Family, Uncategorized

Advice From Mom

I know I blog about my mom often.
Mostly, because she’s smart and funny and provides me with good material.
But, also, because I love her. A lot. And, I want to remember as much as I can about her.

mom readingWriting about her helps me do that.

While we were at the beach in March getting the house ready for the busy rental season, I asked her what advice she’d like to pass on to her grandchildren.

Without hesitation, she said three things:

1. Run. That’s right, run. Runners are passionate athletes and take good care of their bodies. If you don’t like to run, find another physical activity you enjoy and do it everyday. Forever.

While Mom has never been a runner, she is an avid walker. Five days a week at 6 a.m., she meets her best friend and neighbor, Shelia, at the corner and they walk. They often walk home on Main Street and notice everything, including that city has the ugliest flowers in the world in big, bulky pots all the way down the sidewalks. “They’re a mess,” she said. “They never take care of the flowers, and they look a sight.” This is coming from a woman who can’t tolerate one weed in her flowerbeds.

While she loves her morning walks, if she could rewind the clock, she’d run instead of walk. “Start with walking and pick it up a little more every day until you can run. Then, don’t stop. Run everyday. Be passionate about it. You’ll never regret it.”

2. Cut out the junk food, today! Don’t let all the garbage that has found its way into our grocery stores be part of your regular diet. Develop healthy eating habits while you’re young, and keep it up for the rest of your life. Your health is too important. If you eat poorly now. You’ll develop habits that will be hard to break, and you’ll regret it.

3. Pray. Pray. Pray. It’s what’s helped her get through her life’s toughest challenges. You can’t do it alone, she said. Everybody needs to pray. Then, get involved and stay involved in a church. An unstructured religious or spiritual life doesn’t work. You need to be part of a church community.

If we followed her example, there are few other things we would do too. One of them is read. She reads the Salt Lake Tribune every morning, never misses a day. And, she plows through more books than nearly anybody I know. When she tosses off some bit of knowledge that surprises us, someone always says,” How do you know that?”

“I read,” she says.

And there you have it — good, practical advice from a great woman who knows a lot of stuff.

I hope my kids, nieces and nephews will listen up.

Oh, and me too.

kissing mom


Jane Fonda’s Three-Act Play

I heard a snippet of a Oprah interview with Jane Fonda that has given me a new perspective on life.

Français : Jane Fonda at the Cannes Film Festi...
Français : Jane Fonda at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of Promise Me This. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fonda, now 75 years old, said that she views her life as a three-act play – the first thirty years were her first act. The second thirty years were her second act. And the last thirty years are her last act.
It’s a sobering thought to consider that I am in my second act, and that the third, and last act is not that far away.
I mentioned this to my daughter, Sara, only to share the concept of life being like a three-act play.
She said, “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”
I’m not sure how I feel about it either.
One of my dearest friends will turn 79 this month. She recently went through a painful knee replacement surgery, spent weeks in rehab, then returned to the hospital because of a blood clot. She is still recovering and finding it difficult to bounce back, at least as quickly as she wants.
She’s one of the strongest, most independent, and stubborn women I know.
She refuses to slow down, and resents having a body that defies her will to keep going with the same speed and agility she enjoyed twenty or thirty years ago.
But, now, she simply can’t mentally will her body to move as smoothly and pain-free as it once did.
When I visited her in rehab she complained about being there and said she hated being surrounded by old people who should be in coffins instead of recovery. She didn’t believe she belonged in a facility with old, decrepit people.
I agreed with her. On my way to her room, I saw elderly women in cotton nightgowns with wild, uncombed gray hair, and men shuffling around in hospital gowns.
But, when I saw my friend, she was sitting up in bed, dressed and eager to get out of there. She’d been exercising her knee all day, keeping up with all her friends on her cell phone and through emails, staying current on all the news shows, and steaming mad that the Baseball Hall of Fame snubbed some of her favorite players.
When she finally got home from rehab and her second hospital stay, I visited her again, and she told how she was going to update her will and investments.
“Are you worried something is going to happen to you?” I bluntly asked.
“I’m just being realistic,” she said.
By Jane Fonda’s standard, my friend is in her third act, I reminded myself.
Like Sara, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
When we divide our lives up into three tidy little acts, it seems so brief, structured, and streamlined.

Wicked Playbill and stub
(Photo credit: yumiang)

I like Fonda’s three-act play analogy because it makes me believe I can look ahead and create my story arc. I hate her analogy because I know life is never a nice linear path that I can control.
So as I listen to my friend talk about her end-of-life will, her investments, and who will get what when she dies, I remind myself that I’m looking at a woman whose spirit is more alive than most twenty-somethings. Her determination, love of life, excitement about the upcoming baseball season, and her long list of things to do will help her heal. Even if her legs won’t cooperate completely, she will make them move – one way or another. If I know anything about her after all our years of friendship, it is that she will put one foot in front of the other every day and prove that despite the setbacks, detours, and upsets, she is still in control of her life.

(Photo credit: theseanster93)

She reminds me that it doesn’t matter which act of our three-act play we are living, and regardless what happens to us, we can still control how we respond to what happens.

We can be despondent and give up when things don’t unfold the way we want or we can look at our reality, be honest about what is happening, and re-chart our course to maximize our happiness.

My friend teaches me to choose door number two and to forget about the depressing three-act play and just live the life that awaits me every day. She teaches me that our future is always awaiting our imprint, and that it responds to and shapes around our acts of courage, and our efforts to steer ourselves in new directions. And, while we can’t control some of the things that happen to us, we can control what we do about it.

(Photo credit: Dana Lookadoo – Yo! Yo! SEO)

I think that’s the philosophy I’ll hang on to even though I am in the last part of my second act.