I’ve been meaning to write this post about my story for quite some time.
So here it goes.
The past few months I’ve met so many amazing men and women through my press trips and conferences across the country. It’s been such an incredible experience- traveling and bonding with others from Alaska to Maine who have had similar experiences to me- they’ve experienced something that’s been life altering.
And that’s where it all starts.
It only takes one.
Just one person to connect with to feel like you’re not alone in the world.
Every party I attend, every dinner I’m invited to, every entertaining extravaganza whether it be a BBQ or a wedding I’m always the odd gal that can’t enjoy the decadent food and alcohol. But I’m okay with that. Actually I’m more than okay with that- I’ve learned to love what makes me different and not be embarrassed anymore.
Well, simply because life is too darn short.
And so when I’m at a party and someone makes a snarky comment about how I’m not eating or how I stand out for not being able to enjoy the event- I simply just smile because they just don’t get it.
And it wasn’t until last month when I met my soul mate friend who has dealt with stomach woes and pain her entire life- that I realized I’m not alone.
There are so many other women out there dealing with the same situation but they’re embarrassed and too scared to talk about it. Why is that?
Why do so many women feel like there is something wrong with them when it’s simply how they were born? Why do they try to hide the fact that they can’t eat the foods everyone else can or drink the alcohol everyone else can?
Do they want to feel included? Are they embarrassed? Are they scared of what others will think?
Well, I hope not. Because feeling included, being embarrassed and worrying about what others think is for high school- and golly gee- we are far beyond high school, aren’t we?
I’ve learned not to stress about what others think about me when I eat before I go out to dinner with friends or bring my own food to weddings and events. I decided a long time ago that I’ve gotta be my own best friend and take care of me- and worry about me.
So, when I travel- there is always a fridge in my hotel room and I am always the woman who asks to speak with the chef before I sit down to dine- I am always carrying food on me even if it’s just while I’m out running errands because I’d rather feel safe munching on an avocado on the subway instead of starving and searching for the nearest Whole Foods Market.
Yes, I am that girl.
And I love it.
Every single part about me I love.
But it wasn’t always like this.
I once yearned to eat a chocolate chip cookie from Magnolia Bakery or sip dirty martini’s at happy hour with my VOGUE colleagues to meet cute Wall Street boys.
I once wished I could be like my colleagues at Ralph Lauren and join them for frozen yogurt during lunchtime at Bloomingdale’s.
I once wished I didn’t have to pack a lunch to my NBA job so that I could eat in the corporate cafeteria and feel cool.
I once wanted to know what it felt like to be able to leave my apartment on a Saturday morning- head down to Soho and eat a burger n’ fries at Felix. Or sip cosmos on the rooftop of the Soho House without having to think ahead about food options that I could eat.
But I don’t anymore.
I don’t really know when this all stopped.
Or when I stopped caring.
Or trying to impress people with my big corporate job and new Prada bag.
Actually I do.
It was last year- when I was told I had 24 hours to live.
And I fought and fought and fought.
And never, ever gave up.
And I did some yoga, some meditating, some reading and a whole lotta thinking. About me, my life and my future.
And I healed.
And that, my friends, is when I realized life is too short to care or worry about anything else.
And I started to focus on me, Amie Jo, and my tiny, simple life in the big (not so simple) city of Manhattan.
And it was then that I knew I was confident to stop proving something.
I stopped feeling like I had to explain myself in every situation when people asked, “Why aren’t you drinking?” “Why can’t you just suck it up and eat the pasta and bread basket?”
They didn’t get it.
Because they could wake up every morning, jump in the shower, grab a coffee at Starbucks and a muffin at Dunkin’ Donuts and hop on the subway to work- then break at 12 for lunch at subway and another break at 3 for frozen yogurt- then hop on over to a bar downtown for nachos and beers until 11PM when they jumped in a cab and headed home to bed – only to start the whole thing over and over again until Friday.
Me, well I’ve never had that routine- nor would I ever want to.
One, I packed lunch everyday when I worked in corporate America because I couldn’t rely on a take-out restaurant for a meal. And two, I have to take my enzymes, vascular pills for my water retention and a whole line up of vitamins and minerals an hour before I eat every morning. And this is just one example. I am not complaining as I am lucky compared to so many others in this world who are on medications or can’t walk or talk or function without machines or a 24 hour nurse.
I am blessed that I am who I am but it also took me awhile to get here.
And that’s simply why I’m writing this post today. Because so many people out there just simply don’t “get it”.
They don’t understand what goes behind the day to day routine of someone else’s life. They don’t understand what it takes to just prepare for a two day road trip or an airplane flight or a week’s worth of food for homemade breakfast, lunch, dinners, snacks and desserts. They don’t understand what it feels like to not be able to eat gluten or dairy or sugar or grains. They don’t. And that’s okay. Because why would they?
I used to be jealous of what others could do, eat and not have to plan ahead- I did.
I wanted to be like my colleagues and friends who could enjoy their day and night without having to worry about where they were going to find a piece of organic chicken and steamed veggies.
But I’m done worrying. I’ve been done for quite some time now.
I’ve learned it’s all about being prepared- staying prepared and making sure you’ve always got a lil’ something to hold yourself over just in case the unexpected happens.
And for those who don’t get it. Don’t hate them. Don’t get upset if others make you feel ‘out of the loop’ or feel like you’re not a part of the group because seriously- you know your body better than anyone else and you need to take charge of you and your body now and every day in the future. Because without supporting yourself- there’s nothing.
So, the next time someone asks you, “Why are you lame and not going out to the bars?” or “Why can’t you just have a cheeseburger and beer and deal with a stomach ache?” Just smile and don’t get upset or frustrated because there are many of us out there that deal with these comments and many of us who are confident enough to not let them bother us.
Life is simply just too short.
And if eating a cheeseburger and drinking a beer is going to make you sick for days in bed- is it really worth those 20 minutes of feeling ‘cool’ and fitting in?
I didn’t think so.
Think of it like this…everyday we are given a handful of change. Everything we do takes a nickel, dime, penny or quarter until we are left with nothing and exhausted by the day’s end.
What do I mean by this? Well, picture this scenario of a day I might have. You wake up in the morning with a stomach ache and it takes (a quarter) to get out of bed and (another quarter) just to shower, along with a (few dimes) to get yourself dressed and take your medicine (that’s a quarter) then you make your homemade breakfast (another quarter) but you’re in so much pain with your stomach and running to the bathroom that you realize you are late for work and already exhausted. Then you walk to the subway (a dime) and go to work (lots of quarters) and make your lunch in the corporate kitchen (some more quarters) then head home on the subway (a dime) to make your homemade dinner (another quarter) and relax in front of the television before all of your change is gone.
The point of this handful of change is that you can think of each penny, nickel, dime and quarter as a piece of energy to your day. Many people wake up and carry on with their days and don’t use any change because they have no food allergies or implications – while others are faced with a few twists and turns that can be exhausting and add up throughout each day. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about- actually you should be proud. But just remember, when it’s 6PM and your friends are asking you to go out drinking or to a bar and you’re just not feeling it- don’t worry- look to your change and see how much you have left for your energy for that day. If you have some change left and you feel you wanna go out- go for it and have fun even if you’re not drinking (I love getting a seltzer with lime). If not, save your change (your nighttime energy) and put it towards making a bubble bath, reading a book and doing a face mask- then tuck yourself into a cozy bed.
Because it’s the little things in life that will keep you happy.
And life, to me, is all about being happy with yourself.
I did it and so can you.
So, keep that chin up and keep smilin’.
Your day is coming.
Your day is truly coming.
This my friends, is the start of my book…I’ve decided to write a book/cookbook to inspire others and here I go…