I just want to get out some of these thoughts in my head and maybe make them more concrete by writing them down. Many years ago when I had the desire to learn and try to become more health minded, it was all very new and very unsettled ground for me. Because it was so different, especially then, people were really quick to want to label me. I don't think most people had bad or mean intentions, but they just didn't understand. At first I bought into all the labels, I embraced the term "Vegetarian" for a while and almost wore it like a badge of courage. I hated the term "Health Nut" and was overly sensitive when called it because to me they were implying I had gone nuts! Although I wondered myself I certainly didn't want others inferring I was going crazy.
Well some time past and when I would get questions like, Are you Vegan? I would kind of cringe and say that I didn't really profess to be following any certain label. I started to feel like the Labels Vegan or Vegetarian were labels of more than just what a person ate but a huge belief system that frankly I didn't feel I completely subscribed to. Besides that I wasn't against people eating some animal products in fact I would even say if I could get such and such (stick in something like Free Range Eggs, Raw Goats Milk Kefir, Wild Alaskan Salmon, etc.) I would eat some every now and then. I meant that, and when I have found some available at affordable prices we have had some.
It's funny what time will do and how our attitudes can shift. I see things a little differently now. When people ask me if I am Vegan or Vegetarian I respond differently depending on the circumstance. If it's a server at a restaurant that asks I usually just nod my head yes, smile, and don't worry about it. I want them to think that I am cause I would really like my order to be right. ;) If I'm talking to or meeting new people that I may or may not ever see again and they ask I will usually say, "No, I'm basically just a health nut!" ;) If it's people I have or will potentially have a relationship of sorts with or they are friends and family.....I usually try to quickly explain the reasons why I don't consider myself Vegan or Vegetarian. Then I mention that Cancer runs really strong in my family and this is the best way I have found to empower myself and do whatever I can to prevent it!
I do have a confession to make though. I kind of use the cancer thing as an easy excuse that people seem to accept. It is true there is a strong history of cancer in my family, but that wasn't really my deciding factor, but I will have to talk about that another time because today I'm talking about labels.
I have noticed that the medical community uses labels A LOT! Labels aren't always bad....But do they sometimes cause us confusion? For example, ADD and ADHD lots and lots of children and now even adults are being labeled with it. As I have tried to observe and be understanding and sensitive I feel like these labels don't help give us a full understanding. Although there may be certain personality traits and commonalities in people labeled with ADD it doesn't automatically mean they need a drug to control it or that they are abnormal because they have some tendencies. I have a younger brother who as a child was really struggling in school and basically couldn't sit still. My Mother knew that doctors would just try to put him on Ritalin if she asked them for help. So.......she pulled him out of school and started homeschooling him because she knew that he just wasn't going to fit the cookie cutter mold the school system was wanting to put him in. Especially through Junior High. She already knew from the time he was a baby that he was allergic to milk as he got older his symptoms were not as bad and I don't think anyone had ever told her or that she realized that the milk could still be causing him problems. She would probably tell this story better but I remember she did notice that when he had those red popsicles.... that they made him crazy! We all quickly learned NOT to give him anything with red dye. Years later and after learning lots my Mom also is sure he's allergic to MSG (Who isn't! But we are all affected differently, I have found it makes me depressed and overwhelmed, like really bad I do so much better without it!) and now that he's an adult he sees the connection to what he eats and how he feels. Of course this doesn't always stop him from eating it but at least he knows.
So maybe a better label would be something like Food Additive Induced ADD or something like that!
Have you heard of the book
Healthy Kids, Smart Kids: The Principal-Created, Parent-Tested, Kid-Approved Nutrition Plan for SoundBodies and Strong Minds
I haven't read it yet but it's been in my Amazon wish list for years. This is what some of the description about it says:
"When she became principal of a 1000-student Georgia elementary school, Dr. Sanders-Butler was disturbed by the high number of visits to the school nurse, disciplinary problems, tardiness, and inattention, to say nothing of so many children being overweight. Convinced the problems were directly related to the pizza, sodas, and sweets the school offered, she launched the Achieving Academic Excellence Through Nutrition program, which banned refined sugars and high-fat and processed foods and drink from the cafeteria.
The results were immediate: better attendance, improvements in attention and energy levels, plus higher grades. Now, she shares with parents everywhere the lunchroom lessons that will help their children thrive"
I think sometimes labels just give us an escape goat, an excuse to not measure up to our full potential. I honestly believe that EVERY single person is a genius! I also think that many people never realize their full potential or their genius because of labels they or others have placed upon them. When you look at your children or anyone for that matter, do you see a label or do you see the potential to overcome....do you see the greatness within everyone?
C.S. Lewis said, “The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations… This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
So should we suppress symptoms with drugs, stifle creativity, and insist everyone fit in the nice "normal" mold? Oh I think labels can be useful in helping understand BUT only if we look toward causes and not let that label keep us from being exactly what God wants us and our children to be! Now don't misunderstand me I'm not saying that just because you find the cause and change some things that all of a sudden your child is going to be just like those amazing kids down the street, I think my point is more that we shouldn't use labels to hold us back or keep us from becoming who we were meant to be and I promise we weren't meant to be like the Mother down the street she has her own mission and her children have theirs. I guess mostly what I'm trying to say is it isn't always productive to label and compare and that we should be aware and be careful in doing so. I know God knows us each as individuals and he isn't comparing us to anyone else or labeling us with some type of disorder. We are all divine in His eyes and he deals with each of us individually! I think we should do the same. Full of love, mercy and understanding! I recently read this quote that explains it better.....
"No one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us - insecurities, anxieties, poor self image, and all. He doesn't measure our talents or our looks; He doesn't measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other."
~Jeffrey R. Holland
~Jeffrey R. Holland
Well I think that helped clear my head a bit to ramble on. I hope that made some sense. I have a gift of saying a lot but never making a clear point, just ask Ryan! ;) Maybe you could help me clear things up even more by sharing your thoughts about labels!