Have you ever felt like you were at a crossroads in your life? I’m not talking about a midlife crisis, but rather something bigger and more profound.
About 3 years ago, we took a pretty long road trip to pick up a bull in a remote (VERY REMOTE) area in West Texas. I mean…… drive to the very edge of civilization and then head 3 hours further…..the kind of remote that requires a physical map instead of cell phone/ GPS service. Without a map or good navigational tools, you’re sunk kind of remote. As you might guess, we confidently drove down the road….. in the wrong direction because we thought we knew where we were going. It cost us about 3 extra hours that day. We were reminded the value of an old school map and a dose of intuition!
This kind of parallels the last 15+ years of my life. I have been a pharmacist since 1991. I graduated, and like most health professionals…. upon graduation…… was pretty sure I had a really good grasp of the profession. I’m not saying I was God’s gift to pharmacy (hardly!), but I certainly thought I knew enough to make a difference in people’s lives. I toodled along in pharmacy doing the absolute best job I could do (because that’s my nature….. never tackle anything halfway).
When I was in my 30’s I thought we were living the dream. Charlie and I both had good jobs, had bought our farm, and had begun building our home (by hand, ourselves…. because that’s how we do things…. with all our heart and soul). We worked super hard…. 40-60 hrs a week at our respective jobs and then swung hammers and wielded paint brushes on nights and weekends for about 3 years before completing our home. It was somewhere during that time that I broke my wrist, was subsequently diagnosed with osteopenia , and both Charlie and I were diagnosed with high cholesterol. In hindsight, that broken wrist was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I won’t go into great detail (you can read more about that journey here and the second half here), but it was a big fat hairy road sign to stop and assess what I thought I knew.
That broken wrist reopened a different avenue of education for me…. only this time, it was not subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry and there was some skin in the game…. my own. When you are a pharmacist, you’re in the business of knowing side effects of meds. The good news is…. you know the potential side effects. The bad news is…. you know the potential side effects. I wasn’t willing to go down that road given the med options they were dangling in front of me. My gut said no way, and once my research started it changed my life forever. It all began with raw milk. From there, my research extended into finding access to truly healthy and healing foods. Each time I thought I knew enough, I found that more pieces to health puzzles were MIA…. not just my puzzle, but everyone else’s too.
About the same time, I went to work at a pharmacy that specialized in rare diseases, oncology, auto-immune disorders, and infertility (which frequently has an auto-immune component). Sadly, this pharmacy represented the outcome of people living in toxin filled environments. Silly me. I still thought I was helping people. I guess I was. Kindness matters, especially when you are dealing with life altering body dysfunctions….. but kindness and pharmaceuticals don’t dissolve the problems these patients face every day.
Another personal puzzle piece fell into place after I was diagnosed with something called interstitial cystitis and discovered (after 9 years of no REM sleep and frequent trips to the bathroom), that it could be managed well with a fresh and healthy, but limited, diet. Expensive medication and daily catheterization are the common treatments. Ummm, no thank you. I would later learn that IC is part of the autoimmune disorder family. Not surprisingly, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the USA are card carrying autoimmune disorder patients. I had been given my card.
Eight years ago, my dad was diagnosed with dementia. It made no sense to me and we had no family history of dementia. I backtracked the onset to a statin drug (commonly prescribed for high cholesterol). In the finest of the fine print of this class of drugs you will find information alluding to possible memory loss with these drugs. Dig deeply and you’ll find it. I thank God for leading me to raw milk to lower my cholesterol instead of that which stole my dad’s memory. I don’t blame the pharmaceutical industry for burying the whole ‘memory loss’ side effect in the fine print. I mean, would you want to take a drug that could potentially rob you of your memory as a side effect? Ummmm, no thank you.
By now, I’ve truly begun second guessing pharmaceuticals. I began educating myself on everything I could get my hands on that gave honest and documented proof that maybe what I knew wasn’t EVERYTHING…… that perhaps there were some gaps in my education and knowledge base. I dug deep deep deep into gut health and discovered the link to most autoimmune disorders. I studied sleep patterns, herbs, thyroid and hormones. I picked up yoga and began healing my posture and my stress level. That led to my recent certification (7 years later) as a Christian yoga instructor.
I had a life changing accident 3 years ago this week, and (eventually… after a 3 month recovery) walked out of it when I should have been an amputee. Last week I walked a 37 minute 5K with many close friends. Thank God. Despite the severity of my injury, I have no pain day to day and am not on any medication. I’ve got oils, supplements and a little thing called Dolphin MPS that rocked my recovery world so much so that I decided to begin taking classes so that I could help others as I was helped…. another tool in my toolbox that wasn’t related to pharmacy.
The last 18 years, by serendipity or Divine design (I believe the latter), I have been gathering tools to help people (myself included) heal physically and emotionally. What had started out as a mission to care for myself and my family gradually extended to include friends and strangers who have become dear friends. The more truth in healing I gleaned, the more uncomfortable I became in my white lab coat. Back in the day, we took an oath to do no harm (that oath has been changed and no longer includes that phrase).
Once you know something, you can’t unknow it.
I have grown uncomfortable in my pharmacist skin (and coat)….. able to speak only truths that are approved talking points regulated by the pharmaceutical industry.
Once I found that there are better, safer, more life sustainable ways to heal, it became harder and harder to deny people access to these opportunities in wellness……. because they exist for the taking.
Every day, people make unconscious choices that affect their health….. making poor food choices, drinking chemically treated water, watching too much media and not exercising enough…. taking meds without researching them thoroughly first. They think a pill will solve their ills. I’m here to tell you that medications are simply adding to the already hefty toxin load within all of us. The heavier the load, the sicker the individual.
I’ve had several people in the last many months call me a healer. I don’t claim that moniker. I feel more like a shepherd, leading those who are thirsty to a safe place to drink, eat, and rest. It gives me great peace, and it makes my heart sing a song it’s never sung before.
I have straddled both worlds now for many years, and being true to myself is becoming increasingly difficult despite the six figure income that comes with the white coat. I fill prescriptions for people I have grown to love in the community, knowing that they can be helped in other ways that actually heal. I respect my duty as a pharmacist and do not step outside that boundary……but I feel God’s hand firmly on my back telling me to Go. Do. Become. Shepherd those I send your way.
And so I prayed. “Lord, if it is your will, send me those who need me.” I began praying this daily about 5 months ago. God has a sense of humor. I’m sure of it. About a month ago, I had to alter my prayer a tiny bit. ” Lord, if it is your will, can I have a little breather so I can adequately help those you sent so far? ” God is so very good.
I would have never in a million years guessed that I would step away from pharmacy more than halfway thru my career. Pharmacy has taught me so much. Perhaps most importantly, it has given me the gift of scientific discernment: the ability to understand fact from fiction or skewed data.
When I was a young pup out of pharmacy school, I thought my life was set on auto pilot. I couldn’t have been more wrong. God took me down a completely different path, guiding me and giving me tools along the way: pharmacy, nutrition, exercise, yoga, health coaching, scientific based knowledge of essential oils, supplements, and herbs, Dolphin MPS, and most importantly the empathy acquired from personal experiences.
God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.
Here’s to the journey! I can’t wait to see what the second half of my life holds.
Hugs and love, Liz
PS: I am not completely stepping away from the pharmacy just yet. You will still see me in a white coat one or two days a week.
A couple of weeks ago, I left a post on my Wellness Prepper’s Facebook page that is really the ‘middle’ of this story of mine. If you know me, you know that I am a lover of animals… I connect with them in ways that most people do not. That said, the evolution of my life (and my thought processes) will likely not make much sense without an explanation. Explanations can answer questions, open a can of worms, or do both. I don’t dread talking about this topic one on one, but writing to the masses who have no idea how much heart I put into caring for my animals is a scary thing indeed. So, that said, I ask you to read onward with a thoughtful mind.
I believe in doing the right thing and living my life transparently. I am what you see and strive to be the same person in all situations. There is no ‘work personality’, ‘farm personality’, ‘church personality’ etc. One of my strongest traits is that of a protector. If I see a wrong, I work towards making it right….. ESPECIALLY if I realize I may have inadvertantly been part of the problem thru lifestyle, ignorance, or social design. (This post is not about my ‘pharm’ life, but this trait has been the driving force behind my personal growth in holistic well care as kind of kismetic gift to those in my world who have struggled with health solutions because they were led to belive that only western medicine philosophy held the right answers).
Nope. This post is about my farm life, and all that it represents. We do a large amount of animal rescue, and have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars caring for those animals who otherwise would not be given a chance. We have foregone so much ‘free time’ that I can’t even imagine what it would be like NOT to have the beautiful responsibility of caring for all the unique lives God entrusted us. I cry (believe me, I CRY) every time we lose a life around here… my heart breaks. God patches it with His presence, and I move on. In farming, when an animal is involved, there is going to be death. Sometimes it is a natural death (common within our poultry flock…. we lose one every so often to natural causes), and sometimes it is a pre-ordained destiny. This is the case with the male offspring of our dairy cows.
Before you throw me under the bus (or tractor), please hear me out. I refuse to be an intentional hypocrit in my life, and strive to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. As a world, we cannot avoid meat products and byproducts. Unless you are the most concientious vegan on the planet, your daily life likely incorporates multiple beef byproducts in it:
- of course there is the obvious: meat, milk, and butter
- oleo (from fats) for margarine and shortening (NOT the same thing as butter)
- gelatin used in marshmellows, ice cream, chewing gum, and certain candies & food items
- leather….. but also the base product for felt and many other textiles
- the base ingredient for many ointments, lipsticks, face and hand creams
- the binder for asphalt, plaster, and certain types of insulation
- industrial lubricants and oils. Renderings are used in the production of chemicals, biodegradable detergents, pesticides, and flotation agents.
- buttons, piano keys, glues, fertilizer, and gelatin for photographic film, paper, wallpaper, sandpaper, and violin string.
- more than 100 medicines currently on the market, including bovine based insulin for diabetics.
So you see, some of these are daily use items we simply cannot avoid. Yes, I agree… there should be a vegan solution for all of them, and in some cases there are… but in many cases, there is not. I certainly respect those who live a vegan lifestyle, but the reality is….. nobody on this planet is fully vegan.
The second part of the equation is this…. if you are a carnivore, are you an educated one? Unless you are eating humanely raised meat, do you have any idea of the quality of life an animal leads from birth to death? For the vast majority, life is uncomfortable, unnatural, stressful, and without kindness. It is easier to block this from your mind, and so most people do. They prefer to pick up their packaged meat and blind themselves as to how it arrived at the store. Feedlot raised animals and Factory Farming are abhorrent practices that should be outlawed…. but they’re not.
I once was blind, but now I see.
I challenge you to click on the link above to learn the facts, and I believe you will understand the message I am trying to convey here. The vast majority of farm animals are treated as objects. Their lives have no value in the eyes of the beholder (unless you are talking about $/lb hanging weight). There is no appreciation for the life that is sacrificed so that the consumer can eat a hamburger or steak, and certainly not for the lesser things…. the glue, binder, ointments, etc.
This is NOT the case on our farm.
We can be part of the problem, and turn a blind eye, or we can be part of the solution, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. For in our discomfort, we are compassionate.
When a bull calf is born, we celebrate his healthy birth, but with a bit of sadness. One of the byproducts of our liquid gold (raw milk) sometimes is a bull calf. That bull calf will eventually be old enough, after living a well loved life, grazing without fear in our pasture, with no stress, plenty of space, and with a small herd. He will have plenty of natural forage to eat, fresh water to drink, and shelter from the elements. He will be able to enjoy the sunshine, and will play with his peers. Life will be good. Believe it or not, I begin praying for him and thanking God for his healthy birth, and for the sacrifice he will be made so that some of our friends can have healthy and safe meat (grass fed, nonGMO, hormone free, antibiotic free, chemical free). We have hand chosen the processor we use. He is one of the few animal welfare approved processsors in this area of Texas. The end comes without stress for him. As for me, I drive them myself. It is a rough trip, and I cannot say it is stress free for me, because still…. my heart breaks. I say prayers of thanksgiving the entire 140 miles round trip. Do I enjoy this aspect of farming? Heck no. But this is reality… not just for us, but for everyone. We don’t condone what Factory Farming does, so we provide a better way for a small handful of cattle over our lifetime. Like the starfish principle…. we are making a difference to the ones we raise this way.
People have asked me how we can do this, and I respond…. how could we not? We could put our heads in the sand and sell the calves and pretend we don’t know what happens to them. For the record, most dairy calves end up at the sale barn unless they are replacement heifers. They also end up in veal cages (the worst case scenario for a calf). Our calves stay with their mama’s and are dam raised (as opposed to removed from their mama and given powdered milk replacer instead of the good stuff….. another common practice). They stay with them for several months before they are weaned.
The average dairy cow lives a life of about 5 years before being culled (that’s a nice way of saying killed). Our granny cow (retired) Clementine is somewhere around the age of 15. We have two more that are 7+ years old, with a long life in front of them. They have time to recover from each birth and milking season before repeating the process.
Walking the talk is not easy, but it is the right thing to do. It has given me the true meaning of praying over our meals, and the sacrifices it took to get it there. Mealtime prayers frequently get overlooked or understated. Rote. Not in our home.
I doubt this process will ever get easy for me, and I honestly, I hope it never does. Discomfort ensures compassion and gratitude, something we all need more of.
Hugs and Love, liz
We’ve lived on our farm for nearly 24 years. When we first moved here, our hometown, Anna, Texas was population 900. Today, I believe it is pushing 10,000. Although we’ll likely never move, we’ve learned some valuable lessons about buying property, utility companies, and government. All these things would play a part in a ‘do over’ if that were possible in life.
Little towns everywhere (but especially those within an hour or so of booming metroplexes) are frequently the assailed and hostaged of the aforementioned entities. Things happen. Deals are made behind closed doors. Money exchanges hands. The voices are too few to fight back. In a town of 900, those who try to fight are easily outnumbered by big business and big government. It is tragic. There is a difference between growth and what I can only call a hostile takeover of urban life. Residents in small town USA bear the brunt of the outcome.
In the last 24 years we have fought:
- Enormous power lines delivering power to other cities, all while emitting dangerous levels of EMF’s to those who are forced to live close to them due to eminent domain laws. These laws allow the power company to place these things on private citizen property). We’ve fought this battle more than once.
- An enormous landfill (aka: The Dump). This was a long hard and lost battle with the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD). The deal was done and small towns in our area were dealt a blow once again. It wasn’t even our trash…. it is trash from Dallas and other surrounding large cities. A back door deal that eventually landed a local mayor in jail a few years back when it all came out. Too late tho. The deal was done.
- And now, the water. Thankfully, our personal water supply does not come from this company (Is it any coincidence that the same company manages both water and trash?) ….. but I work and serve people within our community who have been deeply impacted. Groups of us have attempted to speak against the water quality for months (if not years), and have been hushed, pacified, and condescended to. I spoke at a city council meeting many months ago regarding the impact that I, as a pharmacist, saw on local resident’s health. Anna, Texas truly is one of the most nauseous towns (I mean this literally) I’ve ever filled prescriptions for. I determined years ago, that it had to be the water. No other explanation fit. Local Facebook groups had long discussions about it… but still nothing was done.
Last week, Erin Brockovich (yes, that one!) drew the NTMWD into the spotlight for the quality of water it has been delivering to its people. Hundreds upon thousands of families. No longer is this a small town situation. Thank God. I’ve seen mention more than once that Anna, Texas might be of particular concern.
If you’d like to read more about this particular fight, please read on here.
Suddenly, we have thousands of people interested and concerned about their health and their personal safety. We are such a litigious society these days….. it’s so easy to place blame for woes we have (on others) without giving due introspection on how we ourselves have played a part.
Friends, the water quality is important and we do need to fight it hard…. but it is a ‘drop in the bucket’ (excuse the pun) when you look at the bigger picture. The chemicals in the water are causing rashes and other health concerns. This is truth ya’ll, and unfortunately, we have no choice but to use the water that is supplied to each of us.
I know thousands of families in this area buy and drink bottled water to circumvent the crummy tap water, but this still leaves themselves exposed to the SAME chemicals when they take a shower or bath. Our skin is not like saran wrap…. keeping everything out. On the contrary…. it is our largest organ and absorbs chemicals like a sponge. (Precisely the reason that drugs applied topically have a systemic effect! ).
Now, here comes the self introspective part of this post that may hurt a little …. people are squealing about the water quality…. which we pay for and have no choice but to allow into our homes…..But what about the items we DO have the choice on what we do or don’t bring into our homes? These things cause equal damage (if not greater)…. and yet you may unconsciously do this every day.
Toxic words to look for in your products:
Fragrance (about 300 chemicals hide behind that word)
Dyes of any sort (Red, Blue, Yellow, Green)
SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
This is only 3 in a LOOOONG list of harmful chemicals that are in nearly all standard body care products.
We point fingers at the water company who is doing us wrong , but we may also need to begin to take a close look at ourselves too ….. are we grabbing things at the store that are also causing insidious damage? Just because it’s for sale, doesn’t mean it’s safe……. case and point with our water source. Our government does not do an adequate job of regulating chemicals in our country…. again… just look at this water situation.
I know many of my friends have also realized this over the years and now make conscious decisions when buying products…. whether that be food, house cleaning supplies, or personal care products.
The problem, is that now we have companies who operate on subterfuge to sell…. they brand themselves as ‘healthy alternatives’ but then slip in damaging chemicals. One bad apple then spoils the barrel. Take a look at this article by Food Babe (one of my vocal heroes) on the company LUSH as an example: https://foodbabe.com/lush-bath-bombs-not-think/…… and DANG, their products aren’t cheap ($8.95 for a bath bomb?)
I put my pharmacist detective hat on each time I look at a product… and for a long time, that made shopping incredibly time consuming. Over 4 years ago, I found Young Living, and quit reading labels. Originally, it was about the incredible health properties of their oils (because I believe in doing life’s ups and downs naturally instead of with man made chemicals), but YL has evolved into my ‘everything company’. I pretty much just shop once a month for TRULY non-toxic body care products and household cleaning supplies (and yes, they have bath bombs that actually have heal-th benefits, smell great, and cost less than Lush’s… or, you can make your own if you are a DIY’er for even cheaper!).
People argue that living healthy is expensive, but I would argue that just the opposite is true. Studies have found that people spend (on average) 16x more on their health on the backside (when all heck has broken out in your body), versus taking care of things up front by eliminating toxic chemicals, exercising, eating right, etc. Our environment really does determine (90%) our health outcome, and we have to take some personal responsibility for creating that environment.
I see the ramifications of NOT doing these things every day I work at the pharmacy and it breaks my heart. It is the reason I have slowly stepped back (not yet completely away) from pharmacy and looked toward ways to help people become whole again. Dolphin MPS, Health Coaching, Christian Yoga teacher training, Young Living product education, other holistic modalities…. all of this. The need for repair in our bodies is HUGE and we need more people being part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
But it starts with what we choose to allow into our own homes …. and that starts with us as individuals…. you and me.
If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to someone you know who is already walking this path. We all had someone lead us initially too, and I don’t know any one who isn’t happy to share tips and life hacks on how to live a healthier life.
To learn more about the personal care products that Young Living offers, you can take a gander at my Young Living store.
Even our makeup usually contains ‘dirty’ ingredients. Young Living has that covered as well.
Be Well my friends ~
Hugs and love, Liz