Monday’s Mantra: Be Whole

I like food.  No, I take that back.  I LOVE food!  One of my favorite hobbies is trying new restaurants especially those that offer an eclectic cuisine.  I do draw the line at some wild food delicacies though.  I’m adventurous, but I don’t eat bugs!  You can put all the chocolate sauce on a worm that you want, but it’s still a worm!  My love of food is of course about the taste, but it’s also about the versatility of ingredients that can be used to make dishes.  As I’ve matured, I’ve gained a new appreciation for food and what it means for my body.  I think part of that is because I’m now the one buying the groceries and leaving the tips at restaurants.  Your wallet has a way of making you see the light!  But, I’m also fascinated by the multitude of fruits, vegetables, and herbs created for us to eat!  It’s like a rainbow of yumminess.  I go to Whole Foods sometimes to stare at all the colors in the produce section.  🙂  I’m much more mindful now of what I consume probably than I ever was before.

In my efforts to enrich my life with those things that are motivating and wholesome, I’ve tried to translate that into the way I look at food.  I buy and consume food with my future in mind.  I love pizza, French fries, Doritos, and plenty of other not so healthy foods although my mom seems to think that carrots and hummus are always my preferred snack of choice.  I’m come this far, but I’m not there yet!  These days I’m making a conscious effort to live in a way that makes me feel whole, and part of that means I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen.  I also allot time to search for recipes that incorporate whole foods.  Dear God, thank you for the Pinterest founders a.k.a geniuses.  By no means am I a gourmet chef, but I don’t let that stop me from trying to make meals at home.  It’s crazy because cooking has never been one of those things I’ve liked to do or really felt I had the time to do.  But, the less I’ve focused on the act of cooking and instead considered the benefits of making better food choices, the more therapeutic cooking has become for me.  That may be attributed to the fact that my last few dishes have been superb, but either way I’ll take it!

I know this is the age of the microwave and all things fast food.  And truthfully, some days we don’t have the time to break out the cookbook and Calphalon.  However, if we are to be the best version of ourselves, then we have to ensure we have the right fuel.  We are not machines.  When we treat our bodies like they are machines, then things typically start breaking down.  And the older you get, the harder it is to bounce back.  So, whether eating whole for you means one less bowl of ice cream or one more home cooked meal per week than usual, let that be the start of creating a life that’s full of what will help you think clearer, live longer, and look better.

Here’s some inspiration from my kitchen!

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Monday’s Mantra: Use Your Feet First

Stand – to be in an upright position with all of your weight on your feet; to take up or maintain a specified position or posture

I share that definition with you because the theme of “standing” has been popping up all over the place in my life over the past week.  When a message shows up in the middle of your reality TV watching (shout out to Tamar & Vince), you’re trying to be reached!  I’d  like to believe I’m one of those people who knows how to take a hint from the universe.  And even though I’ve touched on this topic on several occasions, there’s clearly a reminder in it for me and you!  🙂

Have you ever had a situation where there was a decision to be made and you didn’t know how to make it?  Have you needed an answer but didn’t even know how to ask for what you needed?  What about trying to deal with the naysayers in a civilized, sophisticated fashion?  How about that feeling when you’re tired of being tired?  Or have you ever been so depleted where days were a blur but yet you still believed there were moves to be made?  I’ll take my chances and assume that anyone reading this can identify with at least two of these, and it took you a few revolutions with the same type of circumstances for the lesson to click.

There will be times when you have to push towards your aspirations and tasks in order to make the most of opportunities and blessings.  But, there will also be moments when you’ll need to just stand.  You’ll need to stand to hear, stand to recognize and receive your answer to a prayer, stand to perform a comprehensive reality check of what is and isn’t for you, stand to witness God work out situations you thought you knew how to handle, and stand to give your body and spirit an opportunity to refresh and revitalize everything from your cells to your ingenuity.

I can admit standing is a challenge especially when you’re one part control freak and one part perfectionist.  I’m both of those mixed with a few other obsessive and workaholic parts, so I have firsthand experience in knowing how difficult it is to stand.  This also means that I can confirm that some of the solutions you’re seeking will come when you decide to do absolutely nothing!  Are you still with me?  *breathe*  Yes, give yourself permission to do nothing!  You’ll be surprised by the number of times along your journey when your job is to not have a job.  Put yourself in a posture that demonstrates you’re strong in your faith and confident in your heart that making the choice to stand in the midst of life’s clamor is not a concession of failure but your personal consent to freedom.


If I Can Help Somebody

I had quite the number of “firsts” over the last several days.  I’d love to spend the next few paragraphs documenting my safari adventures in Africa or grape smashing in Italy, but then you’d be walking in my imagination instead of reading the truth.  Part of me struggled with the idea of sharing this story not because I have anything to hide, but because I like to keep my personal life…personal.  I choose not to spill tea on my timeline particularly about my own life. *shrug* However, I decided to write about my experience this past week because it may save someone’s life.  It’s an assignment that’s bigger than me and any feeling I have about being private.  Here’s some context…

I can now say that for the first time in my life I’ve had a biopsy, CT scan, been transported in an ambulance, been admitted to the hospital, and seen what an operating room actually looks like all within a week.  And yes, the room really looks like what you see on TV!  It feels like a freezer, the doctors scrub in, and they even listen to music.  But, save yourself the visit and just take it from me.  I think all of these “firsts” are starting to sink in for me now that I’m home and feeling like myself again.  But, just a few days ago, I endured several agonizing moments.

I had a scheduled liver biopsy about a week and a half ago due to elevated LFTs (liver function tests) that surfaced some time ago during a routine physical exam.  After being tested for everything under the sun, the biopsy was the last course of action to determine the reason for the elevation.  I was freaked out about the entire thing since I had never had any similar issues and was otherwise a healthy adult.  I spent about a month contemplating if it was the right decision.  After much thought and prayer, I decided to have the procedure done, because I didn’t want to be in a position where there was something I could’ve done about a potential serious issue that I avoided simply because I was scared.  Sometimes you have to do it afraid.  Plus, I knew this was one of those times in my life where God was testing how much I was willing to release control and not allow the fear of the unknown to lead me into a state of worry and defeat.  Why?  Because I worry…a lot.

The procedure itself was relatively painless and went well.  I was back to my daily activities within 24 hours and awaiting the results.  The preliminary report indicated there were no issues with my liver, but they also still didn’t have an answer for the abnormal LFTs.  I was a mystery.  And I was willing to accept that.  Sometimes you don’t get the answer you want in the way you want it.  That doesn’t mean that’s how the story ends though.  I was willing to take a backseat and continue to do my best to take care of myself even if everything wasn’t adding up.  I expected that one day it would all work out for my good.

Things quickly took a turn though.  The day after I received my preliminary biopsy results, I started having excruciating abdominal pain.  It was a type of pain that I’ve never felt before that literally brought me to my knees.  The pain was episodic and would dissipate after a few minutes.  Honestly, I thought I had taken one too many bites of a food that causes flatulence until the pain returned at least three other times.  I knew my body was trying to tell me something.  I went to Urgent Care, and my doctor sent me to have a CT scan given the fact that I had had an intravenous procedure a few days before.  Again, they found nothing, and I went home thanking God but also praying to God that the abdominal pain was a thing of the past.  Unfortunately, that same night the pain returned.  I spent the early morning hours sleeping on a bed in Urgent Care with my boyfriend at my side as an IV pumped pain medication in my body and we awaited the arrival of a technician to take an ultrasound of my abdomen in another attempt to determine what was causing the pain.  You don’t know intimacy until you’ve had to share a twin-sized hospital bed with your significant other for four hours because you don’t want him to sleep in the chair that’s only made for temporary sitting.  Somehow we managed to get some shut eye despite the beeping heart monitor and nurse station chatter outside the door.  But, even after the ultrasound, they still couldn’t pinpoint the cause of my abdominal pain or find anything that demonstrated I may have been having complications as a result of the liver biopsy.  I was sent home with instructions and pain meds.

Before we could even make it out of the building, I found myself in the restroom vomiting blood.  That instantly changed the game.  To make this long story short, I had to be transported to the hospital so doctors could perform a procedure called an arteriorgram to ensure one of my arteries or blood vessels hadn’t been punctured during my biopsy thus causing me to bleed internally.  While this was a procedure my doctors could’ve performed in the outpatient setting where I had been all morning, they preferred that I was in a hospital in case there were any other issues.  I didn’t want to go to the hospital of course, but I’m grateful to have had people around me who cared enough about me to do what was best.  They were my “hidden halos”!

They found no internal bleeding during the procedure, and I stayed overnight for monitoring.  Thankfully, my blood levels were stabilized and I was able to return home after one day.  It all happened so fast that I’m still internalizing what I’ve been through yet I have a considerable amount of gratitude for everyone who took care of me, prayed for me, and checked on me.  My KP physician team (Drs. Nguyen, Oh, Mathur, Camba, Brown, Truong, and Stone) demonstrated what it means to provide team-based, quality care, and I’m sincerely grateful for their professionalism and kindness.  The KP nurses and technicians and the Holy Cross Hospital nurses (Nurse Terri, Tonya, and Lissa) were extremely patient and gentle.  I know there were times when I probably wasn’t the nicest person (I was “hangry” and nauseous lol), and so I’m just thankful they didn’t take my frustration personally and made sure I was taken care of as directed.  My boyfriend was my rock throughout this entire ordeal!  I know I probably scared him, but I’m so very thankful for his comfort and love.  My mom was right there as always in Mama Bear mode!  Love you, Mom!  To everyone who thought of me, I thank you for helping me to endure.

I can’t deny this was one experience in my life that created much anxiety.  From the very beginning, I never knew what to make of it.  But, I thank God for the unknown and the fact that I had no choice but to take everything in stride, because it reminded me Who is always in control.  Ironically, I learned a song about three weeks ago by Mahalia Jackson called “If I Can Help Somebody.”  The song says, “If I can help somebody, as I pass along, than my living shall not be in vain.”  So, I tell this story hoping that I’ve helped someone to be brave enough to take whatever next step that’s needed to face your affliction head on.  I made it out, so that you could make it to the best days of your life.  Take charge and cherish your health, because it is definitely your wealth.  As for me, I’m doing well and hoping my next encounter with the OR is on Thursday night at Seattle Grace.

Monday’s Mantra: Slow Down

Last week was quite a treat.  The buckets of snow that Mother Nature emptied in our backyards resulted in closures and/or delays for most schools, governments, and organizations just about every day of the week.  I think the kids even had a few extra hours of shut eye this morning too, because my commute was way too light for there to have not been a 2-hour delay.  No complaints from this gal!

When the roads were finally clear enough for places to begin re-opening late last week, it felt as though everyone was in a rush.  I’m still trying to discern whether people were desperately trying to escape another day in the house with their families or they just couldn’t wait to get back to their corporate tasks.  The jury is still out.  After navigating my way through the chaos of the Metro parking deck on Wednesday, I made my way into the wet and airy station hoping I wouldn’t have to stand outside for an unknown number of minutes waiting for a train to go downtown.  As I was walking up, I noticed a lady carrying three bags and racing through the station.  My immediate thought was why is she running when there are no trains to board and practically everyone has a delayed arrival.  She wasn’t really getting too far with the weight of all of her tote bags dragging her down anyway.  Within those couple moments of me watching and wondering, I was completely caught off guard as I saw her feet in the air and all the bags plopping on the ground one by one!  Have you ever seen dominoes fall?  Yikes!  I quickly ran over to ask if she was okay and put my hand out to help her up off the ground.  I really wanted to find her some Shout Wipes since she was now wearing the black gunk from the shoes of thousands who had trekked the melting snow and ice inside the station.  The woeful look on her face let me know that she was probably more embarrassed than she was anything else since she had violated one of the fundamental rules for Metro riders on the move — wear rubber-soled shoes!

Long after witnessing this lady’s unfortunate event, I couldn’t help but think of how burdensome it can be when you’re in a hurry.  Living in the DMV area, you don’t really have to look far to see someone lost in the translation of their thoughts and trying not to spill Starbucks all while bobbing through briefcase toting crowds.  Some days I’m personally overstimulated by the pace in which we all operate and have accepted as normal.  I should acquire my country cottage very soon.  I imagine the feeling is the same in any other large, metropolitan city across the nation.  We’ve somehow normalized working late hours, running around town to meetings, and guzzling caffeine to keep us going, but yet we tend to vilify balance, time for reflective thinking, and time off (dare I say paid time off).  I wonder how much that has stifled our creativity and effectiveness as a collective body and diminished our individual abilities to do more with less.

I think this week we should take a moment to breathe and slowwwww down.  I know it’s the first of the month and we’re one month into the new year, but life is not a race.  Too often we think we’re outsmarting and outdoing those around us by being “first,” but instead we’re really cheating ourselves by rushing through life and chasing things that probably aren’t meant for us in the first place.  We could all take a lesson from that lady I encountered in the Metro — sometimes you have to slow down and level your thoughts to avoid unnecessary falls.  But, if for some reason you just can’t resist the urge to hurry to your next engagement, do make sure you have the proper footwear.