BODY MIND SPIRIT
Many of us use artificial stimulants to help get our minds moving in the mornings. My oversized cup of dark roast coffee is a definite requirement for me as I begin my day.
For the past few decades I have prided myself on being able to brush my teeth, shower, dress and be out the door in ten minutes. That phase of my life is long gone. I am falling apart.
I am not complaining. I am simply recording my journey. Neither my stoic mother, nor my maternal grandmother complained, and I try not to. But because they did not, I was shocked and ill prepared for the evolution taking place within my body with each successive year. I ignore it and carry on with my art, writing, walking, meetings and fun with family and friends. Life is full. Life is good. I love being alive.
However, not only does my mind wake up slowly some mornings, but it takes my body way too long to become mobile. Even enjoying my first cup of coffee can be a trial. Reaching for a cup, or the coffee tin, lugging a kettle full of water from tap to stove is now often fraught with difficulty as hand, elbow or shoulder joints do not respond to the brain’s command. Now I have to work through stiffness and pain to accomplish morning tasks. More so when osteoarthritis is in an acute inflammatory period, when suffering and stiffness may extend throughout the day, for weeks or even months.
And I tell myself: “Arthritis is not fatal. It is not cancer. Other people have problems much worse than I. So, get on with it.”
When the inflammation subsides, normal activities resume. Fabulous! There may, or may not be, some lingering or permanent restriction, such as a joint less limber than it previously was. But mostly, the arthritis is completely manageable.
Another shocking change is in bowl habits. For decades, my evacuations were difficult to accomplish – days feeling bloated and no action (I know … too much information! But, read on, after all, it is a normal bodily function). Scurries to the bathroom, clenched gluteals and teeth, unzipping my trousers en route has replaced the previous bowl scenario! Apparently this is one of the side effects of my daily medication. In a perverse sort of way, it is a joy not being bunged up and bloated day in and day out.
Our spirit at any age, requires gentle cultivation and tending. We must make time for our own thoughts, wishes, dreams. So, I selfishly take time to create moments of joy, inspiration, a sense of accomplishment, with no guilt. This is not new. I have always taken time for myself. Self preservation demanded it. Feeding our spirit is as essential as feeding our minds and our bodies. My mantra has long been no guilt, no regrets … unless you have trampled on another person’s spirit. When you do something of which you are not proud, apologize sincerely. Then, it can become a part of the past. It is behind you. Move on.
I seldom book early morning appointments now because, until recently, I was waking between two and five A.M., I mean wide-eyed awake for two or three hours. All that lost sleep caused slower than usual mornings. This regular waking during the night is common in we peri or post menopausal women. Another treat for you young un’s to look forward to. Dr. Oz recently informed his TV audience that we could enjoy a ‘restorative sleep’ with 5-HTP, a natural product found in any pharmacy or health food store. It works. Thank you, Dr. Oz.
Still, it takes me an hour to get out the door in the morning (unless I simply exit in my pj’s). Part of this may be explained by the fact that I no longer have to rush around like a mad woman, multi-tasking ad infinitum, or because of occasional interrupted sleep. Fortunately, I now have the luxury of patiently awaiting the awaking of my mind, my body and spirit with my enormous mug of dark roast coffee. I allow time for joints to limber up and for the mental cobwebs to gradually dissipate.
Speaking of cobwebs … only this morning I mistakenly poured whole coffee beans into my Bodum! Whhooooops! Then, after I ground the beans, I proceeded to scoop the grinds into my cup rather than into the Bodum. A more pathetic than usual start to my day! Just distracted, I tell myself. Not paying attention to what I am doing. The thing is, these functions should be automatic. Shouldn’t they? Once again, I reassure myself with the thought that my friends and even my husband are experiencing a similar embarrassment of dysfunction. All you young 40ish and 50ish whippersnappers, just you wait.
I used to worry about the increasing limitations age was placing on me, but my friends all suffer the same nonsense. We laughingly share our silly experiences more to convince ourselves of the normality of all this, than to whine. This tactic of laughter and communal reassurance, reduces our worry that dementia may be creeping in through the back gate. Now, I watch, quietly observing others in my generation to see if this is, in fact, a shared trait. And it seems to be.
The media medical wizard, Dr. Oz, informed the world that the most prevalent beginning symptom of Alzheimer’s is a repeating, over and over, of the same comment or instruction or thought, with no awareness of having done so. I think I am OK for the time being because I don’t do that.