The Opportunity of Adversity
Adversity comes to us in many forms throughout our lives. In most cases, we have no choice but to learn how to deal with life’s sinster realities, even if it feels as if they are literally killing us. However – pain, loss, sorrow and all the feelings we hope never to feel, are what allow love, joy, and happiness to be feelings we can experience. Without pain how could we know what love is? How could we identify it? Would you be willing to give up the feeling of love so that you would never have to feel pain? Tough question…Life wouldn’t be much to live in that case. Depending on how you choose to look at adversity, even the hardest of times can be a blessing in disguise.
I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with such an adversity at a young age in my life. I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease/Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 23.. right about the time my modeling and acting career was taking off. I started having symptoms in my teenage years, but it was not diagnosed until later on. For those of you who are unaware of what Crohns Disease is, it’s an auto-immune disease which effects a persons digestive tract. It can be so destructive that in extreme cases it can lead to death.
Seven months ago, after being in remission for 2 years, I had the worst episode I’ve had in the past 5 years. This one nearly took my life and left me bed ridden at 125 lbs from my naturally lean weight of 175 lbs. So drugged up and delusional, I was barely coherent. I spent my birthday and Thanksgiving in a non english speaking hospital – lovely people. I spent Christmas at home with my mother and sister Melanie. They helped me wean off of pain killers, sleeping pills, anti-virals, steroids and antibiotics while massaging my useless legs which were to weak to be of any use to me. My body was so stressed I was unable to watch Disney movies because the minimal conflicts in the movies caused me overwhelming agony. At that point, I remember death being less scary than the idea of living in that pain forever.
Since then, I’ve gained 40 lbs of lean body weight and continued my career in holistic nutrition, modeling and acting. Holistic therapies have been the number one reason for my recovery, and I attribute much of my success to the power of the human body, love, and the nurturing ways mother earth has to offer. When I encounter someone who has similar issues in their life or has someone close to them with similar issues, they are usually looking for a “secret formula” to recovery. I’m here to say there is no secret formula except to become a student of the human body, mind, and soul & apply the knowledge you learn to your own life. You will find the rewards are abundant in every facet.
I consider myself lucky to deal with such a thing early in life. Most of us don’t face any real health issues until later on. When I think about “what’s good” about this tremendously testing experience, I feel proud. I feel like a warrior who has an inner light so bright my energy brings great value to those around me. I know shame. I know faith. I know loss. I know pain. I know what it takes to succeed and I carry that with me everywhere. I carry that into an interview, to a date, to my loved ones, and to my choice to eat the Dorrito or not eat the Dorrito!!
My teacher and naturopath doctor likes to say that the greatest energy always prevails and I agree with him wholeheartedly. No matter the issue in life, come at it with discipline, an open mind and open heart, willing to fail but also willing to love. I believe one of those doors you peak through will have an amazing gift which will feel much like Christmas morning. I must warn you if you are going to take on a giant, you are most likely to get squashed as I did…many….many….many times. The most important part of changing your reality is the ability to learn from you failure and try again. It’s also one of the hardest. But if you can, once the light is yours, you will forever be a changed person with a new understanding for what life is in all its glory. You will be a warrior and your own kind of ‘David vs. Goliath’.
When I become impatient or frustrated at my progression in any of my ambitions, I remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Success is found when things are done correctly, even if the process is slower. When I start to lose faith, I remind myself that those who say they can’t and those who say they can; are usually right. When I’m overwhelmed, I drop everything and celebrate the whole purpose of all this- Life.