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Thursday, 8 September 2011

I am Good. I am Enough.

Well, so far I have written primarily about food. I am truly interested in food security, and worry that we are changing our environment so drastically that we may "engineer" ourselves out of the ability to produce fresh, nutrient dense, health supportive foods. Today, our vegetables, grains and fruits are more frequently tampered with. These tamperings render plants more able to withstand weeds and...to make produce look pretty, stay "fresh" longer...in other words, to appeal to the consumer's sense of sight. What about the other senses?

Naturally, I am reflecting on the abundance of summer, and of harvest time. I am so grateful for the decision we made to shop locally, organically, and to build our meals around what is freshly available. I had forgotten how delicious a red, ripe, organic tomato smells. I loved the smell of fresh onions as I slice them and the juices run onto the cutting board. And freshly sauteed summer squash with a bit of garlic and onion...I made full meals out of that! Fresh corn on the cob...mmmmmmm....we have enjoyed its abundance this year!

So, not only do I worry about long term food security, I worry about this winter. What will we eat? There is no way I can go back to spending my heard earned cash for produce that looks pretty...I don't want a decoration, I want food! I can't even imagine eating mushy, tasteless, aroma-less produce. Since we have been shopping local farm stands, I tend to view produce in the grocery stores as compost. Seriously, it looks dead, lusterless, and....the aroma of fruit that I remember from childhood is mysteriously absent.

My family were orchardists, my father won accolades for his tomatoes and cucumbers. He was known as Tony the Tomato King. I grew up with fresh, frozen and canned fruit, primarily grown by a family member. I recall sitting between the rows in Auntie's garden with my cousins, salt shaker in hand, eating tomatoes plucked warm off the plant. Pick one, eat one...that's how it is meant to be! My family was also very talented in terms of turning beautiful fruits into works of art...pies and strudel are two of my favorites.

In my life thus far, I have been privileged to live with many different families, and learned many different ways of being. The common thread though, was the freshness of our food. I was usually fortunate enough to live with families that valued fresh food and had gardens to produce lovely health sustaining food. I don't know whether these gardens were organic or not...but the freshness of the food has stuck in my memory. Even when I lived with families that didn't have a garden, I quickly learned the art of foraging. I recall picking berries, wild apples, digging clams, and fishing to supplement my diet. Later, I even learned how to hunt, although I never enjoyed either the killing or the butchering of the animals. I don't eat flesh and I don't hunt anymore...haven't for many years now. In fact, "hunting" became a bit of a joke between Mom and I...I would arrange to go hunting with her in the fall, and would arrive and she would say, "I don't want to go hunting, I just want to visit.....go and hunt in my freezer". 

Sadly, for a long time, I associated having a garden, hunting, fishing, foraging...as activities for the poor. I rebelled and wanted everything store bought. I wanted wonder bread, not home baked...I wanted shiny, perfect apples, not fresh ones with the odd blemish. I didn't want to have to work to obtain my food. I wanted it done the easy way. I became one of the many overfed, undernourished people and my health suffered. I had stomach problems diagnosed as ulcers. I carried a bottle of liquid meant to numb my tummy and make the pain stop. I ate antacids. I never had a normal bowel movement. For me, regular meant once a week. And I hurt...all the time. I had migraines that showed up more and more frequently. My skin was dull and blemished, and my hair was dull and stringy. My energy levels were practically non-existent. Exercise? What? No thank you. I had to trick myself into exercising by joining a team and playing slow pitch. Interesting....I could do it for the team, but not for myself.

And I am still learning to do it for myself. Finally, I am at a place in my life where I understand it IS all about me! Wow! What a gift! I always thought that was the most selfish thing...to take time for myself, to engage in self care. I spent time looking after others, sacrificing self. I thought that would make me appear selfless, saintly.....finally....good enough. I have discovered that no matter how much I did for others, I never felt good enough. It wasn't until I began to care for myself with the same passion, love and commitment that I felt good enough. I am good. I am enough.

So, I take care of myself as best I can with what I know, and I research....and reach out. I allow others in, and accept offers of help. I still feel fear and still have the old impulse to avoid...new experiences, relationships...etc. I listen to the limitations put upon me by others...but I don't necessarily accept them. For example: I had knee surgery in February. Following that, I learned that I have severe osteoarthritis in one knee, with very little cartilage left. The other knee and my hips are also affected....as are most joints in my body. Arthritis is inflammation. As I learn to let go, and to lovingly embrace who I am, I find the pain lessens.

I had a referral for knee replacement in March, but haven't been in touch with the surgeon yet. I was told that any physical activity would likely worsen things, and definitely would not improve. This weekend, I hiked to three different waterfalls. I was challenged, and at one point, I thought I would have to turn around...but I didn't. I took my time, enjoyed the sights and smells of the forest, and made it to my goal destination each time. I could have used a walking stick and better footwear (remembering that for next time), but I did it! Yes, I did have some aches that night, but nothing I couldn't cope with. We even slept on an air mattress in the back of the truck that night, and I was fine. I know that each step I take helps me. I hurt more if I don't move than if I do. So really, it is about finding things I can do. The paths we took were not really that challenging, I think the furthest we trekked at once was 3km, one day I thought we did about 5km.

I am feeling really happy with myself. I took a small stone from each of the waterfalls and I will attach them to my walking stick. They will be my reminders to be wary of limitations....and to always, always be open to possibilities.