Let me introduce you. This is my father, Daniel Hritzko, born November 25, 1918 in Chisholm, Minnesota. His father, Dmitri, arrived in America through Ellis Island and worked for two years before returning to Europe to gather his wife and two children. They settled on a large family farm where eight more children would be born. What identified this family was their strong work ethic and core values. My father really did walk ten miles in the snow to attend school in nearby Hibbing. Then, upon returning home each day, family chores necessitated survival. What did they value? The underprivileged. Why? Because this family knew what it was like to survive hard times. Every day was just like the one before it. Nothing was handed to them. My father always cheered for the "underdog" and, consequently, was a registered Democrat his entire life. You didn't need talk or debate this issue. He understood, firsthand, what it was like to be in this country as an "outsider." To him, this meant you worked hard for everything that came your way.No handouts, no entitlement, no recognition. You did what you had to do. But that did not deter him or his siblings. They, unlike their parents, were college educated. And what was his next step after high school? The Uniform. His high school academic career provided an athletic opportunity where he played football for the University of Minnesota. World War II interrupted the continuity of his education, so he donned the second uniform. The Uniform of a Soldier. He enlisted on May 19, 1942. Except for brief discharges to complete his education, he remained committed for a lifetime. Three wars, eight combat campaigns, a Silver Star for crossing the Rhine River under heavy "enemy resistance" and countless other accolades (The Bronze Star [twice] and a dozen others) would span hiscareer. His title by the end of his stellar career was Colonel. Fullbird, that is. He never spoke of any accomplishments or awards. His ability to lead came from his core trait of humility. Allegiance to this country and what it represented went hand in hand. The land of the free, the home of the brave. Being underprivileged and wearing a uniform - athletic or military - were not exclusive categories; rather, they represented the same core values his family believed in. My father died on July 23, 2001. I was able to give him recognition in death that he never desired in life - a full honors burial at Arlington with a 21 gun salute. His two living brothers had seats of honor at the graveside. I accepted the flag because my mother could not attend. Previously underprivileged, now being recognized in death. Previously uniformed, now being honored by those in uniform. I fully believe his heart would break over the current mindset as well as the actions by those involved in the game he loved. His football uniform and military uniform were not exclusive. It was because of the latter that he was given an opportunity as the former. The Unacceptable. Disrespect to this country or flag would have been, in my father's opinion, completely unacceptable. It was THIS country that afforded his family a chance, an opportunity, and a beginning. And they knew it, embraced it, and embarked on it. And because of his beginning, he gave me mine. He took a risk, he worked relentlessly, and he adopted. Me. Because of your under privilege, you gave me privilege. Because of your uniform, you gave me freedom. Because of your unacceptable mindset of irreverence, you instilled respect. I will honor your legacy as I leave mine. You are the example that mutually exclusive categories do not exist. Colonel Daniel Hritzko November 25, 1918 - July 23, 2001
What comes to mind when you hear the word “health”? Most likely, you think of health in terms of your physical well-being. Specifically, what you’re eating or not eating (cauliflower v. confection) , and what you’re doing or not doing (exercise v. exhaustion).
No guilt here. I want you to think broadly about this term and what it really means on a figurative, not literal scale.
A current counseling paradigm offers the BIOPSYCHOSOCIOLSPIRITUAL Model for health and well-being. What exactly does this mean? Let’s look at this term and break it down into individual sections.
Your body. How do you care for your physical body? You have only been given one body.
Although this is stating the obvious, the point is this: Only you can take care of you. A new habit can be formed today. Start the process now before age and lack of proactivity take a toll.
Do you get enough sleep? Enough cardio? Enough vegetables, lean protein, and fruit? If so, the weight and body image will fall into place.
Taking care of your body doesn’t happen by default.
Your mind. How do you care for your thought process? You have only been given one mind.
I used to think that thoughts were not within one’s control. Personal experience and a graduate degree later, this is not the case (exceptions are made for certain types of mental illness). How do you interpret your past experiences? Your present experiences? Does your way of thinking put you in a “good” place emotionally or a “not so good” place? You can learn to pay attention to your self talk and make sure you are believing truth instead of lies. Believing a lie of some sort almost always gets us into emotional upheaval.
Taking care of your mind doesn’t happen by default.
Your support system. How do you care for your relationships? Your marriage? Your family? Your sphere of influence?
Are you taking ownership of your part of the relationship? No, not what the OTHER person does or doesn’t do, but only what is within your control? This is a sticky issue, particularly when conflict, crisis, confusion, and unhealthy communication are involved. If so, add a life coach, therapist, or pastor as part of your support network if needed.
If you need to walk through confession, do it.
If you need to offer forgiveness to let yourself off the hook, do it.
If you need to be a friend to someone in crisis, do it.
If you need to confront someone due to a difficult situation, do it. And do it in love.
If you need to learn skills for communicating and listening better to those in your close inner circle of life, do it.
Tell your spouse you love him or her. Tell your children you love them. And do it often.
Taking care of your relationships doesn’t happen by default.
Your soul. How do you care for your soul?
Even if you claim you are not a spiritual person, per se, then I ask this question: What do you worship? You will worship someone, something, or yourself. And, if it hasn’t happened yet, eventually your soul will be sold out to a cause that has no long term satisfaction or peace.
Also feed your soul with healthy, good hobbies, skills, and things that bring enjoyment. For example, my list includes reading, writing, studying, time with family, sunshine. Sunshine. Sunshine. Sunshine…..Food for my soul that hasn’t arrived yet.
Take care of the totality of YOU. You are one of a kind (Psalm 139). You are a work in progress (2 Corinthians 3:18).
You are writing the pages of your life story with each day that passes. And the decisions you make today will not only benefit you, but those around you as well.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t happen by default. Start today. There’s strength for the journey. Take heart. Take hope.
I’m currently donned in too many layers, snuggled up inside with my laptop, a heater at my feet, a goLite™ glowing artificially in my face, and a small cup of hot tea within reach. Honestly, I’d rather be outside shedding layers of clothes while poolside, reading a book, feeling the natural warmth of the sun, and hoping not to topple over a tall glass of water.
I, along with the east coast, am hunkering down for snow to begin at any minute.
While I wish the snow would come and go faster than it can land and melt on my sidewalk, I thought it at least beneficial to consider the handiwork of this wintertime sensation.
Consider the following quote by William “Snowflake” Bentley in 1925 who spent his teen and adult years studying the intricacies of snowflakes:
“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated (emphasis mine). When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”
Bentley painstakingly drew, photographed, and microscopically examined the internal and external structures of snow crystals over the course of his lifetime. He later claimed that life history was never written in more dainty hieroglyphics than in these miniscule forms.
Compare that to your life. Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a “masterpiece of design”, but consider the following:
- You are a unique blend of genetics
- You are a unique blend of emotions and perceptions
- You are unique due to your family of origin and upbringing
- You are unique in your life experiences
Like the snowflake, you are a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
Unlike the snowflake, you have the opportunity to leave a lasting imprint on the world around you, regardless the season of your life. You leave behind a record.
Be mindful of the imprint you will leave behind – through the welcomed days with the warmth of happiness or the weathered days with unwelcomed storms – that will ultimately reveal the beauty of your unique life.
Do you need to be cleansed of anything that prevents your soul from being whiter than snow? Choose to take the first step that will wash away the dirt from a snowfall of long ago. What is needed for your heart to glisten?
- Pastoral care?
With each step you take, the process of cleansing becomes easier.
Today will never come again. Nor will the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
Remember… footsteps will follow yours and see the one-of-a-kind design you leave behind. Make it a “miracle of beauty.”