Sunday, February 06, 2011

life thoughts

Each morning I throw peanuts out in front of my house for the squirrels and birds.  There are always 9 squirrels waiting at the door when I open it.  (The birds are a bit more discreet.)  A couple of the squirrels wait around until after I throw the pile of nuts; those squirrels prefer to be singled out and given their nuts individually.  I gladly accommodate.

There is one squirrel who takes nuts, one by one, out of the pile and buries them in the snow or mulch around my house.  He wants to be sure to get his fair share (or more!), and he has found a very effective way to accomplish that.  Another squirrel follows the example of the blue jays; he picks up nuts one by one, "weighing" each one, until finally settling on the biggest prize.

Those squirrels which stand out from the crowd will likely live longer than the average squirrel.  I hope to be a human version of those animals.

I often think of my mother, who did all the right things by society's standards.  She always shopped at the health food store.  I vividly recall the nauseating tofu hot dogs and no-salt, natural peanut butter (which tasted like moistened cardboard) she used to force down my resistant throat when I was a child.

She exercised daily with her aerobics classes and long distance walking, and she never gained an ounce above 120 lbs., a low but reasonable weight for her fairly tall frame.  And 20 years ago she died, way too young, of pancreatic cancer.

That may seem baffling, but I think I understand what happened.  She took immaculate care of her physical body, but she totally blew off the issue of her state of mind.  She was constantly tortured, for many years, by my father's philandering.  Rather than resolve the situation, she chose to remain in a broken marriage for fear of financial insecurity and of not being able to make it on her own.

My own resistance to marriage may stem from my observation of her experience.  But more importantly, I have some idea how difficult it is to successfully live with another adult, and my adult life has been more about learning how to be independent than how to live well with others.

Living with The Child has been OK, but that's because I've had the chance to mold him from birth.  I set my boundaries early on, and he dares not cross them.  He lacks the expectations that most adults would have of me, such as that I cook and clean.  I am not domestic, and The Child is well aware of that.  Once in a blue moon I will cook, but there has to be a darn good reason, like company.  Although I can handle the occasional foray into the kitchen, I have a low limit.  (The limit is actually life saving, since I have been known to start kitchen fires, even in microwave ovens!)

The Child eats a lot of pizza.   I eat strange things like broccoli and blueberries and tofu (not in hot dog form!) and, unfortunately, potato chips.  I remain addicted to potato chips even after many attempts to quit.

But I'm not dead yet, and I think it's because of my attention to dental care.  I have read that many, many health issues begin in the mouth, of all places.  Heart disease, diabetes and cancer have all been traced back to dental issues.  I have read books about teeth, believe it or not, and I get my teeth cleaned and examined every 6 months by a dentist I trust.  Although I don't like the radiation from X-rays, I do allow my mouth to be x-rayed because of the cavity detection enhancement.  I brush my teeth several times per day, floss at least twice a day, and use a water pic.Every time I go to the dentist, I ask for instructions on proper brushing and flossing techniques, and I ask the hygienist to watch me do it to be sure that my technique is correct.  I take my teeth very seriously.

At work, I'm covered by a health insurance policy.  The health insurance premiums are extremely expensive because an inordinate number of people I work with have profound health issues.

In an incredible twist of irony, my employer is on the verge of dropping our dental insurance to help pay for our 42% increase in health insurance premiums!

So that's what I do for my physical health.  I obsess over my teeth, and I balance potato chips with broccoli, ever mindful of my desire to eventually overcome my potato chip addiction. 

Learning from my mother's experience, I try not to ignore my state of mind.  If I'm troubled, I find a way to deal with it.  I am a firm believer in the saying, "You're only as sick as your secrets."  For any given problem, there's always somebody I can talk to, even if it's a long distance friend.

The squirrels and birds around my house contribute to my mental well being.  My favorite way to start the day is by watching them from my favorite chair by the window.

All is well.