Thursday, October 4, 2012

Living a Balanced Life & Health By Jannifer Ju

Balance Your Heart and HealthWhen I hear the phrase, "living a balanced life" I think of eating a variety of healthy foods, eliminating toxic habits like smoking or drinking alcohol, exercising-- you know, the usual. When a dear friend had a brush with death, his experience brought new meaning to the phrase, "living a balanced life."
My friend Michael had developed extremely poor habits over the years. When I first met him twenty-some years ago, he was a fit and active theater director. Over time Michael grew complacent, stopped doing what he loved, and eventually became lonely. Year by year he drifted further from the fulfilling life he had led.  It got so bad that he stayed in his home working online, smoked constantly, never exercised and became obese.

Then last year Michael made a resolution to get in back shape. It was tough at first, but he managed to quit smoking. He cut out fatty foods and made a sincere effort to lose weight; he started buying organic, shopping at the co-op and even tried some vegetarian dishes!

After six weeks he had lost thirty pounds, was able to walk a mile or more, and was breathing more easily due to having given up smoking. His energy improved, and he even began talking about doing some theater again.

Then on Valentine's Day, Michael suffered an aortic rupture that landed him in open heart surgery. Miraculously, he survived it, but suffered a stroke while unconscious. After five weeks in a coma, Michael woke up.  At first he had difficulty speaking and couldn't feed himself, but in a short time he was finding words, remembering faces, and walking with assistance. Before long he was able to move home again.

Michael lost considerable weight in the hospital and looks great, but more importantly, he has a renewed life force and positive outlook. He's writing about his experiences and planning future performance work. Recently, over  a cup of tea, I asked Michael if he had regrets about the way he had been living before the hospitalization.

 "I don't regret eating fried chicken or smoking if that's what you mean, but what I do regret is letting my creative spark go out." Grinning as he pushed his cane aside, he hobbled across the kitchen spilling tea with each difficult step, "See! I'm living a balanced life again."  We laughed together at the irony. It got me thinking about how important our passions are to living a balanced life. Perhaps the true key to health lies in following our individual dreams. When we do, we gain the inner strength to take care of ourselves both body and soul, and that is truly living a balanced life!

Do you have a creative spark that would balance your life if it were re-ignited?

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