As I thought about celebrating my mother on mother’s day last week, I also started to reflect on other women who have had a profound impact on my life. First and foremost, I have to mention my grandmother. She was an immigrant who came to the U.S. as a young girl. She did not speak the language and left her family behind. The only relative that lived in the U.S. was her brother and his wife. She went to live with them but they treated her like a maid.
When she married my grandfather, who happened to come from the same small village back in Lebanon, he stood up to her brother, which caused some discourse in the family. But I didn’t know my grandmother in those days. I knew her as my grandma who was kind, giving, always agreeable and a hell of a cook!
She died several years ago at the age of 102. She was sharp and mentally alert at that age. I attribute her good health to the classic Mediterranean diet. She cooked from scratch. Did not eat processed foods, and ate mostly fruits and vegetables. There is a lot to learn from this healthy way of eating, which is touted to be the healthiest in the world. So many times I wish I could pick up the telephone and call her to ask her what I should add to a recipe I was trying to duplicate from her kitchen.
When my Situ (Arabic for grandma) was alive, she would say, “add a little of this and a little of that” to any given recipe. I would call her after I had made the dish to tell her it wasn’t quite the same as hers. She would ask if I added a certain ingredient.
I’d say, “Situ you never told me to add that.”
She’d just say, “Yeah, yeah, you need to add that.”
She was awesome and I loved her. I miss her tremendously.
Recently, I have been getting inspiration from one of my yoga teachers. She has taken me further in my 6 month practice than I ever imagined I would go. At class on mother’s day, I let her know how she inspired me in ways I never thought possible. Being a great teacher and nice person, she told me that she has watched my practice progress and how far I have come in such a short amount of time.
It is little inspirations like this that all of us need every day. We need to find something in our lives each day that make us smile and make us feel good. Staying healthy is not only about the foods we eat, although they play a major role. It is also our mental health and wellbeing that is so important.
We should all take a few minutes to reflect on these happy aspects of our lives for which we are grateful each and every day. I have found so much peace in my yoga practice. My husband tells me all the time what a profound affect it has had on me. He says I look healthier, am more toned and am overall happier since I have been practicing. He encourages me to go to yoga all the time (maybe for selfish reasons – who wants to hang out with someone who is in a bad mood!)
Actually, it is not only the women in my life who influence me. My husband has been a savior to me. He came along at a time in my life when I was stressed out and alone. I was raising my two young daughters as a single mom with little support emotionally or financially. He said he looked at me and knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. What? Is this man crazy?? Who would want to step into the stressful life I was living. But, as it turned out, we actually saved one another. And, we are convinced that even though he lived over 4,000 miles away in Germany when we met, somehow we were brought together.
I am convinced that my whole cancer situation would have gone much differently if I didn’t have his unwavering support. He encouraged me to follow my gut about treatment and was behind every decision that I have made. When he was diagnosed with kidney cancer 6 months later and needed to have a kidney removed, I was there for him. Neither of us feels we could have gone through our health crises alone. Our experiences have brought us closer and the result is a strong relationship that I never imagined possible in my life.
I suppose the point of this article is to say that we all have things in our lives that we can and should be grateful for. Some are small, some may be more obvious. The important thing is to acknowledge them all on a daily basis.