A podiatrist muses about more than feet, he celebrates life and a surprising secret ingredient for happiness…movement
Put your best foot forward…
Put one foot in front of the other…
Jump in feet first…
Put your toe in the water
One step at a time…
So many choices. What direction are your feet taking you?
Where is it you want to go? What is your biggest dream that’s still sitting inside of you? Is there a project, a great idea? Challenges getting started? Could your feet have the answer? If not, why so many foot metaphors? Hmmmm.
As a foot doctor for over 35 years, these sayings come in handy, especially for a podiatrist who admits to enjoying puns. And my patients smile and some even chuckle when I share one of the above or say it’s time to “get back on your feet.”
And yes, I too had a project I had been putting off for years (decades actually). I got moving because my patients inspire me. They inspire me to teach, to share, to do. And I do my best to inspire them too.
The project I put off for years: writing a book. It’s now done. Finished. It’s in the books. (Yes, I warned you — I love puns.)
My goal: Inspire as many as I can to keep your body in motion, your mind active, and to feel and appreciate joy.
My podiatry practice is a representation of our world. From babies to seniors. Cradle to grave as they say. I see a runner with foot pain training for the marathon, followed by a senior with a walker who has suffered the pain and indignity of too many falls.
I see a disappointed athlete with a broken foot, followed by a diabetic who fears losing theirs. Bunions straightened and painful ingrown nails removed.
I feel so fortunate to do what I do. I make people feel better. I improve the quality of a person’s life. Someone comes in with a challenge and leaves with a solution. It’s rewarding. I perform a service; this is the job I’m fortunate to do. I have been gifted an amazing profession that each day inspires me to give back to my patients.
The giveback comes in the form of education, a kind word, a compliment — hope. I start my workday with great energy and enthusiasm. At end of day I usually finish with a run. My run does not deplete more energy; it restores it.
Movement is my reset button.
Who are my patients that inspire me the most? I get the most joy when I see a senior in their 90’s (or above) who comes in with a smile and a story. I am especially delighted with seniors who maintain an active lifestyle. They walk, they play cards, they read, they laugh, they get out, they socialize, they are happy. I ask them to share their secrets.
Trust me, I see too many who are unhappy with the life that has become theirs. They are in pain. They feel old. They are stiff. They can’t do what they used to do. They feel life has cheated them, and they always say “getting old isn’t what it is cracked up to be.” And the more familiar “don’t get old!”
What do I believe? That life is a choice. That there are options. That all are not created equal. That you can’t always get what you want. That too many people give up. That people are stuck in their beliefs. That too many have stopped learning. That emotional pain can be more destructive than physical pain.
What else do I believe? That you can change. That it’s never too late.
That a smile is easy to put on your face. That kindness never gets old. That you get more than one chance to do it right. That your best self is still inside of you. And most importantly, life is amazing.
I listen to my patients and learn. Both from the happy and the not so happy. I am a trusted confidant. I hear the voices that say I wish I did more with my life. I hear the regrets of those who stayed in abusive relationships. I feel the sorrow of those who have lost love or have never loved. I hear loneliness. I hear the fear of moving from the only home they have known to a nursing home. I hear the struggle to stay independent. I hear the wish if only I could do things over.
Then I see those who feel joy and bring joy to others. They see the good in people. They see gifts all around them. They marvel at the life they have lived. They still want to make the world a better place.
I have found evidence of what separates the happy from the less than happy (yes, you can call them ‘the unhappy’). It can feel like a secret because we don’t all have access to the clues. The preponderance of evidence has revealed to me my most important lessons.
Happiness is about movement. Movement of your body and movement of your mind.
The mind/body relationship cannot be separated. The more you move your body, the more your mind is free to seek joy.
Movement provides thought, creativity, and solutions. Movement returns energy and removes negativity. Movement improves both mindset and matter. And the matter we are talking about is in your brain. It responds to and grows from exercise. And this is one place where size truly does matter.
So, I want to inspire anyone I can to stay active. Especially as you age, we must remember Newton’s law of physics which states: An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest.
So please stay in motion. Keep your body moving, keep your mind active. This is a fact of life. You can’t defeat gravity and you can’t stop the clock. But you can be the happiest and healthiest person you can be.
Life is a continual series of choices. Choose exercise and movement, then make it so it’s not a choice. Make it your life.
So, get out and walk, pick up pickleball, find an exercise partner. Do something new. Get a step counter. Listen to podcasts. Take an exercise class. Join a meetup group. Go to a concert. Take a walk in the rain. Plan a trip. Find your passion.
Whatever you do… just keep moving.
So, baby steps or a toe in the water? Just make sure to put your best foot forward. Maybe your feet really do have all the answers. Where would you like them to take you?
You may also enjoy reading Morning Yoga & Meditation for Energy, Awareness and Intention by Carter Miles