Two years ago, I was in an interesting place. Uprooted is the word that comes to mind. Feeling the excitement of a kitchen remodel we had been dreaming about for years and in the throws of starting The Nourish to Flourish Society and launching our first 14-day Spring Reset program.
I was also going through treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease.
Lyme is a mysterious, elusive, debilitating disease. I don’t remember the tick bite. What I do remember though is that for years I had been feeling incredible fatigue, depression and brain fog which eventually migrated into chronic pain in my joints and muscles and spine. I would spend hours awake in the middle of the night only to then spend the day in bed, so tired and unable to function. I had a terrible chronic cough. For months, leading up to my diagnosis, I had spent more time in bed than not. I felt like I was going mad.
I was both relieved and saddened with my diagnosis. Relieved because I finally found a provider who gave me a diagnosis and a holistic treatment plan that felt promising. Saddened because I had not met anyone who was completely healed and thriving after that diagnosis.
It's not something I have talked about openly up to this point because I am not 100% “better” and I’m still trying to understand it all. I continue to quietly work through seasonal ups and downs.
Last year I suffered for 4 months with intense stomach pain. I had to stop playing tennis, which had been a huge source of stress relief and a social staple 3-4x every week.
While my stomach issues have subsided, I still haven't been able to pick up my racquet again because the stiffness and pain in my right wrist and hand is quite fierce. It makes it difficult to hold a pen, type this blog post or use a chef's knife without pain...all things that are my life's work and my passions.
I finally decided a couple months ago to return to tennis. I was going to wrap my wrist and give it a whirl. The day before I returned to the tennis court, I tore my hamstring....doing yoga. Can you believe it? Yoga. As a once very active vibrant body & spirit, an accomplished athlete, able to do almost anything physically I put my mind to, I have felt the limitations of my body. And all of this has challenged my spirit as well.
My body tires quickly and my mind requires more downtime and space than it used to. I used to multitask with the best of them and crank out work and create things really quickly. But in this season, I simply cannot.
If you've read my blog posts over the past year, you’ve seen some themes. Lessons I’m learning and teaching.
I pray daily for full recovery and I'll receive any and all prayers for my healing, because I want to live well. Live fully. Live vibrantly. I want to run around with my kids without getting winded in the first minute. Have energy to play basketball with them. Run the bases and pitch to them. Play a flirtatious competitive game of tennis with my husband again. All without feeling stiffness & pain, fatigued and in bed for a couple days thereafter. I want to carry out creative projects. Chop vegetables and lift heavy pots and pans safely. Think clearly. Be pain free.
In this season, I've been pondering these words:
Jesus has a vision for wholeheartedness. It emerges in the one who comes to the end of herself, mourns the old, is humbled by the process and grows in new longings for a life of grace and mercy. She is a person of character consistency. A person who rings true whenever you tap her. She keeps promises, says one theologian. What you see is what you get. The inside matches the outside. There is no show...God comes to you disguised as your life." (Falling into Goodness by Chuck DeGroat)
And here I am today. In many ways at the end of myself. Mourning the old. Humbled by the process. Longing for a life of grace and mercy. What you see is what you get.
Do you know why am I writing this today?
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
I run a company called The Nourish To Flourish Society.
How ironic, right?
By all definitions, my life doesn’t look or sound so flourishing.
To thrive. To grow luxuriantly. To prosper.
In some ways I haven't wanted to share my story because I haven't wanted to taint my brand and give people a false hope that if they don’t see me happy and vibrant and “flourishing” what good is the work I do? Am I giving women false hope? Do I have integrity in the work I’m doing? Does my brand reflect what's possible for women if I can't achieve this myself?
Here's the thing.
I AM FLOURISHING.
Just not the way I originally envisioned a “flourishing” life and not the Webster’s Dictionary definition.
The joy, the pain, the ease and the challenges; the highs in my marriage and parenting along with the absolute lows; the moments of abundance and the disheartening financial strain of paying out of pocket medical bills; feeling deeply connected and then feeling the anger of injustice and inequality all around us...there’s an invitation to flourish IN ALL OF IT.
We just need to look through a different lens.
And that’s why I’m writing you today.
I don’t want you to look at The Nourish to Flourish Society and assume that when we say “flourish” we are saying all will be well. Life will be perfect and that you all of a sudden ‘arrive’. I don’t want you to assume our lives are perfect; that somehow our homes are immaculate, our meal plans are 3-course from scratch, our diets are flawless, our workouts happen every day, we’re always patient with our kids and husbands. We don’t want you to assume that we don’t know struggle or hardship or pain or grief or depression. We do.
But still, when I’m with women, there’s this assumption that flourishing means you’ve got your shizzle together. Like all the time. Or that you will only flourish when things are going well for you.
“When I lose ___ pounds, I’ll flourish.”
“When ___ happens, then I'll flourish.”
“When my kids leave the house and I have more time for myself, then I can flourish.”
“When I’m done taking care of my elderly parent or retire from this stressful job, then I’ll flourish.”
“When I have the perfect diet, then I’m on the road to flourishing.”
Flourishing isn’t about arrival.
Flourishing isn’t when you have it all together.
What if we reframe what flourishing is.
Consider a different version of flourishing that you can take through any season of your life:
To nourish IS to flourish.
There is no “arrival” point. No destination.
There is no “once I do __, then I’m perfect/enough/got it all together and I’ve arrived and I’ll be flourishing forever!” kind of life.
We will ebb and flow out of it. We are human. It’s not all or nothing.
So instead of looking at this whole flourishing thing as only happening when you've got it all together, how’s this instead:
ANY time you choose nourishment (in thought, word or deed), you are simultaneously choosing to flourish for that moment. Every nourishing act is an opportunity to flourish.
And a "nourishing act" is not just about food.
I have found myself nourishing in non-food ways that feed me on the deepest of levels. When I slow down. Breathe. Surrender. Ask for help. Practice vulnerability. Listen well. Pray. Smile. Laugh. Practice connection and compassion. Practice gratitude. Celebrate life. Receive grace.
Maybe together, we can shift our idea of flourishing. Moments of nourishing lead to moments of flourishing. And begin to string more and more of these moments together to create longer, meaningful seasons of flourishing.
I invite you to try something.
At the end of each day for the next week, simply ask yourself:
How did I nourish and flourish TODAY?
Start here. And let’s keep the conversation going.