Dipping my toe back into exercise begins in the pool

It was a promise I had to keep.

Nearly one year after beginning my heartfelt – and so far successful – effort to lose weight, I promised I’d begin doing some serious working out. The goal? Getting back on the tennis court, perhaps running a 5K.

So yesterday morning, I put on the swimsuit that is now too big, threw on my favorite sweats and drove a mile to the YMCA. Yes, I was that lazy. But I also was that late.

I arrived just in time for my first water aerobics class.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.28.00 PMThe first thing I noticed was the joy on the faces of my classmates, all beautiful, friendly women who appeared to be 20 to 25 years my senior. The second thing I noticed was this: Unlike the upstairs burn room, where my peers were running on treadmills, balancing on big balls and using a series of machines that I’ve used – and hated – a hundred times, this tranquil space in cool water was slower, joyful and fun.

The lesson began with balancing – standing-on-one-foot-while-holding-weights balancing. I silently began calling our instructor Mrs. Miyagi. (Google “The Karate Kid.)

We moved from that action to full-on jumping jacks and stretches, all while moving the weights, which got heavier and heavier, under water.

I should have done this sooner.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.27.50 PMAs we continued stretching the fronts and backs of our arms and the inside and outside of our thighs, we were joined by our lone male classmate, a white-haired, self-assured Mac Daddy who made himself right at home, as he moved from one lady to another, chatting and smiling. It was fun to watch.

But I couldn’t watch for long because I had to really pay attention to instructions on doing things my body didn’t necessarily want to do first thing in the morning.

By the time the class was over, I realized that I’d made some great friends, even if they’re friends I might see only in a swimming pool with health on our minds.

As I left, I asked Mrs. Miyagi how long the classes would continue.

“Forever,” she said, “except for holidays.” Continue Reading

Reflection on a thank-you from Lesotho

When I received the request to help build a water pump in the Lesotho village where a young woman I’ve mentored, a woman who is now my friend, is working, I didn’t hesitate. Her name is Jennifer Jiggetts, and she is a journalist. But first, she is a great human being. And she is spending some time as a member of the Peace Corps, teaching and building in Africa.

I didn’t hesitate. It was Jennifer, and it was needed.

I didn’t ask why I should spend money on a water project in Africa when there are people without water in Detroit.

I didn’t ask how spending the money would fit into my budget.

I didn’t think: If I respond to every young person I’ve mentored, I’ll be responding to hundreds of requests.

I decided instantly to help a friend who is helping make lives better for some children. I decided instantly, that no matter how bad things are in some places here, they are always worse where she is.

So I donated. And a month later, I received an envelope from Lesotho. get-attachment-11

It contained a beautiful handmade necklace and matching earrings. It also was filled drawings and a handmade thank you card card decorated with crayoned red stars and blue hearts and green leaves. The card read:

Thank you so much for contributing to our water pump project.

We are forever grateful for your support. Enjoy your goodies! 

Sincerely,

Tsoaing Primary School

The card was touching, but it was the individual messages from the children that took my breath away. Some were in English, some in Sesotho, their mother tongue.  Some were simple, some meticulous, all drawn in the global colors of life. Each child drew him or herself, what they see in their minds when they think of themselves. Some stood near the pump; others pumped water. Some told me their names. Others made sure I knew their gender.

Each reminded me that when the right thing to do comes along, you don’t hesitate. You don’t question. You just do it. You try to change a life, or change a school or change a village. And when you do, hands might just reach across the world to touch you and to change your life. Continue Reading