You Were Mine, Angel Baby

02.14.2015

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate Love. Oh, how I love Love.

How I love the simple sweetness of spoiling my children with forbidden chocolate donuts at breakfast. I love helping them trace and cut and paste red paper hearts covered in silver glitter that you know I will be finding everywhere for the next week. I love the gleam in their eyes as they turn clumps of cold dough into warm, gooey chocolate goodness. And, oh, how I love the joy in their giggles when I tickle and chase them as we play. Yet, today, amidst all the love, my heart is sad.

Today my heart grieves the loss of a life that wasn’t meant to be.

Just over 5 weeks ago we discovered we were expecting what would have been our fourth child. Excited at our news, I eagerly created this announcement and sent it to our family and closest friends.

Aren't they precious?

Aren’t they precious?

I knew it was against tradition to announce my pregnancy so early. In fact, with our first 3 children we didn’t let the world in on our secret until we were clear of the first trimester. But this time, somewhere deep inside me, I felt this urgency to share our happy news with our tribe immediately. I rationalized that the reason most people refrain from spilling the beans so early is “just in case” something were to go wrong with the pregnancy. The way I saw it, if something did go wrong, I would need as much support as I could get. Funny, how the universe works.

Last week, at my first ultrasound, I learned that something had in fact gone wrong. I was measuring at only 6 weeks when I should have been (according to my meticulous calculations) over 9 weeks along. And while my gestational sac was fully formed, it was missing a crucial component – an embryo.

When the ultrasound technician first shares this information with me, I’m confused. I tell her I don’t understand what she’s saying. I’m not pregnant? But I took a test and it was positive. My period is late and there have been other signs, too. Sure, my morning sickness has paled in comparison to the first three, but I’m still getting it. This just doesn’t make sense.

The tech glides the wand over my bare belly…top to bottom, side to side, spreading the warm goopy gel over my abdomen as she shows me an empty oval on the monitor. Nothing’s there. There’s no white blob on the screen. No flicker of a heartbeat that should have been there weeks ago. Nothing but a big empty black hole. I was pregnant, alright, but there was no baby.

As the realization of what this means hits me, a single tear runs down my face. “Don’t cry just yet, dear, perhaps your dates are just off,” the well-meaning technician assures me. I feel the heat flush over my face as she finishes my exam and wipes my tummy dry. My dates are not off, I think to myself as I feel myself grow numb. This baby had not been an accident. This pregnancy did not happen by chance. Together, my husband and I had discussed this baby and planned its conception and we were excited to complete our family. That’s how I knew we were expecting before I even missed a period or felt that familiar sourness in the pit of my stomach.

You see, ever since the birth of our third child, I have felt as though I’m missing a child. I know it sounds strange and it’s rather difficult to explain, but it’s a feeling I’ve had since the day I brought her home – that our family is not yet complete. I remember sitting at the kitchen table that first week and having to re-count how many kids were seated with me about 3 or 4 times. I kept feeling like I was short one child and even imagined I heard a fourth one crying in another room on more than one occasion. (Now, before you start questioning my sanity, I’m well aware that these hallucinations were purely figments of my mind and more likely than not, the result of sleep deprivation. After all, I did have a newborn and 2 other children under the age of 3!) So I confided my feelings in my husband and after considering our children’s present ages and our future life plans, we decided that now was the time to have our last baby. I watched the calendar, I charted my cycle and I even kept track of our love-making for a spell. That’s how I knew.

I knew that my dates were not wrong. I knew that when I returned to the doctor’s office the following week, the technician would not find anything new.

I knew that we were going to lose this baby.

I knew as I sat in that little waiting room, waiting for the ultrasound technician to give my doctor her report. I knew as nurses walking past stopped to hand me a tissue or try to offer their assistance. I knew as a doctor that was not my own pulled me aside, told me my results were “not promising” and advised me to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I knew as they scheduled my follow-up appointment and as they drew my blood to check my hormone levels. I knew I had to tell my husband; that he was going to be sad and disappointed. I knew there were others to tell after that, including my son whose face had lit with joy at the news of our impending new arrival. All of this, I knew, and so I wept.

I wept for days as I waited in suspense for my next ultrasound. My mind began to toy with me again and signs of postpartum began to show once more. I felt as though the impending miscarriage was my fault. That I caused it; that I could have prevented it. I felt like a failure for losing the life that was beginning to grow inside me. I felt as though I didn’t deserve another baby; that I was being punished for being a bad mother. I felt angry. Sad. Hopeless. Confused. Angry. “It’s not fair!” I pouted to myself. And the tears began to flood again.

{To be continued…}

A Bad Moment, Not a Bad Day

I’m trying not to hurt. I’m working to stay calm and not let my anger get the best of me.

But it’s hard.

It’s hard to heal yourself, and your past hurts.
It’s hard to see things that hurt you in the past happen in the present.

But that’s life.

You can’t make other people compassionate just because you care.
You can’t force others to be truthful just because you are honest.
You can’t expect others to understand just because you do.
And you certainly can’t control anyone else’s kindness (or cruelty).

So what can you do? … What can I do, in this moment, to help keep myself on an even keel – – so that I don’t take out my pain on those I love and continue this wretched cycle?

I can STOP.
Stop to JUST BREATHE.
Stop to remember that I am okay; I am safe.
Stop to remind myself that I AM loved; there are people in my life who take/took me (and others) for granted and while I wish I was more a part of their lives, I choose to let that feeling of rejection go. I know that it is not about me, it is about them. I choose to walk in LOVE.
Stop to meditate on my blessings. <3 I have so much for which to be grateful.
Stop and readjust my focus on what really matters and what I can do to make a positive difference — if not in my life, then in somebody else’s.
Stop, and breathe again.

Wow… I really do feel better.

A New View on Nutrition – Week 27

                A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I still don’t have a clue what foods I “should” be eating in order to be healthy. Yes, I know fruits and vegetables… but, to be honest, I don’t really like all that many. Yet, I insisted that I needed to change my diet in order to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Knowing that I need to eat healthy but not being sure exactly what “healthy” means for me, I thought about what I hope to achieve by changing my eating habits. I decided that what I really want to work on are all the symptoms that prompted me to begin this Holistic Challenge in the first place. So I began researching which foods and other natural methods are recommended for each of my particular complaints. I am hoping that combined with trying some other natural suggestions, changing my eating habits will begin to have a positive effect and relieve or ease the following symptoms:

            • Migraines
            • Anxiety/Depression
            • Acne
            • Unwanted hair growth
            • Stained teeth, unhealthy gums
            • Eczema and dry skin, frizzy hair
            • Stomach/GI issues (constipation, diarrhea, irregularity)
            • Anger/irritability/mood swings
            • Pregnancy symptoms – nausea, heartburn
            • Back pain
            • Fatigue, lack of energy
            • Poor appetite and sleep quality
            • Low libido
            • Low attention span

(Yes, I know we’re getting pretty personal here… but c’mon, we’re all human. And really, isn’t that the fun of an online journal anyway – talking about all the nitty gritty details of life with a certain degree of anonymity?)

I started by looking up which foods were best to consume for folks dealing with the above listed symptoms.

Chronic Headaches/Migraines

[  Water

Alternatives*: unsweetened herbal tea or decaf coffee and fat-free or 1% milk
Water rich foods: watermelon, berries, cucumber, melon, soups, oatmeal, tomatoes* and lettuce

[  Salmon

[  Eggs*

[  Olive and canola oils

[  Lean beef*

[  Whole grain fortified cereal

[  Mushrooms

[  Broccoli

[  Spinach

[  Sweet potatoes

[  White potatoes

[  Swiss chard

[  Fresh amaranth

[  Quinoa

[  Almonds*

[  Sunflower seeds, other seeds and legumes

[  Bananas*

[  Avocados

[  Dried apricots

[  Brown rice

[  Whole grains

[  Plain fat-free Greek yogurt*

[  Sesame seeds

*Conflicting opinions argue some foods, such as these, may actually trigger headaches instead of relieving them.

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Practice stress management and relaxation techniques

[  Get plenty of sleep

[  Exercise and stretch daily

[  Pay attention to your body’s alignment (while working, standing, sleeping, etc)

[  Explore manipulative therapies (chiropractor, acupuncture, Reiki, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, a personal trainer, etc)

[  Avoid caffeine, alcohol, dairy, sugar and processed foods.

[  Stay hydrated.

Depression/Anxiety

[  Water

[  Whole grains & seaweed

[  Potatoes

[  Blueberries

[  Acai berries

[  Almonds

[  Pure dark chocolate

[  Maca root (powder)

[  Cheese

[  Peanut butter

[  Nuts

[  Sesame seeds  

[  Oats

[  Milk

[  Poultry

[  Bananas

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Herbal supplements such as kava and passionflower

[  Avoid processed foods, refined grain, sugar, caffeine and alcohol

[  Meditate

[  Exercise

Acne

[  Water

[  Salmon, mackerel and sardines

[  Walnuts, beans, flaxseed oil

[  Nuts

[  Avocado

[  Red grapes

[  Fennel

[  Artichoke

[  Brown rice

[  Garlic

[  Broccoli

[  Alfalfa sprouts

[  Green and herbal tea (burdock root, dandelion greens, milk thistle and red clover)

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Practice relaxation and stress management techniques

[  Stay hydrated

[  May need to avoid dairy

[  Supplement** with apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice

[  Green food supplements** (chlorophyll, spirulina and barley greens)

[  Tea tree or jojoba oil and/or oil cleansing

[  Baking soda, milk of magnesia, aloe applied to skin

[  Herbal steam facial

**Always consult with your health practitioner before using herbs and supplements. 

Unwanted hair growth (Hirsutism)

[  Black cohosh**

[  Saw palmetto**

[  Spearmint and green tea

[  Romaine lettuce

[  Onions

[  Tomatoes

[  Whole grains

[  Potatoes

[  Cinnamon

[  Crimini mushrooms

[  Apricots

[  Sunflower seeds

[  Licorice root

[  Wheat germ

[  Tuna

[  Barley

[  Skinless Chicken

**Always consult with your health practitioner before using herbs and supplements. 

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Plucking

[  Shaving

[  Body Sugaring (Natural Wax)

[  Threading

[  Avoid dairy

Stained teeth, unhealthy gums

[  Pineapples

[  Ginger

[  Carrots

[  Basil

[  Cheese

[  Sesame seeds

[  Skitaki mushrooms

[  Onions

[  Salmon

[  Broccoli

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Avoid coffee, tea & colas

Eczema and dry skin, frizzy hair

[  Salmon

[  Watercress

[  Apples

[  Sweet potatoes

[  Fish roe

[  Carrots

[  Turmeric

[  Red wine

[  Broccoli

[  Red grapes

[  Cherries

[  Citrus fruits

[  Raspberries

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Eliminate food allergens from your diet (can include dairy, corn, eggs, shellfish, wheat (gluten), citrus fruit & food additives and preservatives)

Stomach/GI issues (constipation, diarrhea, irregularity)

[  Water

[  Oat bran

[  Cabbage juice

[  Carrots

[  Lettuce

[  Pears

[  Yogurt

[  Fennel seeds

[  Flaxseed

[  Peppermint

Other Natural Alternatives

[  Eat smaller meals

[  Eat slowly

[  Exercise

[  Practice deep breathing & relaxation techniques

[  Take a hot bath or apply a heating pad or hot compress

[  Drink between meals instead of with them

With each new symptom I researched, I started to realize what this “holistic” journey actually is — an active and conscious process of changing each and every aspect of the way I live. This is more than changing what or how I eat, sleep and work out. It is developing an awareness of the self down to the very core. Physically, this means learning how my body works; it’s discovering what is lacking, where I am overindulging and how to use my strengths to my advantage. I am not any particular symptom; I am a whole person: a body, a mind and a spirit unified. This means there is no special food or fitness routine or relaxation technique that is going to help me with any individual symptom. No. Instead, I need to pay attention to what is going on with me as an entire being and then respond accordingly. Looking up these foods is great, but looking into why they are good for me is even better. I soon began to notice a link between the foods that were being recommended and their particular nutrients and vitamins. I also noted a pattern in the additional suggestions being mentioned for each symptom. Relaxation techniques, yoga and meditation, focusing on hobbies and positivity were all recommended. And one word in particular kept repeating in my search results: stress. While I recognized that I was picking up on a pattern, what I didn’t realize was that I was about to stumble upon a whole new part of my holistic journey…

DISCLAIMER: For informational purposes only. Always consult your health professional before making any lifestyle changes. 

Sources

Day by Day – Week 21

For the first time in my life I feel like I’m starting to learn what stability feels like. I’ve only caught a glimpse, mind you – but so far, I think I like it. 🙂 Excitement and joy about this latest pregnancy have begun replacing the anxiety and doubt I first felt upon learning I was expecting again. As I grow spiritually, I’m watching in wonderment as my family grows physically. My toddler is acting more like a preschooler and my infant will no doubt soon be toddling!

This past month I have learned how to start letting go both as a mom (I didn’t think I’d have to start this early!!) and as a woman. Letting go of my past — the hurts, injustices, anger, sadness, bitterness, pain and hatred… Letting go of what I can’t control — other people’s thoughts, words and behaviors, circumstances that are out of my hands or beyond my comprehension and life’s obstacles that are inevitably hurled into each of our paths… Letting go of my unrealistic expectations, negative thinking patterns and pessimistic attitude. Letting go of what and how I think things “should” be and accepting things for what they are.

Letting go leaves my hands open to hold on to the more important things in life. Instead of cluttering my life with all that life-defeating nonsense, I am learning to embrace and hang on to my dreams, aspirations, goals and ambitions in life. My hands are free to help others and give what I have back to those who gave to me, and then some. Letting go allows me to hug my husband closer, play with my children more and make good things happen.

No day is perfect, but each is better than the last. I am not where I want to be, but I do thank God that I am not where I used to be. Day by day, I am getting stronger.

And then Life Happens – Week 17

Time is absolutely flying past me. It seems as though we brought our baby girl home just a few weeks ago, when in fact she is 9 months old already! On top of our normally hectic days, our family has also been occupied with several ongoing projects around the house, including a garage sale that was a couple of years overdue. In addition, we have dealt with a plethora of life’s lemons, ranging from a family emergency that required an out-of-state trip, to botched vacation plans, to hosting out of town company for a week at the spur of the moment with time, space, and a budget that was already limited. And just when we thought our hands couldn’t possibly get any more full, we discovered we are (unexpectedly) expecting our third child this December.

{{{Insert anxiety/depression/panic attack/meltdown here.}}}

Even with the little bit of progress I had started making on this self-imposed journey of mine, the whirlwind of life’s challenges got to me. As much as I love my children and despite how much I craved, planned, hoped and dreamed of becoming a wife and mother, I never expected to have more than 1 or 2. The weight of the responsibility, the financial stress, the dramatic change to our current life plans, the stress of caring for another little person all day, everyday…Learning that I was pregnant again hit me so hard it plumb knocked the wind right out of me. I fell down into the ditch I have become accustomed to lying in when I let the world get the best of me. It’s the ditch I built as a little girl that I use to protect myself when I’m hurt or fearful. When I’m in the ditch, I’m numb – disconnected from most everything around me. I surround myself with fire to stop others from getting in, a fire fueled by my anger, rage and meanness. I let my sadness bury me. I become immobile, barely able to function. I feel hopeless and lose sight of everything I’ve overcome in my past and everything positive I use to see in my future. Until I stop fighting and start getting real.

Sometimes, when you dig into the dark corners of your soul you find things hidden there that you don’t want to see. Things that have been buried for years, pushed out of your consciousness, perhaps even locked away from your memories. It’s hard to imagine these things can have much of an influence on your present day life, but they do. I’m realizing now that in order to truly achieve the life I dream of, I need to face my dark corners head on instead of pretending they don’t exist.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I typically would see this fall off the horse as a failure. But I know that I am not a failure and that life is a journey and not a destination. I’m taking things day by day and giving myself credit where credit is due. I’m slowly pulling myself back out of the ditch, dusting myself off and putting one foot in front of the other. I’m shining light on my dark corners and learning to deal with what I find there. I know it’s going to continue to be difficult, but I also know that if I genuinely want a better life, it’s up to me to make it happen.  

How do you handle life’s lemons and keep the world from getting the best of you? 

Mind, Body & Spirit – Week 2

Last week, I focused on getting the ball rolling by making small changes to my nutrition and fitness regimes. Once I began my journey, I realized that these changes were affecting me in other areas of my life as well. The more I read and learn about holistic living, I more I recognize the importance of maintaining balance in all areas of my life simultaneously. This week, I am changing up The Method a little bit. Each week from now on, I will focus on my mind, my body and my spirit at the same time.

Body (Nutrition & Fitness)

What I’ve Done So Far

  • Began thinking differently about what goes into my body – food nourishes & water hydrates to give me the energy I need to live an active life
  • Increased consumption of raw, “clean,” and “whole” natural foods
  • Decreased consumption of sugar, salt/sodium and caffeine
  • Substituted agave for the cane sugar and artificial sweeteners in my kitchen
  • Stopped drinking Coca-cola like it was running through my veins! I switched to organic milk, 100% juices and water instead.
  • Began avoiding processed foods; traded foods with the words “hydrogenated,” “enriched,” and “high fructose” on the label for ones that say “organic,” “naturally raised,” and “no hormones added”
  • Made my first natural foods shopping trip, armed with a weekly meal plan and my Fooducate app

    So many fruits and veggies!!!

  • Joined the park district and borrowed P90X for at-home workouts
  • Began incorporating workouts into my weekly routine

How I Feel

I can feel quite a difference physically after making just a few simple changes. For instance, I used to drink 2 cups of heavily sugar-laden coffee on an empty stomach as soon as I woke up. This would usually curb my appetite so I would skip breakfast. Soon I would be queasy, which of course meant I had no desire for lunch. By the time the afternoon would roll around, I was famished and would overindulge on sugary and salty processed foods. This would drain the last of my energy and dinner would typically wind up being something fast and turn into another unhealthy meal.

Most days, I replace my coffee habit with tea or orange juice. I eat something for breakfast, even if it is small. I also make time for healthy lunches and plan healthy dinners in advance so I don’t even have to think about it. When I do these things, I don’t get nauseas in the mornings. However, I gave in to temptation more than a few times this week. Each time, I woke up feeling sluggish and sick the next day. You would think this would encourage me to stick to doing the things that are better for me, but fool that I can be, it sometimes takes me a while to learn my lessons.

Since I started working out more, I feel energized and strong. I have greater flexibility and more stamina. I have reawakened the dancer in my soul and refreshed my excitement for dance and music. I feel hopeful.

My Next Challenge

  • To keep learning how to live healthy
  • To drink more water and take my vitamins regularly
  • To develop consistent daily routines for eating & working out
  • To develop a better self image by getting into healthy self care routines

Mind/Spirit (Relationships, Faith, R&R and Emotional Wounds)

What I’ve Done So Far

  • Acknowledged a connection between some childhood wounds and my life today
  • Learned:
    • that I need to spend some time, money and energy on myself
    • that in order for me to be truly happy, I must release my contempt and resentment to God and forgive those who have hurt me
    • that in order to become the woman I envision, I have to find a way to soften my heart, allow myself to be more vulnerable
    • that I must forgive myself and learn to accept my authentic self
    • that I must learn to love Me
    • that I am supported
  • Started working on relationships with those whom I am closest
  • Began reading the Bible and developing a clearer picture of my faith and personal values/beliefs/morals
  • Recognized that I need and deserve time for myself and that I need to stand firm in gently claiming that time
  • Started taking time to go to the gym

How I Feel

As weird as it may sound, I kind of feel myself maturing ­- literally growing – in all areas of my life. For the first time since childhood, I am forcing myself to open my mind, so I can erase my preconceptions and dispel my naïveté in order to become a wiser, healthier and happier woman. I am wrapping my head around the concept that there are going to be things along the way that I simply will not understand or will not be able to control. All that I am tasked to do is to go with the flow of the universe as I follow my own life path.

My Next Challenge

To keep it up. Consistency has never been my strong point.

My Weekly Reflection

The first steps on this incredibly arduous journey have been 1) recognizing all of the challenges that lie before me and 2) beginning to change the way I think about life. I have learned that I am hiding from the truth about myself, which is that I hold onto a lot of guilt, shame and self-blame. If I am going to heal, I need to start on the inside. I know that this journey is not going to be easy. I have fallen off the wagon more than a few times. It is hard to stay motivated, especially when I mess up. It is easy to find excuses and rationalize until the appeal of poor choices outweighs that of good decisions. (Seriously, why does organic *natural* food cost so much??)  But despite the obstacles I will inevitably continue to face along the way, I am determined to discover what living a healthy life feels like and I am still convinced that I am on the right track. I’m just going to keep taking it one day at a time and letting myself find smiles and fun in all the corners of those days.

Silly Smiles

Nutrition & Fitness – Week 1

I have a terrible diet, high in processed foods, caffeine, sugar and salt. My workouts mostly consist of juggling an infant with chasing a toddler. To correct this, I need to address a couple of different issues. My first challenge is to change the way I think about what I am putting into my body. Instead of merely eating whatever I feel like, I’m looking at food in terms of its nutritional value. Food is energy. Water is hydration. I need to make sure I am consuming the right types of foods in the right quantities to meet the demand of energy I use throughout the day. This is going to require making a lot of small changes to the way I eat.

Usually when I start a “health kick,” I clean most of the junk food out of the house and replace it all with food I think I should be eating. My logic is that when I am hungry I will reach for one of the better options. But the truth is that none of the healthy options are appealing, so I wind up leaving my good-for-me food in my organized and pretty kitchen and head to the nearest drive-thru. And if I won’t eat the healthy food in the house, you can be certain my husband won’t! This is clearly not setting the right precedent for our children. So, instead of trying to do a massive overhaul of our pantry and refrigerator in the beginning, I am slowly incorporating more “clean” whole foods into our meals, watching how much of the “bad stuff” I consume and increasing the amount of water I drink. My hope is that over time I will begin to acquire a taste for some healthier foods.

My second challenge is to use these better foods to make meals both my family and I will actually eat. Right now I am doing this by creating healthy “junk” food options. Basically, I make the same meals I normally do but replace some of the unhealthy options with healthier choices. For instance, this week I have made stir fry for dinner using brown rice instead of white and making my own sauce instead of a store bought sauce high in sodium and MSG. For breakfast this morning, I made omelets with coconut oil instead of margarine, real cheese instead of processed cheese product and had a whole-wheat pita instead of white toast. I know I’m not eating perfectly, but I also know I am eating way more nutritiously than I was last month!

Tools can be incredibly useful if you find the right ones. To help me get on the right track with healthy eating, I have started to use the Fooducate app for Android phones. I love this app! Simply scan the barcode of any product in a store or in your kitchen and the app will give you a grade from A to D. The grades are based on the nutritional content of the food as ranked by scientists, doctors and nutritionists. It also lists nutritional information, ingredients, alternate options, and reviews from other users for each food item. And if you scan an item that is not in the database, you can take a few pictures and send them on their way to Fooducate headquarters in an automatically generated email. It’s definitely a fave!

On top of eating better, I needed to start moving! I purchased a membership to my local park district and now have access to a swimming pool, gym and on-demand fitness classes. I also borrowed the P90X system from a friend. While I am certainly far from being able to complete the program in its entirety, I really enjoy using some of the DVDs in this collection to guide workouts at home when I have trouble getting to the gym. My goal is to spend at least 20-30 minutes a day, 5-7 times a week doing some sort of physical activity.

In addition to paying attention to the foods I’m eating and how much I’m moving, it’s crucial to have motivation and a good support system. My family has been amazing in this journey so far. My husband, younger brother and toddler son have taken to the changes in our eating habits with minimal resistance. My mom has been awesome at encouraging me to stick to eating healthy. In fact, she has even joined in on the journey with me! It has been fun seeing the whole family become a bit more active, too. All the boys have been to the gym at least once or twice this week, including our little guy.

After family and friends, the media is a wonderful resource for finding motivation and inspiration. Blogs, such as The Healthy Diaries and Thrive Style, are awesome places to learn great tips, spark your creativity, ask some questions, share your experience and/or just connect with similar minded people. And while it may seem like media is all about sex and violence these days, it is in fact still possible to find some positive messages out there, too. One such movie I’m watching on Netflix this week is called Hungry for Change and it has really inspired me to continue following the healthy eating path I’m on. I am also utilizing some nutritional knowledge acquired from watching Dr. Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

I know these are only baby steps and I have a very long way to go, but I am feeling good that this week, I at least got started. It’s my life, and I am making things happen.

 

Determining where and how to start this project has been quite a challenge itself. I decided to begin with what I felt I had the most control over, my body. As the first week progressed into the second, I realized that I am not going to be able to isolate different areas of my life anymore. The idea of ‘holistic’ healing is that I am taking my whole being – body, mind and spirit – into consideration. Any change I make in one area of my life is going to affect me in other areas as well. If I am truly going to heal, I need to learn how to accept and acknowledge who I am on all levels, at all times. 

THE METHOD

Now arises the question, “How?” How exactly do I intend on finding natural health/healing methods that really work and everyone can use? By strategizing, of course! This is my plan:

  1. I will complete a Personal Evaluation to evaluate my current health. I will also create a written wish list for good health. I don’t believe you can achieve something if you have no idea what it looks like.
  2. Then I am going to immerse myself into the world of Holistic—Alternative—Integrative—Naturopathic  Medicine. Each week from January 7, 2013 to July 7, 2013 I will choose a different method, theory, modality or technique for achieving better wellness from this list.
  3. Starting with a simple Google search and going where the research takes me from there, I will spend some time studying the week’s chosen method.
  4. Whenever possible, I will interview a specialist knowledgeable in the field in an effort to better my understanding.
  5. Then, armed with my new knowledge, a video camera, and my mom by my side, I will apply what I have learned. I will put the week’s chosen method to the test via classes, DIYs, seminars, videos, excursions, and/or any other hands-on training I can find.
  6. For each week’s topic, I will document the experience by:
    1. completing Before and After questionnaires about my symptoms
    2. filming each lesson in application {the hands-on experiences}
    3. blogging about the ups and downs along the way
  7. At the end of the 6 months, I will complete a second Personal Evaluation. I will compare this with the first Personal Evaluation and the good health wish list I made at the beginning of the project.
  8. After completing all comparisons, I will summarize the results of the project (either accepting or rejecting my theory), outline my Health Plan for the future, and conclude with my reflections on the project.
  9. Finally, I will use the 6 months of footage we shoot to make a documentary about Holistic Health. I hope this video will teach others how they can use natural, simple and smart methods to live healthy, happy and balanced lives.

* I invite you to follow my journey over the next 6 months in what I am dubbing “The ME Project: A Skeptic’s Search for Holistic Healing” – my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pursuit for health and happiness.

THE THEORY

First things first: In order to solve a problem, it needs to be addressed at the root… Why does it happen in the first place? I believe that for me, these problems and my responses to them can be attributed to a number of factors:

1.)   Poor health: inadequate nutrition, exercise, sex and sleep

2.)   Poor parenting: witnessing unhealthy coping mechanisms during childhood as well as not being taught healthy & proper ways to experience & express negative feelings

3.)   Traumatic childhood experiences

4.)   Immaturity: my young age, lack of wisdom/knowledge/experience

5.)   Weak spiritual life

6.)   *Possible chemical explanation/genetics: i.e. brain chemistry or hormone imbalance

While I have sought help with this “illness” that resides in me from medical professionals in the past, I have never before taken a “whole person” approach to my health. Instead, I looked to these “experts” to “cure” whatever it was that is ailing me. What I didn’t understand before is that there is no magic cure. It is up to me to improve my health and well-being. In order to achieve a better life, I need to take all of me into consideration. I need to change my entire lifestyle: my thoughts, my words AND my actions. Enlightened with this realization, I began researching holistic healing.

After a bit of studying, I developed a theory: I believe I can lead a balanced, healthy and happy life by using simple, all-natural and smart {cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, modern} methods to treat my mind, body and soul. I believe that by maintaining positive thoughts & words and making positive changes in my lifestyle habits, I will be able to “cure” my body of most, if not all, its ailments without the use of prescription medications.

While I strongly believe a solution like this exists, I am skeptical of many holistic products and services on the market today. My hope is that this project will not only lead me in the direction of true wellness and good health, but that it will also help differentiate between fact and fiction in holistic health and healing for others. In short – I’m looking for natural healing that really works and that anyone can use. I want to learn how to live a healthy life so that I can teach American Dream Makers across the nation that they, too, can live healthy, happy and balanced lives.

*I invite you to follow my journey over the next 6 months in what I am dubbing “The ME Project: A Skeptic’s Search for Holistic Healing” – my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pursuit for health and happiness.