Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One Day

If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.

-Walt Whitman-

'Don't carry all those books in that shoulder bag.  One day you will be sorry.'  'You'd best start watching your diet.  One day the weight won't be so easily taken off.'  'Stop wearing those cheap shoes.  Invest in something sturdy. You need support.'  'Stop smoking before it is too late. One day....one day....one day. Who wants to think of 'one day' when we are young and invincible young?  We believe that 'one day' will never come.   It won't happen to us.  But, 'one day' it does, and now we focus on the 'if only's'.  'If only' I had listened.  But we didn't, and now we must learn to live with the results.

When I was in my early twenties, Friday night dinner consisted of pickled eggs, a Slim Jim or two, a bag of potato chips, and a cold beer to wash it down. There wasn't much to do in my home town, so Friday after work we'd all gather at the neighborhood tavern for a few brews and our favorite snacks.  'Your body is your temple', a friend once warned me. 'You have to take care of it.'  Of course I shrugged it off.  After all,  back then we didn't know how unhealthy some of these things were for us. I'm talking 40 some years ago when we slathered butter on our bread, ate eggs for breakfast every day, and took Twinkies to work in our lunch box.  Cholesterol was a foreign word.  Cholest what?

And, of course, these meals were always topped off with a smoke. Bars and cigarettes were made for each other. Smokes were sold in a vending machine in those days, and even though they cost a little bit more, we were all willing to pay the price. After all, who wants to give up the fun to go to the market to buy some smokes?  Hey, by this time, the party was just starting to warm up. (((Sigh))) No one knew back then that the Marlboro Man would one day die of lung cancer or that years down the road we might suffer with a dreadful disease called COPD. Hey, back in those days, if you wanted to be cool, to be glamorous, you smoked. Why, I remember how they even came out with a cigarette just for us ladies.

But, that was then and this now, and 'one day' has become my present and my future.  Today I find myself at 60 pounds overweight and suffer from IBS (which thankfully I now have pretty much under control). I stopped smoking on July 4, 2009, my own personal Independence Day, but, unfortunately, after 40 odd years, the damage has already been done, and my life will never be the same. There are many things I once enjoyed that I have now been forced to give up because I always believed that 'one day' would never come.  

It really hit home yesterday when I left work. Such a beautiful springlike day, the kind of days I used to love getting out and about. The city sidewalks were packed with both tourists and New Yorkers, all out for a day in the sun. The park near the subway station was mobbed with people having fun.  There was a time when I would have stopped to be a part of it before my trek home, but now, all I can think of is getting home and safely into my apartment.

In December, when we moved to our new apartment, I found my self with a longer distance to walk to the train, both at my home stop and in the city, especially in the city. The first couple of weeks were especially hard on me, and I found myself having to stop to catch my breath three or four times on the walk to the subway after work and at least twice on the walk home from the subway. I began to wonder if quitting would be my only option, but as much as I whine about retirement, I do need to pay my rent. 

Fortunately, it did better as my lungs were able to adjust to this extra exercise. Now, I was only stopping once to catch my breath on the way to the subway after work and not at all from the subway to my home.  And, with all this extra walking, it looked as if I was finally going to get enough exercise to work on my weight issue. I'm sure my breathing would improve it I dropped all these extra pounds.  I was feeling pretty good about myself when it happened... 

...my back problems kicked into high gear, and my arthritic knees began acting up. This is when I really start to feel sorry for myself as I remember what once was. There was a time, over 30 years ago, that I had walked this entire city. One of my first jobs after moving here was going from store to store handing out fliers; I walked all the way from Battery Park to Harlem, walked over to the next avenue and made my way back downtown again. I walked from morning to night, every day, until the whole city had been covered.  

I love shopping, but have never really cared much about the quality of the shoes I wear, so I usually bought cheap. Never gave much thought to shock protection or the damage I was doing to my knees and back as I spent hours pounding the city pavement, a heavy bag of fliers slung over my shoulder.  'Invest in some good shoes, or one day you'll pay the price. You need some support,' people around me cautioned.  But, I had other things to spend my money on...like a new outfit, or some makeup.  After all...a shoe is a shoe, isn't it?  Or so I thought.  'If only' I had listened.

I've been walking with a cane for a few weeks now. Can't make it to work without it. Hopefully, one day I will be able to put it aside, maybe I won't.  I've accepted this and will deal with whatever comes. I'll be turning 65 in a couple of weeks and don't heal as quickly as I once did. Years ago the doctor warned me this day was coming. I had a slight fracture of the lower spine that never healed properly, and arthritis set in.  He warned me it would only get worse...and, now, all this extra weight I have to carry around sure doesn't help. 

But all is not so bad.  What's the old saying? 'When one door closes, another opens.'  Life before was lived in the 'fast lane'.  Today, I've been forced to slow down, and, in doing so, I've been able to turn my attention to the world around me.  Today I can find joy in the little things that I once had no time for. There are so many ways I have been blessed.  Life is truly a gift.

Wisdom comes from experience and learning from one's experiences. I have learned my lesson well, and perhaps it may be too late for me, but hopefully not too late for you.  If you haven't reached your 'one day', please don't wait for it to come.  Most importantly, ff you smoke, STOP.  They say your lungs will never be what they were before you smoked, but at least they won't get any worse. If anyone needs help and support in quitting, please feel free to email me privately.  I'll be there to help you through it. Take care of your temple.  It is the only one you will have.  Don't shrug when someone offers  you advise and say to yourself, 'It will not  happen to me'.  If you don't take care of yourself now, 'one day' will come.  And then, like me, you will be saying 'if only'.

To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise
we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and
keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds
the lotus petal, but does not wet its petals.

The Buddha


  1. Sending you healing love from across the Ocean....


  2. Awesome post my friend.
    I WAS... those sixty pounds over weight February 2011. YOU can do it m/f! (((hugs)))Pat

  3. Good luck, Mary. With all the issues.

    Yes, we all need some good luck thrown at us, when we get older. :-) I didn't smoke or consume a lot of greasy, etc. food. But I still have issues.


    To all of us!


    "When someone in the family has a hearing loss,
    the entire family has a hearing problem."

    ~Mark Ross, Ph.D.

  4. NOBOBY listens when they're young. I certainly didn't. My own chickens have started coming back home to roost too over the past few years. Hello, birdies! Actually, we're doing okay unless our lives starts to look like a scene from that Alfred Hitchcock movie!

  5. You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today Mary. I come to your blog every day, I read all of your words. I can't tell you how many times you words have stuck to me like honey. Thank you for this reminder and for sharing your wisdom. I'm only in my late 30's and am already having medical issues from ignoring my weight gain from almost 9 years ago.

  6. However, some of those things they have now decided are good for us...butter is much better than margarine...eggs are good in moderation...you just need to eat some other things with them that will take care of the chlorestrol...

    Sorry about your legs though...but as you say, slow down; sit a while and watch the crowds...get the exercise your body needs...

    The younger crowd will never (maybe) accept that their bodies will wear out just as ours are...all we can do is keep telling them...

  7. Oh, right on target, Mary. We didn't listen; it's unrealistic to expect that those younger ones will either.

    My new favorite shoes are Alegria (you can find them at some good prices online)with a bit of a rocker sole and great arch support. Nurses often wear them and they're very fun-looking.

    Try grape juice with about a tablespoon of liquid pectin (Certo) for the arthritis. i know it's an old wives' tale, but it helps us.

    And stay positive. As you say, there are some blessings about having to slow down.

    Love to you...

  8. Once again I'm listening to you Mary...I needed this reminder today!

    Hope with all my heart your back starts feeling better, My Sister!