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Human connection: an important piece of wellness

I am a part of all that I have met.
– Alfred Tennyson

Liz Jones is the Membership and Wellness Director at the Rockwall County YMCA.

All people crave a connection to others. We all just want to feel as if we matter, we want to fit in with someone, have people understand our true spirit. (This is one reason I believe that Facebook has become so popular; it is a way, through technology, that we connect with other people, stay in touch with our friends who are far away, and present ourselves to the world as who we are and who we strive to be).

As part of our holistic health, we need to address not only our physical state of being, but our relationships with others. In the new year I will be writing some articles on fitness training as well as our overall wellness, but for the year’s end, I wanted to focus on our connection to other people.

I met a man who has been a member at the Rockwall Family YMCA for the past four years. We were having a conversation one day about fitness and martial arts. He told me about his YMCA story and some interesting facts about his life. It is a great story about how the YMCA connects people.

It’s also a great story about how unique and interesting all people are. We often make assumptions about each other, based on our own judgment and insecurities and our personal agendas. I’m hoping in this new year that can be one thing that we all resolve to do, to get to know and understand people more before we judge them, and once we know them, accepting all people for who they are. Everyone has a personal legend, take the time to get to know someone’s history rather than assigning them your own narrative about their life.

Member highlight

78-year-old Paul Havens received a Presidential Sports Award in 1973, signed by President Richard Nixon. Photo submitted by Liz Jones.

Paul Havens is 78 years old and originally from Buffalo, New York. He comes to the YMCA at least three days a week and religiously attends the morning fitness class taught by Michelle Corneau.

Paul holds a first degree black belt in Judo and has received a Presidential Sports Award in 1973, signed by President Richard Nixon.

Paul also was one of the founders with five other people of the Am-Can International Judo Challenge, which is held Memorial Weekend and is in its fortieth year.

Paul had been married to his high school sweetheart and had four children together. Shortly after they became members at the Rockwall YMCA, Paul’s wife of fifty-four years suddenly passed away due to a brain aneurysm. Being a member at the YMCA helped him in various ways to cope with the loss of his wife. The people at the Y, both staff and members, were very supportive and offered their friendship.

About a year and a half after Paul’s wife had passed, he got to know another member at the Y. Her name was Jan and she had been widowed as well. They began talking to one another, and eventually went out for coffee. As Paul’s friend enjoyed telling me, a little later on, Paul told him he was taking his friend on a date. A few months later Paul told his friend that he and Jan were thinking about getting married. Paul and Jan have been happily married for a little over a year and are one of the YMCA stories that really warm the heart.

Moving into 2012

Not only has Paul had a very interesting life, he and Jan represent the special place that they YMCA is to many people. It is not only a place to be physically fit, but a place to come make friends, and in some cases find someone to spend your life with. Paul is not the only person I know who has met his spouse through the YMCA.

Personally I look forward to 2012 at the YMCA, not only to have renewed focus on my fitness goals, but to have the opportunity to get to know and connect with more people. I have a few girlfriends that will be coming to the Y to train with me on certain days and I’m excited to have that time with them, as well as that support and accountability in my workouts.

I also am thrilled to get to know new members, people getting back into fitness, folks that are seeking health in their lives, or people who are currently in a regular training program that inspire and motivate me. I’m eager to meet new friends whether they are currently members here or new to the YMCA. Stop in and say hello or send me an e-mail!

Blue Ribbon News special contributor Liz Jones is the Membership and Wellness Director at the Rockwall YMCA, located at 1210 N. Goliad.  She is a writer, certified yoga instructor and wellness coach.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and Strategic Management, with a graduate certificate in Ethics and Leadership. She is trained in Reiki, Guided Imagery, and various healing methods. She has trained in Shotokan karate, other forms of martial arts and self-defense. 

Connect with Liz Jones at ejones@ymcadallas.org or 972-772-9622.

More from Liz Jones:

To submit your news and events or a guest column on your area of expertise, email editor@BlueRibbonNews.com.

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