Jan 2, 2014

the gift of illness

It's a new a year, and cliche though it may be, I adore the feeling of a new beginning placed before me. It's been almost a year and a half since Julie's long and dramatic birth, and the feeling, which began in quiet little whisperings has become much more insistent--that I let go of those things that do not serve me.

The list of things I do that aren't the healthiest boasts a prominent few, but among those, the most pressing one at the moment is detox. Of the food variety, that is.

I am a bit of a health nerd now, but this was not always the case. It was a series of serious illnesses that inspired me to change my lifestyle drastically. I didn't always use "that hippie sugar", as James likes to tease. A trip to a fast food joint was an almost daily ritual. A certain, ubiquitous diet shake and microwave dinners, three cups of coffee, plus those countless, thoughtful refills, topped off with at least five packets of sugar per cup, donuts, cookies...I trudged, quite literally from one neon establishment or junk food package to the next. I was heavy, with troubled skin, and was angry, depressed, in pain, and so very sick. (I also am a firm believer in the mind-body connection, but this is for another day.)

I was sick from the time I was thirteen years old until I healed myself, with the help of food and other natural modalities twelve years later. After various treatments, and a parade of misdiagnoses, I had surgery for severe endometriosis, and large ovarian cysts at the age of twenty. I also had polycystic ovarian syndrome, but was told there was nothing to be done for that. The doctors told me that I had to have children as soon as possible, or that I would probably not have them at all. At twenty, I was nowhere near ready for this, so I lived instead for many years with the deep fear that I may never conceive.

Although the surgery helped temporarily, the endometriosis came back within a year, and it was then that I threw my hands up, and decided that there had to be a better way than continuous surgery. I don't believe I found a book on Macrobiotics by accident, as I've always felt that everything happens for a reason, but whatever the truth of this is, I stumbled upon a book that challenged all of my thoughts on food. Overnight, I cut out dairy, meat, sugar, processed everything, threw out toxic body products, chewed my food, and all the other fun things that come with the Macro lifestyle. Thanks to my beloved aunt, I even got to go to a retreat for sick individuals in the Berkshire mountains, where they teach you how to live a healthier lifestyle. For six months, I was dedicated completely, and at the end of this time, I found I was cured of not only the major problems, but of a great many other things, as well. The unexpected bonus was that I also felt tremendous energy, joy, and excitement for life. It felt nothing short of miraculous.

These days I don't follow the strict diet that I did to heal. I am a vegan, but I have also let go of a lot of the rigid rules I had set for myself when I needed to devote everything to healing. There is room for improvement, but I don't beat myself up when I stray too far over the holidays or other special occasions. Life is too short to be unforgiving of ourselves. When I make the decision to pursue healthier eating, it is with excitement, rather than negative pressure.

There isn't a day that goes by that I am not grateful for having been sick. Without this experience, I would not have been motivated in the way that I was to make such a tremendous change. I don't know that I would have found my way to holistic eating and living without the catalyst of illness. The beauty of these experiences is that they also touched the lives of many people that are close to me. By overcoming illness, I also gained the realization that we are so much more powerful than we realize. Our choices mean something! If we can heal ourselves, what else can we do in our lives? The possibilities are endless. The other blessing that came from this journey is the appreciation I gained for true health and my life in general. I may have days when stress overshadows appreciation, but I always find my way back to this place of deep gratitude, which can never be lost. I am so thankful for the gifts that illness gave to me.


  1. What a great post. I'm only just learning about eating the right way for me and my family and am about to buy a juicer this week. I hope I have the same enlightenment about food the way you have - thanks for sharing x

    1. Thank you so much! That's great that you're getting a juicer :-) I definitely find that juicing, along with green smoothies makes me feel my best.


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