Today I would like to digress a little, not for lack of indie interviews to share with you (I have all sorts of fabulous indie all-stars lined up this summer), but because sometimes there is more to say.
Before I started Indie Maven – and definitely since – I’ve been trying to figure out how to define “indie” – how it is actually defined, how others define it, and how I personally define it. I expect that as Indie Maven develops and broadens, I will adjust and shape my working definition of “indie,” and I’d like to keep you up posted as this evolution takes place. In the “Tips” heading of the website, along with tips for making your life more indie, you will also be able to find evolving thoughts on what exactly “indie” is. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think about my emerging definition, and please share your own thoughts (which may make their way into future posts).
This past week was an eventful one for me – in ways both great and small. I had one experience that though small, was relatively profound, and struck me at the time as being very “indie,” but I couldn’t figure out why.
Almost ten years ago, after a rather terrifying ordeal, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). Even though it’s tangential, I’d love to share more about PCOS another time, because I think it’s widely under-discussed (and under-diagnosed), but if you’re not familiar, it is an endocrine disorder that causes often serious hormonal imbalances that result in ovarian cysts and often more serious problems with fertility, weight gain, and insulin production.
Trying to manage (there is no cure) my PCOS is something I’ve been working at for years. Unfortunately traditional Western medicine has essentially one treatment for PCOS, which simultaneously exacerbates the problem (great plan, huh?). After realizing that this pill-based “solution” was not the right path for me, I began to research (with the help of my wonderful doctor) more natural and holistic approaches to healing. The problem was that then (and still now, to a large degree) there wasn’t a whole lot of information available – at least not information that amounted to more than an infomercial. Through working with material from Dr. Mark Hymen and others, my doctor and I became convinced that for my body, nutritional changes were essential to aligning my hormonal imbalances. Unfortunately, nutrition for PCOS doesn’t have a clear-cut solution (like cutting out gluten for Celiac’s Disease), so it’s a lot of guesswork, trial and error.
I became an expert on culling internet information for what might be useful and there have been lots of experiments, some more successful than others. In the midst of one of these experiments, I went looking for some powdered herb – to be honest, I can’t even remember what the herb was – and this little mission over 2 years ago is what lead to my indie experience last week.
I went to Whole Foods (not very indie) to track down this obscure herb and was referred to someone in their supplement area who helped me order it. She asked me why I was looking for this particular item and I told her about my PCOS and attempts to repair my health nutritionally. It just so happened that she was studying holistic nutrition and healing and had just heard someone named Alisa Vitti speak. It just so happened that Alisa also had PCOS and redirected her life path partway through studying gynecology at Johns Hopkins to find a natural path to her own healing. As a result, Alisa created the first holistic protocol for treating PCOS (she also works with other female hormonal concerns). Luckily, this great gal remembered the name of Alisa’s website and suggested that it might be worth looking into.
I thanked this clerk, who I will call Jane (lest she get in trouble for her generosity), and went right home to look it up. Alisa’s group was called (at the time) Laughing Sage Wellness and though based in New York City, offered programs over the phone to help women dealing with PCOS. (The group is now called Flo Living and they have amazing programs, which I encourage you to check out if you have PCOS or other hormonal imbalance and I hope one day to have Alisa or one of the counselors on Indie Maven. ) The program was eye-opening and incredibly informative. It was all of the things that I needed – it dealt with my whole person and worked to heal my body naturally. Going through this program led me to more research, more changes and experiments, and my own path toward healing. But the crazy part is that despite years of researching PCOS and available treatments, I had never heard of this program before, and if it hadn’t been for Jane, I may never have heard of it.
Last week, I was at Whole Foods again, and for the first time in 2+ years, saw Jane in the cereal aisle. I stopped her, reminded her of our earlier conversation, gave her a hug, and thanked her for sharing information that changed my life. Changed my health. Jane was moved and grateful to know that she had touched someone – that someone appreciated her knowledge and her gesture. Jane and I talked for some time about nutritional healing and the power of thinking outside of the West’s medicinal box (if you aren’t familiar with this idea or would like more information, I recommend documentaries like Food Matters, which happens to be available for streaming on Netflix). I got her email so I could keep her updated on my progress and we could keep in touch. I know next to nothing about this person, but twice, for a few minutes, we connected – we shared a common wavelength.
It was one of those moments – a God moment, a cosmic intersection – a time when the stars align, twice in this case, to show you that you’re not alone and that you’re on the right track. The thing about these moments, however, is they require a little human fortitude – Jane had to step out of her comfort zone to share uncommon information with me, and I had to step out of mine to corner her in front of the organic shredded wheat.
So what does all of this have to do with defining indie? In an earlier post about indie tips, I said that being indie is about relationships. That’s why this interaction struck me as being “indie,” even though none of the elements were quintessentially “indie” – it was the powerful potential of chance human interactions. That may not be in any dictionary definitions of the word, but for me, for Indie Maven, that is the heart of being indie. “Indie” is about slowing down and stepping back, it is about taking the time to see the world and people around you, to live in those moments, and allow change to happen. Independent businesses, artisans, and artists depend on and thrive from personal interactions with their clients and audiences. Those little moments are at the core of being indie – that’s what gives indie ventures their heart.
Just as being or buying or supporting “indie” often means going outside the box, I’d like us to think outside of the box in defining “indie.” I think if we look for indie moments inside AND outside of the usual places, we may find more of those moments and create more of them in return. By taking the time to be really present in all of our moments – listening to those around us and sharing our personal pools of knowledge – we inspire growth and we grow ourselves. Imagine the result of sharing all this information and forging those connections – good ideas will spread quickly and bad ones will dissipate (with any luck). Whether you believe in God or chance, the universe puts in your path the information that you need and the people best suited to deliver it, all we have to do is participate and reap the benefits.
So if you have survived my long-winded story and followed my dot-connecting, I challenge you to find the indie. And to make your own. Share the love. Share the indie.
**I am obviously not a physician and if you or someone you know are interested in holistic or nutritional healing methods, I encourage you to discuss them with your own doctor. These decisions were my own, made under a doctor’s care about what is best for my situation and are not intended to be medical advice.