published Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Upton: Unending adventures are key to a happy life

My parents have just booked tickets to St. Thomas in the beautiful Caribbean.

I just can't believe it. I ask myself, "Why do they get to have so much fun?"

In the past few years my parents have traveled the world, while remaining connected to those in their own backyard. They've met interesting people, written encouraging devotionals and invited new friends into their home.

I've always heard that people get more settled as they age. My wonderful parents are strangely unsettled, if you ask me. Of course, they say this trip to a beautiful island is actually an exploratory visit to a school where they may like to teach for a year.

I'd like to crash some of their adventures.

Last Christmas, when they planned a winter date to see Kenny G present his holiday album in live concert, I was right there in the crowd near them. They might as well consider me their chaperone.

And now, as they consider a paradise-like venue for their "teaching mission," I've already alerted a friend or two of a fresh possibility of a place with a free stay and a great view for our next great vacation.

Though I joke about it, I love the example my parents are setting.

People will often ask me about them as if they're on their last legs.

"Your parents, how are they? Doing OK?" Their voices are etched with concern as they rest their hands gently upon my shoulder.

I want to say, "Of course. I can't keep up with them. I don't even know where they are right now. And if they've gone on vacation without me, I will be mad."

I told my 67-year old father that, "Some people would think (you're) too old for all this."

He answered, "Well we're not too old. We're still healthy." He believes that when God calls, you're never too old to answer. And if your health is an obstacle, you can find other ways to serve. He and my mother are having a great time doing just that, despite the fact that life sometimes presents its challenges and setbacks.

When people are doing that, they generally like to share the joy.

It's important to live this way for as long as possible. There will come a time when reflection on what you've done with your life will become important.

Some of the biggest regrets people have are not having taken more risks. Most of us want to leave an imprint on the world around us. We want to know that our lives have mattered.

My father said he and my mother have a new idea. Now they want to hang out more with couples, socializing and talking, but hoping for ways to connect on deeper levels. They see a need for people to share struggles and encouragement in a relaxed, casual setting. It's exciting in a different way than that Caribbean idea, but very necessary.

So, what about you? What's your next great adventure?

Tabi Upton, MA-lpc, is a local therapist and founder of the self-help website www.chattanoogacounselor.com. E-mail her at tabiupton@bellsouth.net.

about Tabi Upton...

Tabi Upton, MA-LPC is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center.

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werds said...

My mother took her first plane flight - to Great Britain!! - when she was 65.

When she was 72, she stopped in to see her first great-grandchild on the way to an international flight to visit me. When she left, a friend said she looked "52 - maybe!".

When she was nearly 50, she decided - in the face of much opposition - to give birth to her last child. That was me.

In my 30's, several doctors diagnosed conditions that would have qualified me for disability. They said I should expect to be in a wheelchair by my 50's. For decades, I listened and it was going the way they predicted.

Now, I'm in my 60's. AFTER implementing her lifestyle, people began to assume I'm "40-something". International travel, stair-climbing, gardening, roofing, walking for miles - it all keeps one youthful!

In her 40's, Mother was bed-ridden with arthritis. Perhaps, it's not lifestyle resulting from good health... rather health resulting from lifestyle.

... Thanks, Mom, for the wonderful example.

April 3, 2010 at 2:59 p.m.
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