I didn’t start running until I was in my late 40’s. I was never a fast runner, however, the running provided an outlet for my physical and mental well being. Early on a friend and I entered several 5K races. It was in the competitive arena that I learned the importance of pacing myself. A runner who does not understand their pace and have the discipline to adjust their gate accordingly cannot reach their full potential. This was difficult for me.
My entire life, up until this point, was at a fast pace. After my initial job placement in research at a very prestigious University, I was named administrator of a State School. I was driven by a need to impress, and with an unhealthy dose of competition, I packed my calendar with ‘stuff.’ I looked at myself as the pace maker, and the notion of recalibration was constantly in front of me. I always wanted the people who I was challenged to lead, to be on the ‘cutting edge’ and lead the way. It was this frame of mind that characterized my entire professional career……….and then I became a senior citizen.
It was difficult for me to be transformed into this next phase of my life. I had a need to be needed. In retrospect, God was calling me to build calm, safe harbors of connection. It took my retirement and the advancing of age to realize this very important aspect of life.
In this new life one of several activities I enjoy is serving as a volunteer in a ‘food pantry’ at one of the local churches. I meet many people who are experiencing anxiety , depression or struggling with life and the challenges it presents. In my discussion with these individuals, I use my experiences to assist them with ‘where they are.’ These are the same areas I must tell myself, as a senior citizen in the winter of my life, to pay close attention to. Allow me to share.
Regardless of age or circumstances, an important concept for everyone to embrace is that “all lives matter.” In talking with the clients who visit the food pantry, the conceptual platform that must be established is self-worth and not letting your mind play tricks on you. YOU MATTER. You are important and your presence makes a difference whether you see it or not. You don’t inspire others by being perfect but how you deal with your difficulties. Many of these individuals define themselves by the mistakes they have made. Invariably, this will become a topic of discussion. It is interesting, most of these clients grew up when there were ‘black boards’ in schools. My first recommendation to them is to go to the board and erase it of all mistakes. I have even gone as far as to tell them to write their mistakes on a piece of paper and burn it. God is a God of grace. He has forgotten them as you should. Don’t let them be a yolk around your neck. I will usually finish the discussion with “don’t give up……”regardless of the progress, you are way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
Guess who is the biggest client………..you guessed it.