Hello from Austin, Texas! It’s my first time in Austin and even though we just got here last night, I love the vibes so far. We’ve been on the road almost a month now. I LOVE to travel. It’s in my blood and bones. I am GRATEFUL to be able to travel…BEYOND grateful. Just like anything though, the joys and excitements come with some difficulties. Traveling, especially in long stretches, is no exception. I have certain health issues that cause me a great deal of anxiety while traveling. I had an unidentified illness that went on for years, and it nearly got the better of me until I got a proper diagnosis: Leaky Gut – when toxins in your gut start leaking into your bloodstream. It was likely brought on/made worse for me by taking too many antibiotics in a very short period of time. I used food as medicine, and followed a strict routine that slowly got my auto-immune disease under control and restored my health. The key words here are “under control.” It is something that I will have to manage for rest of my life, and while I am grateful beyond measure to have gotten my life and health back, I do sometimes start feeling down about the small margins in which I am permitted to get off my diet and exercise routine. Logistically it’s not easy to replace two meals each day with green smoothies or exercise daily on the road like I do at home. There’s a lot of energy that is needed to maintain any full-time commitment. Routine is established to make this flow more smoothly, and when it’s changed you have to adapt as best as you can. I have been traveling with a box full of my protein powder and superfood mixes, and I have used them to some success on the road, but I am also trying to find the balance in enjoying local cuisines and still give my body what it needs to function and not slip back into a state of decline. Some days on the road I’ve made too many bad choices…when in New Orleans…ahem. But today was a small victory. I went to the flagship Whole Foods store here in Austin and got some things to make for brunch at our Airbnb that would make me feel better….complete with a probiotic pickle. Maintaining my health is a priority, it has to be… I know what it’s like not to have it. I will get frustrated, I will fall off my routine, I will enjoy and be grateful that I am able to see the world, I will feel proud when I go home and continue to fight this disease every day so it won’t take me down.
Autoimmune diseases are so poorly understood, difficult to diagnose, and there is tremendous lack of awareness about them in general. I went through so many doctors, was prescribed medicines that made the illness worse, was told it was all just in my head, and that I simply needed to “change my attitude.” It is hard to advocate for yourself when you are fighting for your life and you don’t know what’s wrong or how to make it better. I am making myself vulnerable in sharing something so personal, but I know there are many others out there struggling just like I did, and don’t know where to turn. I hope that in sharing my story I can spread awareness and hope.
About the artist:
Natalie’s primary goal as an artist is to evoke feeling through her words and photographs. Her artistic journey began long ago but it wasn’t until she entered her 30s that photography and writing became the primary outlet for her artistic expression. She likes to share the way she sees the world with those who are interested in her perspective. She is inspired by light, shadows, contrast, shapes, lines, colors, words, nature, adventure, music, and of course, the people, and animals she loves! She has recently been experimenting with self-portraiture and finding additional outlets for her art. While experimenting in different directions and following her passions as they arise, she is laying the groundwork for the future paths of her artistic journey. Her work has been published by Lensbaby, Beyond the Wanderlust, and she is an artist at Offset.com.