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The window, investments, retirement and fear....

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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".
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I always remember that sentence when I feel that I am too busy living for making good health related decisions... "If you think you cannot afford to eat healthy and do not have time to be active/workout... The sad thing is that the truth is that you
    2275 days ago
  • EMLG11
    Awesome. Thanks for sharing! I want to save this and read it for inspiration every single day!
    2275 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2531514
    Very insightful!
    2278 days ago
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    There but for the grace of God.......
    2281 days ago
    Such beautiful words! I was told that by living your life as an example of hard work, healthy choices and the desire to better yourself it will attract others. Don't give up on your friend but don't also let her choices in life make you feel guilty.
    2281 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12757930
    This is the most amazing blog! It speaks to the reality of why I need to exercise and lose weight! Thank you for such a mind-blowing dose of my future if I don't get off my butt! May you be blessed today and long into the future. Wow! I needed to read this today!

    Thank you again!
    2282 days ago
    Wow, this is such a fantastic blog! I plan to bookmark it and read it again, maybe often. It's something I really needed to read. After 3 weeks of my life being all up in the air, I've let my self-care slide. This blog really brings sensibility back in focus.
    2282 days ago
    Well said

    2283 days ago
    Amazing way of saving for retirement. You have truly awakened me with your honesty and your straight forward look at your life and your friend's life. I pray that the window is not closed on her life and that the window is still open for both you and me and all those in those same shoes. May God hear our prayers and give us the determination to do what we know we need to do.

    2283 days ago
    Lets hope god has heard your prayers and opens the eyes of your friend. I am investing in ME now and want to be around to see my grandchildren grow! Thank-You for your blog!
    2284 days ago
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    2284 days ago
    fantastic blog
    2284 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13423552
    I like your friend's attitude about investing in himself for retirement - very cool. I'm very sad for your friend and her declining health and I'll keep her in my prayers. One of my motivators is that my parents are living long lives and if I live a long time I want to live healthy. Also, I need to be strong and mobile to take care of my parents too. Right now just lifting my Dad's heavy walker in and out of the car and helping him up, shoveling his snow. But things will progress and I need to be ready. Life does move on...
    2284 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14566395
    wonderful blog makes you think. I am so sorry about your friend. It is true if we don't do it now before we know it, it will be to late . emoticon emoticon
    2284 days ago
    May your prayers be answered soon. emoticon
    2284 days ago
    Thank you for your honesty and candor. The walk is very familiar to many of us. Wishing you well on your journey.
    2284 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3802882
    An amazing blog! We can all learn a little something (or a lot) from your friend's experience. It is scary to watch another person go into a downward spiral and feel helpless. The up side is that it can motivate you to keep yourself from following suit.
    2284 days ago
    What a motivating blog. I'm 75 and this past year I started on the same path your friend has taken. I have bookmarked this and plan on reading it every week. I don't want to loose any more strength than I already have. I want to keep my independence.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2284 days ago
    Wow!! That is an eye awakening blog! Great job. I have a cousin that is very obese and now has diabetes, high blood pressure, bad knees, and every excuse in the world why she can't eat right or exercise. It does make a person sad when denial is so prevalent! I even told her about SparkPeople. Just go there and look around! Get involved. Read the articles..blah, blah...she won't even do that! I will continue to encourage her, but I cannot MAKE her. She has to make up her own mind!
    Thank you for sharing your story. I know you can do this! There is a wealth of information and tons of encouragement and inspiration through the site and through SparkFriends! Good Luck in your journey! :D
    2284 days ago
    Wonderful blog!
    2284 days ago
  • MISSY455
    emoticon Amazing blog! I hope you find the motivation you need to continue on your healthy journey. Change is hard, but with the right mindset it does happen.
    emoticon emoticon
    2284 days ago

    2284 days ago
  • MARYINFL2000
    What a thoughtful blog! I wish I could print this out. She could be me...I feel myself decline as to my activity level, I've battled my weight my entire life, always banking on "tomorrow will be a better day to start" . It's taken me 2 yrs to lose 14 lbs...and I've lost the same 5 lbs probably 100 times or more...enough to have the 100 lbs I need to get off. How did I get here...I just turned 55. I have so much I want to do once I can slow my 60 hr + work schedule down.....and there we are. I have little time for me, my life is flying by, and I can be the "she" here.
    2284 days ago
  • LSIG14
    Such a thought filled blog! But it's not too late for your friend! I had reached retirement age and really let myself go but after MANY major health issues, I decided that I wanted to live and live better. I have made a lot of progress toward health (and have had a lot of apathetic set-backs along the way!) Please be sure to care for yourself first and continue to pray for your friend.

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    2284 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14034154
    I lived that man's life, as I weighed 388 lbs. I wasn't able to lift my feet up off the floor nor lift my head to see where I was going. However, God got my attention and he did it by a car accident and I spent 6 months in the hospital, and when I came home, there was PT and Nurses in and out of my home for 3 months and then outpatient PT for another 9 months. It was a very rude awaking for me, but a life saving one. I'll pray for your friend, as well as you, for God to give you the right words to say to your friend, so you can save his life, physically, mentally, and spiritually!

    BR>- Nancy Jean -
    2284 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/23/2015 8:13:01 PM
  • MOGAL1946
    What an eye opening blog! Thank you for sharing with us. I do hope your friend reads this and realizes that she too can begin to make healthier choices It is never too late.
    2284 days ago
    excellent blog. so many things, so many people, can make a difference in our lives, whether it is someone who leads the way with the right example - or the wrong one.
    2284 days ago
  • SUNNY332
    It is discouraging to see someone you care about just basically "give up". Give her your support and encourage her to make some changes. Hopefully she will respond to your encouragement.

    Keep us posted.

    2285 days ago
    I've seen the same thing happen with my sister and even though it took me longer, I was going in the same direction. Thank God I found SP and started following my nutrition and exercise program. My sister is looking into one of the surgeries to get some of the weight off because her leg is bowing out and with diabetes the Dr said if it breaks, she will probably lose it. emoticon emoticon
    2285 days ago
    How very poignant, and sad. We all have the ability to do so much for ourselves and others - and we all have the choices of what to do or not to do. As long as your friend is breathing, there is hope. Reality may get through - you never know. Meanwhile - follow through on your own wisdom about what real respect for yourself means. Be the BEST you that you can be !!
    2285 days ago
    It's sad to see a friend fade away. I agree plan for and lead the best years of your life.
    2285 days ago
    I hear you so loudly! My sister went the way of your friend but differently. Her issue was cigarettes, COPD and prescription drugs. She knew exactly what every single drug was for (and she took so many!) but not how they interacted and compounded.

    She spent too much time in the hospital, even after she finally quit smoking, that she knew what day it was by what was served for supper! One of her episodes convinced another sister that she had to quit smoking (the fear was strong), but that changed as soon as she got on a plane and left. I never saw those episodes but did witness the oxygen tank and yards and yards of oxygen tubing. I promised myself I would never "go there" or put my husband through that. My sister's body shut itself down within months of her 65th birthday.

    Remember the fear and your promise to yourself! I've been smoke-free for 10 years (before I lost my sister) because I promised myself I would not "go there".

    You are strong. You have a future. Make it a good one and take care of yourself. In fact, put yourself and your future above all else. emoticon
    2285 days ago
    emoticon It is hard to watch people we love deteriorate. I need to quit doing that to the people who love me. I want them to see me get stronger and be victorious. I want them to rejoice with me, not grieve my dwindling away.
    2285 days ago
    emoticon Don' t completely giveup on your friend. Perhaps when her delusion meets reality she may want to change. Hopefullyshe will have you there to help and support her. emoticon
    2285 days ago
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