Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Of The Reasons Why I Think I’m Doing What I’m Doing

I have just completed my schooling to become a certified holistic health counselor, and while some people may think I chose this “route” because of my “go-against-the-grain” tendencies (which I do have), there is much more to it than that.

Here I am willing to admit it:  I am an eternal “people fixer”.  I have always been a “people fixer”.  One of my greatest character flaws is that I take on this huge responsibility to help people get “better”- to evolve and change and learn and grow.  I can remember being in 3rdgrade the week I was the class president.  Now, my 3rd grade class was headed up by this tyrannical teacher, Mrs. Brown a woman with a thick German accent (although, in retrospect, maybe it was a fake accent used with the hopes of being extra-intemidating…), who definitely believed in corporal punishment – freely whacking knuckles with rulers, pinching & swatting rear-ends and meting out little smacks on the face anytime she felt it appropriate, but the weekwas the class president, I felt it was my place to spare anyone from being on the receiving end of Mrs. Brown’s little “gifts” of discipline.   It was the role of the class president to be the “junior ruler” for the week.  One day, Mrs. Brown left the room for a minute to go across the hall to the office and all hell broke lose.  It must have been near the week of Halloween or Christmas break, because everyone seemed a little more riotous than usual.  Items were thrown through the air.  Kids were out of their seats, running to and fro.  After several unsuccessful attempts to convince everyone that we were all “really going to get it”, I simply gave up, sat down and began to cry – hysterically, feeling quite sick to my stomach.   Mrs. Brown came back to our classroom in chaos and there were many whacked knuckles and swatted bottoms, and yelling with that German accent.  That ended up being the last year Mrs. Brown was allowed to teach.

I was a “people fixer” in middle school and high school (in the brief moments I was able to take my eyes off of my self-absorbed teen-aged self), trying to prevent several friends from making “huge mistakes” (from my limited perspective), then feeling responsible when they didn’t heed my advice.

I know that my “fixer” tendencies flavored my parenting greatly.  The teen years were especially difficult when looking through those “fixer” lenses.  In a move to save myself some scraps of sanity, I learned to give that up (as much as humanly possible for me).  It is either working, or I am now in a semi-catatonic state of denial (more on THAT in a future post…). 

Over the years, I have come to realize how little I really do know about life in general, but one thing I do know is that life is a really valuable gift.  I have seen several people literally throw their lives away – never to retrieve it again, and I have seen other people fight unsuccessfully, tooth and nail, to save theirs.  What I firmly believe is that we need to be good stewards of the lives that we have, and like the proverbial servant with the talents mentioned in the New Testament, it is a horrible mistake when we squander whatever gifts we have been given.

As a health counselor, I don’t discount doctors or medicine or tests and operations.  Those things have all been very necessary for our society to get to the point that it has, in terms of eradicating wide-spread illnesses and curing a host of ails.  Unfortunately, most doctors are not nutritionally “aware”, and prescribing a pill or scheduling a surgery has become the first line of defense when it comes to treating the majority of ills and ails confronting most Americans today.  Parallel to the increase in technology has been the increase in life-style related illnesses.  Why is that?  I believe that the plethora of fake foods and a sedentary lifestyle are HUGE factors.  For the most part, people are not educated on the important roles that what they put into their mouths and how they spend their time play in their health, happiness and overall well-being.

One person I know has been trying for several months to get some kind of diagnosis in order to be able to identify why the functioning of a particular organ is breaking down.  Their doctor has prescribed various medications and ordered numerous tests, yet everything is “inconclusive”. When this person asked their doctor if they should try to change their diet, their doctor said, “There is absolutely no relationship between what you eat and how your organs function.”  This person then went to the pharmacy to refill a prescription to help normalize the functioning of this particular uncooperative organ, only to discover after several days of not feeling quite “right” that the pharmacy had errantly given them very strong anti-depressants instead of the prescribed medication.  When this person spoke with their doctor about this mix-up, they were informed that, had they been taking certain other medications, throwing this “wrong” medication into the mix could have been fatal.  It makes me wonder if the same has ever been said for someone who attempted to combine “other medications” with more leafy green vegetables, or while eliminating all “processed” foods and sugar and increase physical exercise. I doubt it.

I am not naïve enough to believe that all of our ails can be cured by simply eating more broccoli, however, I think that taking a long, hard look at the dietary and lifestyle practices that are so prevalent in our society today might reveal some areas that could benefit from some (or much?) “tweaking”.  I am not sure what the statistics are for death rates among Americans resulting from simplifying their diets by eating more ‘whole’ foods and eliminating processed foods, but I am sure it pales in comparison to the rates of death from improper and proper use of prescription drugs and other medical errors, so why is that so often our first choice?

Yes, I feel responsible.  I feel responsible and sad when I see people throwing away their lives for a colorful box of grocery store crap or the convenience of an “emotion-lifting meal” for the kiddies full of nothing but fats, meat scraps, chemicals and a fun toy.  I want to educate people that they do have a choice…that being American is not synonymous with being over-weight, diabetic and suffering from heart disease, destined to living out your days on a long list of prescription drugs.

A few nights ago I was at a Greek dinner with my family.  At a table nearby sat this family of very overweight people – two parents and three young children.  In the midst of them sat containers of French fries and creamy, sauce-covered foods.  After eating their “dinner”, the three children returned triumphantly from the dessert table toting a large styrofoam container of syrup-drenched fried homemade donuts, which they systematically consumed one by one. The children appeared to range in age from about 7 to 12.  They were not just heavy, they were obese – even morbidly obese.  It was all I could do to not cry when I saw the parents feeding this stuff to their kids.  I got the same feeling I’d had in 3rd grade, when I knew Mrs. Brown was coming back to the classroom and I knew she was not going to like what she would find:  I got the feeling that there was gonna be big trouble.

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