I want to begin by welcoming you to this space. Welcome.

Next, I would like to go back to the beginning and talk about my health (or ill health) history.

I was born in the ’60’s – 1965 to be exact – and it wasn’t exactly popular to breastfeed, so no, I wasn’t breastfed. I was fed formula. My mother also smoked while she was pregnant with me; the doctor had advised her to “cut down” on the amount of cigarettes. Whatever immunizations/vaccinations were offered I received.

I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as a “sickly” child, but not far from it. If there was a cold or flu going around — even three cities over — I would get it and it almost always turned into a secondary infection. Mostly throat or chest infection, sometimes ear. Surprisingly and thankfully, I still have my tonsils. I was put on many antibiotics over the years and cough medications.

The popular foods at this time were the new pre-packaged and processed foods. My mother, like most mothers of the time, was so happy to finally not have to cook everything from scratch. Even so, my mother always made the effort to cook at least one meal each day from scratch. Meat, potatoes, and some sort of vegetable on the side (usually canned or frozen). I was a very picky eater. Most evenings my mother struggled to get me to eat even a few bites of these suppers.

When I reached puberty I began getting migraine headaches. The doctor ordered some tests, but nothing pointed to the exact cause of the headaches. I was put on medication for the pain. I was told to take a pill as soon as I felt the slightest bit of the headache coming on. The headaches were very painful and I wanted the pain to go away, but I didn’t want to be on medication forever and so I went to the library and borrowed some books on meditation and guided relaxation and classical music albums (remember vinyl albums anyone?). I taught myself how to meditate and relax and I listened to baroque music. Within the year I didn’t have to take the medication anymore. I can’t say for sure that what I did got rid of the headaches, or if they went away once my hormones stablized, but it certainly didn’t hurt. And it felt good to take responsibility for my own health.

Let’s skip ahead now shall we…now I’m 25 years old.

Six weeks after I had my first daughter I went on birth control pills. I began to get sinus headaches. I asked my doctor if the pills were causing the headaches. She assured me no, if the pills were causing the headaches they would be migraine headaches, not sinus. But, I thought, this is the only thing different in my life, and so I stopped taking the pills (against the advice of my doctor) and the headaches went away.

….now 30 years old.

I have a miscarriage (at 18 weeks). After this I decide to get pregnant again right away. I give birth to my second daughter. When my daughter is just over a year old I wean her off the breast. And this is when my health problems really begin. I am tired all the time; chronically tired. I have sinus headaches everyday. I feel dizzy and lightheaded. I have mood swings that swing right off the charts. My menstrual cycles are all over the place; 52 days, 35 days, once I even went 82 days. Conventional medicine was no help; my doctor just kept ordering pregnancy tests and other blood work and urine analysis – nothing – so, then he would prescribe pain medication for the headaches. That year I went to see my first alternative health care practitioner, a naturopath. She helped me get my period back, but I didn’t really connect with her, so I never went back after that.

From 1997 – 1999 I have 4 miscarriages in a row. The doctor tells me that “these things just happen, and we don’t really know why”, but I knew that there was a deeper meaning behind them. It was an indication to me of my ill health. My body wasn’t strong enough, healthy enough, to make a baby.

During these years I had begun to do some reading. My first book was Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. Then I went on the read their second book and Harvey’s third Fit For Life book. I also read Dr. Andrew Weil’s book Spontaneous Healing. I was in the middle of re-reading the book Free to Fly: a journey toward wellness by Judit Rajharthy when my mother told me that her friend was reading that book as well and that her herbalist suggested that she read it. I knew this was a sign. I had to meet with this “herbalist”.

In September, 1999 I met with the herbalist and we worked together for a year before I attempted to get pregnant. I continued to see her all throughout my pregnancy — and beyond. I gave birth to my third daughter in 2001 – at home, surrounded by loved ones and attended by my doula and 2 midwives.

Which each child I have gained a dress size (and a bra cup size). So, now I am up to a size 12 after the birth of my third daughter. At 36 years old, I am 5 feet 4 inches and weigh 150 pounds. And once again I am searching for health. I am taking all kinds of supplements, I believe I am eating healthy, I walk and do yoga for exercise, I feel I am doing all the right things and yet vibrant health still eludes me. I keep looking.

In 2003 I complete my correspondence course with Dominion Herbal College and receive my Chartered Herbalist certificate.

In 2004 I complete all 4 levels of Touch For Health and receive my designation as a Specialized Kinesiologist.

During these years I attempt to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, but always end up going back to the old way of eating.

….now I’m 40 years old.

One day I begin having pains under my right breast. I am sure I am having a gallbladder attack. It is so painful. My doctor orders an ultrasound of the area and a chest x-ray. His diagnosis is that I have fluid on the right lung and once the fluid drains the pain will go away. He puts me on pain medication — and I take it gladly. On the way home I stop in to see my herbalist (yes, she is now MY herbalist) and she does some muscles testing and according to her diagnosis it is my liver that is the problem. So, I go home and take my pain pills and rest and sleep and rest some more. The pain does go away, but for many years continues to come back as a dull pressure from time to time. I continue seeing my herbalist for the next year, but the supplements are now beginning to give me headaches.

When we move into our new home, in a small town, an hour away from our old place, I decide to stop taking all supplements. My headaches go away. I don’t see my herbalist anymore. I want to take a break from all of it.

In 2006 I begin a correspondence course with Susun Weed. She is an herbalist who practices using the Wise Woman tradition of herbalism. The course I am taking is called Spirit and Practice of the Wise Woman Tradition. I begin experimenting with drinking herbal infusions of stinging nettle, red clover and oat straw, and using herbal tinctures as tonics. By the way, I am still doing this course, four years later.

In the winter of 2008/2009 my lung really begins to bother me. I am so lacking in energy. I feel like sleeping all the time. I barely move the entire winter. The good news is that I have spent the winter in deep thought, doing a lot of soul-searching. And now I have a plan, and a goal. In the spring I begin walking again. Very slowly. First 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, gradually up to 30 minutes and by July I am walking 5 kilometers (3 miles) each day and it takes me approximately an hour. My only focus is on moving my body again. I don’t even think about food. I join Curves, and begin working out once, then twice, then finally three times a week. I realize that I need to address the whole food issue at some point. I still really want to become a vegetarian and so just after Christmas in December 2009 I make my declaration – I am a vegetarian.

I am 45 years old now. I am a vegetarian — most days. I am transitioning (gradually) to become a vegan and I am on the path to becoming a raw food vegan. My mantra is “transition gradually”, which is where I came up with the name for my blog. It reminds me everyday to take it one day at a time and to go slowly and be kind with myself.

If you have made it to the end of this post – Congratulations!! And thank you for reading.

Please feel free to leave me a comment to let me know you stopped by for a visit.

Happiness and Health to you all.

Colleen xox

** edited to add:
I have realized that I completely forgot to include one tremendously important detail in my health history. I smoked from the time I was 19 years old until the day that I went for my pregnancy test for my first daughter Kiera. That’s approximately 6 years of smoking. I guess I must have been in denial at the time of writing the original post.

🙂