I've been hesitant to publish this blog for a while. Not because I don't believe every word of it but, because I don't want to come off as superior or that I'm looking down on ANYBODY. Sometimes, when we rejoice in our freedom and happiness, it comes off that way to those who haven't found it yet. Please keep in mind that this is about the joy I've found and not about shaming anybody for doing life different than me. With that, here goes:
I spent the first 40 years of my life believing that life, well... hated me. It was out to get me. It was something to get through until I got cancer or hit by a bus and then I could evacuate this cruel, broken earth. But, I better hope I hadn't said too many cuss words or worn my shorts to tight or not prayed enough or read my bible enough because, then, that bus would just send me to burn in hell forever. Life most certainly did NOT love me.
I believed that my best years were probably before I hit 30 and it was all just a giant countdown to awful after that. People would even tell me when I would pipe up with some optimism about health (or something equally ridiculous), "just wait till you get my age". Right? Anybody else but me have that tape on repeat? Whatever awaited me, it wasn't that life was going to get BETTER. Yeah, you get to have grandkids and, I'd heard that was a pretty cool gig. Maybe you'll retire and, if you're lucky, take a trip to the Bahamas or to see the Grand Canyon. But, ultimately, you're going to end up in the hospital at some point while doctors and surgeons whittle away at your poor body and then you're going to whither away and die. It's just how it is.
Except that it's not just how it is.
Not even a little.
It's only that way if you BELIEVE it's that way.
And, guess what? You can change your beliefs.
Incidentally (and this is one of my favorite things to tell people about my newfound belief system), it used to be a scientific fact that the earth was flat. It wasn't just an opinion. It was a "fact".
Here is the brass tacks and the facts of a brand new set of beliefs about life, and health. I'm not here to blow sunshine up your patootie, I have hard core evidence. First of all, when I stopped looking at life like it was out to get me, I started to get really happy. I thought happiness was bad (one of the reasons I was hesitant to publish this blog). I mean, you can be happy but, in an orderly fashion and, not too much, and not around those people. Keep a lid on it and don't be outwardly emotional, either "too" sad or "too" happy. Changing my beliefs about what that abundant life is really all about freed me up to actually live a life that includes actually feeling alllll my glorious emotions, including joy.
Exhibit a) authentic joy!
Then, I started to take care of myself. I began to really give a shit about what I was eating and how I took care of my body. I wanted to educate myself on what would energize me and give me the best life. It wasn't even about deprivation or counting freaking calories. Food became a magical, life-giving, offering of nourishment into my really happy body. And, I'm pretty sure that is what food is for. I started to love and appreciate things like kale and cucumbers and mushrooms and avocados and cashews! And, it's delicious and my body naturally found a healthy weight.
Exhibit b) Sustained healthy weight for 3 years.
I was also taking medication for arthritis pain and hypertension. I took a Benadryl EVERY NIGHT for about 10 years so I could sleep. I took a myriad of supplements and other pills to try and aid in my constant gastric upset. I also had been on several different drugs for attention deficit, depression and had dabbled in diet pills to curb my appetite. I was definitely in the mindset of "a pill for every ill". When you have symptoms, you go to the doctor and get a prescription or rummage through the over-the-counter drugs for annoying symptoms (like allergies, headache, pain, diarrhea, constipation, stuffy nose, itchy eyes etc...) That's just how it works. Wrong again. When I cleaned up my diet and started nourishing my cells, yep...all that chemical garbage took a hike. Now that I really understand how a human body works, it is completely asinine to me to think that I could have continually fed myself processed products and taken all of those chemicals and thought that my body would love me in return. Dude, I was ready to get hit by that bus.
I just wanted to throw in a very significant "side note" here. Rodney was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 5 years ago and was told that he would die if he didn't take very specific, very expensive drugs for the rest of his life. He changed his diet and lifestyle right along with me and hasn't even had a symptom in 2 years and zero expensive, stupid drugs. I mean, do I really need to say anything more?
Exhibit c) No more prescription or otc drugs. None. Nada. Zilch
This is where I may lose you but this is important to me and, it's my blog. Almost 3 years ago, I started seeing a chiropractor. This was really the pivoting point for everything I wrote above. The first visit to see this chiropractor, I basically had everything I had ever believed about my health challenged. I went in armed with all my baggage of limiting beliefs and was going to tell that doctor what was wrong with me so he could, maybe, try and "fix" me. I simply said to him, "we have really bad joints and arthritis in my family." He simply smiled and said, "it's probably not a genetic thing but a lifestyle problem." My first reaction was "NUH UH!!" But, I had gone in with a semi-opened mind and decided to sit with that for a while. And, I did. I considered his crazy notion that maybe my pain and problems weren't something I inherited. Because, as uncomfortable as it was to think I was wrong, it was even more liberating to think that I could actually be free from something I thought was an inevitable decline into decrepitude. Oh, yes. Please keep challenging my thinking, good sir.
I started going to his workshops and finding out all kinds of new things. Things that were really hard to hear. Things that kept making me terribly uncomfortable. I got gut-checked over and over and, for some crazy reason, I kept going back. I kept letting him make me squirm in my seat. Because, with every unbearable new piece of information, I also let one more limiting belief go. It was like I had been carrying a load of heavy bricks on my shoulders and, while I had grown to accept them, leaving them behind and letting go of all that weight became one of my favorite things.
He explained over and over about how vital the health of my spine is. Something I'd never even thought about. I was born into a gene pool of people who have an propensity for degenerative disks and figured, at some point, I'd be right there with them. I didn't think you could improve the health of your spine. I thought you were at the mercy of gravity and your DNA. He described the spine in such a way that I began to see just how important it is. Your spinal cord in encased in all that beautiful bone because it is so crucial to the rest of your body. God designed us pretty incredibly. The nervous system reigns supreme and, if it gets kinked, misaligned or wonky, your whole body will suffer. Its THE power that has authority over every organ, muscle, tissue and cell in your bod.
This is what I really want to share. That curved green line is where a normal healthy neck should be. When I started chiro care, mine was quickly moving in the opposite direction...a typical synopsis of a lethargic person with poor posture and a crappy diet. I have gone from a reverse curve to a fairly straight line which means that I am REVERSING damage and headed back to a perfect curve. There is MORE space between my vertebrae. THERE IS MORE SPACE BETWEEN MY VERTEBRAE!!! I didn't achieve that deteriorating, degenerative spine in just a year or two so, I don't expect it to jump back into it's healthy state in just a few years either. What I do know is that, if I had stayed on the path I was on, that degeneration would have very quickly become out of control and led to problems I don't even want to think about.
I'd also like to point out that I have been just terrible about doing my at-home rehab. That correction is with once-a-week visits to the chiropractor and minimum rehab. After seeing these results, I have amped up my homework and hope to improve by leaps and bounds by this time next year.
exhibit D) there you have it folks, in black and white...improved spine and nervous system function.
I'm just now realizing that I haven't even touched on the fitness aspect of my newfound belief but, in brief; I used to think that having a really fit body meant spending hours at the gym and living some completely indulgent lifestyle where you have a personal trainer and a chef and only think about your abs 24 hours a day. Man, my head was seriously messed up. Most of my workouts are no longer than 30 minutes a day, I do them at home, I occasionally check my abs in the mirror aanndd yeah, that's about it. I'm not downplaying the importance of that 30 minutes at all. If I don't get my workout done, I seriously start to fall apart. Like, imma cut you if you mess with me. It isn't about biceps and quads and abs and shoulders, I have to do it for my sanity. It is more about mental agility and balancing my emotions and strengthening my spirit than anything physical that may come from it. Although, not having to squish a bunch of flab into my jeans is a really nice bonus.
exhibit E) strong spirit, less flab #winning
Look, life loves you right now, right where you are. I wish I could lift the veil from every set of eyes that sees their life as unimportant. I wish that I could gift the world with vitality and enthusiasm and joy. The beautiful and cruel truth of it is that we have to free ourselves. I can show you what has happened to my life. I can tell you how happy I am now. I can be excited about my own journey and share it and I can tell you how I managed to break my own chains (and, incidentally, I still have A LOT of freeing up to do) but, it is ultimately up to you to do it. You can believe that you are stuck in your circumstances and, that will become your truth. Or, you can believe that you have the power to live any life you want and...just watch what starts to happen. Your beliefs about life will ultimately become your reality. Get some good ones. Start saying some nice things about yourself and others. Start believing in a God that loves you. Start believing that you are capable of more than you know. Start believing that you are loved, infinitely, wholly, unconditionally loved. Try some of those beliefs on for a little while and watch what starts to happen. You'll start to see tangible evidence of just how much life loves you and we all need a little more of that.