The window, investments, retirement and fear....
Monday, March 23, 2015
I have a friend who is quite healthy. He eats right, works out on a regular basis, and carries his weight within normal range. One of the phrases he constantly uses about his healthy lifestyle is that he is saving for his retirement. He says it would be a shame to retire, have money in his retirement plan, but not have taken the steps he could to maintain his health to enjoy it. Sometimes I really don't like him - because he has common sense and conviction - and I wish I had that!
Retirement, that sounded so far away, like forever!
I'm a procrastinator. Now mind you I do save for my retirement. I don't have an amount saved like I would like, but I have taken the diligence and effort to save..... but my health? Another story.
You see, most things, they still work - maybe not the best, but they still work. So I don't really think about doing those little things like eating right and exercising. I'm too busy living! I have too much to do, a full time job, a family, places to go, people to see..... I am LIVING life. The future will take care of itself.
Every now and then it happens. You get a reality check. This has been one of those times.
I have a dear friend. She is overweight - not just a few pounds - she is morbidly obese. Over the past ten years, I have watched her health decline. I have watched her go from walking with some difficulty, to walking with a cane, to walking with a walker, to barely walking at all. I have watched her world close in around her - first losing the ability to drive herself places and having to rely on someone going with her, to not being able to get out without great difficulty.
Through all this I have tried to motivate her, encourage her, inspire her. I told her all about Spark People and the wonderful things that happen here. I have also enabled her.
This past week she has fallen four times within a week. Each time she falls requires a call to the EMT's to help get her back to her feet and into bed, or chair. Once she is down, she cannot get back up without assistance. The last fall she was not so lucky. She found herself in the hospital. She has pneumonia. She also has a litany of other health issues, she was covered with bruises from falling, COPD, diabetes, a knee that is shot but cannot be replaced because of her weight and related health issues. Her health is like a precariously built house of cards.
I went to visit her and couldn't help but be saddened to see the flame in my vibrant friend diminish. She may not be returning to her home. She may be forced to sell her condo and move into a nursing facility. She is far too young to be spending the remainder of her life in a nursing facility. Of course denial is strong and in her mind she believes she will go home and life will continue as it always has. This is most likely not her reality.
There was a time in her life when the window was wide open. When changes in her diet and exercise would have improved her life. Each passing year that window closed a little. Each year there was procrastination and excuses - later, next year, after the knee gets replaced. I fear that the window is now only open a crack.
I think of how incredibly strong her body has been, how it has unwillingly carried all this extra weight and given all it has to keep her going. I wonder what things would have been like if she had made some changes and focused that strength positively. Heck, she could be a weight lifter, a body builder, who knows.... but instead, it is all she can do to lift herself from her bed.
While looking out her window, I couldn't help but look in to mine.
I cannot change her. I cannot fix her. However, I do not want to walk in her footsteps. I can change myself! I cannot continue to abuse myself.
My window is open. I have the ability to make changes. Sometimes I don't want to. Change is hard. Change is difficult. Change is challenging. Change invokes fear. Change is work. Change is a lot of things - but change is life. When one ceases to change, the flame of life starts to diminish.
Sometimes fear is a catalyst for change. I went home and it was a little easier to walk a little farther than usual. It was a little easier to lift those weights. It was easier to say no at the grocery store to the chips and cookies.
A couple of days have gone by. The fear isn't as strong. The window is still open. The opportunities of change are still there, but they are not beckoning me like they were.
I close my eyes and search in the darkness for that sense of urgency to change - or even for the willingness to change. I ask my God for help - for my friend and for myself.
You see, "There for the grace of God, go I".