December 30 – Gift
Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?
I’m finding this one of the most difficult of all the #reverb10 prompts. I feel like so much of my life is a gift, so many little things that I constantly make myself slow down to acknowledge. Many of those things I’ve already written about here: my love, my friends, my mom, my work, my students.
One gift that has gone unacknowledged, mostly because I take it so for granted, is my health. After my mom was in and out of the hospital for almost the entirety of 2009, I started paying even more attention to my heath, putting a focus on staying in decent shape while working on the Ph.D. If the “freshman 10” is common, I think the Ph.D. is more like 50. Stress and a lifestyle that focuses on inactivity are a pretty bad combination, especially for someone who comes from a heart disease challenged family.
My mom has slowly bounced back from being sick, and although things aren’t perfect for her right now, she’s in good shape considering what she’s been through. But now we have another hurdle. While I was in NZ, my brother had congestive heart failure. Next week I will travel home to go with him and my mom to the hospital so he can have an angioplasty and possibly bypass surgery. It’s difficult not to be terrified about this whole process as my brother is very close to the age my dad was when he died.
My mom and I both were surprised that this happened to my middle brother, having suspected the more likely candidates to be my other brothers who are prone to more, er, expressive bouts of emotion. But now it seems clear that my middle brother is most like my dad, that stoic, hold-in-all-your-emotions kind of guy. Guessing all that holding in isn’t so good for the heart.
So although this year been hasn’t been void of all health issues (I have what I am now calling Wii-Knee, an injury from the Wii Fit that just won’t heal), my heart and cholesterol levels are all in the green and I intend to keep it that way. I’m also making a promise to myself not to hold in my emotions. Although I’m not as bad as many members of my family, I do tend toward holding on to bad feelings and often let them fester. Whether or not it physically effects my heart, I know expressing what I’m thinking and feeling (good and bad!) is better for me.
Maybe that is the real gift, hidden amongst all this scary health stuff: an awareness of how important my own emotional health is to my overall well-being. Maybe I can start thinking about feeding my emotional self like I feed my body and keep both mental and physical health as priorities for good care. Now I just need to figure out what is the emotional equivalent of zucchini . . .