Don’t Shoot The Messenger


If you opted to start all over, where would you select to call home? A new study was just released showing that big cities win out over smaller communities when it comes to healthy, happy residents, and it’s largely because of sidewalks, parks and good public transportation. The study or research finds that exercise, access to green spaces, healthier eating and lowered stress really do translate into lower rates of disease and longer, healthier lives. The top five cities score high on important health measures. Folks residing in these locations have on average, significantly lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression compared with those in the five lowest-ranked active living communities. The results might surprise you! Even more surprising is the list of the least popular cities in which to live. That, too, was surprising to me.


One day this past week, I asked the General: “Would you still want to live in our current home if I were to die?” She looked at me like I was delusional and wanted to know if I was dying. I replied, “We’re all dying. It is just a matter of time. I was curious if you’d still want to live here if I was gone”. Again, instead of answering my question, she replied, “If you are asking if I want to live in the Headwater’s Development, the answer is no”.


Well I guess she is as opinionated as I am. However, the Headwaters neighborhood reportedly is going to be a top end development with lots of amenities. I was just curious if she’d want to live in a traditional housing development or if she’d prefer to continue to live in a quasi-secluded area without having neighbors within an arms length.


Thirteen years ago my brother and I pulled Dad aside and told him it was time for he and Mother to sell their home in Odessa and move close to one of us. My dad was a smart man. He knew there was value in making that decision. Mother was several years into the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and he was cognizant of the fact that he was going to need support and assistance in managing her illness.


Larry and I wanted him to make the best decision for them. We didn’t want him to feel pressured to choose one area over the other, but we were clear in our concerned request that it was time to leave the place that had been home for them for close to half a century. Larry and I encouraged Dad to look at housing costs in both places before he made a decision.


Ultimately, Dad made the decision for them to move to Henly. He carefully communicated that he wasn’t playing favorites. His decision for them to relocate to the hill country of Texas over Oklahoma was based on two things. His was a practical decision rather than one based on emotion. The two variables weren’t that he liked my two kids more than he liked my brother’s kids. The truth is, he didn’t. He liked each of his grandchildren with every fiber of his humanity. They were all favorites to him.


Dad’s decision  was a plain and simple choice based on a couple of things. Dad detested cold weather and he detested the thought of a State income tax. Consequently, he opted to stay on the Texas side of the Red River.


I didn’t see the NBC News report that highlighted the top five cities and also identified the bottom five cities. The colleague that I was with over the past three days from Oklahoma saw the report yesterday morning and told me about it on our way back to the Atlanta airport. My brother is going to think I’m making this up. He gets his feathers ruffled every time I good-naturedly suggest that there is a time-zone difference between Texas and Oklahoma. Of course, I may be exaggerating a little when I suggest it represents a fifty-year gap. After all, they do have Internet service in Oklahoma. I know that from the banter my brother and I share back and forth on Facebook. Consequently, Oklahoma couldn’t be fifty years behind.


When my friend told me about the NBC News report, I responded immediately that the information was blog worthy. Whether my friend was purposefully misrepresenting the actual report or if it was accidental misrepresentation, I don’t know. At any rate, he told me that leading the list of healthy – happy people was Austin, Texas.


Actually, Austin has a lot going for it. After all, water, hills and trees go a long way in promoting a sense of wellness. In addition, year’s ago efforts were undertaken to make restaurants and bars smoke free environments. It probably wasn’t part of any health related plan, but the Armadillo World Headquarters, a music venue, was torn down. I only attended one concert there, but I remember it was not a smoke free environment. In addition the purple haze (may have had to do with the lighting) and the distinct odor made it evident that folks who were smoking, had a different concept of Lucky Strikes. I attended the concert with a group of folks from the office. They weren’t smoking either. However, they misrepresented the kind of music we were going to hear. I had never heard of the Marshall Tucker Band, but I would be the last to describe it as country music. However, I attended the concert thinking that was what we were going to hear. I guess the experience made a lasting impression.


Actually, I didn’t assume that Austin was on the list. How could it be a healthy city? Sure, we’ve got green spaces, walking trails, outdoor music venues and a host of entertainment choices. However, the stress associated to driving in Austin could kill you. I can only imagine that folks consistently have high blood pressure associated to going nowhere fast. Gridlock describes the experience of daily commuters. Folks think I’m overstating the case when I tell them that my commute from work generally takes 2 ½ hours, but God as my witness, I’m not making that up.  Trust me, I drive as fast as I can.  The problem is, you can’t drive fast in rush hour traffic.


As it turns out, I went back and looked at the top five cities that were identified in the list. My thoughtful friend sent me the link. The top five cities didn’t include any cities in Texas. The top five cities listed included Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.


I guess if there is a top-side to Texas not making it on the list, it also is not on the list for least healthy-happy places to live. Drum roll please! Oops, I almost forgot. “Little brother, fasten your seatbelt because you may find the listing of bottom cities a bumpy ride. I guess it has something to do with the roads in Oklahoma. You’re not going to like the bottom list.” Leading the list is Tulsa, Oklahoma. The other bottom cities were Durham, North Carolina; Indianapolis; Oklahoma City, and Fort Wayne.


By the way, don’t shoot the messenger! I’m just attempting to accurately pass on the NBC News Report. If you think it is a misrepresenting, you can look at the list for yourself.


All My Best!



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