Thursday, January 31, 2013


It’s difficult to figure out how to describe the way I feel at the end of my workouts. Typically I have between 1 and 6 people work out with me on any given day. Most days, like today, I put in 30 minutes on a stationary bicycle to get my cardio - and wave to perhaps 15 or 20 folk as they arrive or leave. Then its off to my informal stretch class - with between 1 and 5 folk. Next is the main workout - Mark was there today and we did a killer leg workout. Donna showed up 30 minutes into the workout, and hung with us for about 2 hours. By which time she and Mark had to leave. But in the mean time Sue, Michael, and Ashley showed up. So, well, since they were there, and since Sue had bought a set of gymnasts rings - well, I put in another hour with them.

I’m sure I have talked about how it feels to have people want to work out with me - how just plain flattering it is, and how much fun it really is. Work outs like this are not the exception - I am lucky enough to have gathered a very diverse group of folk who appreciate my workouts and who want to improve their strength, balance and core while strengthening their backs.

Is this the same as watching a football game with a bunch of folk (I was reminded that superbowl was this Sunday - hence the question)? I have to respond with an emphatic NO! Workouts are about being healthy, about losing weight, becoming stronger, they are about camaraderie engendered by doing things with others, facing challenges and keeping each other safe while improving ones physical well being. Working out can involve watching someone you are working out with succeed, and helping others grow. Unlike watching sports on TV - and getting ones “fulfillment” from watching athletes do their thing - working out is about the best thing you can do for yourself.

I don’t have a TV, and I really am not much impressed with the thought of watching someone else play a game when I could be doing something that improves my physical well being. To me exercise is all about doing something oneself, developing skills, and deriving deep, satisfying happiness.

I honestly am at a loss to figure out how to get across how good it makes me feel. Instead I have included a couple of pictures and a short video of my doing pushups on exercise balls. This is a new one for me. Matt manned the camera (that's him in the mirror) and Ashley provided the audio. Click on the words "Old Man Pushup" below to download the video.

Old Man Pushup

Thursday, January 24, 2013


When I retired I gave myself two promises - that I would get to work out as much as I wanted, and that I would make time to practice the hammered dulcimer. These two activities give me a massive dose of satisfaction.

Somehow I have managed to keep myself motivated - and have reaped the satisfaction that has come with seeing my body transformed into a more fit, more functional tool. And my hammered dulcimer playing continues to progress - I LOVE TO PLAY.

One of the things that both of these activities have given me is the chance to share my passion with others. Which means also somehow sharing the motivation.

One of the ladies at the gym, mid-20's, fit, but also focused on getting more fit. She has gone from being able to do push-ups to being able to do push-ups with her hands on one basketball, her feet on another basketball. An oh-my-lord achievement. Another lady - in her 60's, has gone from doing a few push-ups with her knees on the floor to doing push-ups with her hands in gymnasts rings and her feet balanced on a basketball.

Somehow these two ladies motivate themselves to keep on pushing - keep on improving - and I am lucky enough to be able to perhaps help in a small way with my enthusiasm.

But, the real reason I wanted to jot this quick post was a chat with the lady I am teaching to play the hammered dulcimer. I don’t charge much for lessons because honestly I love teaching someone who wants to learn. But, this morning she commented that she almost thinks that the low cost of the lessons has made her work harder to succeed. She realizes that I teach her because I love to see the progress she makes - and she doesn’t want to disappoint. She commented that, if she paid more she could use the excuse when she didn’t practice that it was ok - since she was paying me. But, paying little she wants to make sure she lives up to my expectations.

She has made absolutely amazing progress over the last year. And she practices religiously.

Reality is I would not teach her if she did not make good progress - teaching music lessons really is a labor of love for music. But, seeing her progress is fantastic recompense.

One more short story and I will get to working on a clock mechanism that is calling to me. Was once sent to a plant to look into a problem. I spent a couple of days getting a bit of background information, but mostly I tried to get to know the folk at the plant. Came back and my boss asked me lots of questions about the problem - most of which I could not answer. Which slightly aggravated him. OK, it REALLY AGGRAVATED HIM! I ended up needing to explain to him that I was approaching the problem in the way I believed would be most effective - reminding him that I tended to get things done, but had to include that caveat that he and I did things differently. This particular event occurred early in my time working for this gent - and resulted in our developing an effective relationship - one based on his expecting me to perform, and my meeting his expectations in my own way.

There are other stories I could relate about my meeting folks expectations - because they trusted that I could do what I said I would do.

The take-home messages from this rambling post?

Having high expectations for oneself can be personally motivating.

Having high expectations for others can change their world for the better!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Turning Back the Clock

Read a quote from Goldi Hawn regarding aging - “You have to truly grasp that everybody ages. Everybody dies. There is no turning back the clock. So the question in life becomes: What are you going to do while you are here?”

This morning was my morning for giving a hammered dulcimer lesson. My student is 62 or 64 - so, well, she is not young. Or is she? She decided a year ago to buy a dulcimer from me and to start taking lessons. She practices a lot, and has made phenomenal progress - and absolutely loves the times she is playing.

Will she one day be the best dulcimer player in the world. Nope. For that matter neither will I. Does she get satisfaction and happiness out of playing, even when it is tough making time to play? Yes.

Do I get a lot of satisfaction from being part of her becoming a better player - YES - in a big way!.

This week I received an e-mail from a gentleman that also stuck with me - in part he wrote “I only wish I had started earlier so that I could have been purchasing tools along the way and learning so much more about clocks.” and “My father worked until his early 70's, and just a few months before he passed away last August, he would walk a mile every day, ride a stationary bike and play golf whenever he could. He did not want to "freeze up" his muscles and not be able to get out of his recliner. So your blog/video is a wake up call to me and I appreciate hearing and reading your thoughts on aging!

I'll try to read all your technical articles on clocks and try to get some exercise in my life.”

My philosophy, if I can grace it with such a high-falutin title, is that satisfaction and happiness come from doing. There was a time that I tried to tell people who wanted to sell me the hammered dulcimers that they had not played - the ones they bought with every good intention so many years ago - I tried to get them to play. I was very up front about the whole thing - I am trying to foster more players BECAUSE IT IS GOOD FOR THEM IN SO MANY WAYS! Any more I tend to just negotiate a price I can afford and buy the dulcimers - and try to make sure that when I sell one that the person buying it has the resources they need to get started playing.

Pity I can’t motivate others - all I can do is try to share the wonderful sense of fulfillment and happiness that comes from doing things.

My message in this rambling post - Live your life - it’s the only one you get. 58? Fine, then by 60 have a firmly established exercise routine and find something that demands work to develop a skill and ability. Invest in yourself - it you need tools, buy them - and use them to develop a skill. Start small, make the commitment, and remember that buying things is not the goal - learning a new skill is the goal.

It’s a cold morning, the sun is rising, making the lake look a bit mystic with the mists rising, and there is an eagle heading down the lake. I need to pack up a dulcimer to ship to a lady in Nebraska, I need to finish up a mechanism, I need to unpack another that is back for a cleaning, and today is push-up day - so I need to do roughly 600 pushups. I need to live life and celebrate being 58!

Oh, before I forget - I had a visit from a young man (he’s younger than I am anyway) who loves old musical instruments. I shot a short video - check it out -!i