On Monday of this week I learned a lesson. I have read about amazing people and have met a few in my time, but Joy was special. I spent this weekend in New York City at a conference and because it was so intense I didn’t get to explore much so Monday morning I was out walking by 6 a.m. In my wandering I came to the NBC studio and a group of people waiting to see Al Roker and Matt Lauer from the Today Show. I found myself standing behind a woman with the marathon medal around her neck. We started to talk, her name was Joy Johnson a retired teacher from California and a marathon runner. Joy started running when she was 59 after she retired and now she was 86 years old. It was her 25th New York City marathon. She told me this was her swan song because her time was not as good as she liked. Al came and they over and they talked as old friends. Al was concerned about her falling at mile 20. She waved his concern away assuring him that it looked much worse than it was. Her sister Faith and I talked about how they and grew up in Minnesota, had a cabin up north where Joy dried her marathon flower and how everyday Joy started her day with a cup of coffee her Bible and a 8 mile run. As I left I knew my idea of aging had been changed. Maybe we all have accepted too many self imposed limits. Joy laughed when someone asked how much she ran and she said “Not enough! I only run 9 days straight and then take a day off ONLY about 50 or 60 miles a week.” Joy was named correctly she was joy but she was also love. As runners came up to her and seemed to want her blessing, I watched as she graciously smiled and had a word of kindness. I wonder if we didn’t put a limit on our life would our life look like? Joy died hours after I met her, her head injury was serious. Joy’s lesson to me and all of us is to really live a life without limits, filled with kindness . We are all going to die, but she died doing what she loved, being loved, being a model for all of us. I hope I will remember that lesson. I know I will remember Joy Johnson.
November 15, 2012
This is the season of gratitude. I wonder why we have to be reminded with a day called Thanksgiving? We know that gratitude feels good. In fact, studies show that if you do something nice for someone, your endorphins (the feel-good brain chemicals) flood your body. The also flood the person’s body who is grateful for the kindness, as well as everyone who saw the kindness, all receive the benefits. Again I ask why we need a day to be thankful for all the kindness we receive daily when it feels so good?
The first documented Thanksgiving was conducted by the Spaniards in the 16th century. When the English settlers established a charter in 1607 they required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a ‘day of thanksgiving’ to God. The Continental Congress in 1777 set apart the day for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise: that at one time and with one voice, the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of God. But it was Abraham Lincoln, who in 1863, during the worst time in our history, declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. He asked everyone to ask God to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
We have always known as Americans that we are blessed to live in this amazing country. We still have divisions and strife. On Thanksgiving, let us join with the spirit of our ancestors to be grateful for what we have been given and with one voice dedicate ourselves to kindness and service. To once again do what each of us are able to do to create peace, harmony, and tranquility. We hear people say “God Bless America”, but I say that he already has. Now we need to say ‘Thank You!”
Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You.
Jane, Jill and Roxy