“O.K., Mom, now pull your belly button towards your spine, tighten your gluts, keep your shoulders down – out of your ears, and stick your chest out as you step forward.”

My daughter says this as if it is the easiest thing in the world.  And maybe it is to her.  She has been consciously strengthening her core since she was 8 years old and in gymnastics.  Frankly, I don’t think I have a core. Besides, who knew about a person’s core growing up?  This 65 year old sports three abdominal incisions so strengthening her core is akin to trying to find the lost treasure in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Even when I had my first abdominal surgery, they didn’t talk about strengthening muscle core.  They merely taught me to get out of bed by rolling onto my side and literal rolling off the side of the bed using my arms to hoist me up and onto my feet.  I have been rolling out of bed like this ever since.

But the problem is not learning new things; rather the ability to assimilate more than one task at the same time.

“Wait, I have to put my belly button to my spine while I clench my butt, keep my shoulders out of my ears, my chest out and WALK TOO?´ I’m stalling as I try to engage the various parts in her instructions.

“Yes” Francesca says calmly and simply.

“I don’t think I can to all that and walk too.  You know it’s getting harder to multi-task as I age.  Thinking and moving are two separate jobs. I can’t do them at the same time.”

“Yes, you can, Mom, take your time”.

Time is what it takes along with my constant verbal repetition of the instructions so I don’t forget anything.  Do I have that much time left in my life?

“You need to think about strengthening your core muscles to do the work instead of your hips.  So, pick a color and every time you see that color throughout the day, check in to see that you are holding your core, gluts and shoulders correctly.  Pretty soon it will be second nature to you – like going to the bathroom”

“Uh, that requires a lot more concentration and time too” I say deflated.

She laughs, and I want to tell her she’ll be where I am some day.  But maybe not.  She’s taken much better care of herself and is much more educated about health and wellness than I have ever been.  Instead I say –

“Sounds like a full time job to me.  I’m going to have to retire from living just to strengthen my core.”

“Mom, it’s good for your body and good for your brain.  You can do this. So just start with one right step.” Francesca says with more confidence than I have and spoken like the good personal trainer and most importantly the loving daughter that she is.

It just starts with the first right step.  Hmmm.

I think back to all the things in my life I didn’t think I could do: learn medical terminology and become a skilled medical secretary, be a good wife, a good mother, an entrepreneur in business,  write a book, became a caregiver, survive cancer, heart disease, and the loss of so many of my family.  Each time I did the next right thing I did it one step at a time.  Or as Francesca would say –

It starts with the first right step. 

She’s right.  I cannot keep injuring this left hip of mine with recovery getting harder and longer with each mishap.  While I sit and wonder deep inside my soul whether you can teach an old dog like me new tricks, my new puppy bounds up and plants a long tongue licking kiss across my sweaty face giving me just the assurance I need to keep on keeping on.

Yes, Loretta you can teach an old dog new tricks – it just takes a little longer.

So I decide right then to pull my belly button towards my spine, tighten my gluts, keep me shoulders down and tucked back into their pockets and out of my ears, with my chest out as I take that one right step.


I hope you enjoyed this post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com

Blessings for Health & Wellness.