a new book by Nina Englander
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Recently, at a Bat Mitzvah, I had a conversation with a lovely gastroenterologist. She informed me that it is best to move your bowels in this way: just do it. There should be no reading material on the back of the toilet, no crossword puzzles or Sudoku, it is not the time to meditate or cogitate or write imaginary blog posts in your head. It is time to poop. Get in and get out.

This may well be good advice, although for those who tend more toward constipation it will be difficult to impossible to follow.

On the other hand, my aunt used to make the point that pooping takes time. She saved a whole fifteen minutes for it in her morning routine! She would make sure the house was quiet, she was not needed by anyone, and slip into her bathroom to give time to the process. Relaxed, she could let her autonomic nervous system do what it needed to do in its own time. Books, magazines, pondering; bring it on!

Like my husband’s grandmother used to say: “That’s what makes horse races.” Honoring the differences in our bodies.

Either way, I find it a little awkward that, when I am on the toilet, I think of these two women. Three, actually.

I also think of my cousin’s daughter who, at a young age, asked this most brilliant question: Why is it that when it’s hard to poop it’s easy to wipe and when it’s easy to poop it’s hard to wipe?