Living Free Can Have a Lot of Different Meaningsjen
When I began to create this site, Living Free meant living free of allergens in your food and products. My goal was to make people aware of the toxins in not ONLY their food but products and items around them and give people alternatives for living a better, cleaner and healthier life.
That was a year ago.
In that year, my life took a 180 or a 360…or to say it better, how about just knocked me on my butt then picked me up and dropped me again. So this site and what LIVING FREE means takes on a whole new meaning now. Allow me to explain.
As many of you know through my previous blog, Jennifer’s Way, or my book of the same name, my journey thus far hasn’t been anything less than “exciting” let’s just say. Many struggles with my health due to undiagnosed celiac disease and the story to find an answer that lasted for 20 years was a lot of “fun”. Then when finding out about celiac disease, it was then the journey on how to reclaim my life and health, which I did, and then brought that information to you and even opened a bakery with all I had learned. It’s been quite the road.
You would think that journey was enough for one life time right? Me too. Well life said, NOPE.
About the time this site was being developed last year, I started having extreme pressure and pain in my chest that would not subside for anything. I checked and double-checked every route of cause. Stomach issues backing up into chest giving me pain? No. A strained muscle? No. Another allergy I wasn’t aware of? No. I had blood taken and tests taken done over and over and again, no answers. My dear doctor suggested it was stress. I nearly hung up on him. He KNEW how I hated that excuse for all PHYSICAL woes. But he was also a dear friend and knew that there was much stress in my life at the time. Actually when was there not? This was different though and it was time I checked in with myself HONESTLY.
There was stress in my life. More so than usual. Running a bakery for the prior four years that had expanded and lead me to make decisions that I was starting to question in a big way. Money challenges because I had invested my own savings to create my bakery and this mission didn’t quite make any return as of yet, which was never my goal but I needed to make a living. Relationships a real struggle on all fronts and health always something to take care of but didn’t have the time for.
Being not only a physical worker in this whole experience but also doing all social media, marketing, creating new products, writing a second book, making dinner every night, taking care of home responsibilities and you know a tv series every now and then…yes life was busy. There was no time for LIFE. Joy. Fun. None. The previous 4 years was work work work and it seemed to be only getting worse and not moving forward, almost like a hamster on a wheel. When I took a closer look at life around me I realized things weren’t right.
I voiced that the things around me felt wrong and not going in the right direction but was ignored, appeased and pushed to the side. Somehow I arrived at this place in life where again when I spoke I was often unheard. I quickly began to realize that I was alone on my journey and a dreaded feeling that I couldn’t explain yet started to take over. Still I continued forward on with the life I had created.
That dreaded feeling continued on all fronts. As the pain in my chest got stronger and now led to panic attacks, my old bad friends were back again and with a vengeance. I ALWAYS know when they come it is a PHYSICAL alarm going off in my body to say, “you MUST pay ATTENTION, SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE.” I went back to my doctor and demanded more tests. Again as a close friend, he pointed out certain issues in my life which I agreed were not in a good place but whatever this pressure and pain in chest was definitely physical! I demanded an MRI.
Well I was correct, again, after a year of tests, there was something wrong…very wrong. I had fluid around my lungs. The scary question now was WHY?
The next month was filled with so many doctor appointments I couldn’t even count. I do know that one week in particular it was 2 a day! All of which I attended ALONE. What were they looking for? Cancer. That dreaded word that know one wants to hear. Yes cancer. I went along to all of my appointments like a good patient knowing that there was some explanation for all this and that word was not it.
Two weeks later as I was bringing boxes of ingredients to the bakery my phone rang and rang and rang. Hands full I couldn’t quite get it but saw it was my doctor and friend Dr Frattelone. My stomach fell into my shoes as I put down the boxes in the rainy street and listened to my fate.
It was stage zero he said and it is in your right breast but it needs to come out immediately. He said he already made an apointmwnt with the best and it’s next week. My head spinning and in complete shock, I walked into my Manhattan bakery and went straight into the bathroom. Ana, my beloved long time manger at the bakery knocked and came in. I hugged her tight, sobbing, and told her what was just dropped on my head like a 500lb weight. She stood silent not knowing what to say. I did too.
I went home in disbelief and the world seemed to be laughing at me at this time. I thought how can this be? I take care of myself, my health has been good, I’ve done so much for others yet I’m somehow having this happen? No one around me was told except a very small few. I will say NONE of which are in my life any longer. Which pretty much says it all right there.
As I laid on the floor with my now passed beloved golden retriever Frankie Beans as I usually did for comfort, I sobbed. And sobbed. And felt really sorry for myself, like a complete victim and mad beyond words. Then fear took hold and the what ifs. I started with the “why me’s?”. Then in a moment of calm I thought “why not me”. I’m not better than anyone else and if this is my journey than this is my journey and whether I liked it or not I had to go down this road. I admitted to Frankie and to God that I was so very frightened and deep inside I KNEW that this too had to be a sign of something I wasn’t paying attention to. But what? What was it? What was I to learn here? What signs did I not see?
As I said earlier there had been many issues surrounding me in all areas. Life became aggressive, hostile and an unsafe feeling became extremely apparent. My words fell on deaf ears far too much. As I said in my first book, “When you feel unheard for too long your soul stats to die a little and you believe your words don’t matter”. I knew they did matter but I had to first take care of my health and couldn’t look at the ugliness around me at this moment. As I sat there with Frankie feeling completely overwhelmed and helples, I began to pray. I asked for one thing, not my health, not to make it all better, but for all in my life that wasn’t there for the betterment of me to be taken away. That I could not be in charge of this all and that I needed everything present that was not good for me to please go.
Within days I had developed a routine to get me ready physically and metally for the upcoming surgery which was set a few days after Christmas: run to get the stress and fear out, then yoga to relax my body and then mediation which I cried though the whole time. In those weeks leading up to surgery I became extremely calm. A calm that I never knew. It was one of pure surrender. Surrender to it all, death, possible failure, loss, betrayals, to the good and the bad and everything in between. And I was calm and ready for the world to unfold the way it wanted to and all WITHOUT my involvement. I was going to allow life to push me where it wanted me to go. I knew that I was in the wrong place and was ready to let go.
I heard a line from the Depak Chopra mediation I listened to constantly and adapted it for my own. “Fearless is not the absence of fear yet it is being afraid and going forward anyway”. As one step went in front of the other and fear grew, I grew fearless and just like that the world around me started to show itself and I let it. And wow what it ugly.
I had two visitors during recovery. No cards but one from a new friend Deb lined my table. No flowers to say get well. Nothing from anyone. And just like that life went on but not for me. Something had changed in me, for good. The lack of care, respect, and even basic human kindness at that time of a small aggressive lump that had just been removed from my chest showed me that my fears were not only correct but part of my disease. The calmer I stayed in surrender, the more things in life slipped away. Within two weeks, with bandages still on my breast, life exploded and EVERYTHING in my life was gone. Everything.
It was an aggressive cancer but my margins were good and am now cancer free 6 months. I am also free of many many things that were not for the betterment of me, my health, my life and beliefs. I can stand ready to rebuild my life in a grateful honest way with integrity pride and compassion.
Why do I tell you this now? Simple. I could not talk about a new site called Living Free without discussing this issue.
LIVING FREE now also means a whole new thing to me. It means living TRUE within yourself and in the world YOU create. LIVING FREE to what and who you REALLY are. LIVING FREE from the stress, which is one of this biggest destroyers of the immune system. LIVING FREE from the toxic relationships, toxic people and toxic situations. LIVING FREE to demand the very best life has to offer you and settling for nothing less than you deserve in your world. True Love, true care, honesty, caring friends and goodness on all fronts. LIVING FREE of the fears you may not want to face to make changes.
It’s time. It’s YOUR time to live FEARLESS! It Just takes one step at a time.
One last thought. If I didn’t keep listening to my inner voice about my health and push for that MRI I wouldn’t have known about this cancer. Yes I would have had a mammogram but in another year as I had just had one and NOTHING was detected just month’s prior. So not only advocacy here to get your yearly mammogram but more than that, get quiet and LISTEN to your gut! It’s speaking to you; you just must listen! When it comes to my health, it has NEVER let me down
Let’s get on to our next journey!