Live like you love yourself

If you spent all the money in your bank account, would you be then surprised that you had nothing left? Then why are people surprised when they have spent a lifetime of inactivity and eating badly and then get sick? It is exactly the same thing.

Are we so divorced from cause-and-effect?

Or perhaps we have had our power taken away from us and been told too often that others have to do things for us – by teachers and politicians and ministers.

But perhaps even that isn’t fair to say. Nothing can be taken away from us that we aren’t letting happen.

We have given our power away. We have let others take it away from us. Rather than get angry about that, realize it is time to take it back. It is time to take back your health and your life. It’s time to eat like you love yourself. It’s time to treat yourself as a valued guest in your own life.

It is time to remember that our bodies are temples of the living God. We need to treat them like that and not as garbage dumps.

Step by step

How is health achieved? One step at a time. You just have to get out there and do it.

You have to be active about your health. It’s not something you can find in a pill. The simplest thing you can do is to go for a walk. There’s no special equipment to buy, no gym membership required.

Sometimes I come up with every excuse possible for why I can’t go on a walk. I’ll tell myself I don’t have enough time. I’ll get lost. I’ll be too far from the house when I want to pee. I’d rather make art. I want to sleep in.

I don’t like exercising. But I do like that I have exercised. I like how I feel in my body after I’ve moved it in a purposeful manner. But I think more importantly I like how I feel in my head for having made a commitment to myself, to my body, to my future, and having gone through with going on a walk.

Some mornings I don’t have a lot of a lot of time to go for a walk but I realize that even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Even five minutes is better than nothing. And then I resolve to get ready earlier to go out earlier the next day. And I forgive myself if I don’t. And then I try again.

Taking care of your body is like putting money in your bank account. It is worth every step. It pays you back double in a stronger body and lower stress levels.

My work schedule has changed so that we go in 30 minutes later and therefore leave 30 minutes later. Rather than lamenting getting out of work at six, I have chosen to celebrate going into work at 9:30 because that gives me 30 minutes in the morning I didn’t have before to go for a walk.

I could have used that time to make art. I’ve chosen to walk instead because it’s important. I know people who say that they don’t have time to eat well or exercise. They don’t get that if they don’t do both of these things they won’t have any time to do anything because their life will be a lot shorter and a lot less worthwhile. Who cares if you live a long time but your body is feeble because you didn’t take care of it? The years of your life are important, but the life in your years is important too.

We only have one life.
We only have one body.
It is your choice how you use them.

walk

(This picture was taken by me on my walk this morning. I recited all of this into a dictation app on my phone so I could encourage you.)

Poem – go walk yourself

How interesting that people will
buy a dog because
they
want to go for a walk.
They know that the dog
has to be walked at least
once a day
and so they have to
take him out.
They get the dog
as an excuse
to go for a walk.

It seems like it would be far cheaper
to forget the dog
and take yourself
out for a walk.

Why do we put more value
on the needs of others
rather than ourselves?
Why is a dog’s need to walk
more important than
the fact that
you
need to walk?

We have all been trained that we
should be
self-sacrificing
and serve others.
But they should not be
at the expense
of not taking care
of ourselves.
There should be a balance
where both happen.

So, skip the dog.
Skip the dog food,
the shots,
the veterinarian bills,
getting her fixed,
taking him to the groomers,
the whole thing.
Skip all of that.

Save your money
and go take
yourself for a walk.

Poem – your body is a sanctuary

Your body is a sanctuary,
a home to a
piece of the
light
of God.

Just like a regular home,
you have to maintain it.
Just like a mosque
or a church
or a synagogue
or a temple,
you want to make sure
it is clean
and strong.

It is an act of worship,
of respect to God
to take care of your body
– to eat healthy food,
get exercise
and enough sleep,
to not put any poisons in it.

Just as you would not
dump a bag
of trash
in a house of God,
do not do so
to your body.

You wouldn’t allow vandals in,
who leave the place a shambles,
a wreck,
so don’t allow people
into your mind
who attack you
by bringing your down.

You are the keeper
and the guardian
of your sanctuary.
It is a gift from God to you.
How you take care of it
is your gift
back to God.
A strong, healthy body
is better able
to be of service
to God
by serving
the world.

Thoughts on defeating depression

Plenty of people want to save the money, the social embarrassment, and avoid getting treated for depression. It is hard to admit you are depressed. It is hard to go seek help for it – to admit to a doctor that you are sick. It is seen as a sign of weakness.

But you can do a lot to stave it off. Avoid sugar – it lies to you. Avoid caffeine, or at least severely limit it. One cup of green tea a day is plenty.

Go exercise. You don’t have to go to the gym, although it is nice. Having a regular routine is good – and accountability. Go for a 20 minute walk at lunch instead of spending the whole hour sitting.

Park the car further away. Do jumping jacks. Find new ways to get moving.

Notice if you are coming up with excuses for why you can’t do this. This is normal. Don’t give in. See these impulses as a sign to keep going.

You can’t stop. This isn’t a temporary thing. You have to do this for the rest of your life – to have a life.

Put good fuel in the car, it goes well. Our bodies are the same. They are electrochemical machines. Eat well – no processed food. Learn to cook simple foods. Steaming isn’t hard and it means you get fresh vegetables. Don’t wait until you have a crash before you eat – then you’ll eat whatever is at hand. Plan your meals and eat them regularly. Don’t have junk food in your house or you will eat it.

Make art. Some of the biggest reasons for depression are that you aren’t communicating your feelings. Sometimes that is because you don’t know how to say what you need to say. Art says a lot.

Pray too late

I can’t make myself pray for people who have put themselves in a hole. They say “I need a miracle to help me get out of here”, and I say “What is the point?” You didn’t fall in. You climbed in, knowingly, for a decade.

It isn’t an accident that they have lung cancer or clogged arteries. Smoking cigarettes and eating poorly and refusing to exercise are choices. They chose to get sick, one bad decision at a time, over and over. So why pray for healing?

I know a guy who was slated to have heart surgery to clear up a blockage. They had to stop the procedure when they realized that the 30% blockage was really a 90% blockage. They’ll try again later. I’ve gotten emails and private messages asking me (and hundreds of others) to pray for him. The problem is, he weighs over 300 pounds. He put himself in this situation. Why pray? Why ask for divine intervention?

When my Mom got lung cancer after smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years, she was surprised. No amount of praying was going to undo that damage. No miracle was going to happen. When we came back from the doctor’s after finding out the diagnosis, she asked me if she could smoke. She’d thrown out her cigarettes when we were going to the doctors. She had an idea what was going to happen. The cigarettes were still in the house – but in the trash can. I told her that I would refuse to help her get better if she continued to smoke. Why waste my time?

There were plenty of people who would stand outside the cancer doctor’s office and smoke a cigarette before getting their treatment. What a waste. What stupidity.

I remember reading about how money is tight in England, and with the state-funded medical insurance program, they have to be very mindful about their resources. An overweight, elderly smoker who needs a heart transplant is likely to get passed over in favor of the younger person who doesn’t smoke. They take the time and money and spend it on someone who is likely to get some use out it. Why waste resources on someone who is going to waste it? I remember Americans being all up in arms about this. “Dignity of human life” and “How dare they” and “That isn’t fair” and all that, they said. Nonsense. Why put forth the effort when the person isn’t putting forth the effort?

Why pray for the person to be healed when they aren’t doing anything for themselves? Too late. The horse has already left the barn.

I really don’t feel I have the right words for this. I’ve thought about this for years, and I still don’t know exactly how to say it. I’m so frustrated with people waiting to the last minute and doing all the wrong things for their health and then being surprised that they have a chronic disease. Are we so blind as a nation, as human beings, that we think we can get by without paying the consequences? Are we so stupid that we think we should reap when we didn’t sow? Why do we think we are entitled to health when we refuse to create it? Good health isn’t an accident. Will power isn’t for the few. So many people are unwilling to work for their health, and then expect everybody else to feel sorry for them.

Maybe that is the problem. Passive lives all around. We don’t think about how we have to do things for ourselves. We blame others for our own failures. We blame our parents, our genes, our teachers for our own failures. We don’t have someone putting good food in front of us as adults – we have to provide it. Like children, we delight in treating ourselves with snacks and desserts. We pleasure ourselves every day with things that are bad for us, refusing to even try real food. We get a perverse pleasure out of not exercising, saying “you can’t tell me what to do.” We are children, not adults. We are killing ourselves with our childish behavior too.

No prayers. No miracles. We can’t wait for a savior. We have to save ourselves.

Staying sober with Rumi

In the book “Teachings of Rumi” by Andrew Harvey, there is this following story.

“A self-styled dragon hunter went into the mountains to trap a dragon. He searched all over the mountains and at last discovered the frozen body of an enormous dragon in a cave high up on one of the tallest peaks. The hunter brought the body to Baghdad. He claimed that he had slaughtered it single-handedly and exhibited it on the bank of the Euphrates. Thousands of people turned out to see the Dragon. The heat of the Baghdad sun started to warm up the dragon’s frozen body and it began to stir, slowly awakening from its winter hibernation. People screened and stampeded, and many were killed. The hunter stood frozen in terror and the dragon devoured him in a single gulp.

Your lower self is like that dragon, a savage tyrant. Never believe it’s dead: it’s only frozen. Always keep your dragon in the snow of self-discipline. Never carry it into the heat of the Baghdad sun. Let that dragon of yours stay always dormant. If it’s freed it’ll devour you in one gulp.”

Whatever you did to get sober is whatever you’re going have to keep doing to stay sober. The work isn’t over. Discipline is the only thing that keeps your sobriety going. There is no letting up. The same is true for staying fit. You can’t diet and lose weight and then start eating whatever you want again. It has to be a lifetime change.