The fountain of youth

“I’m out of it today.” I said to Shelby. We had met up with Margarita man for brunch.

“Drink more water.” She suggested. “You must not be waterlogged yet.”

“I can’t. I’ve already had three glasses today. Why can’t I drink something more interesting to hydrate myself like pina colatas?”

Margarita-man was waiting for an explanation.

I sighed. “My meds. At times I get extra foggy- headed. Sometimes water helps.”

“Your meds?”

Shelby stared at me. Had I forgotten to tell him about the dreaded meds?

“Um.” I tried to think back. “I’ve told you that I’m epileptic, haven’t I?”

He laughed. “Yes. You told me. And I’ve seen it in your columns. But. I didn’t realize you were still on meds.”

Shelby and I did a slow, loud high five. Because. This was proof positive: I was learning to live with my label. My label wasn’t living me.

Zillions of people have written to me from all over the world. They want to know how I can smile amongst all this mud that has tracked its way onto the living room rug of my life. Well. I guess it has to do with my theory of making mud pies.

You know. You sit in the mud. You make little gooey creations out of the black, wet dirt for a while. Then you wash up and go into the house for dinner. The mud is still out back if you want a little more yuck time. But. Why return to mudding when there’s going to be cheese cake for dessert?

See. I would rather eat dessert than play in the mud. It’s just the kind of girl that I am. And then. If I leave the mud alone for a while, it’ll dry up! Then I can build a nice swimming pool where that mud hole used to be. I know. Swimming in the clear, cool water is way better than playing in the mud. Look at how my life has improved!

So. I have found that since I have a choice, I always choose dessert over wallowing. They call it the positive approach to living. I call it putting dessert first.

I mean. There are many elements of my health that I can control, such as my attitude, my diet and the way I approach my life. These are the parts that I have grabbed by the horns, stared dead in the face and said in my stickiest sweetest voice, “Lighten up.”

Because. The truth is, if I had to pick a form of epilepsy to be riddled with, the visual hallucinations I suffer from are the way to go. I mean. Really. Just consider the sheer entertainment value that these seizures offer to a woman who doesn’t watch TV or have any interest in illegal substances. I get to see stuff that isn’t there without plugging in to anything. I know. If it weren’t for the havoc they create on my body, I would encourage them to bubble up more often.

And. I must say. A major secret for me feeling healthier is having friends and family who are a complete pain in the neck. Really. They insisted on calling to wake me out of the deepest sleeps and demanding that I get out and do something worth-writing-a-column-about with my time. A major part of me being upbeat and positive is that I have these annoying, prickly people who get under my skin. They have kept me from getting stagnate. (If by chance you could use some people like this in your life, maybe I can lend you some of mine. Just one un- interrupted nap. That’s all I ask.)

But. Then. Right after a healthy attitude about my condition, being annoyed by friends and family, having a roof that doesn’t leak, a car that doesn’t eat too much gas, and a woman at the bank who understands how to untangle the strange coding that happens every time I walk through their doors, I must say….. brown rice has been my savior.

Really. No kidding. Sure. Everyone knows that brown rice is the cheapest way to buy vitamins and the easiest way to swallow them because it doesn’t get stuck in your throat the way those horse sized vitamin pills do. But. You might not know that it also has the ability to absorb the yuckity yuck, yuck in your body. (Sorry. White rice can’t compare. It’s gotta be brown.) I know. I think of brown rice as a maid who goes into your body, vacuums, polishes the furniture, drops off some vitamins and then does a little flower arranging to spruce up the place before she leaves.

Ok. I know. Medicine is like a big pill of pollution in your body. So. Eating brown rice is an excellent way to clean up the toxic waste it leaves behind. There are tons of ways to prepare it. Here are a few of my picky middle school student’s favorite ways. I use instant brown rice because it cooks in only ten minutes. (Yes. True. It is cheaper and healthier to buy the long cooking variety.) Follow the directions on the box to cook the rice.

Holly’s Famous Brown Rice Cereal: To one cup of cooked brown rice: Add two teaspoons molasses, One teaspoon sunflower seeds, Two teaspoons pumpkin seeds, Two teaspoons currents, or raisins or craisins, and Two teaspoons almond slivers. Say yum when you eat it. (Very important)

Ok. And. If you don’t have time for all that fancy stuff, just add a tablespoon or two of jam to the hot rice.

Of course it wouldn’t surprise you that I love to add pudding to my rice to make a quick rice pudding for my favorite dessert. My students loved to add a bit of chocolate syrup and a dab of whipped cream to their rice pudding. Yes. Um. That too would be dessert.

Of course. You can do brown rice and vegetables. I am permitting you to do anything you want to do with brown rice. Lather it in honey if you must. Just eat it. Really. Your body will thank you.

And. Don’t forget that you can buy brown rice cakes, brown rice cereal, brown rice bread (freezer section) and brown rice milk. I know. I know. But brown rice is a miracle food. I eat as much of it as I can.

I find that one thing that keeps me walking towards my fountain of epileptic health is to remember all the things that are important to me. Hey. I really work on including these things in my life:

Keep a POSITIVE attitude.

FRIEND Checkup: Keep the good ones. Make more good ones.

Ask for HELP when needed.

Show all ENTHUSIASM for this adventure called life.

CRY alligator tears when necessary.

Be GRATEFUL for the things that ARE working.

Experience JOY.

WRITE even when you don’t want to.

Find BALANCE in all you do.

NAP when appropriate.

Notice NATURE.

ADOPT cool people to be a part of the immediate FAMILY.

Take worry-free mini VACATIONS all day long.

ACKNOWLEDGE the little baby steps on the way to meeting big goals.

Make time for FAMILY.

Practice KINDNESS in spite of others.

TRAVEL all the time.

LOVE, DREAM, EAT PUDDING.

Take care of ME.

Insert HUMOR as applicable.

DRINK more water.

Eat lots of FRUITS and VEGGIES.

And remember to eat at least a cup of BROWN RICE every day.

Oh. I know. That all sounds good. But. Really. I got to tell you. I keep reminding myself that I am only going to be living this life once. So. The WAY I approach my life is what makes the difference.

You see. I am being forced to live my medicated life in a studio apartment in the part of town where homeless people approach me when I park my car and ask if I want to buy a watch for three dollars.

Now. I could get mad at the epilepsy. I could become impatient with my living conditions. I could yell at the homeless person for approaching me. Because. I mean. Does she think that I have three dollars for a watch?

But. I chose a different approach.

I turned to the girl. She was hyper thin. Drugs?

“Why are you selling your watch?” I asked.

“I need three dollars.” She said.

“Really? Why?” No. I only had one dollar on me. I wasn’t going to insult her. But I had some food upstairs. Man. She looked hungry. But. I bet she wouldn’t want a rice cake.

“I really need three dollars.” She repeated.

“So.” I said. “Where has that watch been?”

She sighed, turned and walked away.

I wanted to call after her. Hey. Where has that watch been? What has that watch seen? Couldn’t we talk about it?

Oh. I know. One day my curiosity is going to get me into trouble. But. Until it does. I am going to work on being the healthiest person I can, one epileptic-baby-Holly-step at a time.

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