Getting to know me;
Um…where to start…OK, so in order of titles I identify with: I’m a mom, an artist, an amateur chef, a baker, a nature lover, a hiker, a pursuer of wholistic healing, a seamstress, and a creator of all things crafty. And now a certified Nutrition Consultant, and a certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner (candidate).
Several years before the main event of this saga, my first child came along. And with welcoming this incredible being, came the difficult decision to give up my hard-earned career as a concept artist in feature films. I traded glamor, accolades, and regular work hours, for a career of nursing, changing diapers and being spit-up on (those of you in the film business may be thinking there isn’t much difference there).
So there I was plodding along with the mom-life. I traded my rapidographs, 4B pencils, and Wacom tablet for crayons, play-dough, and finger paint. Actually finishing a load of dishes was the closest thing I got to completing a creative project. In the midst of all the adventure, we welcomed our second “bundle-of joy”.
Then, just when I might have thought I was catching my stride in this new life as a stay-at-home mom, times two, the saga that launched GreenLeaf Kitchen began…
I woke up one cold January morning and couldn’t feel my feet. Over the next few days the numb spread until the entire right side of my body was paralyzed. Fast forward through a harrowing couple weeks, uncountable doctor visits, time in the ER, too many tests… I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. (More on the details of reaching a diagnosis in a later post.)
There I was, unable to walk, unable to use my right hand, two young kids, and suffering an incurable disease. The medical establishment handed my husband and I some literature about coping with disability, and presented options for medications that were statistically not very effective while coming with a laundry-list of severe side-effects (my neurologist thought it would be helpful to advise my husband to start looking for a wheelchair for me.) We were, to say the least, unsatisfied with the bleak prognosis and lack of options.
So we began the search for feasible alternatives, both to the treatment options and to the prognosis. We needed a way to take action and have hope.
After exhaustive searching (really there is no after, as the searching is ongoing) we came to three areas of focus:
First food. Food is huge! A body can’t reach a healthy state unless it’s properly fueled. For me this meant more vegetables, less sugar, and as little processed/packaged foods as possible. But in order for “healthy” foods to remain a staple, I knew they had to be tasty! So that meant a lot of cooking.
Second lifestyle. As important as the food portion was, being in a state that allowed me to enjoy and digest that food was paramount. So, dealing with stress, and diving into past issues, behaviors, and relationships that seemed to cause emotional strife. This also included bringing relaxation practices (yoga, qigong, meditation, contemplation, gratitude) into my life.
Third, overall health. Looking at how genetics and epigenetics contributed to my disease, and how they could contribute to my future. How our food system impacted/impacts the foods me and my family eat. How environmental factors, social, and political factors impact mine and my family’s health. How the health of my family affects my individual state.
In all of this I realized that what I really needed to do was to help others in a similar position. To show that there is a path towards health and hope. To use my story to show that empowerment is a possibility. That you too can take back your life from the monster of disease.
It has been a wild ride, and continues to be so – I don’t remotely claim to have figured it all out. But, this blog is me sharing what I’ve discovered, stumbled across, tried, found successful (or not),… Hopefully by putting all this out there it can help you. Enjoy!