The Second Half: Looking back to move forward

By Kathleen D. Tresemer

I often suggest making a list, for one reason or another, but my Second-Half readers tell me, “I know what you tell us, but we just don’t do it!”

OK, forget the lists—this is the New Year, so let’s just think about it instead. No writing required. Let’s ponder our successes in 2010, anything great or small that we accomplished.

My first success: About a year ago, I started taking yoga classes. I was inspired by a 90-something author and motivational speaker, Ms. Charlotte Hackin, who talks about enhancing her prospect for a long, healthy life through daily meditation and yoga. Charlotte quotes the Dalai Lama, who says that “training our minds” can change our “entire attitude and approach to living.” Combine that inspiration with my own research and a positive—albeit ancient—experience with yoga, I decided to give it a shot (yes, unfortunately my teen years do qualify as ancient history).

After about six weeks of yoga, the improvement was noticeable. Today, the way I stand, the way I move, my flexibility, strength, and balance have all improved… and those are just the obvious things. Rachel Bixby, Lazy Dog Yoga Studio master and physical therapist, discusses more subtle improvements you can expect: “Yoga isn’t just about fitness or striking a perfect pose, but more about challenging ourselves in small ways—to focus, to breathe, to strive for incremental improvements. This ‘challenging of ourselves’ trains our mind to handle those inevitable stressful times: keeping us calm and focused, allowing for mental clarity and grace under pressure. We become stronger and more balanced in all areas of our lives.”

Looking back, I’d say yoga is shaping both my body and the way I interact with the world: less REACTING and more ACTING IN MY OWN BEST INTEREST. A definite change for the better! I have begun to participate in the free guided meditation sessions every Monday night at Lazy Dog, too. Floating home afterward, I’m so mellow you could pour me into a honey jar.

“So, do you practice yoga and meditation at home every day?” someone asked.

Yeah…I did go out and get a yoga mat and I do practice at home, but I don’t do anything faithfully every day except drink coffee and eat. So, maybe this year I can improve my home yoga/meditation regime. This would only be as a favor to myself, mind you, not anything like a New Year’s resolution. I hate those.

More success: Another benefit of this weekly ritual is spending time with my 20-something pal, Laura Rae. She has become “hooked on yoga” too, and her youthful insights keep me on my toes. As you may recall from previous columns, I strive for diversity by seeking out the company of all age groups (strangely, not all of them want me—imagine!). One Second-Half acquaintance I know suggested hobnobbing with youngsters to be “a trying experience with no common ground to speak of. …” But that is my point: the more you share, the more you find you have in common.

Looking back, this relationship has given me new insights, loads of fun, and a cherished friendship. Thanks, Laura Rae, for making me part of your youthful world.

A happy success: I lost 20 pounds without having to chop off a limb to do it. (I outlined my primitive eating style in my recent column, Dec. 22-28 issue.) Looking back, though, I’m pretty proud of my new size and still motivated to keep going.

Another success: I finished writing a YA (Young Adult) novel. Even for an experienced writer, producing a whole book is a huge project. In 2010, my contact with a variety of younger readers led me to take on writing a novel for this audience. The benefits include falling in love with the characters I have created and discovering more of what is important to me. I think young adults deserve something more than fantasy books—they are worthy of honest books, books that address issues they face every day such as teen alcohol abuse. Soon we will find out if the publishing industry agrees with me.

Looking back, this led me to a group of brilliant scribes who are developing In Print, a professional writers’ group in the stateline area. I was impressed enough to sit on their board and help it get off the ground. (More about In Print later in the new year—their kick-off event will be in March 2011.) Needless to say, I’m counting my involvement with In Print as another success, wherever it may lead.

The biggest success of 2010: We all survived! Hubby lived through a horse-related accident, a chainsaw massacre, and a giant tree falling on him, as well as the subsequent surgery to repair the damage to his knee. His astonishing recovery, the fact that no one else was hurt, and getting through this lengthy trial with my sense of humor intact is nothing short of a miracle.

Looking back, we are stronger and wiser for the experience. As my Second-Half mother always said about adversity: “It builds character, my dear…unfortunately, you already have an excess of that!”

NOW YOU: what were your successes this year? Don’t write ’em down, just share ’em with someone you love. Or log on to and share in the “Post A Comment” box at the end of my column.

Happy New Year, Second Half readers, and congratulations on your successes, big and small! May 2011 bring you peace and happiness.

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at

From the Jan. 5-11, 2011 issue

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