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The Matrix of Choice

Photo by Taylor Dawn Fortune

In 2012, for health reasons, I needed to eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet.

I needed to, so I chose to. It wasn’t a life or death in the strictest sense–my diagnosis with an auto-immune disease did not require me to make any dietary change–but after trying it out for a brief period, I realized that diet did have an effect on my condition.

But food is controversial. People who omit things from their diet are suspect. Some people point out some research factoid they’ve read that says that diet doesn’t make a difference. Others say, condescendingly, that gluten-free is “just a fad.”

The biggest rub? That giving up certain foods would drain the joy out of life. Since I could continue to eat gluten or dairy and still mostly, basically, pretty-much get through life, then: How could I give up bread? Cheese? Ice-cream?

Overcoming Obstacles

Photo by Hannes Caspar
A hard fall means a high bounce... if you're made of the right material. ~Unknown

I became freakishly peaceful the summer of 2000.

For a long time, I had been working towards self-acceptance and trying to become more Enlightened, but that summer after my first year of graduate school was entirely different.

  • I was meditating regularly—the silent, lotus-position, old-school way.
  • I took mindful showers and mindful walks, and I mindfully cleaned the toilet.
  • I moved from the more rational and smart “Social Sciences/Psychology” section of my local bookstore to the section they called “New Age”.
  • I was questioning my interpretation of everything and finding real freedom from my thoughts.
  • I was calm. I was happy. All was well in my world.

Then, out of nowhere, I started having severe panic attacks.

Living Alone in a New City – 5 Lessons

Photo by Hannes Caspar
If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. ~Tom Stoppard

When I was little I’d lay in bed at night and dream about what it would be like to start over. I would move somewhere and no one would know who I was. I’d be living alone and in peace.

In this fantasy I was always the new girl at school. I was quiet and most people just left me alone. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I wasn’t a complete loner either. To me, this sounded like paradise.

In my late twenties I got to realize my fantasy, moving across the continent alone where I knew no one and could be exactly who I wanted to be, without all the drama that came from years of living in one place.

How to Embrace Challenges

Photo by Winona Grey
There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its reward is that it’s easy. ~Unknown

When I was younger, struggling to form bonds with my peers and muscle my way through the turmoil that is adolescence, I always pictured my life ten, twenty, thirty years down the road like an enjoyable trip down a lazy river — one that flowed effortlessly, guided by the wisdom I had gathered throughout the years.

I looked forward to the day when I could reach a plateau and things would come easily, because I had strength, knowledge and an abundance of resources at my disposal. I would be married with kids, surrounded by love that would never evade me.

To me, with age came certainty, stability, ease and grace. I thought that all of the awkwardness that comes with growth and change would be a thing of my past.

So, as I entered my twenties, I spent a great deal of time searching for “perfection” in my personal and professional life, believing that the only way to curb the constant upheaval from growth and change would be to find the relationship and career that would make everything else fall into place.

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