Never stop growing and changing

Life has a law we need to follow if we want to age with wisdom and joy. The law reads like this: “Never stop changing and growing.” The trouble is we are sometimes tempted to ignore this law in favor of the supposed comfort of the “status quo.”

This is what I notice in myself, anyway, as I move into my 80’s.

For example, I’ve been going to a gym for about 10 years. It’s a lifesaver for me in many ways. The other day, a trainer came over to me as I was working on the leg press machine and asked if I’d be interested in changing my routine so as to challenge my body and give it a chance to grow some new lean muscle.

I liked the theory part of it. Some nice new muscle sounded great. But then came the first session with the trainer and – horrors – new exercises I had never done before.

I had to stand with my back to a wall and a large ball nestled behind me on top of my butt. Then I had to bend my legs with my feet extended in front of me and slide up and down the wall with the ball supporting me from behind.

It felt a little weird, to be honest. I wasn’t sure I liked it. And I didn’t like the idea that my feet might somehow slip forward and I’d land with a big bump on my behind.

The gym is a large facility. The trainer led me through a number of other new challenges and procedures. And I realize, as I sit at my computer this morning, my muscles calm again now, that my old routine is probably gone forever.

I loved my familiar routine so much too. I knew exactly what to expect. I didn’t have to think. I didn’t have to change. I just made my rounds with the familiarity and nonchalance of a pro. I was proud of myself too because I was actually lifting a fair bit of weight.

There is a place for routine and ritual in our lives, of course.  The routine I have followed at the gym this past while has been very useful and helpful.

But when life says it’s time to change you need to listen to the nudge of your own heart .  I suppose I could ignore the trainer’s input if I wanted to and simply stick to my old routine as if nothing had happened but it wouldn’t feel right to do that.

It feels better to keep growing and changing. It’s not really all that much fun to stay stuck in our old ways when wisdom calls on us to change.

So I’m very thankful for Peggy, the new trainer who saw a way to help improve my fitness and physical and mental well-being. By the way, one of her clients at her previous gym was a 90-year-old guy who I’m sure she also put through his paces – and whose example I know I’ll be proud to follow.

Life is a trickster, as JoAnn and I are fond of saying to each other. Our true nature is timeless. We are spiritual beings, unchanged and unharmed by any of the trauma of our lives.

And yet if you and I are going to experience the wisdom and joy of our changeless nature, guess what? We must follow this solemn law of life: “Never stop growing and changing”. It’s a paradox isn’t it?

Love and blessings to you. Please keep in touch. Any new challenges or changes in your life you’d like to share?

Picture credit: BayadaLCD

 

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara October 31, 2012 at 4:28 pm

My insurance is adding Silver Sneakers again in 2013, so I got my self going with a head start by paying for 3 months at the gym that has the pool. With my neuropathy it is perfect. I have to wear oversized CROCS instead of sneakers, but they OK’d the machines that do not require me moving with them (treadmill) Can’t do that anyway.

Being in the water is such a beautiful feeling. I grew up on the island of Aruba many years ago. There is such a feeling of freedom for me in the water. I do not feel the effects of the neuropathy at all! I am slowly learning which moves and exercise gizmos do what and also doing the breaststroke in laps. This ‘ole’ gal is on her way. It does give me more energy and I am ready to start moving in several ways, mentally and physically. They are both tied in together!

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Christopher Foster October 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Thanks so much for sharing Barbara. Good for you. Water is magical. And so is the uplifting, unconquerable spirit shining through your words.

Silver Sneakers is a cool, cool program isn’t it?

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nel October 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Well done Christopher, I felt very proud of you when I read this one, as my husband is a personal trainer and we know only too well how difficult it is to motivate people towards new challenges. You’ll come to love that Swissball!

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Christopher Foster November 1, 2012 at 9:07 am

All encouragement gratefully received:-) Thanks Nel. Great to hear from you again. My love to Aussie.

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Ashton Fourie October 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I’ve never really been one for routines. As I’m getting into my 40’s, I’m beginning to appreciate taking a bit longer before making changes, first getting used to one thing and mastering it, before moving on. This post comes just at the right time to remind me not to go to the other extreme, and get so comfortable with this new idea of routine that I lose the excitement of change at the right time.

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Christopher Foster November 1, 2012 at 9:09 am

A beautiful realization Ashton. Balance is the name of the game. Personally, I find the “middle way” is much the best way to approach life.

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Lebron Thomas November 2, 2012 at 12:47 am

You are very right. If we have to live this life to the fullest we have to flex ourselves to the changes that we encounter, but only those changes that impact our lives positively. It can a bit hard to acclimatize to the changes but once we realize their benefits we just roll along. Have a nice day.
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Christopher Foster November 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Great comment Lebron. Thanks so much for sharing and all the very best to you.

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Jorg Weisner November 6, 2012 at 3:57 am

Christopher, thanks for sharing this.

I had similar experiences. I have been training for more than 12 years at a gym, mostly once a week. I really got used to it, but did not change my exercises very often. 15 weeks ago I was recommended to an app on the iPhone, https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/bodyweight-training-you-are/id416981420?mt=8

I tried it out and started one of the 10 week programs and I felt my muscles responding again and again
through a lot of different exercises. I have the feeling that my muscles are still growing. What a great feeling, even when turning 60 in March :-)

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Christopher Foster November 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Jorg, thanks so much for your comment and I’m sorry I was a bit slow responding here. I’m delighted to hear about your progress and the app you mention sounds most interesting. Keep it up brother. Best wishes

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kim November 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

Hi Christopher,

Once again thanks for a great article.

I’m very impressed that you go to the gym and even more impressed that you’ve changed your routine.

I have to admit that at 40… I am finding myself more resistant to change. I tend to want to read books I know I love, watch films I know I love and spend time with people who I love.

I can see myself doing this…and I keep saying to myself if I do the same things I will get the same results. This inspires me to take a new route home, speak to someone on the train and try something new.

I hope that at 80 I will be still looking to grow and change.

Thanks for a great blogxx

Kim
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Christopher Foster November 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hi Kim,

Thanks so much for your warm, encouraging words. They mean a lot to me. Hey. Sounds to me like you are keeping a pretty good balance in your life. I really believe making those little changes and adjustments right now rather than waiting to be hit on the head by a 2 by 4 is the way to go…Blessings to you Kim.

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Thanks for your kind words and good luck to you too with all of your endeavors.

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