Reading all of your words reminded me that my symptoms are not my body's way of turning against me. Rather, they're its way of trying to wake me up to the life I'm missing. You see, I have a tendency to believe that no matter what I do, it's not enough. To compare myself with others and think I'm always a step behind. So I throw balls up in the air and I start to juggle. Three, four, five, six...before you know it, I'm stuck in one spot, terrified to move or look down for fear all of the balls will tumble to the ground. My arms begin to ache and I get a crick in my neck, but I just keep juggling. Instead of choosing which balls are the most important and letting the others drop, I continue to juggle, all the while secretly hoping to trip and fall, leaving every single ball behind. This is how I felt when I left New York (which was almost exactly a year ago), and in many ways I literally did drop all of my balls. I left everything I knew and started fresh.
This time, I'm not going to do that. I've made a home and a life here that I love, and all of those balls in the air? They kick ass. One ball is a cookbook. Another is a master's degree in nutrition. A third is this blog. There's one for The Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in Dallas October 1st-2nd, where I'll be giving a talk on food and inflammation (you think I have enough personal experience with that?!). Yep, I'm pretty psyched about all of the balls up there. This time I'm determined to keep juggling. And yet, there are a few balls scattered on the ground by my feet. My health, my friends, my yoga practice, The Assistant. Not gone, but they need a little help getting back in the air. When I get stressed, I focus on what's in front of me to the detriment of everything else. I've been ignoring the warning signs, the headaches and fatigue, the weight gain, the frustration I can feel from my friends. The ever increasing sense of panic, the sense that I'm missing the point. Missing out on what life is really about.
Last week, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's, an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland. My cookbook co-author, Brittany, was recently diagnosed and urged me to get tested. To my surprise (although not hers), my tests came back positive. I still have some more bloodwork to get back, another appointment with my doctor, and a lot of research to do so that I know what I'm dealing with. But here's what I'm taking away from all of this: I haven't been taking care of myself.
And not just in the last few months, but for a long time. For as long as I can remember really. I fake it and I put on a good front. Occasionally, I get in a groove and handle everything really well. But most of the time, I'm just plain stressed out and anxious. My massage therapist (and yes, I now have a massage therapist...this is part of my new plan to treat myself right) says working on my back is like working on a man. Meaning I'm a tense collection of knots. Not that I needed her to tell me that. My body hurts most of the time. I don't think it's supposed to be this way. In fact, I'm sure it's not.
It's time I start listening to my symptoms. So I'm making some changes. I'm prioritizing, and rather than dropping any balls, I'm just going to put some down for a while. I have this new goal. It's called, "putting my happiness first." Novel idea, isn't it? It starts by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. It starts with deciding what truly matters to me, right now, and knowing how to prioritize that. It starts with trusting myself, and allowing delight back into my life. It starts by believing that success is being me, with all my weird and silly idiosyncrasies; success is not blindly following a path simply because it's in front of me.
So my first step is to cut back and make time. Cut back on what isn't my priority right now, and make time for what is. With that said, I'm happy to say I've decided to take some time off from my graduate program at Bastyr. While I have every intention of finishing my degree, I've got to set that ball aside and focus on what's most important to me right now. My health, this blog, my cookbook, my family and friends...and laughter.
I don't want to miss out on any more of my life.
As always, thank you for listening. And here's one more way for me to thank you: Carrot Cream Soda. An antioxidant filled alternative to orange soda. Makes me happy and fills my cells with delight. Or something like that.
Carrot Cream Soda
1 1-inch slice of fresh ginger
1/2 cup sparkling water
5-10 drops liquid stevia
- Juice the carrots and ginger. Add more or less ginger depending on your personal preference. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, so I use more when I have a headache.
- Stir in the sparkling water and stevia. Add ice if desired.