Andrea King, author of Patient Stories
I have a new found love, yet again, for Europe after a recent trip. Who wouldn’t want to embrace the endless coffee shops that line the streets and lead to the simple mornings of a pastry to start off the day? Who wouldn’t want to bask in the sun while sipping cappuccinos in the afternoon? And what kind of person would I be if I didn’t enjoy the long meals, strolls around town, and putting behind a busy lifestyle to realize we only have just this one? So, to that I say why not enjoy it.
My European escape allowed me the ability to notice the differences between us Americans and those that are European. In America, time is of the essence and because of that it’s go, go, go, work, work, work. But in Europe, time moves much slower. Business is conducted as usual, but in a slower pace that always keeps in mind the importance of your overall well-being.
I also have a newfound respect for Europeans, because frankly, I envy their attitudes. They take well-being over money any day of the week throughout the year. I mean, you don’t see us Americans taking off the month of August for a little R & R do you? Actually, my boyfriend and I had this exact conversation on our trip. But, not us Americans, no, we take making an extra buck over an extra hour with our family, friends, or even just ourselves. The crazy part is why? Personally, money isn’t everything to me. Okay, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice. And no, I’m not saying I want to live on the streets either, but as long as I have my basic essentials, and enough food to eat, I would much rather have a life of my morning runs, followed by coffee with friends, a leisurely lunch, and possibly even a gelato break that all mixes into a typical workday. Ahh, now that’s the European way.
It’s also the little touches that you notice there, too. Everyone walks or bikes in Europe, is dressed nicely (not to mention most are good looking people), and looks happier (for the most part). They take their time. These are qualities I think us Americans can learn a lot from when it comes to everyday life. I’m not saying making a living is not important, but why does it have to be at the expense of your well-being? If we really did take the time to slow down and smell the roses, maybe we would be a healthier nation. Maybe we would eat healthier, instead of rush around just to scarf down some fast food. Maybe we would walk more, and exercise, instead of drive from one point to right down the street. Maybe we would even take better care of our appearances. All of which could lead to overall better health.
I admit that sometimes I’m no better. I live by my day planner and to-do lists. I can’t help that I’m big on planning. I feel more comfortable and at ease knowing that I have things I “have” to get done, so much throughout the day that when I do finish I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction checking each one off the list. But really, when I think about it all, am I missing the purpose? Am I rushing through life forgetting about the important things that really matter?
My dear boyfriend I owe you an apology of sorts. As I was shuffling through my list of “to-do’s” and activities to see around those European towns on our trip, I kept thinking what next, what should we do and see next? But, I remember the words you said distinctly, “Can’t you just live in the present for once?” You’re right. I don’t do that enough. I get carried away in the excitement, the lists, and all the possibilities of things to do and see. And for that I apologize. I let myself get carried away. But, in my defense, sometimes I get swept away with the excitement of the roads that I’ve less traveled. However, your suggestions have absolutely been dually noted and I have brought those Eurproeans traits back with me that are truly worth living.
About the Book: When Ralph Bear was diagnosed with leukemia he was told by an oncologist he would be dead by 65. He was also told there was nothing he could do to strengthen the odds. However now, more than 14 years later, Ralph has outlived his cancer diagnosis and went on to create the idea of Patient Stories to help others. Through a compilation of real-life examples, the book gives a true voice and encounter of people who have been diagnosed with a chronic disease or illness, and what they do on a day-to-day basis to stay healthy. The author gives a first-person narrative for each story that leaves the individual’s tone of their experiences. What started with one man’s vision to keep himself on a healthy track ends with a journalist who has met with people around the country to hear–and share–what they have and continue to go through, and what their health and life means to them today. For more information go to: www.patientstories.com