This week I spent one lazy afternoon browsing about two dozen inspirational and healthy living websites. From a work related viewpoint, this activity is very much part of my job. Staying on top of what other more seasoned writers are doing and saying, seeing what works for them; all of it helps me be better and find a more effective voice. From a personal viewpoint, I also approach this activity as a casual reader, hoping to find ways to live better, and enjoying whatever it is my favorite writers have to say.
As I was browsing that afternoon, going through the usual motions, I uncovered a headline that, to put it mildly, was screaming out for my attention.
Energy Is a Key To Happiness.
I read those simple words over and over. I contemplated their weight and meaning.
Because I, probably more than most, can attest to their absolute truth.
For nearly fifteen years those two very wonderful things, energy and happiness, have been terribly elusive in my life. Living with autoimmune disease and its symptoms all this time, you would think I would be used to the ongoing energy crisis by now. But I’m not. I still haven’t accepted it. And while it is true that happiness can be tied to countless aspects of our lives, it is in fact inextricably tied to energy. When you have little to none of it, there isn’t much you can do. It is hard to go and see and experience amazing things. It makes it hard to work and play; to take care of loved ones, and yourself. To keep up with just about everyone and everything. To enjoy. To live.
Yes, when you don’t have energy, it sure as hell is tough to be happy.
Being sick has given me a lot of good things, like strength and perspective. But I long for what it has taken from me. It’s hard to not feel defeated.
Last week I nearly fell asleep in the produce section of my neighborhood grocery store. There I was, contemplating apples, peaches and tangerines, and my head started to bob. My eyelids drooped. What little physical strength I felt left my limbs quickly. I was reduced to Jello. I propped myself up against the cart and slowly wheeled myself in the direction of the check out. I prayed I would make it to the line, then my car, and then home less than a half a mile down the street.
It was 11 in the morning.
I don’t wake up with the sun and jump out of bed with excitement to face the day like I used to. If I can fall out of bed before 10 a.m., it’s a really good day.
I feel like the world is passing me by.
I don’t want to feel that way anymore.
Several weeks ago I adopted a much cleaner, nutritionally balanced diet. There are several reasons for it, some of it kind of superficial. Our five year anniversary is coming up in December, and when we go away to celebrate I want to feel healthy, and HOT. I figure a healthier eating plan will amount to at least a ten pound weight loss. I know this shouldn’t be the primary motivation, because I have much bigger concerns than the extra ten pounds that have been hanging around for a while. Whatever motivates me first, I am hoping that the nutritional boost of more conscious eating will give me that energy I miss so much.
I’m probably dreaming, thinking food will be my cure, but I still hang on to that hope.
I know people who treat their bodies like a junkyard on a daily basis. I’m married to one. Soda, candy and highly processed foods are all over our house. The good news is I don’t feel a craving for any of it, and I think my healthier approach to food is helping with that. On the other hand, my husband’s idea of lunch is two boxes of Junior Mints, two chocolate bars, and half a bag of potato chips washed down with three cans of Pepsi. If he feels so inclined, he may have three hot dogs followed up with ice cream.
And still, he has all the energy in the world. He works and climbs mountains and does all kinds of things.
I won’t lie. It’s frustrating. Not that I want to eat what he eats, because I really don’t. But I’m much younger than him. I should feel good and have energy. I don’t know why I have been burdened with challenged health. I feel like my body is so tightly wound up, teetering on the edge of a foreboding precipice. A chance at good health hovers above me, and more of the usual lingers below. I feel like I have tried everything, and I’m still not feeling better.
But I’m still plugging away, hoping for that day when I can get up with the sun, feeling energetic and beautiful. Happy.
My days have started with fresh juice; a sweet blend of carrot, beet, kale, cucumber, spinach and green apple. It may sound revolting and too righteous for some of you, but trust me. The carrot and green apple make it more than tolerable. It’s downright delicious. An easy way to get those super cool micronutrients into my tired cells.
Lunch and dinner can be any number of things: Greek yogurt with fruit and flaxseed, organic chicken, avocado and beans on a bed of dark, delicious greens, salmon with kale or broccoli, and brown rice on the side. Maybe sweet potatoes and quinoa for a change. Or maybe black bean tacos loaded with veggies; cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers straight from my garden.
I’ve been so good. I don’t want to give up.
I just wish I felt a difference, even just a little bit of energy. It would encourage me to keep going. Instead I rely on getting rid of those ten pounds. That is what keeps me focused. It will have to until energy finds its way into my life again.
Despite everything, I’m still happy. I would be happier if I felt good and healthy and strong. But yes, I’m still happy.
Because of so many good things in my life.
Like love and support, and doing what I enjoy, like writing.
But I still long for the day when I can add to my happiness, when I am without pain and I can go forever with that precious vitality I miss so much.
I feel empowered by one simple fact.