Take it with a grain of salt.
Find your balance.
Keep it in perspective.
See the big picture.
Look at the high level view.
Ask yourself, will this matter a year from now?
Lately a theme has been repeating itself in my life.
It's been coming in the form of my friends.
A theme about balance and finding it. Living it. Reminding me to find mine.
I'm a big fan of God. Huge fan. HUGE. I like to think I'm a season ticket holder (He's laughing right now I know it.) I know God is everywhere. In everything. I believe He can speak to us in many ways...through music, through a note someone hands us, through a random kindness bestowed upon us by a complete stranger. Through conversations with our friends.
It can be easy to get caught up in external messaging. Messaging from society that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Extremes. Studies. This study says this. This study says that. Don't do this. No wait, do that, but don't do it this way. No, now don't do it at all. Don't eat this. Don't eat that. This causes this. That causes that.
Do we buy into all of that? We can subconsciously be steered if we hear something enough. TV, News, Media, The Interwebs, Magazines, Stores, Signs, The Top Ten List of Anything...it's enough to cause your head to spin completely off of your neck and land on the floor. Splat.
Do I jump on this fad? Or this one? This bandwagon over here or do I want the bandwagon over there?
We have to ask ourselves what makes sense. This is where instinct - your gut - that first feeling that kicks in that says, "this is batsh*t crazy" - should be paid attention to. No second guessing. Does this resonate with me? Does this align with my values? Does this make any sense at all?
With food and lifestyle it is so easy to get caught up in a diet, fad, trend, extreme. Eat only raw food. Eat only cooked food. Eat only protein. Drink only juice. Eat only cabbage. Don't eat carbs. Don't eat bread. Don't eat chocolate. Don't live. Don't think for yourself either.
We can plan but we can't predict. We can apply science and nutrition but there will always be an exception. Our bodies are miraculous...astounding...incomprehensible...adaptable... ingenious.
You can show me a man who was healthy and active his entire life and then suddenly dies from a brain anurism at age 35. You can also show me a man who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, had whiskey every night, ate fried food, and lived to be 101 years old with zero health issues.
There is always an exception.
Last November I had a C-Section for 2 cantaloupe sized tumors (also known as dermoids/teratomas) that were attached to my ovaries. They were removed and they were benign. The irony, I thought. This must be God's big joke on me. The girl with the website telling everyone to be healthy and eat their fruits and veggies, and I get 2 random melon sized dermoids...to me, it would seem, out of the blue. Out of nowhere.
Since the surgery and recovery period, I've asked myself, what did I do? What could I have done differently? Was it stress induced? Am I so healthy that internally I'm a human greenhouse and I'm just growing stuff now? Will they come back? What did I do? What should I have done? How did I not see this coming? Why did I suddenly see a baseball sticking out of my stomach? Am I in the movie Alien? Why did that happen to me when I was on the other side of the country?
Is everything that I've been telling everyone complete and utter bullsh*t? Could I have been eating junk all these years and had the same result? Maybe, but I probably would have felt awful.
The internal dialogue is exhausting.
It's been a full six months now since the surgery. I've had time to think, process and reflect. I've had time to cry and get it all out. When you feel like you are in the dark with something and you have to trust someone in a white coat to cut you open and fix you, it's leveling. My doctor was incredibly amazing and I would recommend anyone to her. She fixed me. I thought about what would have happened if I lived in a third world country with no doctors to help me. I think about those people who die every day from an illness that could otherwise be treated with medicine and I feel so blessed to be where I am.
I realized that I had a choice. Einstein said that you can live two ways - as though nothing is a miracle or as though everything is a miracle.
I choose miracles.
Those dermoids...that surgery, it may have been the best thing that's happened to me. I believe God is always using things for good...even when we think they are bad. God is good ALL THE TIME. Not just sometimes....all the time.
That surgery forced me to stop physically. I was stuck in a bed for a bit. It made me stop mentally as well. Control was an illusion I was forced to surrender. I was at the mercy of other people on an operating table, praying that they had done well in school. Praying that they would listen to me when I was lying there, waiting for my anesthesiologist, and the nurses wearing their masks over me, casually said, "so what are we doing today?" That line of questioning just made me nervous. I get bedside humor and all, but I thought, "oh gosh I hope they know what they're doing!" I said,"you're taking out some crazy tumors" and a nurse pointed to the left side of the blanket they had placed on top of me which was raised up. "There it is, right there I can see it," one of the nurses said. A shot of morphine in my spine, and the rest is history. I'm fine. They got them out. I kept my ovaries. It's almost as though it never happened, aside from the vertical scar down my lower abdomen and my memories of the experience. I forget all the time until I see the scar in a mirror. Oh. Right. You. There you are.
So what's my point? Where am I going with all of this?
Here is my takeaway from that big "bad" experience
It was a GOOD experience. I'm grateful. I'm grateful for my life. I'm grateful to be here. I'm grateful for those 2 dermoids.
They put things into perspective for me.
Vegan? Vegetarian? Raw Extremist? South Beach? Paleo?
I don't have time or the need for labels that any of my fellow men want to create.
I'm balanced. I'm healthy as much as I can be while still living my life the way I want. That means I have wine. It means I have chocolate. It means I'm going to eat a Reese's Cup if I want one. It means if I go to Italy some day, you bet your fine ass I'm going to have real Italian Pizza/Pie. Maybe in Naples...I haven't figured out the location yet. Do I eat dairy? No. I don't add dairy to things or buy cheese or milk. But I want to live life and experience everything that I want to experience. If that means trying a real slice of pizza in Italy, then that's what it means for me. If it means I jump off a cliff into the ocean naked at 2am because I'm in a crazy mood, then that's what it means.
It's so easy for us to get sucked into extreme messaging. There is a study out there that can show anything. It can show that meat is bad. It can show that meat is good. It can show that carbs are bad. It can show that carbs are good. It can hand you one big pile of fear.
I met someone recently who raised that very point for me. He put "studies" into perspective (and he knows what he is talking about, trust me...his white coat is brighter than a lot of white coats I've seen.) Sure, anything could cause cancer I guess if you had it in high enough doses all day long. Inject rats with 800,000 units of this, and oops! Cancer. Disease or dis-ease. But how does that apply to ME in my daily life?
When we see extreme messaging we need to ask ourselves, who wrote this, who did this study? How was it done, is it reputable...or is it manufactured to sell a mindset. Is it selling fear? Is it selling an idea? Is it engineered to make us react a certain way? Are these cold - hard - proven - indisputable facts I am reading?
An old friend appeared in my life recently as well and she's been bringing up the theme of balance for me through our conversations and our adventures because she lives in the moment. I see her living in the moment and it's contagious. We floated down a river in kayaks and laughed so hard that we cried the other day. She laughed so hard she had to get out of the river and find a tree to pee. Now that's a moment :)
Another friend appeared as recently as this evening to talk about balance with me. We had a whole long amazing conversation that if you wrapped it up into a bow and stuck a tag on it, would have read, "How to Have a Healthy Balance." We discussed alkalinity and pH. Keeping an alkaline overall big-picture environment inside your body. Balance. You don't need to live in a tree and eat leaves for the rest of your life. You just need balance.
Balance balance balance. When a message comes to me over and over, I listen. I'm aware.
I have to tell you that since my surgery, I am happier than I've ever been. Things just don't affect me the way that they used to. I'm not afraid of things. Fear has literally left my life. I know who I am. I'm not afraid to be my goofy, corny, cheesy self around you. What you see is what you get. I know how strong I am. I know how healthy I am. I know that I do the best I can do each day for myself.
I know that if my choices - food, lifestyle, what have you...I know that if my choices bother you that it has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with you and how you feel about yourself and your own choices.
Above all else, I know that for me, balance is key.
I eat a ton of veggies. I love my fruit. I'm high raw. I think whole organic foods in their natural form are best. I also love my chocolate and my wine. I love trying new things. I love the fact that I'm alive.
This website has been my way of tracking my journey through vegetarian, vegan, raw foods, eating just fish, eating just eggs, back to vegetarian, back to raw, up down - up down - over here... trying this over there, this new fitness, this new workout, this other class over here...and all along you have all been so so supportive. I love that you feel inspired by my recipes or that you read something on here and it motivates you to make a new healthy dish using a veggie that you've never tried.
I love that more than you know. It's what keeps me writing. You all motivate ME so much! Truly.
It feels important to me to get this message out there and across to all of you: find your balance.
Your personal balance. YOURS.
What does a healthy sustainable lifestyle look like to you? What healthy things can you do that you can SUSTAIN for your LIFE? Think long term. Not short term. Not a "diet" but a lifestyle.
Do you have a medical history? Is there a family medical history you should take notice of? Will that make you partial to some foods and not to others? Do you have allergies? What foods make you feel your best? What type of fitness keeps YOU engaged?
Find it. Try things. Quit things that feel wrong. Try new things until it clicks with you. Keep this, toss that. Take some of this, rid yourself of some of that.
Life is too short to play by someone else's rules. Life is too short to live by the expectations of the masses.
This is your one and only glorious and beautiful life.
Don't get lost in the crowd. Don't jump on a wagon unless it truly feels right to you.
Think for yourself and above all,
You're here now. Right now. This is it. There is no destination. There never was a destination. This moment right now is it. Your journey is everything. You will never arrive anywhere except right here. You are always on your journey. This is it. You get to make a choice in this very moment about what you will do. You are the culmination of all of the moments that led up to now.
This is not an excuse/reason to go out and eat 10 boxes of donuts. Don't misunderstand....that is not what I am saying here. I am saying BALANCE.
Keep it healthy as much as you can. EAT REAL FOOD. Keep your best interests in mind and remember there are no guarantees. There is always an exception.
Try something new.
Throw caution to the wind.
Cause some trouble out there.
Say hi to random strangers.
Break a rule.
Fall in love.
Have a hellagood time.
Laugh until you cry.
Dance like an idiot.
Make your friends laugh until they cry.
Eat a cookie.