little seeds all around the WORLD, just take a look at his website! He has inspired so many to spread peace, love and kindness. What a grand legacy!

I think the former president, Jimmy Carter said it best in his eulogy to Mattie.

“He was concerned about his legacy, wanting to have seven children and talking about his grandchildren, but Mattie's legacy is forever because his Heartsongs will resonate in the hearts of people forever. I thank God that he is no longer suffering and that he's with the Prince of Peace, getting big hugs in Heaven and maybe wearing a tuxedo.” Pres. Jimmy Carter (June 28, 2004)

Whenever I watch an old clip of him, my heart bursts wide open and inspires me to be a better person. Always. I love his cheerful little smile and his GIANT Spirit.

He said, “Our Heartsong is our reason for being.  If you want to understand what a Heartsong is, think about what matters most to you.  What do you want?  What do you need?  Not a toy, not a thing, but what do you, as a human being need?  You understand why that matters?  That’s what you are called to offer other people.  That is your Heartsong.  You should share that through something you enjoy, something that you are good at.” - Mattie Stepanek

Yes, he said that. And wrote SEVEN best selling books filled with this kind of wisdom!

"I really think I am here for a purpose.  In my life, I have had so many times that I came close to dying.  Even if it takes 100 or 1,000 years, I have to do what I was meant to do." - Mattie Stepanek

My faith may differ from the norm. And maybe its the optimist part of me. To me and like Mattie, God, puts each and everyone of us on the planet for a specific purpose. It may be for a moment, a season, or a “lifetime” that we spend on this Earth. I believe God uses us to grow and learn from one another by allowing us to use our special, unique GIVEN AT BIRTH talents and gifts to make the world better, brighter, sillier, and a more enjoyable place.

To Mattie, he was grateful for each day he had here. He spent his days inspiring others with his poetry, spreading his peace message, and instilling hope to those who need may need it.

He never said, “why me?” he said “why not me?” He was so focused on living his “Heartsong” everyday that he didn’t have much time to complain. He did mention that he was human and of course he got mad, sad, and angry. He had lost all three of his siblings in his short life! He was a “spiritual being living a human experience” as the great Dr. Wayne Dyer says. He got that. All before the AGE OF FOURTEEN!

Here is one of my favorite poems of his...


I have a song, deep in my heart,
And only I can hear it
If I close my eyes and sit very still
Even when the going gets rough.
It is so easy to listen to my song.
When my eyes are open and
I am so busy and moving and busy,
If I take time and listen very hard,
I can still hear my Heartsong.
It makes me feel happy.
Happier than ever.
Happier then everywhere
And everything and everyone
In the whole wide world.
Happy like thinking about
Going to Heaven when I die.
My Heartsong sounds like this-
I love you! I love you!
How happy you can be!
How happy you can make
This world be!
And sometimes it's other
Tunes and words, too.
But it always sings the
Same special feeling to me.
It makes me think of
Jamie, and Katie, and Stevie,
And other wonderful things.
This is my special song.
But do you know what?
All people have a special song
Inside their hearts!
Everyone in the whole wide world
Has a special Heartsong.
If you believe in magical, musical hearts,
And if you believe you can be happy,
Then you, too, will hear you song.

Fold that up, bottle it, file it away in your heart. Its a keeper. Rest in Peace, little guy.

So which is it, is it the years in your life that count or is it the life in your years??? Quality vs. Quantity?

And always remember this:

"You were born to greatness. Having a life mission implies that that world has need of you. In fact, the world has been preparing you to fill this need with one incredible life experience after another. Finding and fulfilling your potential will lead you to your highest experience in this life. Believe it, you have a mission. It is the gateway to your personal greatness."
Greg Anderson

Love & Light,

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I fell off the treadmill...

I fell off the proverbial

Yes, I did. Hard, yet almost in slow motion.

I have been a 5 times per week or more workout junkie for over 15 years. Plenty active. I started in college and never turned back until about...

A year ago!

Yep, me, I sure did. I wouldn’t say I altogether quit being active, Yoga is still a huge priority for me. But, the consistency was way, way WAAAAY off.

I can’t really give a reason why I stopped. I guess the more I got further away from the last workout, the more I forgot about the endorphins, the rush, the dewy flushed skin, the muscle tone and definition, the energy, and the health. Other things became priority: my kids’ schedule got more hectic, sleep became more important, friendships grew, my diet changed, and quite frankly I was burnt out.

My body got a well deserved break.

A year long sabbatical. 365 days or more.

The other day I was playing around with my girls and started to pump out a few pushups with them. The old Jensy could drop and do 20 (noooo not the girly ones, the real ones) without batting an eye. Today, I could barely do FIVE. FIVE. Huh? OMG!

The last straw was last Sunday when I was getting ready for church. I went to put on nice pants to wear. A little snug, if you will, but I blamed it on a pizza party from the day before. You know, the sodium. Not the fourth piece of pie. Right. Sure. :) I bent down to put my shoes on and I heard a pop! POP!

I JUST POPPED A BUTTON! Flew right off and fell to the carpet! And then I fell to the ground. :-)

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was quite funny to me at then time, but then reality set in. I beat myself up for a bit. Then, detailed a plan of attack! There is no chance I am buying new clothes! It doesn’t take me much to get a plan into action because of my Type A personality so that night I set out on the elliptical and the gym that Monday morning.

I joined a new gym. Its the local community recreation center complete with racquetball courts, basketball courts, pool, and good old fashioned weights and treadmills. No meat market here with Muscle Milk guzzlers and Jazzercise Janes. So far, I am the youngest person I have seen there. And quite frankly, its pretty inspiring. Men and women into their late 80’s are speed walking on the treadmill, hitting the bikes, and doing water aerobics in the pool. I keep to myself with my headphones on hitting the weights and pounding out miles on the treadmill. I am pretty self-disciplined with my training so this totally works for me.

But its hard to hop back on that treadmill.

Now I see how darn hard I had to work to compete in fitness. I can’t believe I thought this body was easy to achieve at the time.

I am so deconditioned only after a year.

But what’s so great about this, is that I am a newbie all over again. I feel like I can give better advice to people just starting out a workout regimen. Before, it was all too easy for me to just tell people to start. So in the last few weeks this is what I have learned.

1. Start somewhere. It doesn’t matter how long, what type of movement, what intensity. Just do what you can do, today. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you hit the pavement or the weights. We have all been a beginner at some point in our lives so you are not alone. Do 5 minutes of physical activity. Do 10. Do something!

2. Make appointments for your daily physical activity. If you don’t pencil it in or schedule it, it will most likely never happen. Life happens, kids get sick, its snows, you forget that you promised a date with your best friend, etc.

3. Eat that Frog at 5am : An old saying is that "If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long!" Your "FROG" is the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it now! So my workouts are early and then its not hanging over my head to get done all day!

4. Track your progress: They are so many applications on smart phones that do that for you. This keeps me motivated and helps me see my workout are working! I love the Nike TRaining Club app, the Couch to 5k app and the 5k to 10k app!

5. Reward yourself: Nope, not with a brownie sundae! A new workout outfit, brand new seasonal top or a nice pat on the back. You deserve rewards for sticking with it, acknowleging your self worth and making your health a priority!

So, the weather is starting to warm up, the days are getting longer and my health and fitness is back on track. If you are just starting out your "spring Training", stick with it! I Will be right there with ya! This time, no more sabbaticals for me. I can't believe how much energy and vibrancy I feel in just a few short weeks. The key is to never fall off that treadmill for too long. Hop right back on and keep that momentum!!

Love & Light,