Just Because

1. I cannot remember the last time I spent two consecutive days away from the Sheraton.

2. I am currently fostering an insane addiction to “bubbly water”.

3. As a child, I had routine terrible nightmares involving “Clogsworth the Clock”; yes, the talking clock from the movie Sleeping Beauty.  Please, no questions.

4. I was once left behind in a bathroom at a soccer field in Lancaster (aka “middle-of-nowhere, CA).  My parents actually had to turn the car around to come back for me.

5. I tend to overuse the phrase, “to be quite honest“…

6. I frequently relate every day events to scenes from the television shows, “FRIENDS”.

7. I am somewhat of a grammar nazi, however, I regularly misspell the word, peices pieces.

8. I have a bad habit of falling asleep in public locations, for example, the New York City subway, at a moment’s notice.

9. To this day, l refer to my pajamas as “jammies”.

10.  I came home from my first semester of college and told my mother and father I wanted to transfer schools.  When they asked me why, I responded with, “the desert is too brown.”  My mom told me that wasn’t a good enough excuse.  Luckily, I came to my senses.  GO DEVILS!

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Resistance to Fear

I’m afraid of things.

Getting stung by stingrays.

Dining at unfamiliar restaurants.

Being misinterpreted.

…just to name a few.

 

With each year, however, I have come to feel more “courageous”.  Initially, I presumed this feeling to arise from a disintegration of fear, paired naturally with age.

I was wrong.

Plain and simple: at some point, I opted to face my fears whole-heartedly.

 

I speak my mind in the workplace in an effort to implement positive and necessary change.

I stand beside what I believe just, despite opposition.

I lay my heart on the line, because my intentions are good.

 

It never was, is, or will be easy.

In fact, it is precisely this lack of ease which pushes me to my limits.

The outcome often stray from desirable: my ideas shot down, my peers uninspired, my heart broken.   Nonetheless, the strength that resonates from rising to each new challenge is far more empowering than that of anything I’ve yet to experience.

The wise Mark Twain once stated, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

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Aside

Body & Mind

Sometimes, on a tough day, I find myself searching for the root of my strength.

Recently, I found that strength at the finish line of the Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon, December 2, 2011.

Never in my life have I felt so alive as the moment I embraced my father after completing, what I would later learn to be, my most physically-astounding feat.

Unbeknown to me, underneath this inherent strength, lie a most physically-frail twenty-two-year-old.

Standing nearly five feet, seven inches tall, my emaciated stature of 100 pounds classified me as clinically underweight.

My bones had begun to degenerate due to a lack of calcium absorption, undeniably caused by a two-year absence of  a menstrual cycle.

A blood-iron level of “seven” was placing immense strain on my lungs and heart, forcing me to fight for each breath of air in order to keep oxygen circulating through my body.

My B and D vitamin complexes had depleted in near entirety, causing my hair to thin and fall out, and my nails to grow brittle.

An inexplicable fatigue forced me to fight to keep my eyes open throughout the day, all the while sporting dark circles beneath.  

Two-weeks later, perched across from Dr. Meyer, I quivered as she took one good look at me and said,

“Emily – you could have killed yourself”.

I slowly sunk into my chair beneath the weight of it all.  Afraid and confused, I attempted to make sense of the medical jargon and graphs that followed those piercing words.  At some point, through choking tears, I believe I surrendered to the idea that my body had failed me.  It went on like this for some time.

How, in two short weeks, could I have become so defeated, after feeling entirely invincible?

Two-years later, I suppose mental strength made the difference.  Unknowingly, it had enabled me to persevere.

The mind is resilient; and when properly put to use, I believe, more or less conquers all.

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Put A Hat On

Growing up “Elkind” in the early nineties meant several things.

It meant frequent trips to the emergency room to repair sibling-induced injured limbs and severed fingers.

The frustration of learning someone ate your leftovers, despite the fact you had left a threatening note along the lines of:

“DO NOT EAT — I WILL HURT YOU”.

On occasion, spending your birthday in the car, en route to one of Natalie’s soccer tournaments (photographic evidence exists).

If mom wasn’t around, it meant Dad instructing us to “put a hat on” upon asking him to fix our hair.

It typically meant mom driving away from soccer field with the car door wide-open, not surprisingly, due to the fact that one of us had jumped out and failed to close it.

Finding an empty popsicle box in the freezer on a scorching summer day, indicating that someone had failed to dispose of the box after eating the last one; which led to anger, accusations, and eventual ownership of the crime from one of the suspects.

It most certainly meant hearing the below phrases on a daily basis:

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As I look back on this excerpt from my “First Grade Memory Book”, I question what prompted me to select these three phrases, in lieu of all the wise words and endearing advice my parents have offered me throughout the years.

Maybe it’s the “middle child” in me.

I honestly can’t say.

I am certain, however, that I have never looked back upon my childhood, and yearned for someone else’s.

At the end of the day, growing up at 1841 Avenida Josefa meant absolute, undeniable chaos.  And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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What Not To Say To A Celiac

Nearly two years ago to the day, my life forever changed when I learned I had Celiac disease.

I was ashamed and embarrassed.  I avoided eating at restaurants for fear of publicizing the restraints of my new diet.  I chose to forgo discussion of my condition with friends and co-workers in attempts to avoid the never-ending questions and accidentally ignorant comments.

I felt like a total weirdo.

Eventually, I realized this was my life, and it wasn’t about to change anytime soon.

So I embraced it.  I learned to be comfortable discussing the uncomfortable.  And more importantly, I discovered how to make light of humor in the face of it all.

Over the course of these past twenty-four months, I’ve heard it all.  I’ve laughed through it all.  And now, I am going to share my three favorite Celiac comments, that at one time or another, have sent me to the floor rolling.  Although they all fall under the category of “classic remarks one should refrain from ever uttering to a Celiac”, I quite enjoy them.

1. “Can you eat [insert generic food item like: carrot, cheese, chicken]?”

Maybe I should just wear a sign listing all of the items I can and cannot eat.  The last time I checked, any food in it’s natural state, not containing wheat, barley or rye, is gluten-free.  But in all fairness, how can I expect you all to know this? Just think twice the next time you pick up a head of broccoli and wag it in front of my face.

2. “I’m a vegetarian and/or vegan, I totally know how you feel.”

With all due respect, being vegetarian and vegan are choices; not prescriptions.  I really do think it’s great, what your doing.  Please just refrain from comparing your world to mine, because if I had the choice, trust me, I’d be eating the gluten.

3. “I would kill myself if I couldn’t eat gluten!”

By far, my favorite.  You think I’m kidding — I’ve heard this more than once.  I’m assuming the root of this statement was a sympathy attempt, gone awry.  Truth be told, as much as you love bagels, pizza and pasta, I’m pretty sure you COULD survive without them.  I’m living proof, there is indeed, life after gluten.

Contrary to the sarcastic remarks I’ve offered above, I accept all comments and questions, daily, and answer them truthfully.   However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t giggle first.

Resistance vs. Resilience

Sadly, but frequently, confused.

The resistant fear change.  Strive simply, to survive.  Live in daily denial.

The resilient embrace innovation.  Seek continuous prosperity.  Accept truth.

While the resistant struggle in the face of now; the resilient proceed to impact the future, influence lives, and above all, emulate happiness.

Oops, I did it again.

I vividly recall the first moment I was reprimanded for bad behavior.

Age 5, Ms. Harris’ kindergarten class, free play.  Alex Lightfoot had spent near forty-five minutes constructing the world’s largest chain of dominos.  For some reason, unbeknown to me, I abandoned my perfectly safe game of “teacher”, to shake things up on the classroom floor.  It simply took the soft tap of my tiny index finger; within seconds, Alex’s masterpiece lied in ruins, while his face lied in his hands, tears streaming through the gaps between fingers.  Instantly stricken with guilt, I owned up to the crime.  I believed it to be the end of the world as Ms. Harris directed me to “pop a bubble”. 

It wasn’t.

Age 16, mom and dad’s driveway.  On this particular day, I had managed to pass my drivers test with flying colors.  I jumped into mom’s indigo-blue Tahoe, headed to Erica’s house for a swim.  The sun was setting; I was unfamiliar with the blind spot in the back windshield of my mother’s car, despite the fact that my father managed to gripe about it every time he had taken the wheel over the past ten years of my life.  I switched into reverse, hit the accelerator, and inched backward.  A faint thud was all it took to stop my heart for a moment.  Panic-stricken, I yanked the emergency brake, and hopped out.  I held my breath as I rounded the tailgate.  The shiny new car I did not recognize boasted a healthy dent on the driver’s door, compliments of yours truly.  I somehow mustered up the strength to run inside and grab my parents.  Through tears, I managed to paint the picture. Seconds later, I was hiding behind my father as this angry stranger blurted choice words in his face.  I thought I’d never drive again.

I did.

Age 18, freshman year of college, Pinetop, Arizona.  It was move-in weekend at Arizona State University.  The new Sun Devils representing WP Carey School of Business were carted up to the mountains to participate in some “team-bonding”. Saturday evening dinner had finished, the last glimpse of sunlight was long-gone; we were released for an evening on our own.  I will most certainly never forget how I chose to spend the following hours of my life.  It began when three of my new male classmates approached me to come for a walk. First mistake: I followed them.  We wove through the woods, deeper into the darkness of night with each step.  Soon, the giggles and smiles had dissapated, as our fearless leader’s face turned from confidence to fright.  We were lost, in the woods, without cell service, without jackets, and without a clue as to what to do next.  After what seemed like (and very well could have been) hours, the distant sound of a blowhorn gave us hope.  We darted through the brush to safety.  Seconds later, lined on the curb like prisoners, I found myself fearing expulsion.

I wasn’t expelled.

 

I can’t say what I will or won’t do, purposefully, accidentally, or regretfully in the future.  I simply pray, for the sake of my sanity, I continue to remember:

Life

Goes

On.