We all like to think we’re ready for any kind of challenge but never really know until we have to face one.
What Steven Stover went through was literally hell and back. It’s amazing enough his body is healing but almost beyond belief that his spirit, strength and character are not only still intact, but more intense than ever.
This is one courageous, deeply grateful and caring man.
Here’s the bottom line: One day we will ALL have sudden, life-changing challenges to face. I can only hope to deal with mine with the grace, compassion and courage shown by Steve.
Thanks, Steve, for trusting Growing Bolder and me to tell your story!
It was August 13, 2011 at the Indiana State Fair. Sara Bareilles had just finished her set and Sugarland was due any moment. A storm that seemed to come out of nowhere sent winds whipping up to 70 miles per hour. Then the unthinkable. The entire stage structure collapsed. Seven died. 58 were injured, none worse than spotlight operator Steven Stover.
In his first interview since the tragedy, Stover explains why he’ll never be the same, and why under the circumstances, that’s just fine with him.
Now that we’re into yet ANOTHER year it’s time to think about… time. I wouldn’t say I’m starting to freak out about it, but I AM getting dizzy, and maybe even a bit nauseous at how fast time is flying by. But after a few sleepless nights of obsessive thinking I’ve come up with this: I think we’ve got time all wrong.
Ok, follow me here. What’s the most critical element for life? They teach us that it’s carbon, oxygen, sunlight or something like that, but nooooo. It’s time.
Time is life. Time governs absolutely everything we do. You get that. We chase time all the time, trying to be on time. It’s why they say timing is everything. Time wakes us up in the morning, pushes us through the day. Time decides when we have to be at work and time decides when we can go home.
All this has twisted our ability to see time for what it really is. I mean, all Clark Kent does is put on a pair of glasses and nobody knows who he his. Time is hiding it’s true identity behind some thin disguise, too.
We look right at it all the time but we don’t see it for what it is. We think time is linear, something with a starting point like a new day, that shoots a ray straight out where we can mark the things that happen to us and the events we have planned. It looks so linear, doesn’t it? And that line keeps stretching out day after day, year after year. And because of that we fall victim to the cruelest trick of all. We start to believe it is never going to end. Oh, we know it will, but that day is soooo far off it isn’t the least bit relevant to us. Maybe there’s even a part of us that hopes that maybe we’ll be the one to live forever. But at some point we all get hit with a wallop.
I used to live in fear of disease. The thought of heart disease and cancer terrified me. Still do. But now I realize there is something far more cold, ruthless and uncaring. Time.
We live like our time is never going to run out, then we’re devastated and totally unprepared when we ultimately realize, usually very near the end that it most certainly will.
That’s the point where we most want to live. It’s when we realize how truly fortunate we were to have what we had. It’s when we realize how much we took for granted, how much time we wasted and how badly we wished we could have more.
That’s where the concept of linear time will lead you every time. So instead, think of time like this: When we’re born we are all given a bucket full of time. Some people get a great big scoop, other’s not so much. That’s what you get. It is what it is. You can eat nothing but vegetables and do yoga all day long and it’s not going to put more time in your bucket. You only have so much time no matter what you do.
We have no control over how long we live. We DO have control over HOW.
When you think of time that way it makes you want to get out there and make the most of it! And in order to make the most of it you need lots of things. You need to be healthy and strong, you need money, curiosity, education and friends. They can absolutely help you live better. But not longer.
We all need to understand there is an end. We need to remember that every single day. It’s all the motivation we need to live well. Knowing there is an end keeps us from wasting so much time. Knowing there is an end will put an end to all the whining we do about all the pointless things we think are a big deal. Knowing there is an end will make you a better person. It will help you live with more focus, clarity and purpose. Can you imagine if we truly take advantage of this incredible gift of understanding this precious commodity that is time?
Even death would be looked upon in a completely different light! It would truly be a time of celebration instead of devastation. And a life well-lived inspires the rest of us to strive to do the same.
Don’t wait for disease or illness or some sudden life trauma to make you truly appreciate what’s in your bucket. We only get the time we get, not one second more. So get out there! Time’s a-wastin’!
At 92, Joy Lofthouse is back in the sky in the fighter plane she loved so much and she hasn’t stopped smiling since. It was the first time she climbed into the cockpit of a Spitfire in over 70 years.
I know your first thought, “Wait, WOMEN flew fighter planes?”
They sure did! Maybe not in combat, but they fulfilled a vital role in the all-out effort to preserve our freedom in a time when our freedom could not be taken for granted, and the stories of their contributions need to be told!
Lofthouse flew for the British Air Transport Auxiliary, a civilian organization where women learned how to fly every kind of military aircraft imaginable in order to ferry new, repaired and damaged planes between factories, assembly plants, scrapyards and airfields. She was one of fewer than 200 women who would fly the Spitfires back and forth between the front lines and the service factories.
The world certainly has changed in the seven decades since World War II. Soon, all who lived through it will be gone. Which makes Lofthouse even more compelling. Back when she was flying those planes it was rare for anyone to even live to 90. But today, thanks to a combination of genetics, lifestyle and good fortune her memory is razor sharp, she’s still quite spry and open to adventures.
Watch her rekindle old memories in this video captured by the BBC and then read on for another incredible example!
One of the most unforgettable people I’ve ever met is Betty Wall Strohfus. She served in World War II as a WASP, Women Airfare Service Pilot, one of a select group of barrier-breakers, pioneers, role models and heroes, the first women in history trained to fly American military aircraft.
Now in her early 90s she has the energy of a small power plant. She has spent the last few years making speaking engagements, telling the stories of the WASPs to many who had little idea. During the war she was a hero for courageously breaking gender barriers by going literally where no woman had gone before, and she is a hero now for the inspiration and passion she still has for doing her part and making a difference.
I know you’ll love watching this for her story, her energy and her unique sense of humor!
Two incredible women with important stories to tell, two inspirational role models for what life can be if we’re lucky enough to blessed with health, passion and adventure. Betty Wall Strohfus and Joy Lofthouse, we salute you!!!
Remember when grandmothers were little old ladies who did needlepoint and baked pies? Well, these days those “little old ladies” aren’t in the kitchen anymore. They’ve left to head to the gym. And once there, they’re not just stretching rubber bands, they’re pumping iron.
Iris Davis is a grandmother. She’s 71 and she is fierce! She once tackled an armed robber on the street trying to flee police.
Far from Lawrence Welk, this grandma’s favorite band is AC/DC. At 5’1″ and less than 100 pounds she’s in the best shape of her life and she wants you to be too.
“I can help anyone get in shape,” she says. “If I can do it, anybody can!”
This eleven-time bodybuilding champion is determined to prove it by working as a fitness trainer. She believes she is uniquely qualified because, as it does for just about anyone who’s been alive long enough, life has presented Iris with her share of challenges. At the age of 45 she contracted encephalitis and was bed-ridden for two years. “Doctors told me I would probably end up in a wheelchair,” she said. “Because many with the disease end up totally disabled.”
Out of desperation she began working out, starting with the lightest weights possible. One year later at the age of 50 she entered her first bodybuilding competition and has been at it ever since.
She believes working out has also helped her battle depression, and helped her recover from a ruptured appendix.
She says people often do a double take when they see her work out, but the biggest benefit to being in shape is not how she looks from the outside, but how she feels from the inside. She believes staying fit has helped her avoid or recover from illness more quickly. She feels strong and confident enough to participate in her grandchildren’s lives in a way that would have been unheard of a generation ago. She believes her flexibility allows her to avoid many of the aches and pains associated with age, and her energy level has her excited to greet each new day.
Bodybuilding certainly isn’t for everybody but doing something to get in shape is. There’s nothing wrong with making pies and doing needlepoint, but throwing in a little extra physical activity can be a life-changer. Even at 71, Davis is looking ahead to new challenges, “I love what I do and plan on never stopping,” she says. “It’s just such a great way to live!”
Staying single is the key to longevity. That is not according to some scientific research, but the opinion of some of the oldest people in the world. It is probably not insignificant that those asked were all women. One was 109. Another was 108.
Emma Morano divorced her husband in 1938 and says it was the best thing that ever happened to her. Now 115, she’s the oldest person in Europe and the third oldest person in the world. She told the New York Times she’s still alive for two reasons: she eats three raw eggs a day, and she has remained single.
The Washington Post had an article that culled together even more examples of centenarians and super centenarians who believe that being unattached has extended their lives.
We have interviewed many of the oldest people on the planet. And yes, there is some support for the idea that longevity and staying single make a great couple. I myself have heard it first-hand, but never more clearly than from a lovely, sharp and very old woman named Ruth Leiber. I was invited to her 110th birthday party where she explained why she believed avoiding the alter extended her life. “Can you think of any married people who have lived this long?”
So, could it be that marriage will kill you? Maybe so. Maybe we should do something about it. Maybe it’s time to think about starting a fundraising campaign, wearing some kind of ribbon or wrist band and holding events to raise money to “cure”marriage. Or maybe not.
I’m not 115 and I’m quite certain I never will be but to me, marriage has been the best and most meaningful part of my life. Has it added stress, enough to perhaps shave years off of my life? Absolutely! But it has given me so much more: a partner to share experiences with, good and bad, a best friend to root for and be with, a solid rock to lean on and the greatest reason of all, a wonderful mother to our son.
Who knows why we live as long as we do? But I do know this. Age is just a number. Life is defined by the tapestry of experiences, emotions and relationships we weave together along our journeys. Could it be that single people do live longer? Perhaps. But I wouldn’t trade the time shared with my wife, even for a few extra decades!
Photo: Kin Man Hui, Staff / San Antonio Express-News
Here is a wonderful story from the San Antonio Express News that takes the Growing Bolder philosophy sky high! It’s actually two stories in one, first, older pilots getting the chance to climb back into the cockpit and second, the intriguing organization that makes it possible.
The organization has a great name, it’s The Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation. Here’s how they describe themselves on their website:
The Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation is a non-profit organization established and dedicated to honoring seniors and United States military veterans. The primary focus is on individuals living in long-term care communities. Our mission is to “Give Back To Those Who Have Given”. Through our donors, the Foundation provides Dream Flights in a Boeing Stearman biplane, the same aircraft used to train many military aviators in the 1940’s.
They are a national organization, meaning you might be able to get them to come to you! In this case the Express News followed them to two retirement communities and saw the magic take place first hand, when 102-year-old Retired Air Force test pilot Gerhard Schriever was invited to head back up into the blue.
You can take a look at their article and learn how to perhaps make this happen for some veterans in your area by clicking here.