Last year I had the unfortunate opportunity to meet face-to-face a not so fun diagnosis of Shingles. But, with all that is going on with my friends and their much more life-altering diagnoses, I really didn’t care much about it. Still, for anyone going through Shingles or who knows someone that has it – YUCK. It’s painful – and can actually be friendly enough to hang around for a longer haul. Which mine decided to do. I have residual nerve damage from it. The bad news – I can’t exercise the same way I’ve done through the years. The good news – nerves can regenerate, AND we live in a day and age where there are LOTS of ways to exercise.

For me – it’s swimming. And the blessing, that came with my unexpected change-up, has been multi-dimensional and filled with so much goodness. Much of the blessing comes with the place I exercise: Texas Health Finley Ewing Cardiovascular & Fitness Center Dallas. As indicated by the name, it’s a far cry from a typical gym. The lure for me was a saltwater lap pool. The bonus benefit: I’m about 20 years younger than the most of the clientele. Yes, even at 50 & free, I’m the youngster. And I can tell you – the locker room conversations aren’t about weight or optimal sizes, they’re usually about the best brand of walker or the amount/types of meds recently prescribed.

So I get to exercise with people who are the furthest thing from trying to prove themselves, or look a certain way, or one-up, or – really anything that involves trying to fit in or buff-up. No, they’re happy to be alive and as sweet Florence (age 92!) told me recently, “I just love to be in the water. [She walks the pool, up and down the lanes in her cool water shoes] It gets my mind right. I come to the pool to get the poisons out of my thoughts. Then I have a better day – always.”

Please let me be like Florence when I’m 92!

So – here you go, #hydratefortheholidays Tip # 5: Exercise.

When the thoughts (all that needs to get done, all that is undone, all that will never be done) are stealing the joy – take a walk around the block. Because even a simple walk around the block helps get oxygen to perspective-starved thoughts. But [and especially at this time of the year] exercise without obsessing over being a certain size.

That certain-size thing, it plants our eyes on ourselves – not really the best place to anchor our eyes when the season is really about others.

But since the holidays come with a few outward appearance land-mines, especially when outfits, parties, reminders, pressures, and the like can tempt our thoughts to land on outward appearance, let’s not let the negative plant less-than thoughts. Apparently, we’re prone to go negative on ourselves:

Notice – we need friends to remind us. So I’m here to say, in case no one speaks the words to you today – YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL. Your beauty is INSIDE & OUT. You have SO MUCH to offer. You have GREAT WORTH – really you do. In fact YOU are the reason for the season that is just a few weeks away.

So, exercise – not to be a certain size, but to clear you mind, to gain perspective. Don’t let outward appearance issues/pressures/preconceived ideas steal the joy from something that can help us breathe.

Today I got a small, but forced, moment of exercise. Rather than be frustrated with the crazy traffic in Preston Center, I let the parking space in the back of the lot be an opportunity rather than an inconvenience. I got to walk. And I actually enjoyed it. I needed a breath of fresh air. And when I saw someone pull out and open the space directly in front of Chipotle (where I was headed), the walk helped me be happy for the guy that got it. Because, you never know what kind of day he might have going on where a front row spot could be just the thing to make it better.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


p.s. LOVED this from Clare Bowen – beautiful, heart-felt reminder making its way across social media today:

it's just hair

I was really inspired when I heard a story about a little girl who said she couldn’t be a princess because she didn’t have long hair, and I wanted her, and others like her to know that’s not what makes a princess, or a warrior, or a superhero. It’s not what makes you beautiful either. It’s your insides that count… even if you happen to be missing half of them.

Every scar tells a story, every baldhead, every dark circle, every prosthetic limb, and every reflection in a mirror that you might not recognize anymore. Look deeper than skin, hair, nails, and lips. You are who you are in your bones. That is where you have the potential to shine the brightest from. It is where your true beautiful self lives. (read more)

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