This week our tight-knit community feels shattered by the news of a fatal shooting that left a gas station attendant dead. By all accounts he was a kind and gentle man who touched people’s lives every day.
One woman talked about how he helped her get her back on the road when she had car problems—on his own time.
Another talked about how on Mother’s Day he would give a red rose to all the moms at Smith’s in Edgewood, where he worked.
One day he was there, and the next day he was gone, a stark reminder that tomorrow is never promised for anyone.
The question then becomes, who do I want to be right now? What do I want to do today? If I truly lived as though tomorrow is not promised to me—how would that change what I do today?
For me, many of my health and fitness goals are sort of conditional: If I feel good enough when I wake up, maybe I’ll work out. Or: If I can find the time, maybe I’ll go to the gym or a kickboxing class. Or: I worked out yesterday, so today I can have some cake and ice cream.
Today all of that feels like a pile of hogwash.
If—God forbid—I were to die today, would I be the person that I want to be, or would I be the facade and excuses I like to tell myself? That’s an uncomfortable no-brainer most days, right?
As I’ve struggled through writing this column, trying to find my feet in terms of health and fitness routines that support my life, I’ve tried different things. Currently one thing I’m doing is singing and dancing every day. I try to do it daily, even if that just means wiggling my butt while I brush my teeth and singing at my cat. Other days it’s a full-blown workout or a marathon of singing with my grandkids.
The person I want to be every day feels joy in movement. Have you ever done a workout and felt bad afterward? I never have. Not one single time, no matter what the workout. It’s always the opposite: I feel fantastic, my body feels happy and limber, I feel like skipping and singing. Even feeling sore feels good.
Letting go of beating myself up was also a very good move. Each day of my precious life, do I want to spend it berating myself like I’m some wicked stepmother in a fairy tale? Cinderella, you didn’t clean the grate out right; you forgot to take a walk this morning for like the 878th day in a row, and by the way, when is the last time you got the the gym; Cinderella, you ate donuts yesterday, why are you eating cake today? You are too stupid to ever get it right.
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
Treating myself kindly when it comes to all of the things I need to do (or not do) doesn’t come naturally, and I still backslide sometimes. The thing that helped me the most with that was to imagine that I was saying these things to someone else, like a child. Spoiler: I wouldn’t. The other helpful thing was to imagine some other person talking to me that way. Also no, thank you.
This human body is so strong, so resilient and so responsive. When I work out, I see muscles almost immediately. When I stop working out, I get short of breath again, quickly. This body is also incredibly fragile, and the flame of life can be snuffed out in an instant—whether that is by a gunshot or a heart attack.
It’s difficult to predict a gunshot, but my own actions can make a difference when it comes to the likelihood of a heart attack. And being kind to myself includes taking care of my health and wellbeing. This is the kind of person I want to be every day.
Death sure makes people stop and think. I didn’t know Mike, the man killed in Edgewood a few days ago. But I see that he touched people, and his death is a reminder that life is precious. Every moment is truly irreplaceable. Why would any one of us spend it doing stuff like self-created drama over working out? It’s silly, like so many things we silly humans do.
Each day, I want to remember my connection to the divine. I want to celebrate my life with joyous action. I want to remember the reasons I love to play basketball, go for a hike, try new things, and I want to cherish my loved ones.
My aim here is not weight loss, per se, but daily actions aligned with my goal of health and wellbeing, in body, mind and spirit.
To all of you in the community feeling like I am right now, I invite us all to use our bodies today in a way that makes us feel better. For you, that might mean going for a run. It could be dancing, stretching, walking. Maybe burpees make you feel good—do some. Let’s find a way to celebrate being alive today in honor of a man whose life was ended too soon. I will be dancing in his memory.