for some reason i think it’s my job to save the world. i have this optimistic, altruistic outlook on life. i have this deep rooted hope that i can truly make a difference. and no matter how down i get, or how much others shut me out, that hope always remains. maybe it’s a spark of the divine in me that is unwilling to dim. yep, my cup is more than half full. always.
i’ve been interested in health and wellness for all of my adult life. i remember gaining weight as a teen and my mother cautioning me about “getting fat like my grandmother. you better watch that.” i was a teen – of course I didn’t want to be fat. but besides internalizing a loathing for how i looked, i didn’t really know how to make positive, lasting change. besides
dieting starving myself, i really didn’t know how to control my weight. i grew up in the seventies and eighties, an age of massive consumerism. advertising grew exponentially in those years and people became brainwashed into buying everything that commercials sold, never mind the health risks. those factors weren’t considered. ‘buy this to look this way. get that to be in.’ fast food boomed, the basic american diet, or BAD, as i like to call it, was promoted. we believed we should be eating three square meals a day – all consisting of meat, potatoes and perhaps a vegetable. a sandwich, chips and pop at lunchtime was the norm. fewer people grew their own food, something that was prevalent in the decades before.
the summer i turned 16 i was a lifeguard at the baltimore pool. i broke out in a rash that looked a lot like chicken pox, but i’d already had chicken pox in the fourth grade. the diagnosis? psoriasis. it didn’t look like the psoriasis in my family though, concentrated on knees, elbows and scalp. mine looked like chicken pox. it was everywhere, and it was bad. parents at the pool expressed concern to the manager that i shouldn’t be working there. but i wasn’t contagious! i just looked gross. i was given an oral meditation and coal tar, a topical ‘cream’ that looks and smells like it sounds – oily, black and nasty. and the second piece of advice from my dermatologist? ‘stay out of the sun.’ how do i do that as a lifeguard? i followed directions by covering up more when i was out – and swimming a lot to cool down. in the end, the medicine didn’t work and my skin burned. why was this the only solution? i was down on myself because of how i looked, and frustrated by the whole thing. it was impetus to take matters into my own hands.
that summer i began my foray into learning about holistic health. i bought a book about natural remedies and learned all i could about psoriasis. it’s not a skin disease, per se. it’s an autoimmune disorder which prevents the immune system from operating optimally. ultimately it manifests with a rash of the skin. a ‘normal’ person sheds 40,000 skin cells each minute; the immune system of a person with psoriasis does not shed these skin cells and instead multiplies them, causing the appearance of psoriasis.
long story short, i healed that occurrence of psoriasis late that summer with whole health treatments, changing my diet and controlling stress. it only flared up one other time in my adult life. seeing these results, i knew i was on to something. i began reading all i could about holistic health – diet, essential oils and other modalities. i live in rural ohio. my mode of thinking is not ‘the norm.’ i’m sure this information created a pathway to yoga and my becoming a yoga teacher as well. i began practicing in my late twenties. it wasn’t something most people understood.
the most frustrating part for me is that i have friends and family who are killing themselves, literally, with their diets and the ways they ‘manage’ stress – mostly through medicine. with that statement let me be clear, i am not bashing modern medicine. chemo saved my mother the first time around. there are medicines and treatments that are useful. but where does choice and lifestyle factor in? its the thing we are DOING every single day. western medicine is simply remedying the manifestation of the years of abuse we put our minds and bodies through.
i sat with my mother at the hospital all day yesterday. while she has cancer, the most pressing issue is that her gastrointestinal tract is completely fucked up, something she acknowledges. and the list of medications she takes every day is astonishing. it’s no wonder. i want her to get better so i’m talking to her about her diet. i want to help but i’m not sure she either wants my help or believes what i’m saying to be true. it’s frustrating. i have nothing to gain from my actions besides a mother who may grow into a great-grandmother some day. i want her around and i think she wants that too, but she doesn’t feel good. and i don’t want to talk to her like she’s made bad choices. in fact, she is probably healthier than a lot her age. she’s never been overweight. she’s always been active. but the way she creates and holds stress in her body, and her food choices could be better. hell, i’m sure we ALL could do better. i just think it’s even more critical for her now that she’s facing these dire consequences.
interestingly i’m also at a crossroads in my career. nothing happens randomly, y;all! i’ve been a writer in the government sector for almost two decades now. my recent contract is being cut in half, not because of anything i did, but because funding is being cut in a large program area and several other employees’ pay is doing the same. luckily my eggs aren’t all in one basket. my yoga teaching makes up about a quarter of my full pay, and while i could add more classes, i’d rather not. as an introvert, writing every day is a need and a reprieve. if i had to speak and be around people all of the time, i wouldn’t help my own health or be good for those around me.
so, i recently started breaking into health writing. i have two clients that i’m now writing an article a week for, and am seeking to expand either the work for those clients or will be seeking out a few other clients to fill in the gaps. i’m extremely hopeful about this phase and what it will bring. i look forward in making a difference in the world with my words.
it always comes back to that. how am i making a difference in the world?
and my first and most important task is to help my mother …