Encouraging people to evolve and create new opportunities at any age.


A Glass Half Full

Recently, I heard an interview on NPR featuring Alana Nichols, a 6-time medalist at the Paralympics.  Alana's story is one of persistence; and although none of us are competing for gold medals, I think her story is inspiration and applicable for all of us whose goal is to age effectively.  Here's why:
When Alana was 9 months old, her father was killed by a drunk driver.  Her 24-year old mother was left with three young children to raise.  Times were tough, and she was eventually adopted by her maternal grandparents when she was 13.  Alana was an athletically gifted teenager and in spite of her rough beginning, she soon had great plans and dreams for herself.  She was headed to college on an athletic scholarship with a dream to be a great softball player. 

Life had more surprises, however.  When she was 17 – out snowboarding with friends in New Mexico, Alana suffered a devastating fall.   As she attempted to do a difficult back flip, she over-rotated in mid-air and fell on a bed of rocks, buried beneath the snow.  She broke her back in three places, shattering a vertebra.  She was paralyzed from the waist down. Physicians told her that recovery was improbable.
Alana worked hard at rehab in hopes she could beat the paralysis.  She went on to college.  When she finally had to face reality, she began playing wheelchair basketball becoming skilled enough to play collegiate wheelchair basketball for the University of Arizona, where she earned an undergraduate degree, and then for the University of Alabama, where she earned a Master’s degree in kinesiology.  And Alana and her basketball teammates won the Paralympic gold in China.   
She didn't rest on those laurels, though and even before Beijing, she began planning to realize another dream: she wanted to compete in skiing. In two years, with relentless persistence, she skied well enough to qualify for the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver. She was ready to become the first woman in US history to win gold medals in both the summer and winter Olympics. She must have been thinking that life couldn't get much better.
Then, once again, tragedy struck when her brother was murdered.  She calls this her most devastating life experience. 
She went on to win the gold medal in the giant slalom and three more medals (including another gold in downhill skiing) during the Vancouver games. She now lives in Denver and competes in basketball and skiing.  She serves as an Ambassador to the U.S. Paralympics.
Unknown artist.
I listened, with admiration, as her various accomplishments were discussed.  But, what really got my attention were her remarks about changing her perspective.  It’s understandable that after her fall, accepting paralysis, she described herself as focusing on what she could no longer have; what she would no longer be able to achieve; and what she could no longer do.  She had thoughts that her athletic prowess was a thing of the past.  But she turned it around.  She said, “no matter what happens, this is who I am.  This is what I want to do.” 
In the “Golden Years”, it is easy to become depressed and even angry when we accept that “who I was” has changed and “what I can do” has often drastically changed.  But like Alana – who “I” am hasn’t changed.  What needs to change is perspective.  What new activities can I do?  What new friends can I enjoy?  What new goals can I create so that I will wake each day with anticipation?
Continuing the conversation about potted plants (see August 2016 newsletter)

"Like you I enjoyed the simple (yet profound) image of the potted plant. An image under the soil also struck me, which is of the roots getting pot bound. It reminds me of the haunting old Latin phrase of the early church “incurvatus in se” where we curve in on ourselves rather than going deeper in all ways (knowledge of self, God, and others). " Darla Cederberg

Reader Cher shared an email invitation:

How would you like to age?
Is it important that you maintain a clear mind, a healthy body, and the energy to do the all things you want to do?
Today, one in three Americans is now 50 or older, and The U.S. Census Bureau brief on data shows seniors increasing faster than younger populations.
And with our life expectancy also on the rise, it’s more important than ever for us to discover how to stave off illness and disease so that our extra years are high quality ones.
And that’s exactly why world-renowned expert and pioneer in mind-body medicine, Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, and internationally-recognized expert in integrative medicine, Andrew Weil, MD, have teamed up to host Radical Wellness: How to Revolutionize Your Health Now. 
It’s an exclusive Chopra Center online event to help you take control of your health and age vibrantly. And you’re invited to participate at absolutely no cost.
Join the conversation….

Your thoughts and comments are welcomed- send your emails to:

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Copyright © 2016 Kendra Brown, Ph.D, All rights reserved.

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