Celebrate Valentine’s Day with 14 Healthy Heart Tips

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with 14 Healthy Heart Tips

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY AND HAPPY HEALTHY HEART MONTH

February is Healthy Heart Month and Valentine’s Day is a great time to start healing your heart. You know from my last blog that laughter is healing. Here are 14 more tips for health and heart healing. They are not in any particular order. They are all important.https://themiddlewayhealth.com/a-new-years-resolution-you-can-keep-dont-forget-to-laugh/

  1. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch  If you do nothing else for your health-Buy a Pedometer.Exercise and movement are the best medicine. Make it a goal to get 10,000 steps a day. You can get the steps by simply walking, going about your daily activities, shopping, or dancing. Yes-dancing. When I have to get more steps in my day, I will put on my favorite music or television show and dance around my family room. I might also add some running in place, marching, side steps or fast walking around the house. You would be amazed at how steps accumulate just from moving.
  2. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch Eat Breakfast. Research has shown that people who skip breakfast pack in more calories throughout the day. By starting your day with breakfast you are telling your body it is going to be well fed throughout the day and you needn’t binge at points of hunger. A great breakfast is fresh fruit especially berries, high fiber low sugar (less than 6 grams)  cereal, live cultured plain yogurt (no sugar) and a cup of coffee or tea. A few times a week you may want to add an egg for additional protein. That’s great on days you are working out at the gym or getting heavy-duty exercise in.
  3. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch Spices Spice up your food. Indian spices like curry powder, cumin, turmeric and cardamom are very healthy. These spices have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to prevent illness. These are especially important during cold and flu season. Garlic and oregano are also excellent additions to any recipe and both can have antibiotic properties.
  4. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya HindmarchEat broccoli Broccoli - Riviera Produce, Cornwall's grower of choice.several times a week. Broccoli is a great vegetable for fiber, vitamin C, and anticancer properties. Raw broccoli is great with low-calorie dips made with live cultured yogurt. Cooked broccoli is very beneficial as long as when you eat it, the bright green color is still there. Other heart-healthy veggies are asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and beets.
  5. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya HindmarchInclude Wild Alaskan salmon in your diet at least once a week. This salmon is a source of the fish oil that prevents heart disease. Salmon is a great source of protein and has the good fat that protects the heart. For heart health remember SMASH – Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Snapper, and Halibut are the best fish choices for a healthy heart.
  6. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya HindmarchDrink red wine Studies are showing that one glass of red wine (4-5oz) a day is good for your heart. The wine has a powerful antioxidant –resveratrol and also relaxes your body and mind to alleviate the stressors of the day. Stick with dry red wines. White wine can also add some benefit, but does not have the healthy -resveratrol.
  7. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya HindmarchPractice meditation Meditation calms the mind, reduces stress, and with practice can aid in reducing blood pressure. Meditation does not have to be complicated-simply site, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and watch your mind without having to do anything about your thoughts. There are many apps you can download to your phone that help you to meditate. My favorite is Insight timer. 
  8. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch Practice Forgiveness. Holding onto resentment and anger will only make you sick. Open your heart to how another feels and you may find yourself able to have compassion for the other side of the story. Forgiveness is the key to happiness and healing. The premise of A Course in Miracles is forgiveness. I have been studying and teaching the Course for over 30 years now and facilitate a monthly group meeting.
  9. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch Eat Dark Chocolate Steve and I eat two squares of dark chocolate almost every night after dinner. Dark chocolate has many healing properties. it not only tastes good but it is good for you. The darker the chocolate the better. it is rich in antioxidants and flavanols-powerful healing substances. Chocolate is also said to be good for the skin and because it supports keeping the blood fluid and flowing is helpful in preventing stroke and heart disease.
  10. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch Garlic is one of my favorite staples. Garlic is not only an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral natural antibiotic, but garlic also is very good for the heart. Garlic is thought to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation. I travel with garlic and add it to my toast, soups, and whatever I can at the first sign of illness. Check out my garlic soup recipe. 
  11. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch No Smoking If you smoke-QUIT. It goes without saying, smoking kills every organ of the body, especially the heart and lungs. I hate to admit that I smoked years ago and quit when I was 30. I am so glad I no longer smoke. It is not easy to quit. You have to see yourself as a non-smoker instead of an ex-smoker. Health has to be your top priority. Coaching can help.
  12. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch Eat healthy fats. Olive oil and Avacado are two of the best heart-healthy fats you can eat. I substitute olive oil for butter and oil in most recipes. I also love to have avocados cut up fresh or in my delicious guacamole. Avocados are also a delicious topping for toast. Make sure they are ripe enough. They should feel slightly soft to touch but not brown.
  13. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch Drink lots of water Clear Glass H2o Bottleand avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners in soda pop and juices. Water is the purest beverage. Add a little lemon or even fresh cucumbers for flavor. Filtered water is best. We have an Aqua Pure filter under our sink and to our refrigerator. If you buy bottled water, buy filtered not spring as you have no idea how pure the spring water is. Most important is to drink water throughout the day.
  14. Chubby Hearts Over London | Anya Hindmarch Practice the Middle Way. Keep your life balanced and joyful by following the path of moderation in all things. Avoid extremes and let go of judgment of yourself and others. If you need help along the way and are ready to change your life, coaching can be a helpful path to living life to the fullest. This blog and my coaching are dedicated to promoting health the Middle Way.     Feel free to share any of my articles. I am forever grateful for my readers and welcome new subscribers.
A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep. Don’t Forget To Laugh!!

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep. Don’t Forget To Laugh!!

DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH

Laughter is a release, a bonding agent, a prescription for health, a weapon and more. When someone laughs at your jokes today-not a polite laugh but an honest-to-goodness “I get you” laugh — it feels like love. (From my daily horoscope)

When was the last time you had a real belly laugh? A laugh where tears are rolling down your face, and your whole body is moving. In that moment you forgot everything around you. This is very healing-very important.

The average adult laughs 17 times a day. Humans are one of the only species that laughs. Have you ever seen your cat or dog laugh? They kind of just look at you like your nuts or maybe wag their tail.

 

Laughter is the best medicine!!  While you’re at the pharmacy picking up your $ 500 worth of drugs or while you’re at the health food store buying mega dollar’s worth of supplements pick up a bottle of humor. At the end of my mother-in-law’s life when she was very sick, her doctor wrote on a prescription pad-Laugh!

 

The study of laughter is called gelotology. It is actually a science.

What really makes us laugh? There are a number of theories about laughter.

Incongruity theory – Jokes- We anticipate the end, which usually is something stupid, or something illogical –doesn’t fit-or fits in an abnormal way –it’s just funny. Hits us as funny. A good joke can be very clean. Knock knock jokes etc.

Superiority theory– laughing at the expense of someone else or someone’s culture etc. Not really helpful and can just be a cover up for prejudice and anger – not healthy.

Relief theory- Jokes in the middle of tension – just need a humor break in the middle of stressful situations.

Tickling – but you can’t tickle yourself because tickling needs tension and surprise.

Laughter is the rhythmic, vocalized, expiratory, and involuntary response of the body. When someone tells a joke, you need the left brain to analyze the joke, the frontal lobe activates (social emotional response), the right brain helps you “get” the joke, the back of the brain sends nerve signals that make you react.

Damage to any of these areas can prevent someone from having a “sense of humor”.

When you laugh, many things are happening in your body. 15 facial muscles contract. The respiratory system is upset enough to make you gasp. If you laugh hard enough the tear ducts are activated. The mouth opens and closes so you get enough oxygen. The face becomes red and moist from increased circulation. We create all kinds of noises – some dainty and some very loud.

There are two types of sound in laughter – ha ha ha or ho ho ho or both. Laughter Yoga uses these sounds while teaching deep breathing and laughter. It’s wonderfully healing:)

Laughter is contagious.

John Morreal, a philosopher believes that the first time humans laughed was after danger passed and they shared the relief-like wow! That was a close one! Ha ha ha.

It is something we share with others and usually you laugh with others when you trust them and feel like you belong.  People are 30 times more likely to laugh in a social setting than when alone.

I was at the book store one day and was reading a book. Across from me was a young woman reading a book and every few pages would burst out laughing as if nobody was around. She made me laugh!! It’s like The Wonky Donkey video -a grandma having the best laugh as she reads the book to her grandson.

We laugh at different things at different ages and get jokes more as we mature.

We laugh at the things that stress us out!

We may not laugh if we don’t get the joke or we don’t find the joke funny or if we just lack a sense of humor.

If the boss laughs you can laugh or if the one in power laughs it is okay to laugh – tribal.

Laughter is sometimes used to cover up anger or sadness or fear. Nervous laughter!! There is laughter in those tears or tears in the laughter. Helps to release emotions. That is why funny movies or comedy clubs are so popular.

There is scientific research that shows that humor reduces stress, increases your ability to tolerate pain or even to forget about chronic pain, and boosts your immune system

In the book,  The Anatomy of an Illness , Norman Cousins describes how he healed from his chronic illness by watching funny movies and television skits.   Carl Jung believed that all Illness is mental illness and all mental illness is a spiritual disconnection.

Don’t take things so seriously. Anything we take seriously can be made fun of!!!

Laughter decreases stress and stress hormones that cause disease. Increases killer cells that kill cancer and viruses. Can clear the respiratory tract by causing coughing or hiccupping

Laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Lowers blood pressure. Increases vascular flow. Assists in healing.

And when there is no chance of avoiding the end of life, live in the moment. I can remember when my Mom had pancreatic cancer. She was dying but still managed to laugh. We kept her alive with humor, chocolate, high fiber Vitamix smoothies, and a powerful use of denial. We laughed a lot and also shared tears together.

The world is a crazy place. Not one of us will ever be able to figure it all out. We cannot possibly judge because we are limited humans and lack all the facts. All we can do is watch ourselves play our parts in the movie. Grab some popcorn and raisinets and laugh. You would not tear apart the movie screen so don’t take your life so serious. Sit back and observe yourself and your relationship with others.

Figure out what makes you laugh and do it! Read funny books or watch funny movies.

Surround yourself with funny people. Don’t waste your time worrying.

Develop your sense of humor. Be funny. Coco Chanel said – You only have one life to live you might as well be amusing.

Have fun!! Enjoy!! What is preventing you from laughing right now? Whatever it is……

It’s all a silly mad Idea don’t forget to laugh!!!! (A Course in Miracles)

Thanksgiving Turkey Hotline Tips and How We Spend our Holidays

Thanksgiving Turkey Hotline Tips and How We Spend our Holidays

 

Thanksgiving Turkey

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We did! I love watching the Macy’s parade, making my stuffing and roasting my turkey, then relaxing until the family arrives and it’s time to coordinate the dinner.
I do get to know turkey hotline reps for at least one phone call every year, but this year my worries were a little over the top. I made three calls to the Butterball Hotline (Even though I bought my turkey at Trader Joes). Three calls to the USDA, two calls to local cooking schools, and several calls to various Trader Joes to reassure me that the fresh turkey my husband bought on November 12 would be okay in the refrigerator (as directed by the Trader Joes manager) until I stuff it and roast on Thanksgiving Day. The fear of food poisoning from old or undercooked poultry is a reality I wanted to prevent, and I usually freeze my turkeys.

I was also concerned because my turkey got done too early. I love that we have so many opportunities to problem solve on Thanksgiving. I make at least one call a year for something about my turkeys. I got to know all the representatives I called and learned a lot, so let me pass it on.

#1 It will be fine. The turkeys ship fresh and are refrigerated at low temps and will stay fresh if the wrapping is intact and it remains in the frig until the expiration date, which in my case was Nov 25. It was fine. “It will be fine” were the magic words I heard over and over. I just needed to trust. It was fine. The turkey smelled fresh and tasted delicious.

#2 Oven Temps-You can start the oven at 400 and reduce to 325, but the best temp is 325 for the duration of cooking. Check for doneness by measuring your turkey in three places. The breast or white meat should be 165 degrees. The thigh or dark meat should be 170 degrees, and the stuffing should read at 165. I do stuff my turkey, so this is an important measure. It was almost 170 all over, but because I baste the turkey, it stayed moist and utterly tasty.

#3 Timing- You can safely plan that it will take about 15-20 minutes per pound, but if you baste like I do every hour, it will take longer.
Nevertheless, my turkey did get done earlier than I planned. If the turkey gets done too soon, cover it and keep in a warm oven that maintains the internal temperature of the turkey at 140 degrees. One of my neighbors puts hers in a 250-degree oven the night before at 11:00 PM, roasts until 8:00 AM and keeps it warm until dinner that evening. That was quite reassuring. My oven’s warm setting is 170 degrees. I put it in the oven for maybe two to three hours and guess what? “it was fine!”

#4 One additional tip: DON’T WASH YOUR TURKEY- Pat it with a wet paper towel to clean, and if you’re like me, you can tweeze the end of the feather tips left in the bird. Be sure to clean all surfaces to prevent cross-contamination.

The day after Thanksgiving we had our annual cookie baking day where I lay out every ingredient you could think of for a cookie. The grandkids come over and choose their recipes and bake. The kitchen was in chaos, but we had fun and then by 3:00 we have all had enough, and it’s time to clean up and transition the kitchen for “leftovers night,” our annual Shabbat dinner after Thanksgiving.

Hanukah came early this year. It was the week after Thanksgiving. This year I made dozens of potato latkes. The kitchen was a mess, but the latkes were delicious. I made homemade applesauce too. It was great. We celebrated a few days here and there with the grandkids and will have a Hanukah party at my daughter’s house. We lit our candles every night and turned on our electric menorahs for the windows.

Now we are looking are forward to celebrating Christmas, when my youngest daughter comes in from Chicago with our granddog. Christmas eve we will have my traditional spinach lasagna and Christmas day will wake up to stockings for all the grandkids thanks to “Santa” and stockings for our grown kids filled with an array of stuffers including gift cards to their favorite restaurants.

Our oldest daughter only has Hanukah in her home so she and my son in law and granddaughter will be with us, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Our son and daughter in law and their children celebrate Hanukah and Christmas and have their tree and family traditions as my daughter in law is not Jewish, and like me, Christmas was always an essential part of her life. They celebrate both holidays. For Christmas dinner, I make another turkey (yes- from Trader Joes but this one I put in the freezer) and stuffing and bring it to my daughter in laws mom’s house where our family gathers with her family and enjoy the spirit of the holidays.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

I will share more about my Christmas memories in a future blog.

My Travels, Health, and Healing my Human Heart

My Travels, Health, and Healing my Human Heart

Florida Artist Rita Schwab is holding her beautiful glass mosaic that reflects journey, path, heart 🙂

This is a long post with a long story that begins with just a catch up on our travels including our experience with the flu, and then my cardiology journey and resistance to doctor’s orders. If you have ever felt you and your doctor were not communicating-read this post. Enjoy!!

This year we have done a lot of traveling-California in January, Nevada and Arizona in February, Florida in March and early April, and in May I went on a wonderful and writer changing retreat in beautiful and peaceful Santa Fe, New Mexico. Each of these trips have their own story and lots more to share.

It’s been both fun and exhausting and Steve has set his own boundaries around travel. “I can’t unpack and repack a suitcase without an at home for a while break. “It’s too much!” I, on the other hand have a hard time saying no to life and opportunities to travel, explore and experience everything. Steve reached his limit when after completing a delightful family Caribbean cruise, we embarked for a 10-day vacation to be with friends in Cape Coral, Florida and the second day there he was diagnosed with Influenza B. Poor Steve. For the first week of that trip he was either outside on their beautiful lanai or in the house wearing a mask. Although our friends were wonderful, “like family”, and we did enjoy many great conversations in between rest time, this did take a toll on all of us.  Our dear friends hung in there with us and we all went on Tamiflu. I was the only one who did not have at least a day of the flu.

At the Urgent Care, it was noted that my blood pressure had climbed to 160/90 ­— yikes! I was stressed. I managed my stress by writing daily out in the Tiki Hut down on their deck and canal landing. It is a beautiful and serene place to reflect and write. Some days I would just rest in the hammock or sit and meditate and listen to the many sounds of nature. It helped that the weather was beautiful. I also enjoyed an evening glass of wine, which I noticed did lower my blood pressure. Toward the end of our stay we were able to go out and enjoy the last few days of our trip. One of our outings was an art fair in Cape Coral where I met and photographed the artist, Rita Schwab and her glass piece used with her permission as my photo for this post.

By the time we got home and to our own beds, Steve was exhausted and I was concerned about my heart. I purchased a new OMRON B/P monitor and made an appt with a cardiologist.I continued to monitor my blood pressure and it varied-sometimes high and other times normal.  I really focused on my breathing and although I did not sit in formal meditation every day, I attempted to stay mindful of my thoughts and pace of living.

As I sat in the cardiologist’s waiting room, I felt a bit out of place. The room was filled with elderly people, some in wheelchairs, and the younger patients were very overweight. I “pride” myself in being as healthy as I can “the middle way” through exercise, a plant-based diet, and meditation, yet here I was. I have to admit I have a strong family history of heart disease—Mom, Dad, and siblings. But I thought I was different and was on top of controlling the risk factors, at least that’s what I thought. Yet now I realize how hard it is to control the biggest risk factor-underlying tension and anxiety.

My cholesterol is high but so is my good cholesterol. I used to smoke but quit 36 years ago, and I have not been overweight since nursing school. Why was I there? My primary care physician was okay with me going although he has never seen my blood pressure over 120/70. He takes my blood pressure every time I see him, and he carefully monitors my lipid profile every year.

Long story short, the cardiologist was not quick to put me on any medication (I liked that!) until I had some tests to determine if I, indeed, showed signs of heart disease. He ordered an echocardiogram and coronary calcium scan (CAT Scan of the heart and its major blood vessels). I was game. The heart scan took about 20 minutes and the echocardiogram took almost an hour.

The next day I got a call from the nurse who gave me the results of my tests—the echo was normal and the heart scan showed minimal heart disease, better than most for my age so the doctor would like me to take a daily 81 mg of Aspirin and 40 mg of Lipitor. Noooooooooooooo.You would have thought she told me the doctor wanted to do open heart surgery. I totally reacted with surprise, anger, sadness, and disappointment and asked that she have the doctor call me.

He did, and it did not go well. The American College of Cardiology recommends the aspirin and Lipitor for a patient picture like mine. Actually there are many cardiologists that feel we should all be on a statin.  But that’s it! This doctor really does not know me and I am not a typical patient. I had only seen him one time, and we need to go beyond one size fits all medicine. My primary care physician is an MD with years of alternative medicine experience and for over 25 years has followed my health and prescribed the daily supplements I take. I take no prescription medicine and don’t want to start. On the other hand, I also don’t want to have a heart attack or stroke and would welcome a plan to prevent further heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.

When the cardiologist called, I let him know how disappointed I was that the nurse called and that we did not talk before I was given a prescribed plan that included a statin drug without more discussion on its benefits and its risks. Statin drugs do lower cholesterol and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, but they also come with an array of side effects—muscle aches and weakness, GI symptoms, and more. There is a ton of research that is now questioning the cost/benefit of statins.

I have to admit, I did not give the doctor a chance to explain how we would proceed or how he would follow up with me. When I got off the phone, I felt sad that the conversation did not go well and I wished I had sat in a 30-minute meditation prior to speaking with this doctor. This doctor has an excellent reputation as a cardiologist, is very kind and personable and I am sure he has saved many lives. I wish I could have expressed myself in a better way to be heard by the doctor. I also wish his office would have scheduled a follow up appointment so that he could go over the results with me in his office. Most of all I have used this experience to reflect on my own defensiveness and fear and also trust that there is a blanket of universal forgiveness between both of us.

Doctor patient communication can be difficult. There is fear on all sides. I have a deep respect for the medical profession. I am a Registered Nurse and know how difficult it is to navigate around a system that is frustrating to the patient and the doctor. And I also know that in today’s world of alternative, integrative and functional medicine, there is much that medical schools and nursing schools have failed to teach. The research is often driven by pharmaceutical companies who have a vested interest in us taking drugs when there are so many alternatives to healing. I will not take a long-term prescription without research and that is my current mission about statin drugs and heart disease prevention and treatment in general.

Dr. Danielle Ofri’s book What Patients Say. What Doctors Hear, states it well:

Patients, anxious to convey their symptoms, feel an urgency to “make their case” to their doctors. Doctors, under pressure to be efficient, multitask while patients speak and often miss the key elements. Add in stereotypes, unconscious bias, conflicting agendas, and the fear of lawsuits and the risk of misdiagnosis and medical errors multiplies dangerously.

 A week later, I went to my primary care physician. He agreed that going on a statin drug was premature, but also agreed that we needed to take the tests serious and take a closer look at my cardiac risks and current status. He was grateful to have the test results for additional information about my health. He recommended beets and cayenne pepper as nutritional support for the heart. He also recommended 1000 mg of Niacinamide (Vit B3 derivative-not as much research on its affect on cholesterol like Niacin). He also said he may want me on a low dose of of Zocor, which is a statin. I might add that my physician knows me well and suggested I relax and balance my chakras.

My lifestyle supports health but there is more I can do. I exercise (making sure I get 10,000 steps a day) but could increase the intensity of my walks and add more strength training. My diet is plant based; no red meat and I avoid saturated fat- but I am far from perfect and need to be more aware of salt and sugar. I do meditate, but I am a hyper personality and need to focus on breath awareness and slowing down in between life’s adventures. But more important than all of that is that I often feel I live in two worlds. On one hand I teach and coach a very deep spiritual path of love and forgiveness and on the other hand I have the same fears of illness and death as everyone else. Our fears fuel our defenses and often cause us to separate rather than join.

In two months we will repeat all of the blood tests that aid in determining my current heart disease risk. Since being more mindful of my diet, exercise and meditation as well as forgiving myself and the doctor,  (Forgiveness is a powerful medicine for the heart), I have noticed my blood pressure has been staying within the normal range and I am hoping my blood tests show that I can reduce my heart disease risks without taking medicine.

In the meantime, I will continue my research, be mindful of my lifestyle, and stay “open hearted”. I have a follow up appointment with the cardiologist in 6 months. I’m not sure if he is the right fit for me, but it would be nice if we could meet again. I will go prepared to listen to him and hopefully he can also listen to my concerns and we can join in a much more productive manner.

In the end, its not about any of this. It’s always about all the lessons we learn along the way and as I continue the journey, I enjoy bringing you along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aging, Dying, Red Convertibles, Wine and Chocolate

Aging, Dying, Red Convertibles, Wine and Chocolate

My friend Janet and I with her red convertible. Notice the basket of wine and chocolate.

A friend of mine owns a red convertible. She got it over 18 years ago and it still looks great. She is now in her late 70s but as vibrant as her car. Her license plate is Joy 4 All, and she lives that every day of her life from her vintage clothes and hats, to her thoughtful gifts and notes. This friend recently lost her oldest son to early dementia so it’s hard for her to have that joy all the time. In fact, as she feels her grief and experiences her body aging, like all of us, she has occasional meltdowns. But not for long, for something will come along that not only delights her but delights someone else.

Recently one of her neighbors was celebrating their mother’s 94th birthday party. One of the things on her bucket list was to drive around in a red convertible. The son of the birthday girl was trying to figure out how to make this dream come true. He called several rental car companies to no avail. No one had an available red convertible for rent. He thought of borrowing one from a car dealer, but unless you put a down payment on the auto, you are out of luck. Then an idea came to him. He said to his wife, “ Doesn’t our neighbor own a red convertible?” Light bulb idea!!! He called my friend and said he had an out-of-the-box favor to ask. Could he borrow her red convertible? My friend, joyful as can be, thought this was a great idea and would be happy to let him use the car for the day.

On the day of her birthday, the son surprised his mother by picking her up in the morning for a day of celebration and driving around in a red convertible. She was so delighted and could not believe her dream came true. They had a day out to brunch,  then  took a ferry ride to Maysville and toured the home of Rosemary Clooney followed by a celebration dinner.

Later that day they returned the car, full of gas, with the utmost gratitude. My friend told me this story with a smile on her face -“Oh! It was so much fun to make someone’s dream come true!”

I have another friend who recently celebrated her 77th birthday in hospice. Two weeks ago she was walking my neighborhood and now has weeks to live due to a malignant and aggressive brain tumor. I went to visit her. It was 11:30 in the morning and there she was sipping a small bottle of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc. I said, “ Are you drinking wine?” I was smiling as I do love wine and thought, why not? Glad they let you have it here. I think I might want to do the same thing. She turned her head to me and said, “Yep! All day long-that and chocolate. What else can I do?” She explained that she chose not to have any treatment, but rather to take the path of palliative care, which assures comfort and allows her to spend what time she has left with her family and friends and enjoy her wine and chocolate. She said if anyone asks what to bring-wine and chocolate!

A group of us put a basket together for her. Each person contributed something based on the theme, wine, chocolate, and comfort care. We brought her a basket full of wine, chocolate, cookies, books, and more. I think she appreciated the thoughts as well as the things. She died about 10 days later at peace and surrounded by her family

One never knows how much time we have left to age and then to die. We don’t all have the same dreams or the same joys. We don’t all have the same experiences, but what we do have is a choice to live as full a life as we can and to be there when someone asks for an out of the box favor and to give with an open heart. It is healing for all.

It has been awhile since I wrote this and I want to add that we all should imagine just for a day that we are in hospice with only 6 months to live. How will you live those days? Angry? Afraid? At peace? Have you had those important conversations with loved ones and friends? Don’t wait to suddenly be told you only have weeks or months to live. We all are on a time line. Life is precious.

 

 

 

Friendship The Medicine of Life

Friendship The Medicine of Life

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.”

-Henri Nouwen

Friendship is an art. We are born into families but we must cultivate our friends. A true friend is priceless- someone you can call when you are confused, have a problem, or when you are excited and want to celebrate. Sometimes we need a friend to listen and not fix our problems or advise us with the best solution. Yet, how many people have someone in their life who will listen and love unconditionally without an ulterior motive; without asking for anything in return; someone whose own spirit is lifted by allowing you to share your dreams, worries, fears, confusion, anger, and other emotions.

This is rare in today’s society because we are in a hurry and listening takes time. It is also difficult these days because much of our communication is lost in texting, e-mail, facebook, and lack of self-awareness and mindfulness. How can we understand what someone else is feeling if we never take the time to understand our own inner world? Make friends with yourself first and you will be able to open your heart to others.

Like doctors, we want to give our friend a solution. Often we don’t want a solution; we just want to talk it out. A true healer will listen until they don’t exist so the other person can come up with their own solution, but this takes time.

There was a time when I went to a doctor and I said to him, “You know, Doctor, I think there is an emotional component to this and I really want to heal at a deeper level.” He looked at me with a sense of helplessness, and said, “Well, get up on the table and let me listen to your heart.” After putting the cold stethoscope on my chest, he proclaimed, “You are just fine.” Isn’t that funny? Would he really take the time to listen to my heart and soul and mind? No, not because he doesn’t want to, but because he doesn’t have time. Listening to someone’s feelings and emotions is difficult. We quickly want to solve the problem, hurry the pain away, and heal the person. We can’t expect our doctors to be our friends, but if we had more friends we might not need as many doctors.

You may have a “ton of friends,” but how many of your friendships are open and unreserved allowing you both to expose your soul and unleash your feelings and emotions without fear. You are fortunate if among the multitudes of people you know, you have one or two trusting friends who will be there for you even when they don’t understand you.

Cultivating friendship takes time and thought and the ability to give and to forgive. It is the desire to want to be in a relationship with another human being for no other reason than the healing energy of knowing you can count on that person and they can count on you in life when it is challenging or when it is exciting. This kind of friendship is the best medicine.

Pin It on Pinterest