Happy New Year.
I don't think I've ever looked forward to starting a new year as much as I have recently. 2010 was one of the more eventful years of my life, and I truly hope that 2011 does not follow suit.
I brought in 2010 in a very placid way, but soon after it became quite eventful. Despite the fact that I kept eating gluten and dairy free, my stomach and health problems didn't end. I went to urgent care several times and spent many days eating only chicken broth and dry gluten free toast--while trying to write a blog that focused on food with flavor. Before long, I realized that food with flavor brought me quite a deal of unnecessary pain.
What was more frustrating was that my doctors couldn't tell what was wrong with me. After more visits to my regular doctor, a gastroenterologist, and urgent care, I was finally diagnosed with upper gastro intestinal irritable bowel syndrome. About a month later, my stomach calmed down and has since given me few problems, so long as I stay gluten and dairy free and restrict acidic foods.
In addition to constant pain that was incredibly frustrating, I changed my mind about my career every few months. What's interesting is that when I was eighteen, I (like many other bright-eyed teenagers) thought my life plan was easy and clear--I would get my B.A. in Middle East Studies at Fordham University and move to Cairo as soon as I graduated. Little did I know that life had other plans for me, and I dropped out after my sophomore year and came home. I changed my mind several times after that, probably equal to the amount of times I changed my mind this year alone. This year I was going to finish up my units at community college to transfer to UCI (which I did get in to) to get a degree in English, but then I dropped the one class I needed to transfer. Smart, right? Then I was going to get my A.A. in culinary studies but decided against it. I put my career/school path on pause to deal with health issues, and when those were resolved I entertained the idea of getting a degree in textile design. I love to draw flowers, and I was thinking of making my own fabric, or at least getting a degree in art so that I could sell my artwork. Then I started an internship at a Public Relations company.
I also changed jobs, which added more fodder for considering my future career path. I'm pretty sure what I want to do now...although my loved ones can probably count the amount of times I've said that on both hands. At least.
As with any year, there were sad and happy times. In May my mother's cousin dropped dead of a heart attack, which came as a shock to all of us. He was a jovial cowboy who taught me how to rope in Wyoming five years ago and even said he wanted me on his rodeo team (which I did, of course, consider for a bit). In July my best friend gave birth to a healthy boy, and another close friend of mine discovered she was pregnant, and her daughter is due any day now. If that's not the circle of life, I don't know what is.
My family has been hit by bad health this year, but we're doing the best we can to take it in stride and see the positive in each situation. We've learned that when you are sick, it's important to look more closely at the things that are wrong or unsettling in your life and change them. A friend of ours quoted the Vedas (a sacred text in Hinduism), saying that illness is a blessing that leads you to your true nature. We've found that this can be true if you have the strength to face the problems in your life.
If I've learned nothing else this year, it's this: listen to your body. Figure out what it does and doesn't need. I was plagued with health issues for most of my life because I ignored the factors that were making me sick. But once I started paying close attention to my symptoms and the foods that were causing them, I realized I would need an unordinary diet to be healthy. It might sound difficult, but this is one of the facts of life: the easy path isn't necessarily the one we're supposed to follow. What's better for each of us is what matters.
So, dear reader, I wish you a happy and healthy new year. May you find the foods that keep you fulfilled and happy, and may you think of your health woes as a distant memory.