Monday, September 09, 2013 • Corona, CA 92883
When she opened the door she was still in her pajamas. The sweet old-fashioned kind with tiny blue flowers and a collar with piping that matched. They hung on her like the clothes hanging on hangers in my closet.
I said, "How are you doing today?"
She said, "Not too good. My doctor said there's nothing more he can do for me. I'm not sick. It's just that I don't remember the way I used to, and my neck hurts, and I just can't seem to do the things I like to do anymore."
I thought, "Well, what am I supposed to do with you then? People with degrees on the wall and a much deeper medicine bag than mine (pharmaceuticals, surgery, medical interventions) say it's hopeless, and you're calling me to figure this one out?"
I set up two chairs facing each other. We sat down.
We stared at each other. Her shoulders were slumped and lifeless under her soft cotton pajamas. Her face expressionless.
I said, "Do you like coffee?" (When in doubt, play the coffee card.)
She said, "Yes, I do."
I said, "Well, then take a nice deep breath in like you're smelling the coffee when you first wake up in the morning."
She did. And as she drew in the thought of a favorite and familiar aroma, her chest began to rise magically like a hot air ballon releasing from its tethers to catch the next breath of wind.
"Now float your arms up in front of you, only as high as they will go comfortably." They rose to her shoulders, and then beyond. All the way over her head.
"Turn your head slowly from side to side. How does that feel?"
She swiveled her head far enough to see the window out to her garden behind her. Lemon trees, tomato plants, my favorite flower the zinnia all blooming within sight.
She said with almost a soft glimmer in her eye, "Not bad. I can do that."
We continued. We rolled our shoulders. We rocked our feet from heels to toes and then marched them in place. We stretched one leg out at a time and she told me she felt a nice stretch behind her knee. We curled light dumbbells up and down to our shoulders. And after a while we began to chat about her garden, and her grown children, and the beautiful art she had hanging on her walls--all the while, continuing to move this frail little body that her doctor suggested did not have much moving left in it to do.
Before long, I noticed I was smiling--and then I noticed she was smiling back at me-- and I was once again reminded of the healing power of moving our bodies, even a little bit.
I scored two beautifully imperfect heirloom tomatoes from her garden that day, and I transformed them into a beautifully perfect tomato mozzarella salad with fresh basil from my garden for dinner that night.
I also came away with a new prescription for exercise: Forget what the experts say about target heart rate, the talk test, or counting how many fat calories you burned. Instead, move until you SMILE.
That’s it. Simple.
Wellness feels good. It’s never too late. And there is ALWAYS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO.
Enjoy the rest of the day!