The Book Of You

USA, J¸dische Familie im ExilA few years back, I wrote this.

The idea behind it was that all the bits and pieces of your life get woven not only into your memories, but also the very fabric of your home – using color, shape, furnishings and mementos to paint a picture – instead of words.

What I’ve come to realize, is that those same bits and pieces – indeed, the entire story of your life in all its shame and glory – has a huge impact on your health.

No matter how much you might try to deny it, these various threads of your life nonetheless parallel and influence each other – starting at birth, and continuing undiminished, until you take your last breath.

In short, everything matters!

Every bite you choose to eat, every action you take, every significant person who’s crossed your path – to the soup of environmental chemicals you might be exposed to along the way or how you manage stress.

Taken together, these factors and more can literally foreshadow how you might live out your golden years.

Will you be old and decrepit?
Or will you be alert and vibrant, brimming with life until the very end?

To show what I mean, let me share with you a story.

In the photo above, the young woman you see to the left happens to be my mother. It’s a long-lost family photo just recently resurrected from the dust – taken when she was just shy of her fourteenth birthday.

Snapped by a local reporter, it captures the moment when my mom and her family disembarked from an ocean liner from Europe – and first set foot onto American soil.

The date was November 18, 1938.

They were a family of refugees, emigrating from Germany at the start of WWII. Even though she wasn’t raised Jewish, the German government had still targeted them as such – and I can only guess what might have happened if my grandparents hadn’t had the wherewithal to leave.

I share this little story with you because it’s a telling piece of my mother’s narrative.

Even though my mom always made light of it, having to flee your home country is never an easy thing.

She and her parents were thrust into a new culture and a new language – with different schools, a new job for my grandfather (after years of running his own business), and household chores for my grandmother who had never previously done housework.

Whether this was a traumatic experience for her personally, or simply an exciting adventure – there was no doubt an emotional component. Not only that, there’s the trauma itself and then there’s your reaction to it – two very different things

Be it trauma or adventure, it became part of the fabric of my mother’s life, contributing to the woman she became, the values I was raised with, and ultimately the woman she is today.

How does this matter from a health perspective?

At age 91, my mother is at the end of her very long life.

For several years already, she has been stricken with the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s – as I’ve shared previously here.

The point I want to make however, is that my mother’s immigrant story likely impacted her entire life, ultimately influencing – along with other factors too numerous to mention – her long-term health, and how she would age.

Life unfolds in a similar way for all of us!

Even though your story will be completely different and unique to you – it’s still your story. From your earliest memories, everything that has happened to you in your life has molded you into the person you’ve become.

And so…

If you’re unwell – does this mean there are no answers?

In the above scenario, we can imagine the stress that comes with being a refugee and having to reinvent your life.

In my mother’s case, she certainly had other stressors in her adult life – as do each of us. One in particular, that’s often overlooked, is diet – and in my mom’s case, a lifelong sensitivity to gluten (potentially undiagnosed Celiac disease) likely did her in.

It’s why I’m such a stickler for tending to diet first and foremost!

It’s also WHY I’m passionate in particular, about all things gluten – because it can, indeed, be that deadly!

So let me ask you.

What is your ultimate goal for your own life?

Do you want to still be hiking and riding your bike when you’re 90?

What steps are you taking NOW to ensure that happens for you?

Are you doing everything in your power to ward off a debilitating age-related disease – be it Alzheimer’s or something else?

What about your children and grandchildren?

Did you know that children born today have an even higher likelihood of sickness and early death than previous generations?

The power for change rests within you.

There are many life experiences that each of us shares.

Often, it’s an accumulation of what you’ve relied on in the past in order to mask your symptoms and find relief from whatever ails you.

Yet I’m at a point in my life when I’ve learned to question much of what I’ve done in the past.

While it would be easy to say that’s ‘water under the bridge’ – it isn’t reason enough to dismiss why things can’t change from here.

Or why others can’t learn from my own experiences.

Because what I DON’T want – for myself, or for YOU – is to be old and sick.

I know that many of the aches and pains and symptoms we’ve been collectively taught to associate with old age, are NOT normal – including cognitive decline!

Nor is it acceptable for today’s children to be faced with such dismal prospects for their own futures.

Notice that I’ve come this far without even mentioning genetics.

If that strikes you as odd, it was entirely intentional – since the DNA you’re born with is only one small part of your story.

All of this is what I call the Book of YOU.

It’s your story to tell, and also to change where change is warranted – if and when you’re ready to embrace it.

Care to join me on this journey?


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