Let’s talk science just a moment… Did you know our bodies have over seven octillion atoms, create seven miles of new blood vessels for every new pound added, and the femur is stronger than steel? For every step we take, we use over two hundred muscles and our small intestines can measure over twenty feet. On top of this, our hearts beat around one hundred thousand times a day…WOW; just WOW! While we are mostly unaware of what our body and its systems accomplish each second of our lives, it’s quite remarkable really. We go about our busy schedules expecting our bodies to simply keep up…until they don’t. Unless there’s a difficult diagnosis, a broken bone, or the whole family contracts the stomach virus, we often don’t think much about the miraculous gift of our bodies.
With a heart episode earlier this year, I finally joined the millions now wearing a Fitbit full time (and yes, I might even cuss a little about it too). The Fitbit allows me an easy way to consistently monitor my heart rate and other active situations as I go through my day, even though it occasionally creates angst. A touch of personal background…my physical self has a definitive history of stranger things and complications (but really, who doesn’t?). From multiple abdominal and reproductive issues to years of cancer treatments, my body has repeatedly challenged me with physical issues. Yet, doing everything right is no guarantee to complete health either, thus I’ve learned to let go (AND let God) of my wanting it to be physically perfect; it is what it is. Don’t misunderstand; I’m grateful for the affirmation and good medical reports when they occur, but more importantly, I’m learning how much I can still contribute even when going through another health crisis. The “blessing in disguise” of the difficult situation may be invisible and will eventually surface when we least expect it! I’ve come to see how gratefulness is an all-out, committed life practice and it’s considered cheating to be only be grateful for the good while shunning the bad. NONE of us want the bad things to happen, but we must meticulously seek gratitude for the soul lessons inherently placed in our path on this life journey. We progress when we find ways to use the hardships of bad things and experiences to become more patient, more kind, more present, more fun, more loving. Not surprisingly, nothing affects every system or each area of our body, mind, or soul more than gratitude. Digging a deep well of JOY, peace, and contentment for any situation allows gratefulness to sustain each of us during the dark times. A favorite yoga teacher even challenged me to practice gratefulness for my body parts as I maneuver each pose, meditating in my mind a blessing for what each one can do in that moment; no wishing or hoping (or cussing) allowed for anything to be different. Being the expected calm, Zen-guru, she also gently reminded me, “Never question why the suffering comes for you; listen for what the suffering can teach you. Be willing to see the gift in each experience when it is revealed so you are stronger and better in this life.”
On Day #6: Since we all tend to be so very critical of our bodies, what is something about your physical self you are incredibly grateful for today? How will you honor it?
Here is what I unexpectedly know to be true: Gratitude and gratefulness, like interest on my credit card, compounds. The daily practice of consistent and purposeful gratitude creates clearer vision to pay closer attention and seek particular reasons to be grateful in the face of uncertainty. Attitude is mandatory and daily effort is non-negotiable on this gratefulness journey. So when my head hits the pillow tonight and I awkwardly stretch my weary limbs under the cozy covers, I’ll say a prayer of thanks, awe, and gratefulness for this aging body and its daily miracles…here’s hoping you join me in this grateful ritual as well.
PS: Thanks, St. M, for gently encouraging my Fitbit journey each day; I do indeed relish those rare times my final daily step count exceeds yours after all. 🙂
I ADORE your honest reflection and LOVE YOU, Melanie! My non-ballerina legs hike to the top of mountains, assist dad as needed, and so much more too! I’ve successfully earned and have learned to greatly appreciate every wrinkle, crinkle, fold, muffin-top, busted-can-of-biscuits-fluffiness too. The imperfections make us absolutely perfect…and as a recovering perfectionist on a 13-step program (because 12 is just not enough), this says it all, my friend! Sending so many hugs to you and thanks for blessing my world today!
Beth, I love all of your posts, but this one particularly hit home♥️ All of my life, I hated my short, chunky, muscled legs, longing for the long lean limbs of the ballerina that I would never be.
That all changed about 12 years ago, when Daddy was in the last stages of a devastating Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Though he was wheelchair-bound, he loved to get out and about. I would drive over to his Memory Care facility and push his wheelchair out to the car.
Using my short, chunky, muscle-y legs, I would lift him -all by myself- and buckle him into the front seat, and off we would go. Some of our happiest days were spent parked in the harbor, looking at all of the boats, remembering fun times we had spent on the water together.
How many other 50-something gals…the ones with those skinny ballerina legs…can say that?
Thanks for reminding me to be grateful in the imperfection (now, THERE’S an understatement:))