Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)
I am sitting here laughing to myself because I was *this close* to answering this question by saying: Regular Bowel Movements. Constipation is no joke. For real. It’s a case of not knowing what you have until it’s gone. I eat fairly healthfully and exercise regularly, taking general good care of my body. It wasn’t until this year that I discovered the way stress adversely affects my corporeal being and its functionality. It wasn’t a fun ride, and, let me mention, I hate prunes.
For as long as I could remember, I was a once-a-day-at-4:00-in-the-morning-and-sometimes-at-4:30-in-the-afternoon girl. Then life hit me with some shit (har har), and what started out as random, every-once-in-a-while heartburn turned into serious gastro-intestinal distress. Let me tell you something: pooping only once (and not fulfillingly) every three or more days will fuck your world up. It makes you bloated and uncomfortable, which makes the fit of your jeans troublesome, which torpedos your self-esteem, which affects (adversely) your mood, which gets in the way of your relationships, which makes you more stressed out, which starts the whole cussing cycle over again. (I just watched The Fantastic Mr Fox….can you tell?)
(You know what? Fuck it. This is the answer I’m sticking with. The more I think about it, the more it’s the right one because in my head, I keep thinking: “AND ANOTHER THING….!” Besides, who doesn’t laugh at a little toilet humor?)
I’m pretty sure that I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t agree that there isn’t anything quite as satisfying as a good, solid, your-ass-only-requires-the-minimum-amount-of-wiping-afterwards poo. (and if you disagree, please feel free to comment, I’d be interested in meeting such a person) A satisfying BM leaves me with a feeling of general well-being: lighter, more svelte (Ladies out there….you KNOW you look at yourself in the mirror afterward just to see that your stomach really DOES look flatter) and less guilty about the half-pint of ice cream I’m about to consume in front of the television.
Doctors ask for stool samples right off the bat when diagnosing a mysterious ailment from the neck down. They ask about size and water content, degree of flotation, frequency and smell. Abnormal meadow muffins are a symptom in any number of ailments, indicating, (unscientifically) to me, that the poo is the first thing to turn bad and alert us that something’s wrong. Regular, respectable BMs tell me that I’m eating properly and taking good-ish care of myself, and that all is right with my world. Throw a wrench into my machinery though, and my digestive tract goes haywire.
This year, I discovered that the size of the wrench is getting smaller as time wears on. In my teens and 20s, it didn’t really matter what I ate or drank; my body regulated. If I had a stressful final coming up, or if I lost one too many games of Sink The Ship, my body regulated. My stomach and it’s co-workers took whatever I threw at them with a shrug of their proverbial shoulders, moving on with their lives as if nothing was particularly terrible about my diet of Sweet Tarts, Labatt Blue, poutine and pot.
Flash forward to 31, and it’s a whole different ballgame. My body is as skittish as a kitten on rollerskates. I could brush my teeth and take a shower in a different order one day, and my body will strike, citing dissatisfaction with company policy. It’s not pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, so I try agree to its demands as much as possible: so much water everyday, easy on the sugar, lots of cruciferous vegetables, daily strenuous exercise, no stress, no caffeine, lots of sunshine….the list, I’m close to believing, IS, actually, endless.
It’s impossible to cover all those bases. Just the stress of thinking about it stresses me out and, well, there goes tomorrow’s constitutional. As a result, I was constipated on a large scale this past year. It wasn’t enjoyable by any stretch of the excretory imagination. That’s why, when scouring the shelves in my brain’s pantry for the answer to today’s prompt, I kept coming back to this basic and necessary bodily function. It’s small, and base; really rather pivotal and sneakingly important. Who woulda thunk it?
As far as gratitude goes, well, as I said, I thank my body everyday by trying to take care of it. Good in, good out my Grandma Lou used to say. And boy was she right. I’m by no means extraordinarily granola; I smoke cigarettes (until January 2….I swear it this time!) and drink to the occasional excess, but I also do take pains for a modicum of common sense care. I like to hope that I’m going to have this organ oasis for many years to come, so it adds up that it and I take this time to listen to each other, to come to an agreement.