Change for Good in the Golden Years

Along with honoring our servicemen and women and celebrating the unofficial start to summer, the last week in May also holds another distinction: the recognition of National Senior Health & Fitness Day.

Through good nutrition and physical activity, seniors can enjoy life as they did in their younger days.  Studies show that a good diet in later years helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and cancer, and in managing their signs and symptoms. This contributes to a higher quality of life, enabling older people to maintain their independence. Not to mention the many benefits of exercise: for adults over 50 those include improved immune function, better heart health and blood pressure, better bone density, and better digestive functioning.

My "elite" mom + role model

My “elite” mom + role model

This public health initiative is dear to me because I am the caregiver for my mother. While she certainly does not consider herself a senior (she prefers ‘elite’ to senior), it is very important to me that she is mindful of her health and well-being as she enjoys her ‘golden’ years.  I often look to her for health and fitness advice. She is a highly-active 60-something and seems to have slowed the effects of aging. She credits her success to:

–Eating a balanced diet

–Regular exercise

–Regular check-ups

–Not smoking

–Daily meditation

–A strong social network

Above all, maintaining balance and a positive outlook is why she doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon.  Every day is gift and she vows to live life and enjoy the little things.

I am equally proud of being a part of an organization that values the importance of a healthful lifestyle. Banyan encourages “Creating Change for Good,” which includes promoting health and wellness, supporting our communities, and encouraging each other.  Between Banyan’s annual Wellness Challenge and our healthy staff outings, like participating in local 5K run/walks, we actually walk the walk (and run and sprint it, too).

I hope to be half as active as my mother is when I’m an ‘elite’ one day. Between the example she sets and the opportunities Banyan provides, I’m in great shape (pun intended).

With Gratitude

My father recently came across a letter in his father’s briefcase dated January 1921. It was addressed to a Mr. Deval in Plumstead, London and was sent from the Army Records Office in England.  It reads:


James Deval was my grandfather’s half-brother and was in the Royal Artillery during World War I. Like so many other young men, James was enthusiastic when he first joined the war effort. Everyone in England believed the war would be won quickly.  Parades and celebration lined the streets of London daily, where there was an almost constant atmosphere of victory. This was a terrific adventure for James and like most people he thought the fighting would be over by Christmas. It didn’t dawn on him, or anyone, that this war could last four years and that over 16 million people would die.

By 1916, the glamour of battle had ended and new volunteers were hard to come by. So England began to require people by law to serve in the military.  But, James Deval had died by then. He was killed by bombshell fire in 1915 in Flanders, only one year into the war.

While I hope this civil service letter and the bronze plaque was some consolation to his relatives, I don’t believe 100 years later that the war was worth his life or the lives of the other millions of men killed between 1914 and 1918.  But, that is just my opinion. As with the wars and battles that have occurred since, and will occur far into the future, the choice to go to war is intensely personal.  The fight for freedom.  The right to bear arms.  Funding for an education.  Financial support for a family.  The right to choose.  I honor that choice and am in awe of it for it is not one that I would make.

My eldest son in 16 and my youngest is 14.  I am so thankful that today, in the U.S., they will not be called upon to go to war — that becoming a soldier is a personal choice.  And, I am so thankful that we have a chance to seek happiness in a free country.

As Memorial Day approaches, I remember James Deval and the millions of other soldiers who have fought and died in war.

Thank you for what you’ve done – and continue to do – in support of our freedom.


The Power of a Misquotation

Recently I found a widely referenced quotation attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s about the power (and accessibility) of change.  About how—in the end—we are all in charge of our own lives and destinies.  And about how hope and strength are the tools that make change possible.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921

Unfortunately, F. Scott Fitzgerald never wrote these words.

It seems that when the screenplay for a film called “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was being developed (which is based on the FSF short story) the screenwriter, Eric Roth, felt like he needed a concise statement to illustrate to the viewer exactly how our hero, Benjamin Button, viewed the world.  So he made one up.  Complete fabrication (though I’m not knocking Mr. Roth’s proven writing talents). But look it up on the Internet and you’ll see it’s completely misquoted time and time again as having been written by Mr. Fitzgerald.

It just goes to show you—real change, positive change—can find a foothold in the most unusual places.  Something I take great comfort in.

The incredibly insightful misquote is as follows:

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”