Archive for February, 2008
Have you seen this Time Magazine pictorial, “What the World Eats“?
I’ve seen it before but it came across my email again today, and I wanted to share it. I think it speaks for itself, but a few aspects really got to me:
– The amount of packaged, processed foods First World-ers eat, vs. the amount of whole foods Third World-ers eat.
– How Coca Cola has permeated the world, even those who can barely afford food. (This reminds me of traveling to the depths of the jungle in Panama with my surfer husband, who was searching for this amazing wave we unfortunately never found. Anyway, the people in the area we stayed lived in huts — yes, huts — and they still drank Coca Cola!)
– Excess vs. Poverty — The lines here blur for me, as the wealthy people pictured don’t necessarily look happier or healthier. Yes, there is a terrible imbalance of wealth in the world, which needs to be rectified. But do I think the family who lives on two bags of grains and a few pieces of fruit in a week would actually be better off with the stacks of frozen pizzas and fast food meals of the West? Isn’t there a better middle path?
Anyway, do check out the pictorial, a fascinating study. It can be helpful to think about what you eat in a week, and what is “enough” to eat in a week. Quite a big and complicated question.
What would you do? This question comes not from me, but from an amazing woman I’ve “met” through the blogging world. Her name is Jen Ballantyne, and she is a 39-year-old Australian “mum” of two who is in the hellish depths of a losing battle with colon cancer, which she documents on her blog, The Comfy Place.
The depths meaning it is awesome that she carries her ravaged, exhausted body through each day. But, she does. Awesome that she stays emotionally connected to her friends, and pours love onto her beautiful little boys even as she is in constant pain. But, she does. Awesome that she can express on the page what it is like to deal with death so young, to experience her body turning on her, to leave behind her beloved children. But, she does. Awesome. Heartbreaking and awesome.
Reading Jen’s blog makes me ache, humbles me, and teaches me. It reminds me that as I strive to live in a “having enough” way, I still have much to learn and a long way to go.
So, Jen, as requested, my answer to your question — If you had a year to live, what would you do? — is this:
I would not change what I have, who I share my life with, what I do for work, or where I go. I have had enough accomplishments, travels, and possessions to last many lifetimes. I would not change that I spend all of my days and nights with my precious child.
What I would change, though, is how I deal with the everyday challenges and questions.
- I would learn to let go — of what this person did or said, or how that person chooses to see the world. I would learn to just embrace them, forgive them, or release them, and let them be.
- I would learn to meditate — find that quiet space and connection with things beyond that I think so much about, but don’t actually experience with my whole being.
- I would stop getting testy with my loved ones, or anyone, when I am stressed or anxious. I would learn to stop, breathe, and always be kind.
- I would not sweat the small stuff, but always remember the big picture.
Of course, these are the lessons I am constantly striving to learn. And, in a more tangible sense, there are things I would do for my daughter in terms of writings, videos and art that I would make for her to have always. But, really, what I would change is not so tangible, just a deeper way of seeing each and every moment and dealing with each situation.
Motivated by Jen, I’ve been working even harder on these lessons now. I’ve let go of several things this week that I struggled with. My DD and I just came home from the library with a meditation/mindfulness CD set for me (and a bag full of books for her!). Small steps, but steps.
If this amazing mom can keep calm and collected (and fall apart, too, as she deserves to!), but most importantly, keep full of love when it seems she has been given the unfairest of lots, then I certainly must be able to do the same without such struggles.
Thank you, Jen, for your question, your candor, and your inspiration. You are the epitome of “having enough” in your outlook, although in this case I will say that you could rightly argue that you have not been given enough time with your dear children. Still, they will know you through the loving words and memories you have created and are creating for them.
If only all of us could live these lessons in Jen’s honor. What a beautiful world it would be.
So, my daughter and I have pretty much gone from one nasty cold to another and into awful stomach flu these past few weeks. And, as most of us know, everything else falls by the wayside when we don’t have our health.
I have thought about this a lot in the context of having enough, and I always come back to it. Health is the most basic need we have. If we have it, so much is possible. If we struggle with it, all of the other “things” so clearly matter less.
Health has always been an issue for me, several nagging, chronic conditions affecting me since childhood. Nothing life-threatening in the immediate sense, but once I got honest with myself, life-altering enough to make some major changes. It’s all connected, of course. Our physical health, our mental health, our relationships, our work.
As my physical health has been compromised here lately, all of the other pieces seem harder to keep going. Now that I am finally feeling un-sick again, I am having to check back in with myself on the commitments I’ve made over the past ten years to keep my body, mind, and soul feeling healthy.
So, here are my reminders:
– Healthy Food (if it grows, eat it)
– Joyful Movement
– Following My Gut (and speaking my truth)
– Attention First to Loved Ones (including myself)
So basic are these, and yet so easy to lose track of sometimes. And, for me, these principles are the key to my good health. I’m going to focus intently on these commitments again in days ahead, and get me and my girl back to our healthy, immune-system-strong selves. It takes work. And it’s OK to falter sometimes and get back on the path.
And, on a related note, let’s just say, health care is one of my very top issues in this current and coming election (have you seen Sicko yet?). Our health, its gift, is the verymost basic “enough” we are granted, and grant ourselves.
That all said, please see the sidebar for this month’s affirmation, to our health!