In my 35 years of experience as a nurse and nurse practitioner, I have learned that healthy living does not mean you will never confront health issues or concerns. It is more about living in harmony with life as your soul's journey with joy, courage and a great sense of humor.
Healthy living does indeed require healthy choices such as how to move your body, how to think good thoughts and what to eat and drink to be healthy. But, man oh man, the pressure is on to eat this not that, drink this not that, do this not that, think this not that, and say this not that.
Having a health issue is not a failure of healthy living. It is part of being human in relationship to all life. Healthy living also involves respecting your elders and the land upon which you live, appreciating beauty, giving and receiving love, risking being wrong, being at the mercy of gravity and laughing at yourself when you do something funny.
Some of us will die "prematurely." Some of us will die from accident. Some of us will die from disease. Some of us will die in our sleep from old age. All of us can choose to be the healthiest we can be when that time comes.
My grandmothers were my first life coaches and taught me a lot about how to live a healthy life. Here are a few snippets of wisdom they left with me before they passed away.
-- Forgive yourself first. Have no regrets and take care of your teeth. (You gotta eat).
-- Don't plant your garden before the last full moon in May. (Be patient).
-- Your acts of kindness will return to you ten-fold. (It is in giving we receive).
-- Find a way to ground yourself in the goodness of life. (I do that by making my bed).
-- Your blessings will never be denied. (Have faith as big as a mustard seed).
-- Delayed good is mesmeric. (There is that "be patient" message again).
-- You can always come home to the farm. (Home is where the heart is).
-- When all else fails, there is always the garden. Learn how to grow flowers and food. Keep your fingernails short and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. (Participate in the mystery of life full on).
-- Wash your hands before every meal. (To get all that good dirt off. You could get worms).
-- Rest when you are tired. Eat only when you are hungry. Drink only water when you are thirsty and never, never, NEVER fall asleep with gum in your mouth because it will get stuck in your hair and we will have to cut it out. (That was incentive enough. She never even had to mention that I might choke to death).
Side story: In fact, I was never even allowed to chew gum. That was probably because one too many times I fell asleep with gum in my mouth and it got stuck in my hair. One day a neighbor kid gave me a piece of gum to chew. I think it was Juicy Fruit, and it was really tasty. My little sister and I had a fight over it too. My mother came outside to check all the noise and, not wanting to get in trouble for chewing gum, I quickly took it out of my mouth and threw it over my shoulder. Guess where it landed... yes, you guessed it. It landed smack dab in my sister's hair! Lesson Learned.
Where was I, oh yes.
-- Somehow make every place you go better than when you found it. (Be grateful for the beauty around you. Respect each place as if it was your home).
-- Please and thank you really are magic words. (Say your prayers. Enough said).
-- Smile at fear. But don't put you head in the mouth of a mountain lion. (Always practice discernment).
-- Listen with your heart. (Love will prevail and you will remember what was said better).
-- Don't run with scissors in your hands. You might poke your eye out. (Enough said).
-- Don't open a bulging can of anything. (You can never be too careful when it comes to botulism).
-- Never shake a bottle of Coke before you open it. You will have to clean it up all by yourself. (Take a minute before you act to make sure you are up to the task).
-- You are never too old to learn something new. Look at me; I'm old and just learned how to play the harmonica. (Keep an open mind and beware of false limits).
-- Always pour the cream into a pitcher before you bring it to the table. You never know when the bishop may show up. (Be prepared to welcome what may come with grace).
-- God is love, and we are made in His image and likeness. (You must learn to love yourself and love one another).
-- Laughter is the best medicine. (Lighten up. It will be tomorrow before you know it).
Believe it or not, those of us in midlife today are tomorrow's wise elders. What sage advice do you want to leave the generations that follow? Better start thinking about it. It will be tomorrow before you know it!
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