Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Do You Need A Body Reset?

Imagine getting the following text from one of your friends:

How do you reset your body back to its original factory settings?

Is it kale?

It’s kale isn’t it?

Please don’t say it is kale.

As you read the text, you can almost feel the writer’s desperation.  She wants four things:
1.   She wants to reset her body.
2.   She does not want to eat kale.
3.   She doesn’t want to eat (or do) what she doesn’t like.
4.   She wants a simple fix that involves just one ingredient.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  I know I have.  Tell me I’m not alone.  There have been times in my life when I desperately needed something that would reset my body so that I could feel like my body was being sent in for an overhaul. 

At those times, if kale were the answer to “reset my body back to its factory settings,” I’d eat kale for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Or would I? I might for a few days; then, I’d become bored with eating all that kale and probably be on to next magic bullet. 

In truth, there have been times in my life, when I could have written such a text because my body was so out of balance that my mind and spirit followed the same downward spiral to the point where I probably would have tried any crazy fix just to feel better.

For instance, in February of this year, my husband and I traveled to Sedona, Arizona, to celebrate my birthday.  As we left home, I knew I should probably cancel the trip because of the pain I was experiencing in my gastrointestinal tract that came on with a vengeance seemingly out of nowhere.  This was not a new phenomenon for me, as I suffer from chronic IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).  When the symptoms hit last February, I decided to ignore them as I was determined to make the long planned trip. So off we went from our home in Colorado and headed south to New Mexico.  We planned to spend our first night in Albuquerque, New Mexico which was the halfway point to our destination.  

When in New Mexico, what does one eat?  One eats spicy Mexican food of course.  That was not a good plan for me, but I threw caution to the wind and ate yummy, fatty, and very spicy food.  As I ate, I tried to convince myself that it really would not matter what I ate.   (I was wrong about that!)

The next day was my birthday.  We arrived at our destination and found a nice restaurant for dinner.  My birthday was duly celebrated with some rich entrĂ©e, wine, and a decadent dessert. Just what I needed to make my poor tummy all the more upset.  It was my birthday, and the stubborn self was going to celebrate it in style.  

Do you ever do that?  Or better yet, the question should be asked, WHO does that?

The next day, we visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. 

 I was in terrible shape.  Pain from a full-blown IBS attack and exhaustion from the pain were making me miserable, but I kept on going.  

As we visited the rim of the Grand Canyon, we visited a visitor’s center to learn more about this marvel of nature.   The explanation of how that vast canyon was created rang true to me as I felt that I too was on the verge of collapse.

The layered rocks of the Grand Canyon include hard resistant layers and soft crumbly layers.  Softer layers erode faster, undercutting the harder layers above them.  The hard layers become unstable overhangs that eventually collapse.  

Hard resistant layers?  That would be me at that moment.  I was not wanting to admit that:
a.   I was ill.
b.   It probably would be best to rest and not follow the previously determined schedule.  
c.   I should make wise food choices when I know that my system can’t handle some of the food I really like to eat.
d.   I was in denial.
e.   All would not be well if I just carried on as usual.

Soft crumbly layers? 
a.   That would be the body where I now live. 
b.   My sensitive gastrointestinal system is fragile, and no amount of hard exterior is going to change its sensitivities.

While the crumbling layers of rock that formed the Grand Canyon created a natural wonder, after the third day of this trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona area, I knew that if some changes in my thinking and in my choices were not made, the consequences of the crumbling going on inside would me would not create a beautiful natural wonder to behold.  Instead, I would most likely create a disaster. 

Finally, on that third day, I told my husband that our plans would have to change.  We would have to take a day off from touring so I could get some medical help and so I could rest.  My husband fully supported me in that decision.  In fact, he’d been suggesting a change in plans since we had left home.

Not wanting to admit that something is wrong is a big problem.  For me, it meant that I would have to admit to my husband that I was foolish when I insisted on carrying on with plans when clearly, I was not well.  It also meant that I had been foolish to think I could eat what I wanted when I knew I really couldn’t without paying the price.  Denial is a very stubborn and resistant layer.

Those soft layers inside of my gut were crumbling, the hard layer of my stubborn nature was quite unstable.  Let’s just say I truly was on the verge of collapse.

Kale was not the answer to resetting my body in the scenario that I just recounted, but a sensible diet that include the types of foods I knew my GI tract could handle was.  I began to make wise food choices.  Just because I was on vacation, it did not mean that I could indulge in those foods I knew I could not eat.

I listened to my body.  I rested when I was tired. Together my husband and I restructured our plans so that we had activity that included walking and taking in the sights but did not include hiking that might have been more than my current condition could handle.

There was so much beauty to be enjoyed in Sedona. I often wonder if I would have even enjoyed any of it if I had not taken the time to have a serious talk with myself about practicing self-care whether I was not vacation or not.  Do others of you ever let self-care go out the window when you are on vacation?  

In the end, I learned some valuable lessons about resetting my body.  No, I did not set my back to its factory settings while we were on this vacation because that would mean I would have to come up with a way to wipe away decades of living. Original factory settings are no longer possible. My body has changed.  New rules apply as I learn to live in a body which is different than the one I had in my forties, my fifties, or even in my sixties; however, small changes can do wonders when it comes to resetting a body that is begging for restoration to optimum health.  

·      I began to listen to my body.  
·      I made positive dietary choices.  (Those choices did not include kale!)  
·      I rested when I need to do so.  
·      I made sure I continued to exercise by walking and exploring the beautiful area where we were visiting.   
·      I didn’t waste the experience by giving in to illness, but I let the illness instruct me on how to heal.

On our last day of the trip, I found these words written on a Coconino Forest Service sign in:

       Can you hear the stream?

      Feel a soft leaf or a sycamore.

Look closely
      Discover who lives here.


Answers to the questions such as the one asked by the sender of the text which I wrote about at the beginning of this post seldom have one answer.  Kale, while it is a healthy food, and a food most of us wish to avoid, is not the answer to gaining a healthier lifestyle.   Instead, I think we have to slow down and do these last three things which I found printed on a forest service sign.

We must listen to nature around us and to our bodies.  We need to touch the positive and beautiful things in our lives.  Yes, it is so important when things are out of balance to take time to get in touch with those things which are beautiful and positive in our lives.  That means we must change our focus.  We can't look on what ails us.  We must look to what heals us.  And finally, when we look closely, we can discover who it is that inhabits the body we now have.  

Life is about change.  Nothing stays the same.  We will never live in the body that we were given when we left the factory. We must accept that and treat our bodies and minds and spirits with respect by giving all three what nourishes the body even if it sometimes includes, but is not limited to, kale.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Saturday in November

I’ve spent a lazy Saturday morning sitting around reading with my husband at my side.  I observe how lazy we are being.  He says, “Speak for yourself.  I’m enjoying not having anything to do.”  

Whispering, so the dog won’t hear, I say, “Let’s get a walk in this morning.”  At 11:00, I finish a lazy woman’s breakfast of granola and yogurt, finish off my now cold coffee, think I better get going if I’m to get a walk in, glance out of the window and say, “It looks blustery out there.  I don’t think I want to walk in this.”  A few minutes later, I look up again from what I am reading and observe there is moisture accompanying the wind.  My husband checks his weather app and says there is 20% chance of rain today.  A few minutes later, I say, “That is thick rain coming down.”  

Having decided we would not go for a walk, the man has gone to a part of the house where there are no windows.  I called down to him that the rain was now coming in fluffy flakes.  Now, just thirty minutes later, no one could characterize what is falling from the sky as rain.  Thick, fluffy snowflakes are coating the ground, the rooftops, and the streets with enough snow to create the perfect kind of day for staying inside and reading all day long.

View from my window on a snowy morning:  doe in the snow

This storm, (is it a storm?) was completely unexpected.  We have plans.  We are to travel out of town tonight to attend an alumni dinner at the school where my husband served as principal for many years.  I don’t know if we will make the trip or not.  

It is the third day of November.  The year is coming to an end.  This is the month where at the end of the month we have a day where we express our thanksgiving for those things in our lives that are blessings.  November is a perfect month for reflection upon all the blessings in our lives.  

The first Saturday in November of 2018, I sit down and write down about just some of the activities, observations, challenges that have filled the past week.  Each gives me cause to express great gratitude.  
  • Health concerns, sickness, and health create reasons to have gratitude for health coverage.  
It has been a week that brought some sickness into my life and into Jim’s. It has been a week of challenges because we both live in aging bodies that don’t seem to function like they did in their prime.  During weeks like this, I am grateful for good doctors whom care for both of us, and that we have access to such doctors.  I am grateful for good health care coverage.  Yes, such good coverage comes at a great price, but the price far outweighs not having it.  I think of those in fear of losing coverage, or of those, like Jim and me, whom have pre-existing conditions which might not be covered if there are drastic changes made to our healthcare system.  These thoughts motivate me all the more to get out and vote.

  • During the second week of November, during early voting, I am able to cast a vote in the mid-term elections in the United States of America. 
At the beginning of the week, my husband and I took out our ballots and read through each proposition and amendment on the ballot.  We discussed what we thought of each, read some of the pros and cons on each issue, and then marked our ballots.  We discussed the candidates and cast our votes for the ones we wished to see in office.  Voting is a sacred privilege and not one I have ever taken lightly.  This year more than ever, I am grateful I can vote in a free democratic society.  I am deeply concerned about the future of my country.  I stay informed.  I read about the issues of the day. I don’t just read news source stories on the topics of the day, I read opinion writers on both sides of the issues.  I weigh the opinions of others against what I know about my own vast reading of history over the years.  I synthesize what I hear from talking heads with what I’ve read from voices from the past.   I analyze what I hear and read.  I rarely take much of anything that I see or hear at face value.  I’ve been like that my entire life.  I am grateful that I was taught to be a critical thinker and that I practice critical thinking when it comes to making up my own mind about the times in which we live.  

  • I am a member of a wonderful church and during the past week, I was able to worship freely the God I serve.  
Sunday morning, chills ran through me as I sang with others in my congregation the great hymn of the Church A Mighty Fortress is Our God.  Bagpipes were playing, as was a brass band, as we stood as a body sing and to remember our roots in the Reformation on Reformation Sunday.  Again, I am reminded how very blessed I am to have been able to worship freely in this great land.  Again, I am reminded that others have been gunned down and lost their lives in the great land while they worshiped in a sacred place.  As I rejoiced in my worship, I did so with a broken heart over what had happened in Pittsburg the day before.  I pray anew that I will sow seeds of peace and continue to seek reconciliation in this time of such great division in our country. 

  • On Wednesday, I had lunch with my prayer warrior moms.  
One of the greatest blessing of my life over the past four or five years has been to meet every two weeks with an amazing group of women to pray for our loved ones.  My life has been changed by meeting with these women and praying with them.  It has been changed in ways I could never have believed when I first came into their midst.  Our prayers and our conversations are confidential.  The transparency of their hearts has helped to heal my own heart as we have prayed for each other.  This week at time other than the time we set aside to pray and joined each for lunch in the love home of one our fellow praying moms.  We talked and shared our stories about who we were we before we were moms.  We talked about our professional lives.  We shared life stories.   I learned new stories about these amazing women that I never knew.  These women are my heroes and my dearest prayer companions.

  • On Thursday, I gathered with women in my Bible study to study The Letter of Paul to the Philippians.  
During the study, I became ill and had to leave the study.  Women gathered around me and prayed for me and ministered to me.  One, a nurse, drove me home and continued to give me kindness and words of encouragement and support.  I am so very grateful for the many women in my church whom have been like sisters to me and shown me so much love and support.  The fellowship we share is such a special bond.

  • On Friday, I was able to serve at a memorial service at my church.  
These past few years, I have been blessed to serve on a committee that provides a reception after every memorial service or funeral at our church.  These dear women on this committee are also some of the dearest women I know.  We make the coffee, arrange the cookies on platters, visit with those attending the services, and try to provide comfort for the bereaved during a time that is so difficult.  
Next week, will be so difficult as we will be serving during the service of one our own, a dearly beloved member of our committee whom has gone from our midst to her home in heaven.  She was such a spark of delight and joy in every setting.  
As I help clean-up after the reception yesterday, as we were folding table cloths and putting away serving dishes, I remembered that the last time this dear departed one had served by my side, which was only a few months ago, she and I discovered we had a problem after the service because one of the cloths on the memorial table had been ruined by melted wax.  This dear one knew just what to do.  She began working on the wax with ice, and then she took the cloth home to get the rest of the wax out with a hot iron applied to layers of cloth over and under the ruined cloth.  It was returned look better than brand new.
I am so grateful for all the women in my life whom I have met over the years. My life is so very rich in friendship and in fellowship.

The week has been a full one.  It has truly provided so many reasons to feel gratitude.  

Now, the sun is out.  The sky has large patches of blue.  The snow is melting.  We are going for a walk.  I think we will be able to attend our out of town dinner meeting after all.  

I’m back from my walk.  This walk gives me another reason to rejoice in thanksgiving.
My hubby and Boston lead the way on our walk.
As I observe the quickly melting snow, Jim comments on how brisk and refreshing the air feels.  
Boston and I pose for our photo on this beautiful Saturday in November.

I am so grateful for where I live.  The beauty of this place continues to fill my heart with such joy.  I love living in the foothills of the mountains again.

Living among the creatures is a mixed blessing.  This big boy was watching me go for my walk as he sat sunning himself in my neighbors front yard.  

His harem was nearby.  

How was your was your week?  What did you do this Saturday?  Are any of you taking time to record your gratitudes this month?