What IS Your Body Saying To You?
It was a typical day. I was getting ready for work, putting on mascara when something caught my eye. It was on my eye! My pupil looked like it was leaking into the white of my eye. It was no longer round and confined to the shape of a circle, it was a misshapen oblong blob. I thought to myself what is going on?!
My name is Raquel and I grew up in Northwest, Indiana, with my mom, dad, and younger brother. We were a close family. We lived just 2 blocks from Lake Michigan near the Indiana National Dunes. My parents were married until my father passed. We lived a good life. I went to private school, public school, and from 7th through 12th grade, went to a performing arts high school.
The performing arts school, a new school in the area, was holding auditions for acceptance to the school during my 6th grade year. I had friends who were going to audition. I played the piano, so I decided to audition as well. There was a teacher at my school who had never been one of my teachers, but she had heard that I planned to audition and for some reason, took an interest in me and asked me what I was going to do for my audition. I told her. I am going to play the piano. She said, “and what else are you going to do? You have to be able to do more than one thing. You have to be a triple threat when you go to audition!” My heart sunk. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know how to do anything else except play the piano, and I wasn’t that great at that! She must have seen the look on my face. She told me, if you come to my classroom during lunch or after school, that she would help me prepare for my audition. So, I agreed. She spent time with me helping me to put together a monologue for my audition. The day of my audition came. I played the piano and performed my monologue. I did not get accepted for my ability to play the piano. I did get accepted for theater!
Little did I know what a blessing this teacher and this opportunity would be for me. Landing this opportunity allowed me to go to a new performing arts school, where our classrooms were small, and the teachers were fully engaged and amazing. My graduating class had 66 students. It was a wonderful and unique experience.
I continued my education and went to college. At the age of 27, my husband and I moved to New York . We lived there for 2 years and lived in Nineveh for 2 years so that my husband and I could split our commutes to work.
It was while I was living in New York with my husband, that my dad passed away. I remember being acutely aware of my mother and the fact that she was now alone. My little brother was away at school. My mother and father had been happily married for 32 years. My dad was only 52 years old when he passed. My mom, only 50. They had a wonderful marriage. Their marriage was the standard for how I viewed relationship and marriage. My father’s death and my mother now being alone, caused me to pause and reflect on what was important. And what was important to us was family. We wanted to be a covering for my mother. In addition to that, it also caused me and my husband to pivot in our married life. We had been so focused on our educations and our careers that the time to focus on having a family just never seemed right. We decided that family was the priority and that we had to live our lives to make things fit around family.
Our daughter was born 10 months to the day of my dad’s passing. She graduated from college this year. We also have a 17 year old son who will be a senior next year.
As I sit here now and reflect on my life, I am grateful for the life I have lived. Life was not always perfect, but I am deeply grateful.
When I think about what was difficult for me growing up, it was wrestling with this expectation that I placed on myself of needing to know what I wanted to do with my life. My husband always knew what he wanted to do and was always on this certain trajectory for his life. I on the other hand, did not know what I wanted for my life and felt that I should. My life was made up of time after time, me responding to the next opportunity.
But what I have learned is that it is okay to not know or have it all planned out. What I have learned is that I have become a person who has prepared myself through my education and experiences and in doing so, have found that I am prepared for the next door that opens. Through the preparation that I have done, I am ready for that next opportunity that presents itself. And it has worked out well for me. It took some time coming to peace with this.
What I find is difficult now as an adult, is staying in purpose. All the experiences that I have had throughout my life have created gifts, talents, anointings, and abilities. I love the job that I have. I believe that I utilize a lot of my talents and skills in the work that I do. But there are other passion pieces to my life and things that really feed me, that fall out of focus sometimes due to the urgent or the emergent things that tend to consume my focus. I want to balance that more and be more filled with those passion pieces that feed me.
As I get older, another challenge is working to stay healthy. If I think about the question of which of the 3 pieces that we talk about, fitness, nutrition and well-being - which is the most challenging for me? The answer is nutrition. I can attest that for 15 years, I have worked out 2-4 times per week on a consistent basis! Nutrition has always been the challenge! What is it about nutrition? I think part of it is socialization and family. Food is feeling! If we are happy, it’s like … “Hey let’s go eat!” and if we are sad…, it’s like “I want to get something to eat.” Whether we are feeling happy or sad, we tend to want to eat. And when we socialize and get together with family and friends, we tend to want to do it around food. And there’s nothing wrong with that! The challenge is learning how to better manage and negotiate how and what to eat.
Fitness, nutrition and well-being are always going to be adjustable components for all of us, but here are two things that I know and that I will offer to other women who are on their journey of living healthy and happy for a life time.
First, stop assuming that you have time, because you don’t. My father died at 52 from blood clots in his lungs and as I mentioned before, in my family we ate when we were happy and when we were sad. It’s important to know that we cannot predict if we will have more time to work on our health or redeem the time to do the things we know to do, in order to work on our health.
And second, I would offer listen to your body because it really is trying to tell you something.
Sometimes it’s knee pain, or lower back pain and you are not listening to the fact that your back is hurting because your boobs done got too big (Yes! I said, “done got!”). We do not listen to our bodies. Instead we adjust, and we buy bigger size clothing. Listening to my body more has come during this time of COVID19.
Listening to and paying attention to my body and being curious about what it was trying to say to me through the oblong shaped blob that had formed in my eye is what caused me to call my mom, who is a nurse, to ask her what might be going on. When I called her, she immediately asked me what my blood pressure was. I told her, “I didn’t know.” I went to get one of those blood pressure cuffs and took my measurement and it was high! While I had reached a spiritual peace, and was feeling like I was doing enough for my health, the blood vessel that had burst in my eye, causing my pupil to look like an oblong blob was screaming something else at me. So, I called the doctor and did a zoom appointment with her and she prescribed a medication. My thinking was moving toward the acceptance of having to take a pill now. It is going to make me pee more. This is going to be the new normal. But I caught myself and said, “NO!” This does not have to be the “new normal” for me! I do not want to be on more medications. I want to take better care of myself so that my knee does not hurt. So that I can exercise consistently. With consistent exercise, my blood pressure will come down. I want to cook differently and eat better so that my cholesterol drops.
Whether it is a spiritual, health, or a wellbeing journey, the enemy to any success in any of these areas, is attempting to do this journey in isolation. The enemy shows up in the stories that we tell ourselves. I will lose 20lbs before I go to a gym or before I get a personal trainer so that I can do the exercises better. I want to be in better shape when I start. I want to get to a point where I can get through 30 minutes of exercise, and maybe then, I’ll reach out for help. Next month, I will start working out. Next week I will start eating better. This is the enemy talking! I have joined Fit Chicks! Live! and am working out consistently and am eating better. I am taking intentional steps to make improvements in my health, and they are paying off. Being able to share those things with someone, relative to health and wellbeing is so helpful. It really is priceless. I would encourage all women NOT to try to manipulate or navigate this journey of health and wellbeing in isolation. Be a part of a community of like-minded women to support you and encourage you and keep the enemy at bay!