To Saunter (Mindful Habits & the Writerly Life)

Profound insights front my son Michael. I’m going to have to try sauntering.

The VO Review (of life and... whatever)

For a few months now I’ve been involved in a Facebook group called ‘Writers Who Write’ with my mother, older brother, and some close friends. A very original group name conjured up by yours truly. Why complicate it? I wanted to have a casual space with people I know that identify as writers and with those for whom the craft is a vital part of their life’s pursuits. We share articles and personal insights regarding the development and polishing of writerly skills. We also discuss our own experiences with writing–successes and challenges–as we post the work we occasionally publish online. The active members of the group all have hopes of, and current projects, writing a book.

In December, we undertook a 21-day challenge where we committed to always carry a notebook.. I had done this myself for months, jotting down inspiration and ideas, keeping myself organized with reminders and lists…

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The Most Important Step to Be Ready for Retirement

Here’s my health-story, the quick version.

Back in my “formative” years, in suburban Chicago, I was a 3-sport athlete. I participated in baseball, basketball, and track, pole vault. I could run the quarter mile in 66 seconds and a mile under 5 minutes. Not blinding speed that would win many meets but fast enough to Pole Vault. We lifted weights to strengthen our upper body which bent the pole and propelled us over the bar. I came out of high school at 160 lbs and in great shape.

Eight years later I was married and starting my professional career. Now I was a basketball player softball outfielder and golfer, though I still had my vaulting pole in hopes of having a son who would learn the fine art of vaulting himself over a bar set at perhaps 14 feet.

My best had been 11’6”. 14 feet would get him into most major colleges. BTW—that never happened and our children tended toward the intelligence of their mother and got scholarships with brains rather than athletic prowess, though they are a pretty coordinated bunch.

Back to the story—At the age of 26 in the winter of 1978-79 I played basketball for a Church and City league team. We were good with few opponents that could beat us. However, I noticed I was starting to be just a bit slower on the court so I weighed myself and found that I had expanded to 180 lbs. Horror, I was getting fat. The wash-board was disappearing. I needed a plan so I challenged a friend on the team to a weight-losing contest. Competition brings the “best” out of me, no puns intended.

I starved myself for a month and ran mile upon mile. I lost 11 lbs to 169 but also lost the competition. It was a stupid bet because he started at a much heavier weight and could lose the initial poundage much quicker. His body mass index (BMI) was much higher but we didn’t even talk in those terms back then. However, I did get my needed result. I was able to run up and down the court again at full speed with that sense of never getting tired. I was ready for playoffs and we I had fun with an improved contribution.

During the next several years I played basketball and softball with a good friend, Mike Z. He had been the Center on Nevada Reno’s football team, 6’4” and 250 lbs of muscle. One day we walked into a sports store together and the clerk said “what can I do for you football players”. I thought, “Hold it, I play basketball, I am lean and mean on a court”. But it started to sink in that I needed to pay more attention to my weight issues.

The few more years past—we moved and I was serving as Bishop of an LDS congregation in Alaska starting at age 31. I was a young Bishop with way too much to learn. There were 500 congregants in the Ward and I was to see after their needs, spiritually and temporally. I discovered the meaning of stress eating. I was busy and happy making a contribution to my community but gained weight in serious crescendo. I put on 25 pounds during those four years to an uncomfortable 195.

We were transferred out of Alaska and I spent the next 10 years yo-yoing between 190-220 lbs. I love to eat. My wife is a chef quality cook. Our home always smells like a bakery. But my biggest challenge was responsibilities that brought stress and thereby eating too much, too often, the wrong foods.

In 2001—came a new challenge as Stake President of a group of LDS congregations with 2500 members. Busy isn’t the right word for the lifestyle. Stress isn’t the right word for the responsibility. I enjoyed and survived the 10 year term except for the fact that I weighed in at a whooping 280 when released. Yike—REAL PANIC. I was 58 years old and health was a huge issue, Arthritis, Sleep Apnea, and various other ailments. Time to get ready for the rest of my life by getting healthy. Time to get ready to enjoy the 3-G’s of retirement, Grandkids, Golf, and Gardening, which will be my hobbies.

For the next several months, my Safe-Retirement-Freedom Blog will be my update of how my journey is going. Before I can do all the other things on my bucket list I have to get healthy. 2012 is my year. I figure I should lose at least 70 lbs., so that is my goal. I won’t be at the actuarial weight the insurers want, but I won’t be “Obese” any longer. 210 instead of 280, what a difference that will make. I am trying to get up the nerve to post a “before” picture, but don’t want to be too embarrassed. Perhaps somewhere along the way or when I hit 210 lbs. We’ll see.

I ordered my food for a week long cleanse, it will be here in one week. So my official start date is Monday September 12th. Check back for details and progress. Please do make comments with your own tips and encouragement. There are already three of us in an unofficial group doing similar “programs”, nutrition & aerobics/weights.


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