On Sunday morning at 2am, I woke up. Maybe I had to pee. I don't really remember. But I never fell back asleep. My mind raced. My heart pounded. I didn't feel good. Husband and I had consumed a decadent Indian dinner and I'd had too much wine. Suddenly, my mind was alert. And not in a good way. In a cruel way. I tried to imagine sheep jumping, but instead I saw lists of things undone. I felt a whoosh of worries. Looming dates and deadlines flurried through the fog.
In the hours between 2am and 7am when we woke up to lead the girls on their Living Room Easter Egg Hunt, I thought about many things. And about one thing - one important thing - in particular. That thing?
Vague. I know. Taking charge of what? Well, everything. I am a control freak after all. A big one. But in this instance, I was thinking about something more specific. That something?
I want to take charge of my health. For the past several years (since becoming a mother - ding! ding!), I have been distracted by things. Glorious things.
My girls. How they are growing and thriving. How healthy they are. How happy they are.
My marriage. How it is growing and thriving. How healthy it is. How happy it is.
My career. How it is growing and thriving. How healthy it is. How happy it is.
But what about me? The Me that includes a body?
As I come up on the one-year anniversary of Ivy League Insecurities (Saturday! Thanks for the reminder, Gale!), I realize something. I have spent the past twelve months very much focused on toning mental flab. On remembering how to think critically and write honestly. And these days, I am feeling intellectually fit and strong.
I am not as healthy as I could be. Not nearly. I do not sleep enough. I do not make much time to work out. I flirt with a healthy diet, but often end up eating my girls' fries. I drink way too much coffee and way too little water. And probably a bit much white wine.
A month ago, my very good friend was in town. She also has two young girls. We were chatting about how everything changes when we have kids, how in many ways as the stakes rise, the ultimate goal becomes far simpler - to stay healthy and live longer. This brilliant friend with a bevy of interests personal and professional said something that sliced me:
"I just want to be alive and be around for my girls."
Several weeks ago, I attended a birthday party. One of Toddler's friends was there with his father and I asked where his wife was. And he told me, pride and love glistening in his eyes, that she just had a double mastectomy after having her ovaries removed this past fall. Apparently, she tested positive for the breast cancer gene. And now? Now she is taking charge of her health.
About two months ago, I gave up Splenda. And I am proud of myself. Because though it is a tiny step, it is a step and stepping is good. Yesterday, I took my first yoga class. And as I "flowed" (ha) in and out of foreign poses, my body shook and sweat. It felt hard. It felt good. Next week, I will meet once more with my friend and health guru Lauren Slayton to talk about all of this. Because, suddenly, thankfully, I mean business.
Emerson said, The first wealth is health.
I sit here, the humble protagonist in the opening scene of a new day, writing words about something I want. A different kind of wealth.
For my little girls. For Husband.
Because at the heart of all of the cosmic clutter and stuff, all the to-do lists and daily anxieties, we are mortal beings. Days are not infinite. Life is not a guarantee. Health is not a given. But health is something we can work for, and prioritize. And so I will. When?
How about now?
Today. Today is always a good place to start.
- Do you consider yourself to be a healthy individual?
- Have there been any wake-up calls for you that have forced you to reevaluate your own lifestyle? (Death or illness of loved ones, health scares for yourself?)
- What do you think is the biggest impediment to taking charge of our health? (Lack of time? Lack of financial resources? Focus on careers and/or kids? Laziness? Habit? Denial?)
- Do you ever wake up in the night drowning in a proverbial pool of worries?
- Have you given up anything lately in an effort to take charge of your health?
- To the extent that many of us cannot afford yoga classes and nutritional consultations, do you having "a healthy life" is part and parcel of privilege? Or can we all "afford" to be healthy?
- What is your biggest health goal at the moment? (Weight loss? Energy? Disease Prevention? Longevity?)
ILI DAILY CHARM: A THANK YOU
I woke up this morning to a lovely treat. Heather of the wonderful blog Theta Mom has written a thoughtful post today about identity wherein she names me (!) - along with another blogger (Jenny Mac of Let's Have a Cocktail - I am off to check her out shortly!) - as someone who inspires her as a writer.
Thank you, Heather! I am thrilled to count myself among your blogeagues (just made that up) and to be a member of your wonderful Theta Mom Community. As I sit here - watching Baby smear yogurt on the coffee table, awash in pre-publication anxiety (six weeks, baby!) - your words mean far more than you know. Thank you.