I turned to my husband a few days ago and said, “These are the best years of my life.”
Not every 65 year old feels that way. But I do.
I wake up most mornings ready to hit the ground running. And I never get sick.
But I did recently. It lasted about two hours. It was weird and there’s no medical or Google explanation for it.
I think I have worked out what happened, and it reinforces what I should know better about fasting. There is no point in fasting if I am going to wantonly shove food into my gullet immediately following a daylong fast. I know better, but I still have the vestiges of gluttony in my soul.
But hold on a minute while I tell you how I felt. All of a sudden in the middle of dinner I started to feel bad. Within minutes I was freezing cold. I mean FREEZING. I began shaking uncontrollably and all my muscles and joints were in excruciating pain. I was trembling and hurting so badly I could barely get to my bedroom. Once there, I lay in my bed covered with every blanket and quilt in the house and thought, “I cannot take this. What if this never goes away?” (My inability to accept feeling bad is an enormous driving force in taking care of myself)
I thought of all my friends who had succumbed to the dreaded Chikungunya, people I have known who died from things like Lou Gehrig disease. I thought of everyone I had ever known who had ever been sick. I promised myself I would have more compassion with others who are ill.
I lay there praying and trying to breathe though it and eventually my body told me to regurgitate. Within 20 minutes of emptying my stomach, the chills went away and after a couple of Advil, so did the pain and I fell asleep. I woke up in the morning shaken up a bit, but physically normal.
There were many lessons in the episode for me. But the bottom line is I am aware that I feel physically fantastic 98 percent of the time. The other two percent is when I don’t get enough sleep or I overeat the wrong combination of foods.
Lately and really over the last nine months I have begun to feel even better, and people on the street reflect it back to me in how they say I look. I understand the factors: lack of inflammation is a big one and I will address that in another column. Happiness is another one.
Happiness is the byproduct of a healthy lifestyle. I defiantly have some down moments, don’t misunderstand, but I can usually trace them back to something I ate or something I thought. Sometimes the sadness simply comes from being aware of injustice and pain in the world. That’s why service is so important to a joyful life. But again, that’s for another day.
Meanwhile, I don’t spend a lot of time wishing I had more money or stuff or that I was doing something else. I love my life. I am grateful every day for what I have been freely given. I have a job I love and the rest of my time is spent productively. I don’t watch a lot of television, eat cookies or worry about much of anything. But all of that has come slowly over many years of wanting more out of life than I see most people expecting or getting or being willing to work for.
I have trusted friendships and a healthy relationship. I am able to keep my heart open most of the time – I am working on making that all of the time, but I will not say that’s easy.
I don’t drink, smoke or ingest mood-altering chemicals of any kind.
Please understand I don’t say any of this as bragging. I say it because I have done all those things and felt really bad for years. Who knew? I thought everybody felt that way.
I don’t do those things anymore, or a lot of other things that we all know are deadly at worst and energy suckers at best, and at 65 years old I can say, I have never felt better in my life.
I was not always “this way.” I was a negative individual. There was always something wrong.
Thirty years or so ago, a dear friend asked me the simple, “how are you.” I replied, “Good, except…”
Before I could continue she said, “why don’t you stop with good,” and she turned and walked away.
I was jolted by her directness and have been unceasingly grateful for it ever since. It was a turning point, a time to look at how my thinking and attitude were handing me misery daily.
Some years later I established a pattern of responding the “how are you” with “great! I may as well be; it’s my life.”
Today, it’s just, “Great! These are the best years of my life.” And I mean it.