After watching her father die of lung cancer and seeing Alzheimer's disease relentlessly steal her mother's memory over the past ten years, enjoying every minute is more than just an empty phrase to Jeanette Matthias. For the 40-year-old Merchant Management Supervisor at John Deere Credit in Madison, Wis., fitness and healthy nutrition have helped her keep her balance through some very tough times.
"My father died 10 years ago at age 63, and it made me realize that I really need to take care of myself. It put life into perspective," she says. "I learned a lot from seeing my father suffer with cancer that way he did, and seeing what my mother went through." Those experiences reinforced the importance of a life well lived - and her need for emotional, physical and spiritual balance. Her favorite quote sums it up: "It's not the number of breaths you take. It's how you enjoy each breath."
Part of what gives her joy is spending time outdoors. The self-described "biking fanatic" may log between 200 to 250 miles a week - which was good preparation for cycling across Europe last summer. Her group biked from Prague in the Czech Republic to Vienna, Austria in just six days, completing 60 miles a day. Running and meditation are more stress-busters.
Jeanette's faith, and her family of seven brothers and sisters, are also part of her support system. "We all have stress in our lives, and if you have that calmness within you, it helps you deal with situations that arise," she notes. Part of her philosophy involves giving back to the community, which is why she volunteers each week at HospiceCare in Fitchburg, Wis. "Seeing my father and mother, you know you have to treasure the time you have. You truly have to appreciate every day," adds Jeanette.