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“Always remember, Holly,” she said as we walked the beach in Eleuthera, allowing the water to reach her ankles and letting the sun to hit her (SPF 30-covered) face. “Health is wealth.”
We spent Christmas in the Bahamas and celebrated her, and the fact that the best present we received last year was that she had beat cancer. Again. The topic of new years and resolutions had come up, and she was beaming, enjoying a little vitamin D while sipping some Vitamin C from a Bacardi and pineapple juice. She was speaking slowly, sporadically breathing heavily as she had had most of her right lung removed just eight months ago. Life resolutions, we decided.
Every new year brings the promises of new beginnings and the excitement of a clean slate. There’s the ambition of putting new resolutions to use. (Lose weight! Save money! Eat more veggies! Take more vacations! Be more organized! Lose more weight! Save more money!) When I was younger, I used to have these new year’s journals, where I’d write down resolutions and leave blank spaces next to them and check in periodically over the year to write down whether I did them or not. Watching every episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210” was honestly one of my goals during 1997. Eating better and exercising more has been on my list for the last 10 years. And since “90210” ended a decade ago, I’ve found my resolutions becoming more interesting over the last decade.
During the past month, I’ve heard my friends talk (and talk and talk) about everything they are going to do over the next 12 months. “2011 is going to be MY year,” they all seem to proclaim. Whether they plan on finishing a marathon or James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” obsessing over the importance of fitting into those skinny jeans, or just depressingly discussing overdue bills and the need to pay taxes, everyone I know has a different idea about what a new-year resolution can bring.
So, as for mine?
My new year’s and life resolution is to be happy. (Smile). To breathe more. (Pause). To be able to love and to be loved. (Breathe). To laugh often. (Again, breathe). And most importantly, to take care of myself. These are those little things that we take for granted. And too often, it isn’t until a family member mentions that awful C word, or a loved one has some unfortunate life-changing accident, that we step back to think about what a gift it is to be alive.
Oh, I know what some of you are thinking. Here she is, 27 years young, sitting on her cloud of judgment, trying to save the world with a monologue on health that is best left to the experts. OK. I hear you.
No, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a member of the local gym, or even half as active as I wish I was. I would like to have a more balanced diet, but then I often eat Sour Patch Kids as a low-fat afternoon snack and consider red wine an appetizer, and once in awhile it becomes dinner too. (Oh, don’t judge me). I would love to say I’ve never had a cigarette, and I wish I could tell you that I sleep seven hours a night.
But when it comes from personal experience, I do know a few things about health. I know that my older sister had heart surgery in her early 20s, both of my grandmothers have had breast cancer, both of my grandfathers died from cancer, and my mom has beat cancer in both 2002 and 2010.
And with all that hardship has come the realization that life is short and when it comes to health, ignorance is so not bliss.
So be good to your body. To thine own self be true. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There’s nothing wrong with being a little selfish, and when it comes to your own health, be very selfish. Take good care of yourself. Because at the end of every day, when you can smile, read and move your arms to turn this paper’s page, think of what a gift it is to be healthy. I’ll toast a glass of champagne to that every day of the year.
And I’ll always remember, Mom. I promise.
– Finigan’s Findings appear regularly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror