Teaching Confidence to Discover the World with Food Allergies

With another new year upon us, I’ve been reflecting on what makes me happiest and if I am where I should be at this point in my life. Lately I’ve been struggling to feel like my positive, typically happy self.  Since I am in my late-twenties, it seems like almost a right of passage to be questioning what I am doing and if it is right. I work way too many hours, have no time to write, and rarely have time or money to do the things I love the most. I’ve been having a pity party for myself the past year, as I’ve been trying to adjust back to life in the U.S. I have been overworked, underpaid, and exhausted! It has been challenging to appreciate all of the happy moments in my life because I have been largely focused on what isn’t working, what I don’t have, and what I miss. I realize though with this new year beginning, that I know what is important and why it is so important to get that same enthusiasm, love, laughter, smile, and positive thinking back into my life that I have always had.

The nor’easter has been brewing outside my window this evening, blowing a powdery canvass of snow over the city.  Earlier today I parked my car in an underground garage due to the storm.  I walked out through snowy silence and thought about how different this storm was compared to storms in Italy.  All day I had this thought on my mind, until a few hours ago when I finally went through hundreds of video clips, looking for one very windy day, found it, and laughed. I laughed for hours as I not only re-watched that clip, but countless clips from travels all over the world. I finally realized my cheeks were aching, and then thought how lucky I was to have so much to enjoy laughing about. How lucky to have traveled to so many places! How lucky to have made extraordinary friends who I may not see for long periods of time, but when I do, it feels like nothing has changed. How lucky that I experienced numerous cultures and ways of life. How lucky to have these videos to remember what I truly love and care about. My life would be so different without those experiences that have each played a role in who I am, how I think, and what I want my future to hold. I may have anaphylactic food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies, but none of that has stopped me from living the way I want to live. None of that has stopped me from having the kinds of experiences that make me laugh and smile. None of that has stopped me from making life long best friends all over the world.

I realize that if my allergies are not what is stopping me from doing what makes me happy, than nothing should! If I have come this far and have not let something that could seem overwhelming like allergies stop me, than there really shouldn’t be anything else. Having these travel experiences have made me stronger, braver, and more open to the world and its’ differences than I ever knew I could be. If I can make it through a four-day sailing trip, visiting deserted islands in Australia with my allergies, I should be able to do anything. I have had my share of nerve-wracking experiences with my allergies, but they haven’t stopped me. I had the tools to know what to do. I don’t want allergies or asthma to stop any Allergic Reactor out there from living their dreams. I’m an Allergic Reactor who has traveled to numerous parts of the world, had many adventures, and seen incredible sights. Tonight as I watched videos of these stunning places, incredible friends, and endless smiles, I realized I can do anything I set my mind to. I have parents who believed in me and gave me the confidence to believe in myself and go for what I want.  I’ve always done that until recently and tonight reminded me of that.

As a teacher, I have an idea of what it might be like to want to keep your children in a bubble.  I have twenty-two children in my class who I love and care for more hours a day than they see their families and more hours a day than I see anyone else. My kids come from some of the worst areas of the city, with family situations that are scary and sad and I want to keep them safe. I worry about them over weekends and vacations. Since I am their teacher, once they leave my classroom there is little I can do, but I have an understanding of how you can care for children so much that all you want to do is make sure they always stay safe. I’m not a parent yet but I can imagine, especially from talking to my own parents, that it is a tough job to have. My parents could have very easily stopped me from having all of these incredible, priceless experiences, but they didn’t.  It may have been the easier option but they chose the option that would give me the tools to venture out into the world and keep myself safe.  How lucky am I? I want every Allergic Reactor out there to be as lucky as I feel right now.  No matter how many toys you buy your kids, or how much television or video games you let them watch, there is nothing they could appreciate more some day than being able to have the tools to explore the world for themselves! That is the greatest gift you can give an Allergic Reactor. The gift of a real life. The gift of laughter with good friends. The gift of going out to eat a meal. The gift of trusting them to know how to keep themselves safe, and the gift of confidence that they truly can do it. It is a tough job you have as a parent, but look at what an amazing difference you can make on your children. You can give them a life that truly focuses on them as a person, not on them as an Allergic Reactor. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Every second that your child is laughing, learning and exploring is worth those challenges that you face. It won’t be easy for them either, but you are the best role model for them. If you show them confidence, they will learn that confidence from you.

If I can travel the world with allergies and survive a flight by myself on a teeny, tiny airplane, than I can do anything! Teach your children to believe they can, too. Empower your children. You are the ones who can!

Flying to Nan

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One Comment

  1. Magic to my eyes, ears, and heart!!! Getting lost along the way and struggling with our direction is a requirement in finding the path that we belong on. My heart is full…knowing that you have reconnected with the joy.
    Being a parent is an amazing balancing act…being a parent of a child with the severity of allergies that you have challenges every parenting decision. Dad and I used the “risk vs. benefit” mantra through your growing up years . We also learned to trust our gut and not overthink. Growing up is risky business…fraught with looming dangers. Our job was to help you navigate “your world” with age appropriate choice and responsibility. This was in the 1980’s and it wasn’t until you were 15 that we met another child with similar challenges. That’s unthinkable today…as everyone knows someone with severe allergies.

    Happy New Year, precious! You are a gift. Enjoy your journey!
    Love you so! Mom

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