Riding the rollercoaster of health

download.jpgHealth is an interesting thing. It amazes me as I watch people eating, sitting around, walking, running and so on. Some people seem to be able to do and eat anything and tumble through life relatively healthy. (Although you never really know what is hiding in their system.)

Then there are others who work hard at being healthy. They exercise, they watch what they eat (fresh foods, mainly veggies, low fat protein – you get the idea) and yet they find themselves facing big health issues. The Big C (cancer of some kind) or the Big H (heart issues of some sort) or any other issue that pulls them down both physically and emotionally. There is the same issue in the elderly – those who live to be 95 and are clear headed and healthy and those who may even be from the same family but find themselves with Parkinson or Alzheimers. It never seems fair.

Although, I know that no one ever told us that life was going to be fair. It just seems like a good idea – thats all. The idea of fairness – of universal good health for all.

So I find myself on a mid September’s day just a bit pissed off (sorry about the language – it is how I feel today) at the why’s of life.  Why cancer, or why heart disease or anything else?

I know there is no answer for this question – we each get what comes our way. Each person finds their own way through the journey of life – the ups and downs of health, or the loss of a loved one too early.

There is the statement of how these events build character or empathy towards others. All a good thing I suppose when I look at those who bully their way through life on the easy road not understanding how others feel or struggle just to move from day to day.

IMG_7990.jpgIt is a warm, sunny, breeze day. The Maple trees have started their fall color change, the Sumacs are blazing red here in the northland. The birds are gathering for the flight south. It is glorious out but internally I am fighting the worry of a daughter on the last leg of chemo. The concern at how much this is taking from her body as she fights Breast Cancer and begins the journey of raising her son.

I struggle with my own fight with cholesterol and heart disease. I am the person walking daily, watching closely what I eat and drink, doing yoga daily if I can and yet the numbers will not go down. The tiniest bit of stress and the LDL shoots up. The family history is something I cannot change. My physical reaction to medications I cannot change. So I wonder what are my next steps towards healthy long life.

All I can do is acknowledge the truth of the situation. Do the best I can in helping and caring for myself and my family. Then turn to the things in life that are glorious. The beautiful day, the new baby boy sleeping by me, and the people who support and care for us on our journey.

It is in these days of “character building” and “empathy creation” that I look to writers who have also struggled during their life. I look to see what keeps a person moving forward. What gives them the drive to remain positive and push past these hard days? What helps us look to the cool breeze knowing this day offers joy as well as sadness?

A bit of poetry from Mary Oliver, a quote from Kahlil Gibran, or Dr. Nikki Martinez.

Here is a quote from Dr. Martinez –

“As someone who lives with a rare disease, people often have a very different perception of how I think, feel, and live each day of my life. While I have an illness, I am NOT my illness. It is merely a part of me. An important part that has defined who I have chosen to be, the kind of life I have chosen to live, and the kind mindset I choose to live by. While many people let their illness define them and drop anchor, I chose to redefine my life. I lived a life that gave me purpose and meaning.”

Here is what I hold on to –

  • I have an illness – I am NOT my illness
  • The kind of life I choose
  • The kind of mindset I live with
  • I work to set my life to give me purpose and meaning

Each of us has things that create struggles in our life – health, loss, work, family – whatever. It is how we choose to look at those struggles that makes a difference. Taking each day as it comes and working to make the best of it.

So who do you turn to when struggling with your mindset and life?

(I always like to know what keeps people moving forward – what helps you?)


Everyday Power – Chronic Illness quotes –








About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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3 Responses to Riding the rollercoaster of health

  1. mbhmaine says:

    These are words to remember: “turn to the things in life that are glorious.” Dealing with a recent health scare and the fallout in our family has been challenging lately. Thank you for sharing such a personal and thoughtful reflection.

  2. Ramona says:

    Joanne, my heart goes out to you. It’s a tough time. Hugs and prayers to both you and your daughter. I don’t understand why life is often so unfair. I turn to God’s love and the love of friends when times are rough. I impressed that you’ve chosen to redefine your life in spite of the struggles.

  3. You have made so many connections here through the inspiring words of others. Illness is draining, upsetting, unpredictable, and confusing. I love how you work to reframe your thinking and seek wisdom.

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