Time to Say Goodbye – but Not to What We Have Learned Together
What an amazing journey I have had serving you the citizens of Wayne County and the state of NC. I want to first say how honored I was to see so many friends and colleagues at my retirement reception and dinner on Saturday. I was overwhelmed with joy. Thank you for the love. I will forever cherish the sweet memories.
To the planning committee: Sharon Sutton, Kim Davis, Evelyn Coley, Brenda Bass, Celita Graham, Geissler Baker, Wayne County Extension Staff, and the Extension and Community Association – YOU ROCK! The program line-up, entertainment, and food were EXCELLENT in every manner. I’m grateful to have friends like you in my life.
Dr. Carolyn Dunn, Department Head, Professor and Nutrition Specialist in the department of Youth and Families Studies at NCSU, Rev. Larry Johnson, Evelyn Coley, Director of Nursing, Wayne County Health Department, and Kevin Johnson, County Extension Director all took the mic to roast me sharing special and funny memories about work and travel adventures. After which the audience had an opportunity to share a memory or well wishes. I appreciate all your kind remarks and words of wisdom.
After some special recognition and presentations from NCSU, County of Wayne, State of NC, NC Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NCEAFCS) I thought the evening was about to end. Was I wrong? The Emcee and my best friend, Geissler Baker said “Chris we have a few more special surprises for you”.
After the build up of a star celebrity, Richard Simmons (AKA Alan Lumpkin) came running through the door around guests to take center stage. After a few expressions his Fit & Fabulous back-up team (Kim Davis, LaVone Hicks, Cynthia Davis, and Charlotte Jenkins) appeared on stage to perform the rendition of “Oldies Sweating” featuring Cupid Shuffle, the Wobble, and Shake Your tail Feathers. What a hoot! You all were FANTASTIC! This was definitely the highlight of the evening!
On a more serious note, one of the great joys of doing this column has been the chance to connect with people I might never have encountered. I have been in the trenches with you at every level. As I encouraged you I also encouraged myself. Together we struggled to trim our waistline and tone our muscles. On cozy, rainy mornings we climbed out of our warm bed, put on our workout gear and headed for the gym. Waking up at 4:00 a.m. to arrive at the gym by 4:45 a.m. was grueling. At the end of the workout we felt rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world.
Instead of eating out for lunch, we saved money by packing brown bag lunches with healthy selections. At meetings we advocated for healthy options and policy and environmental changes. Now it’s becoming more acceptable to offer serving sizes instead of portions. More and more people are retaking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking more often.
I mention these milestones because this column has given many of you the impetus to champion change for many of the interventions throughout the state. I challenge each of you to continue or intensify efforts to build communities that support healthy eating and physical activity. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make a difference in my family, community, worksite, and church to support a healthy lifestyle”? Working together we can reverse the obesity trend and improve the health status of North Carolinians.
For nine years you have given me a platform to do what I love doing best – inspiring and encouraging others to develop a healthy lifestyle. Saying goodbye is not easy. It has been an incredible journey! But today’s column will be my last. Thank you so much for reading the column and for letting me know how much you have enjoyed it. Your warm e-mails and phone calls kept me encouraged to continue writing. I hope I have made a difference in your approach to eating smart and moving more.
A special thank you to Renee Carey for the confidence she has in my abilities to write. I stretched myself beyond my comfort zone which resulted in me learning a new skill. You can do the same.
In parting I want to leave with you three challenges that will help you get to the next level in life or in any situation.
Become a lifelong learner. Lifelong learning is the process of keeping your mind and body engaged at any age by actively pursuing knowledge and experiences. The moment you cease to learn you will be obsolete. Pursuing knowledge will help you remain relevant, develop your mind, increase your wisdom and be more adaptable to change.
Be open to new possibilities. Even the smallest shift in thinking can create new and exciting possibilities. Challenge your beliefs about what you think you can and cannot do. Have a vision and look for opportunities even in tough situations. Avoid a victim mentality, opt instead for a “new beginning” and embrace change. You may be surprised what you can become and achieve.
Live your best life. To do this you must live life with intension and purpose. You cannot afford to be a passenger sitting idle, allowing things to happen, situations to change, and moments to pass you by. Life is too precious to live without purpose and tomorrow is not promised. Understand who you are and the gifts you bring to the table. Set sail for a new and exciting journey to live your best life daily.
While I will miss the people and colleagues I have met and traveled with me on this wonderful journey; I am excited about new experiences, challenges, and opportunities. To each one of you thanks for enriching my territory beyond measure. We all have a responsibility to help each other dream the impossible dream and achieve their desires. I hope I have made a difference in your life. Goodbye my friend….who knows you may see me again!
Christine Smith, M.S., is an Extension Agent in the department of Family & Consumer Sciences with N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCSU, Wayne County. Information on other services available can be found online at http://wayne.ces.ncsu.edu/ or call me at 731-1525 for additional information.