A Fence or an Ambulance

I came across this poem the other day...it truly makes you stop and think. Are our actions truly preventing or reacting? Sometimes there is a solution that seems too simple to be useful. When I was in University, a large focus of our Kinesiology program was how active living could prevent diseases and conditions altogether. I recall thinking to myself "so why don't people just exercise?" I still am not sure why people tend to wait until a state of crisis before taking action. Choosing a healthy lifestyle- what we eat, how we move, healthy stress response and optimal neurological function- is an important fence we can build to live a happy, high quality life!
 
A Fence or an Ambulance   by Joseph Malins (1895) 

'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed, 

though to walk near its crest was so pleasant; 

but over its terrible edge there had slipped

a duke and full many a peasant.

So the people said something would have to be done, 

but their projects did not at all tally; 

some said, 'Put a fence 'round the edge of the cliff, '

some, 'An ambulance down in the valley.'

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day, 

for it spread through the neighboring city; 

a fence may be useful or not, it is true, 

but each heart became full of pity

for those who slipped over the dangerous cliff; 

And the dwellers in highway and alley

gave pounds and gave pence, not to put up a fence, 

but an ambulance down in the valley.

'For the cliff is all right, if your careful, ' they said, 

'and if folks even slip and are dropping, 

it isn't the slipping that hurts them so much

as the shock down below when they're stopping.'

So day after day, as these mishaps occurred, 

quick forth would those rescuers sally

to pick up the victims who fell off the cliff, 

with their ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old sage remarked: 'It's a marvel to me

that people give far more attention

to repairing results than to stopping the cause, 

when they'd much better aim at prevention.

Let us stop at its source all this mischief, ' cried he, 

'come, neighbors and friends, let us rally; 

if the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense

with the ambulance down in the valley.'

 

The Power of Perspective

One of the things I love, is serendipity in our daily lives. One of my favourite books, by Deepak Chopra speaks a little about this, titled "Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire". It discusses how in life there are no coincidences and that once we begin paying attention to these coincidences we start seeing more of them, and also start to understand how the event connects to a greater picture. It is fun and easy to see this apply in daily life when its an uplifting event such as running into an old friend, or receiving an unexpected sum of money for example. This can be a little more difficult to dissect when its stressful, hard and uncomfortable.
 
I recently spoke with a friend who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Prognosis is excellent, and I admire her tenacity and strength, but wow. What an emotional curveball. There are and will be a ton of lessons in this experience for her, and those around her. Here are a couple that came to mind upon hearing the news:
 
1. An event is what you make it. Easier said than done, but in challenge is opportunity to show what you're made of. I am a strong believer that true character shows up when we are at our "weakest". When we feel beat down, stressed, and defeated. We can dwell in the unfortunate or we can say "NEXT" and move forward. My friend is a reminder of this and her strength in the situation encourages those around her to be strong too.
 
2. In the week before I heard the news about my friend, I had been in a few different self critical conversations (as I'm sure all of us can be at times) all around particular superficial attributes. The extra weight gained over summer, the extra baby weight a friend was upset about (and P.S. if you are carrying baby weight give yourself a break! You grew a frigin person! Thats amazing!), how much better shape we were in at 25, comparing where we thought we should be to superficial instagram pics...you know the drill.  Unimportant and irrelevant and mostly untrue. This news stopped me in my tracks and made me realize how self absorbed we can be about such unimportant things. We are healthy. We have amazing friendships. We will look back at our 30-something bodies one day and wonder what we were complaining about. Perspective is powerful. Tragedy, crisis and challenge offers a fast-track to see what is truly important in your world.
 
I'm guessing most people can relate to this in on form or another. The point really is to seek the blessing and lesson in it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. That forms your own light at the end of the tunnel. Whether you have a cancer scare or have chronic neck pain...the lesson is there. It may be as simple as slowing down. Or it can be as big as taking your health more seriously. We may not be able to control an event but we can always control our reaction to it.

 

Letting Go

Whoa, where does time go? My weekly blog post seemed to have taken a vacation. I'm back though! And tons to share over the coming weeks. 

I've observed something recently (the lesson seems to have been creeping up in many different disguises)...that the more we seek for an "answer" to a question, the more it can elude us. This confused me, how the moment I took a step back and completely took my mind off an issue, answers would flood to me. One theory I have around this, is that when we are seeing answers, we can be blinded by our current level of awareness and may not see other possibilities. The "letting go" of the "how" seems to open the flood gates to greater things one could imagine. 

Trusting the process and that everything is as it should be, while taking daily action steps, is something we can apply not only to life's challenging decisions, but to our health as well. Each person on earth started with the union of two cells. No conscious control is needed for a baby to develop from those two cells. There was, and always is, a guiding intelligence with nature that is responsible for life as we know it. It is the intelligence that leans plants towards the sun, and that delivers platelets (sticky blood cells) to an injury to seal a cut. This intelligence is always there as long as there is life, and may in fact be the distinctive factor that allows for life. When we are faced with an injury or a health concern, it is easy for it to become the number one thought and focus. And although it is not wise to ignore it, perhaps there is some "letting go" that may speed the process. Just maybe, trusting that inborn wisdom of our body will aid in the healing. Supporting our body as it is designed to be, rather than interfering with nature's wisdom. I offer you a challenge to see where you can let go a little more and instead, put your energy and focus on what you can do to support your body, mind and spirit. You will be amazed at what is possible!

Juggling

I just had a great conversation with one of my practice members. She was stressed (with a smile) about always running late and taking too much on. It's not a rare story, in fact I'm sure all of us have felt that way at one time or another. The truth is, if we do not make and take the time for self care, our body will create a reason for us to slow down. OK, so what do we do when we have 25 hrs of "stuff" to cram into 24 hours? I don't know that there is one easy answer. Everyone is different, so what works for one person, won't necessarily work for another. And like any new habits, it can take time to get used to any new system. 

 If you have a smart phone, there are a number of different organizational apps you could try. I've checked out a few, and often they remained a pretty icon on my phone and didn't get much use. Recently however, I found one that works for me. It was free (even better!), and synced with my iphone calendar, so if events got added to one, they would show up in the other. My favourite feature though, was the "healthy habits" section. I could decide how many times a week I wanted to do a given habit, and then schedule it to track if I'm doing what I intended to. If I don't have a specific time to schedule, the app will suggest different times that do not have anything currently scheduled. Any time in the week I can have a quick look to see the progress I've made through the week. What I like about this, is not only in the tracking, but that the habits are set by the user. So you could set weights/ yoga/ run frequencies, but you could also put in "daily vitamin", or "8 glasses of water/ day" to track how closely you are actually following a healthy plan. The app is called "Timeful", but like I said, for it to be effective it has to be something you will work with. 

 Aside from finding systems to organize you, one of the most powerful tools to use is our own mind....sometimes our worst enemy. How we perceive our schedule and demands of the day can affect how we prioritize things. Often we feel like we are scrambling for time, because we have prioritized things that can wait. Tony Robbins has a system he uses called RPM. If you are willing to complete the exercises in the program, it can highlight not only where you are spending your time, but where you may be able to find extra time. 

 These are just two of many things you can do to reduce stress around time. If any point is worth making, it is likely that our health is worth prioritizing. Small, incremental steps go a long way!

Time After Time

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is, you're the pilot!" - unknown

Time is an interesting concept. I am always reminded of this during daylight savings, when we arbitrarily change our clocks so that daylight is in our favour. Time is a theme that seems to interweave into many of our conversations through the day, like the weather. The interesting thing though, is that we all have the same number of hours in the day, yet have very different experiences and perspectives on it. For instance, if you are in a dreadfully boring meeting, an hour may feel like 10. On the other hand, if you are with someone you are crazy about 10 hours may feel like 10 minutes. 

 As a health practitioner, I am constantly reminding people of the power of time. No matter what you do for treatment, your body needs time to heal. It is as easy as that. The rate at which you heal has many factors, but has little to do with how you feel. When you cut your finger, for example, your body initiates the healing process before you are even aware you cut yourself. The healthier you are (the state of your nervous system, the foods you are eating, if you are hydrated, etc.), the better healing potential you have...but even then, it still requires time. If you already have a compromised state of health (eating poorly, not sleeping, overweight, etc.) and you injure yourself or become ill, your body will require more time and resources to improve. 

 It truly comes down to understanding the difference between an event and a process. Whether we are discussing health or dis-ease, neither occur spontaneously. We have no control over time, but we do have control over how we use our moments as they happen. From the quality of our thoughts, nutritional intake to the care of our physical state...everything we do matters and either leads us toward or away from where we desire to be. 

 When someone is in tremendous pain or in a poor state of health, there is often a high level of motivation to address it. When someone is feeling well, there can be less of an urgency around doing the things we need to do to maintain health. We may pass on the gym, or an appointment because we are feeling good and can deal with it tomorrow. The truth is, if we engage in regular health-promoting strategies, we will spend way LESS time in the long run than if we wait until we are in a state of crisis. 

 Get clear on what you want your health to be. Believe that great things are possible, and take the steps to allow it to happen. If you can keep this intention in mind and create healthy habits around it, you will be amazed at what your future potential can be.