I find it very hard to recall a time in my life at which I was completely satisfied with myself. I struggled with weight issues from an early age. I was diagnosed as near-sighted and prescribed glasses in third grade and had wildly curly hair (think “Brave”). Lack of self-confidence, an alcoholic parent and early puberty contributed to my rounded shoulders. I was smart, but no genius. I was creative, but by no means a prodigy. It’s no wonder I struggled with exercise bulimia as a teen.
In college, and throughout my 20s, I did seem to strike a balance. These were perhaps the most “fit” years of my life. Yet, despite being in good physical condition, I could always find other issues on which to dwell – my hair, my pale Irish skin, my eyesight etc.
Once I married and began having children, the physical well-being I enjoyed started to fade. I gave up alpine skiing and ice skating for lack of time and financial resources and struggled to find time to balance work, family and exercise.
Now, on the cusp of 50, I long to set things right – to reset my clock – because as I reflect on more than half a lifetime spent worrying about “appearances” I realize I missed the time I could have spent appreciating what it means to be alive. And, for me, alive is a pretty good state of being considering I’ve “cheated” death not once – but three times.
My first experience struggling for survival occurred at my birth when, due to medical error, my lung was collapsed. My most recent “misadventure” occurred in 2013. You can read about it here.
I’ve spent the past three years besieged by PTSD. This, coupled with a significant degree of stress, has contributed to a decline in my overall health. Chronic and degenerative muscular / skeletal issues have made it difficult and painful to walk or enjoy full use of my arms, neck and shoulder. Sever inflammation of my thyroid gland has slowed my metabolism to a near stand-still (but not enough to require medication), and my ongoing use of blood-thinners comes with its own unique trials.
Am I ready to grab for the brass ring, to set these ailments aside, to channel my inner Jennifer Briker? I sure hope so. If God loved me enough to give me three shots at life then the least I can do is love myself enough to live the best life that I can.
I have set myself a goal of becoming physically fit enough to return to alpine skiing by winter 2017. This goal is in large measure the result of seeing my oldest son on skis for the first time in his life and knowing that my youngest wants to take up snowboarding. While I know that I’ll have to stick to the bunny slopes and avoid high elevations due to my health issues – I’m okay with that. After all, I’ve already conquered some of the biggest mountains imaginable.