Thursday, February 14, 2013
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, SPARKIES!
This year on this holiday of love, I've decided to go against the trend. I'm putting myself first! I'm going to be a little selfish, and it's long overdue. Before you judge me, let me explain, in my usual rambling way, of course....
This is the day of pink and red, of candy and hearts. The "hearts" are what have always seemed a little odd to me. What most of us think of when we picture a heart looks something like this: [mistaken for HTML, so couldn't post. Oh well. You know what it looks like.], but what about the actual part of our anatomy which without its healthy functioning none of us would survive? Unless I'm missing something, we don't celebrate other days with the symbol of an organ that, in reality, looks nothing like the real one. --Happy President's Day! "I think of you with all my brain"; now picture a die. It's Flag Day! "Live it like your liver"; imagining a sieve? --Even dice and sieves are real things. The heart symbol is just made up, but we've seen it everywhere for so long that we know what it represents. So, I've found myself thinking about my heart in recent weeks when I've seen all of those dumb commercials. (I would be SO MAD if someone bought me that huge teddy bear I've seen plugged on TV! Space is expensive. It would just be in the way. What a waste of money! Buy me a plant. Help me start a vegetable garden. A rose bush would be great! I'd love some good quality dark chocolate with all those antioxidants. Jewelry is always a good choice (and unless it's a candy necklace from 7-11, it has no calories).--Just me opining again. Giant obnoxious teddy bears are NOT my thing. Obviously.)
All of these thoughts about my heart and heart health, in general, bouncing around in my brain lately have led me to fondly recall when Oprah (--LOVE her!) was discussing this topic with... (okay, vaguely recalling now... maybe said brain needs some dark chocolate) an expert (was it Dr. Oz? --Really, I tried to find this online so I could more accurately quote and report the details, but to no avail) showed her how her heart was doing, and her heart was found to be on the healthy side of the matter. She said (paraphrasing now) something to the effect of, "I love her!" (referring to her own heart). She went on to say that she wanted to "...take good care of her" (again, paraphrasing and referring to her heart). I remember feeling touched by this, but I just wasn't where she was in life at that point. Not that I was smoking like a chimney (or at all), living on bacon and foie gras and drinking like Hemmingway, my heart be darned (or needing to be later, like a sock). I was, however, "thriving" (or so I thought) on stress, habitually losing sleep, exercising only sporadically, usually just to lose weight, and rarely, if ever, stopping to smell the roses or much of anything appealing. I also was relentlessly pursuing my career and putting in all of the hours that that effort required. It was not a time when we were concerned about Trans Fats. I never paid attention to how much sodium was in anything I ate. I remember thinking that I'd like to care for my heart in the loving way that Oprah had expressed, but I knew that it wouldn't be my focus, at least for a few years.
Fast forward at least a decade. Quite a few people in my family have died from cancer. Maybe that should be my health-related focus. But then there are the stats: More people die from heart disease than from AIDS and all cancers combined (1). Hmm. That's a lot of people. That's a lot of risk. The good news is that there are things we can do to prevent AIDS (and we now have reasonably effective drugs to fight it) and, in general, the things you can do to help prevent cancer are the same things that help to prevent heart disease and make your brain healthier --and to prevent or reverse diabetes to boot! (2), including being happier (3). (Talk about multi-tasking! Woo Hoo!!!)
So, now I am in that place in my life where I am committing to nurturing my heart. Poor old girl. I really have put her through so much over the years. I'm sorry, dear heart. I'm in your corner (ventricle?) now. In the wisdom of the flight attendant instructions, in the event of an emergency, you must place your oxygen mask on yourself first (before you do so for your child or other traveling companion who is unable to do so). This is because you're no good to anyone else if you have passed out or are unconscious. I really think it's best, though, not to wait for an emergency to do this. So, when you're showing the people in your life how much you care for them by showering them with Valentines, don't forget to be selfish and take care of your heart. If you are bothered by the thought of being selfish, then give a healthy gift to your heart and let her (or him, as the case may be) know how much you appreciate her (or him).
Happy Valentine's Day!
Be sure to smell some roses.