A Path To Happiness: Pursuing Your Passion (And Keeping Perspective)

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by Ariyele Ressler

Food and happinessI recently worked myself into a tizzy waiting on line at the Farmer’s Market because the dude in front of me was talking shop with the meat man about his new hi-tech smoker; it sounded like the thing could teleport meat to space and cook it using atmospheric gases.

I rolled my eyes and exaggeratedly exhaled on repeat, behaviors which are a natural expression of my DNA---I’m from New York and the pace that we consider normal is actually quite brisk. Who was this guy to be holding up the line with his magic-meat-smoker-talk?

I took a deep breath. The perfume from freshly sliced citrus samples tickled my nose; their juices glistened in the abundant sunshine, which beckoned your hoodie off to kiss your shoulders. Never mind that it was January. Still the man talked. I was pissed.

Until I remembered to have a few pieces of perspective pie. Luckily for me, it comes easy. Having spent a year in bed with an illness that is poorly understood, terribly named, and elusive to standard medical testing, I've eaten my fair share of perspective pie.

I served myself 9 pieces: A) I was standing. B) In the sunshine at the market, where C) I had walked! D) I could hold my own bag, E) in which I’d put newly purchased pasture raised meat F) for my cooking show G) which is my full time work H) that I love more than a perfect tan.

(Perspective pie can be eaten without limits on portion sizes.)

When the meat-man said, “Thanks for your patience.” I replied, “The extra time gave me a chance to decide,” and winked.

Getting sick at 23 wasn't in my plan. Ditto that for the bed-bound, wheelchair-year that followed. The vivacious, overly excitable and passionate Ariyele everyone knew had died. Slowing down was NOT in my DNA, yet I had no choice.

I took control of what I could, starting with food. I applied myself to the task of getting well like anything else in my life: with moderation and balance. PSYCHE! 1000% full throttle all-cylinders-firing-go-getter-ness. I had always loved food. Now I had discovered the overlap between food and nutrition. X-NAY on the uten-glay, dairy, sugar and processed foods.

If I was ever so blessed to recover, I promised myself to pursue my passions for work; I didn't know what that would be exactly—I had too many passions it seemed, to find one kind of work that would fulfill them all. I was a writer, an artist, a performer, and comedian. Most of all, I yearned to HELP people. But how could I help other people if I myself needed help doing the simplest of tasks, like getting dressed? It didn't seem that I would ever get better enough to help other people as I once had.

Lifestyle changes, diet, and a combo of eastern/western medicine modalities delivered myself back to me. I used the improvement to launch “In the Kitchen, Keepin’ It Real”, a whole foods, California cuisine (gluten-free) cooking show. I could cook, perform, write, teach nutrition, and share my story for the benefit of other folks who were still struggling under the weight of chronic illness. AND help healthy people make even healthier day-to-day choices.

The Ariyele that everyone knew had not died after all. The illness was teaching me how to be at peace with slowing down.  I’d been modified into a better version of myself. What I didn't realize was that the passions that I had had were now re-directed into difference places. The passions hadn’t died. The outlets had simply changed.

The promise I made to pursue my passions has opened the broadest path to happiness that a person can imagine. As long as I keep that liver-like perspective pie close at hand, I’ll be happy every day until I die.

About Ariyele

AriyeleIn The Kitchen, Keepin’ It Real, an online cooking show + blog, is the (Mormon) marriage of Ariyele Ressler's many passions (health, nutrition, comedy, performance, writing, cooking, helping people, and real food). Every Wednesday she posts allergy-friendly foodie episodes to her Youtube channel, along with recipes, instructions, and stories, to her blog. You can find pretty pictures of her food on both her blog and Pinterest, become a fan of her show by subscribing to her Youtube Channel,  like her Facebook page to stay in the loop, and find her on Twitter. Healthy never tasted so good.

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