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Your Health

Karen Telleen-Lawton: What’s in a Decade?

Members of the Presidio Fencing Club with Coach Robinson at its helm.
Members of the Presidio Fencing Club with Coach Robinson at its helm. (Karen Telleen-Lawton photo)

My upcoming birthday will catapult me into a new decade. I remember my first such birthday: age 10, requiring all of the fingers to demonstrate. We had just moved to a larger house, where our larger Christmas tree seemed intertwined with my impressive double-digit age.

I have enjoyed all the decade-birthdays since. Still, this one feels different. I’ve been ruminating about it for almost a year, resolving to live in the moment.

This resolution has taken me in some interesting directions.

In early February I was at a playground watching my granddaughter with my sister-in-law Marie. As we chatted, I decided to swing on the monkey bars, my favorite outdoor apparatus in grade school.

Suffice it to say I could not even hang on the first bar long enough to swing to the second, much less complete a pass end to end. I should be able to do one chin-up, I figured.

That’s the moment I vowed to install a chin-up bar in my bathroom and complete one chin-up by my birthday.

I did buy the bar, and I did install it all by myself, which I think is a pretty good start. I worked myself up to about half a chin-up before some hitch in my schedule caused me to forgot about it completely.

I started anew a couple weeks ago, but I’m only now back to being able to pull myself up about halfway.

Another resolution (made in the moment I contemplated ordering a skirt in a bigger size) was a (yawn) weight-loss resolution, which backfired when I found out I didn’t have celiac disease (as do both my kids). I promptly re-introduced donuts and hamburgers back from my gluten days, with predictable consequences.

But I’ve had one great success in my “live in the moment” campaign. After a friend told me about her fencing hobby, I recalled how much I enjoyed this sport in college. It’s one of the few sports to appear in every Olympics since 1896, though that pre-dates my college years.

I googled it up and found the Presidio Fencing Club at the Westside Community Center. The club is coached by Tim Robinson, who also coaches the UCSB team.

The class has been a blast — 30 or so of us ranging in age from squeaky-voiced 10-year-old boys to teens to a half-dozen of us who groan after our knees have been in a squat position more than a few minutes.

The first couple weeks were purely footwork drills, after which we added hand positions.

When we finally earned our rights to hold the sword, I sparred and found my muscle memory came to the rescue somewhat. I remembered what I enjoyed about fencing: size isn’t necessarily an advantage.

My smaller target sometimes compensated for my shorter arms. A successful “touch” against a large man was pretty satisfying.

What’s in a decade? Whatever age you’re approaching is a good excuse to look back and look forward. After appreciating how far you’ve come and viewing the road ahead, take some time to be in the moment.

Most of us are allotted only ten decades, if genes and luck are with us. Appreciate what’s special about where you are now. On guard!

— Karen Telleen-Lawton’s column is a mélange of observations spanning sustainability from the environment to finance, economics and justice issues. She is a fee-only financial advisor (www.DecisivePath.com) and a freelance writer (www.CanyonVoices.com). Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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