Monday, June 25, 2018

Stay the Course & Meet Challenges

I voluntarily moderate a little corner of the website called "Staying the Course." There some of us variegated souls from around the world, having in common heart-related issues and not necessarily everything else, gather to share how we are staying our respective courses. And that doesn't mean just marking time, mind you. It means accepting challenges, even searching out challenges, and meeting them. Onward, along our courses!

(A quick aside: This site,, is a godsend for folks who have been diagnosed with heart valve problems and are facing likely surgery, or who have had their surgeries and have climbed that mountain, as we say, and are looking for new challenges with their new leases on life. I have been a member since 2005, the year I had my life-saving aortic valve and aortic root replacement. Members of that site gave me wonderful advice and support when I faced the challenge of open-heart surgery, and I find continuing joy there each day, all these years later. I recommend this site if you are dealing with heart-valve problems.)

Speaking of challenges, my own new name for our wonderful senior core fitness class is Sarah's Challenge. At those international training sessions she attended, our great instructor must have learned that rather than pampering we oldsters, it is better to challenge us. So toward the end of classes, we are finding ourselves on the floor mats, staring up at the prospects of doing a whole series of 8 or more planks, some of them from positions (such as one leg and one arm extended) that are new challenges. I walked into Monday's class with a lilt in my step, and left pleasantly fatigued. That's good; that's meeting a challenge. That's what we need to do. Life is to be lived to the fullest.

Why the lilt in the step? Because on Sunday, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting baseball Hall-of-Famer Ozzie Smith, one of my all-time favorite players for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team I began rooting for when as a grade-schooler I idolized Stan "the Man" Musial and tried mightily to copy his peek-a-boo batting stance.

My son Bobby the baseball executive set up this encounter. I had anticipated just having a quick photo taken of Ozzie and me, with me then going on my way; however, it turned out to be a sit-down chat for 15 minutes or so, about baseball past and present. Ozzie seemed to enjoy our inside-baseball talk and took some very interesting slants.

As an old newspaper reporter, I thought to myself later, hey this would have made a fine interview and story. However, it wasn't set up that way, and I respect that; I feel all the more privileged to have had a personal chat. Just going to say it is obvious Ozzie Smith believes in the value of hard work to turn around personal and/or team slumps, and I bet he conveyed that ethic to the young players he met at The Ripken Experience/Myrtle Beach. They, too, were privileged to have a chance to meet this all-time great shortstop, "The Wizard."

So from my rambling thoughts, my takeaways: stay the course, be surprised by joy, work hard, meet your challenges, be grateful.

                                          © Robert Gray Holland  2018

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