Finish with a Flourish

Finish with a Flourish

Oct 12, 2022 | Stories

So I’m going to riff on what I said in About Susan about how I came up with the name Finish with a Flourish to represent the work I do with seniors. I mentioned that I was overweight and out of shape at age 64. I had a spectacular success a few years before in successfully adopting an infant when I was 47 (the year I ran the New York City Marathon) and two years later, her brother. (More on this later in another blog post). I thought that raising these children would be the last major project of my life. When they started middle school, I was offered a position by my friend Janet with Southwestern Advantage, writing online articles and producing videos for middle and high school science, social studies, and language arts. It was a really fun job and Janet didn’t care when I worked as long as I met deadlines. So it was perfect way for me to make sure I didn’t miss cake decorating classes with Ian and swim meets with Joy. However, I spent 40-50 hours a week in front of the computer, and slowly saw my health and fitness going downhill as the kids’ lives got busier and busier.

I was on a camping trip with my kids and my sister the summer before I turned 65. We were walking down to the lake from the campsite, quite a steel trail. I was being careful, and my sister, six years younger than me, commented, “Susan, you walk like an old lady.” Me, a marathon runner? Why would she say that?

A couple of months later I was rushing to get the kids off to a swim meet and tripped over a generator that my husband had left in my office. I put out my left arm to break my fall, and my humerus slammed backward into my shoulder blade. I knew it was broken, but I got in the car and dropped the kids off at their swim meet. I told my daughter, “I think I broke my arm. I’m going to the emergency room, so I can’t stay for the meet. I’ll be back to pick ya’ll up.” She looked at me like I was crazy, and observed that she had noticed I was driving with one hand.

Thank goodness it was my left arm so I could still use the computer! This was right before the holidays, so I went through Thanksgiving and Christmas with my arm immobilized. I consoled myself with all the holiday food. By January 1 weighed 160, quite hefty for someone who is five foot two.

For the new year, I made a resolution that I would not let myself grow old in that condition. I went to physical therapy, and got mediocre results in gaining back my mobility in my left arm. The doctor didn’t seem to be concerned with my lack of progress, I guess because I was so old why did it matter? But I realized that I would not be able to swim the backstroke. Nevermind that I hadn’t swum the backstroke in probably 20 years, but right then it seemed to be very important.

So I went over to LA Fitness and signed up for a years’ worth of personal training. I couldn’t afford it, but I put it on my credit card, knowing that if I didn’t, in a couple of months I would be saying I didn’t have enough time and/or money to keep it up, and I knew it was going to take a year to accomplish my goals.

I also took water aerobics classes at the gym. One day in class I was watching the instructor and thought, “I could do that!” I’m a teacher, and I’d been exercising most of my life (before kids). So i took a certification class and started teaching at LA Fitness, than at the Y, and then at a local community gym. Now I took a look at my personal trainer with the same thought, “I could do that!” So I called my friend Kathyrn who had been a personal trainer for the past 30 years. She explained exactly how to do it, and in six months, I was a certified personal trainer. The community gym was willing to take me on as a contractor, and I started getting clients there. I chose to work only with people over 60, for several reasons. I felt they would trust me more than a younger trainer, and I wanted all my experience to be with seniors so I would develop a solid expertise in helping them. And, I wasn’t sure I could keep up with younger clients!

I wanted a name for my business, and that’s when I came up with Finish with a Flourish. That’s what I intended to do when I embarked on getting back into shape, and I liked the wordplay. I ran it by my twentysomething kids, who were appalled. “But mom, that’s awful. You’re reminding them that they are going to die.” I responded that I thought they knew that already at their age, and that I wanted them to focus on what they could do to to flourish, given that finishing was a given.

So that’s what I named my business and I have carried that forward as I move into health coaching. It’s all about reclaiming our energy regardless of how old we are and insisting on flourishing in spite of circumstances that might suggest otherwise. By the way, I’ve weighed less than 120 pounds for the past eight years. (Except for a couple of months during the pandemic.)


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