A to Z Challenge Gratitude

J is Just for Joel

Just for Joel: a fundraiser to support Joel and his family as he undergoes treatment for AT/RT, a rare, aggressive, brain tumor.

I am obsessed with my Jawbone UP life-tracker. It’s a nifty black rubber, silver-tipped bracelet that tracks, well, my life. It tells me how many steps I’ve taken in a day and how intense those steps were. It encourages me to set goals and reminders, buzzing me when I’ve been sitting on my butt for too long (45 minutes) or when it’s time to take my vitamins or get ready for bed. It tracks my sleep, telling me how long it took to fall asleep, how many hours of deep versus light sleep I clocked and whether or not I woke up during the night. It gently buzzes me awake in the morning per my request, when I’m in an optimal light sleep mode.

I plug my Jawbone into my iPhone app first thing in the morning and marvel at my own data. There is my life, measured and graphed in pleasant hues of blue and spicy shades of orange. I love setting goals that I not only have an excellent chance of meeting, but even exceeding. In my mama world of carpools and checkout lines, having clear objectives helps me to keep my own health and habits in mind. I also happen to be a data geek, so measuring myself in terms of minutes, intensity and quality is right up my alley.

stepclassA few weeks ago, I groggily pulled myself out of bed to get to my early-morning, high-intensity step class. I plug in the Jawbone and see that I missed my sleep goal by over an hour (went to a party) and didn’t quite make my daily steps goal the day before (too much time spent hauling kids from one activity to another). Not enough sleep plus minimal exercise make for a very sluggish morning. I’m determined to conquer my deficit.

I walk briskly into the gym, my tracker at the ready, psyched to find out how many steps I take during the class. I’m hustling to the doors of the studio checking my stats, when I realize there’s quite a hullabaloo going on in the lobby. A long table is set up with several staffers in matching neon green shirts checking people in.


Then I see the sign on the easel about Joel, the young son of one of the gym trainers. Joel has AT/RT, a rare, fast growing brain tumor. Today’s classes are part of the Just for Joel fundraiser to help offset the cost of Joel’s treatment. Suddenly, everything changes. I join the line and make my donation.

I walk into that step class determined to give it all I’ve got for this little boy. For the entire hour, I send all my energy and positive thoughts to Joel and his family. I sweat more than I have in long time, hardly stopping for water breaks, not wanting to mess with the incredible energy and good karma I’m feeling inside and out.

At the end of the class I am red-faced and soaked. My heart is thumping and I can feel a soreness settling in my thighs. I breathe in deeply and towel off. I am energized but filled with sorrow. All I can think about is how much we all love our children and the unimaginable pain that comes when they are hurt or ill. I quietly give thanks for my family, my health and my children’s health and to Joel and his family, too, for giving all of us the opportunity to support them.

When I sync up my Jawbone, it tells me I’ve taken 6,480 steps in 58 minutes. Thanks to Joel, I easily meet my daily goal that Saturday. I only hope that in some small way I can help him and his family reach theirs.

If you would like to help Joel and his family, you can make a donation through his page on YouCaring.com.

I’m participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge during the month of April using the very broad theme of LOVE to carry me through the alphabet. Check out writing by other bloggers taking on the #atozchallenge at @AprilA2Z.

1 comment on “J is Just for Joel

  1. Pingback: K is for Kicking My A** | Flingo

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