Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Well hello there.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been putting off writing for some reason.  And then the longer the break expands and takes up space, the more pressure builds on what comes next.  This is all in my head, of course.  What’s very interesting is that I actually missed writing.  But as much as I missed it, I still didn’t do it.  What is that about?  Why does motivation seem so elusive sometimes?  For me, it’s lack of motivation and also a sense of “it has to be AMAZING and EPIC and LIFE-CHANGING” in order for it to be a good post.  I apparently have a competitive performance-anxiety issue that is quite pervasive.  One of my favorite stories that some of you may have heard is from my kindergarten teacher….20 years after kindergarten.  I saw her a few years back when I was 26 and she A) remembered who I was which is always fun and B) had some amazing insights into my apparently already formed personality at age 5.

Side story: I had a major hint that my personality was set early on (as a lot are) when I read my baby book with personality descriptions written by my mom.  As a baby, I was really smiley and happy….unless one of my parents walked by without picking me up which is obviously super uncalled for.  I loved hugs, attention, reading (my sister taught me when I was 3), making others happy, and was very determined.  Doomed from the start. :)

At any rate, I run into my kindergarden teacher and it’s all “hey! hi! how are you, life is good, general niceties, etc”.  Then she starts in with “You know I remember you and Jill Pasqualetto and Brandon Davis used to be really good friends [yes, she remembered full names 20 years later!] and you were always really competitive.  You wanted to be the best.  But you were the most competitive with yourself.”  Jeez.  Was I that transparent my whole life…..and since I was FIVE?  I wish she could have told me that, you know, a few years earlier into my 20s.  But it was a huge wakeup call even then.  It wouldn’t be for a few more years that I would start to take my health more seriously, and a few more years after that that I would start to piece together that my stress of trying to be the best at everything while also being in control of everything was slowly draining me.

All of this to say, I’m going into this post without expectation for myself.  It’s something new I’m trying on.  I’m aiming to approach things in life as I would a yoga pose: with interest and curiosity without a sense of “I have to get this right”.  It’s a strange thing that I’ve been practicing “on the mat” for awhile but applying it to real life has been a lot slower.  But I think it’s helping.  Which is good.

What else is going on.  Colitis update.  I had an appt with a new GI, Dr. Barrett Levesque, last Monday and have a colonoscopy scheduled for April 29, my first!  So exciting (she said sarcastically).  No, it will be good to get a baseline for where I’m at since I’ve been off meds for over 8 months now and never had a full colonoscopy.  I still have good days and bad.  I’m still learning my emotional, stress, and food triggers, and at what times of the day and month those are more prevalent.  It’s a hard freaking process.  But it’s fun and I am continuing to approach my ever-present colitis as a spotlight where I can more accurately shine my love and attention.  The new doctor is light years better than my last.  He is an expert in IBD and is open to trying out different things, although he is still very entrenched in the “fact” that a prescription will make my colitis go away, we just haven’t found the right one yet.  It’s how he is trained and how he approaches disease, which is fine.  He answered all of my questions, including ones about how stress and exercise play a role in IBD.  His perspective is that although stress plays a role, when my colon is healthy and functioning at a blood-free level, then the stresses will not affect it as much.  But as it is right now, the inflammation is super susceptible to any little thing.  He feels that although diet and lifestyle can help maintain a healthy colon, enemas and pills are necessary (or at least faster) at getting the colon into fighting shape.  He did say that he thinks no ONE thing makes colitis go away, it is a combination of all the interventions.  Again, light years ahead of my last GI.

Dr. Levesque also made me feel better about the risk of cancer since I’m going on 8+ years of colitis.  He’s never seen anyone actually develop colon cancer and the overall numbers don’t seem to actually increase as reported in a lot of data based on older information.  The numbers are simply not coming in as high as they were thought to.  Developing colon cancer is one of the things that keeps me up at night when I’m having a freakout moment, so hearing that it is not likely was hugely helpful.

My current plan is to get the results of the colonoscopy and sort of shop them around to different types of healers (GI, ND, acupuncturist, integrative MD, Ayurvedic healer, etc) to see what resonates the most with me.  It’s a total trip to learn about all these different types of healers and to see that each of them has their toolbox full of ideas, each of which is equally trusted and valid in their eyes.

Speaking of healing (wouldn’t it be nice to just be all healed up?), I attended a Chopra Center retreat last month called “Journey Into Healing” which was phenomenal.   It was geared toward integrative medicine, featuring Deepak himself and also Dr. Andrew Weil of anti-inflammatory fame.  My sister volunteered at a retreat there a few months back and knew I would love it (she was right, of course).  I was originally turned on to the Chopra Center because they do a 21-day meditation challenge a few times per year, and it’s all online and free.  I enrolled in my first one in August 2010.  I’ve since enrolled in 6 times….and I have yet to actually finish all 21 days.  haha.  It’s the thought that counts?  Meditation practice remains challenging for me.  The motivation factor strikes again!  With that one, I think a fear factor kicks in too, like, what’s going to happen?  Will my mind melt down and never come back?  What if I never reach total consciousness?  Am I a failure?  Damn performance anxiety.  I can’t get away from it even with intentional breathing.  Am I doing it right?  What do I look like?  haha.  My thoughts are so endless.

At any rate, there were probably 100 different interesting and perspective-changing events that happened to me during the retreat, but I think the most important was reminding myself to keep it simple.  It’s very easy for me to get bogged down in the details of Ayurveda or medicine or life in general.  But at the end of the day, just making yourself happy and calm seems to be the answer to so many questions.  Bobby McFerrin is a freaking genius!  haha.  Lots of ways and theories on how to do that (enter all those crazy details) but I’m working toward keeping it simple, happy and calm.

So choose one option below for your day and I’ll talk to you soon!  Love to all.

Be Happy

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Categories: Balance, Colitis, Love | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Don’t Worry, Be Happy

  1. Deb Rosevear

    Good article, Alisa! I’m so very glad that you have a new GI group to work with. Also glad that you are getting a colonoscopy. Although, I just had one and they are NOT fun! First you drink all sorts of horrible chemicals and Gatorade (bad enough), then you can’t leave your house for about 2 days. (and don’t get very far from a bathroom, either ;-) I’ll be thinking of you… I read above that you learned to read at age three. Amazing! It’s very unusual to read that early… even more unusual that both you AND Jon learned to read at age three. He was reading quite well at three. He took over reading books to ME at that point. Funny… You two are such a great match. Love you… your Mom on the East Coast.

    • Thanks Deb! I’m also excited about the new GI. I’m definitely not looking forward to the colonoscopy prep but it will yield good things I hope. Yes, Michelle was my very own, very strict, teacher. She was learning to read, so I was going to learn to read, dammit! haha. Set the stage for Michelle teaching me a lot of awesome things growing up, I’m very lucky to have such a special sister….and smart husband. :)

  2. Lolo

    Such freaking good news about the cancer thing! I’m glad :)

    Also- can I do the 21 day meditation thing with you next time?

    • Of course! Maybe you can help keep me in line and actually follow through with all 21 days. :) and yes, that is good news, definitely reduced my stress level. I’m not dying tomorrow after all! ;) Thanks jam partner! (btw I’ve eaten an absurd amount of strawberries since Saturday. I feel like one giant strawberry…and I still have a ton more. I can’t even imagine your freezer!!)

  3. Gina Beth

    Hi Alisa!
    You never know who you are speaking to when you speak… but today it was me :-)
    Gabriel started football again and i have been so “worried” about his knee and all the things that could go wrong… Boy did I need to hear your message this morning!
    “Don’t worry, be happy” Father said sort of the same message on sunday at mass- I was listening- but your post really drove it home!
    I am going to not worry- and be happy my son has both legs and is healthy and able to go into football again- that gratitude thing you were talking about-
    Love love love you!

    • Wow, such perfect timing cousin! That is scary, especially given what happened last year (or was it 2 years ago??) I’m so glad this helped you today…you are inspiring me to keep the faith and not worry about what we can’t control…which is most things, haha. LOVE you!

  4. :) Great post. Didn’t know your plan after the colonoscopy – that’s exciting. Though I love the 21-day challenge I’ve been meditating recently with binaural sounds at certain frequencies. Came across Niraj Naik, another Gut Warrior, he has this you tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/alchemysoundtherapy . Still researching but apparently different frequencies affect different things. repair DNA, work on freedom from regret/fear. Fascinating stuff. I find the sounds really soothing.

    Best of success Monday! (And Sunday night – feel free to text if anything comes up

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