Iris looked annoyed, but after a minute’s thought, she said, “OK. If that’s the way you’re going to be about it, my plan is, I’m going to cook a meal.” Not necessarily a health behavior at all. But the class was struck by her plan, because in an earlier exercise, she had told us that what caused her the most pain and the most grief was not being able to cook. Cooking had been her main role in life; she had cooked for her whole extended family. And she hadn’t cooked for two and half years (since her stroke).
So we were all pretty excited about this. She came back the following Saturday and I asked, “How did it go?”
“Well, I don’t know if I did it or not,” Iris replied, in a voice about 10 decibels louder than her usual murmur. She said she had started to cook a couple of dishes. Then she got tired on her affected side. So she called her husband in, and he acted as her assistant. She told him what to do, and together they prepared a dinner. They had such a good time doing it that they did it again later in the week!
Iris was just beaming as she told this story. As it happened, her son was with her that day. And he said, “You know, she exercised every day this week.”
She exercised because she had a reason to. I think we all have to find our positive reasons to live and give some time and energy to them. Studies of nursing home residents show that those who have something to do — even if it’s just taking care of a plant — live longer and are healthier than those who don’t.
Something you want to do. For Iris it was cooking. What is it for you?