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Want Change? Be The Change.

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I think about our friend Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte, North Carolina daily. Ruth left us in January after an 8 month battle with Ovarian cancer. She was only 56. Ouch.

Ruth was a living example of “being the change” and how it can positively impact ones family, community and politics.  Ruth’s impact on earth is remarkable. #PoliPower.

She was a loving daughter, sister, wife, mom, grandmother, community leader and public servant. She also was a FiA we nicknamed “Poli” for her love of politics.

Ruth was funny, fit and athletic. She loved to work out outside at 5:15am with her daughter Joy (FiA Santiago) and FiAs from our female fitness group, Females in Action. Then, last spring she suddenly got diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. By May word was out…the cancer had spread. A complete shocker to everyone who knew and loved her.

Though now gone, I feel she will always be with us in the many lessons she taught, and the good, gutsy and crazy things she did we will always remember and laugh about.

A few years ago, Ruth and I were having lunch together while discussing life, careers, family, community and of course, politics. I was at a cross roads trying to figure out where next to best focus my maverick leader type A energy.  Should I stay focused on community fitness efforts or launch a new female start-up to stop the division in our politics?

When I asked Ruth for some guidance on this, she gazed at me for a thoughtful moment.  You know that gaze if you knew Ruth. Then with her pirate eyes and beautiful smile, she said:

From my experience, you can’t make others change. You have to be the change.

I will always remember this decisive moment with Ruth. She was so calm. So matter of fact. She was also right. Force change? She sure loved ruffling us up by being the change.

As Ruth said… if you want to change others...change yourself first. 

In honor of Ruth and igniting that #PoliPower, here are 3 ideas to get cha-cha-changing.

  1. Re-organize your busy life: The days and years fly by really fast friends. Prioritize and pursue what matters most to you. You will avoid living with regret.
  2. Be the calm: We are our brothers and sisters keepers right? I’ve learned life’s greatest obstacles can reveal God’s purpose for you in this area. So start today to turn your pain, anger or sadness into a mission for good. Be the inspiration, humor or kindness you need. Be the calm in someone’s storm. Be the friend in someone’s loneliness. Be the mentor in confusion. Be the light in the darkness.
  3. Pray it up: Ruth prayed a lot everyday and is probably still praying for us in Heaven. Let God worry about your worries. He is vast. We are small.

Thank you Ruth.  We miss you.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXXO

How a Friend & Music Got Me Running

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” -Albert Schweitzer

One of my my goals this year is to start thanking the people in my life who lit a spark in me and others.

Today I want to thank my friend Bo, who got me started running.

I was in junior high-school when I first “ran” just to run. In the past the only time I had to run was in soccer.

Just “going for a run” was definitely not on my “to do” list. Never felt the pull.

Yet, I began running because of Bo, my childhood friend and neighbor.

One day as we were chatting after school, he invited me to join him running that weekend. How nice, right?  He must have realized I needed or wanted to lose weight.

That Saturday we met for our first run. It was Bo, his black Sony Walkman, and me.  In his Walkman was a mixed tape of his favorite Led Zeppelin music. We said hello to each-other, then he put the earphones in his ears and off we went.

Uphill. 

Can we stop, I said?

I was out of shape and not a “runner.” I began huffing and puffing. Bo must have sensed my misery! About 5 minutes into our run, he stopped running.

He looked concerned (or maybe just annoyed) then smiled at me.

He took off his earphones and handed them to me along with his Walkman.

“Amy, you gotta listen to music…it will make your run better!”

I took him up on the offer and put the earphones in.

I had heard “Stairway to Heaven” at many school dances (the parents and teachers loved to waltz around slowly to that song), but really never listened to any other Led Zeppelin music.

I figured any music would work to ease the pain of the run! The first song on his playlist was “Black Dog.”

“Hey, hey, mama, said the way you move / Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove…”

I started running and it did seem easier.

I survived that day thanks to Bo and Led Zeppelin.

And I am still running today!

Now, every single time I hear a Led Zeppelin song…I feel like I just gotta run!

Crazy.

So, thank you!

You never know what a little kindness can do!

Who knew I would learn to LOVE running?

Who knew I got back to running because of the iPod?

Who knew I would run so many races in so many places?

Who knew I would then go on to teach people how to run and earn money doing it?

And who knew I would own a dog named Finnegan who also loves to run?

The greatest of gratitude to Bo.

Thanks for the spark!

Fin. Amy

Thrive.

A few years ago my husband and I had the great opportunity to meet Dan Buettner who is a world cyclist, adventurer, researcher and author of health books The Blue Zones and Thrive.

His talk was about his research into the healthiest communities in the world.

He started out by asking the audience of 100 adults a powerful question:

“Did you walk or bike to school as a kid?” Every one of us raised our hand.

“Do your kids walk or bike to school now?” Not one person raised their hand.

That got our attention Dan!

His research was inspired by the Danish Twin Studies, among others, which established that only 25% of how long the average person lives is dictated by genes. In other words almost 80% of how long and how well you live is up to you. 

Beginning in 2004 Dan, along with longevity geneticists, medical researchers, anthropologists, demographic scientists, epidemiologists funded by National Geographic, identified pockets of people across the world who live the longest and are the happiest.

Then they went to visit them!

They were searching for evidence-based common denominators among all places.

They termed these healthy pockets “Blue Zones.”

In these Blue Zones they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States! And they have astoundingly low incredible lower rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, those big and nasty killers in the US. Here is what else they found.

9 common traits in Blue Zone members:

1. They move naturally all day.

The world’s longest-lived people don’t just pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about.

Think: Do I really need to drive to the library or grocery store? Can I walk or ride a bike? Can I get a stand up desk? Take a walk at lunch outside? Get a dog and walk it?

2. They know their Purpose. 

The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans in Costa Rica call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy!!!

Identify what you are passionate about and pursue it as your purpose daily.

3. They take time to Down Shift.

They experience stress like we do. But they take time to relax every day. Okinawans take a few moments each day in the am to remember their ancestors, Seventh DayAdventists (Lomo Linda, CA) pray, Ikarians (Greece) take a nap and Sardinians (Italy) do happy hour with friends.

Take time to relax, meditate, and give thanks daily. We know stress leads to chronic inflammation which contributes to very major age-related disease. Why feed the monster?

4. They stop eating when they are just 80% full.
“Hara hachi bu” –Is the  Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals which reminds Okinawans to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.

Think. Do you really need that extra helping?

5. They eat a lot of beans and plants.

They have a “Plant Slant.” They eat what they grow too. Vegetables and beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the basics of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month.

Start small: Double daily intake of beans and veggies.

6. They enjoy wine moderately. 

People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly with friends and/or with food. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers in these zones. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine says Dan).

If you can drink just 1 or 2, do.

7. They have a faith-based community. 

All but five of the 263 centenarians they interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy!

We need God and each other. Find a faith community and connect.

8. They put loved ones first. 

Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of elders and children).  Neighbors of all ages are also active in visiting other families and learning from elders.

Have you talked to or hugged your family lately? Checked in with your neighbor?

9. They have like-minded friends

Dan said,

“The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life.

Research from the Framingham Nurses Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.”

Connect with a healthy, caring tribe daily.

It is so interesting that 6, 7,8 and 9 are all about the power of connecting in community.

Try to apply some of these tips today and let me know how it goes.

Check out Dans new mission – Creating Blue Zones across the US! http://www.bluezones.com/live-happier/thrive-centers/

Fin! Amy

My 1st Guitar Lesson:Seven Bridges Road

Isn’t it funny that one song or piece of news can spur so many memories?

Then the next thing you know you are in a daze traveling down memory lane?

When I heard the news about Glenn Frey, it immediately took me back to the music he and the Eagles produced.

Memories started flooding in.

I used to love listening to “Hotel California” on the CD player we had in our very first house. The speakers were amazing. The music was so clear.

In fact, the very first song I learned to play on guitar was by the Eagles.

My mother gave me a gift certificate for music lessons on my 24th birthday.

My mom, dad and sisters all were musically inclined. Third child (me) not so.

Guess she knew.

How is it I did not learn an instrument in school or get lessons until I was 24?

Impatient? Too busy? Parents tired?

Anyway.

Never too late to learn.

My instrument of choice was guitar and my plan was to use my Dad’s old Spanish guitar.

The night of my first lesson, I sneaked away from work early.  I wanted to be sure to make it to my music lesson on time.

I made it just on time. I flew open the door to the music store and saw my new guitar instructor patiently waiting for me. My instructor was tall and skinny. I could tell he was nice instantly by his gentle smile and easy-going demeanor.

He looked about 40 years old and was wearing faded jeans, a white t-shirt and dusty worn boots. He held his long blond hair back in a low ponytail.

He was very calm.  Just the calm I needed back then (and now).

To slow down.

We smiled, shook hands and had some small talk before beginning our lesson.

I could tell he was eyeing my guitar.

To me it was just my Dad’s guitar.

I felt a little uncomfortable and asked if the old guitar would work.

“Sure, for now.” He said with a smile.

Then he asked me what was the one song I really wanted to play on my guitar.

What song?  My heart leaped for joy!  No need to worry about chords first?

“Well…I really love “Seven Bridges Road” by the Eagles.

I was introduced to this song by the Phi Mu Washboard Band at The University of Georgia  in Athens, GA. They sang it so beautifully. Friends and I played “Seven Bridges Road” on many a road trip thereafter.

He laughed then nodded, “Well, that is a fast one, but let’s get started.”

So that was the first song I learned to play on my guitar!  Several others followed and I eventually bought a new guitar, but I will always remember that first lesson and the freedom in learning a song I loved…first.

So, thanks to my music instructor, thanks to Glenn Frey, The Eagles, PhiMu Washboard Band, patient teachers, singers, song writers and my talented family.

There ARE stars in the southern sky.

Fin. Amy Peacock

 

 

 

Take Another Step. Choices do Matter.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Afloat.”

Can telling our stories bring us afloat and help others too? 

I know so! See how survivors, thrivers, dreamers, story tellers and fellow runners Bruce McIntyre and Jim Willett learned to do this despite both hearing those dreaded words: “You… have…cancer.” 

Bruce: Choices Do Matter  http://www.choicesdomatter.org/you-have-cancer/

Jim : Take Another Step  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyjM2S6MGPU

What a day!

Beauty, Resilience.

IMG_3584 This picture of our beautiful grandmother, Alice Hill Rupertus, also known as “Sleepy” is something I treasure.  I found myself gazing at it last night during a quiet moment while reading in our library.

The photo was taken in 1946: At the christening of the USS Rupertus, named for our grandfather, her husband Major General William Rupertus USMC, who passed away of a sudden heart attack in 1945, at the end of WWII.

In this photo, she was just about the break the bottle of champagne against the ship in order to christen it with good cheer and blessings right before the destroyer rolled out to sea moments later in Lowell, Massachusetts.

I’ll have to post a photo of when she broke the bottle against the ship! It must have felt great after what she had been through.

My sister still has the shattered glass in a special wooden case.

Beside her (though not pictured here) are my father (age 5) her sister Dixie, a minister, and the Commander of the ship.

I have learned from family and friends stories that she was a beautiful, smart, elegant, graceful, joyful and fun spirited woman.

In the late 1990’s, we actually had the opportunity to meet some of the ship’s crew at a USS Rupertus reunion in Virginia Beach. Though the group’s ages spanned decades, the common bond of service on the same ship connected then, no matter what rank.

How exciting it was to meet the WWII sailors who had been serving on the USS Rupertus the day it was christened!  They had seen our grandmother that very day! In our conversations, they shared stories, what it was like leaving the safety of a US port for war, and how “Mrs. Rupertus’s” stunning beauty and grace during the bitter-sweet christening, gave them some peace.

A life altering path was ahead for many of them that day.

Sleepy is an inspiration to me.

The sudden loss of her husband and stark reality of raising their 5 year old son, as a single female in her early 30’s (especially in 1945), must have been devastating.

In those sparkling blue Irish eyes I see sadness of course, but also see a strong, kind person and resilient spirit. A spirit she must have called on, over and over to move forward in the years ahead.

Ah. The stories we all have.

Stories and photos connect the dots and light the path for those of us left behind.

Sleepy died of Leukemia just 7 years after this photo was taken.

Our father was only 16.

What a portrait of beauty AND perseverance.

Beautiful Sleepy. We love you.

Fin. APR

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