Saturday, January 29, 2011

WK 35: "Live Right Now" - no matter where you choose to put the punctuation...

The quiet, stark beauty of winter

CBC has a terrific new program on right now called, "Village on a Diet". Have you seen it?  The good citizens of Taylor, B.C. agreed to participate in a 2-month effort to increase their  fitness levels.  Each week the program focuses on a dozen or so people who are trying hard (some days more than others, as we can all well understand!) to exercise, diet and learn healthy new ways to live their lives - for the rest of their lives. 

I have enjoyed the show.  The folks are very real and have been generous in sharing very real feelings.  The change for most of them has been pretty stark and some of it, like the Great Tofu Bbq, has been hard for them to swallow.  But they are a determined lot and a tremendous inspiration to yours truly and thousands of other Canadians.

Along with the show, CBC has developed an accompanying website called, “Live Right Now”.  I was wondering about the choice of words for this title and what it is all meant to convey.  A lot depends on where you put the commas and the periods perhaps.  For instance, is it, “Live.  Right now.”  or maybe, “Live RIGHT.  Now.”  or even, “Live right. NOW.”  Regardless of how you punctuate it, the website is a wealth of information, inspiration and in-live support.  During/after each “Village on a Diet” episode there is a live blog for folks to check in with one another and comment on the lives, achievements and  efforts of the Taylor residents for that week.  And the evening afterward at 6p.m. eastern and pacific time there is the “Virtual Village Workout” devised by the show's personal trainers, Mike and Garfield.  Again with a live blog on FaceBook should you want to check in with others on how your workout is going.

Other experts on the site, include Dr. Ali, who herself struggled with weight issues while working through medical school; Adele, the down-to-earth pshychologist; Maria the helpful dietitian and Jonathan - chef extraordinaire (with the possible exception of the tofu recipe! The vote's still out on that one!). 

There are dozens (hundreds?) of challenges you can commit to - on-line at the Live Right Now website, if you choose to create a profile - and they run the full gamut from getting outdoors to build a snowman to washing the salt off your food to finding 15 minutes of quiet to sleeping 8 hours to drinking a glass of water.... well, you get the idea.  Not all the changes are drastic or take a lot of extraordinary effort. Almost none require any special exercise gear or anywhere special you must go. In fact regardless of one's circumstances, there is something enjoyable and quite doable for just about every kind of personality and every kind of schedule.  Lots of Canadians have signed up. Some individual challenges have over 2,000 personal commitments chalked up so far!

The Ontario Medical Association is behind the effort and contributes very sensible, doable suggestions while recognizing that most of us are time and energy-challenged in our daily lives.  Who better to know that than busy doctors?  The YMCA has a related membership offer.  And dozens and dozens of groups - offices, friends, families, towns, boys and girls associations - have formed to sign on to commit to various challenges.

It is an amazing initiative.  It is real enough, fun enough, flexible enough and has an appealing enough interactive website - to make this project catch on like wildfire across Canada and go viral over the internet.  It could change Canada.  Change how we feel and how long we live and how well.  And it could dramatically change our health system. I am pretty sure it is going to change me!

I invite you to take a look.
The Village on a Diet website:
The Live Right Now website:
The Taylor BC folks are on “Village on a Diet” every Monday night on CBC.

Yes, I did make 4 commitments: 
1) to walk 20 minutes a day
2) to do Mike and Garfield’s virtual workout on Tuesdays and check in on the live chat afterwards.
3) to lose 5 lbs. (for starters).
4) to tell my Doctor about 'Live Right Now' and encourage a patient-group commitment at our Family Practice.

Dr. Ali said something I thought quite important to keep uppermost in my mind - for the rest of my life.  “Enjoy the process.”  Dieting and exercising and anything else we may decide to do to improve our health is not all about the end achievement or results down the road; it is a process to  be enjoyed in and of itself. Significant advice.  Thanks, Dr. Ali!

Cheers!  I will be writing a special blog this Friday, Feb. 4th.  That is my 60th birthday.  WhooHaw!  I'm almost there; I’m almost ready.  I think...

Thanks for walking with me on my footpath this week,

Monday, January 17, 2011

WK: 34 - Do we get the old age we deserve?

I wonder sometimes if we get/make the old age we deserve.  What do you think? Banks are after us all the time to give them our cash to invest for our future years. What about our emotional, physical and intellectual investment portfolios?  Are we prepared and ready?  Are we making choices about the kind of future we will live? Old age is the last act of our life drama.  It’s our last chance to live life fully - enlightened by a life-time of experience.  How do we want to spend our senior years?  For health, financial, family or other reasons, most of us can’t do everything - we need to make pointed choices.

Some of these are easier than others - where we want to live, the kind of lifestyle we want to have, the bottom line we are willing to accept in relation to where we are positioned in this consumer world of ours.  What do we really need to live a happy senior life?  What are the absolute, rock-bottom necessities we just don’t want to live without?  For me it is location - northern pine trees, river-water, walking.  Close, loving friends balanced with deep solitude and pin-dropping quietude.  The ability and time to walk.  An independent life with health.  Time to reflect on life - the past, the future, God and what it’s all about.  An ability to live in the moment. Time to be creative for no other earthly reason than the pure joy of it. Time to listen to the birds, walk along the river bank with the ducks and beavers, take note of the minute changes of the season. Time to be grateful - very grateful indeed - for life and breathing. Time to give back for some of the munificence I have received over my lifetime.

Some other choices take more work and honest self-assessment. We need to look at who we want to be - or not. We’ve all see in our families, amongst our friends, people at church, at the grocery store - the seniors who complain about how things 'aren’t the same', who feel every ache and ailment real and even imagined - all enlarged through the prism of self-preoccupation and isolation. The seniors who experience their lives to be too harsh and hard and not what they want; they are lonely and feel their families don’t care.  No one comes to visit. They have nothing they enjoy doing to fill their free time. They often don’t enjoy their meals and no longer like to read. Some seniors isolate themselves further with  barbed tongues, bitterness that has grown with the years or a lack of curiosity about others, an un-interest to try new things, new food, new books, new music, new vistas. Seniors who might adapt to change under pressure but sure don’t welcome it. In short they are people who no longer are enjoying life.

I confess to some of the above and I am alarmed by this because I am beginning to see that we are in later life who we are in middle age - only more so - in spades. We have justly deserved the right to firm opinions at a certain point in life.  And we have had a life time of accumulating understandable likes and dislikes about just about everything.  But old age isn’t static.  We aren’t suspended in time or yet at the 'end' of our life continuum - or learning curve!  We continue to change and grow til our very last breath.  We need to cultivate an enduring flexibility to meet the changes required of us as we continue along - if we are to be happy, productive souls.  I think how that happens depends on who we have groomed ourselves to be.  And whether we encourage ourselves to be creative, try a new recipe, a new crossword puzzle, exercise a little, walk in a different direction, think sideways, play, allow ourselves to be wrong occasionally, be jesters, try to find something enjoyable in the things we thought we didn’t like. Contribute to our families, our neighbourhoods and communities in any way we can and keep connected.  Remain interested, interesting, vital, hopeful human beings. Do things we wanted to do when we were younger but never had time.  We are never too old to try, to learn, to create, to live. To be an encouraging beacon to the next generation who follows us.

Old age isn’t just something that arrives unwelcome at our doorstep.  Or something we must endure til it's over.  It is an opportunity - a large, blank chapter of our book of life - awaiting the final exciting, life-giving details.  If we make some investments along the way in our middle years - cultivate interests other than work, make our friend network larger not smaller, deepen our family ties, loosen our opinionated minds and let a new idea or two float in, realistically balance our tangible expectations with our soul-needs, keep active and vital and interested in life and people and our communities - then to the extent that is allowed us, we can write a delicious final act.

Thanks for walking along with me on my footpath this week.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

WK 33: Happy New Year, Everyone!

Icy whites and blues - along the river's edge

Happy New Year Everyone!

After a work and move hiatus, the Bracebridge Photo Project resumes this week with 12 new photos.  Am feeling a little out of the groove but looking forward to lots of winter hikes and photography in the weeks ahead and a continuation of the journey.

Best Health and Good Wishes to each of you for 2011.

Thanks for walking along with me again on my footpath this coming year.
~ Gillian