My Journey

Flying by Brea Persing

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I love flying! I always have.

I remember when I was little my dad got his private pilots license and bought a small airplane. He would use it for business and we got to fly in it to go on vacation. It was the best. 

But before then, my first ever flight, that I was old enough to remember, was a commercial one. I had never flown and I didn’t know what to expect. We were headed on a family vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida and we had a direct flight from either Chicago or Indianapolis. I had my little backpack with me, a pillow and my mom gave me chewing gum to help my ears. My mom also gave me the window seat, but sat in the middle seat right beside me. I had no problems. It was great! After looking out the window, I fell right asleep for the duration of the flight. I could sleep anywhere at that time.

After my dad got his private pilot license though, we would go up in his plane more often than commercial flights. It was so much fun. It was very different than the commercial flights as you felt much more, could see the ground all the time and you had a headset on. My dad even let me fly the plane once! I still remember it. From that moment on, I had wanted to learn how to fly and get my own pilot license. Actually, while in college, I started looking into being a pilot in the military, but I wasn’t quite tall enough. I have since heard that they have changed the requirements a bit, but that’s ok.

I’ve been on MANY commercial flights since then and still enjoy flying. I have friends that are pilots and I am secretly jealous of them! But this past weekend I had the opportunity to go flying in a private plane again. It had been over 15 years since flown in a small plane like that. When I was asked if I wanted to go flying I immediately said “YES!!!”. And I had been giddy the two weeks leading up to it. It had been so long and a part of my life that I missed. I flew in a small Cessna 150 around the area close to sunset. It was beautiful. The sky was clear, the sun was reflecting off the lake and the wind was still. I can’t wait to go again!

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Large Portions in Morocco by Brea Persing

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I have always found it fascinating that Moroccan men would look at me and not think I could eat what I had asked for. Mind you, I was about 125 lbs at the time and I couldn’t consume any carbs and hadn’t been able to for a few years at that point. But, to be fair, they’re coming from a cultural background where one would eat a lot of bread with every meal, of which I could not partake in.

I found, through conversations with friends, that in Morocco they have a woman’s portion and a men’s portion in restaurants. When I found this out, I immediately would ask for the men’s portion. They would look at me like I was crazy.

There was one time in Chefchaouen where they didn’t give me a lot to eat, so I ordered two tajines because I was still very hungry after the first one. And it was really good and still my favorite tajine to date. It was a delicious, fall off the bone chicken tajine with a hint of tomato, cumin, saffron, cinnamon and black pepper. Normally it would come with potato and carrots in it, but I asked them for green beans instead of potatoes. I can still taste it as I write about it. So yummy!

Then, on the road to Merzouga from Tangier by car, my friends and I stopped in a small town to get something to eat and I ordered a half a chicken. The Moroccan guys who were with us thought I was crazy and said that was no way I would finish it. Mind you, it’s all I could eat. Not only did I finish it, but also another piece from a friend who wasn’t going to finish his. Keep in mind, I hadn’t eaten much in the last 24 hours and I wasn’t sure when we would stop at a place that I could eat again, so I really made sure I was good to go.

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In Meknes I ordered a meat dish with some carrots and asked for a double portion of meat. The man said no to me! He said there was no way I could finish it. With some persuading, he gave me a double portion. I ate the whole thing and his eyes were wide when he realized it.

You see, when you can’t eat carbs, you are “forced” to eat more protein and vegetables to fill you up and give you energy.

Even outside of Morocco, I would get stares from people. It was very uncomfortable, but very necessary. I even remember times where I would eat a full dinner and be hungry 30 minutes later and eat another whole meal. This was due to not being able to eat carbs and my body was malnourished because I couldn’t process the nutrients that were coming in. My body was so sick! I didn’t go carbless out of choice, it was out of necessity because I couldn’t eat anything, with the exception of carrots, that had carbs in it. It took a toll on my body. My food was so limited. It was like a super strict Keto diet. Haha…that was way before Keto was even around. I used to tell people I ate high fat Paleo with modifications because that is the closest I had to describe it. I have come a long way since then! People used to ask me if I was sad about the things I couldn’t eat. I struggled with it, but after a while, I had finished the grieving and moved on. I started to focus on what I could eat and celebrate those things! 

Before I used to make a list of the things I could eat, now I’ve been able to add so many foods back into my diet that I have a list of the things I can’t eat now. It’s still daunting for someone to look at who’s never dealt with food allergies, but for me, It’s a major celebration. It’s so much easier for me to find food when I’m out! I no longer need to order double portions, or even be afraid to eat out. I’m still nervous at times, but it’s still so much easier than it used to be, and I am very grateful!

I Started Singing Again by Brea Persing

Professional Choir in Verona, Italy — 2012. Photographer unknown.

Professional Choir in Verona, Italy — 2012. Photographer unknown.

Do you ever notice that when you are really stressed, or depressed, that you stop doing something that you love? You don’t really notice it at first, but then eventually you realize it?

I have been singing since I came out of the womb. I LOVE it! I sang in all the choirs I could with church, school, college and even a professional choir overseas. I even got to perform, with my college choir, at Carnegie Hall and the Washington National Cathedral in 2004. Talk about an experience! I sing in my car, bedroom, while I’m cooking, you name it. Funny enough, I used to have stage fright when singing in front of people, which I still struggle with a bit (I’m pretty sure that’s because of insecurity), and I don’t sing as much when I’m living, or staying, with other people I as much so I don’t disturb them.

Haha, I even remember when I lived in Italy and I told my neighbor I would be leaving and she said that she would miss hearing me sing through the walls and smelling my cooking. It put a smile on my face. And it me more aware that the walls were thinner than I thought! 

But it was during that time that I noticed that when I was super stressed or depressed that I stopped singing. At first I didn’t realize it, but I distinctly remember a few times that I just could not sing, all I could do was listen to the music. It got so bad at one point that I couldn’t even handle listening to music. That was a super low point for me. 

The past few years have been really stressful for me with a lot of transition, mounted health issues, culture shock, trauma and some toxic relationships. Since moving back to the US my health has improved, I have taken time to work through trauma and get it out of my body, I said goodbye to toxic relationships and my stress is decreasing…in some ways at least. I noticed after these things started happening that I started singing more. 

Sometimes you don’t notice you’ve stopped doing something until you start doing it again. I used to listen to music in the car, but I’ve switched over to listening to audio books while driving. That happened when I was seeing 5-10 specialists a week for a solid 6 or so months and I was in the car driving about 8-10 hours a week. Music got a bit boring. I know…I can’t believe I just said that. Now, I listen to music when I’m getting ready in the morning, while working out, cooking, cleaning, working on photo editing or design projects, and when I’m getting ready for bed. For a while I was in a state that all I could do was listen, but as I began to destress, work through issues and be happier with who God made me to be, I started singing a long more! I also notice I sing more after I watch a show like The Voice or American Idol. :) 

That means a great deal! Even though I’m not in a house by myself, it means that I am less stressed, less depressed, and am happier! It means that I am on they way up the hill from the valley I was in for a bit. I learned a lot from the valley, but it’s refreshing and encouraging to be coming out of it. I mean, I already knew I was coming out of it because I was physically feeling better, my soul was doing better and I was smiling more…but singing was icing on the cake for confirmation.

What is it that you have noticed you’ve stopped doing? What are you doing to work through it to get to the other side?