Sometimes the best lessons (or perhaps reminders) in life stem from some of the simplest daily rituals.
A few years ago I was walking by a neighbor’s house (a few streets over) as she was just pulling into her driveway. She waved me down and wanted to let me know that she was moving to another part of town to live in a smaller house …since she was the only one left to live in her house permanently. She just didn ‘t need that much room any more.
We started talking and I remember telling her how sorry I was to hear of her mother’s passing. She reminded me her mother was over a 100 years old when she died and she had lived a good life. I remember asking what her secret was and my neighbor promptly replied, “Mother always drank a glass of water first thing in the morning before she did anything else. She always swore by its benefits.”
At that time I was going through my first intensive regiment of chemo and the thought of drinking a glass full of water first thing in the morning made me slightly queasy and I soon forgot about the conversation.
Within the last week, however, I have seen this healthy habit materialize in a medical magazine I was reading and also mentioned on a talk show by a doctor. So I have decided to give it a try. I just started Monday and to date I have been able to keep it up (or perhaps down) okay…and it does help cut down on hunger when your stomach is full of water.
About four months ago my medical nemesis (who visited me once before) returned….sciatica. I remember when I first experienced it (2014 after a long surgery) thinking that none of the cancer medical treatments to date came close to the physical pain that shot down my right leg and foot. Ouch!
Quite honestly, aside from physical exercises to try and stretch the muscles in the lower back, leg, and foot…there is no magical pill that gets rid of it. It was the first time in my life that I experienced something that lowered my quality of life …the first time it hurt to sleep, get up, walk, climb in the car, sit….sciatica is just not fun at all. Almost a year to the day it appeared the first time around…it magically disappeared and didn’t return until recently this year.
Unfortunately it seems to like me so well…it wants to continue making a home with me. This time around…it isn’t as intensively painful but it is annoyingly irritating enough to make me limp on bad days and grit my teeth on others. Every now and then it makes me believe it is subsiding and going away…only to pop back up a few days later. Hopefully I will wake up one morning soon…and it will be gone again permanently. Hallelujah for that day!
In the meantime I feel all “stoved up.” I honestly don’t remember where in the world that old expression popped up…I can’t even remember where I would have heard it except maybe from Grandmother Barbour who suffered with a lot of “stoved up” pain. Old-fashioned or not…that is what I have been feeling lately…all “stoved up.” (a phrase used with the meaning of being stiff, physically unable to move around quickly from pain or sore muscles.)
So this “annoyance” along with a few small side effects from my daily oral chemo made me decide that drinking more water….especially a glass first thing in the morning …could not help but benefit the body and it is small price to pay for a healthier habit.
Every morning as I drink it ….I stop half-way and come up for air…always remembering the well-used adage…about the half-full or half-empty glass of water. Yesterday, however, I read a different ‘take’ on a glass of water which I like and need to be reminded of in my life. It goes like this:
The Weight of the Glass
Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”
Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.
She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”
As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”
How true! I have come to realize if I stay busy and keep up my social/community activities I tend not to concentrate on the sciatica and I experience a much less painful day than when I am at home all day, conscious and alert to every “ooh” and “ouch!”
So until tomorrow…When we concentrate on others and forget our own concerns don’t our days seem a little brighter, more fulfilled, and less hurtful? So, if you want a two-fold improvement plan, drink all the water from the glass first thing in the morning and the glass “magically” lightens…then concentrate on someone else’s problems and drop your own personal dilemmas.
We can start our day feeling “Light as a feather.”
*And speaking of feathers.…while I was typing away on this blog….we continued having heavy rain showers on and off throughout the day….”Weather fit for a duck” some might even say.
Guess what…I happened to glance outside the window and there marched a mother duck with four or five little ducklings trailing behind her right down my driveway to the back yard. (*I took this picture quickly through the glass window and screen…so it looks rather abstract but I think you can get a glimpse of what I saw.)
I literally ran out to the back yard and somehow the ducks had mysterious disappeared. I was disappointed but when I came back in I realized I had not felt any pain in my right leg while, excitedly, running outside to see the ducks. Concentrate on others and delightful experiences and forget thinking about ourselves…by dropping our problems instead of ruminating on them
*If I could have had just a few seconds to prepare for the unlikely scene of a mother mallard and her little ones marching down my driveway….I could have made a new cover picture for the beloved children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings.”
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh