The Last Best Hope

Finishing Strong!

I completed the Spa 5K Saturday in a record time. It was my personal best, and I was thrilled to finish strong. Notice I had two bicycle attendants and the privilege of my good friend, who is the current president of the local running club, to accompany me on the last leg of the 3.2 mile route.

Admittedly, my personal best was last of all who entered, but I still beat everyone who never entered the race. I also did better than those who didn’t train to walk this distance. We do this by going out for 15 minutes the first week, and adding 5 to 10 minutes extra in each of the weeks to follow. No one does a 5K right off the batt unless a bear is chasing them!

This is the third year I’ve completed the race, and I’ve learned several good tips. First, carry my inhaler so my asthma doesn’t bother me. If I can breathe better, I can walk at a steady pace. Second, carry half a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread to eat at the turn. This keeps my blood sugar up so I have energy for the home stretch. Third, hydrate. I carry water because I take medication that causes mouth dryness. If I feel good, I can walk well. My time was 1:07.19.34, with a pace of 21:43/M. I finished 9th in my age group and 291st of 291 women.

Finally, I don’t have to beat anyone else on the course. I only have to finish the race. Each runner or walker has his or her own individual time to beat, their own personal challenge. Of course, someone will cross the line with the best time in each age group, but each person has a personal race within the race. If we want to find good health, we must get up and get moving! It won’t come to our door via Amazon Prime or Dominos delivery service.

Finding ways to challenge our lethargy is tough, for once we begin to sit, inertia takes over. I’ve been there and worn a hole in the cushions of my couch. Sometimes I’ve had to set the kitchen timer to thirty minutes to force me to get up and turn it off. Putting on happy music, setting just one task and giving myself a coffee reward for completing it has helped me get over some of my rougher days. The worst days I had to admit I was depressed and seek treatment.

Depression is a real illness, one often found along side diabetes and heart disease. These are diseases of inflammation and depression seems to be their fellow traveler. It can be treated. We don’t have to live with the struggle of depression. Ordinary life has its own troubles, but we can live with hope and love. We don’t have to win the trophy, we merely need to do our best.

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift,

nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise,

nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful;

but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

After all, we have a higher purpose in life, for we’re here to be a witness to others. In Japan, the Ginko trees are living fossils, since they aren’t kin to any other tree still alive. When the atom bombs fell, six Ginko trees survived even though all the buildings around them were destroyed. When the trees began to bud, they were named “trees of hope.”

Hiroshima Ginko Trees

Even if we aren’t “much to look at” we can still be an inspiration to others. After all, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35). You can be the last best hope for someone today, maybe even for your own self. You are worthy. When you’re stronger, you can be a hope for someone else.

Ginko in the Autumn

THE CHANGE HAPPENS OVERNIGHT

Late in November, on a single night

Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees

That stand along the walk drop all their leaves

In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind

But as though to time alone: the golden and green

Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday

Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.

What signal from the stars? What senses took it in?

What in those wooden motives so decided

To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,

Rebellion or surrender? and if this

Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?

What use to learn the lessons taught by time.

If a star at any time may tell us: Now.

“The Consent” by Howard Nemerov

Copyright © 1977 by Howard Nemerov.

Reprinted by permission of Margaret  Nemerov.

Source: The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (1977)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53817/the-consent

More about Ginko Trees—https://e360.yale.edu/features/peter_crane_history_of_ginkgo_earths_oldest_tree

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WEIRD WEDNESDAY: Virtual Gastric Band Surgery

First, it's not surgery, but hypnosis! This is why it's "Virtual" and not actual or invasive, cutting into the body. How do I find out about these things, you ask? My Twitter account gets spammed with folks who follow me because I write about health. They think I might write glowing words about their product. They might think wrong.

First of all, actual surgery makes real changes in the body's hormone and metabolic activity. Virtual or hypnotic suggestion can't do this. It can only help you choose smaller portions or choose to exercise more. This is real science and you'd need to get your health care professional to explain it to you. The words leptin and grehlin are involved, plus your insulin. Hypnosis doesn't work on our chemicals, just on our desires and inclinations.

Second, hypnosis is the go to panacea or cure all for what ails you. It is the original snake oil, as it were! It is the potion with a notion and the vessel with the pestle that has the brew that is true. Whatever name we know it by, hypnosis is the amazing remedy for any complaint. Just imagine, with a few noninvasive sessions, our breasts could be larger! Hypnosis is a miracle working therapy! What shrinks our stomachs can also grow our breasts!

We can even get free lessons delivered to us through the mail, or maybe get them free on the internet today. Unlimited power for good (or ill) could be ours for nothing! If we look into the mirror, for what will we use this awesome power? I would hypnotize everyone i met into loving their neighbor, no matter their race, color, creed, nation of origin, religion, or sexual preference. We don't have to be hating each other on this small blue ball out in the vastness of the cosmos.

The person offering "Virtual Gastric Bypass Surgery" didn't put a price on any of her sessions, but other web sites did: $800. Actual surgery, which is proven and covered by insurance for medically necessary conditions, runs $5,000 and up. Personally, I'd rather spend $800 on a psychologist to get down to my emotional causes for overeating, but that's just me. A lot of us have fears, anxieties, depression, and other unmet needs we attempt to satisfy with food and drink. The rest of us want to be accepted and loved, and when we aren't, we eat and drink. This leads to less acceptance and more eating and drinking. It's a downward spiral.

Hypnosis claims to break this cycle. Getting a community of support will break the cycle too. Intervention with a counselor, accepting medical help with your depression, and getting started on a healthier food and exercise plan will also break the cycle. Accept you are loved.

Listen to my voice, you are worth loving–you are worth loving–you are worth loving–when I count to three, you'll wake up and all you'll feel is LOVE FOR YOUR SPECIAL SELF! 1–2–3! Wake Up!

Joy and Peace, Cornie

Kitchen Experiments 

When I was a child, I had a science kit. My parents trusted me not to blow up the backyard carport or lose a digit in the process, but I don’t remember them supervising my experiments. In fact, once we children went outside, we were on our own, but I did live back in the late Stone Age. Even I watched my daughter when she was out and about nearly three decades ago. 

I had a deep sense of curiosity, which my parents nourished. As a result, I’ve never been afraid to try something new, to learn things outside of my comfort zone, or to stretch my boundaries beyond the familiar. This includes meeting new people. I’ve always figured a stranger was just a new best friend you haven’t met yet. And yes, I’ve met a few weirdos doing this, but I’ve also met some really neat folks also. 

Encouraging a sense of adventure keeps us young. This may be the attraction of the many meal in a box delivery services offered today. They decide the menu, find the spices and ingredients, get it to your door, and all the cook at home has to do is follow the directions. I like to go to my local grocery, find the seasonal foods, or clean out the remaining foods in my fridge, and see what I can create with them. I consider this a challenge, as if I were on a desert island with limited resources. What could I do with what I have? 

In a sense, all Kitchen experiments are science projects at heart, for all foods have unique properties: heat, time, salt, fat, and moisture all affect the taste and texture of the ingredients and the concoction. Change one and the others change also. Sometimes we add salt at the end of cooking so the food doesn’t toughen up or dry out. Only experience teaches this, for our tendency would be to dump in all our spices at once. After all, we want to taste test along the way. 

An interesting book, SUGAR SALT FAT, by Michael Moss, outlines the science behind the processed food industry. By concentrating fat, salt and sugar in products formulated for maximum “bliss,” Big Food has spent almost a century distorting the American diet in favor of calorie-dense products whose consumption pattern has been mirrored by the calamitous rise in obesity rates. Entire food categories were invented to support this strategy. This is why Resturant meals often have an entire day’s worth of calories and sodium packed into one serving and Lunchable meals (aimed at children) have over 800 mg of sodium each, an amount far too high for little bodies to consume. 

To eat healthy, many of us choose to eat at home instead, for we can experiment with different food combinations and make choices based on our own health needs. I always limit the salt and carbohydrates, due to blood pressure and glucose resistance. This same dish in a restaurant would be drowning in olive oil and much heavier with cheese. Most likely it would also have a grain pasta with it, so the serving size would be both smaller and more calorie dense. It would be off the menu for most people like me. 

The truth is, we can experiment with our recipes, but experiments with our health isn’t a good idea. Folks who overindulge with carbs or salt can damage their bodies. Retaining fluid is a sign of too much salt, such as around the ankles. Yeast infections can be a sign of too many carbs. Eating healthy is a better choice than eating poorly, even if someone else is cooking or cleaning up for you. If this is a novel adventure, step out and try it! 

You might want to try a Vegetable Lasagna, from Cornie’s Kitchen: Squash Lasagna. 

The registration is free, and the site is free. I hope you enjoy it!

https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=3272393

GRILLED CHEESE & GRIEF

  I no longer seem to know where my body ends and the world begins. If I were a practicing Buddhist, this might mean the distinction between self and other was falling away. I might be on the path to oneness, or enlightened. Instead, I am in the midst of grief, a state in which I can no longer feel my body. I have wounds and bruises on my arms from making too close acquaintance with the lock plate of the linen closet as I put away the clean towels and sheets. 
Food no longer tastes good, but I’m forcing myself to eat real food, not junk food. Even though I can’t smell it as I cook it, or find any taste or pleasure in it as I eat it, I know I have to care for my health in this time of great distress. Once every other day or so, I eat a comfort food because this soothes my wounded emotions. I’m beyond the point on my health journey where some foods are forbidden completely to keep me from overeating them. Now I’m more disciplined, eat a variety of foods, more vegetables, more lean meat, less bread and pastas, and have fried food almost never. 

This little grilled Gouda cheese sandwich on a grain and seed bread really hit the spot. I could pull it apart and watch the strings grow finer until they finally separated from the other quarters on the Wedgwood Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit plate my daughter used when she was a child. I’ve always found comfort in good memories, good food, and sharing our stories around the kitchen table. That’s where my family always gathered to chat about our day during the dinner hour. Good times, bad times and ordinary times in our family kitchen were always connected to food. 

  
A month ago my daughter died at 36 years of age, having spent about twenty of those years on and off the streets of San Francisco. She was mentally ill, wouldn’t take proper medication, and self medicated. She was also beautiful, creative, and intelligent. Her three children are all talented, smart, and adopted by good families. They are doing well. I’ve been preparing mentally for this day for two decades, but emotionally I don’t think anyone can prepare for grief. One can only experience it. 

My sense of smell seems to be coming back, however. Thursday I noticed an off smell in the lobby of our condo.
 “What is that awful smell?” I asked our maintenance man. 

“Oh! That’s a dead rat! It’s been in the ceiling since last Saturday. Are you just now smelling it?” 

“I guess my sniffer has been a little off. ”

“We put poison out and the rats are supposed to go outside.”

“To look for water. He didn’t make it!”

“No he didn’t. They say the smell will be gone in 3 or 4 more days.”

Some things we just have to endure. In a ten story condo, a rat in the crawl space isn’t going to be found unless it’s within eyesight of the entry. Nobody goes crawling into a 50 year old tight squeeze unless the electric or plumbing are messed up. Likewise, grief is a process we go through. It’s like baking bread the old fashioned way: we work at it, and the we enjoy the end result. In the meantime, we eat an occasional grilled cheese sandwich on a bunny plate. 

Healing the Body

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Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (Mark 3:1-5)

Jesus is all about the change or the cure. Jesus makes the difference in a person’s life from being on the margins to being brought back into community. This is the original good news of the Gospel, but we in the modern church seem to have relegated this message to “scripture alone.” We are more about showing only our “fixed up faces” rather than our “withered hands” that need The Lord’s touch to make us whole again. The former we can fix with make up and masks, but the latter needs true spiritual power. I think of those grocery store bakery cakes that have lots of iced flowers in multiple colors on them. The icing is inedible, dry, and the cake isn’t much better. They do make great photos, however.

No wonder that when our paintbox is exhausted and our good hand is weary of holding up the disguise of competence before our faces, our carefully constructed facades of “managing” begin to crumble. One more tilt in our tectonic plate will cause the whole to crumble like a Haitian slum dwelling. Yet we persist in thinking that “If I only try harder to hold onto my strengths, I will make my way through these hard times.” We don’t understand the gospel message of surrendering to our weakness in order to receive healing and wholeness.

We tend to think of healing as the absence of disease, but often healing is acceptance of our condition and making the changes in our life necessary to live in “wellness.” When my doctor said I was insulin resistant and on the way to becoming diabetic, I began to exercise more and count calories and carbohydrates. I lost 50 pounds, am stuck there now, but have my blood sugars in the range of normal. I still have the low blood sugars, so I’m not out of the woods yet, but my lifestyle change is a form of “healing.” It’s not a miracle of course, but my faith and the Holy Spirit empowered me. Likewise, for one who is depressive or bipolar, taking medicine regularly and participating in therapy sessions is a part of their wellness plan.

We move so quickly each day, throwing on the mask or the makeup, that we don’t engage our selves in the mirror except to think, “my upper lip needs waxing again!” Or “how did my eyebrows get so brushy?” Then we are on our busy way, filling up our hours and minutes with activity both meaningful and mind numbing. Searching our heart of hearts, or introspection, isn’t our long suit, anymore than long term planning. We tend to do what is immediate and before us. Because we have constructed our masks so well and worn them for so long, our heart of hearts is buried under many layers. If we are the bakers in the grocery store, we aren’t looking for a new recipe for our inedible frosted flowers. Change and transformation aren’t on our mind, for we can still sell the old product. A better way of doing or being doesn’t intrude upon our busyness.

If Jesus came to our place of worship, would he be able to see these withered hearts? Are any of us as brave as the man in the synagogue, that we would offered our withered heart out for all to see? The one who shows weakness is the one who is healed.