Have you listened to your body lately? No, I mean really listened. I find the older I get, the more interesting, albeit disconcerting, a process this is.
Most of us are living in over-drive. Anaesthetized by food, drink, work. Overlooking the body’s early warning system. Oblivious to the whispered hints. Maybe not even getting the not-so-subtle whack on the side of the head.
I have gotten better at noticing when something is amiss. Some days it seems I’m falling apart — bit by bit by bit. I’m more aware when I’m clenching my jaw or scrunching my shoulders up around my ears. I consciously, deliberately relax.
I notice the now familiar pain of sciatica when I sit too long. Until harvest 2001 and countless hours in the combine, sciatica was just another word. Now I know firsthand how debilitating the pain can be. I know firsthand how frustrated and impatient I felt as the weeks and months wear on with little visible improvement.
I know that too little sleep makes me cranky and short-tempered. I know caffeine makes my eyelid twitch. I know my menstrual cycle now has a mind of its own. I know the discomfort of acid reflux.
I now need artificial tears for dry eyes, labello for dry lips, lotions for dry skin. I’m about a year away from bi-focals. I know that waiting ’til you’re in pain for your first full body therapeutic massage is too long.
I know that abuse and neglect have a way of catching up with you. It reminds me of that old line: “If I’d I have known I was going to live this long I’d have taken better care of myself.” I know that if I had a dollar for everyone with foot problems and orthotics I’d be rich woman. I know that those stupid, stupid shoes we all wore are exacting their price now as I gimp through life with plantar fasciitis.
I know too many pounds are causing or aggravating all sorts of problems. I know using the treadmill first thing in the morning is the only way to squeeze exercise into my life and into my day. I know that overdoing anything — gardening, house painting, snow shoveling, playing — hurts. I know that a fall in an icy parking lot four years ago, every so often still comes back to haunt me with hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder pain.
And I haven’t even gotten to the potentially big stuff — like cancer and auto-immune conditions. The stuff that requires referrals and specialists, mammograms and ultrasounds, biopsies and “oscopies”. Those diagnoses that can change your life forever — in a heartbeat.
I’ve had some scares. I’ve dodged the bullet. I’m changing those factors within my control. Question is, are you?
The time is now. Begin wherever you are. Start listening to your body. It makes sense, from where I sit.
*Reprinted with permission