A Peek Into My World

Well, it’s been an interesting past week or so. I am actually someone who likes to stay at home however it has been a bit challenging when the decisions to stay at home is not solely my own. Friday I saw a CNN article published as part of the Wisdom Project by Allan titled, Inspirational Quotes to Get Us Through the Coronavirus Shutdown that I thought might be supportive.

Since I’ve been home (more than usual) the inspiration for my blog comes from taking a look around my office. I wanted to share a few items that surround my work space to encourage and motivate me.

My office is in the front of the house with a nice view of the yard.

A few books I keep:

Body and Soul: A novel about the development of a young musician

Grand Obsession: Chronicles one woman’s search for the perfect piano. 

Joy of Movement: How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage

Life as Sport: What top athletes can teach you about how to win in life

Music Matters: Perspectives on nature & significance of music teaching & learing

The Musician’s Way: A guide to practice, performance, and wellness

Reminder that all is well:

These angels have been in our family for over 75 years. They are now in my office surrounding the serenity prayer that used to be on my grandma’s dresser. If Granny had a motto this was it…sure is applicable today.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Various knick-knacks from my grandparents

Family knick-knacks:

The Snow White canister and Girls in the Rain music box belonged to my paternal grandma.

The two music boxes in the second picture belonged to my maternal grandma.

Both are with my baby cup and spoons.

Family heirlooms:

The bookcase belong to Buddy and Granny. I’ve had this bookcase for 35 years. The glass on the bottom left is cracked from a move. The movers offered to get the glass replaced. I said “no, I need the original glass because this bookcase is from my family.” I recently moved the bookcase into my office. The only items in it right now are the manger scene that was displayed at Buddy and Granny’s house that I keep out year-round. I also have my baby shoes and blanket…I guess these were my first running shoes!!

Fit for Life:

A few key reminders of my athletic life to keep me motivated. The trophy on the right is from my first road race after my college career ended. State cross country championship medal hanging on the runner’s foot. The award on the left is for a runner of the year award (back in my prime). I participated in a weekly bicycle time trial and won best senior women award. The frame picture is from my sister and brother-in-law after my bike accident (October 13, 1997)…it says “Watch out for cars”. They gave me this picture after they found out I was ok….the humor was appreciated.

Family rock project:

My sister and I went to a festival with my parents several years ago. One of the vendor sold rocks with names. I bought one for Eric and me. We had our first two cats at the time so I ordered their rocks from the vendor to add to the collection. I have been buying a rock for each cat…the plate is full…I guess Buddy will be our last cat!!

May the memory of our friends
remain with us forever.

Einstein and Reggie:

Einstein (10/21/01-10/9/14) and Reggie (10/21/01-2/1/19) are brother and sister pixie bob cats and were our first two cats.  

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.  **Anatole France

Eric and Me:

The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being.
His heart withers if it does not answer another heart.
His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no inspiration.
–Pearl S. Buck

The eagle on the right I found as I walked in the entrance of the building for my first full-time job (30+years ago). When I met Eric (20 years ago) he had an eagle in his house. The eagles have been together ever since.

17 Words That Will Never Fail You 

Women’s History Month: Granny + Mom = Me

Last week I shared some stories about “Granny”…she was influential to my mom, my aunt, and me.  She embodied the ideals of Blooms to Blossoms.

Wellness…using a practical approach to living a balanced life 
Lifelong Learning…using a simple strategy to use resources available to you to better yourself
Personal Development…using a teachable moment to provide lessons learned

Granny was sharing the values she believed and lived by passing them on through her actions.   These beliefs and actions are the roots (support) to develop our family branches (my mom, aunt, others, and me).  Through the generational care and continuation of these beliefs Granny started the cultivation of the shoots and buds that would extend our family tree.

NOTE: Source for pic unknown

My mom is efficient, organized, and diligent.  She is loving, caring, supportive, and always focused on helping me become a better me.

Her motto when I was growing up was “I’m hard on you because I want better for you.”

Her motto now is “laugh and make memories.”

My accomplishments make her proud. I never doubted that I could achieve any of my goals with a good plan and some effort.

Corso (2020) writing about Women’s History Month

To be told we “do something like a girl” is a compliment. I would hope I am as brave as a girl, I hope I am as resilient as a girl, I hope I am as powerful as a girl, and I am proud to be a girl.

National Women’s History month is where we appreciate being told we “throw like a girl” and we “run like a girl.” If we are throwing like a girl, we are throwing as hard as we can, and if we are running like a girl, we are running as fast as we can.

Doing something like a girl is a compliment; being a girl or woman during March is especially superior because we have a month dedicated to our strength and our bravery.

I mentioned in a prior blog a memory book my sister and I created for our parents.  Below are some of the memories of mom.

Memories of Mom

Memories of Mom (some of the 70 memories from the book with current thought)

**Trick or treat for Unicef
(I did not fully understand the purpose at the time as much as I do now)

**Documenting my graduate school debt (loan) to assure complete payment
(I learned the value of money and the responsibility for paying a debt)

**Popcorn for Elaine’s trips home after a visit
(Mom always provided snacks when I drove home after visiting…I was also told to keep both hands on the wheel while driving!!   Hmmmm?!?!?!)

**Ironing our workout t-shirts until we graduated high school
(Needless to say, I do not iron my workout t-shirts now but I do appreciate her effort)

**New running shoes for every birthday and Christmas
(Best gift ever…still)

**Letting me have time to run before going out for the day
(Best gift ever…still)

**Making me take piano lessons so Granny would give the piano to mom
(Still playing…both of us)

**Never (well almost never) asking too many personal questions
(Mmmmmoooooommmm, really???)

**Constantly beating me a scrabble
(I cheat and still lose…but it’s fun)

**Taking care of Granny
(“One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.” -Rohan)

Granny and Mom were & are key in making me who I am.

They have & do encourage me.
They have been & are there for me when it matters the most.
They have & do inspire me to make my own history.

Thanks to my Granny and my Mom my motto is:

I do the very best I know how.
The very best I can and
I mean to keep doing it until the end.

“Learn from the people who have walked before you.
Respect them, because someday, and
sooner than you could ever imagine,
you are going to be old too.”  Unknown

Women’s History Month: Granny…Becoming Part of the Family

March is Women’s History Month.  The Nation honors the contributions of notable women throughout history.  These women helped girls (including me) to aspire to be a changemaker; to be strong and independent.  I am a benefactor of the resilience and willpower of the phenomenal women of our history.  The results of their efforts affected the history and progress of our country/society.  While we praise these women for their work, when I think of women in history and the direct influence on my life, I think of someone who is not known to my readers.  With assistance from my mom and my aunt, I thought I would share some tidbits about a woman that impacted our lives…Granny.  

About Granny

Granny was a little lady, only 5’2” with physical strength that would amaze many.  She had an 8th grade education but loved to read and made good use of the dictionary.  She could complete the hardest crossword puzzles.

Granny had 3 brothers and a sister and often acted as parent to her younger brother and sister. With Granny being the oldest girl, she went to work after completing the 8th grade.  She worked in a shoe factory at two locations and for a time she was working near a deli-restaurant of her grandparents.  During that time, she would leave the factory at lunch break and go to the restaurant to help her grandparents with their lunch crowd. Then back to the factory to finish the day.  

For the 40-50 years mom lived in our house, I never remember her replacing any plants. We had 4o’clocks, petunias, a peony bush, and irises. Every year in the spring mom would thin the petunias etc. and somehow through drought or rainy seasons or hard winters the plants always made it.   

Granny and Helping Others

If neighbors were sick or living alone, Granny would make a big pot of soup and food to share. She would even remember foods neighbors enjoyed.  One neighbor liked Granny’s mashed potatoes (condensed milk and lots of butter).  A nephew from time to time lived with his grandparents next door would come to our house and share in the desserts.  

When her sister’s husband was out of work, they would come help Granny with household projects and chores so they would have some money coming in.  If she had more of something, she would be sure to share.  

Granny was known for her $20’s.  If she wanted to treat us to eating out, she would always say, “I’ve got $20’s.”

As like most people at that time in our area, we hoped the peony’s and irises would be in peak condition for decorating the graves on Memorial Day. 

Granny and Patriotism

Her grandfather, who had immigrated from Germany, said if you live in America you should speak English and honor America.  His brother, who immigrated here also, complained about things here, so he told his brother he should go back to Germany. She would have a tough time accepting people who did not respect the flag.  I remember taking her to a parade when she was in her 90s.  She instructed me to stand, which I would do, when the Veterans came by and she waved her little flag with tears in her eyes.  

Granny and Wellness

She believed that doing a good job cleaning house was not an eye level job.  She would say bend down to clean baseboards and stretch to clean over the doors and you will not need to go to a gym.

She was not in favor of diets to lose weight.  When she felt her clothes might be a little tight…”eat an apple during the day and then eat healthy meals, but smaller amounts.”

Granny was walking trails with us when she was in her mid 80s.  We would meet people who would tell us the trail would be too hard for Granny, but she walked them anyway. Her grandmother had told her to always stretch before she got out of bed.  Granny did that every day, and she was agile all her life.

Granny and Lessons Learned

She told us many times, when we were kids, “you’re as good as anyone – but you’re no better.”

She did not believe in tattling and would tell us to find something else to do.

If you were bored she would say “go outside, lay down on the grass and see what you can see in the clouds.”  

One time a friend was angry with me and came to tell Mom what a bad person I was.   Mom was standing at the ironing board and the friend was on the outside of a screen door when Mom said she should go on home, then told me to close the door.  In most cases, Mom expected us to take care of things ourselves and if we could not get along, then her only interference was ‘you come in the house and see if you can find something to do’.   

I along with two other girls, gave our Sunday School teacher a bit of a bad time asking questions.  I came home and guilt set in, and especially because the teacher was my godmother.  I told Granny, I did not think I was nice to Mae today…Granny said, “Don’t tell me about it, get across the alley and go tell Mae.”  Her way of teaching us to accept responsibility for our actions.

Granny and Church

Granny attended the Lutheran Church in her youth and later became a Methodist.  Her children grew up when attendance was rewarded by a pin.  You just did not question whether you would go to church – that is what happened on Sunday, sometimes Wednesday night services and revivals. Granny said,  “you go to church to worship, it’s God’s house and if you look nice when you go out on Saturday night…you need to look as good or better on Sunday morning.”   

For years, Granny had a major part in the Christmas play. She studied her part while ironing or in bed with a flashlight.  She was a member of the Methodist Women’s Missionary Group and helped with Bible School.  She actively took part in church dinners and socials. Today, as I read my Bible, I can hear some of what Granny said as I was growing up.  She did not preach it was simple instruction such as, “Don’t test God.”

Granny and Music

One year when we were at the church and had finished practicing for a Christmas program, the adults were still there talking. I went to the piano and was quietly sounding the keys.  One lady told mom I should not be doing that. Mom could see from the way I was “playing” that I might have some talent (and I think she did not like the lady telling her I could not touch the piano). Shortly after we got a piano and we got to take lessons.  While I never became a real pianist, I have always enjoyed playing, and it is a way, happy, sad or whatever, to work out my emotions. 

Granny and Growing Up

About age 12, Granny let us know that we truly were part of the family.  We were responsible for chores that she gave the ‘white glove’ inspection.  You did a good job – or you could start all over – if you missed something there was probably more that was not done.  No, we did not get an allowance – we were part of the family. 

Granny’s Motto

The Right Fit: A Community!

I recently bought the book Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal.  The premise of the book is about “how exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage.” McGonigal (2019) writes in the introduction “Many of the classes I taught turned into communities that not only moved together but also supported and celebrated one another.  In these classes, I learned what collective joy feels like…”(p. 3). One of my prior blogs, Run for My Body, Run for My Soul expresses my belief about the joy of movement; movement enhances my social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual wellbeing.

I am often amazed that some of the greatest people and greatest memories I have connect either directly or indirectly to my active engagement in sports, fitness, and wellness.  While being self-motivated for a lifetime of health and wellness I tend to be a “gym-hopper”; one who moves from gym to gym in search of the “right fit”.  After reading just the introduction of McGonigal’s book the connection to my current gym became clear. I am applying an athletic perspective on the person-environment fit model. 

“Person-environment (PE) fit refers to the degree of match between individuals & some aspect of their work environment. The concept of PE fit is firmly rooted in the tradition of Kurt Lewin’s maxim that B = /(PE);behavior is a function of both person & environment,” Grimsley (n.d.).

My behavior, active engagement, and satisfaction results from the match between my goals and the attributes of a chosen environment. How well are my interests, preferences, knowledge, skills, abilities, personality traits, values, and goals obtainable through membership at a gym?  I joined F45 a few months ago and have found a great gym/workout that meets my needs. The surprise was the sense of community and a connection to wellness aspects beyond just the physical. 

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, and spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life”   Unknown

Personal reasons for going to a gym differ with everyone; it is a bonus when you find the “right fit”. Four elements for a sense of community include membership, influence, reinforcement, and a shared emotional connection (McMillan and Chavis, 1996). For me, the “right fit” found at F45 include:

**A sense of belonging
**A connection and camaraderie with friends
**An atmosphere of healthy competition
**A holistic wellness aspect

“One of the best things I love about our F45 studios are the
friendships that have been made!!
Accountability is key when it comes to fitness and
having someone to sweat it out with you not only helps
push you to reach that fitness goal
but is just so much more fun!!!”  
Coach Jon

The quality of program cannot rise above the caliber of its personnel. The heart as much as the head provides an atmosphere for success.  Attributes such as caring, listening, seeking to understand and affirm participants individuality are part of what makes F45 the right fit for me.  These dual characteristics enable trainers to encourage participants to use their abilities to improve physical fitness and support their overall wellbeing. The F45 trainers ability to inspire others fuels their desire to serve. 

Most gyms believe a sense of community matters.
The key is to find the right fit for you.
Keep in mind that movement can do more
then enhance your physical fitness.
Movement will enhance social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual wellbeing.

A portion of McGonigal’s Final Thoughts (p. 212) supports my idea that there is more to a “workout” location than just a place for physical movement.

In a 2017 essay, Norwegian ethicist Sigmund Loland posed the question: If it becomes possible, should we replace exercise with a pill?  Scientists are already trying to manufacture medicines that mimic the health benefits of exercise. What if they succeed?  “Considering exercise takes time and energy and usually financial resources in addition to implying a risk for injury, the only reason for not replacing exercise with a pill must be related to values in the very activity of exercising in itself,” Loland writes.  “Does exercise have such values, and if so, what are they?”

Based on what I’ve learned from science and stories that fill this book and from my own direct experience, I would say the answer is a resounding yes.  Movement offers us pleasure, identity, belonging, and hope.  It puts us in places that are good for us.

Anyone have any comments to share related to their sense of community and/or enhancement of personal wellbeing?

One Small Step: United Rather Than Divided

While I was out doing errands yesterday, I was listening to StoryCorps podcasts.  I have always felt it was important to listen and learn from other viewpoints. Being open minded contributes to lifelong learning and personal development. One podcast I listened to was from an NPR National Project, One Small Step.

One Small Step is an effort to connect people so they can remember that people with whom they disagree are human beings. In doing this, we can begin to mend the fraying fabric of our nation – one conversation at a time.”

Over 800 people have taken part in this project.  Coming from a research background (see my About page) my first thought was the wealth of narrative data available to learn from and share…could be an interesting project for the future.  One resource I have shared in the past that supports my idea of gaining the perspectives of others is Finding the Value in What People Have to Say.

I hope you take time to read the content below, The Importance of Being Open Minded (Ziegler, 2017) and listen to the podcast.  The podcast is slightly politically oriented, from a broad perspective, however my point with sharing is that we can learn from each other, no matter the topic,  if we take the time to listen, reflect, provide our insight, and be open minded.  As you listen to the podcast listen to the engagement of the people, the receptiveness and acceptance of differing views.

Ziegler (2017), The Importance of Being Open Minded

Ziegler (2017)

One of the most sincere forms of respect is
actually listening to what another has to say.  
Bryant McGill

Participants from the NPR National Project state:

I want to be here today because…

**I was hoping that I could find out from someone who maybe is different from me how you got to be that way.
**I wanted an opportunity to actually sit down with somebody that was reasonable, had an open mind.
**It’s important that we start to see each other as human again.

To listen to the podcast click on “Across The Great Divide” below.

StoryCorp podcast (15 minutes)
Across The Great Divide

Additional One Small Step Feature Stories