Growing up with "Ozzard" as my maiden name, "The Wizard of Oz" became a touchstone for me at a very early age.
Without TiVo, VCRs, or Netflix mailers back then, I had to wait 364 days every year to see my favorite film.
I always eagerly anticipated the appearance of Glinda the Good Witch, my favorite character in the film. Anyone who could wave her magic wand and make good things happen was someone I secretly aspired to be. As I was born very near Halloween, I decided as a little girl I had the power within to be a good witch, too.
That lifelong dream of doing good things for others really took off in 2004, when, with the help of my amazing and dear friend Virge Cafferata, I helped the island of Grand Bahama for a year after it was ravaged by two hurricanes.
That experience inspired me to go bigger, and in 2005 I created an all-volunteer global 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which I named Dream One World. I did everything, from forming a corporation and applying to the IRS, to making and maintaining the website, doing all the fundraising, creating and running events, writing the newsletter, doing all the accounting, marketing, and emailing, coordinating the volunteers, sending funds around the world to the people and animals we help, etc.
All this for free while working two full time jobs - one as a sales manager, and the other as a Nationally Certified massage therapist in private practice.
To get it all done, I pretty much stopped sleeping for five years, getting only four or five hours a night. Although knowing the importance of sleep, I figured I could handle it, because I was healthy and had read somewhere that Thomas Alva Edison only slept that much, and he seemed to do just fine! I had been a student of nutrition for 37 years and a vegetarian for that long as well. I ate mostly organic food, never smoked, rarely drank alcohol, so, hey, I was Super Woman.
Having finally found my two purposes - massage therapy to help heal individuals, and a venue to help heal the world through the Internet - I was lit up! Ideas for fundraising flowed into my head nonstop, and I tried to act on every idea that showed up. People made suggestions, asked me to do things that might help Dream One World, and in my new role, how could I say no to any of it?
So even though there was also something massively stressful going on behind the scenes during all this in my personal life, I kept saying yes, YES, YES!
I started a cyberspace art gallery for charity that gave back to Dream One World with 22 artists, I formed a custom pet card company with one of those artists to help Dream One World's animal rescue work, I created a website design company, I started doing speaking engagements and radio interviews, and continued doing all the work for Dream One World and my other jobs... I was on FIRE!
My sweet sleep-deprived and stressed-out body decided to let me know in a very big way that it was not going to take this any more.
To make a long story shorter, my adrenals, thyroid, gall bladder, and ability to assimilate nutrients from my food decided to shut down. It was a huge wake-up call for me, and it took three years of hard work with an incredible naturopath to bring me back to life.
STRESS KILLS. Period. Cortisol and Adrenaline, the hormones that are produced for "fight or flight," prevent any other hormones from being produced
while they are "in action."
When one lives in constant stress mode, those are the only two hormones being produced. Not good. This is how my organs could be shutting down, even though from age 16 on I have always eaten a healthy, organic diet, never smoked a cigarette in my life, rarely drank alcohol, etc.
(As an aside, my naturopath said if I had not taken such good care of myself all those years, I would have died two years earlier from the stress issues. For anyone reading this who is not
currently eating a healthy, all organic, plant-based diet, PLEASE make the change now. It is not too late.)
It is a lesson and a warning to everyone living a stressful life. Time to make changes to lessen the stresses, and learn ways, like meditation and staying in gratitude, (which produces positive endorphins), to work with stress in a positive way.
For me that also meant deciding what to let GO of and what to keep, and speaking my truth to everyone about my own needs. This was not easy at first, and yet, with each letting GO and saying NO, I become lighter, healthier, and more free.
(On those days I still say "Yes" under duress, my body instantly reminds me that managing stress and saying "No" must be a way of life from now on. Although physically not fun, I am grateful for the clear reminders!)
Today, in my 60's, I am healther that I have been in decades! My organs are healed, and the crippling degenerative arthritis I had for ten years that doctors said would put me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life is gone... and doesn't even appear on x-rays anymore!
I now own and run a unique holistic wellness boutique called Soul Soothings in upstate NY, as well as an online version of the shop for all of America! I also continue to build an all-volunteer school and orphanage for 325 AIDS orphans and children of prisoners in Kasenge, Uganda - the Dream Nursery and Primary School.
Life is so good again. Naturally. It can be for you, too. ♥♥♥
KATHY OZZARD CHISM
B.A., LMT, NCTMB
Holistic Wellness Educator,
Author, Motivational Speaker,
Bach Flower™ Therapist,
Wellness Boutique Owner, Plant-Based
(Photo courtesy of Alexis Emm)
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