Gratitude Spiral: Day 71

Today, I’m grateful for strong, healthy bones.

The other day, I was driving through a parking lot and passed two different people bent with apparent osteoporosis. One of them was bent at nearly a right angle, facing the pavement as he walked, unable to look up. It made me appreciate my healthy spine so very much!

What are you grateful for today?

 

Gratitude Spiral: Day 33

Today, I’m grateful for water.

It’s beautiful in this lily pond, but that’s not really what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about drinking water. So much attention is given to the fact that we should drink six to eight ounces a day for optimal health. Yet in many parts of the world people are lucky to get a single cup of clean water in a day. How precious this resource is! And I’m thankful to be blessed with access to it today — and each day.

What about you?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 30

Today, I’m grateful for my health.

In the past week, one friend suffered a stroke, another was diagnosed with stage three liver cancer, and my sister broke her ankle when the sidewalk crumbled beneath her feet. Our health and well-being are not guaranteed. Rather, every day is a blessing.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude Spiral: Day 3

Today, I’m grateful for my two good, healthy legs. Each morning, I slide out of bed (a sort of dismount from my unusually high mattress) and land on my feet. My legs carry me down a flight of stairs to breakfast. Then, I challenge them to a bit of stretching and a thirty-minute walk. What a blessing they are. 🙂

What are you grateful for today?

Hey! It’s Your Body Talkin’ . . .

As I sit at my keyboard with an icepack numbing my upper arm, I reflect on the curious idea that we spend so much of our lives ignoring our bodies’ gentle communications. We don’t pay attention until they scream at us. And then we have the audacity to blame them for getting old!

You know the joke:

“Dr., Dr., it hurts when I do this!”
“Then, stop doing it!”

Well, it’s no joke. My own doctors and physical therapists have said it to me many times in the past couple of years. I’ve been dealing with shoulder issues (rotator cuff tears, frozen shoulder, bursitis). No surgery, just lots of office visits where I’ve been told to go easy on myself. Healing takes time. And it requires learning to listen to your body. Right? But we resist. We grow impatient. Why? Because we operate under the impression that we shouldn’t have limitations. That life should be fair. That our bodies should be perfect (if not in looks, then at least in health 😉 ). And we complain when they’re not. Like someone’s made a huge mistake inflicting us with injury and disease.

But that’s real life. Messy, constantly challenging, stressful. And each of our unique bodies has its own way of acting, reacting, adapting, and coping. If we pay attention, we notice subtle cues from our own bodies that can lead us to cooperate with, instead of hinder, their healing abilities. Even in the middle of debilitating illness or injury, we can work with or we can fight the process. One path requires patience, perseverance, and awareness. The other path is easier in the short term: impatience and ignorance. But this way doesn’t bode well in the long run.

So, after scraping, chopping, and shoveling a few crusty inches of snow out of my driveway — mostly using my good arm, of course — for over an hour, I’m dutifully icing my shoulder. And hoping my body appreciates the attention. 🙂

About Stress…

DSC_0358In this new chapter of my life, I keep discovering things I wish I’d learned thirty or forty years ago. If you’re on the far side of fifty, like me, you can probably relate. But since we can only move forward (or so they say), we must forge ahead without regret. Much of my recent self-directed education has been focused on learning how to live a healthy, happy life. Stress-reduction is key to reaching that goal.

Seven or so years ago (time flies, so maybe it was closer to ten??), I read Dr. Kathleen pnpDesMaisons’s books, Potatoes, Not Prozac and The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery System. They changed my life. I discovered my sugar-sensitive self and was able to change my eating habits, break my addiction to sugar, and step out from under the heavy cloud of depression. I’ve become so much more aware of what and how I eat and of how that affects the way I feel. It took years to get where I am today and, of course, the journey continues.

Last weekend, I attended a workshop lead by the author of two bhbsother books that I’ve read more recently: Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and The Placebo Effect. In these books, Dr. Joe Dispenza teaches that through meditation it’s possible to break the cycle of thinking and feeling (and feeling and thinking) the same way everyday in order to create a new, happier, healthier future. And now I’ve just started reading Dr. Christiane Northrup’s brand new book called Goddesses Never Age. In it she postulates that there’s a difference between growing older and getting old. She sites the work of Dr. Dispenza within the first few chapters of this latest book and of Dr. DesMaisons in at least one of her previous books.

All three of these authors are proponents of meditation as a means to balanced health. And all three discuss the devastating effects of stress hormones on the body. I’m sure we’re all aware on some level that being “stressed out” is not the best thing for us. But the more I learn about what the body goes through when those stress hormones are released, the more I understand the value of learning how to de-stress.

We can experience physical stress, like not getting enough sleep, or emotional stress, like losing a loved one, or chemical stress, like consuming a high-sugar diet. Adrenaline and/or cortisol rush to our aid to sustain us and strengthen us in our momentary need. But they’re only meant for short-term use. If we’re constantly stressed, then we’re not giving ourselves a break from these hormones. And that can wreak havoc in the long-term. It can literally wear out the body, organ by organ, system by system.

It’s important to take stock of the stress in one’s life and to assess it as a very real health DSC_0703threat. There are small, but effective ways to de-stress, like taking a walk, enjoying the scenery, playing with your dog, cuddling your kitten, or just taking a few deep breaths. New habits could be formed: learning how to meditate, eating healthier foods, unplugging from your electronic social connections once in a while, or investing time in a hobby, to name a few. For some, there may be a need to take even larger, more difficult steps to let go of stress, like getting counseling, changing jobs or marital status, quitting smoking, or moving away from a bad situation. The goal is to learn what it feels like to be truly non-stressed and to make that the norm for your life.

I know that de-stressing is often easier said than done, but ultimately it’s our health we’re talking about here. It’s the quality of our lives that’s at stake. And who doesn’t want to live a long, healthy life? So, I encourage everyone (myself included) to take the time to make the changes that will lead to stress reduction and improved health. Check out one of the books I’ve mentioned above or take a pottery class or put your iPhone on silent for an hour…or do whatever it takes! And enjoy your life!

 

Cultivate positive emotions…

“So it makes sense that we should concentrate…on consciously cultivating heartfelt, positive emotions, such as gratitude, joy, excitement, enthusiasm, fascination, awe, inspiration, wonder, trust, appreciation, kindness, compassion, and empowerment, to give us every advantage in maximizing our health.”

Dr. Joe Dispenza, You Are the Placebo: making your mind matter