My Reflections on year 2018
Every year as New Year rolls in, I spend solitary time “a full week” on reflecting upon my journey both work life and personal life. While in a meditative state (mostly) away from devices, I ask myself a few questions, what did I set out to do? How did I do personally? What else needs to happen? What I could do to improve myself to make the world a better place?
I would like to share a few thoughts and a very personal journey as 2018 concludes.
Why Suji Fresh?
I vividly recall the memories of what happened in 2008 as if it happened yesterday. My daughter just turned 8. She loved life and loved to dance. She learned and performed a very beautiful Indian dance Art Form called Bharatanatyam from age 5.
One day as I was combing her hair, I noticed a very tiny circular patch. She always liked to style her own hair even as a little kid, so I thought she cut her hair. I asked her why she cut her hair like that. She said she didn’t.
Two weeks went by and I noticed the patch growing larger. She didn’t actually cut her hair. Something was happening. However, I thought it would go away. Then, a full month went by. The patch became bigger and bigger. Growing up in an Indian family we treat anything with home remedies. Running to a doctor for small issues is not something we do. With this situation however, I understood that it may be serious enough to take her to doctor.
We went to UW Medical Center Chidren’s hospital. After a lot of tests in the following weeks, the diagnosis came. I heard a term that I never heard in my lifetime. Alopecia Areata! What does that even mean? I was told that it is an auto-immune disease that attacks our own body as a foreign object. It attacked her hair. In some cases, the damage could be permanent. We were told it was due to food allergies- there is NO CURE for it. At least, not with traditional Western Medicine. I learned another new term called “gluten allergy.” Apparently, gluten was attacking her body. We were told to eliminate all the foods that could potentially contain gluten, diary etc., which were fighting her body.
Couple of months went by and there was little hair left on her. My little angel couldn’t perform for dance recitals anymore. She stopped dancing, the very thing that she loved the most. Even going to school became very hard for her. Children innocently can be judgmental! We managed school somehow by putting a cap on her.
I was heartbroken by this diagnosis and the impact it had on her life and our lives. I was determined to find a cure for her disease even if it meant quitting my job and studying medicine to find a cure for my daughter.
I poured over innumerable articles and searched for specialist doctors across the world who could cure this disease. We finally got a referral to a doctor near us who practiced an alternative medicine named “Ayurveda.” He prescribed very special oils for her hair, which cost $300 a bottle. They were not covered by insurance.
After treating her for 6 months with those oils, her hair started reviving. We were told that if we are lucky and followed all the dietary restrictions carefully, she would fully 100% recover from it by age 12. After four years of arduous journey, she was well on her way to full recovery. She performed again! She did a very successful two-hour dance recital called “Arangetram” at the age of 12. This was a very big milestone for her.
Those 4 years of trails and triumphs changed my life profoundly. When I was faced with life challenges, it transformed me as a human being. I became very creative with what I had to work with. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
What did it take to get here? What was the process for recovery? Food and Meditation! Every member in our family eliminated gluten from our diets and ate together. We stopped eating any chemically sprayed food and only bought organic food. We made sacrifices, so we could all work toward recovery. It meant that we cut down all our other expenses to be able to afford that. I created many delicious recipes without dairy and gluten and became a helper for my friends dealing with gluten and diary allergies. During this process, I became a meditator as well. It taught me the impact of food on our thoughts, and the balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit.
This life transforming experience made me think and think very hard over the years! The food that is supposed to nurture us and protect us is attacking us. Why? Why is organic food expensive? No easy answers to any of these questions. However, there are very strong clues. There are a lot of open questions that need resolution.
Closing on this very personal journey, I want to thank each one of you for giving me this reading time. I know it is a lot to ask for a 10-15 minute reading time when you have million demands and things to do. So, thank you!! Please think about how we can all contribute to building a better society where we do not need to think about whether something is organic or not. It may sound like a grand idea, but it is not! Think about how it was 50 years ago. Everything was organic, at least in most parts of the world. It would have sounded like a ridiculous idea to even label something “organic”. It just was! I think the world is open to a better transition for the well-being of humanity now than ever before. None of us can do it alone, but together we can.
2019 will be a highly transformative year for Suji Fresh. Thanks to you, 2018 was a great year! We’re working relentlessly toward our mission of making organic, local food accessible to everyone.
Wish you a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year 2019!
Founder and CEO, Suji Fresh