Tales from the Garden
By MAYA PARK
Asian Media Access
MINNEAPOLIS (May 15, 2015) — This is the first installment in a series of holistic medicine/green prescription health columns called “Tales from the garden.” Members of Asian Media Access in Minneapolis are contributing writers for the ongoing column.
Right off, VJ Smith, National President and local founder of MAD DADS offered me a homemade drink of blended pineapple, kiwi, and spinach. At that point I had to dump out my soda pop and get healthy. This was after hearing about VJ’s decision to turn toward a healthy diet and lifestyle, that he says lead him down a path to holistic medicine and away from a dependence on traditional Western medicine alone.
VJ Smith survived a diabetic episode in 2011 that had him in intensive care for five days. He had been bleeding internally and his kidneys were about to shut down. He’s been attempting to consciously live a healthy lifestyle since then. To VJ, healthy means mind, body and spirit.
His reaction to this latest health episode was complete surprise. After all, he had quit smoking a few years earlier, and was urging others to do the same through the anti-tobacco coalition. VJ said he realized then that it was because he wasn’t eating right. He pulled over wherever and got a meal. He wasn’t taking the right vitamins and didn’t know what it was his body really needed.
“The best thing that’s happened in (my) life from this has been the ability to learn how to take care of myself, and not allow the doctors to simply give you what they think is good for you,” Smith said.
VJ described his experience with Western medicine after his episode.
“I thought about the 15 medications that I had to take, and the cost,” Smith said. “I didn’t like the side effects, or the side effects of the side effects. After about eight months of taking those pills, I went to Present Moments and asked about other options. Present Moments is an all-natural store. They have a natural doctor on staff and he gave me a lot of natural things to take; and so I decided not to take the medicines prescribed by my physician.”
About six months later, VJ went back to his primary doctor and after a complete once over, was told he was doing pretty well. It was then VJ told the doctor he had stopped taking the medications prescribed to him. Surprised and surprisingly, the doctor instructed VJ to continue doing what he was doing. VJ joined the gym and says, “I feel good.”
Feeling good is important when you’re VJ Smith. He grew up without his mother, and that left him vulnerable to abuse, all types of hurt, and it left him to fend for himself. Oddly, those who have been hurt, have the compassion necessary to help others, he adds.
“I’ve figured out a way to give back,” Smith said. “I was tired of giving in a negative way, and I found a positive way to give. Learning more about healthy mind, body, and spirit has really helped me to understand why I had to go through what I went through and how it’s going to help others.”
VJ Smith has a calling. He heard it one day while working with the homeless. The voice said if he wanted to work a little longer, he was going to have to work a little harder. All he had to do was quit taking short cuts, and he would gain more time.
That’s the spiritual part that mot people aren’t connected to, he adds.
‘The most difficult thing in my life has been to stay focused on healthy products, lifestyle, and thinking,” Smith said. “I work in an area where there’s a lot of negativity, a lot of violence, and crime. It’s death and destruction. All that deteriorates the body, mind and spirit. When I get hungry there’s always something around that I like, but I really don’t need. Then I end up battling: should I just pick this up, or drive all the way to Cub and get something good for me. I’m learning. It started with my health, and I began to get my body right, then my spirit entered. I got the body together, then I got the mind together, and the spirit was what gave me that final push.”
Quiet time is an important part of VJ’s relationship with diabetes. As with many, it gives him an opportunity to process thoughts, de-escalate, and evaluate how he really feels. It is also a time to reflect upon how blessed we are, the gifts we’ve been given, and what we have to offer. It is an opportunity to re-energize.
Finally, when I asked, ‘What gave you the strength to walk away from western medicine?’ VJ gave a powerful testimony.
“I wanted to live,” Smith said. “I wanted a certain quality of life. As a man, men have that desire to be men. And if you don’t have ultimate health, that gets taken away from you. I’ve seen many men that have given up on the love part of their relationship, and I wanted to keep mine. I’ve seen people live to be 80 and 90, still having fun and romancing, and I’m going to be one of those. Taking all of those medicines, I felt it was impossible.”
In healing, we must remember the mind, body, and spirit are connected and must be treated holistically, and not in isolation. VJ will tell you, “No more shortcuts…”
MAD DADS is a recipient of a grant from the Penny George Foundation in support of holistic medicine and healing.
The opinions expressed in this article are of the authors and not necessarily endorsed by Asian American Press. Readers should pursue healthy diets and lifestyles but AAP is not encouraging them to stop taking advice or medications prescribed by their medical doctors.