Five things on a Friday.

Life lessons learned from the 70+ crowd at the gym:

1. Make an experience of it. While exercise takes up merely a fraction of my day and my brain space, it appears that the older generation builds their entire day around their time at the gym. In the locker room, there’s talk of waking up hours before their swim class to let dogs out or read or get warm enough to make the drive over. Bags are packed the night before, and plans are made for showers or lunch or an errand afterward. Naps are a must, too, and built into the schedule. And don’t worry, we’ll all have a lengthy conversation to help them weigh the cost of whatever decision must be made or a plan that might need adjusting. Whatever they’re doing, these people soak it up for all of its worth.

2. Sit down when you need to. Contrary to my prideful personality that does not like to take a timeout, I’ve seen women cut out of class fifteen minutes early. Sometimes, it’s to get the shower stall they want, but often it’s because they’re just plain tired and over the exercise. Some of the men in the weight room seem as though they come just to chat. They spend exponentially more time in a chair in the trainer’s office than they do on a treadmill. I think I’m the only one who doesn’t take a rest between showering  and getting dressed. I’m hopping into my scrub pants with water droplets still on my legs. My workout buddies know how to pace themselves. But again, see #1. They’re in it for the experience.

3. Pay attention to your surroundings. I’m hyper-aware of my environment most of the time, but it comes from an introverted, anxious “I hope I don’t get attacked or have to talk to people” perspective. The old folks at the gym are not afraid of engaging. I’ve never seen people react so harshly to their routines being interrupted. I watched as a woman came back to her locker one day, dripping wet from the pool, to find someone else’s lock on it. Apparently, she’d taken their regular spot and would have to learn the hard way. I’ve also never seen such community like the friendships at the gym. The older people take care of each other like nobody’s business. I’ve found treats and presents for my kids tucked inside my gym bag, once I’ve left it in its usual spot on the counter long enough for them to trust me. It pays to follow a routine and play nice with the locker room ladies.

4. Take your time. I try to be in and out of the gym in under an hour, even less if I’m not showering there. Not my elderly friends. Some of my favorites are the ones who arrive at least twenty minutes early for their class or personal training appointment. One reads in a lawn chair in the locker room, and another loves to chat so much he could talk a brick wall into working out with him. I also love the folks who know when to call it quits, sometimes before things ever really get started. I saw a woman literally leave the gym and not go to class one day, because she’d left something in her car and figured she’d miss part of class by the time she got back from the parking lot. These people do not hurry. They have no need.

5. Say what you mean. I have learned more about conflict resolution from seniors than any other group. These people know how to speak their minds and it’s beautiful. They tell the teacher if they didn’t like her music choice. They call each other out if they haven’t been to the gym in awhile. Last week, a larger woman wrapped in a tiny towel walked right into the tiny sauna while I was in it, got comfortable next to me, and asked me to adjust the light for her. If the roles were reversed, I would have skipped the sauna that day to avoid bumping up against someone else’s routine. Not her. See #1. We’re really missing out if we aren’t treating each day like a luxury to be fully experienced.

EDITED TO ADD: A reader added an incredible lesson... self-confidence and body image goals! Those gals strip down in the locker room like it's no big deal, never glancing around or at themselves in the mirror. They don't give a second thought to how they look in a bathing suit or workout gear, either. One of my favorite ladies literally pulls up a chair and sits beneath the hand dryer in the bathroom, chatting with everyone while her hair dries. Talk about efficient!

Love goes first.

We were out of town at a family wedding two Aprils ago, getting ready in the hotel room, when I heard the knock. I’m sure I was in my robe, curling my hair or something. My husband let my grandfather in, and I could tell right away Papa meant business. He started moving furniture (89 years old, post-back surgery) and set up a little conference area by the window. He tapped the small side table he’d set up between two chairs, a signal I’d long ago learned meant that I was to sit down. This was to be was a legacy talk, the kind that outlasts him.

You see, my grandfather is pretty healthy. He’s overcome war and illness and injury and still lives independently, with my grandmother. He still attends church and works his land and exercises regularly and tutors kids at the nearby middle school. He’s got that vitality life on lockdown.

But my grandfather is fascinated with his mortality. Ever since I could remember, he’s been happy to discuss his final arrangements with anyone who will listen. Over the last several years, though, he’s become very focused on his legacy. What will they remember me by? Do they understand what I believe? Do they feel what I feel? Will they keep what I share?

And so we have these talks. Sometimes they’re back-to-back, and sometimes a few years passes between. Once, when a boy asked me for a kiss on a camping trip, Papa overheard. He called me into the camper, literally packed the place up and changed campsites, and had me draw a pie chart about the whole thing on the trip home. He named it our “I-85 conversation.” Needless to say, my first kiss did not happen for years.

Before the weekend of the family wedding, I’d never pushed back on Papa’s viewpoints. Usually, I took notes and kept my mouth shut. I’ve always been here to receive. My grandfather is the wisest man I’ve ever known, and never had it crossed my mind that I’d challenge and stretch and grow him like he had done me.

Until the talk that weekend. Election drama was heating up, Donald Trump was headed to our family party’s national convention, and Papa was unsettled about the direction of our country. He asked me to write two words on a piece of paper. Truth, and Righteousness. Don’t forget the capital letters at the beginning. And then he pointed at the words scrawled across the hotel stationary, with that arthritic finger of his. Those are the only two things I want to live by for the rest of my life.

As he unfolded his argument, I felt the Holy Spirit hover between us. This man with whom I share blood, and a love for Jesus, was suddenly on the very opposite side of the very small table that very much filled the room. I did not agree with my beloved Papa, and I was about to go there.

I don’t know, Papa. I don’t think I see it that way.

He paused. He smiled, eyes glistening. He cocked his head, hearing aids tilted it in prime position. And he invited me in. So I went there.

I only see one word with a capital letter in Scripture. Love. I see Jesus caring about truth and righteousness, but I see him repeating over and over that our only job is to love people. I believe that it’s dangerous to plant a flag on any argument other than one that aggressively, unconditionally, loves people like our Savior did. I believe that there are lot of tenants that sort of just naturally flow out of our focus on the one commandment – Love. With a capital. Love is what I want to live by for the rest of my life. I asked him to dig through the Bible and ask God what he thought. I think love has to go first.

He told me I’d given him a lot to think about. We’ve never revisited the conversation. But in the last two years, I’ve watched a 91 year-old man attack the life he has left with a renewed sense of vigor. Dripping with Love. With a capital letter.

this is how we do it: WELLNESS

I started this post during my "this is how we do it" series in 2017, and am only just now finishing it! Carry on.

Obviously, ground rules first. I’m a registered nurse and I only just started vaccinating my kids. So there’s that.

I get a lot of questions about health and wellness because of my profession, and because of my family size. When one of of us comes down with something, we typically all follow suit at some point. It gives me that much more motivation to try and keep us all as healthy as possible. I know as soon as I publish this post, my family will contact some bizarre exotic virus. However, I’m writing it anyway, for two reasons. First, we were recently kicked out of our primary care office for being too healthy. Like, we did not use a single sick visit all year and were therefore going to be charged as new patients… even for the kids’ yearly physicals. Second, last winter was the first one without a single stomach bug in the house. After twelve straight months of no vomiting, I decided to start writing this post, most assuredly to seal my plague fate for this winter (it happened).


Like any good healthcare provider, I’m going to tell you to stay healthy so you don’t have to get healthy. In our family, that looks like one might expect. We exercise, we eat healthy at home, we drink a lot of water, and we try to sleep well at night. I carry disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and Lysol in my purse at all times. But my kids also bathe only once per week and eat off of the actual ground, too.

I take supplements every night; I do believe they help with immune support. My regimen currently consists of a probiotic and turmeric every night, with garlic and cranberry on occasion. I’ve noticed improvement in my gut, my skin, and my mood. My husband puts me on a short course of zinc whenever I feel I’m getting a cold, and the kids take a multivitamin when I remember to hand them out. In the winter, I keep an essential oil blend in a roller ball bottle with me at all times. It goes on the kids and myself most nights (feet and belly buttons and sometimes spines). We also take colloidal silver and elderberry syrup during episodes of the creeping crud.

A giant jug of hand sanitizer sit on the bathroom floor by the door, so even the little kids remember to clean their hands on the way out. I clean the bathrooms with bleach, and the doorknobs and light switches with Lysol, on the same day every week so I don’t forget.


When we’re sick, we start by trying to wait it out. My kids have never been to the doctor for symptoms of a common cold, stomach bug, etc. We figure that since typical viruses aren’t treatable anyway, what’s the point in spending all of that money to hear someone tell you to go home and wait it out? I also don’t treat fevers most of the time. Because a fever is the body’s natural response to a foreign invader, I’d rather get the whole battle over with as quickly as possible. The exceptions? I’ll medicate a fever to help my children rest for a short period of time, and I’d also medicate if a fever was getting really high really fast. I just caught myself doing that parent fib thing. The truth is a) it’s been years since I used a thermometer and b) new literature actually links febrile seizures to genetics and not a sudden temperature spike. Long story short, all of our family fevers have resolved with sleep and a good sweat session.


We swallow garlic cloves  whole and tape them into ears. We take shots of apple cider vinegar. My husband makes a drink that will knock a chest cold right outta here. Coconut oil is our lotion of choice. Essential oils really do work for us, when it comes to certain ailments. I’ve used them every which way possible, from drops in the bathtub to capsules to undiluted to a blend with a carrier. Generally, I believe that nature has a place in healthcare culture, even in the world of advanced medicine and technology. My wound care weapons of choice? Apinol for cuts/scrapes, and honey for open wounds that take time to heal.


I have to regularly remind myself that bacteria and viruses are very different processes, with different symptoms and different treatment protocols. Diarrhea is typically defined as several loose stools in twenty-four hours, not just one or two. Kids are typically much better nourished and hydrated than we think, and even adults can go a long time with very little to eat or drink. I never panic about oral intake as long as everyone is still making urine. A lot of rashes are a mystery to even the doctors, and tend to be self-limiting or treated easily at home. I try to avoid antibiotics for the little things, because I want them to work when it really counts. Even in my own practice, I’ve seen patients have to switch drugs mid-regimen, because of overuse.

I think that about sums it up. Oh, and if you want my prescription for lice or pink eye, hit me up! My mania has actually paid off toward a pretty effective protocol, if I do say so myself. Best wishes on a healthy household.