One decision changed the entire course of my life. I was 21. I’ll never forget the moment it happened.
I was on the way to church with friends. It was Easter morning and we discovered a new radio station in Baltimore that was playing Contemporary Christian music. Within minutes I made that decision. I wanted to work there.
I put my resume and audition tape together that afternoon and personally dropped it off the next morning. I was hired by the end of the week.
I stayed at this station, WAYE, for a couple years and worked with two people who are key to who I am today. Joanne was the station’s receptionist. She lived across the street from a young woman named Ava. Joanne thought Ava and I should meet so she made that happen. 15 months later Ava and I were married.
Steve was hired after me and was a producer. We became friends. Within a few months we both left WAYE for different stations. Eventually, Steve convinced me to come and work with him at WRBS. I’ve been here now for more than 32 years.
I wanted to be a radio DJ when I was 15. And, more specifically I wanted to be a radio DJ on WFBR. That was a top rated station in Baltimore that had the best DJ’s. I wanted to be one of them.
And, that’s where I was working as we drove to church on that Easter morning when I heard this new radio station. In a single moment I made a decision that changed my entire life.
If I had not gone to WAYE I would not have met Joanne who would not have introduced me to Ava who would not have been the mother of our six children who have now given us six grandchildren. I would not have met Steve who would not have invited me to join him at a job that I have loved for three decades.
One moment. One decision. An entire life changed. Kinda scary, isn’t it?
But, that’s life. Every decision we make has consequences…both intended and unintended. Some, however, are more dramatic than others.
As I get older, I’m becoming more aware of those decisions I made as a younger man that impact me today. And, I’m especially grateful for those hard decisions I made years ago that are making my life better today…especially regarding health and fitness.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to thank five versions of the younger me who made those choices.
13 YEAR OLD DAVE
I have a weird relationship with smoking. I love the smell of smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. My grandfather smoked and the aroma reminds me of him. Those are sweet memories.
My first radio DJ job was in a studio that reeked of stale smoke. Smoking was a popular way for announcers to make their voices deeper and more interesting and they would smoke in the studio. The smell of stale smoke takes me back to my first days in radio. Those are exciting memories.
Before smoking was banned in public places, I used to watch the Orioles play at Memorial Stadium within a haze of smoke. I’m reminded of that every time someone near me is smoking. Those are fun memories.
As much as I love the aroma of cigarettes, I’m grateful the 13 year old Dave didn’t start smoking in junior high school when it was the cool thing to do. I’ve watched people I love trying to quit. It’s so hard.
48 YEAR OLD DAVE
I was pretty active through my 20’s and 30’s. I played softball, took long rides on my bicycle, even tried a gym membership. But, nothing I did during those decades of my life was consistent or became part of my lifestyle.
As I entered my 40’s life included a lot of reading (while sitting) and nightly bowls of ice cream. As my 40’s were winding down, I was feeling the lack of fitness and health that was slowly declining. My blood sugar wasn’t right and my weight wasn’t either. That’s when the 48 year old Dave who finally did something.
I didn’t have a plan other than I knew I needed to start moving. My wife, Ava, was beginning her journey as a runner so I figured, “Why not?” It was hard. During those early days my goal was simply to run from one mailbox to the next. I could feel just out of shape I was.
After many weeks and months of sticking with it I ran my first half marathon. It was exhilarating. I kept signing up for more running events and did some more half-marathons, a bunch of 5k’s, and one marathon.
Although my fitness journey has changed over the years, it was the 48 year old Dave who decided to start. I’m grateful for that decision.
52 YEAR OLD DAVE
My grandfather lived to 98. He would often attribute his longevity to staying away from doctors. I still don’t know how serious he was, but I was following in his footsteps. I had one physical in my late 30’s for life insurance. It indicated I was pretty healthy except for borderline high cholesterol.
With that information tucked inside my brain I didn’t go back to the doctor for almost 15 years. I’m grateful the 52 year old Dave decided it was time to get checked. I wanted to know…is everything OK?
My cholesterol was higher and I had skin cancer. Thankfully, the cancer was easily removed. I didn’t want to go on meds for the cholesterol so I made some adjustments to my nutrition and fitness routine which brought it down.
I was also two years late for the recommended colonoscopy. Glad I didn’t wait any longer. They discovered a polyp and removed it. I don’t want to imagine what might have happened if I had kept putting this procedure off.
I’m grateful to the 52 year old Dave who was not a fan of doctors, but went anyhow. I’m healthier today because of that decision.
53 YEAR OLD DAVE
I was shocked by the low step count. It was my first day with a Fitbit and I thought I’d be setting step count records because I was a runner, after all! I wasn’t. In fact, I wasn’t even close to the universally acknowledged goal of 10,000.
I was also no longer in love with running. Not sure I ever really was, but I liked the challenge running provided. I had been dealing with some nagging injuries and the thrill of getting a medal after running an event wasn’t what it used to be.
At the same time, the Fitbit was turning my walking into fitness. Actually, my walking was always fitness, I just didn’t think of it that way. I only knew that I was enjoying my post-run walk more than the run itself.
As spring turned to summer I made a decision. I was going to stop running. I was loving the challenge of increasing the steps on my Fitbit by walking. Honestly, I was a little concerned I might “lose some fitness” in this transition from running to walking, but that didn’t happen.
It’s been almost seven years and I love walking for fitness even more today than I did then. The daily step goal of 20,000 keeps me challenged and the all the other benefits of walking have been a life changer.
I’m grateful to the 53 year old Dave for putting ego aside and recognizing that walking is not a “less than” fitness activity.
57 YEAR OLD DAVE
For most of my life I have had “Dental Anxiety”. I’ll spare you the details, but I experienced three different dental trauma events before I turned 20. As a result, I avoided the dentist as much as possible. I often went years between appointments with one stretch as long as ten years.
The irony is for much of this time my dentist was my brother-in-law. And, he was a great dentist! I simply avoided going. Since I rarely get cavities I could always tell myself, “There is no need.” What I didn’t understand was cavities ain’t the whole reason for seeing a dentist.
My 98 year old grandfather avoided not only the doctor, but also the dentist. He once told me that was his greatest regret. He paid the price for not going.
As much as I didn’t want to, I decided I needed to get past my “anxiety” and start seeing the dentist regularly. That first appointment was rough. But, I kept going. Now I have consistent appointments every four months and my dental health is great. I don’t want the same regret my grandfather had.
I’m grateful to the 57 year old Dave who didn’t cancel the second appointment with the dentist after that rough first appointment. Since then, the appointments have a breeze and I actually look forward to going now.
80 YEAR OLD DAVE
The older I get I’m learning how much of life is lived in the tension between today and tomorrow. I don’t want to be so future focused that I can’t enjoy today. But, I also recognize the 80 year old me is either going to enjoy life or pay the price because of decisions I make today.
How about you? What are you doing to invest in the future you? The fitness and health decisions you make today will have a HUGE impact. You can’t turn it all around in one day, but you can make a decision today that starts that transformation.
After the holidays, are you ready to start a fitness journey that finally sticks, gradually builds momentum, and leads to fitness transformation? Coming soon…details of a special New Year Fitness Challenge that will help you start a fitness journey that lasts. Most goals never make it beyond the third week! This Challenge will help you be among the elite few!!
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Let’s make 2020 a year to remember!