A Leisure Walk

This is a “feel good” article. Michael Gartner, president of NBC News, wrote it about his father, and his father’s philosophy on walking through life. It’s well worth the length!

“My father never drove a car. Well, that’s not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

‘In those days,’ he told me when he was in his 90s, ‘to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.’ At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: “Oh, bull shit!” she said. “He hit a horse.”

“Well,” my father said, “there was that, too.”

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.PHOTO 1950 Chevy

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we’d ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. “No one in the family drives,” my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, “But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we’ll get one.”

It was as if he wasn’t sure which one of us would turn 16 first. But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown. It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn’t drive, it more or less became my brother’s car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn’t bother my father, but it didn’t make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive.

She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father’s idea. “Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?” I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps—though they seldom left the city limits—and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work…

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn’t seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin’s Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish’s two priests was on duty that morning.

If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.

If it was the assistant pastor, he’d take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests “Father Fast” and “Father Slow.”

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along.

If she were going to the beauty parlor, he’d sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I’d stop by, he’d explain: “The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.”

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out—and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?”

“I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

“No left turns,” he said.

“What?” I asked

“No left turns,” he repeated. “Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic…as you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”

“What?” I said again.

“No left turns,” he said. “Think about it…Three rights are the same as a left, and that’s a lot safer.  So we always make three rights.”

“You’re kidding!” I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

“No,” she said, “your father is right. We make three rights. It works.”  But then she added: “Except when your father loses count.”

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

“Loses count?” I asked.

“Yes,” my father admitted, “that sometimes happens. But it’s not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you’re okay again.”

I couldn’t resist. “Do you ever go for 11?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day.  Besides, nothing in life is so important it can’t be put off another day or another week.”

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003…my father died the next year, at 102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily—he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he’d fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news. A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, “You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.”

At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, “You know, I’m probably not going to live much longer.”

“You’re probably right,” I said.

“Why would you say that?” He countered, somewhat irritated.

“Because you’re 102 years old,” I said.

“Yes,” he said, “you’re right.”

He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night.

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said:  “I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet.”

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:

“I want you to know,” he said, clearly and lucidly, “that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.”

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I’ve wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can’t figure out if it was because he walked through life, or because he quit taking left turns.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.  So love the people who treat you right.  Forget about the ones who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason.

If you get a chance, take it & if it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.

ENJOY LIFE NOW—IT HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE!”

Don’t Stay Stuck

Whether disabled or able-bodied, discovering the direction/focus for your lives, your dreams, and your career is different for each of us. The answer can only be found in a deep soul search. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2). Don’t stay stuck! The tragedy that beset Robin Williams is another wake-up call. Seek solutions. Seek help.

After coming to grips with my physical changes and limitations and, psychologically, learning to view my wheelchair as my chariot (http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html  Views From My Chariot) my emotional journey to wholeness began. It wasn’t wholly in finding adjustment to my disability; I realized there were unresolved issues from my childhood and early adulthood. In retrospect, here’s where my wheels truly hit the road.

A quote from Brene Brown…

“Dr. Shelley Uram, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, explains that most of us think of traumatic events as big events (like wrecks and disasters). But, Dr. Uram points out that we tend not to recognize the small, quiet traumas that often trigger the same brain-survival reaction.

After studying Dr. Uram’s work, I believe it’s possible that many of our early shame experiences, especially with parents and caregivers, were stored in our brains as traumas. That is why we often have such painful bodily reactions when we feel criticized, ridiculed, rejected, and shamed.

Dr. Uram explains that the brain does not differentiate between overt, or big trauma, and covert, or small, quiet trauma—it just registers the event as a threat that we can’t control.” ~Brene Brown

Relative to our emotional, mental, and spiritual states, studies show that our brains emit specific brain wave frequencies. In agreement with Brene Brown, Kari Browning states:

“Any number of things can affect our frequencies and cause them to become out of tune, such as stress or a traumatic experience. Just as a guitar needs to be tuned from time to time, our body is the same way. Your body can be tuned to achieve optimal physical balance.

PHOTO Quote BRAIN Music activates entire brain

For instance, tapping two tuning forks will instantaneously alter your body’s biochemistry and bring your nervous system, muscle tone and organs into harmonic balance. In seconds, your body enters a deep state of relaxation.

We are constantly being vibrated, on a cellular level, by heard and unheard sound frequencies. Our emotions also have frequencies. Toxic emotions can get trapped on a cellular level and lower our overall body frequency. Disease results when a part of our body begins to vibrate out of harmony with the rest.

If you’re interested in learning about using the natural healing methods of essential oils, sound, and frequency for your spirit, soul and body to come into a place of wholeness, make reservations for our upcoming seminar on Saturday, October 3 in Northport, Alabama. Kari Browning, JoAnne McFatter, and Bryan and Cindy Culpeper will be teaching.

For ticket purchase, location, and seating availability, contact me at Cynthia.white@ah-haventures

For interest in managing pain and/or illness, mental clarity, emotional balance, spiritual enhancement, everyday “bumps-in-the-road,” etc., you can also contact me at   Cynthia.white@ah-haventures

Live in Color

“You’ve got to give a little, take a little,
and let your poor heart break a little,
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.—“The Glory of Love”

Until we get it down, sometimes love hurts. Sometimes, it causes heartbreak. But, it’s no reason to stop loving. Love expresses itself in a rainbow of colors. Remember: you’re a masterpiece in progress.

Painting your masterpiece can be messy. But, don’t be afraid of making errors—“coloring outside the lines.” Running paint, drip marks, and scattered splashes  have taken on a whole new expression lately. Express your individuality. Throw all the colorful experiences you can on your life canvas!

The fear of heart ache and the regret of not loving are equally devastating. It wastes a life, and fades your canvas, worse than having loved and lost.

At all risk, waste your love. Live out loud, in fantastic color!

AFFIRM: “Even when broken, I AM whole. My days are beautiful. I live a colorful, abundant life. I AM His loving, resplendent masterpiece.”

BOOYAH for God!

This is a BOOYAH (my fist is clenched, elbow at 90 degrees…I’m pumping down) for God!PHOTO Quote His love and mercy is new every morning

I’ve wanted an inviting back yard for-E-VER, but something more important always pressed into the forefront. This year, I decided: it was “tha year.” I began calling landscapers, giving my detailed vision.

The first said he was in. (Well, truthfully, who wouldn’t be?! I have the most beautiful, relaxing natural observatory for avians, mammals, you-name-it. I’m wrapped in a wood on 3 sides, with a stream running through it. You can read about my sanctuary in Views From My Chariot: A Wheelchair Oddity http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html ) Three weeks after no return responses to my calls, I moved on.

Second: Mr. No Personality tells me everything that wouldn’t work…“It just want work!”

Third time’s charm, and IS charming…ly married. Moving on…

Within 5 minutes, he had solutions to my naysayers non-imaginative, “It want work.” as well as, THE stone bench I wanted…for half the price.

Moral of the story: If you’re in-tune, and in-tuitive, timing is everything! TIME: The Imminent—“close in time” (be patient not to jump at the first option)—Moments of Energy cast illumination/direction on your path.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my pathway.” Psalm 119:105 (ISV)

AFFIRM: “Lord, Your faithfulness is new EVERY morning; GREAT is Your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:23)