But financial and lifestyle sustainability wasn't the only thing on my mind. Being genuine was turning into a topic that just wouldn't let me rest.
That particular search had begun even sooner for me, as I had been forced to become more genuine in terms of the food I was eating. While I was finishing up my MBA in 2006, incidents of heartburn and an insatiable hunger that had been plaguing me since 2003 somehow multiplied and made me miserable more often than not. Imagine yourself window-shopping and repeatedly having to hunch over because of the intense pain of heartburn, while at the same time never being satisfied with the meal you have just eaten, and always wanting more.
Wait, doesn't that sound just like what's happening in the financial services industry and almost every other aspect in our societies right now? - Things aren't quite working, there are plenty of warning signs, but people are so hungry and keep doing what they have always done but know deep inside to be wrong...
Just for what - if more of the same old (food, money, fame, behavior, self-defeating thought patterns etc.) - sigh - won't satisfy us?!
Back to my food issues: I had spent a few years in the US, diving head-first into SAD, as the Standard American Diet is known so fittingly. It was a teenager's dream come true: ice cream and french fries and burgers without limits! Aside from that, I felt I had no choice (nor did I really want a choice at that point!) given my student budget, and without a kitchen of my own. I mean, I didn't even like to cook, let alone know how to. So I ended up feeding on fast food mostly. Aside from USC's Cafe'84 right downstairs from my room, I was a regular at ToGo's. Oh how I loved walking over there from USC's Fluor Tower with my best friend! We made the short hike almost daily. Sometimes twice a day. Then I went to live in the UK for a year - and I won't comment on the food, except that it didn't get any better. ;-) - Oh, and I did try to reverse my unhealthy feeling and looking weight gain brought on by too much unhealthy home-cooking (as in: lots of meat, pasta & Maggi & Co), wine, a lack of exercise and the super-depressing effects of having transplanted myself from my favorite city in the world (LA) to the sheep- and rain-riddled (though beautifully rugged) Welsh countryside by guzzling SlimFast. YUCK!!!
Suffice it to say that I had turned into a full-blown sugar addict by that time - living without my can or two or three of regular Coke per day was unthinkable then. Add desperate attempts to control my waistline (and kick the Coca Cola habit) by guzzling SlimFast (yuck!) while in the UK, and countless frozen pizzas and more regular Coke during my MBA-studies in Germany 2005/2006. Now you've got an idea of the shape my digestive system was in. It wasn't pretty at all. Thinking back, it wasn't just my capacity to digest food that had suffered - it was also my capacity to digest information, anything really. I remember being unable to read a book for pleasure (which had been a favorite pastime of mine as child and teenager). How incredibly different and hard was my life back then compared to now!!!
What hit home was my physician telling me I should lay off the orange juice to reduce acidity in my system. And to get used to chucking antacids until they would stop working a few years down the road. Thanks so much for that tremendously helpful piece of advice! His name was Witzenhausen - another one of those cosmic jokes, as "Witz" translates as just that: "joke"! The name probably has a different origin, but still, what a charming little coincidence... ;-)
Of course, my physician really meant the canned variety of OJ that was hurting me (one of the many things that I allowed to hurt myself then). After all, fresh orange juice is one of the most potent alkalinizers nature has given us. For lack of a dish washer and what I perceived as a lack of time to clean my juicer by hand, I ended up buying ready-made juice with the least amount of preservatives that I could find. That wasn't perfect, but close enough for the time being. So, now I wasn't getting heartburn from my beloved OJ anymore, but still from so many other things I ingested.
As soon as I had settled into my job and into the new apartment with my boyfriend, I was making fresh orange juice daily for both of us - and still am. The rest was a bit more tricky, and deserves more space, so I will blog seperately about my journey to healthful eating and a increasingly healthy, lean, strong and energetic body. Just to give you an idea, this journey included vitamin supplementation, TCM, five elements cooking, acupuncture, yoga, vegetarian foods, vegan foods, raw foods, living foods, green smoothies and green juices.
How does this all relate back to being genuine?
Well, genuine food for one thing.
While in London for a few months in 2007, I discovered the difference between conventional and organic foods in terms of nourishment. Groceries are insanely expensive in central London, so at first I would buy conventional and large sized packs (of potatoes, mostly) to keep costs down. Only, I could never have stopped eating! I was never satisfied, and needed ever larger portions. So, eventually, I picked up a pack of organic potatoes. They looked so much smaller than their conventional brothers, and were so much more expensive. Still, I bought that pack to boil and eat with my smoked salmon. Boy was I in for a surprise that night! I was full and satisfied after having all of three of those tiny organic earth apples. That experience left me completely stunned and happy. And vowing to always buy organic if available, regardless of the price. It's paid so much dividends in the past five years!!!
Genuine hair color, for another.
I had been bleaching my hair beach-blonde for a few years at the time, and just got tired of going back for a full head bleach every six weeks. My scalp would always itch for days after the bleaching; I had the hardest time keeping my long curls moist, shiny and detangled; and after a full work week, I wasn't so happy spending three hours on a Saturday morning at the hairdresser's. So, I figured, if I'm going more natural on the food by buying the more expensive organic stuff, I might want to consider giving up my unnaturally blonde ponytail. After all, why pay extra to avoid chemicals in my food when I just put those same or worse chemicals on my head every six weeks? Paying money to avoid poisons in food and paying money to add poisons to my hair. How twisted is that? ;-)
I didn't get my hair bleached again once 2008 rolled around. Of course I didn't look so pretty for more than a year after that decision, but ok. It was definitely worth it! I haven't seen my hairdresser in 15 months now. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice and funny guy and did a wonderful job to ease the transition from bleached to natural for me... I just have more fascinating things to do. And given the choice of spending an hour leaning against a tall tree in the forest breathing clear air and listening to the birds chirp and an hour at his shop where the air is heavy with chemicals (we're not that big on airconditioning here in Germany, ya know), I know which one I prefer!
Ever since realizing the insanity in my hair bleaching while eating organically, I've kept asking: "Where am I not being genuine? Can I change it now, and am I ready to change this?"
Sometimes, I have decided that while I wasn't being genuine, I wasn't quite ready yet to be consequential. But more often, I just began to work on changing things. Slowly at times, but often head over heels. You'll see over time that I'm not really the patient type, especially when I've figured out a better way to do things...
Oh, the adventures that brought into my life! :-)
Can't wait to share those with you one by one!
Love and light,