Friday, November 11, 2011

Birthday Reflections

While creating this blog I wrote down a set of rules for myself. One of those rules does not allow me to discuss my personal life. So, this post is worded carefully, but honestly.

I don't know about you, but I tend to review, weigh, measure, and refocus my life with the passing of each birthday. I've been at this for a long time. This, of course, implies that I am growing old.

Those who know me well understand that though I have collected four dozen years, I have steadfastly refused to age in the normal sense. There is, admittedly, a relatively high level of vanity required to maintain a youthful mind and body upon reaching "middle age," but I believe that there are also requirements of acknowledged, hard-earned self-preservation and relentless pursuit of a inner peace.

For a youthful body, I have chosen a pathway laced with healthy eating, moderate exercise, and a constantly engaged mind. Two decades of nutritional research have taught me to eat a variety of foods in moderation while avoiding only a few, so I have little stress when it comes to food decisions. My exercise habits are, of course, the focus of this blog. I train less than most people to limit wear and tear, while employing science and keen self-knowledge to gauge my efforts and satisfy my competitive tendencies.

I read and write constantly to stimulate my mind. I read textbooks, biographies, history books, research papers, nutrition books, blogs, news, and student works. I even assign a monthly assignment for all of my students that requires them to summarize a scientific article so that they can practice concise writing while allowing me to be "well read." I write exams (!), blog posts, short stories, essays, and I have have even completed a novel. It is worth noting that the story telling has crept into the classroom in many forms, including physics exams that are short stories about a pirate named Ohm.

And that brings me to my last thought on aging. I love to laugh. I create reasons to laugh. I laugh at jokes, at success, at failure, at pranks, at youthful naivety, and, most often, at myself. That last one is important. I am a perfectionist and a very intense person (or so I've been told . . .) which used to be a drag on me and everyone around me. Then I "grew up" enough to feel comfortable with my shortcomings. It is easy to develop a sense of one's limits when you are reminded of them every day through brutally honest interactions with teenagers. I've learned a lot from my students!

I learn from wise old men, too. Just last night I was hanging out with Gene, who is 99 years old. He is an incredibly inspiring person who will surprise you with his wit, cause you to self-reflect with his keen memory, bring you to tears with laughter, and humble you with his extensive knowledge. Then he will do a little jig and blow your mind! Last night he did all of that and then brought me to tears as he gently kissed his ailing wife, Bea, three times before leaving her assisted care room. I've only got fifty one years to seek his level of life work!

To close I would like to say that I actively seek inspiration to live a purposeful life, to be a contributing member of society. Born into poverty and with average mental and physical abilities, I have always battled to be anything but mediocre. I find my inspiration in family, friends, students, competitors, the news, and in nature. The way I see it, I've got a lot to live for, a lot to be thankful for, a lot of love to give, and good reasons to seek my potential in all aspects of my life.

And, in part, I created this blog to inspire its readers to do explore their themselves, their communities, and the natural world around them. ST


  1. Very inspiring! Love the sections on perfectionism and laughter. A perfect reflection of you and those qualities I've always respected and learned from.

    Hope all is well,
    Erica Marburger

  2. Thanks, Erica! That is a great compliment coming from one of my most well-rounded and gifted students!