Friday, October 29, 2010

My Story: Love Is Investment

The story of my chronic health disorders, and why I no longer have them.

Age 19

At some point while I was nineteen I began reading "The Art of Happiness." I have a detailed entry about the book (click here to read it), but as an overview of the impact it had on me...

I realized that I was dependent on everyone else, and that it was okay, and that everyone else was equally dependent on me. I was needed to make others happy, and I needed them to make me happy.

I realized that compassion for others was not a weakness, not a burden, but a blessing. Because that compassion allowed me to be joyful when others were joyful, and I could create joy in other people's lives and thereby create joy in my own.

I realized that I had responsibility for how I felt. Not just in the food I ate, but in the way I thought and reacted to situations. Every mood, every emotion, every pitfall -- they were each a direct result of something I did. It's as the saying goes; "Don't wish the obstacle was smaller. Wish that you were stronger."

I realized that ego and self-interest were the very things that keep us from getting what we want. When we give other people what they want, we get what we want.

It was also around this time that I read Mort Fertel's "Marriage Fitness." I desperately wanted to save my relationship with my third love, but needed further insight. I learned some very vital things to being healthy and happy from it was well;


Love needs to come first, before everything else in your life. It's not second to your muse, even if you're an artist of some sort for a living. It's not second to your favorite sport. It's not second to your hobbies, interests or friends. That strong loving relationship in your life comes before everything else in your life. Because without that love between you and that special someone, your world will crash down around you.

Love is not something that you get. It's something that you give, and you only have it when you're giving it. How could that be? Well, look at this way: Parents don't love their children because their children do so very much for their parents. Parents love their children because of the investment they put into them. The mother carries the baby inside her for nine entire months. That's a long time to invest into something. Then she goes through pain to give birth; another great investment. Money is put into the baby as well as time. And hopefully the mother nurses the baby after it's born. Before the baby speaks his or her first words the parents have already put a tremendous amount of investment into the child. That investment is love.

How can love be investment? Think about it this way: Have you ever built something yourself from scratch? A computer, a car, or a bedroom? You carefully select the materials you need, you spend the money you've worked for on these materials, you carefully put them together over days, weeks or months. You put your heart into it, you soul, and your sweat. When you're done, isn't it natural to declare, "I love this bedroom," or "I love this car," or "I love this computer." Is this statement facetious, or is it meaningful? I think it's the latter.

Because love is an investment, you feel love based on what you do. When you make your lover a meal, you benefit from the love. When you comb their hair, do their nails, pay for their meal, bring them tea, take them shopping, clean up after them, write them a nice letter or write them a poem you increase the amount of love you feel towards this person.

This is how it's possible to be in love with someone who is mean and awful to you. Because your love is not because of what they do. It's because of what you do. This is also why you can love and hate someone. You love them because you invest in them (either in thought or action or both), and you hate them because of how they respond, or don't respond. It's unfortunately common.

I also learned that loving someone for life has a lot to do with accepting the bad with the good. You can't expect someone to be absolutely everything you ever dreamed of without a single draw-back. This phenomenal book makes it clear that you won't get everything you ever thought you wanted, but in a loving healthy relationship you'll get everything you need and more.

Mort makes it clear that love is not blind. Instead, being loveless is blind. There are times where we don't understand why someone is in love with someone else. We think to ourselves, "Why does he love her? She's not very pretty, she's always ranting about something, she has a bad attitude, she dropped out school, she isn't healthy, she's boring... And he's just such a great guy. What does he see in her? He must be blind!" The theoretical 'He' isn't blind. Rather, he sees something else we are all blind to because of our prejudices. He sees the beauty in her that we can not. The "rose-tinted" glasses that we wear while we're in love is the real world. Everyone else who isn't wearing them is just upset because they aren't wearing them too.

The understandings I gained from these two books were indispensable in becoming healthier. Health is not just physical, it is also metal. Without open minds and open hearts we can never truly be healthy, or happy.

Just think of the most narrow-minded person you know. Are they full of energy and life? Are they happy? Do they have goals they are excited about reaching? Do they smile frequently? Or are they a bitter person you don't want to be around?

Age 20

Difficult Realization

I have a very poignant memory that sticks out in my mind as the moment when I realized the full impact that my poor health had on me. It was the middle of the winter and the snow was piled deep. Henry and his friend -- let's call her Sarah -- invited me to go out and walk around Downtown Buffalo just for the fun of it. Just to be young and explore.

It was a strange concept to me, but I had been out with Henry a few times on similar excursions. He had this concept of "group introspection." It involves going outdoors with one or more people and just walking around and observing the world, mostly in silence. It sounds boring, but it actually is quite enjoyable, especially if you do it during interesting weather, or in an unusual location.

It was very cold, and I bundled up. I wore a lot of layers, the outer layer including a very large puffy black coat. I actually happen to have a few photos from that night, although none of them are from me. But the photo allows me to place the exact date as January 31st 2009 - the day after my 20th birthday.

This photo I took was while Sarah and Henry were ahead of me as we walked alongside an old ship.

Shortly after taking that photo we wandered away from the water front. Sarah and Henry were drawn to a large pile of snow and began to climb up it. I wanted so badly to follow them and have a good time but my feet had gone numb, and I was exhausted. I was shivering. In contrast, both of them had warmed up. Henry had taken off his coat. With their bare hands they made snowballs and threw them at each other. They laughed uproariously.

On the outside I stood at the bottom of the snow pile looking cold. Inside a revelation was happening. I was not normal. I was not okay.

I may have been "better" than I had been my entire life, but I was not healthy.

Before me was an example of what exuberant youth was supposed to look like. It tore me to pieces. I had to call my mom to get a ride home: I was afraid the cold and the long walk through the cold was going to make me sick.

It makes me want to cry even now, just remembering and writing about it. Thankfully, I've come a very long way since then.

Age 20

I left my third love on March 1st of 2009, the anniversary of the House Fire that happened in 2004, when I was fourteen. There are only so many broken promises and angry drunken mistakes one can take from a person before they decide the cons outweigh the pros.

I wanted to get healthier and happier. I wanted to improve my vocabulary, learn new things, meet new people: my third love was not interested in changing. I was very depressed about having to leave him, and for months I wondered if it had been a mistake.

Because I was lonely and depressed I spent as much time as possible out of the house. I went to any event that was free and sounded like fun. Open mics, community yoga, writer's meetings, poetry readings, hacky-sack gatherings and potlucks.

I had discovered, an awesome way to discover people who are doing things nearby that you'd also like to do. I found a nearby weekly free yoga class only a few blocks from my house in Buffalo, NY, and I also discovered a board game groups and a meditation circle.

Because I was no longer in school, and no longer had any form of support (my parents we're giving me $40 a week for groceries, but that was it), I got a summer job working for Urban Roots; a community garden center. Again, it was driven home to me how much weaker I was than my peers. The forty-pound bags of soil were too heavy for me to lift, and dragging them onto carts and then dragging the carts around for customers took a hard toll on my body. After just four hours of work I was exhausted for the rest of the day and the following day.

I made myself a promise that I'd create a career in working on my own terms; regardless of how I did it. Set hours where you have to be somewhere, no matter how you feel, is very detrimental to your health, especially if you work with people who do not know you very well and are not sensitive to your individual needs.

I realized, upon returning to a scheduled life, that being out of school had done a lot for my health in some aspects, although there was an aspect it degraded. It was good to be out of school because my stress was lessened dramatically, I was able to sleep when I needed it and because I was able to take my health needs at my own pace without worrying about time commitments to school. However, having nothing to force you out of the house, ever, is not good either.

Free from my third love (and not enjoying being free), I spent more time outdoors than I ever had previously in my life. My Dad and I started planning a second road trip around the country. Since I no longer had anyone at home "waiting for me" I wouldn't feel bad leaving home for a few weeks.

Raw Food Potluck

When I discovered the raw-food meetup I didn't really know what it was, but I knew I could attend potlucks for free (or rather, for only the cost of bringing a dish) and experience an entire healthy meal.

I received much more than I expected; not just a nearly-free meal, but rather, the beginning of a paradigm shift. I noticed that every single person at the potluck was happy, healthy, educated, interesting, opinionated and open minded. I asked myself, "What is it about these people that makes them so vibrant -- so full of life?"

I was blown away by the quality of the people at the first potluck, the second, the third and the fourth. Each time I found the same amazing phenomenon: Everyone who attended was so happy, so positive. It wasn't the sort of fake-happy that you see at summer camps as a kid, or the sort of plastered-on happy that salesmen wear. It wasn't the sort of giddy-short-lived happiness that comes from drinking too much. It was genuine contentment with life; a calm, relaxed and open nature. The food tasted good, and I felt great after eating it, but the people themselves brought a dimension to it that the food alone could not.

I was not only astounded by the people, but by the sheer volume of foods I had never tried before. Usually potlucks come with the same staples: macaroni salad, broccoli casserole, some dish centered on chicken, potato chips, juice and/or soda, a cheap ice-berg lettuce salad, a chili-dish, a pasta and sauce dish -- that is your typical potluck. These were so far from typical that it was stunning.

The flavors and foods were so inventive and memorable that I still vividly recall many of the foods I tried during those first few potlucks. From memory:

Hummus made from sprouted beans and raw nut butter
Dehydrated seed chips in three different varieties
A coleslaw sort of dish which included raw corn
A mango-tart punch served within the scooped out rind of watermelon
Coconut "milk" made from young coconut juice and young coconut meat blended together with a pinch of vanilla

And of course there were all sorts of fruit salads, cabbage-based vegetable blends, all sorts of creative salads, dressings and dips. It wasn't just a gathering to eat, it was a gathering to marvel in each other's artisan food creations. It was a gathering not just to gain health, but to gain perspective. It wasn't just about detoxing the body, but also the mind. There was true compassion in the hearts of the people I met at these potlucks. I was touched and blown away.

Toxic foods create toxic attitudes. That's what I began to learn. You eliminate toxins from your diet, your life, and your mind and instead eat things that actually clean your body, you start to become a beautiful vibrant person instead.

I knew I couldn't just "quit" cooked food. I didn't intend to. Although, I wanted to continue going to raw potlucks. I wanted to try new foods. I found myself learning more about the raw lifestyle. For every new dish I learned, I discovered there was something I used to eat that I no longer needed because I had something better to replace it with.

I was no longer just eliminating poisons from my diet, but adding things into my diet that truly nourished my body.

Yet... How could I give up french fries?

I have yet to write the next section, but it's coming soon.

This entry was updated: February 3rd 2011


  1. Found your blog thru a link from Felicity. I loved reading your story and journey. You've really suffered a bad health crisis but the good news is you're young and have figured out what you need to do to heal and be happy which makes you an inspiration to me and others I'm sure. I've only read your history but will certainily check out the rest of your blog. I eat a high raw diet and notice a huge difference when I let my diet slide and try and eat like everyone else. Unfortunately, outside of the net I feel like I'm kind a alone in this journey but that is by choice too, I guess.

  2. I am really inspired by your life journey and am happy u have identified a solution for yrself stay blessed and happey


What brings you here? What are you thoughts? Do you consider yourself a raw foodist? Approximately how much of your diet is raw? Do you consider yourself healthy? What would you like to see more of on this blog? Will you be back? Is this too many questions?