The Sky Is Falling
by Carla Atherton, Director of The Healthy Family Formula
When I think about the children’s story, “Chicken Little,” I think about this small, intense, reactionary chicken running around exclaiming to everyone that the “sky is falling!” His concerns, no, his sheer panic, is met with everything from rolling eyes to indifference. He is ignored and sometimes even ridiculed as he desperately tries to get the masses to look up, to see the imminent danger, to believe what he says so that his community can save themselves. Is Chicken Little making a big deal out of nothing, or does he see what the rest of us do not? Is this what many progressive healthcare professionals, parents, and functional and lifestyle medicine professionals are sounding the alarm about when they report that the health of our human population is on the rapid decline, and all because of the choices we are making and the dangers we are ignoring?
Ooh, big questions that are difficult to face. I’m not sure we want to see.
ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, obesity, autoimmunity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, fatigue, learning disabilities, mood disorders, eczema, allergy, asthma, and general malaise are just some of the conditions, diseases, and illnesses people are succumbing to in epic numbers, and even when their symptoms are undiagnosable or not defined according to any particular disease, people are coming to their healthcare professionals feeling not quite right, dragging, tired, never really well. It is reported that 10% of children in the US have ADD/ADHD, and 17% are labeled as “learning disabled,” most schools are peanut-free zones due to the staggering number of children who have anaphylactic reactions to peanuts, and with autism rates climbing from 1 in 150 in the year 2000 to 1 in 68 in 2013, if this trend continues, a whopping 50% of our children born will have autism by the year 2032! The questions we are all asking are: why? What is happening? And what can we do about it: for our selves, for our children, and for our future generations?
Call me Chicken Little, but isn’t it apparent that the sky is falling?
When a writer, artist, activist, mother or father, mover or shaker, embarks on a mission to help either themselves, their own families, or the greater world community, most of them say that all of the time and effort will have been worth it if they reach even one person. I don’t feel that way. I am not writing this book to only reach you. I want to reach you, yes, and yes; I am so honoured that you picked up this book and are spending this time with me. But I also want to reach your children, your extended families, your spouse and community. I also want to reach my own family, my own children and community. Call me co-dependent, I don’t care. I have come to the acceptance that I am not OK if the people I love are not OK. And I am pretty sure you’re not, either.
At a recent yoga teacher training, my teacher asked me what would happen if my children were all in a car together and died in a crash. I told her truthfully that not much would matter anymore. She challenged me on that through some philosophical talk and reasoned that whatever we do, it needs to be for ourselves – not in a selfish way, but in a way that is intrinsically motivating and not hinging on any particular outcome or for anyone else that may be there one day and gone the next.
I just wanted to say, “I know what you are trying to do here and get it, but I don’t care. My children are my hearts walking around outside of me.”
The fact is, I may not be very evolved.
Although non-attachment and letting go of outcomes has been a practice of mine to ensure the retention of my sanity, I am pretty darn attached to my children and the outcome of good health for them, the outcome of a good chance at a relatively healthy life.
We did another exercise where we had a partner, and we were to look each other in the eyes and non-verbally download our stories, our words of wisdom, to each other. So, without words, I told her that letting go of our children was bullshit and that even though we need to be motivated by our individual passions and values and creativity, it is OK if they are part of who we are and if our happiness is connected to theirs because isn’t that the nature of love? Isn’t that why it hurts to love sometimes? Isn’t this why we fight so fiercely for certain things in life – for our survival and for that of our families, friends, and communities? My partner in this exercise cried as I “told” her this. And I don’t know if her tears were because of the intensity of the exercise or because she could feel everything I was telling her. But she cried. And I didn’t because I was feeling fierce and determined and purposeful. This was a very important message. Maybe the most important one I had to share.
This is my message to you.
We know there is more to family health than the new normal of sub-optimal health we are now experiencing. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, and caregivers strive for more for our families. I hope these words inform, inspire, and empower you so you can make. that. sift. happen! To recovery. To ease. To vitality.
I am a mother, writer, and researcher who didn’t stop until I found the answers. My motivation? Some of the fallen were my own children. My own grandmother. My own friends. And many others who narrowly escaped death and many more who are still struggling. I asked why and dug deep into the science to find the causes so I could uncover the solutions; I discovered that health isn’t found at the bottom of a pill bottle or in a one-shot remedy and that there were other people who could teach me what healthcare really should be. I also asked myself, Carla, is it really that bad?
You may ask me that very question. Was there ever a time in history that humans have been truly healthy? Are we any worse off than we were before? This may not be true in some ways, but most certainly is in others. We once suffered from plagues and died earlier from common everyday illnesses like influenza. A diagnosis of diabetes would have been a death sentence, and infections could run rampant causing death in very short periods of time. Yet, in many places in the world, chronic illness was unheard of and happiness was found in community and healthy living rather than in therapy sessions and medications. We call these places the Blue Zones.
I ask: what are the biggest problems we are facing right now? How many of those problems exist due to “the nature of things,” and how many are caused by the decisions we are making? And instead of answering those questions of myself, I ask those questions of you. I encourage you to look around and note what you see. Even if you don’t have the stats and numbers and studies in your back pocket to validate your own concerns and observations, note what you are seeing in your own family, your own community, your own backyard? Have a look in your schools and workplaces, in the malls and hospitals and other public spaces. What do you see? And are you ok with it? We don’t need scientific studies to tell us that chronic illness, obesity, cancers, mood problems, and dementia are rapidly replacing generally good mental, emotional, and physical health. Although the evidence is undeniable and will be deeply explored in the upcoming pages of this book, we actually don’t need studies and research to assert that less of us are living as robust, vital, engaged, purposeful people well into old age.
What we do have right at our fingertips is very exciting, however. If we understand holistic health, that healthy lifestyle choices are exceedingly powerful, and couple lifestyle choices with modern acute care interventions that we can use when necessary (like when we have an injury or emergency situation), we have the opportunity to have it all. We can have the best of both worlds if we know what it means to be healthy and are aware of how we can attain that good health from the bottom up, from the inside out and the outside in. We can return to the nature of “human nature” and reconnect with our bodies, spirits, and the natural world around us.
Good health is multi-faceted, simple but not easy, and takes nothing less than a health revolution to attain due to our reckless, modern culture. Because we believe that faster is better and cash is king, we are taking great liberties at the expense of our own health and at the expense of the health of our children and elders. We need to make a change for the future of our very species. Now, I, for one, am ready to be healthy and happy; I, for one, want my children to suffer less and enjoy life more. I am ready for a change for the better. I am ready to redefine, yet, again, our new normal.
How about you? Are you with me? I appeal to you, fellow parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, are you ready to turn the tide?
Let’s look up and catch the sky.
May you and your family be well.
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