Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Days of Our Lives: Updated Episode

Days of Our Lives: Updated Episode
            Tell me, what is all the foo-foo-rah over being fit and healthy? I have friends who abstained from meat (?Not eat meat?), ran marathons, contorted themselves into pretzels with an hour of daily yoga, no sugar, no dairy, no smokes, no booze. Died young. One in his 40’s and one in her 50’s, each skinny as a rail.

            Recently, prior to eye surgery, my doctor insisted I go through a whole-body work-up: blood, lungs, heart, the full-meal-deal of medical tests. The heart man told me my heart is young and should beat forever. It will outlast my body. Shudders. All the numbers from my blood work were within optimum range. Every test earned me a gold star.

            In April I passed my 72nd milestone. I’m not courting death but I don’t want to live past my use-by date.  I’m relatively healthy. I’m five-feet, eight inches tall, weigh 165. That means I’m overweight. But since coming to Mexico, I’ve unintentionally lost at least thirty pounds of excess fat just by eating differently. If you could take ten dollars a week to the store and return with more bags of fresh food, fruits and veggies than you could carry, you’d see changes too.

            It’s too hot to eat heavy foods. I eat a lot of fish, little meat. I’ve never dieted; not since a disastrous high-school diet left me vulnerable to mono and landed me in the hospital for a month. I love ice cream and chocolate. I don’t run. I don’t go to the gym. I’m slothful. I read a lot.

            You might wonder what brought on all this personal information. I’ll tell you. Last week, after three of my friends left, headed to the North Country, I compiled a chart, a visual aid to help me get back to the routine I’d dropped a month ago on the beaches of Mazatlan.

            I’m a visual person. A chart that I can mark and see my progress makes me smile. I’d dropped my daily practices of Qi Gong and my Spanish lessons. I was ready to get back to both, to enhance my physical life, my intellectual life and my spiritual life.

            My chart has six columns. Qi Gong. Duo-lingo. Other Spanish (I dip into 3 other studies).  Meditation. Writings. Physical Therapy. I described my intentions to several friends; I do appreciate email. Immediately I got back replies such as “Keep up the good start to staying fit and healthy.”

            E-gads, but that is not what this is about for me. This is totally hedonistic on my part. My little routine makes me feel good.  Pleasure. These small practices, most taking fifteen minutes or less, give me pleasure, selfish pig that I am.

            I’m not rigid. I don’t tick off every column every day. I do what I can. 

            We just don’t know, do we? I’m feeling awfully sad today. I just heard from Ana in Mazatlan.  My friend Carlos’ son, Carlitos, is not responding well to chemo. The tumor in his lung has hardly shrunk. From trunk to mid-thigh, he lacks feeling. It’s possible the cancer has spread.

            Carlitos, eighteen, participant in two international baseball tournaments, top man on his team, young, athletic; how could this happen? After several months in University, he’d decided what he really wanted was go to barber school. He was excited, had plans for his own shop once he finished school. Though he insisted it was for men only, we women assured Carlitos that he, and only he, would henceforth trim our hair.        
Carlos and Selena are staying positive, even though the situation isn’t looking good. This young man has huge support from his family and his community. He is remembered on more than one prayer chain in Montana and Canada. Since I had written about Carlitos a few weeks ago, I thought you’d want to know.

It’s not right when we outlive our children. A piece of us dies with them. I know. I’ve lost two. I’ve not ticked off any columns on my chart today. I wander inside and outside, sit here, sit there, walk around and talk to my flowers, bounce between hope and despair. Life is not fair.

Enough being maudlin. I need to hold my place in line for a haircut, right behind Ana. Life isn’t fair. Life isn’t easy.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

May 25, 2017


  1. So sorry to hear of Carlitos' illness - your writing makes them so real to me. Life is certainly not fair.
    Very very sorry to hear that you have lost 2 children.

  2. Thank you so much. I try to write and make it so people who are not where I am can see it. I just received some good news. The Drs. saw Carlitos the day before yesterday and they said his tumor has reduced a little. This was very hopeful news. I'm in agreement, life is not fair. I hope for my dear friends' sake, this tumor continues to shrink and Carlitos can go on with his life. Thank you very much for writing. I really do appreciate hearing from my readers.