Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Be open to those unexpected experiences…..

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Our family with the Hoyts at the Understanding our Difference Gala

The Hotel Arts, our Barcelona home for the week

The Hotel Arts, our Barcelona home for the week


A Gaudi building in the Parc Guell

                                       A Gaudi building in the Parc Guell

Another Gaudi building in the Parc Guell

Another Gaudi building in the Parc Guell


KAP_6931         unnamed-5

in front of the Sagrada Familia                     An outdoor gym, Barcelona style


First son, Josh, first college graduation

I’m finally catching my breath from some awesome weeks. First, the Understanding our Differences 35th Anniversary Gala highlighted  the indomitable human spirit regardless of any perceived or real limitations. Speaking through his augmentative communication device, Rick Hoyt recounted that he and his father got the idea to run 32 years ago because another child needed to raise funds to help pay for medical treatment for his illness. Rick said to his dad, ” We gotta help this kid and run this race!” Dick, then 41 years old, was not a runner, but went on to become a triathlete and marathon runner, always with  Rick in tow – wheelchair, life preserver float, specially adapted bike seat, you name it, they figured out how to do it together. The only Boston Marathon, they skipped was right after Dick had a heart attack, and they promptly returned  to complete the next marathon. If they’re not an example of overcoming just about anything, I don’t know who is!

Then, we left for Barcelona on May 6th and really enjoyed every minute. There a few take-aways I want to  share about this trip. First of all, if you need a wonderful, happening, beautiful European city to visit with great weather (before it gets really hot in the summer) this is a great choice. If you appreciate art and architecture and great food, Barcelona will definitely meet those needs. Add to it a location by the sea, friendly people, great neighborhoods, and fascinating history, and you’ve got your next trip destination all set. We ate a lot more than usual, because the seafood was fresh and delicious, not to mention the tapas and sangria! In any case, I decided not to let the additional pounds bother me because biking season is underway and I should be back down to my usual weight soon! Also, instead of focusing on how tight the jeans feel, I decided to be thankful that my legs could carry me through all the miles of walking and  we enjoyed seeing so much of the city by foot.

Lastly, this weekend marked the first college graduation of our oldest son, Josh. What a feeling! It’s a quasi-graduation, although he got a BS in athletic training, he’ll go on for two more years for his doctorate in physical therapy, without a real break in his studies. In any case, I wanted to share some great insights from two of the commencement speeches. Dr. James O’Connell who is the president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, spoke about how one may plan his/her life, but never can orchestrate what will really happen. He was all set to go to Africa and serve people from third world countries when a program to serve the homeless was initiated. He was asked by the chief of medicine to lead the program temporarily, and since that time 30 years ago, he has changed the face of health care for the homeless. He has brought his revolutionary ideas to Los Angeles and consults internationally to help this underserved population. He stressed that to really help disenfranchised people, you must enter their world and be truly present.  Listen, try to understand, earn their trust, then you can help, but you can’t skip the first important steps. Also, although you may want to travel far and wide to accomplish certain goals, you may be able to help the community in your own back yard.  The BU convocation speaker, Governor Deval Patrick drew knowing applause from so many parents when he talked about the need for people to connect without technology. To truly be present, echoing the earlier speaker’s theme, you need to look people in the eye, put aside or shut off all phones, tablets, and computers in order to create intimacy and deep connections. In our multi-tasking world, we lose a lot of meaning when we focus too much on our things, rather than our relationships. As he was speaking, the camera panned to a BU student who was so busy using her iPhone, that she didn’t know the video was focusing on her, perfectly illustrating his point. She realized she was the punchline when a roar went up from the audience who had the perfect view of her on the two big video screens.

Being present, appreciating and building meaningful relationships, and being open to new experiences –   great messages not only for the new grads, but for everyone !

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