Sarcasm’s a tricky thing, isn’t it? Last week I was heading into the 7-11, when I noticed an elderly man in a wheelchair asking a couple for a handout. The boyfriend stopped, but the woman – who was using a walker – paused in front of the doorway. “Oh he’s always asking people to do things for him!” she snapped. But before anyone could respond, I opened the door for her and said, “And let me do this for you.” She thanked me several times and told me how sweet I was, completely missing the irony. This ticked me off. I wasn’t trying to be nice, I was trying to teach her a lesson in compassion! How annoying to mistake my finger wagging for a courteous gesture! Truth? When she saw kindness in me instead of a smartass, her focus changed, her mood changed, and she went inside the store with a big stupid smile on her face. I gave her crap, but she saw compassion.
So how do we take life’s crap and as see it as a gift? A crappy gift I received last year was facial eczema. It was horrible. It worked its way across my face in excruciating two week cycles: first the skin became inflamed like a severe sunburn, then it dried, pulled and tightened across my eyes and mouth like latex make-up, and finally it would crack, peel and flake. No sooner had the flaking subsided, did the painful “sunburn” start all over again. I could no longer wear my contact lenses, and the slightest brush of my hair would trigger insatiable itching. This went on for months.
I didn’t want to be angry about this – my skin was trying to tell me something, right? I saw a Doctor of Asian Medicine, and she prescribed an extreme diet change: no gluten, dairy, coffee, soda, spices, alcohol, chocolate, onions, garlic, dark fruits, brown rice, nuts, etc. This truly sucked. She also prescribed frequent acupuncture sessions and many, many Chinese herbs. After three months, I saw waves of healing and recurrence, but I could no longer afford her. I still stuck with the diet, though. Along the way, I found a meditation practice that provided the only peaceful time in my day. About five months later, things were starting to improve: the cycles were now separated by longer time periods of peaceful skin. Yet it would always return. I knew I needed help, so I contacted my aunt who is an Integrative Doctor in the Midwest. Before I could say anything, she generously offered to work with me long distance. After a full lab analysis, (did you know you can FedEx your body fluids?) it was determined that something was “off” in my gut. She prescribed supplements: fish oils, probiotics, vitamin D, folic acid, digestive enzymes, etc. She also warned me against corn and soy. Really?
What’s working for me, may not work for you. Every body’s different. I’ve been faithfully taking my supplements (about six a day), and I’ve reduced my daily diet restrictions to gluten, coffee, soda, and dairy. Now and again I will see barely noticeable rough patches when I eat “bad” foods, but they clear up quickly. It’s been fifteen months since the eczema began, and today I am grateful for it. It has brought about lifestyle changes that I had put on the back burner for years:
- Integrative Medicine
- Daily meditation
- Conscious eating
If not for the eczema, I’d still be bombarding my system with “harmless” foods, until a perhaps worse situation appeared. I never would have investigated my gut health and discovered deficiencies before they got worse. I also never would have committed to a meditation practice, which grounds me, and regularly brings sweet insights. I awoke to this one last spring:
And at every moment, in every day, there is opportunity to receive all gifts.