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Live Life To The Fullest

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If you truly want to live then you have to make time for the things that you enjoy and the people that you love and care about.  My parents sold there house last year and moved into a retirement community.  It was because my father has dementia and is also undergoing dialysis 3 times a week.  At 84 my mom is in great shape and continues to swim.  She even competed in the Senior Olympics 2 years ago.  No matter what kind of shape she is in and how strong she is mentally and physically there is a lot that she has to deal with while taking care of my dad.  The move provides her with more support if needed and less to deal with relating to taking care of an entire house.  She often tells me that she is fortunate because there are a lot of people who deal with much more being a caregiver then she has to deal with but I can see how things are much more difficult for the caregiver then the person that they are caring for.  Honestly, my dad really couldn’t remember if he had a good day or a bad day.  My mom has to watch someone that she loves and has spent most of her life with deteriorate.  I can’t even image what she deals with on a daily basis because I have never had to take care of him even for a day.  Up until a couple years ago they were both very active and traveled quite a bit.  I remember growing up that the two of them traveled all over the world for my dads work and vacations.  As a family we (my parents and my two brothers) had trips every year up until I was about 14.  We would go skiing, camping and to a cabin in Vermont.  We actually took one last trip as a family when I graduated college, when we went skiing in Austria.  Because of my dads situation they had to stop traveling.  I know that my mom missed our annual trips to Vermont which they started back up around 15 years ago.  I joined them on about half of the Vermont trips.  I realized that one of the biggest things that my mom really missed was traveling.  Several months ago, I was talking about a cabin that I rented in the woods in Tennessee and my mom told me that she really missed going to Vermont.  At that point I realized what I would give her for her birthday.  A trip somewhere.  So on her birthday this last August, I told her that her present was a trip with me.

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I decided on Puerto Rico for several reasons.  1 – She is still very active and a big outdoors person and she loves nature.  Puerto Rico has several national parks including an amazing rainforest and a bioluminescent bay (she had been to PR but never to the rainforest or bay) 2 – It wasn’t too far away  3 – It wasn’t too expensive.

I looked at the trip several different ways.  If you don’t take or create the opportunity you may lose it.  I had never taken my mother on a trip before and now that I live 12 hours away from her, I really don’t get to spend very much time with her.  This would be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with her.  The other thing was that the amount of stress that she must deal with while caring for my father is really unimaginable.  When you spend all of your time taking care of someone else, it is difficult to spend time on yourself.  The stress can take a toll on you.  This trip would give her a nice break from it and give her a chance to relax and cut down on her stress.  I’m very grateful that one of my brothers was willing to stay with my dad while my mom was with me.  My other brother filled in for him for a day.  I couldn’t have taken her on this trip without their help.  My Aunt (her sister) also joined us on the trip.

I did this trip for her benefit, but I got a lot out of it as well.  The time we spent together has provided me with memories that I will never forget.  And at the age of 84 (her sister is 86), both of them were able to keep up.  We didn’t just go and sit on the beach.  We went kayaking in the bay and in the ocean on a rough day.  We hiked in the rainforest which had some pretty steep trails.  And we also sat on the beach.  But both her and her sister swam in the ocean quite a bit.

Live life to it’s fullest.  Whether you are 20 or 84.  Don’t take your parents for granted and appreciate everything that they have done for you.  Let them know you love them and show them that you appreciate them with a memorable experience.

Love you Mom.

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What The Quality Of Life Means To Me

1) Living a healthy lifestyle and enjoying it – By making changes to my life I have reduced the risk of a stroke, heart disease, cancer and many other diseases.  I have done all of this with food that I actually enjoy.  Recipes like Fruit and Nut Bars  or Coconut Flavored Chocolate  actually make me feel like I am eating something that can’t possibly be good for me.  I don’t feel like I am missing anything and I am eating healthy.  I also enjoy working out and actually do workouts that have quite a bit of variation.  I compete in Mud Runs and Obstacle Races.  I hike and spend a lot of time out doors.
I actually thought about what it would be like to have a stroke and survive.  I would not want to be a burden on others and I definitely would not want be paralyzed on one side due to a stroke.  Obviously there are other things that could happen to me but I  would rather limit my health risks.  

2) Finding my passion – Experiencing Life the way it was meant to be experienced –  Live and do things that make me feel alive.  Do things that are fun.  For me it is competing and challenging myself.  20 years without it is a long time. It’s working out.  It’s helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle.  Hearing that I made a difference in someone else’s life actually motivates me even more.

Someone else could actually use their own body transformation to help them find what they are missing.  Turns out that it is much more than just a body transformation.  Maybe they haven’t discovered it yet.  If that is the case or if they haven’t pursued it maybe it is for the same reason that it took me so long to find mine.  Or at least to reconnect with it.  I was consumed with work.  I didn’t know how to allocate my time.  Giving myself a break to do the things that I love actually makes me more efficient with work.  It also makes me realize the wasted time that I spent.  My passion might actually become work.  I doubt that I will complain about that.  No excuses.  If I want to do something I do it.  I won’t make excuses on why I can’t do them and I won’t wait on others to do them with me.  If someone else wants to come along great.  (I use to see or hear about things that I wanted to try or do and would wait for someone to come along.  If I continued to wait I still might not have done my first Mud Run/Obstacle Race.  3 friends did the Spartan Race with me in Fenway Park the other day.) If not, I’m on my own.  Fine with me.  It’s my passion not theirs.  If someone’s passion is knitting I probably won’t be able to find the time to spend on knitting with them.  But if that makes them happy great.  Your passion may not have to do with training or nutrition or mud runs/obstacle races (however, try a mud run and see if you don’t get hooked).  It amazes me how many people have told me for the last year that they want to do one of the races and still haven’t.  That kind of accomplishment does hook people).  If you don’t have time to spend on your passion, make the time.  You will be happy that you did.  It will change your life.

3) Spending time with family, friends and my dogs Bailey and Riley – It’s nice when it involves my passion but like I said not everyone will spend the time on mine.  Just make memories and memorable times.  Have fun.

When I do die, I want to be able to say that I lived life the way that I wanted to live it.  That I enjoyed it and didn’t waste a day.
I’m sure that I can go on and on but I have only recently started to reprioritize my life and these are the things that I am spending time on now.  Learn to S.W.I.M.™ and find your passion.

Kyle Olson's blog

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