COMING CLEAN: Design Your Health Part 3: Back to School

Designing your health often requires deepening your education — but not always for you alone.

August always feels like crunch time. We’ve passed the year’s midway marker on July 1, summer vacation ends for many after Labor Day as students head back to school, and the temperatures start to cool as the season changes. If you had summer dreams of visiting that quaint town up north or going canoeing, you best get moving for there are only a few weekends left.

vintage three ring binder
This month always felt like prep time before the big game that was a new school year. In high school, I worked in retail-clothing sales, and the first shipment of our fall wardrobe in late July signaled the transition. I’d buy a new wardrobe, notebooks and pencils, and then fret that I didn’t take advantage of my time off to lose weight and makeover my look. Around 13 years old, I started keeping clippings and photocopies of articles from teen magazines on such topics as how to be popular, meet boys, beat the morning rush, and get your skin glowing before the school year. I kept the stories neatly sorted in a three-ring binder, and, for no particular reason, stored in my closet all these years.

beauty
Looking at it now gives me a chuckle (oh, those ’90s styles!), but also makes me a bit sad: Why did I feel the need to reinvent myself each summer?

It came up for me again in the Design Your Health teleseries with the Handel Group: “What’s my dream for my health?” lead to bigger questions: What’s my dream for my life? What do I envision when I see myself in the world and in my community now and in the future? Where’s my place, who’s in my tribe, and how do I define myself?

They are heavy questions — even more so for me as a biracial woman. I’ve long struggled with the concept of “balance” in every realm, a desire I see linked to seeking equal time and consideration between my identity as both a black woman and white woman. Breaking from my tribe, whether it was after high school to trek alone to a different college, or in recent years seeking alternative models of healthcare outside the family investment in modern medicine, has been challenging, to say the least.

When you start to change or question the status quo, it comes off as an affront to those in your circle.

A personal slam on their beliefs and practices. It remains my hope that those I love learn to accept that my detour is not about them; rather, it’s about finding a new and better way for me. But humans, we’re sensitive creatures.

Perhaps they’ll be curious and want to learn my ways. They’ll ask for information and research, and we can grow together. Or perhaps we’ll never find ourselves on the same page, and we’ll both agree to disagree. All I can do is make peace with my uniqueness, my rebellion, and the fact that honoring my personal integrity may always make me the odd one out.

Being the black sheep can have beauty, too.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” —Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” campaign

Believe me, it’s taken years of therapy and life coaching to help me find this confidence, and when it becomes shaky, I find myself remembering my dream, my affirmations, and embracing my emboldened spirit. I know my design for my health and the practices I’ve put in place have healed my body and soul. Always the lifelong student, I’m open to growth and evolution as I continue to learn.

So tell me: What self-discoveries have you made during Design Your Health? Have you been schooled, or found that you want to deepen your knowledge? Has your education on nutrition and health shifted?

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