Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My New Hero is...

a butter-loving, finger-licking, joke-cracking queen of melt-in-your mouth Southern cuisine...Paula Deen!

I picked up her book It Ain't All About the Cookin' because I heard that at one point in her life she suffered from a debilitating agoraphobia whereby she didn't leave her house for years. Fortunately I've never suffered from full blown agoraphobia but there have been times in my life when I haven't wanted to be in public because I was either experiencing uncomfortable PVCs or afraid I would start to get them outside my comfort zone. Paula Deen suffered from intense anxiety for over 20 years before she finally came to the end of her rope and realized that she had to start living. One morning she got out of bed and like a thunderclap heard the words to the Serenity Prayer--the ones that alcoholics use at Alcoholics Anonymous: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. At last she had got it. Deen writes, "Sure, I'm gonna die, I said to myself. My children are gonna die. Everyone I love is gonna die. But today has given me today and I'm gonna go out and live today. I won't die today." She started slowly and got better and better. She went on to start her own catering business, open two hugely successful restaurants, publish numerous cookbooks, have her own cooking show, star in a movie, and appear on Oprah! But through it all, she would still carry a brown paper bag in case she started to hyperventilate. Of course, she seldom needed it. And when life challenges presented themselves and she too began to suffer heart palpitations, she was smart enough to go to the doctor right away and tell him that her nerves were shot. She got on Zoloft and started feeling better. She is a shining example of a strong woman who has experienced intense anxiety and its effects, but has gone on to be successful and happily fulfilled.