“Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with a chance of achieving something through his own suffering.”
I spent 17 years in marketing and product development for a luxury linen company. I loved so much about it. The creativity, the challenges, the money, the adrenaline high beautiful things gave me. There was lots of responsibility and lots of high-level stress. I was the classic type-A, driven, impatient person.
That world, apparently, needed an overhaul. October 2009, halfway through “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” I discovered a lump (yes, self breast exams work) that would bring my insane little world crashing down. I was broadsided with a diagnosis of breast cancer that spread to my lymph nodes.
Crap. I hated setbacks. And I hated pink. Now I had both to contend with. This breast cancer thing would be my life changing experience, the one that changes your course, makes you think differently. It changed who I was, who I chose to be around, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was about to learn about a truly healthy lifestyle the hard way.
That year my dance card filled up with 6 chemo appointments, 3 surgeries, 33 radiation visits and 100% mental and physical exhaustion. It forced me to dig deep into illness and disease.
It was tempting to get angry and bitter, but I wanted to change things in my life and environment to make certain it never came back. My previous lifestyle did nothing for my optimal health—mentally or physically. It was toxic and inflammatory—the root of all disease.
So I set out to quell all inflammation in my system. I wanted to know what I could do to enhance the healing process. I also learned it wasn’t just about food! I was forced to look inward. Did I like what I saw and where I was headed—personally and professionally? Not as much as I’d care to admit.
As you can imagine, everything related to food and healthy living became my new obsession. I quickly discovered first hand the power of daily organic juice, clean food and positivity.
Positivity. What did that mean? I learned that your thoughts and your stress are major causes of inflammation.
A degree from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition taught me a holistic approach to wellness and focuses on relationships, work, exercise and spirituality as essentials to building good health. In my former world, this concept would have been met with dismissal, but things were different now. I needed a change. Once I began to dig deep into understanding the science behind it all, I saw immediate results.
I cleaned out the toxic corners in my life: people, thoughts, attitude. I refused to let that stuff into my world. Added yoga, deep breathing, cleaned out my personal care and cleaning products. I changed my environment so to speak. That was a great place to start. That was the inner world clean up. Then came the outer world—the public world everyone else sees. I realized that Hippocrates was right—and I let food be thy medicine, I began embracing this organic whole-foods, plant-based diet. I went hard-core.
Cool. But what if I wanted to go out? There was nothing in this great city of mine that fulfilled my food needs, where I felt secure about the quality and selection of the food and juice. Organic was rarely mentioned and almost never honestly served. I couldn’t eat every meal at home, right? (Insert “opportunity calls” here.)
Here was the career path change: Mary Kathryn and I decided to do it ourselves!
What did we want? A place where we could cultivate “diamonds on our inside.” From there, The GEM was born: a community where people come to get healthy and happy. Build it and they will come. And boy did they ever! Our baby quickly became a place to find approachable, healthy habits that have a profound effect on your long-term health. Anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-energy vampires.
This special little place of healing and happiness hopefully leaves you with a little something better than when you entered. It fills so many different needs. There is a passion for a healthy lifestyle that is satisfied. Our new path gives us the chance to share it with others too.
Your passion and quest for something fulfilling, healthier and happier might just be right in front of you. Don’t wait for a sucker punch from life to change your thoughts, your career, or your habits! Start removing toxins from your life and you will be healthier, happier and possibly gain clarity for new ideas.
YOU ARE YOUR BEST ADVOCATE, your best teacher, your best guide to change. Whether it is adding a daily healthy habit, performing monthly breast exams, health diagnosis or anything else. Take control of your health and happiness each and every moment. Look for a push from the universe to change your world, and possibly someone else too. You never know what new path you might create!