For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an energetic and busy person. I played three sports in high school, was in all the honors classes, barrelled through my Bachelor’s degree in record time, traveled as much as possible upon graduating, moved, and was constantly pushing myself onto the next thing. This was my life for so many years.
However, just how Life tends to do, it got my attention in a big way, right when I needed it. Shortly after returning from my travels abroad, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was 23 years old and had just gotten accepted into a Master’s In Counseling program. To say I was sad and overwhelmed about my diagnosis, would be an understatement. Slow down?! How the heck was I going to slow down and do all the things I wanted to do?! I HAD THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH, dreams to fulfill, people to impress, worth to prove!
So as I tend to do, I decided to decline acceptance to get my Master’s, and apply to become a Naturopathic Physician. Again, I was onto something else and in a mad rush to distract myself from what life was so desperately asking me to pay attention to: my body and my life in the present moment.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that my decision to become a N.D. was not so much driven by the desire to learn how to naturally cure my disease, but my lack of worthiness and enoughness. I thought, if I just become a N.D., people will respect me, take me seriously, and think highly of me – because I clearly didn’t think highly of myself. Thankfully, Divine Intervention worked it’s magic and I ended up being one chemistry class short of acceptance and would need to reapply the following year.
For so many years, my life was guided by the expectations, happiness, and approval of other people. I didn’t want to become a N.D., I wanted to feel proud of myself regardless of my accomplishments. I didn’t want to have to push and fight for my approval and worthiness – I just wanted to know it in my Soul.
To this day, slowing down and being in authentic presence is a practice of mine – something Marc David would call a Soul Lesson. My diagnosis of R.A. gave me two gifts: the gift of being present and aware, and the gift of worthiness. Being who I am, in the present moment and aligned with my values has healed my life more than food ever could. The internal shift of loving, accepting and being authentically me has given me the opportunity to heal on a level I never thought possible. A full, happy life isn’t about gaining or losing, doing or accomplishing, but about becoming more and more of who you are meant to be. Fill your life with meaningful choices and regardless of your accomplishments, you will live a meaningful life.
Ashley Looker is an Eating Psychology + Empowerment Coach who guides women into living an empowered, healthy, joyful life, starting with their relationship with food and body. Her passion is to inspire and empower each woman she works with to live embodied, fully expressed and fully alive – regardless of what their body looks like, or what they weigh. She believes in the healing power of optimism, slowing down, humor, nature, journaling and a good cry.