Other

Please check the box of which applies,

the one that captures you, or at least tries

Please pick your sex, race and role,

Or at least something close, and continue to scroll.

Which one applies closest to you?

White, black or brown, to name just a few.

Neither you say? Well then just relent.

For you do not fit our generic convent.

So why bother at all, an ‘other’ you’ll be.

You cannot be an I, you must fit the ‘we’.

Other they call me,

Another it is!

I wear my crown of ‘other’ like it’s my sole biz.

One of honor, of character and of right.

I reign over the land of misfits with entitled delight.

Our clan is of rebels, jests and of laughs.

Where we dabble in ‘other’ sorts of trickery and crafts.

King of others is who I am

Box-less.

Nameless.

Loud.

Shameless.

Mixed blood of two worlds,

Of East and of West.

Born to stand out, among the routine rest.

So please pick your liking in the boxes below,

Are you of character, or lacking of soul?

For neither you nor I are a box you see,

We are the ‘other’

The unorthodox,

The free.

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My kitchen floor confession

I write to you from rockbottom.  Well, for me it was the kitchen floor in the arms of my mother sobbing hysterically.  This morning I had a sudden mental break and felt the weight of everything in my life bring me down to my knees, and on that beautiful dark wooden floor, I let out a wail of raw grief.  I have only let out that sounds twice before in my life and it was when I was told I lost a friend to a car crash in 2006, and when I was told  that my beloved grandfather had passed.

The fight with my mother, aka the tipping point of my sanity, was over washing mason jars. Yes people, mason jars. We could9de433482e02812ef90758693580-postn’t agree as to whether or not we should put them in the dishwasher to properly clean them.  It was then and there I snapped and began yelling out “you always dismiss my anger and fears” and after this bizarre quarrel over cleanliness I crumpled to the floor, finally succumbing to the crushing weight of the worries of my life.

After the wailing, tears and nausea, I arose feeling better and lighter. It truly felt like a total body purge, and my entire body felt like it had been bracing itself for this expected wave of darkness to hit me. Well, I made it out the other side and this lugubrious swell that washed over me taking with it everything that I had been hold on to.

This has been the most trying time of my life, it is a great test of unknowns that the universe or whatever higher power has bestowed upon me.  It is t
he unknown of love, career and health, and this trifecta has pushed me so far into the stratosphere of discomfort I cannot even remember what my comfort zone feels like. My body is still raging with bacterial infections, and last week my GI informed me that along with some other bacterial infections in my gut and bladder and God knows where else, I am also playing host to a bacterial strain called H Pylori, which is probably the cause of my digestive issues, nausea, and can eventually lead to more terrifying symptoms such as stomach ulcers and the fun part, stomach cancer. Looks like the endoscopy and colonoscopy was a good idea.  So now I feel like undesired a petri dish with gastritis.

The course of action? More antibiotics of course! Three at once for fourteen days to be exact.  My one year anniversary of antibiotics recently passed last November and it was a very sobering moment of realization that I have been on antibiotics for that long.  Sometimes even two at a time.  Eventually they had to stop administering them since I became resistant to some.  Now my GI wants to put me on three, and that began this sudden spiraling ride into the pits  of despair, one which I am finally clawing my way out of.

 

 

Bottoms up

It had a metallic sweetness to it that made my stomach churn with nausea, and as I sipped on the noxious cocktail all I could think was, I still have 16 ounces of this stuff to finis!  It is day three of my pre colonoscopy and endoscopy prep and so far, this is the most unpleasant part of it.  Tomorrow is the day I will have a small tube-like mechanism with a camera on the end of it poke around to take an in-depth look through my body in order to discover just what the hell is going on with my digestive system.

Two days ago I started my ‘low fiber’ diet, which is primarily food with zero nutritional value and loads of sugar. Hey any excuse for sugar is the diet for me! But seriously, it wasn’t all bad and list included some of my favorite things like pretzels, saltines, pancakes and and peanut butter. The only real food I have eaten these past fews days are melon, ripened bananas, which I discover I love putting on saltines (weird I know), and eggs that came from happy cage-free country chickens I promise. Saturday I stuck to my diet like a good little patient and had pancakes with peanut butter, how dedicated am I?  It is these delectable memories that I carry with me through this final leg of the purging race.A race, that is exactly what it feels like right now, running back and forth from my bed to the bathroom and keeping myself entertained in between each dash with Netflix.

Before having to forcefully drink the clear 16 oz. liquid prescription that basically incinerates your insides and simulates a watered-down version of ebola (too soon?), I was ‘hangry’ and strung out on sorbet all day.   You see, on the third day of prep you begin your ‘clear liquid diet’ and sorbet was the closest thing to solid food permitted on this fabulous liquified menu. After the impending clock stuck five today, I had to take my first of two doses of a bowel prep kit and after finishing one this evening I am not sure if I am going to have the courage to polish off another one tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM.

Oddly enough what really scares me about this procedure isn’t the constant race back and forth or the putrid brew, but it is the idea of the anesthesia. I have yet to be put under since I have fortunately never had to have surgery, and for some odd reason, I do not like the idea of not being in control of my consciousness.  I am the commander of this crazy ship and having a stranger being the master of my awareness is just something I cannot get comfortable with.  Many have tried to soothe my apprehension and have told me this is the most painless part, it is just like falling asleep.  This should be easy shouldn’t it? Then why am I nervous? Most people would complain that the bowel prep is the hardest part, however for me the test will come tomorrow as I give the helm of dreams away to another and pray they sail my ship through calm waters.

A spoonful of acceptance

Acceptance is a powerful tool, one which I have been playing with all week.  Its a malleable things that can fit and be molded to any problem or hardship plaguing your daily life.  This may seem like a watered down cliche but I promise you, it is the greatest medicine there is.  Accepting what is first came along while I was exploring the soothing world of HeadSpace, one of the greatest apps in my opinion. It is meditation for the modern man.  At first I did not understand what the calming voice of Andy Puddicombe, who for ten minutes, talks you down from the ledge of life’s angsts with useful tips of accepting all of the ghosts of adulthood we are haunted by in order to allay and comfromt the difficulties we feel.

In several of the videos that accompany the ten minute sessions, the modern meditator is told to accept and acknowledge the referred pain of what the body is feeling thanks to the crippling thoughts of the mind. We are all guilty of ignoring even the tiniest complaints of the body due to our busy lives and tendency to discount our well-being.  Accept that feeling of anxiety the body is feeling.  Accept that overwhelming sadness that has been dwelling in your heart. Unfortunately we have found many ways to avoid acceptance through several avenues and facets such as social media, alcohol and my all time favorite, food.

As stated in earlier accounts I have written, when it comes to hiding and finding a safe comfortable space where I pretend like nothing can touch me, food is the warm cushiony place I flee to. It welcomes me with open arms and I graciously accept its momentary medicine and deposit of dopamine I so desperately need when I am either stressed, saddened or angry. But of course that will eventually wear off and I am left feeling even worse and bloated.

The other day I had an enlightening discussion with my sister who I have come to revere and deeply respect.  No matter what the circumstance, she is always there to offer a guiding hand and in my darkest hour she has been my guiding light home.  I told her of my chocolate shame last Saturday and how happy it made me feel.  She then stated that whenever she has spoken with a woman of her most enjoyable time it usually includes sweatpants, a couch and jar of peanut-butter.  Personally, that is when I am most at peace, in that small pocket of time when nothing matters and my tastebuds are bathing themselves in waves and waves of chocolate peanut-butter swirls. I have never experienced this nourishing nirvana during a salad.

My sister raised an interesting point, if we constantly deprive ourselves from that time of peanut-butter paradise, or berate ourselves for succumbing to our cravings will our body even absorb the nutrients of that salad? Or will we reject its nourishment and mindfully prevent it from being ingested when faced by a wall of self-hate and negativity. 66841dde6f83c62d85de1b299b4_-post So why not accept the momentous times spent on the couch with your best friend as you both gorge yourself on whatever meal you both usually consider to be taboo. By excepting this form of nourishment, the nourishment of happiness and communion, we can then accept other wholesome things into our body and soul.

Accept what you are feeling, do not hide from it.  We continuously play this toxic game of hide and seek with ourselves and our emotions hoping never to be found. Eventually however, that anguish stops counting to one-hundred and comes looking for us. Rest assured, it always finds you.

Welcome to day 7

As I rolled over in bed this morning, slowly waking up to the harsh reality of the day streaming into my room along with the sunshine, my stomach began to ache with guilt and gluten. Today is day 7 of my Nourishing Cleanse and I feel hung over. But this hangover is not from the remnants of a glass of wine or a stiff drink, its from the bag of dark chocolate covered almonds,coconut ice cream and gluten free pretzels.

Yesterday was day 6 and I knew it was going to be my most challenging. Why you may ask? Well because it fell upon a Saturday, a day when I usually allow myself to enjoy the simple pleasures and flavors of life and avoid any sort of adult responsibilities,such as GRE homework or emails. It is the day when I can completely run away from my problems.

Day 6 started out strong.  I woke up, did some body tapping and walked into the kitchen to prepare my bone broth and veggies.  As I heated my soup, arms crossed in frustration, all I could imagine was sugar. Sugar, my one weakness, sugar my one true hate and lovIMG_468723308e.  Sugar, the sweet rug woven of chocolatey threads and peanut butter patterns where I sweep all of my troubles and torments underneath.  I tried to remind myself that sugar and snacking was where I hid from my problems and pressures like a kid underneath a blanket, and that is what I was trying to break free from.  However with this ten day cleanse I have been left like an exposed nerve, raw and naked to my demons with nowhere to hide. And like any terrified cornered animal, I lashed out in fear.

Yesterday was a day that beckoned for a couch, Netflix, snacks and my best friend who shares my affinity and appetite for sugar. No, I thought to myself, I must push these delicious and comforting images out of my mind and persevere.  It was a cold and dreary day outside and winter had officially announced itself.  The Austin sky was blanketed in a parade of gray clouds that resembled shades of silver cotton candy (mmm sugar) and upon this scrumptious canvas, I saw the sprinkling of temptation on the horizon.

As the day passed, my strength and will-power waned as it washed away by the cold rain.  To escape the chilling weather, my friend and I went into a little cafe on South Congress and ordered a hot chocolate and12122899_10103496508131630_6007383513195763696_n copy a decaf Americano. Yes, decaf, I had been barred from caffeine as part of my healing and while I wasn’t sure if decaf coffee was even permitted on this cleanse, I did not even care at this point.  Sitting with our hot drinks on the porch swing of the little charming cafe, steam swirling in the grey light of day, I had had enough!  I wanted sugar goddammit! I was like one of those ants infected by parasitic fungus that takes complete control over its host and completely manipulates its behavior. I gladly succumbed to my sweet parasitic manipulator, and dove headfirst into a bag or dark chocolate covered almond and from there forgot about the cleanse, my health and my sugar-free sanity.

It is day 7 and I am preparing a savory redeeming bowl of chicken broth. In it I have put grass-fed bison, roasted acorn squash, zucchini noodles, fresh cilantro and avocIMG_468711657ado.  While I may not have thrown in the towel yesterday, I did gently set it down to be ‘forgotten’ briefly and then conveniently picked it right back after dancing madly in an altered sugary state of madness.  They say that to err is human. If I can benefit in any way from this blunder it is to forgive myself and continue these next few days with gentle compassion.  So I raise this nourishing bowl of soup to my lips with love and sip graciously for the start of a new sugar free day. Salut!

Ten Day Soup Salute

Today is the first day of my Nourishing Cleanse journey. This is not your average cleanse that simply administers a protocol of starving yourself through severe food restrictions and rules that basically leave you dizzy and ‘hangry’, making you a menace to society.  What I admire about this ten day journey to wellness is that it adds a plethora of food rich in nutrients and healing broths and soups that are meant to reinforce the body’s ability to heal and recover from the many contaminants we ingest and absorb through either our food or the air we breath.  Life today is dizzying blur of chaos and stress and we are bombarded by toxins, anxieties and poisonous pressures administered by the hand of expectations we put upon our society.

So how has day one gone? So far it has been as comforting and savory as the soups and broths I have slowly drunk today.  I added a range of vegetables to each of these warm delicious pools and sipped with absolute pleasure and the intention of healing.  For part of this cleanse is also about the healing of the spirit, to set a goal of meaning throughout these days put aside specifically for peace and tranquility.  One of my intentions is to be mindful and to take pause in the moment in order to truly be present in anything I do.  This may seem like a simple task however, it has already proven to be an eye opening experience. I often catch myself detached from the ‘now’ distracted by my phone like the many around me, all of us with our heads bent in technological submission bowing to the information gods in our palms.

Here we go. Ten days of healing. Ten days of real food. Ten days of baptizing my body with the nourishing properties of broths, soups, and positive declarations.

My stranger, myself

I have been a cruel stranger to my body for a very long time now, and these past few weeks have taught me that wretched and shameful fact. Just this week, I have learned a lot about myself, both mentally and physically, and more importantly, I have learned that these physical ailments I have been a hostage to since 2009 were my own outcries.  The blood work came back from the lab and I saw my doctor the other day to discuss the results and they weren’t good. There a number of red flags, banners belonging to each house of illness waving across the battlefield of my body. To name a few, they discovered severe inflammation, bacterial infections, viral and fungal infections raging inside my G.I. tract like a storm of infectious doom.  Not only is my stomach and digestive system in free fall, but my thyroid has decided to stop working on me. While this may not be an issue yet since I am still young, it will be within ten years and there is no time like the present to begin healing.

Sitting there with my doctor, as he ran down the list of big fancy medical words that struck fear into my heart with each complex pronunciation, I began to become aware that all of those episodes of pain, nausea, ongoing headaches, fatigue etc. was my body begging for my help and love, yet all I had been doing up to this point was muffling these cries for help with antibiotics, Advil and any other forms of medication that might treat the symptoms yet no the cause. Lets face it, we all prefer to do the adult thing and ignore or run away from any problem.

I came face to face with not only my physical complaints, but my mental. In a way dealing with the physical is easier, you combat the root of the cause and stick to the regiment. With the mental afflictions however, you are lancing boils of emotional pain surrounded by years of dysfunctional scar tissue and doubt.  Another sentinel of health I am working with is a wonderful nutritionist and life-coach.  Walking into her room, I felt a surge of emotion and was already on the brink of tears. It had been an exceptionally difficult week, and as my dear friend had pointed out to me after I told her of my sudden explosion of tears, the body and mind remember each doctor’s appointment. And since I am no stranger to doctor’s offices and receiving frustrating news of , “well we just don’t know what is wrong but take these it’ll help for now.”  Her office was not an office.  It was an oasis. A sanctuary from life and all its troubles.  The room was awash with a warm glowing light pouring from a fountain head of a pink Himalayan salt lamp.  Out poured a stream of healing radiance and I gladly bathed myself in its brilliance.  I sat there across from her, two strangers in a safe spot nestled away from the world, and she gently coached me through opening up to myself after all these years and acknowledging each and every emotion inhabiting my body.

“They are guests, Laila” she told me in her soothing voice, “say hello to each of your guests.”  Reluctantly I closed my eyes raw with tears and looked within.  I pictured myself walking to each room of complaint and pain and opened the doors slowly to meet the guest.  The first door was the door of fear that dwelled deep within my heart.  Upon entering this room I was confronted by a shapeless dark ominous creature.  Here it was, the monster that weighed heavy on my heart and latched itself onto every thought or emotion I have felt or had, and now I must come face to face and treat it like a friend.  I looked at it and we locked eyes in my vision, and suddenly this creature transformed itself into me at two-years old. My two year old self was also crying and threw her arms up to me, asking to be held, loved and felt. I picked up my little delicate self and held her close and the fear was melted away into a softened understanding.

I walked through each hall and entered each room of anxiety, overwhelming doubt and sadness and recognized each specter who soon became friend.  In that room of pink and gold I found peace with myself, a person who I have long ignored and dismissed. I truly regret this time lost with ‘me’ but I now have this knowledge and new-found respect for what my body and mind needs. Be gentle with yourself, those painful pangs you may feel could be the forgotten you just wishing to be picked up and held.