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June 23, 2020 By Liz Wildberger

The Way it Works

Writer’s Note: This was written in 2005, just eight years after the Paradise Valley Estates RecreationCenter was founded. Dare I say that nothing has changed? Well, maybe my body and my age, but the spirit lingers on.

The Elderhostel brochure read, “Level of difficulty moderate on uneven terrain.” Desiring to experience the incredible natural beauty and scenery of eight national parks in Utah accessible only through “destination hikes” overrode my apprehension about tripping and falling off a cliff, I signed up.

Unwittingly, I had been preparing for this rigorous adventure for many months, guided through balance exercises by fitness instructors at Paradise Valley Estates. Emphasis on maintaining focus, building calf and leg muscles, developing stamina and endurance and protecting the spine by abdominal strength had become my powerful tools for outdoor recreation.

For two weeks, I explored one magnificent natural wonder after the other, with 40 colleagues, a geologist, and a knowledgeable leader. Sometimes breathless from the altitudes, and sometimes from the exertion, I practiced the skills learned in fitness classes at PVE. My gratitude to the instructors who, in teaching me how to use my body to its best advantage in daily activities, actually gave me the gift of confidence that let me enjoy an awesome outdoor adventure.

Thank you, Jan, Glora and Ida. Your nurturing and caring patience continues to enrich our lives in unexpected ways.

Fast forward to 2020. My fitness life has changed, but the instructors haven’t. Maybe the individuals — but Jan, now Director of Wellness, is still encouraging all residents to “join in the fun” of fitness.

I am at Miramar Marine Corps Base in Orange County, CA. My great-grandchildren surround me, clamoring, “Look at me, GeGe!” The five of them ride the Razor scooters that Santa left, complete with helmets, speeding past me on the wide sidewalk that surrounds a playground of Marine-quality proportions. Suddenly, I feel a tug on my jacket. Four-year-old Adeline shouts, “When will we ride the zip line, GeGe?” I reply, “Shortly, Addie, as soon as I do my yoga breathing.” It is a kid-adapted zip line without a deep chasm below and I am not looking forward to it. But I channel Karen Nelson, my personal trainer, who will be proud of me. We wait in the long line, Addie’s small hand confidently squeezing mine. “Oh, GeGe, thank you for not acting old!” she says. Once more, I think: “Thank you, Wellness Staff. Your nurturing and caring patience continues to enrich our lives in unexpected ways.”

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