Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.  - Carl Sandburg

quote about time

Allergy Sufferers Survival Kit

Everyday Health

Everyday Health proves, again and again, to be a goldmine of great health-related information. If they offered 205 newsletters, I’d subscribe to them all. A recent slideshow was especially helpful (and timely). Portable Items to Stop Allergies in Their Tracks, by Madeline Vann, MPH, includes a lot of “Allergy Hacks” that aren’t just useful, they may very well be life-saving.

I found a few ideas in the slideshow that I’d never thought of – and I’ve lived with allergies all my life. Sometimes it almost feels like I’m allergic to more things than I’m NOT allergic to!

If you suffer from allergies, you’ll want to check out this awesome list of things you need to put together for your very own Allergy Survival Kit. You’ll see a few that you probably already keep on you at all times, but I’m sure (like me) you’ll find some you hadn’t even thought of.

Like why you should take vinegar with you to the beach or the common sense of always having a change of clothing with you. Great stuff, trust me.

All the world cries, ‘Where is the man who will save us?’ Don’t look so far for this man, you have him at hand. This man–it is you, it is I, it is each one of us! How to constitute oneself a man? Nothing harder if one knows not how to will it; nothing easier if one wills it. -Alexandre Dumas.

The Benefits of Like-Mindedness

Why Birds of a Feather Really Should Flock Together (What's in it for the Birds!)

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

All for one and one for all.”  ― Alexandre DumasThe Three Musketeers

Fraternity. Community. Brethren.  Allies. Team. League. Group. Alliance.  Tribe. Flock. …

These words –  and many more – all describe the same basic premise and the same basic truth: Comfort, and even strength, are often found amongst like-minded individuals.

This isn’t groundbreaking  information, of course. Since the beginning of time, people have realized that there’s strength in numbers. They’ve also known that hanging out with people who have similar interests, goals, and situations to your own provides you with a comforting feeling of normalcy.

Ironically, as I’m typing these words, there are 6 doves on my windowsill.  (I keep birdseed and black sunflower seeds on the windowsill beside my computer desk. This, combined with bird and squirrel feeders in our yard provide me with endless little cuties to distract me throughout the day. Jury’s still out on whether that’s actually a good thing or a bad thing.)   While there are exceptions, generally speaking, doves will show up to dine together.  I’ve never had, say, a cardinal and dove show up together.

Birds of a feather, literally, flock together.  Even nature knows the strength and safety that comes from community.

As I said in a recent post about Finding Silver Linings, my body has decided that it can no longer tolerate gluten (a protein found in… well… many things) in any way what-so-ev-er. It calls the shots, so I’ve had to change my relationship with food entirely – the way I eat, cook, and even think about food is now completely different from the way I had for my entire life.  Suffice to say that “entire” encompasses a healthy number of birthday candles over the years.  And, no, I don’t want to think about the bonfire they could combine to build.

Early on in my Gluten Free world, I found a wonderful key to sanity and happiness:  Surrounding myself with others who trudging along the gluten free trail.

Moving hundreds of these people into our home seemed extreme, so I simply found other ways to build my own private little support group:

  • On Twitter and Pinterest, I searched out Gluten Free Magazines, Gluten Free Food Manufacturers,  authors, and website accounts and followed them.  Then I looked at different accounts that interacted with them and chose certain ones to follow as well.  Soon my Twitter timeline and Pinterest feed were filled with recipes, tips, encouragement, ideas, food reviews, etc.
  • I signed up for different e-newsletters from these same experts – now my inbox is also a wealth of information and inspiration.
  • There are several Gluten Free magazines I want to subscribe to and I’ve started a cool collection of Gluten Free cookbooks.

Doing all of the above had several benefits:

  1. I was able to see scads of smiling people who weren’t only living with their dietary limitations but seemed to love it.
  2. I’ve lost count of the number of great ideas I’ve come across that I would NO WAY have come up with on my own.
  3. There’s a lot to be said for feeling like you’re part of a community.
  4. It’s exhausting to always have to check products and recipes for gluten – when I see e-mails, tweets, and pins from these “safe havens,” it takes the guess work out of it and I feel almost normal. Okay, normal for me.

Naturally  “gluten free”  birds aren’t the only kind of birds available for flocking. Any area of interest, conviction, employment, aspiration, hobbies, dreams, causes, or needs you have can be supported and strengthened by finding like-minded people. Simply replace “gluten free” in the 3 examples above with your own personal subject….

  • parenting
  • cats
  • Christianity
  • dogs
  • self help
  • sales and marketing
  • adoption
  • blogging
  • writing
  • photography
  • empty nest syndrome
  • weight loss
  • vegetarianism
  • loneliness
  • leadership
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • meditation
  • paleo diet
  • wildlife preservation
  • tea reviews
  • bird watching
  • college tips
  • etc. etc. etc…

This is one of those things in life that, while it seems so obvious and  even simple,can make a big difference in your life.

Tip: “Hacks” is a GREAT search term (Google or Twitter) to use behind your area of interest – for example “college hacks,” “weight loss hacks,” “saving money hacks,” etc.

Sometimes You Have to Turn the Corner to See the Silver Lining

It's a View Worth Seeing and a Trip Worth Taking

Buttermilk Biscuits

My World Famous Buttermilk Biscuits – OK, “World Famous” is Pushing It

No way….  Are you kidding me?!…..  Talk about a kick in the pants….  SO out of left field… Nah, can’t be… This is a huge deal… My wold just got turned upside down… This might be the worst thing that has happened to me in a while… —-  Okay… Not that big a deal.. Talk about a wake-up call… Should have seen it coming… It is what it is.. This isn’t a huge deal… My world just got turned upside right… This might be the best thing that has happened to me in a while.

Looks, for all the world, like one bi-polar paragraph doesn’t it? It’s sort of a modge podge of my thoughts over the past 7 months, so – in a sense – I guess my emotions were kind of bi-polar for a while.

As I’ve often said on this particular blog as well as my other blogs, I don’t AT ALL like to talk about myself. I guess that’s odd for an only child, but I get nothing out of discussing moi.  Someone’s not doing this “only child” thing right. However, I figure that if anyone can ever be helped (in any way at all) by my personal experiences I won’t just talk about it, I’ll sing about it.

So here we go.

Around the end of the year (2013), my oldest daughter (Emily) began having some pretty frightening health issues. Earlier in the year she’d had gallbladder surgery and, as an over-protective mother, I guess I’d been watching her like a hawk anyway. She began to have insane allergic reactions – to the point of her throat swelling up sometimes when she was eating. This was all on top of stomach issues that were also bothering her, but somehow the upset stomach took a backseat to the feelings of chocking to death.

Like I said, scary stuff.

She and I both suspected she had a gluten intolerance/allergy and it was decided that she’d do an “elimination” diet for a few weeks to see if her symptoms cleared up. I decided to “go along” with her for a couple of weeks – to sort of “get her started on her way” and give her support. I was pretty sure this was a diet that she’d have to stick with for GOOD, so I wanted to walk along with her – at least the first part of the way – to help her find recipes, alternatives on restaurant menus, gluten free products on the market, etc.

Her allergy and digestive problems cleared up almost immediately. It’s actually what we both expected to happen, but we were relieved to know there was something she could do to get better. What no one expected was this: It was exactly two weeks into our gluten elimination that it hit me… I felt better than I had in a long time. I’m the proud (sarcasm emphasized) owner of a hiatal hernia and I have whackadoodle allergies and bronchial asthma…. all of which vastly improved during this two week time. I had more energy, less stomach aches, less gassiness, less bloating, less allergy attacks, fewer asthma episodes, less hunger, etc. Mouth sores healed and vanished, and other “little” things I’d somehow learned to kind of ignore disappeared.

But there’s more. I had experienced stomach and digestive issues for some time – issues that were slowly, but surely, getting worse. I always had an excuse for them, though. It’s the hiatal hernia, it’s my thyroid medicine, it’s all part of aging, etc….

I went back and re-read all the articles I’d read when researching Emily’s symptoms and realized that mine were also listed. But I  hadn’t been looking for them. When a mother hen is on a mission, she sees her chick and only her chick… in this case, a sick chick!

It became obvious to both of us that we had to stop eating gluten – which is, as it turns out, in A LOT of things! A. Lot. Of. Things.  Not only is gluten found in the usual suspect lineup – bread, cornbread, pizza, doughnuts (this one stings the most), fried chicken, fried everything, and anything breaded – it also turns up in soy sauce, a lot of salad dressings, every store-bought soup imaginable, taco seasoning, and 101 other places you wouldn’t even think to look for it… until it means the difference between having pain and not having pain. Then you learn to look everywhere.

Although the whole “going gluten free” thing didn’t shatter my world (by any means), it did feel like an annoying thorn in my finger.

I’ve been an avid cook, food blogger, cookbook collector, restaurant reviewer, Food Network addict, and lover of all things food for too many years to even count.  To add to the misery, guess what some of my favorite things to make have always been – homemade bread, buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, pancakes, cakes, cupcakes, pies, and pastries.  Serious. You can’t make this stuff up. I was so cocky about my buttermilk biscuits that I only allowed real butter to EVER be served with them.  And then I told butter it was an honor it shouldn’t take lightly.

So… yeah…. having to change my entire way of eating and enjoying food disrupted my culinary world.  Kind of turned it on its head, if we’re being honest.

Favorite restaurants had to be scratched off the list, certain cookbooks were handed off to other people, and I had to learn a whole new way of cooking and enjoying food.  I found that even something as simple as enjoying Food Network shows was affected. It’s not a gluten free network, after all, so the frustration of seeing so many things that meant zilch to me anymore became more than I was willing to deal with.  Oh, lovely, she’s making doughnuts today… Fantastic, he’s visiting another burger restaurant… And now he’s in a Pizza dive.. Of course he is.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Turning the Corner

As with just about anything that we’re up against, it finally got to the point where I realized it wasn’t SOMETHING that needed to change, but rather SOMEONE who needed to change.  Besides, I couldn’t change my body’s intolerance to gluten any more than I could change the fact that it’s in so many favorite foods to eat, bake, and cook.

I had a brief, but effective, talk with myself and decided that…. what do you know…. this isn’t the end of the world.  I decided that it really wasn’t the END of anything so much as it was the BEGINNING of something.

Put simply, I turned the corner.

I even decided to stop using “negatives” when I thought or spoke. Instead of saying, “I can’t bake my favorite sourdough bread anymore…” I changed my mindset to, “It’s time to come up with new recipes…. this’ll be fun.”

Instead of dwelling on foods I can’t eat, I’m focusing on the ones I can.  When it comes to traveling through life, Can is a much more pleasant companion than Can’t.

Can sees the rainbow where can’t only sees the storm.

Emily and I were even talking about our new way of eating one day and actually found ourselves being thankful for the change.

No kidding.

We both listed the unhealthy foods we’d recently had to give up, including the frequent fast food trips. Like most people, we’d both found ourselves going through drive-thrus more out of habit than hunger. No longer feasting on fast and fatty foods meant that we were actually eating healthier than ever before – while feeling better than ever before.

Win. Win.

Even more surprising is the fact that, not only was going gluten free a blessing for our health, it has proven to actually be a blessing for my cooking adventures.

I can’t tell you how many meals I’ve made that left my husband and I convinced that the food’s better than ever. From Salmon Patties to Belgian Waffles, I’ve worked with my “gluten free” versions to the point that they’re actually better than the ones I used to make.

Even my meals are better because this way of cooking/eating has opened up a whole new world of flavors and creativity.  It’s bringing out the best in me because it has challenged me.  If I’d just kind of moped around I would have never seen the silver lining.

It’s when I turned the corner that I could finally see it.  It had been there the whole time, but I HAD TO BUDGE to actually see it.

What’s more, when my daughter and I started talking about the benefits of eating gluten free, a benefit we both noticed was an unexpected one: We aren’t as hungry as we once were. I’m not sure if it’s tied in to gluten, itself, or or the intolerance of it, but cutting it out seems to also cut out a lot of hunger.

I’m pretty sure the odds are that you have no intolerance, whatsoever, to gluten. Chances are none of the gluten information is relevant to you in any way. However, I will say this: If you have any unexplained allergies, stomach issues (bloating, pain, frequent gas, a “gnawing” discomfort, etc), unexplained weight gain or loss, excessive tiredness, headaches, or mouth sores – give some serious thought to cutting gluten out of your diet entirely for two weeks. If the way you feel suddenly improves… well, welcome to the club!

If you don’t notice any improvement at all (not even a little), the culprit’s probably something else and a trip to the doctor is probably in order.

Either way, gluten (cursed little demon) isn’t really the main thing here. Silver linings are the star of the show.  Whether it’s in plain sight or you have to “turn a corner” in order to see it, once you see your silver lining, life will never be the same again.

No matter what life hands you, always look for the silver lining and never stop looking until you find it. More times than not, it’s a delicious surprise.

Pizza

 Pizza with a Gluten Free Crust… Boom!

Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less

Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less

Are you addicted to busyness?

Before you answer, here’s an excerpt from Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less:

We all get overwhelmed with busyness at times. But if you find yourself frequently comfortable with or bragging about how over-busy you are, you may want to question whether you’ve become addicted to being busy. Have you convinced yourself that you thrive on busyness? Do you often feel a physical satisfaction and increase in energy from “multitasking” – from the thrill of jam-packing a day with more than seems humanly possible, or from the drama of working under impossible deadlines and meeting them at any cost to health and family? At the end of a workday, do you have difficulty focusing and calming down? Do you feel a sense of emptiness?

If the answer is yes to most of these questions, you might want to consider developing a more sustainable approach to work and activity in general. Your current and future health probably depends on it. – Page 9

Does it ring a bell… or maybe I should ask, Does it ring an alarm clock?! Click through the link above for more information about this wonderful little book that could be the wake up call you REALLY need.

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”  – Socrates

I think Socrates hit it pretty much on the head with this one.  Then again, he never missed when he took aim, did he?

 

Quote of the Day: Tranquility

A James Allen Quote on the Importance of Remaining Calm

Quote About Tranquility

“The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater his success, his influence, his power for good.  Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.” – James Allen

When we think of power, influence, and success, “tranquility” isn’t one of the first words to spring to mind, is it?  I’m not sure it’d even make the top 100, let alone the top 10.

Then James Allen comes along with a quote that makes you realize that tranquility and calmness are at the very core of power.

Mr. Allen wasn’t the only great mind to realize the importance of calmness.  How did the great Rudyard Kipling begin his infamous poem “If?”  - If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs… He went on to (beautifully) lay out many keys to success that fit through the keyhole of “If” but where did he start?

With keeping your head – being calm and tranquil.

When we fly off the handle, ranting and raving, we aren’t being strong and we certainly aren’t inviting success. We’re just being a sideshow or as Opie once said about Barney, we’re being a “sight.”  The fewer Barney moments we have, the better.

Also See: If, by Rudyard Kilpling

Grow Happier as You Grow Older

Everyday Health

Forget any preconceived notions about grumpy old men (or women for that matter). Truth is we grow happier as we grow older. Personally, I think it has a lot to do with finally being able to make your own rules! Click the above for an interesting study done on this very subject.  Enjoy and, by all means, keep smiling.