Gift or burden?
My experience with health plus perspective from Ash and Ram Dass.
Today’s intention is:
To nourish. Nourish yourself with gifts of good food, good thoughts and good movement. The world wants you well.
This post is the third in a series of five. For the series, I highlight each of The 5 Buckets recognizing the upcoming release of my book by the same name.
The Health Bucket
I walk by the couch, pass the television, and open the screen door to our back patio. I thought about plopping down and watching basketball, golf or How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. It’s Sunday and each of those sound easier than writing this post. Instead, I grab a whicker chair, put on a José González album and soak up some Southern California sun.
That’s one gift.
Hours earlier, I open the garage and breathe in the morning air. I pull out some exercise equipment: dumbbells, a medicine ball, jump rope and a resistance band. I arrange the items in the alley behind the garage, then work through a circuit of exercises three times. I maybe do twelve reps of each movement. Sweat and heavy breathing ensues.
Airpods stream music into my ears while I move from exercise to exercise. It’s like a morning dance party all to myself. After completing my third set, I jump rope for ten minutes then put away the equipment, close the garage and head inside.
Tracy and our pup, Bernie, are still asleep. I pull the juicer down from the cabinet. As quietly as possible, I juice two stalks of celery. I store a glass of juice in the fridge for Tracy and drink a glass myself.
Next, I heat some water on the stove. I put hibiscus, lemon tea and the hot water into a French press. I brew twenty ounces of organic tea, add some honey and a dash of oat milk.
Finally, I grab some papaya from the fridge. I sliced it last night. I sit down to our dining room table, read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, sip tea and eat the papaya.
Three more gifts. Four if we include Elizabeth’s words about creative living.
I haven’t always been so generous to my body. I’ve actually been more of a burden.
I’ve exhausted it with late nights, gallons of alcohol and mounds of unhealthy eats.
A few years ago, such burdens left me with a stomach ulcer the size of a quarter.
Then came the high blood pressure. Mine regularly read 135+. A doctor said it was genetic and prescribed some pills. He said I’d take them the rest of my life.
Worse was the anxiety. There’d be days where my skin felt like a suffocating winter coat. I couldn’t peel it off fast enough. I’d want to be anywhere else besides inside my body. I wouldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and would lay around engulfed in fear.
All because of burdens I placed on myself.
Last September, I subscribed to a simple idea:
Everything I put in my body is a gift or a burden.
Back on my patio, it’s nearly 75 degrees and feels like summer. The birds of paradise sway from the Pacific breeze. Families drive by, searching for beach parking. My neighbor Steve waves to me from across the street.
“We’re spoiled.” He says raising his arms to the sky.
Yes we are, Steve.
With gifts of health, we can’t spoil ourselves enough.
Fresh strawberries, wild blueberries, arugula, asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes, chamomile tea, beach runs, garage workouts, massive water chugs, foam rolling, midday naps, Bernie hugs and Southern California sunshine are some of my current favorites.
In five months, I’ve lost 20 pounds and decreased my blood pressure to 120. I didn’t take those pills either. I gave myself plenty of healthy gifts, though.
I’m not perfect. I still burden my body. Last night’s tres leches was a tasty burden.
As José belts out “Let It Carry You”, I think about how lucky I am.
My body has been patient with me. It’s muscled through my decisions and done its best to rally to all occasions.
I live in a world of abundance. Healthy gifts are all around me. And when I run out, Amazon delivers more a few hours later.
My guess is you live in a world of abundance too.
But you’re also surrounded by potential burdens.
So, what will it be?
Gift or burden?
Remember, we need not be perfect.
Being intentional works just fine.
Better health, better giving
In episode 4, we touch on labels, creative privilege, dating, authenticity, habits, comedy, cancel culture, The Sopranos and Ted Lasso. Plus, Ash brings me a gift. We also jam out to some wonderful tunes. Tracy says it’s her favorite episode to date. She’s a tough critic, so probably worth a listen.
In this clip, Ash suggests focusing on his health has helped him become a better giver:
The Music Show is part playlist, part podcast. I feature around ten songs each episode with discussion layered in between. Please go give it a listen on Spotify and let me know what you think.
Ash touches on it and Ram Dass brings it home.
Your health is your business. I’m not here to insist you do what I do.
All I can do is work on myself.
I’ll continue to do the work and share what lessons I learn.
If sharing my stories and lessons helps you, wonderful.
If not, that’s ok too.
You can do way more for me by simply working on yourself.
Don’t wait. Start small. Learn as you go.