Is It Worth The Risk?

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin

I grew up watching the TV show, Saved By The Bell. On the show, there was a shy, nerdy female high-school character named Violet Bickerstaff. In one episode, the high-school choir heard her sing, and they discovered that she had a beautiful voice. They encouraged her to use her talent so that they could win the choir competition. To this request, she quietly replied, “My goal in life is to blend in.”

When I was in fourth grade, a friend came up to me one day and said, “Wow, Tiffany, you actually talk now. I barely heard you speak one word in second grade.” Like Violet from Saved By the Bell, when I was younger, I just wanted to blend in. I didn’t want to stand out because I never knew what to say and I was scared of embarrassing myself.

In junior high, I remember sitting in front of a cute, sweet boy in Language Arts class. I liked him a lot and will always remember the seventh grade dance when he asked me to be his “girlfriend” and we danced to “Don’t Speak” by Gwen Stefani. Even though I liked him so much, I was so terrified of being the center of attention that I pretended to be sick for a couple of days after the dance so that I wouldn’t have to deal with people gossiping about us. Two days later, I broke up with the poor boy because I felt like people wouldn’t stop talking about us or looking at us. As I write this post, and start to think about various memories of childhood, I can feel sweat start to formulate on my back and my armpits!

I am happy to report that I have changed since then. I don’t feel such a strong need to blend into a crowd anymore. Why? I realized that when I hid myself from the world, it was almost impossible for anyone to know who I really was. Life feels lonely when you don’t feel like anyone knows you or understands you. Also, I now believe that no one was made to just blend in.

You may not have grown up with social anxiety like I did, but you may be living a less-than-stellar life due to fear. You may be playing it safe because you are scared of rejection, failure, getting hurt, or something else. The truth is that life is full of risks. I believe that playing it safe comes with a risk as well—you risk missing out on a life full of adventure and joy.

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My Physician Missed A Lump On My Armpit

When searching for a new healthcare provider, it’s difficult to know which providers are competent, kind, and professional. Sometimes, we just have to hope for the best. When I have to visit a new healthcare provider, this is what I hope for.

I hope for someone that will not miss the small things—or even the big things.

When I was in college, I had a big lump on my armpit that was the size of a kiwi. It was so noticeable that my usually calm and laid-back mom sent me to the doctor right away. When I showed it to my doctor, she said, “I don’t see anything.” She didn’t acknowledge it until I pointed at it.

To this day, I am still scratching my head about this incident. Did she think that I was a hypochondriac and assume that I was being paranoid? Did she forget to put her contacts on? Was she tired? Did she even look the first time?  

I hope for someone that knows who I am—or at least doesn’t confuse my chart with someone else’s chart.

When I was pregnant, I saw an endocrinologist because my thyroid was out of whack. His office seemed to be busy because it took them three or more days to answer questions like, “Does the doctor want me to keep my appointment?” When I finally got a call from a nurse, this is what she said to me: “The doctor says that your thyroid levels look good. Keep taking Synthroid.”

I had never taken Synthroid in my life.

I hope for someone that is kind, humble and open to complementary therapies.

A couple of years ago, I was admitted to the hospital because my arm blew up (I had a crazy allergic reaction on my skin). With chin held high, squinty eyes peering down at me, and an expression on her face that said “I am God,” the Attending Physician snidely asked me questions like, “Why didn’t you see a skin doctor? Why are you taking fish oil?”

Due to my burning eyes (my contacts were old and I was not able to get my glasses from home) and lack of sleep from being monitored throughout the night, I was too much of a mess to explain to her that my insurance would probably not pay for dermatological services. I was also too tired to explain to her how beneficial fish oil was for me, so I just responded, “I read that fish oil is good.” With a condescending chuckle, she looked back down at her computer keyboard.

I hope for someone that will spend just a tiny bit of extra time with me if I have questions.

Our first pediatrician was very cordial and pleasant. Unfortunately, she spent most of our appointment typing on her computer and a minute or so examining our child. After the minute or so was up, she said, “Thank you, your papers will be at the desk, take care!” She was almost out the door before I stopped her to ask her a question. She scribbled something on my paper and basically ran out of the room.

I don’t have firsthand experience as a physician, but I know that they are forced to have quick appointments. I also know that some physicians feel as if they have to work so fast that they eventually start to see their patients as products on an out-of-control assembly line. Therefore, I don’t really fault this physician for her behavior. Unfortunately, this might just be an example of our broken healthcare system in the U.S.

I hope for someone with compassion.

I personally know two mothers that recently lost their babies in the second or third trimester. So, when I started having abnormal bleeding in my third trimester, I was very fearful for my baby and almost started crying in the midwife’s office. I was embarrassed of being overly emotional and was (unreasonably) ashamed of being a burden on the midwife.

Instead of impatience or lack of compassion, the midwife took my hand and tenderly said to me, “It’s okay. We are going to figure this out. That’s what we are here for.”

I hope for someone that goes above and beyond my expectations.

When my daughter was sick and our regular pediatrician was on vacation, we visited another doctor with his own practice. When I entered the office, the “receptionist” was on the phone. When it was time for the doctor to see my daughter, the same “receptionist” ushered us into the exam room, took my daughter’s vital signs, examined her and called an outside vendor to order lab tests. A few days later, the same “receptionist” called me to see if my daughter was feeling better.

When I visited the office again, the same “receptionist” was talking to one of the dads in the waiting room. At this point, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and asked, “Why are you doing everything? Is everyone on vacation for the holiday?” He told me that he could not afford his staff anymore. “In the same way that insurance rates are rising for patients, they are rising for us as well.” He went on to say that physicians will probably not be able to afford to have their own practices in the future.

This broke my heart. This kind physician took the time to call me to see if my daughter was okay, even though he had to be the receptionist, medical assistant and physician for his whole private practice.

Do you have a healthcare provider that goes above and beyond your expectations?

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This post was originally published on April 12, 2019. It was updated on August 7, 2020.

The RESET Button

You know that big red button that says RESET on it? Don’t you wish that you could hit that button whenever you mess up? Guess what? That button does exist! It exists in your mind. Here’s how it works for me.

When I am unfairly harsh with my daughter, I can choose to feel shame that affects my whole day, or I can apologize to her, hit the RESET button, and go on with my day.

Because of my skin issues, I am careful to take good care of my body. When I have trouble keeping up with my health routine and my skin starts to bother me again, I can choose to feel helpless or I can hit the RESET button and start tightening up my routine again.

When I am not as consistent with my business activities, I can get overly discouraged or hit the RESET button and decide to increase my activity for the next week.

If I don’t meet my goals, I can choose to believe that I will never achieve them, or I can hit the RESET button and figure out what needs to change in my life so that I can meet my goals next time.

After I make any kind of mistake—big or small—I can choose to let it ruin my day, or I can hit the RESET button, give myself grace, and learn from the mistake.

Do you need to hit the RESET button? You will be more successful in life if you choose to hit the RESET button sooner, rather than later!

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What is the Secret to Vibrant Health?

Do you want to know the secret to vibrant health? The secret is—there is no secret! What works for me may not work for you. Do you want to know why?

Every Body is Different

When I was struggling with a painful psoriasis flare on my hands, I tried different things for six months. The major changes that helped me were changes to my diet, a visit to a Functional Medicine practitioner, and a cleanse. When I visited the Functional Medicine practitioner, my lab results revealed Epstein-Barr reactivation and possible MTHFR mutation. Another person with psoriasis would have different laboratory test results, which is why my protocol might not work for another person with psoriasis. Some people with skin problems might only need to make minor changes to their lives, while others might need to make more drastic changes.

Everybody Has A Different Health Background and Environment

Some people had some health disadvantages starting at an early age because they were born via Cesarean section or because they only drank formula when they were babies. Some people constantly ingest antibiotics and medications that are harmful for their gut health. Some people are exposed to occupational hazards or many poisonous chemicals in their homes. Some people are exposed to toxic people at work and at home, leading to excessive emotional and physical stress. The fixes that I have found for my particular health background and environment would not apply to you because your health history and environment is different than mine.

So, the bad news is that there is no secret sauce for vibrant health. But the good news is that vibrant health is attainable.

Be Your Own Lab Rat

Start by making some small changes. If you don’t get the results that you want, add another small change. Add more water to your diet, add some greens to your diet, get rid of endocrine disruptors in your home, eliminate some processed foods from your diet, learn a new stress management technique, or start doing yoga. Keep track of how you feel after you add something new or take something away.

Visit A Functional Medicine Practitioner

A conventional physician will spend a few minutes with you and write a couple of drug prescriptions for you (in the long run, these drugs might do more harm than good). A Functional Medicine practitioner will spend a lot of time with you, (the consultations with my practitioner lasted for 60-90 minutes) will work to find the root cause of your symptoms, and will create a special care plan for you. My decision to see a Functional Medicine practitioner was one of the best decisions that I made for my health.

Keep learning and listening to your body. Vibrant health is within your reach. Don’t give up!

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We Can’t Stop Talking

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

James 1:19

I have tried to keep my distance from social media and the mainstream media for awhile, but unfortunately, I have been more “plugged in” these last few months. This means that I have become more aware of the endless controversy and anger that the media constantly stirs up in everyone. You could say that I fell into the media’s “hysteria trap.” So, a couple of weeks ago, when a good friend of mine posted something controversial on her social media site, I became overly emotional and initiated a digital chat with her.

Our digital chat went on for a few days. After those few days, I asked her if she wanted to talk about it over the phone or in-person. When I saw her in-person, I apologized to her because I thought that she was offended by what I had expressed to her. To my pleasant surprise, she told me that she didn’t feel like what I said was harsh, and at the end of our conversation, she was glad that we had talked about the issue.

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have confronted my friend about my feelings through text because texts can be easily misinterpreted. What I should have done was talk to her about it over the phone or in-person from the start. Thankfully, I think that the conversation went really well, and it made me realize that we—as a society—can’t stop talking to each other about issues that matter. Here are three reasons why.

We need to keep learning and we need to realize that we don’t have all the answers.

If we make assumptions and snap judgments without trying to understand another person’s views and experiences, then we might never realize when our beliefs are wrong or misguided. We might be unknowingly advocating for the wrong solution.

We don’t want to have regrets.

In a previous post, I wrote about five common regrets that people have on their deathbeds. According to Bronnie Ware, one of the common regrets was stated in this way—”I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” I don’t think that it is always good to say what is on your mind, but depending on the issue or scenario, a healthy discussion can help to bring about positive change.

We don’t want to be lonely anymore.

I used to think that people can’t be lonely if they have friends and family, but this is not true. According to Psychology Today, people feel lonely if they don’t feel “in tune” with people around them or if they feel like there is a “lack of authenticity” in their relationships. Loneliness can contribute to health issues such as depression, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, psychosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

There are so many polarizing issues to argue about and I have come to believe that these issues often lead to anger and division because of fear. Perhaps if we put our fear to the side for a little bit and allowed ourselves to be authentic and vulnerable with our loved ones, then we would not feel so lonely. If we have these conversations with discernment, love, and the truth in mind, I believe that conversations about these important issues can ultimately bring us closer together.

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