It all started with hives. I’ve never had hives before, but then again it really could’ve started when I picked up “Brain on Fire” by Susannah Cahalan. I sort of bulldozed through the entire first half of the book on my three hour flight from Salt Lake City International to Toronto International Airport. She made me see myself in a new light. The light exposed me in a way where I felt free, but also unsure. That’s all I’ll say about her book for now–just read it. Seriously. It will teach you something about yourself…
I use to sell wood pellet grills for a living in Costco (Costco Wholesale Corporation, trading as Costco, is an American multinational corporation which operates a chain of membership-only warehouse clubs. As of 2015, Costco was the second largest retailer in the world after Walmart, and as of 2016, Costco was the world’s largest retailer of choice and prime beef, organic foods, rotisserie chicken, and wine) and I loved my job. I loved it in ways I didn’t expect to experience when I first encountered the opportunity back in early November. Good ol’ Kelly B and I got put into the same “money profile” group at a Millionaire Mind Intensive (founded by T. Harv Eker). She and I flew ourselves over to Los Angeles for a follow-up conference known as Master of Influence (MMI). She approached me with such love and fierceness. I remember thinking, Whatever this lady does for a living, I want in. She seemed to read my mind because she invited me to take a chance as a Brand Ambassador of Traeger Wood Fired Grills.
So there I was in Ontario, Canada for the first time in my life typing on a laptop while surrounded by a bunch of obnoxious Canadian teenage boys (who tried to start drama with me because they wanted the computer). No surprise, Canadians are fierce and they hate that Americans invented “fierce”–explains why the immigration rate of Canadian Citizens to the United States is 4x higher than the rate of United States Citizens immigrating to Canada and becoming legal permanent residents (https://www.immigroup.com/news/immigration-united-states-america-vs-canada).
Believe me. I ordered some pizza from a restaurant and on the box the words were boldly printed:
“Authentically Italian. Fiercely Canadian.”
Not that I have anything against Canadians, but I am only sharing my own views and observations based on my experiences so far here.
So here I go back to where it all started…the hives…
I ordered a coffee with milk–just a little dairy. I’ve been strictly dairy-free for two years but from time to time I’d have a little chocolate with milk or some dairy in my coffee…only large amounts of dairy would push my skin to pop and expand around my joints, blood rushing to attack instead of build because of a hyperactive immune system. My diagnosis is Rheumatoid Arthritis (Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term autoimmune disorder that primarily affects joints. It typically results in warm, swollen, and painful joints. Pain and stiffness often worsen following rest. Most commonly, the wrist and hands are involved, with the same joints typically involved on both sides of the body. The disease may also affect other parts of the body.) but I see it as some inflammation that speaks to what my soul or spirit needs.
The sales day was almost over and my energy felt low so I purchased a coffee from the Costco food station with–yes, you guessed it–dairy. I drank it down and before I knew it my whole body became warm. It started in my feet with a tingling sensation and then intense itching. Then it spread to my hands and wrists. I looked at the underside of my forearms and stared in amazement at the tiny red bumps that flooded over my soft skin.
What the hell is going on? I thought to myself.
I yanked off my Apple watch and bracelets as I ran to the bathroom. My heart raced and I felt nauseous.
It’s an allergic reaction. The coffee.
Dead-bolting the employee bathroom door behind me, I pulled off my shirt and stared with horror at dozens of red bumps covering my shoulders, arms, chest, stomach, and back. I moved my fingertips over the inflamed and itchy skin. I knew I needed to get help. I found myself 20 minutes later driving in a panic to the nearest drug and grocery store in search of Benadryl.
The next day, I felt completely not myself.
What was I doing in Canada?
I wrote this in my journal the night I got home…
I walked into Costco in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada with a heavy and uncertain heart. I was certain of my potential and strength in weakness, but this time felt different.
I looked around at all of the Canadians and realized with a shock, You are the minority.
I thought about Kendrick Lamar’s song Feel and his words, “I feel like say somethin. I feel like take somethin.” I wanted to scream. My better half–my stronger half–found amusement in all the ways Canadian culture are fragments of American culture, especially considering our ancestors come from the same place.
Yet still, I couldn’t shake the downpour of negative thoughts as my mind turned to fog and I felt myself losing my ability to stand.
They know you’re mixed and American. You’re not fooling anyone with all that curly hair and sixteen-year-old face.
[Looking back now, I see this experience as culture shock. The shock and the allergic reaction worked together to turn me ill, resulting in intense inflammation both internally and externally.]
I felt myself breaking and my first impression in this moment of human fragility was that I needed to forgive my father, so I unblocked his number and called him right then. Tears flooded my eyes.
Forgiveness is such a beautiful action and it’s forgiveness that exposes true love.
Sometimes we tell ourselves what we don’t want to believe and it’s this kind of focus on the assumptive nature of our thoughts that can frame our reality, destroying our identity.
Awareness is essential to human progression, but even when our assumptions are actually our reality, we can still see them as opportunities to accept ourselves rather than turn away from ourselves.
As a quote that I once read goes, “Through our pain we become full.”
Over the next couple of days I would experience a sickness that would rob me of my freedom, but today I stole that freedom back and it’s how I discovered that Canadian coins are magnets.
I emptied out the entire contents of my backpack onto my hotel room bed. The U.S. coins mixed with the Canadian coins. I picked up my Traeger name badge to throw it into my bag when a Canadian coin flew to the magnetic strip on the back and stuck there. I paused and moved the badge over the pile of coins. To my amusement only the Canadian currency revealed to be magnetic.
I then realized the Canadian cuŕrency will always be made of a different kind of material than the American currency, but I choose whether to magnetize my identity with the Canadian identity. I am and always will be in control of what sticks to me. Afterall, the coins are still both currency, created and used for the same purpose…to feed the mouths of the people in the world.
– Kelsey Jo