I live in Northern Minnesota, am a Massachusetts native, a 35-year husband, a grandpa, a former taekwondo instructor, a bit of a yoga guy, a student of Ignatian spirituality, a good-natured joker, and I now work with blind teens and adults.
Hey, sorry it’s been a while. I didn’t run out of gas; I ran into more life. I also ran into a revelation about this blog, courtesy of my wife. The “more life” largely means more work and more stress and more sleepless nights and no care to blog. The revelation was that my wife noted that this blog shouldn’t be about me and whatever it is I’m doing with movement and exercise (boooring); it’s about the being a grandpa part, about being a grandpa . . .who also moves! As it happens, all of that got a recent end of year assessment during some family time over the holidays.
Over the course of four days I underwent the “Grandson Physical Fitness Challenge” (v. 23 mo.). Below are the event descriptions and my scores. All events occurred multiple times per day over the four days. All challenges are scored Pass-Fail.
I recently read a piece in a book by one of my favorite spiritual writers, Brian Doyle, God-rest-his-soul. The piece is called “Prayer in Celebration of Brief Things, For Example, Church Services.” As Doyle moves through the prayer and mentions things such as mayflies, apologies, small cups of strong coffee, and emails, I thought of . . . moving!
Coming upon Doyle’s piece reinforced other reflections I’ve had recently about brevity or, more so, enough: viewing what I have, and what I am, as enough; desiring no more than enough; being grateful for what is enough. I was primed for a realization about one of my favorite things!
I was at a church event a couple of months ago. It was a social and activity event for youth in the process of preparing for, or considering, confirmation. One of the activities for the youth was to blow up a balloon and see who could get it the biggest in a certain amount of time. Beyond the 13-year-old boys-with-13-year-old girls dynamic, it was interesting to watch each of their approaches to the balloon challenge.
Some kids blew up their balloon sort of big but didn’t want to pop it so they stopped early; they didn’t at all approach pushing the capacity of the balloon or using the time they had to work with; they blew air into it, tied it off, and then spent the rest of the time in awkward posturing the way 13-year-olds might do when in the presence of some of the opposite sex.
A couple of other kids went too far and too fast in blowing up their balloons; their balloons popped. And then there was The One Girl.
I previously explained that walking my dog twice a day (with some enhancements, such as running, skipping, or rock hopping) is my daily foundation; it’s going to happen and I give it significant time. Along with that is yoga, although yoga has not been daily this past while. That is because I’ve been doing two days a week of more traditional bodyweight strength training, and THAT has further resulted in needing some walk-only-days to recover. So, my week was looking like this:
As I considered this blog entry I thought the word “activities” and my mind immediately went to this scene from the movie Step Brothers. Brennan, played by Will Ferrell, seems as if his brain is temporarily seized up at the thought of all the possible activities.
That’s what fitness for me can seem like, in regards to all of the components that I try to integrate into my weekly routine. I sometimes feel a bit lost in the possibilities, and I know that I might be missing the main tree because of the forest. That main tree is keeping, or even gaining, if possible, muscle. Muscle mass, and how often we train for it, are really important for older people . . . and so are many of the other possible activity components. *sigh*
As I approached sixty years old, I became concerned about muscle. In my mind I saw my aging body shedding muscle faster than a hair band drummer shedding his curly locks at Army boot camp. I began to follow a three-day-a week muscle building-focused routine, which was largely the main activity beyond my dog walking. I stepped back the yoga, which I had started to practice more regularly again. My strength training was nothing crazy, a fairly simple initially-bodyweight-oriented routine; the intent was to be challenging enough to ensure progressive overload so as to stimulate muscle growth. I was very sensible . . . until things went nicely for too long and the 42-year-old-me (or even 52-year-old-me) came out and I starting pushing things a bit more than the 60-year-old-actually-me should. Sacroiliac joint injury ( think). It still lingers, months later.
See the stream? It’s flowing and fresh. If you drink the water, it’s the best! See the puddle? It sits there still. That stale water will make you ill.
I learned a fighting principle from my Taekwondo Korean great-grand-master a decade and a half ago, which he expressed in this adage: “Flowing water is alive; it never gets rotten or dies.” Short explanation: keep moving, don’t just stand, or lay, there.
As I aged I began to apply that adage to fitness and life activity. Keep moving! Stop moving and I will get rotten or die. So how do I keep moving? As it happens, a lot of my moving is walking. I walk a lot in the scheme of things. Which keeps me moving and also gets in the way of moving in other ways.
I imagine my 16 month old grandson in about year or so, approaching age three, seeing me skip or pull up or frog hop. He likely will simply relish the play of it all and want to follow along. Or, he will do something silly and different than me and say, “Grandpa, do!” And, there is just as much chance he will look at me and ask that magic three-year-old question: “Why?”
In my blog introduction I implied that my reason for training has to do with my grandson. That’s true. And yet, it’s not totally true. Many a grandpa lives for their grandchildren, physical status aside. They enjoy their company, they are present to and immersed in them when they are together. They share joy and love them unconditionally. I could be inactive and also live for my grandson in that same way.
My first post here is to share the final post from my previous blog, An Unlikely Master. It’s an easy first post and gives a bit more explanation of my motivation and intent for GrandpaMode. Thanks for giving it a look! There’s more to come very soon. And please, just to start things off on the right foot, leave a comment or question, here in this post, even if just to say hi and offer good wishes. Thank you. Peace!