I sink into the water.
Outside, at the hot springs, the air is cool and river still. It smells like sulfur, but after a few minutes I don’t notice. I’m simply lost in the “healing waters.” That’s what they are called because supposedly the minerals in the hot springs help with a number of ailments. Personally, I enjoy the way the heat releases the tension in my body. I especially like soaking my feet – they cramp easily. I also like the heat around the middle of my body – a source of pain between a miscarriage, a surgery, and fertility frustrations over the past 12 months.
I lean back against the stone wall of the bath and watch.
There is a man standing under a waterfall. The water thuds against his back. What is he healing? Tight shoulders? Work stress? Or something deeper . . . the loss of a family member or friend?
In another pool there is a woman with her eyes closed. Maybe she is washing away the pain of divorce. Or abuse. Or a dog named Marley.
I don’t know. I’m just guessing. But when I start thinking about all the different types of “loss” people deal with, it’s clear we all need healing. One of the professors at the university I attended in Southern California just lost his house in the fires. One of my friends just gave birth, a joyful event . . . and a loss of personal time.
Loss of age . . . loss of a job . . . loss of a breast . . . loss of mental agility . . . loss of a city after a move . . . loss of a child who goes off to college . . . and on and on and on it goes.
I read a paragraph in a book the other day about the importance of taking time to heal. The author said that when we step back and heal ourselves we become aware of a world full of people in need. My time of retreat is coming to a close. I hope I don’t go back home and get too wrapped up in schedules and deadlines and the frustrations of city traffic. I hope I can heed the author’s advice and help heal the world in little personal ways.
My family members like to tease me about the fact that I don’t have a very high tolerance for discomfort. I claim to be “dying of heat” or “freezing cold” (rather than a little warm or a little cool). I’m either “bouncing off the walls” or “exhausted” (instead of simply awake or sleepy). And of course I’m never hungry. I’m starving (that is, when I’m not totally stuffed).
When I am starving it’s never a good situation. My hands start shaking. My mood turns sour really fast. I need food. ASAP!
When you’re trying to eat healthy, it’s important to prepare for emergencies. Otherwise, it’s too easy to grab the sugary, chemically-laden junk food that abounds in stores and fast-food restaurants and vending machines. So here’s what I do to prepare for the week: I usually bake some sort of muffins on Sundays (blueberry, apple oat bran, or other kinds where the recipe doesn’t call for sugar and refined flour). I also hard boil 6 eggs for easy snacking. I make a bag of trail mix: raw almonds, raw walnuts, dried cranberries and/or organic raisins. I keep baked tortilla chips in the cupboards and homemade salsa in the fridge. I love raw green beans (there I go being dramatic and extreme again), and I have been known to steal a handful of those as I head out the door. And now that fall is here, I’ve been stocking up on apples – such an easy, delicious fruit to grab on the go.
What are your favorite healthy snacks?
My trip to LA is winding to a close. I’d love to post a couple of healthy new recipes I tried this week, but I haven’t been cooking (unless you consider slicing apple and dipping it in natural peanut butter cooking). Instead, I’ve been eating out more than I intended. But I guess I have re-learned one lesson on this road trip: it never hurts to ask. The other day I was ordering an Ahi tuna burger from one of my favorite spots – a roadside seafood shack. I was sure they didn’t have wheat buns – I looked everywhere for the small print in the menu indicating customers had that choice and couldn’t find it. But when I asked, turns out they could serve their burgers on wheat. And the breakfast place this morning – though the menu doesn’t specify, you can request fruit on the side instead of home fries. Of course options like that aren’t always available. The Chinese place I stopped by the other night didn’t have brown rice as an option – only white. But I’m going to keep asking, cuz you just never know.
For years I pounded the pavement. As a runner, my feet hit the cement over and over as I competed in cross-country, track, and, as an adult, even a couple marathons.
My coaches always encouraged stretching, both before and after the runs, but for the most part, I was on a one-way street toward shortening and tighenting my muscles. Until I tried yoga, I had no idea what it really meant to enlongate them. Running made me so inflexible that because of my inability to touch my toes or do the splits, I thought I “couldn’t do yoga.” Yoga was for bendy people, like gymnasts.
Thank goodness I figured out my thinking was flawed at age 30 and not a minute later. The benefits of yoga for inflexible people are amazing. Yes, it’s true that having shorter muscles means I often need to use a lot of props and adjust my poses in way others don’t, but almost every single time I practice yoga, I find myself thinking, “This feels so good.” After years of heading “one way” I’m finally teaching my body to move in the opposite direction. Ahh.