It was Serendipity!

Was life perfect yesterday? You had a plan and the plan played out exactly as you intended? More likely, a thing or two went awry.

The election didn’t go as you hoped. Perhaps a deer found the front of your car, your child gets up with these words, “Mom, I have to bring treats to school today,” or you spend the day in pain in the emergency room. This is just how life is going to be, “making the best of a bad situation.” Do you remember that old song?

Hard as it is to believe, any one of these plans gone awry may be a serendipitous moment. One of my favorite sayings is this, “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” A fortunate happenstance sometimes called serendipity.

Here is my trip down Serendipity Lane, a series of unforeseeable events that moved me from a corporate executive to a health and nutrition “nut”,  a transition that went from “My Lord, this is complicated” to a simple, rock bottom line.

In January, 2000, in Kansas City, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune blood disease which tried to kill me but failed – thanks to superior medical care. You can read more about this here. Not dead but seriously debilitated. Thus I was forced to retire. I was planning, I think, to work forever but believed I would actually be getting paid. That last part didn’t work out so well.

My husband and I moved to Mt. Ida, AR, visited the county fair, wandered into the Master Gardener agriculture exhibit, met a couple we really liked, and voila’, joined the Master Gardeners.  Of course Master Gardeners aren’t usually masters at first and I was not an exception. Didn’t know beans about gardening but I learned.

My husband died in 2007, definitely not good luck.. But that loss caused me to volunteer at a tiny, upstart food pantry and my life once again, changed dramatically.

In time the pantry board of directors, Ouachita Village Inc.(OVI), began to look for new ways to help low income people. So in 2010 I made a nine month trek to Austin, TX, (the not-for-profit capital of the world, at least in my view) to see what others were doing.

What did I find? Among other things I found community gardens and a nifty cooking class called The Happy Kitchen. Cooking classes would be a great idea, don’t you think? Except the class nutrition material sounded a bit weak. I didn’t know much more about nutrition in 2010 than I did about gardening in 2000. In retrospect, it’s confusing because I have no notion how I reached that conclusion. None-the-less,based on that premise, I forged forward to correct this little weakness.

Now my gardening interest transitions from flowers to vegetables and I search for the connections to nutrition.The deeper I get into nutrition and food, the more the associations with illness stick out like a sore thumb. And what did those associations tell me? I said to myself, “Self, you need to find out if you are diabetic.” After all, my dad, his dad and siblings, and my sisters were diabetics.

Yep, I was. The story about that discovery is in my book.

Does finding yourself to be diabetic seem to be a stroke of luck? Probably not. But the primary causes of diabetes turn out to be exactly the same as those of most chronic illnesses. What we eat is actually important and our diets are causing chronic illnesses to grow by leaps and bounds. The common denominator is diet.

So my sort of benign research for a cooking class becomes personal.

I am not unique. Many of the scientists, doctors, researchers, and journalists (and there are many) whose work is dedicated to some aspect of chronic illnesses and health had that illness themselves or in their family or they were impacted by the side effects of medications used in treatment. For them it is personal as well.

My (unpaid) work now is making THEIR WORK help us, rank and file folks like you and me, help ourselves.

I came home from Austin heading NOT for a cooking class but for what is now called Tasty Acre, a program providing personal vegetable gardens to low income families. And I ultimately wrote my book, It’s All About the Food”, the profits from which all go to OVI in support of the food pantry and Tasty Acre.

I’m not alone in my health interest. Health is a big topic these days and medications get top billing. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average American over 65 fills prescription 27 times per year. Prescription costs are skyrocketing. Read more about that here.

The USA spends more than other developed countries in the world on “health care” (actually sick care) and we are among the sickest, dead last among the top 17 developed countries.

We Americans have become adapted to the idea of

  • Using medication to make our symptoms go away/to stay alive
  • instead of nutrition to avoid illness.

Who would have guessed in a million years that an interrupted corporate career some sixteen years ago would bring me to to where I am today! Serendipity brought me to one simple goal, help more people see the path to good health through nutrition.

People don’t usually wake up one morning looking for a non-fiction book to read. They may not even know I wrote a book. Somehow, some way, they just happen onto something that changes their life. That would be serendipity and it might just be my book, It’s All About the Food. 

Or it might just be a good solid summary of the book, leaving out most of the detail and just getting to the bottom line. That summary is available just for you right here. Click here for The Rock Bottom Line.