Written by Evan Crothers
Do you ever notice how much you focus on what’s not working in your life rather than what is working? You are not alone. It has become part of our culture to desire more, better and faster. How many times do you find your mind wandering to those thoughts while walking to work, driving, waiting for the train, during meetings, and watching TV? It seems anytime there is a quiet moment, our brain wants to jump in and run through a tiring list of what we don’t have, what we want and what is making our lives unbearable. However, when a life change or something major happens, it gives us a chance to “take stock” of what we have that is good. This type of thinking can lead to great things.
About a month ago I became increasingly tired. Not just tired…like…REALLY tired. Fatigued. Yes, even us health coaches get sick from time to time. Working in nutrition, I know the value of good food and how that plays a role in creating an energized life. So I said to myself, “OK. My body is clearly telling me something.” So I made sure I rested and drank plenty of hot water with lemon (my favorite). Nothing worked. I had no symptoms other than this relentless fatigue. My doctor chalked it up to allergies. I didn’t buy it. This was different, like an infection.
So after two wonderful weeks of dragging my fatigued self around I woke up on a beautiful Sunday morning with an unexpected visitor. I got out of bed just like any other day, but something was…off. My face felt funny. I quickly walked to the bathroom. There she was… in all her glory. Ms. Bells Palsy.
I had heard about her here and there, but there she was, right in front of me. I started to feel the same discomfort we all experience when a creepy stranger won’t stop glaring at you. There I stood, face to face with Ms. Bells Palsy, who had decided she wanted to vacation on the left side of my face. For those of you that don’t know, Bells Palsy is a paralyzation of one side of your face. This is due to an inflamed nerve by your temple. The #7 nerve to be exact, (I did get some education through this ordeal). It felt like I had just Botoxed one whole side of my face. My forehead, eyelid, nose, lips and tongue wouldn’t move. “Great,” I thought. This is just what I need. Although, it was interesting to note that the fatigue was completely gone by this point. Trading one for another.
I did what any normal person would do. I freaked out. I needed information immediately, and showed up to the emergency room an eager student, with half my face wrinkle free. By the end of the appointment it was confirmed. I had established a relationship with Ms. Bell’s. However, I was told it would be a casual short term relationship, thank God. Doctors are not always sure what causes it other than it should go away between 10 days and three weeks. They tossed me some heavy steroids to aid the inflammation, and sent me on my way.
There I was a very expressive person with half my face frozen. Every day I would wake up to see if it was getting better. Nope. I started to long for the old days. The days when I could move my face in its entirety. Eating and drinking was especially humiliating, as I found food and liquids falling back out of my mouth while walking down the street.
I’m the type of person who jokes in order to cope with certain situations. It’s just my way. I began calling everyone I knew, inviting them over for “Face Making Parties.” I believe you have choices in these life altering situations. You can either accept what is, or you can delve into an endless black hole of “Why me?” Now, accepting doesn’t mean you ignore your feelings. Feelings of frustration, disappointment, and sadness are important feelings. They serve a purpose. Allow yourself to have those feelings but at some point you have to move forward.
During my “embracement period,” I found something else happening. I felt grateful. Yes…grateful. Grateful I had such amazing supportive friends. Grateful for my old face, that would soon be returning. Any issues I had with my previous face were forgotten and nothing but loving open arms would be awaiting the arrival of my once complete face.
Even though I had whole hearted faith that movement would return, I had moments of picturing what life would be like if my face stayed like this. I was able to imagine what life might be like if I had a chronic physical ailment, and how people who do must feel.
Thinking like this brought a wave of emotion (although only one side of my face showed it.) I unconsciously began taking stock of the little things. Where I live, who my friends are, my family, my health, all the things I have already accomplished, and all the things I can accomplish in the future. Even my brand new rainfall shower head became something to be grateful for. I found that once I began thinking in this way, I felt relieved. A weight had been lifted. All that pressure. Pressure to be bigger, better, richer was diminished. None of that seemed to matter in the way that it used to.
A dream, goals, desires – these are all great things. But what is creating them? If it is about you and your desire to see where you can go, and what your capable of, then great, go for it! If it’s created by wanting to “keep up,” and “appear” then that’s not so great. Caring what other people think, using others to measure how well you are doing, and constantly proving to everyone but yourself is such a burden, and we ALL do this. It becomes an never-ending pressure that strangles you until you can’t see what truly is important to you. Maybe you think of it as motivation. But motivation driven by insecurity, fear and the desire to be “seen” a certain way is not how I want to spend my life. Wouldn’t you much rather be motivated through what is deeply important to you?
If you are interested in making a change, I say start small. Once a day take a moment to notice something that is good in your life. It can be something big or small, doesn’t matter. For me it was my amazing new shower head, knowing there are many people in this country and around the world that aren’t lucky enough to have decent means to take care of themselves. It can be the smallest thing. Just take notice, and before you realize it, you will have those grateful moments without trying.
In the end I don’t wish Ms. Bells Palsy on anyone, but looking back I am glad it happened. It created an opportunity for me to think differently. And that’s what it is all about.
Evan Crothers is a Holistic Health Nutritionist and creator of CONFIDENCE THROUGH NUTRITION. He received his training from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City.
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