Friday, February 21, 2014

Using my head

In Tai Chi we teach that we "Use the yi, not the li" which means to use your head, and not to react to things with brute strength, or without thought. 

In commenting on someone’s page today that thought came to mind, and it makes me think about how often we eat in response to something. About how much we eat is in response to something. Although not a big emotional eater, I have let the cold weather around me be an excuse for poor choices lately. “Ar, it’s freezing out. Have another cookie!”

There is a meme going around Facebook, a quote really, by Heather Morgan, a life coach and nutritionist. It says, “Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.”

This one really caught my attention. Deep down. Not just a passing thought. We’ve had a few health crises around here over the past few years. As many of you know, my husband’s colon exploded nearly three years ago, putting him into ICU for three weeks. His reconnection surgery didn’t take so he was back in the hospital two years ago for another extended stay.  Fortunately, last May he was able to be put back together again and is doing well. 

While we were going through all this, my son-in-law was diagnosed with testicular cancer, my mother went into the hospital, first with blood clots in her legs, and more lately with blood clots in her lungs.

Now, I know that not all of this is a direct link to what we eat. My mom has a genetic disorder that pre-disposes her to blood clots, for example. But the fact that she started just sitting around and not getting up and exercising made that propensity a reality.

My husband’s colon had some physical problems, and we will never know how much of that came from poor food choices over the years. Eating better could have save him that ER and ICU visit, however.

And cancer? It just sucks the big one.  There still seems to be a lot of debate about the correlation between food and cancer, but I will say that the better shape you are in, the better your body will be able to tolerate the cancer treatments.

This thought is haunting me a little. Not in a bad way. I’ve written a lot on here about choice, about will, about taking charge. Since reading that quote, every time I start to cook or eat something I stop and take a second thought. I do not just make something because it is simple after a long and stressful day. I use my yi : Will this meal feed disease? Will it nurture the dark side? Or will it help me fight off any potential for disease? Will it keep me strong? Will it add to or aid my fitness?

I want to be fit to live my life. I want to be fit to face the future. I want to be fit for me.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Nature of Habit

What is it they say? If you can do something for 28 days it becomes a habit and is easier to continue? 

Last year I decided to create a Gratitude Jar.The idea is to write down, every day, something for which you were grateful, fill this jar and have something visual to remind you of all you have to be grateful FOR, and at the end of the year, spill it out and go through it as a memory of how great your year was.


Although notoriously bad at journaling, I thought this was a good idea. Every night before bed (so the last thing in my mind was a positive thought) I would scribble something I was grateful for on a snippet of colored paper, and drop it into a quart-sized Mason jar.
I will admit, to my shame, that there were days when the best I could be grateful for was my dogs or having a roof over my head. My problems are definitely first-world problems and feeling like there just wasn’t much to be grateful for without straining made me feel guilty and bad. At that point I expanded the scope of the jar and decided to include good things that happened that day: positive things that happened, which is always something to be grateful for in the end.

THAT worked! And my jar filled. And filled. And filled. I ended up with smaller and smaller pieces of paper and ended up shoving the slips in, but there they are. I only missed a few days out of the entire year, and I have to admit I feel pretty good about that.
I have yet to turn last year’s jar out and go through the slips. I know that was supposed to be part of the project, but for me, keeping tabs of my days, well, keeping tabs on the BEST bits of my days was what became the important part of the exercise. 

Then came 2014 and a decision. I hadn’t emptied the jar on 31 December. Did I want to just keep cramming paper into that same jar? Start a new jar? Put those 2013 pieces of paper somewhere and then use the now empty jar? Or did I want to give up the practice? Make it a one-year thing?

The entire month of January passed with me faithfully scribbling on little slips of paper and dropping them into the pen-holder on my bed table while I tried to make a decision. 

The truth is, I had trouble dropping into bed without taking that moment to reflect and find something good out of my day. Even one of the WORST days I’d had in a long time, when I was feeling pitiful and angry at bedtime, I was able to find something for which I was grateful, something which had made me happy. And if I DID lie down and pull up the covers without filling out a slip? I felt edgy and had to sit back up and do it. 

But the slip of paper thing was bumming me out. I’m not sure why, but maybe because I knew when it DID come time to look through 2013, I’d have to dig and sort and shuffle to go from January to December. So for 2014 I’ve decided to move this newish habit into something I thought I wasn’t good at : Journaling. 

I bought a little journal. Just a little one. I don’t PLAN on writing more than the snippets I did for 2013. But on a very good day (and this is still a gratitude/good thing journal) on a VERY GOOD day, I may write a little more, and a new habit may be born. 

I’ll let you know in 28 days.