Friday 30 May 2014

Health, happiness and a remarkable teenager

For three weeks over the past month, I've been tussling with a cold/'flu bug.

Boy, did I let everyone around me know about it.  Whenever I'd an opportunity to have a little grumble or let out a dejected sniff, I used it. I even had a bit of a whinge online too (apologies to all loyal readers who were subjected to this). You could say that I'm not a particularly good invalid. If he gets round to reading this post, Mr Average will probably choke on his coffee and tell me that's the understatement of the year.

Fast forward to this week when I'm almost back to my - ahem - sprightly self.  I started to reintroduce the 30-minute lunchtime outing that I optimistically refer to as a run.  It was, as anticipated, rather painful after a three-week lapse but I enjoyed it in a masochistic type of way.  More than that, I felt grateful. Grateful to be outdoors, grateful that my energy levels were returning, grateful to be alive.

There are often times when I don't particularly want to drag myself outside to exercise.  But, once I'm puffing my way up that hill, there's a regular occurrence that always gives me a much-needed wake-up call.  While I'm out running, it's not infrequent for me to catch sight of others who no longer have the opportunity to run any more.  They may be elderly, or walking with the support of a stick.  They often give me, the red-faced panting one, a smile of encouragement. And it's then that it hits me how fortunate I am to be able-bodied and physically capable of enjoying sport and exercise.

Over the past few weeks, I think that many more people have had similar wake-up calls.  The news agenda has been awash with the remarkable story of the inspiring young man, Stephen Sutton.  

Even through my own fug of self-pity and Kleenex, I did not fail to notice the uplifting public response to this amazing youngster.  £4 million has now been raised for The Teenage Cancer Trust via Stephen's JustGiving page. His uplifting statement "I don't see the point in measuring life in terms of time any more. I'd rather measure life in terms of making a difference," has been shared and reported on worldwide.

As I write this, a two-day vigil to Stephen is underway, including a social media 'thunderclap' - a message posted simultaneously on Facebook and Twitter (#ThumbsUpForStephen).  His mum has asked people at 11am on Friday, 30th May to take a moment to give a thumbs up for Stephen:

"This could be via the thunderclap or you could give the thumbs up to a stranger, have a cup of tea and a slice of cake, think a positive thought, clap, cheer, or even perform a random act of kindness.

"Do something that makes you and others happy in Stephen's memory."

It's 11am on Friday, 30th May. I'm writing this blog post and raising my cup of tea to a teenager who has inspired a nation - and given many of us a much-needed sense of perspective.

I hope that Stephen's legacy is long-lasting and that we continue to be inspired to make the best use of our minds, our bodies and the opportunities that life presents us with.  We owe it to Stephen, we owe it to others and we owe it to ourselves.

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  1. Stephen Sutton was inspirational. Amazing teenager making a difference.

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