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My dirty journey started when I was young. I didn’t have stellar health as a child, despite the fact that I “looked” fine. I had an inflammatory disease called Kawasaki that attacks the heart at the age of five. After recovering, I was regularly sick- you name it, I had it. The more I got sick, the more allergic reactions I started to have to the antibiotics I was given. I continued to battle with annoyingly persistent health issues into my adult life, just accepting it was the hand I was dealt. ‘Get more medications and keep moving”. That was how I went trudging through life. “Head in the sand” fit me perfectly at that time.

My journey zigged and zagged. It was dirty and messy at times.

I adopted poor habits, I’m human, right? From my poor food choices, lack of quality sleep, and repeated poor decisions. Add in the stress of a divorce at the age of 29, and little did I know pressure was adding up. I struggled with career identity in my 30’s, testing out other professions as second jobs. Draining myself more and more. I felt insecure about my lack of a high paying career. I was competing against societal pressures and the comparison game, trying things that I misidentified as “successful”. The journey of chasing “success” was doomed to be unsuccessful. The more I chased a false reality, the less intentional I became about who I was.

And then I had a major wake-up call. I had an anaphylactic reaction while getting my hair colored. It wreaked havoc on my body and left me unable to see clearly or digest food, among a host of other issues. As I tried to navigate the medical system after a few emergency room visits, my eyes were opened to seeing the disconnect there as well. Frustration and shock set in by the lack of communication and collaboration regarding my health conditions. Rather than being listened to, I was sent all over the place to various appointments with no acceptable answers.

I was forced to reevaluate my life. It was time to go back to basics and accept all the areas of my life that were adding to the burden of my compromised health. Finances? Career? Relationships? It was all coming to a head.

The “Aha” Moments

I knew deep down I had to slow down. I needed to get my “hands dirty” and say no when the advice didn’t feel right, and I needed to start to be intentional with my decisions. I refused to accept “There is nothing you can do”, or “Take this pill” or the best yet, “Can you get better insurance?”. I learned to trust and check in with my intuition as I continued to search for the right professionals to help me on this dirty journey.

While all these thoughts and wake-up alarms were going off, I started to investigate health, wellness, nutrition, our food system and stress. I went down rabbit holes trying to understand my symptoms and how I could support my body’s ability to heal. I realized how disconnected I was from my body and emotions. Most importantly, I realized I had missed the connection between them.

The education started and after a night of binge-watching documentaries on Food Matters TV about farming and our food system. I sat there and it really hit me, your garden is healthy but “Katie, your soil is depleted”… Literally.

It was time to get my hands dirty and really dig into what I needed to do to get myself back on track. My life had become unnecessarily complicated and it happened without my realizing it. I just wanted to feel simplicity again. I had to get honest with myself about what I really wanted to accomplish in this life and why.

Clean-up Time

So the journey began and I started with food. I headed back to my garden. I got my hands dirty. I had a new appreciation for my garden and all the clarity it gave me. I learned about the benefits of the food I was growing and its supportive role in my healing journey. I researched how to enhance my garden to better support my health. I became more intuitive when it came to what I was planting and how I brought it into my kitchen. As I took the time to plant the seeds and nurture those little seedlings, I continued to gain clarity. The dirtier my hands got, the better I could ground myself in what I found fulfilling.

I started to look at life through a different lens. The days of throwing random ideas around to see what would stick was over. I rolled up my sleeves and became intentional with my actions. I started one area at a time and slowly cleaned up each mess. I did the work. It was messy, dirty, and humbling. However, the gift I got was beyond what I could have imagined.

I have my health and a new perspective on the meaningful life I desire. I have the gift to understand the true meaning of what health and wellbeing is to me. I cleaned up my health and my life and went back to simplicity. We all say it, but we forget to live it sometimes. That happens… But it truly is the little things in life.

I wouldn’t trade my dirty journey for anything, nor would I trade the constant dirt under my fingernails. So roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. And let’s keep planting gardens. Big or small. Let’s all revel in everything the garden and Mother Nature has to teach us. It’s worth the journey.

P.S. Among that great gift. I was also given a path to so many medical and healing professionals to whom I am forever grateful for. I would be remiss to not acknowledge them. They helped guide and awaken me on this dirty journey.

About the Author: Katie Oglesby is a Health and Garden Coach residing in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with her husband and two Springer Spaniels. Get to know more about getting your hands dirty, cleaning up your life and planting a vibrant garden at katieoglesby.com.