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Redefining Values: Lessons in Health

The Doe Team

by The Doe Team

| July 20, 2022

These five health stories are a reminder that there are lessons to learn even if we’re healthy.

Amidst the highs and lows of everyday life, from work and hobbies to friendship and love, it can be easy to take your health for granted.

That is, until something changes, whether it’s your own health or someone you love. Nothing brings us to the present quite like a sudden change in well-being.

These five writers found themselves experiencing a wellness change that led them to reevaluate their values and how they live their lives, offering three important lessons to remember.

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Lesson One: A Change in Health Can Make You Mindful

How Walking Transformed My Life for the Better

After recovering from an eating disorder, Wanderer was encouraged to go on walks to improve his health, but he didn’t anticipate all the ways his life would be affected. In “How Walking Transformed My Life for the Better,” Wanderer began with 10-minute walks that gave him aches and pains. But after pushing through the challenge of boredom and a lack of stamina, he began to notice something else: his surroundings.

This author started looking forward to walking for the opportunity to listen to a podcast and experience the simplicity of life around him, like seeing cats in windows. This mindfulness encouraged Wanderer to decorate his once-bleak home and join a gardening group that would have been too much socially before the walks. He says, “Walking turned into an exploration of a new place, and exploration led to curiosity about what was down that mysterious dirt path.”

My Father’s Blindness Has Changed My Perspective on Life

EyesForward begins and ends every morning the same way: blurry. In “My Father’s Blindness Has Changed My Perspective on Life,” this author details the experience of watching his father go blind and the effect it had on his family and outlook.

EyesForward recalls the ripple effect his father’s blindness had on his life, from changing the layout of the house to ensure total consistency, to helping his father with personal tasks like reading emails and guiding walks. This reliance created an urgency to live mindfully: “I am nourished by the tinge of orange zest, the crusted faces of old brick and the faint sweetness of a springtime wind. I am driven to feel whole through all my senses in fear of losing one.”

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Lesson Two: Don’t Snooze Wake-Up Calls

How I Overcame Yo-Yo Dieting and My Bad Relationship With Food

In “How I Overcame Yo-Yo Dieting and My Bad Relationship With Food,” this writer outlines the many years of ups and downs on and off the scale. Boomer Baby can recall the beginning of this hard-earned relationship with her body: A venture into calorie counting that earned her the acceptance she yearned for from her peers and family. She was only in sixth grade.

What followed was years of weight gain and loss, from having children to taking weight loss pills, and a lost sense of time as the weight crept on, along with a plethora of health issues. It wasn't until Boomer Baby took a look in the mirror and saw something that terrified her: her sister, the one who died from complications with obesity.

This wake-up call wouldn't take her the way it did her sister, and she worked hard to bring herself to a healthy weight in an appropriate way, believing that “by changing my life, I added more quality to it.”

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Lesson Three: Loss Is the Parent of Compassion

I Was Staunchly Pro-Choice. I Was Shocked When My Abortion Was Devastating

Royt Mami was once quick to judge and fiercely pro-choice with no nuance in sight, but in “I Was Staunchly Pro-Choice. I Was Shocked When My Abortion Was Devastating,” she discusses her journey from abortion to a total change in what it means to have a choice.

After having her abortion, an entire year went by before she realized she was experiencing post-abortion stress syndrome. She was conflicted about her beliefs and further confused when she felt baby fever, but the turning point was having an appointment with a physician that left her feeling completely unheard.

It was this rollercoaster of emotions that led her to a new understanding of choice, an aspect the pro-choice movement may not wholly encompass. This stance she calls “pro-option” was created from the loss she didn’t know she’d grieve and is rooted in respect and compassion for those decisions people make: “Being pro-option opens up new avenues of support to women and people of all genders, whatever their background or desires or constraints.”

Being an Alzheimer’s Caregiver for My Parent Was the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

“Compassion” named herself aptly. In “Being an Alzheimer’s Caregiver for My Parent Was the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done,” this writer tells the story of a parent quickly overcome by Alzheimer’s and slowly taken by death, leaving their child to pick up the pieces where they fell.

When Compassion took in her parent, she realized that her life would be forever changed. Days turned into months, then into years as she realized this life wouldn’t be sustainable, but stretched thin in every way, she didn’t know what else to do.

Bits of grace, as she calls it, crept into her life and she saw compassion bleed into her life—from helpful neighbors to a grant for extra caregiving—but the weight of providing was heavy. When her parent finally crossed the bridge from life to death, she experienced this loss as a gift instead of a pain: “It’s a work in progress, even now, four years later. And that’s OK, because when we share our stories, we connect. We gain compassion. Then, we can move on to what’s next.”

Final Thoughts

These lessons in mindfulness, time and compassion are reminders that a change in health can be the quickest way to change your life, for better or for worse. Perhaps there’s an aspect of your health you’ve neglected that could be the positive change you’ve been looking for in your life.

There’s always something we can learn from another’s story. To challenge your perspective, check out some of our other narratives.

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