Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
It’s always interesting for me to see what I come up with for the last newsletter of the year. This year I have an especially meaningful story to tell you because it hits very close to home. The story is inspiring, courageous, and full of heart, and applicable to EVERYTHING I’ve been writing about since I started these newsletters 10 years ago! It’s about my cousin Sandi and her journey with Parkinson’s.
Sandi is my elder cousin and one of my personal role models. She lives in Florida, so I make the trip to see her and her kids once a year. What I love about Sandi, besides the fact that she has always been 100% supportive of me no matter what, is that she has a great sense of humor, a huge heart that matches her zest for life, a ton of get up and go, and she enjoys a good conversation as much as I do, even if it means going deep and discussing some not so easy topics. If you had been to her 75th birthday party two years ago you would have seen all this for yourself. It was THE PARTY of the year!
A few months ago Sandi found out she had Parkinson’s. Her diagnosis matched some of the symptoms she’d been displaying, but still the diagnosis hit hard. I like to visit for her birthday so I scheduled a trip to see her, which I made in November. She had already told me about some of the things she was doing to take care of herself, and boy was I impressed. Though really, thinking back as I write this knowing Sandi as I do, I shouldn’t have really been surprised.
She mentioned doing some kind of boxing class for people with Parkinson’s. But before I tell you about that, Sandi had a surprise for me. On Sunday morning we got up super early and went to a community center where we got on a bus sponsored by this boxing class group and then went to a Parkinson’s walk and rally in downtown Miami! Thousands of people gathered. There were lots of booths with information and a stage with entertainment and programs, which included Sandi’s boxing group presenting a demonstration of how they work out. For the walk we walked about a mile or so around a large park. It was really a special experience for me, not only to see and speak with so many people on their Parkinson’s journey, but of course because I shared the day with Sandi.
Now let me tell you about this boxing class Sandi kept talking about, because if you aren’t already aware that programs like this exist, you need to be. First off, I really had no idea what Sandi was talking about when she mentioned taking these classes. Now that I’ve seen her and her boxing mates in action, this stuff is HARD! Even if you’re not shaking and you have good balance, it’s a hard workout. I’ve never worn boxing gloves, so just getting them on is the first challenge!
The classes are called Rock Steady Boxing. They are taught by certified personal trainers. The exercise program attacks Parkinson’s at its vulnerable neurological points and works on overall fitness, strength training, reaction time and balance. I watched people ranging in age from their mid-30s to their 80’s participate in the program and it’s amazing. It’s non-contact, of course, so they also use a wide variety of props and exercise equipment. Even if this particular program isn’t in your neck of the woods, I’m sure there’s something similar.
Of course, the number one thing to bring to class is a good attitude, and this is where Sandi shines. She’s never been particularly athletic, though she’s in good shape. And now I’m thinking she may even get stronger than she’s ever been. She attends classes three times a week.
I also feel like all this sweating and moving is helping with the stress she’s under. As of last year she’s been living alone and too far a drive from her family. Though Sandi does drive, everyone thought it best that she move closer to her kids, so in the midst of all the Parkinson’s issues, she’s moved and bought a new condo near her kids. That’s A LOT of change in 6 months!
And maybe that’s the real message here. We change, our conditions change, life around us changes. It’s inevitable. And if you live long enough you come to understand change is often NOT in our plans or on our preferred timetable. All this change, however, is best met with resilience and a good attitude. And I’d add a healthy heaping of humor!
So as I close out this year’s Joyinmovement newsletter, take some time to really think about your own level of resilience and how your attitude has been this past year. If they can use an upgrade, don’t wait. Do something about it. Make a plan, take action, and reap the benefits of knowing you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way. And I’ll see you in 2018!
Have a great holiday season, everyone, and thank you all so much for another outstanding year of support for these Joyinmovement letters!