Making Movement a Priority in My Life
As the time until I’m eligible for Medicare grows shorter, I often stop to think, not about the aches and pains that have come with age and a body well-used, but with gratitude for all the things I can still do, mostly without thinking twice.
Not only do I walk almost daily on purpose, but I still park farther from stores than I need to, both to avoid the usual bottleneck of people waiting for a closer parking spot, and to give myself a chance to add steps and make my Fitbit happier. I dance and do strength training regularly, do my own heavy cleaning, and fix what I can around the house.
Even 20 years ago, I had friends who’s mobility was impaired for one reason or another, and realized my own was not something to take for granted. It’s not that I don’t have limitations. I think everyone does in one area or another. I’ve simply chosen not to allow a little bit of pain or a temporary setback like knee surgery slow me down any longer than necessary.
Pushing Through Pain, But Doing it Smartly
Perhaps that’s the key to remaining, if not in perfect shape, at least more active than many in my age and weight class. I’m grateful for what I am able to do, but also unwilling to slow down for minor aches and pains.
Sure, when my knees resemble softballs, I’ll take a short break, but it’s only so I can get back out on the dance floor or take my daily walks without excessive discomfort. It rarely occurs to me I might do myself damage without the break. It’s merely a few harsh lessons that have taught me to listen to my body when it says it’s time to stop for a little while so I can go more later.
Habits We Start When We’re Young
My neighborhood is an interesting mix of age groups these days. My neighbors on three sides are in their 80’s. Some have slowed down quite a bit. Those who have, are often those who smoked a good part of their younger lives. The couple next door still takes daily walks, and he can be found in his garage building things regularly, if at a slower pace than a few years ago.
More and more, families are moving in with kids, or expanding with births or children moving back home. At one time, my girls were the only young ones around. Now I see packs of teenagers, mothers (and sometimes dads) pushing strollers, and backpack laden kids walking to and from one of the local schools. The cats and I see a real cross-section of society from my office window.
Watching them throws me back to my own teenage years when I walked or rode my bike most places. Even when I got my driver’s license, I didn’t have access to a car on a regular basis, so I either rode with friends, or relied on my own mobility. It wasn’t until recently I realized how lucky I was to have to stay reasonably fit so I could get around the neighborhood and roam the surrounding hills. Like most teenagers, I think I felt very deprived.
Healthy Habits I Tried Passing on to My Daughters
Things in my town aren’t spread out terribly far. I think the entire city is less than 10 miles from end to end. My own kids used to traipse all over with their friends, though I learned later one of them would jump on the bus rather than walk the mile from school to home. Knee and back issues notwithstanding, I think we’re all better for it.
When my daughters were younger, I used to use Friday night dinner out as a reward for finishing all their homework without excessive nagging. As there were plenty of options within a couple of miles, we’d walk to the chosen restaurant. I found it served a couple of purposes. We could walk and talk, sharing our day, week, month, or whatever was on our minds, and we had more time to spend together focusing on each other. Of course, it was in the dark ages before cell phones!
The sidewalks posed fewer obstacles than the road, and moving slower gave us more time to see and avoid the few we encountered. In a way, I miss those slower, easier times. But we all have to evolve, even as adults. Evolution does not mean we have to give up our mobility though. Sure, some have no choice, which makes appreciating what we can do so important.
Limitations in Others: A Cautionary Tale
Long ago, I’d look to a friend who was walking with a cane before she was 45 whenever I started feeling sorry for myself. On a truly bad day, I could still do much more than she, and I’m only a few years younger. In fact, 20 years later, I can still do much more than she could in her 40’s! At the time, she was my one constant example. Today, there are so many more, including one of my daughter’s friends who has some major health issues.
Of all the challenges I’ve had to face in my life, health has never been on the list, and even more so since I’ve established healthy habits and above all, keep dancing. The best gift my mom ever gave me, though she never realized it, and I never thanked her for it, was the love of dance. It’s been a part of my life since I was 5, and has gotten me through some rough patches in my life, not the least of which were my contentious divorce and my parents’ suicides.
I won’t say I came through unscathed because of the dancing, but I did ultimately leave the pain behind and come away with a lesson well learned. One of those lessons was to keep moving no matter what. Even if that movement is limited for some reason, I’ve learned to do what I can do comfortably, then push it a little further.
Adjusting to the Inevitable Physical Changes
Sure, I’ve lost a bit over the years; flexibility, and stamina for two. I don’t allow what I’ve lost to stop me though. I don’t dwell on them. It’s a lot like fear. I acknowledge the limitations and tell them they are there for a reason, but have no voting rights; no driver’s license. I listen to what they have to say, then do what I want. If they slow me down, or try to stop me, I push them gently aside before proceeding. Then I proceed anyway.
It would be easy to look at what others around me can do that I can’t. Everyone has that choice. I’ve found doing so to be a losing proposition. It means focusing on all the can’ts until they become reality. Is that a choice anyone would make consciously? To live our limitations?
I think some people do it without realizing how self-sabotaging their thoughts can be. I know I did for a long time. I sat around the house, overeating, smoking, and letting my body slowly deteriorate. I can’t tell you when or where my turning point came, nor does it matter. I’m grateful it came and pushed me to fix what was broken or breaking before it was too late.
Keeping My Body in Motion
Sure, there are days when things hurt; knees, back, shoulders, joints in general. Once upon a time, I’d use the pain as an excuse to do nothing. I learned the hard way doing nothing increases the pain, and causes it to move around the body, and worse, the mind like inactivity. Those are now the days I get out and walk, or dance, or clean house because I’ve learned movement is quite often the best remedy for stiff joints and an aching back.
All too often, it’s not what I’ve done that makes me ache, it’s what I haven’t done. Sometimes it means pulling out the squishy orange exercise mat, the Miracle Ball, and the resistance bands to stretch out the achy parts before getting back to the business of living a life of using my body well. Often, it means getting up and taking full advantage of my ability to move as well as I still can.
Some may choose to plod slowly through life. I choose to dance joyously through the rest of my mine.
Giving My Body the Gratitude it Deserves
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the contrast I’m able to see in the life I lived previously; without movement, without dance, and without joy.
- I’m grateful for an abnormally high threshold for pain which allows me to push pain aside and keep moving.
- I’m grateful for the gift of dance my mother unwittingly gave me. It has brought me through the worst times in my life still relatively sane, and ready to take on whatever life throws me. Nothing is as bad as it could be when overlaid by the joy of dancing.
- I’m grateful for friends who understand where I’ve been, and how important dancing and moving are to a life well spent.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, movement, mobility, dancing, community, health, harmony, peace, friendship, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Life
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward