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Where Are Your Shoes?

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By: Toni A. Jacobson

As a lover of shoes, and the owner of hundreds of pairs, I have chosen to take a path for the second act of my life’s performance, which requires no shoes.

Remembering the quote of the Greek Philosopher Heraclitus, and my mother, “The only thing that is constant is change.”

To be successful in life, you must be open to change. You must constantly review your options and risks to deal with, and take advantage of, the many opportunities/challenges that will come your way.  To do otherwise will cause stagnation and/or extinction, change is that powerful.

Well of course it is, sometimes life changes in ways that are barely noticeable in day to day reference. Other times, change storms through our lives in a tidal wave and there is no time for accepting, welcoming, or embracing it. There is just the instinct to survive, keep your head above water, and not drown. But other times we know that change is coming our way, and we can either choose to ignore it, or we begin planning for a way to embrace that inevitable change.

And being my mother’s daughter, as the dreaded 65th birthday became my reality; I decided to begin making a plan for my second act, “life after retirement.”

My close friend gave me a book, authored by his friend, entitled “Choices & Changes,” A Positive Aging Guide to Life Planning. “Well, thanks very much for such a thoughtful gift,” I thought to myself! But, I knew that was just my ego talking, and the time had come, all too soon, for some deep thought and some planning for my future retirement.

This is where my story about the shoeless path begins:

I began retirement planning from my publishing business in a very organized and deliberate way, fulfilling my remaining contracts. All was going along as planned, and that was the easy part.  The hard part was deciding what I would do as a retired person?

Always being a very active person, I knew that I had to reinvent myself.  But I also knew, that whatever path I chose, must be one that I would enjoy and at the same time be of value to society and my community.

One of the plans of action that I had identified in my reinvention plan, was to join a health club and get back on a regular exercise routine, as I had let that part of my daily routine fall off of my radar screen in the last couple of years. I had convinced myself that I was too busy, too tired, or too something. Now was a good time to get back on that horse, as I was closing in on my last contract completion, no more excuses, onward and upward.

This is when I discovered yoga, and my experience with yoga is a personal one. I had been living with significant and chronic shoulder pain, an outcome of two rotator cuff surgeries, one on each shoulder. As most people, I began to go to yoga classes for the exercise, not sure that I could even practice yoga because of my shoulder injuries.  Much to my surprise I could modify some of the poses to accommodate my limited arm and shoulder mobility and began to practice every day.

Before I knew it, I had found my path of reinvention in yoga.  The best thing was that my chronic shoulder pain began to disappear, and all I had to do was practice yoga, which was great fun and doing wonderful things for the rest of my 65 year old body.

As I continued to practice I discovered that yoga is a great form of exercise for all people. In my readings and research on the topic, I found that yoga is for everyone, and every “body”, no matter what the physical challenges may be, yoga can reach out to everyone in so many positive ways, and it really has no boundaries.

There it was, my new career, becoming a yoga teacher and helping to make others aware of the many benefits of practicing yoga.

I have recently attended and graduated from Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), a 200 hour course, and as far as I know I may be oldest student to enroll in an YTT course, in Des Moines. I am currently continuing my education at Duke University‘s School of Integrated Medicine, in Raleigh-Durham, NC, and just received my Certificate of Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors in November.

I am convinced that yoga is that magic bullet we all are looking for to maintain our health/wellness and youthful vitality. No Shoes Required!


- Toni Jacobson, founder of the Zen Stone Yoga Company, is an AARP Iowa member living in Central Iowa.  Contact her at[/youtube]

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