Wednesday, November 26, 2008

guts. by patresa hartman

On the eve of a giant culinary tradition my focus is on my guts. I am thankful for them on many different levels, and to express those levels requires me to give you far more information than you care to have. Please prepare.

First of all, I love mashed potatoes and gravy with a reckless, food-in-the-hair, abandon. I am also ridiculously glad for stuffing, extra sage and celery, please.

Second of all, I am grateful that I have the resources to enjoy such feasts. I have never been hungry. The table has never lacked food nor company, my family loving and stable. The more I learn about the world, the more I understand the privilege of this.

Third, and in an entirely different capacity, I am grateful for the dysfunction of my guts. I have a very glamorous condition called Ulcerative Colitis. You will not see any Lifetime movies on this subject, because it would entail too much emphasis on digestion, including colons. It is not a sexy disease. I have 8x10 glossies of the inside of my colon.

Ulcerative Colitis essentially entails ulcers in the digestive tract -- much like Crohn's. Most of the year they are tamed into submission, remission. But around Thanksgiving and Christmas they wake up on the wrong side of the bed and get very cranky. Stress is my primary trigger. Why am I thankful for this? Because I have learned that this dysfunction is a messenger.

Some believe each element of the body is closely linked to each element of the spirit. Louise L. Hay, for instance, posits that diseases of the guts typically indicate an inability to let go and relinquish control. True for me. I am not always good at identifying my intangible emotions, and I attempt to control my environment with a white knuckle grip. This is not healthy. Sometimes I don't even recognize that I'm doing it. My body has to tell me.

The holidays are prime time for my control issues to flare -- navigating family traditions, finances, time crunching, and travel, etc. One thing I am very good at is pretending everything is fine and there is no need to change my behavior. The reason I am thankful for my faulty guts is they are no longer allowing me to be complacent about unhealthy spiritual patterns. Around the same time every year, they wake me up in the middle of the night to say, "Pardon us, but you still have not learned how to live with acceptance."

I do not care for their methods, but I appreciate the intent. Perhaps this is the year I listen.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Only you could turn such a topic into a beautiful piece of writing. Peace to you and the gut this holiday season so that you may truly enjoy every moment without the flare gun.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Ditto what angie said! You have a unique way of looking at the world - Stand Aside the David Sedaris's wannabes, P is the real thing.

Barbara Quinn said...

Stress is like a horrid side dish that we are stuck with at the table. Take some breaks and say no when you can and here's to delegating.I've found that really does help. May you and your guts have a good gathering!

Anonymous said...

Anyone that can listen to their body is miles ahead of the rest of us. We coach our State Championship Athletes to listen to their body as the race goes on. It will tell them how to handle the rest of the race. There are other good ways to handle stress.
Terrific post.
Oren (FOA)

Patresa Hartman said...

thanks, everybody!

i am pleased to report my guts are expressing improvement today. maybe they just wanted to be thanked. :)

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