Somedays I forget what being "normal" was like. Eating what I wanted, going where I wanted without thinking about what I was going to eat, not planning my days around meals, and living carefree. I see old photos of myself and ask what would I have done differently if I knew what my future held? Would I have savored every last bite and moment, eaten a lot healthier, taken more chances, been more brave, and lived more freely? When I see photos of friends/family living care free, eating how they please, not worrying how they might feel from one slice of pizza or a glass of lemonade, or making sure they know where every bathroom is I wonder if they are taking it all for granted or know just how good they have it? It makes me sad for them and myself. I feel bad for myself, but then remember: I am unique. I am strong. I am united with the millions who suffer from various ailments around the globe and fight day to day to live life to the fullest despite the inconveniences or discomforts. I have developed more compassion. Realized what is important. Learned to not take anything for granted - not even one bite of a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake (mmmm). This isn't the life I imagined, but there is beauty in seeing what I now do through these new lenses. Some people go through life never truly understanding suffering, pain, sadness, or loss and it may seem like they are the lucky ones. But I believe they have missed out. The growth and connectedness to life and others is rarely learned from an easy existence. So while I'm in denial some days about my IC, I know when I embrace it my whole world opens up and I see things I never did before. Things outside of myself - beautiful things. It's humbled me. Made me slow down. Made me more aware of how fragile every thing in life is and allowed me to truly appreciate how significant the little things are. I cherish those things now. Do you? Do you ever slow down? Do you notice the way the sun feels on your skin? The way an ice cold glass of water feels going down? How blue the sky can be? How delicious a sweet ripe blueberry tastes? How amazing a hug feels at your lowest moment? How soft, warm, and comforting a big fluffy blanket can be on a cold day? What the air smells like in all 4 seasons? The peacefulness of how a bird flies? There's more to life than parties, drugs/alcohol/sex, clothing/makeup/nails/, a six pack and a tan, even traveling to exotic locations. And many are missing out on it. So for all IC has taken it, it has also given me many things. I pray I never take them for granted.