Monthly Archives: December 2012

Zen Shoveling

Call me crazy, but I really enjoy shoveling snow.  There are a (very) few household chores which center me, calm me, and satisfy me, and shoveling is close to the top of that short list.  I was speaking to a friend the other day who shares some of my gratification in this particular job, with her satisfaction stemming from the finite nature of the task, the physical workout, and her ability to see progress along the way.

I certainly appreciate those aspects of the enterprise, and for me it goes even further.  There’s the simple freshness and beauty of a new snowfall.  There’s the dampening of background sound that occurs with a thick blanket of snow.  There’s the meditative nature of coordinating my breathing with the work of lifting the shovel, and of following the right-right-left-left patterns of evening out the muscle work on my two sides.  I like the detail of following the lines of the lawn along the driveway, widening the path a bit around the doors of the car. 

I appreciate the brief solitude as I begin the task, and then the teamwork as family members come outside to join me.  A few years ago we split the cost of a snowblower with our nextdoor neighbors, and they keep it at their house (we didn’t want to keep gasoline cans in our garage when the kids were young).  Very rarely do we make use of the machine – generally just when time is a big factor.  I don’t like the smell of the gasoline, the sound of the motor, or the vibration of the handle. 

I much prefer the brief, repetitive scrape of the shovel blade against the pavement, and the soft “thunk” of the snow as it’s dropped along the side of the path.  I enjoy the ability to focus on the signals given to me by my own body, speeding up and slowing down as my strength, endurance and energy directs me, resting frequently to breathe and to survey what I have completed and what is left to do.  I am one with my shovel.

*Note: Please check with your doctor to make sure you have no medical contraindications to shoveling snow if you decide to take this up.

Warmer Winter Wandering

My family went on a lovely winter walk with the family of a high school friend of mine the other day.  We hiked along a woodsy fitness path as we chatted about old times, old friends, and old haunts, conversed with each other’s spouses, and appreciated the manifestation of DNA in action as we got to know young people who were each genetically half-childhood-friend.  We had a delightful time, but it was a bit chilly.  Luckily, there have been some convenient technological advances since my friend and I were kids. 

One of the more pleasant inventions is the air-activated hand warmer.  You can find them in sporting goods stores.  These nifty little packets stay warm for hours, and can be kept in little pockets in gloves/mittens meant to hold them, or they can be placed between a liner glove and an outer glove (don’t put them directly on your skin, since they get pretty warm, and could theoretically cause a burn).  They have ones for warming toes, too (with adhesive that sticks to the outside of your socks to hold them in place).

So crisp air, early nightfall, and sparkly snowflakes don’t have to be accompanied by frozen fingers and toes.   Stay outside a little longer with your friends.  Marvel at the fact that your oldest child is about the same age that you and your friend were when you first met.  Take the time to walk through the woods and back through time, as you remember the chilly winters of your childhood and who you were back then, as you reflect on who you have become, and as you appreciate the ability to do so without frostbite.

Jumpstart Your New Year’s Resolutions

If it’s important enough to you that you’re planning to start on January 1st, then it’s important enough to start right now and not wait another week.  Use this week of holiday and family time as a springboard, not as an excuse.  Resolved to increase your activity level in 2013?  Ask your sister to go for a walk with you.  Play outside with your nieces and nephews.  Get people to start along with you as you initiate new habits.

Planning to eat healthier?  You can start by bringing salad, roasted vegetables, and fruit to contribute to big holiday meals.  You’re unlikely to be the only person who would appreciate these options, and if you put a little more of these on your plate and a little less of the mashed potatoes, you’re already on your way to developing healthier eating practices.

“I’ll start after the holidays” is a way of saying that changes are only important enough to make if conditions are ideal and there are no temptations or roadblocks.  When you choose to make something a priority, finding ways to honor that priority in all circumstances is the trick to making it stick!


Why I wrote “Your Hospital Guide”

Hospitals are chaotic.  With the exception of childbirth and certain surgical procedures, in general you have to be fairly sick to be admitted to a hospital.  And surgical and obstetric patients, while not necessarily sick, are generally dealing with pain issues and need to be watched closely for potentially life-threatening complications.  Even in a small hospital, there are thousands of medications being ordered and administered daily, as well as thousands of other orders regarding tests and all aspects of patient care.  This means that the hospital staff members, in addition to most of the patients and their families, are frequently stressed.

In order for you to get the best possible care, you need to know what’s going on, and you need to communicate well with your doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.  You are the best advocate for your hospitalized self or family member.  This guide will help you stay organized and on task to ensure that your or your loved one’s care is optimal.  This optimization of care relates not only to care during a particular hospital stay, but also to any related follow-up care, and to any future medical situations.

This guide will help you stay in control.

Hello world!

Welcome to DocThoughts and my foray into blogging!  I plan to have sections for my forthcoming book, Your Hospital Guide, for educational information on issues relevant to the medical world, and others.  Please let me know what you find interesting!