Genetics Isn’t Everything

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Do what you love. Who hasn’t heard that at some point in their life? Find something you are passionate about and don’t worry about the ‘making money’ part. If you love what you do the money will follow. More importantly – the happiness will follow! Sometimes this is easier said than done. Sure, there are those (fortunate?) people who know from an early age what they want to be when they grow up. Like that five year-old who wants to be a doctor and never ever waivers from that goal. And there are others who change with the wind, shifting from one thing to another, but they somehow figure it all out.

Then there are those, like me, who were open to whatever possibilities presented themselves. I never had a five-year plan. I never had a plan at all. I always knew I would go to college. That was a given. After that – no idea. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in college – never mind after! My major in college was Computer Science/Mathematics. I chose this because I didn’t want to choose the ‘easiest’ major. So, I chose the second easiest. Who does that? And though I became pretty good at programming in computer languages, I wasn’t too sure I wanted to spend my life doing it. I remember as a junior asking one of my professors about the types of jobs one could get with this degree, hoping he wouldn’t say programmer. He said programmer. So that’s what I did. Thirty years later I’m still with the same organization, in the same department, though I am happy to report that I am doing something completely different. But it’s not my purpose. It’s not my mission in life. It’s getting closer, but it’s not what my soul yearns to do.

So, while I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, it seems I’ve found a calling and I’m zeroing in on my purpose. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in taking good care of myself and my body. Even in quirky ways that I didn’t fully comprehend at the time. I remember little odd things, like never wanting to use the microwave to heat things up. Avoiding Styrofoam. And not wanting to store food in plastic containers. I went out and bought glass containers to store leftover food to avoid using plastic. I didn’t know why, I just had some intuition that glass was better. I’ve always had an aversion to taking any over the counter medication and to this day my husband has to yell at me to take an ibuprofen if I have a headache. I’d rather drink more water and perhaps eat something to see if it dissipates. I’ve even avoided prescribed medication when I could. For example, I never took any birth control. Never. Of course, I would take antibiotics when needed, but if I knew back then what I know today, I might have fought that a little harder.

You see I have what one might call not-so-good family medical history. One side is riddled with all forms of cancer with a little Parkinson’s thrown in. The other side of my family tree has weight issues and anything and everything related to heart disease. I seemed to be aware of this on an instinctual level though it wasn’t part of my consciousness. Thankfully these weird habits I had kept me healthy. At least I think they did. I mean, I am in excellent health, so they must have had some input. Right? Then I started slowly changing my diet by incorporating organic food and eliminating most processed foods. I stopped drinking soda, cut out a lot of sugar and began reading food labels much more carefully.

As a kid growing up in the Bronx I was always active. I remember running around the neighborhood playing all kinds of games with the other kids. Games like paddleball, running bases, stoop ball, and ringolevio. At one point my friends and I would roller skate all over the Bronx or ride our bikes to Orchard Beech. We were always outdoors and always in motion. As a high school sophomore I joined the track team and began a love-hate relationship with running which lasted just about thirty years. The beginnings of arthritis in the ball of my right foot put that to an end. Even in college I was active in sports and afterwards always had some form of exercise routine, to this day.

So what does any of that have to do with what I want to be when I grow up? Well, it took fifty years, but I’ve finally figured out my purpose in life. Or at least I’m getting a lot closer. It’s been with me all along and I guess just needed that clarity that comes with a certain age to be truly realized and articulated. My purpose is to help people understand that genetics isn’t everything. That just because you have certain family traits and genes – you won’t necessarily get the same diseases or conditions your parents or grandparents had. That a happy and healthy life, while not guaranteed to everyone, is within reach. You can change your health with nutrition. You can take your life back.

There is no magic pill though. If you choose to embark on this journey, you may have a huge uphill battle on your hands. You may have to go against advice of those you hold dear. You may have to stand alone. This will take a lot of effort and dedication and time. In the end however, it is truly worth it.

(Incredible Artwork provided by Torrie Lockwood, one of our writer’s very talented sisters.  Visit her facebook page for artwork https://www.facebook.com/torrie.rohling )

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