Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘health

Keep Growing

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We are blessed to have a home in which we can comfortably stay. There is a pandemic raging out there in the big wide world. Home alone is the best place to be.

There is also a political calamity raging in the U.S. with incredible numbers of people holding opposing views about what is real. It’s frustrating to witness. I hold a view that human development doesn’t naturally progress without some energy to urge forward momentum. If there is no outside influence, people will tend to settle for far less than their ultimate potential.

We see what we want to see and we hear what we want to hear. Change is unsettling for the majority of folks.

Physical human growth is outwardly obvious with age but intellectual enlightenment and emotional and spiritual maturity less so. Some people’s development seems to stop at an adolescent level. There is a phenomenon of like minds coalescing around their common level of development.

It is uncomfortable to find oneself surrounded by too many others who function in a distinctly different stage of growth. Picture yourself as a toddler playing comfortably with your dolls or trucks when a gang of college students suddenly takes over the room to practice a debate.

Yesterday, Cyndie read to me from Fr. Richard Rohr’s book, “Falling Upward” about stages and steps of human and spiritual maturation. This excerpt resonated:

…from your own level of development, you can only stretch yourself to comprehend people just a bit beyond yourself. Some theorists say you cannot stretch more than one step above your own level of consciousness, and that is on a good day! Because of this limitation, those at deeper (or “higher”) levels beyond you invariably appear wrong, sinful, heretical, dangerous, or even worthy of elimination.

I don’t have any idea how to bridge that inevitable discord in appearance between people of distant levels of development, but at the very least, this helps me to comprehend what has been so incomprehensible to me.

I feel as though I have grown significantly in my perspectives about how to love myself and others, but the last four years have tripped me up in my goal to maintain a healthy perspective about those who appear so wrong and dangerous to me.

We might all be adults, but some would rather play with their toys while others seek to debate difficult concepts. It is understandable that two groups of such different levels of consciousness would have difficulty understanding each other.

No wonder it is so hard to get everyone to simply wear a face mask in public during a global pandemic.

May we all pause to see those with whom we don’t agree with fresh compassion for whatever level of human growth they have achieved. Each of our paths are unique. Offer a hand to those who are willing and open to lifting us, or being lifted by us.

No matter where each one of us is, don’t ever stop growing.

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Not Complicated

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For the record, in case you have grown numb to the subject and completely stopped paying attention, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic of COVID-19, a contagious coronavirus respiratory and vascular disease, the results of which have economies teetering on the brink of various calamities and stressing vulnerable populations in myriad dramatic ways.

Dealing with the ripple effects on our daily activities can get wearisome, I know, but giving up and sacrificing the best long term solutions in order to satisfy a desire to be done with it right now is totally counter-productive and basically downright irresponsible.

We will only ever be as successful in controlling the spread of the virus as the weakest link of our collective effort. Adherence to the best health and safety practices does not involve excessive demands on individuals in order to accomplish the goal. Is it really that hard to just pay attention to what matters in this situation?

What is being asked of us is not complicated.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you are around others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Maintain social distancing.
  • Monitor your health daily and be alert for symptoms.

As if we needed any more proof of the reality about how we invisibly spread droplets and aerosols by merely talking, let alone the more obvious coughing and sneezing, I encourage you to view the fresh evidence presented by The Slo Mo Guys followed by a couple questions from Gavin Free to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

We can’t *wish* this outbreak away. We *can* put in the worthy effort of enacting the simple steps to protect ourselves and others.

Don’t be selfish. Do your part!

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Written by johnwhays

October 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mysterious Pain

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Every morning for half a year now, I have taken my temperature to monitor for changes that might indicate an onset of illness. So far, so good. However, that span of time hasn’t passed without a variety of other curious symptoms popping up every now and again. Every odd headache, bout of exhaustive fatigue, unsettled digestion, or passing light-headedness trips the mind to wonder, …coronavirus?

Yesterday, I began to notice hints of something amiss. Curious twinges of unidentifed nerves deep within that kept threatening to fire off a shout of discomfort, but never quite did. Why would I suddenly be having pangs that defied logic and emanated from such a nondescript part of my body? Probably from the strange virus that is ravaging the entire planet. Seems like a reasonable conclusion to me.

I have already endured two of the most intense pains in my life from the center of my torso: a kidney stone and bulging/rupturing discs in my lower back, both of which originated in parts of my body from where I had never previously noticed any sensations. I’m now well-familiar with that first little warning sign that something is beginning to invade the space of my spinal nerve roots. I also know what it is like to get a stabbing pain from well within the body where my ureter travels toward my bladder.

Yesterday’s looming threat of pain caused me at first to fear my degenerating discs, despite having happily executed all of my daily morning strength and stretching exercises hours earlier. I adjusted my posture and did some walking and stretching in response. My movement wasn’t hampered at all, but later, while seated again, the mysterious attention-getting pangs returned, always stopping short of really manifesting as pain.

Maybe it’s a small kidney stone, despite my lifestyle of high-hydration and almost exclusively choosing to drink water in place of all other options. I can’t rule that out. It wasn’t a constant ache, though. It came in spurts that would grab my attention as a warning that something worse could follow at any second. But nothing worse ever played out.

Just in case, I’ve been trying to stay extra-hydrated without straying too far into water toxemia. Pedialyte, anyone?

Trying to age healthily is not for wimps. I’m trying to listen to my body, but I am having some difficulty understanding what it is trying to tell me at this point.

If nothing more comes of this, I’ll consider the message one of prompting me to pay closer attention to my whole body, inside and out. Message received!

If something more does develop, I guarantee you will read about it here. When have I ever failed to keep you all informed of my each and every ouchie boo-boo?

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2020 at 6:00 am

Don’t Stop

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Whether it’s depression-related struggles or simply one of life’s difficult challenges, there is a well-known saying about going through hell: Don’t stop; keep going.

The changes and complications of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic this year, stirred in with an unprecedented series of hassles unraveling my usual activities at the day-job, have been making an impression which holds certain similarities to the concept of hell.

I’m working hard to focus on the practice of not stopping. Despite umpteen repetitions of troubleshooting exercises that have repeatedly produced mixed results alternating between success and failure, I have tried Einstein’s definition of insanity so many times lately that I am growing a little concerned about the clarity of my thinking. (Insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.)

Luckily, I have a pretty good antidote in the landscape of Wintervale that helps inspire me to keep going.

I’m not gonna stop.

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Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2020 at 6:00 am

Pay Attention

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Attention to what? That’s a good question.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Your posture right now.
  • Who is suffering most among those you know and love.
  • The best return for your investment of time.
  • How long it has been since you voiced appreciation to someone deserving.
  • How you might help someone less deserving.
  • Your most common habitual “tick.”
  • When you sense yourself not acting in your own best interest.
  • How false information is being used for unethical advantage.
  • What it is you are actually afraid of.
  • How long it has been since you laughed and cried at the same time.
  • What you actually ate in one day that was not a healthy choice.
  • How swiftly days become weeks and weeks become months.
  • How much sleep you are getting.
  • Maintaining a healthy social distance from all others.
  • The expression on your face when not actively smiling.
  • How much of our unspoken thinking is inadvertently communicated.
  • When you find yourself unable to ask for what you need or want.
  • The power of love.

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Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Imperfect Improvement

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Five years. It’s been almost five years since I saw the 2014 documentary movie, “Fed Up” and decided once and for all to commit to a long-term intentional change to address my uncontrolled craving for sugar. (See “My Addiction“) My solution was admittedly an imperfect one, but I have very slowly achieved a noticeable improvement throughout the ensuing years.

One of the imperfections of my plan to take command of that insidious nagging urge to eat something that will produce the intoxicating dopamine reward is that I allow myself to have a little sweet treat or treats every day. I liken it to trying to live a sober life while still continuing to have an alcoholic drink every day, (no disrespect intended to those who are working a program to manage alcohol or any other substances). From my understanding, total abstinence is the more effective practice.

Since there are natural sugars in plenty of foods, total avoidance of sugar is an extreme I chose not to pursue. After watching “Fed Up,” my plan was to avoid the added sugar in processed food, especially in cases where it is well hidden and unexpected. I was surprised to learn how much sugar might be included in buns and some types of bread, in sauces, dressings, and yogurts, to name a few.

I decided to start paying attention to labels and serving sizes and plotted to achieve the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Food and Drug dietary guidelines of 10% of daily calories consumed.

Based on an oft-referenced 2000 calorie per day average (your mileage may vary) that amounts to 200 calories or roughly 50 grams of sugar per day. I decided to aim for 10 grams of sugar per my three main meals. That gave me a full 20 grams of headroom to account for variations and a modest cookie or dessert bite for moments of rewarding bliss.

One serving size of a Girl Scout S’mores® cookie equals two cookies coming in at 16 grams of sugar. I eat just one.

These S’mores taste incredibly sweet to me. One welcome improvement over the five years of measured sugar intake is that I have developed a heightened sensitivity to sweetness. That’s probably one of the things that helps me to be able to stop at just one cookie per serving.

It’s an imperfect formula that I’ve settled on, but since I started this practice, I have controlled my hemoglobin A1c levels and avoided the all-too-typical annual weight gain that normal aging usually brings on.

The craving? It’s still a constant companion, but one that has become much easier to contain, …one measured serving at a time.

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Near You

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This morning, I took my temperature again, just like I have every day for the last week. A clear pattern has developed that gives me confidence I will recognize if/when a change starts to occur.

Even without the threat of infection from the current pandemic, I regularly notice odd aches, pains, or unexplained weird sensations that have me noting a possibility of illness visiting my body. Almost always, nothing comes of it. Headache? Maybe I didn’t drink enough water. Throat feels scratchy? There’s probably an allergen in the air.

A day later, I’ve usually forgotten about the previous days’ malady that caught my attention.

Of course, now my first impression when something feels amiss is that I am getting the COVID-19. Although, in that regard, I’m equally inclined to suspect that I’ve already been exposed and haven’t developed any symptoms.

Wouldn’t it be great if officials could get their act together and widely release the increasingly tantalizing simple blood test to check for COVID-19 antibodies that will clarify who is able to get back to life as normal? I’d be one of the first in line after they give us all permission to go out together again.

There is another way I am trying to contribute to a greater understanding of this pandemic. In the US, it is possible to provide your health status to a team at Boston Children’s Hospital to help them map the COVID-19 outbreak. The brilliance of their project is that it doesn’t simply focus on who has been tested, it seeks to collect information from everyone by way of user-submitted reports to fill out the picture of both who is sick and who is still healthy.

COVID Near You is a sister tool of Flu Near You already in use to help communities track cases of seasonal flu.

How are you feeling?

Go to covidnearyou.org and answer that question. Contribute to the map of everyone, both ill and well.

I can’t think of any easier step to take toward contributing to a better world for all, except maybe pausing wherever you are to conjure up some love for the rest of the world.

What the heck, might as well do both.

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Written by johnwhays

March 29, 2020 at 9:00 am

Practicing Life

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In the vein of practicing medicine –isn’t it a little scary that we say doctors are “practicing?”– I figure I am practicing life, but without a license from any official authority. Without a license, I’m not supposed to offer formal advice to others on matters of health and wellness, but that seems like a lost opportunity regarding the life lessons I have experienced through my years.

Alas, the act of living healthy is something I share with others by way of simply doing it. I’m practicing living healthy every day and attempting to add a little love in the world while I’m at it.

By far, the most significant step in my life’s journey toward optimal health happened when I sought treatment for depression. The years when I put my focus on diet and exercise prior to diagnosis of my dysfunctional mental health had me spinning my wheels. In the time since I learned to conduct my thoughts in a healthy manner, the benefits of my other efforts increased noticeably.

I dare say the steps I have put in place in my life would suit others equally well if practiced as a way of life. Too bad I’ve no license to prescribe such medicine and be compensated. On the other hand, I do have plenty of opportunities to give my advice for free.

The most significant point I express regarding the quest for best health is that it is an everyday effort for as many years as we may live. However many days (years) we might have traveled an unhealthy path must, at the very least, be equaled in time in order to undo. There aren’t any quick fixes that can be achieved by temporary endeavors.

You’ve got to play the long game.

The good news is that benefits are available along the way and the journey gets easier and more rewarding as you go. You don’t need to wait for some magic day when everything becomes rainbows and unicorns.

Eat well, exercise your body and mind, practice loving self and others with all your heart. Do it every day. Keep it up for the rest of your life.

Call me in the morning.

No charge. The nurse will show you out.

Have a good life!

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Wholeness

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Words on Images

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It’s Like

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It’s like one of those days when you are enjoying a fresh bite of an incredibly delicious meal and your teeth suddenly chomp on your own flesh.

It’s like the time lost waiting for a page to load, watching the progress bar fill to the last little bit where it pauses for far too long before finally jumping to a page that announces the failure to load and suggests the possibility the page has moved. Really? My gmail site has moved?

It’s like the umpteenth time of settling down into a reclined position and then discovering your reading glasses were left somewhere far out of reach.

It’s coming to realize that you can’t remember what it was like when you didn’t need reading glasses.

It’s that second time you bite the swollen wound on the inside of your lip from two days before.

It’s like that moment when screwing in the last of twelve screws to secure the cover of something you just fixed and finding there is one last part remaining to be reinstalled.

It’s like that feeling when re-reading your own business email message included in a reply sent by your customer or vendor and finding a writing error that disturbingly undermines your intended message in the first place.

It’s like waking up to shower for work, getting dressed, and heading out the door before discovering there are still two-and-a-half hours left until your alarm is due to go off.

It’s also like the day you embraced the ability to overcome the chemical reaction unleashed in the brain by these uninvited incidents to frame them in the grand scheme of things as not deserving more than a moment’s chagrin.

It’s like the chemical rush of endorphins that cascade on the first scrumptious bite of your all-time favorite deep-dish pizza pie.

It’s like the rich appreciation possible when pausing to count privileged blessings for all of the times when web pages load without hesitation, a soft chair or warm bed is available for reclining, reading glasses are at the ready, you wrote just the right message in a business communication, and you got a healthy, full night’s sleep.

With practice, we can choose to determine what each of life’s foibles are like for us.

Make a healthy choice!

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Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2019 at 7:00 am