Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finding the Fountain of Youth

Day 24 of Your Year to Wellness
The Fountain of Youth Lies Within
From 21-51

Yesterday, I got a call from an old friend. I asked how he was and he sighed and said, “I’m getting old.” I asked when he noticed. He laughed and asked what I meant and told him that he had been getting old from the moment of his birth. My friend is approaching his 50th birthday and like so many others, he is falling for the oaky doke; the belief that life goes down-hill from there. I pointed out that his mother and father were going strong and that he and his father worked out together every Sunday. I told him that he was affecting the lives of others every day and that he was living a life of purpose. “You have genetics and purpose on your side young man.” I said. “You are not old.”
Yes,” he said “But you look like you’ve found the fountain of youth” “What’s the secret?” he asked laughing. I asked if he really wanted to know, but he said that he had to get back to his demanding job so I told him that I loved him and so did his life and wished him peace.
So now I will tell you what he didn’t take the time to learn; I have found the fountain of youth. It’s where no one would have ever thought to look, it’s within and because you are reading this and because you seek an answer, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.
·         Reclaim your time. Remove the things from your life that take a great deal of energy but give very little in return. Last year I removed 3 demanding events from my annual schedule and noticed that by removing these taxing events I got a total of 3 months back. I was astonished by the amount of time I had given up. All of these events were demanding physically, mentally and spiritually. Each time I’d leave them I felt drained and sad.  They were weekly or monthly so I didn’t notice the toll all at once, but when  I added up the time and realized that I had been spending an entire 3 months doing something that offered very little but demanded a great deal of my life I was appalled. I’m not talking about work, we all have work that we don’t care for, when I look at my work as purpose and not as a job I am always inspired. I’m talking about the events and affairs we mindlessly volunteer and sign up for and then feel compelled to participate in. When I took back my time I found that I had time for me.
·         Time goes by with or without you so use it to your advantage. I don’t try to grab large slices of time; I take small slices and I make the most of it. I exercise throughout the day in small intervals never going beyond 30 minutes at a time. I wear a pedometer, the kind you can upload to a computer to see your progress. When I first did this, I noticed that my movement was the same low line throughout the day with one big spike in it. I laughed at how silly this looked and wondered what impact I could have if I moved more throughout the day. When I did, I felt a sudden increase in energy. Even if you simply roll your wrists and ankles, elbows and shoulders, get up and move around you will notice a difference in your level of energy. Walk around your office or your living room. You don’t have to go to a gym. Ride your bike or walk to an errand at least once a week and notice the difference it has on you. When you do drive, park as far away as possible and take the stairs a few floors then ride the elevator the rest increasing little by little. Take short but frequent vacations and lounge in your own home. We put things off thinking we don’t have enough time when short visits and events more frequently will have a more lasting impact.
·         Smile and Laugh. A stranger once told me that God lived in my smile. Yesterday I heard that you could never be ugly if you smiled all of the time. I have seen the sternest faces light up with a smile. The eyes may be the window to the soul, but your smile is the door; with it you open up an avenue for others to find their way. Laughter is a gift from God. I learned the power of laughter when I first started teaching. If something is interesting, funny or bizarre people are more likely to remember it and to want to learn more. If people are laughing while they learn, they will remember the experience even if they don’t recall the facts. That remembrance will call them back to the lesson. Laughter lightens your heart and prepares it for healing and repair; laugh.
·         Keep learning or you will grow old. Some people get wiser as they age, while others just age. I have a friend who is constantly learning and at 80 she is always the youngest person in the room. She laughs big and moves like the wind. Her mind is nimble and so are her limbs. The more you learn the more you grow, stop learning and you wither and die.
·         Leave a legacy each time you leave a room. What will people think of you when you leave—the room?  Did you enable them to smile or laugh, did you enable them to feel better about their self? Did you share tools and wisdom for becoming better? On Sunday I hosted a gathering of friends. Before everyone left, we broke out in a wonderful version of This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine. Someone went to his car to get his spoons (no joke, he actually carried a set to play) I found box lids for others to play, much to my surprise, my sister Christine grabbed spoons from the kitchen and began to play along (who knew?) and my son Jabril played his guitar. Each person sang the song that was first written down by Harry Dixon Loes in 1920. It is believed to have been a Negro Spiritual or to have come from the Bible.
This song is the song that every heart knows. It is our calling to shine so that others might find their way.

This little light is the source of your fountain of youth, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Be well, be you, SHINE
Bertice Berry, PhD.

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