Humans of Cortina

Stories of Renewal: Body

“There is more wisdom in your body than your deepest philosophy.”

The above quotation would not be accepted by all. But, it makes an important point–our bodies are more than just vehicles that carry around our minds. In fact, our minds can be deeply affected by our bodies, and vice versa. Bodies have a kind of unquantifiable knowledge that, however much we want to dismiss it, is highly important to our functioning and flourishing in the world. Here are some stories about ways our community members were renewed in body over break.:

“I had a wonderful Christmas Break this year.  While all of the students were gone, my wife and I stayed behind and enjoyed a lot of quiet time around McGloin.  We entertained visitors and were able to take some much needed time for ourselves.  One of the things we began in December that we continued throughout the break is that we have begun a new workout regimen.  My weight and overall level of fitness is something I have struggled with my entire life.  Within the past year and a half, I have switched over to a mostly plant-based diet, heavily restricting animal sources of protein.  In December, we began and have really committed ourselves to an 8-week workout routine from a wonderful and FREE site, (I promise, this is not product-placement!  I just love that all of these videos are completely, 100% free. No signing up, no information needed!).  After having completed five weeks, I can say that I really feel great and have noticed an overall change in energy.  I’m also staying off the scale and focusing more on overall health and wellness.  Doing that, I’m staying positive and focused excited for the future.  While I work in a “helping profession,” I think this is true for everyone…In order to take care of others, we must take care of ourselves first.  Happy 2013!”
-Kevin Cleary, Cortina Director

“I started training for my first triathlon the same summer my baby cousin was diagnosed with Leukemia. I had signed up for an all women’s triathlon in January and was beginning to start to figure out how to be athletic when we got the call that the smallest member of my family had cancer. I began to feel guilty about the things my body was beginning to do. I felt strong and alive. I knew that Bridget would never be able to have this experience. Her body, for no reason, was attacking her.  It seemed remarkably unfair that my body was capable of so much while hers was shutting down. But, I had to race in a few months, so I had to continue to train.

I began to pray for her as I ran.

I learned then, that my whole body could be a prayer. I had the ability, indeed the obligation, to move myself as gift, as thanks, as praise.
It’s easy to fall out of that. It is easy to get caught up in repetitions and muscle mass and cute new running clothes. I found myself falling out of that. I found myself using exercise as only exercise.

This winter, we got the call that Bridget, my now five year old baby cousin is officially a survivor. The renewal of her body made me reexamine the renewal of my own. Knowing that her body was healing made me stop and think again about the way I move and the power in my own body. Exercise, movement, the way I carry myself throughout the world is a declaration of life. The way that Bridget moves and tumbles and lives is a continuation of life, of praise, a declaration. We have the power to use our bodies as honest expression, as prayer, as rejoicing. So, I invite you—take your new year’s resolution to exercise as a chance to renew and reorient yourself. Take the renewal of your body as a reminder of what it’s really all about.”
-Sarah Peraud, Cortinian

“I have always struggled with depression. Some days I will wake up and my body says, “No. No, I can’t do anything right now. Or maybe ever.” Sometimes I have no choice but to listen to it. I have no will or desire to resist the thousand pounds of weight that pins me to my bed or my couch or wherever I am when it is dropped on me. For much of my life, this was not a huge problem. I just napped a lot. And did things when I felt like I could. And when I couldn’t, I couldn’t. Being a teenager, there weren’t so many responsibilities that made it imperative that I get out of bed (not to mention being a 3 sport athlete seriously increased my level of movement and health).

Being a quasi-grown-up with responsibility to many outside of myself, and feeling the added weight of becoming a mature human who has hopes of some kind of joy-filled, meaningful work in the world, it hit me over break that this depression thing is deeply unsustainable. In previous years, I had assumed that the root of my particular depression was rooted in my mind, if I could just get my mind right, things would be fine. I always tend to de-emphasize the importance or impact that the body and its chemistry has on the mind and on living. I have been known to say things about germs like, ‘If I can’t see them, they aren’t there.’ This, of course, was said in jest, but the flippancy of my attitude towards them should illustrate my level of concern for all things biological.

Over break, my mom invited me to start a cleanse with her called ‘CLEAN: Restoring the body’s natural ability to heal.’ Without going into specific details, the cleanse is doing just that. My energy levels are at an all-time high, mornings are exciting times to be alive, and naps (which I love) are impossible to take. I do not assume that this will be how it is every day, or that depression will not sneak it’s way in other ways, or that this would be the fix for everyone who suffers from it. However, the cleanse and the focus on renewing my body has been an incredibly liberating experience and I am grateful to have the time and resources to do it.”
-Annie Dimond, Cortina Graduate Assistant Director


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