Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Having Doubts? Read on?

Last winter, I took my folks to a Nordic Walking info session put on by the Moncton Outdoor Enthusiasts at Centennial Park. From what I had seen, I thought it was the perfect activity for them, since they were concerned about walking during the icy winter months. They seemed intrigued, but worried about 'looking silly'.

Well, I want to mention Claire Walter’s blog – Claire is a travel journalist who is awaiting the 2008 release of her book called, “Nordic Walking: the new way to health, fitness and fun”. If you have any doubts on the popularity of Nordic Walking, you need to browse her informative blog. Clare has posts on Nordic walking all over the world.

In particular, read the article on Nordic Walking in New Brunswick. She mentions a number of familiar names! Walk On Albert County!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What if Nordic Walking came to Albert County?

It is! Nordic Walking has long been a favourite European activity, but is now quickly gaining popularity in Canada. By using specialized walking poles for added stability and motion, Nordic Walkers get a fantastic upper body workout and increased calorie burn during exercise. It’s a perfect exercise that removes some of the concerns of winter walking and it’s a supremely effective therapy for those who suffer from arthritis.

Footloose! is so privileged to have Yennah Hurley and her partner Marilyn Inch joining us for an Introduction to Nordic Walking session on November 17th at 10:00 am at the Recreation Centre in Riverside-Albert. (This photo is of Yennah and Marilyn at Marathon by the Sea.)

Yennah and Marilyn have a Nordic Walking group ( in Saint John and they will be bringing an inventory of poles so folks can actually try it and like it. Yennah will even be offering a discount if folks want to order their own– you won’t find a better deal than what she’s offering.

Yennah is so passionate about Nordic Walking that you’ll be sure to catch the buzz. Also joining us that day is Daryl Steeves (formerly of Albert County, currently from St. Joe’s Hospital in Saint John, and most recently fresh back from a Joints in Motion marathon in Greece). Daryl is a marathon veteran, both as a runner and a Nordic Walker and this year was instrumental in getting a Nordic Walking event added to Saint John's annual Marathon by the Sea event. (He even came in first place - see him approaching the finish line in the photo!) I mentioned Daryl before in my blog; he’s a wonderfully inspirational trainer and speaker who lives a full athletic life around psoriatic arthritis. He’s one of my favourite people, so trust me when I say he’s going to be giving a presentation that you just simply won’t want to miss.

This promises to be an awesome Footloose! day of fun, fitness and firsts, so bring your friends and family along. You just never know what day your life will change!

Need more info? Call Rhonda Hamilton or Doris Weir here at the Community Health and Wellness Centre. 882-3100

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What if a community building project wasn’t just about lumber and nails?

Behind the scenes in the past several weeks, a community house building project has been taking shape. (See the earlier post about the volunteer project to build a barrier-free home for a local disabled couple.) So far, a number of Moncton and Hillsborough area businesses have stepped forward to contribute shingles, siding, concrete, interior and exterior studding, insulation, and windows for the new home. Hillsborough contractors and tradesmen are donating their labour. Several Hillsborough residents helped find willing donors and sponsors by contacting people they know.

We’ve even had support from as far away as Grand Falls when Steve Toner, of Timber Top Trusses, not only donated the roof truss package, but then offered to look for sponsorship from his circle of contacts when he runs an upcoming marathon. He wants to donate the proceeds to the house building project. “Why are you doing this?” I asked.

“Because what you’re doing is a really good thing.”

It is a good thing. It’s a good thing for Albert County and it’s a good thing for the couple we are helping. They find it difficult to put into words the feelings that come from being wrapped in love.

But it’s not just about building a house. It’s about a community working together on a project that shows the world we care. It’s about building community spirit. Like Footloose drew people together in a common cause of better individual health, this house-building project can bring people together in a common cause of better community health.

The successes of our community suppers show we like to work together. Camaraderie and warmth comes from working together in the service of others. Our success with Footloose showed that people in Albert County are tired of complacency – of ‘settling for less’ – they want to improve. Now let’s keep the momentum and show the real strength and quality of our heart.

We’ve endured too much negativity recently. Our youth desperately need our attention; they need to be surrounded by adults who are setting an example. They need to see how caring translates to action. And they need to be involved in community building, too.

So talk about this project to your friends and co-workers. Let people know what is happening here. Step out of your complacency. Dare to care out loud. Get involved.

If you want to help out in some way, call Pat Carr, 734-2367.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Finale Fotos

Check out the online Footloose 5K Photo Album!

If anyone wants copies of a photo, drop me a line at

What if we refused to settle?

Yesterday wasn’t just an incredibly successful Footloose! in Albert County 5K Walk/Run grand finale event.

It wasn’t just about achieving a personal best or about several hundred people enjoying a barbeque with neighbours, family and friends.

Yesterday was really about wanting more. About refusing to ‘settle’.

Too often, we settle for what life gives us, thinking this is all there is. We settle for less than what we dreamed of as children. We settle for less than we desire, in our hearts, for ourselves.

Yesterday, I met people who were refusing to settle for less any longer. I saw enthusiasm, drive, grit, and the quiet pride of achievement.

I saw Sylvia, who now gets up every morning and walks with her husband at 6:00 am. She’s 60 pounds lighter now – ‘the easiest weight I’ve ever lost!” she says with a big, beautiful smile. She refused to settle for a sedentary life.

I saw Eddie who, through a regime that combines diet, walking and biking, has lost almost half himself…the half he didn’t need. He refused to settle for a life impeded by health issues; he took charge of his wellbeing.

I saw Lloyd and Annabelle, who took part, even though they are both fighting cancer. Lloyd carried his folding stool, in case he had to stop to rest. (He didn’t.) They refused to accept illness, choosing instead to exhibit grit and hope through activity.

One beautiful white-haired lady walked with a cast on her foot and a cane in her hand. Fathers walked, hand in hand, with children. Mothers walked with strollers. Children and teens competed good-naturedly, but it wasn’t a race.

It was a gift. One that each participant made to themselves to celebrate achievement. And it was a benchmark moment, showing they abandoned complacency. They have refused to ’settle’ any longer.

Now that's something to celebrate.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What would you give to a stranger?

Let me tell you about a couple who live in our community. Society likes to call them 'disadvantaged' as if their situation were nothing more than a mild inconvenience. This couple may not be all that well known beyond their own circle of friends. They are most often seen at church; they sit at the back, usually not saying too much until spoken to, but are committed volunteers who work hard behind the scenes.

He is a paraplegic in constant battle with pressure sores; she has scoliosis and lives with chronic pain. They survive on a small disability pensions. Independence is precious to them. You will never hear them complain. If you asked, they would say they feel blessed. Their faith in God and their love for each other is an inspiration to all who do know them.

They need a new home. The mobile home they were living in will be demolished this week. However, a number of community volunteers have decided to launch a community house-raising. A home to call their own.

It’s a leap of faith. There are no guarantees that money or donors will be found for all the materials required. There are no assurances that labour will be available when needed. There are no government grants or funding being sought, as time is of the essence.

But when you step forward in love, and in faith, your steps become sure and firm.

So far, the response has been phenomenal. Several Hillsborough-area building contractors have offered to help. We have an electrician, plumber, architect and engineer volunteering time and resources. Businesses offered materials. Family groups have pooled resources. Many don't even know this couple.

In fact, the support has been so positive, that site preparation for the small two bedroom barrier-free home will begin next week – only two weeks after the idea took form. Everyone who contributes will be doing so purely from the heart, without expectation of anything in return, other than the knowledge they have responded to need. There will be no charitable receipts offered.

Of all the things that are required of us in life, love for each other is the most important. It is also the riskiest. Love requires action. To act in love will always require sacrifice; commitment, time, resources.

I believe this Albert County needs this project as much as this couple needs a home. This community needs a reason to remember it has a heart. It needs a reason to show it and to act upon it.

Sometimes, you hear a whisper – a still, small voice - deep inside your heart and you just know you need to listen. Is this is one of those times for you?

If someone asked you to show love to a stranger, what would you say?

If you have time, expertise, or donations to offer, please call Pat Carr at 734-2367.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What if big effort equaled big reward?

The success of the Footloose! in Albert County has not gone unnoticed outside the county. Remember when I commented that whenever effort is put forth, we shouldn't limit our expectations to just the achievement of the goal? I believe what I said was:

"It’s important to realize that the benefits of regular exercise go far beyond what you might expect. You can expect to physically feel better, but the inner sense of well-being, the clarity of thought, the pride of accomplishment, self-confidence and connection you feel with others doing the same thing are the intangible gifts that accompany commitment and effort."

Well, your collective effort, hard work and participation in this program has accomplished far more than anyone could have foreseen. Last night, as the focus group met to finalize the plans for the 5K event on October 13, we learned there is a very big, very exciting announcement on the horizon.

Trust me. You won't want to miss this, so make sure you are at the Footloose! 5K Final Event and Health Fair taking place at the Hillsborough Information Centre.

9:30 Registration
10:45 Tiny Toes Trot
11:00 5K Walk/Run.
Barbeque, live entertainment and prize draws take place after the race. Local activity-related organizations and groups will have information booths set up as well.

Be There.

Monday, October 1, 2007

What if we could change the world? Footloose Goes International!

I call them " forever moments" . Moments in time when an individual says something that is powerfully motivating ; it becomes engrained in your memory...even changing the course of your life. It was about 10 years ago when I heard it. David Suzuki was being interviewed. " As a young man I used to believe that global change came by thinking globally..I was wrong. Now I am an old man and see that change comes by thinking locally and then you can change things globally". I recently returned from a Mission's trip to the Czech Republic. During the opening session , the host tried to explain the location of Albert County to a curious crowd of students. There had been teams from large cities in Canada and the United States...but here was a team from Albert County... just where in the world was that? My week of English classes ended with many tears and hugs and warm wishes from the Czech people. In a land far away, a small group group of community minded people made a lasting impression globally. By the end of the week students would walk up to me and in broken English ask " this... what I am eating healthy?" We just can't help it can we. Who we are and what we believe rubs off on other people. The pictures included on this blog are footloose members who have taken the challenge to international levels. Evelyn Wachs from Riverside-Albert sends her photo from Crimea Island, Ukraine. My photo is taken on the famous Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic, and Phyllis Hudson in front of St Peter's Basilica Rome Italy.

What if Community Suppers weren’t just about Good Food?

I love autumn. It enlivens me. The spicy fall colours wake me up after the lazy heat of summer; the coolness in the air tingles like a brisk body rub.

The tradition of the Lower Cape turkey supper is also an autumn highlight of my year. I feel off kilter if I’ve been unable to lend a hand to help out.

Pleasant memories are found in the kitchen smells of the turkey, gravy and wood smoke, the collective energy of dozens of helpers, the easy camaraderie and corny jokes, neighbours catching up with neighbours and getting to know the new faces, all of them glistening with the heat and steam from cooking vegetables.

It’s organized chaos and pure joy manifested in hard work, while outside, folk mill about socializing and generally enjoying the hour-long wait before jovial Willis Steeves finds them a seat at the table. The supper is renowned throughout the county. People drive miles for the finest turkey meal known to mortal man.

Main organizers Carol Steeves and Sylvia Stevens have been directing the kitchen work for 35 years, while Margorie Henwood supervises the dining room and servers. Once, they worried about the suppers dying a slow death without new helpers being prepared to take it on. But, by the evidence in the kitchen last Saturday afternoon, there should be no concerns. Each year, more teenagers discover the joys of teamwork and serving others.

Serving 600 meals is no easy task; preparation begins many weeks earlier as turkeys and vegetables are purchased. Then that week, the best cooks in the county begin making donuts, rolls, and pies. Pickles, beets, and cranberry sauce are all donated as well.

As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” Lower Cape turkey suppers may not echo through world in a global sense, but they've certainly reverberated through my world.