Hey there, all.
Most of you know that both Jaime and I have Crohn’s disease, and we’ve both come a long way from very painful and scary sick times of years ago. But over the past several months, I (Candace) have been sick again – my Crohn’s flaired up, and I’m doing okay now – not quite back to my full self, but getting closer every day – but for a few months I wasn’t doing as okay. In such times I didn’t have the energy to write blogs about the experience, although I was wanting to share it with you guys (luckily I had pre-written a bunch of blogs when I was well, so I was just using those up!). But now that I’m back to writing posts sort of in “real-time” if you will, I want to acknowledge to you that I was not well for some time there, and have a few things to say about it.
1) Being sick can be an opportunity to learn.
I’ve stumped and surprised a lot of health professionals, and apparently I have a pretty darn tough, deeply-rooted, and stubborn case of Crohn’s. That’s no excuse, but rather, it means that by the time I fully figure myself out, I’m going to be in a better position to help other people with especially tough cases. I’ve brought myself back to health before, and I’m going to do it again now. But why did this even happen again, given my healthy lifestyle? Clearly I have missed something, and I have ideas as to what that is (but that’s for another day), so there is more learning to do, and more work to be done. And then I’ll be of even greater help to others. That’s really what this recent sickness means to me: I have more learning to do. And guys, I’m gonna figure it out.
2) I didn’t become a nutritionist because I’m so healthy, and so good at staying healthy. I became a nutritionist because I have been seriously, horribly, debilitating ill.
I am as compassionate towards other and as knowledgeable as I am today about nutrition, kitchen magic, and holistic health because I have struggled with my health. Being sick is of course not the only way to learn things, but it has been a huge teacher in my life, and my learning through sickness isn’t over yet. The cliché that life’s a journey is sure a truism, and health isn’t something that you pick up one day – it’s something that you work towards on that journey, and as I walk this path and get healthier and healthier as I go (but with lots of bumps and twists and turns along the way, like this flair-up of illness as of late), I am becoming a wiser person and a better nutritionist for it.
3) Getting sick takes time. And therefore so does healing.
I did not get Crohn’s disease over night: chronic illness is something we develop over time. The factors in my past that led to my developing Crohn’s disease are many and complicated, but suffice it to say that in my case, it started when I was a wee babe. I spent my entire life building up to this disease, as it was being unwittingly created in me the whole time. When I decided to take the reigns back and assume responsibility for my own health when I was around 25 years old, that didn’t mean that I was instantly able to undo the result of 25 years of bad habits. Rather, it meant that I could turn my ship around and start sailing towards a new direction. Everything is a process, and that is when my process of working towards true health began. The road is lonnnng… with maaaaany a wiiiiinding turnnnn – sing with me now!
If it took me over 20 years to build sickness, it doesn’t have to take 20 years to dig myself out of that hole, either. But it still takes time. I’ve been kicking it holistic-as-heck for a couple years now since graduating from nutrition school, and while I’ve come a lonnnnng way, I still have a ways to go. And boy, has it been an education!!
4) Holistic nutrition didn’t fail me; the system we live in failed me.
So despite my strict diet of AWESOMENESS and healthy lifestyle, I had a Crohn’s flair up. I’m sure as heck a human, so I take responsibility for mistakes I made and things I could have done a better job at to prevent it, like being more consistent about exercising and getting enough sleep. But I was raised on antibiotics, microwave-cooked GMO foods of the Standard North American Diet variety (i.e. lots of packaged foods featuring refined grains and pesticides, etc.), and so on and so forth. We are all constantly bombarded with advertising that does not have our best interests at heart, which can make navigating truth from lies very tricky, and confuses seemingly simple tasks like putting healthy items in your grocery basket. And for every health complaint, there’s a symptom-suppressing medication being offered a little too quickly it seems, with little done to figure out the root cause and address THAT. Then there’s stress and emotional issues, environmental pollution, radiation, all the things other than water that comes out of our kitchen faucet… Good grief! There’s a lot of junk out there, and more frustrating still is that there are a lot of campaigns and groups and individuals out there doing their best to make that junk a part of our very lifestyle. This is the world we live in here in North America, and there is no doubt that this arrangement sets us up for illness. All these things have absolutely been factors in my developing Crohn’s disease. But you can reject the negative parts of this culture, make changes, empower yourself, make your own decisions and live how you want to! (And that is exactly what we want to help you to do!) Holistic nutrition/living has done much for my well being, and I’m going to keep moving forward, doing the best that I can. So sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back, but I’m still going to end up much farther ahead than where I started, and I want to feel the best I can. It’s all a process. Holistic-as-heck is still totally the way to go, if you ask this Kitchen Witch. Pass the homemade sauerkraut, please.
5) I can still help you.
Ya gotta look after you. And so sometimes it’s best to go into restful, healing, hibernation mode, as I have lately been doing. But I am as bursting with ideas and zeal as ever, and now that the weather is warmer and I am feeling better, I am excited to be planning workshops again and will be offering them soon. I am back to doing one-on-one consultations again as well. I am learning every day, which means that I know more now than I ever have before. And whatever your personal health concern may be, whether or not I might be the right person to guide you all the way to full-on vibrant, thriving health, I know that I can help you.
Meantime, I am resting, learning to meditate better, easing back into yoga, reading, drinking tea, brewing up lots of broth, fermenting and dehydrating and steaming and munching and crunching so many delicious real foods, painting, drawing, sewing, snuggling my cat, being grateful for the beautiful support of those I share love with, and breathing appreciation with every breath. I don’t yet get quite as much done in a day as I used to, and over the past months I’ve had many days where all I’ve done is sit in bed staring vacantly. But I am coming back with a stronger fire in my belly, a little more strength and pep, and a bit more vibrancy every day.
Such is the dance of life. Let the music play on, friends!
And it’s tough to convince people of this one, but don’t learn the hard way: take care of your health while you have it. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is bursting with so much truth that I just want to sing it directly to each and every individual on the planet. Laugh, relax, move your body, eat real food, and carry love in your heart. Look after yourself, be excellent to each other, and boogie on!
Be well, friends!