It would come like a small tightness in my tummy - not pain or discomfort but more like a questionable feeling.

Being 60 sure is a challenge. I can now understand why I always saw my parents deep in thought at this time in their lives.

My dad would chain-smoke and my mom would chain eat. They had that feeling in their bellies, too, I guess, as they started to look at their lives in a completely different way.

Dad would blow through a pack of Luckies without even thinking about it. I chuckle now as I remember January's freezing temperatures in New York, with the windows tightly sealing out the cold and locking in the smoke.

My mom would always have pasta or pizza in the refrigerator. She would make two Sicilian pizzas on Thursday or Friday for the weekend. Pizza was also good for comfort as we abided by the "no meat on Friday" rule of Catholicism.

But tea and toast were her afternoon standards. She would sit and think about things as she swallowed a little bit of comfort with each sip and bite.

Now Debbie and I are getting to the time and place where we sit for long spells dealing with the little discomforts in our bellies. Until recently we were in what we call "parent coma" - living moment to moment just trying to keep it all together. Now, as the kids are off on their own, we have time to reflect on the passages and seasons in our lives and recognize "signs and symptoms" that are not necessarily of disease but flags of change.

I have come to see the tight-tummy feeling as the "change" button being pushed - it's as if God knows you need to change so he pumps a little extra energy into your stomach to remind you that something needs rearranging in your mind and body in preparation for the next stage of your life.

I used to fight the churning of change in my tummy like my parents did, with comfort foods. It was my adult "hissy fit" to dull the ache, but it was not the medicine I needed.

Now I realize that the feeling in my stomach really was not about the horrible diet I was on but my resistance to getting out of my comfort zone and making the adjustments necessary in my life.

Embracing change and celebrating life's passages have brought positive transformation in my approach to life, not only emotionally but physically. Now I use exercise, not food, to calm and center myself as I go through life's inevitable changes.

Enjoy the journey


E-mail Bob Oro at