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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cave Girl

Ladies and Gentlemen, cleanse your palettes and get ready to do some taste testing! There's one wonderful constant in my every single day and that is.....FOOD! You got that right. I attribute that to being born a Taurus who exhibits an almost stereotypical Taurean love of food. But not just food in and of itself. Home cooked  savory, melt in your mouth, healthy goodness in every bite. Now brace yourself… Due to food allergies, intolerances and a general demand from my body systems, the gourmet food of my today is permanently gluten free; mostly dairy free and soy free; pretty much sugar free; always, always, always certified organic; ideally locally grown/produced if possible; and ok fine, I'll tell you........... soon to be 95% grain free. That's right. I'm goin Paleo on y'all. The cave girl has arrived.

What on earth is Paleo? I heard ya, don't think I can't hear you mumble under your breath. Don’t get all weird on me now. Trust me, I don’t hold any steadfast beliefs about what our ancestors ate (which is what the ‘eating paleo’ principles are built upon) nor do I really care. I respect those who are vegan or vegetarian.  And even those who don’t really care what they put in their mouths. Before I go into details, let’s just say that this is not a quickly passing fad or a diet of the month. No, this is a lifelong commitment and it will take whatever form in which my body does its best work. That’s right, this way of eating has been shown to significantly improve or even cure or prevent many diseases like ALS, MS, Diabetes, Cancer, Depression, Anxiety, Autism, and Auto-immune disorders.

I'm going to mix the Terry Wahls diet along with several different versions of Paleo to get just the right proportions to allow for optimal body and mind functions. And that means saying good bye to the world of grains. Good bye rice. So long gluten-free oatmeal. Farewell to thee potatoes. Too-dah-loo corn and legumes. Let it be said that I bid adieu to wheat and barley almost three years and I don't miss them at all, pretty much because any time I ate them my body reacted by covering me in a disgustingly itchy blistery rash. However, other grains became my staples in their absence: especially the rice flour I used for baking and making gravy to top my pot roasts, and aahhhhh, those fresh organic corn tortillas. I may mourn for those.

To fill the aching void in my heart (and stomach), I vow to indulge in 4-5 cups of vegetables per day (pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it), grass fed/organic meats, hopefully gag down some organ meats, seaweed (which I get in my raw sauerkraut - a blog post for another time), munch dark juicy fruits like berries and eat healthy fats like coconut oil and avocados  WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!!! FOUR TO FIVE CUPS OF VEGETABLES A DAY?? ARE YOU FREAKIN CRAZY????? Hell no, I'm not crazy and that's actually where the fun begins. Those vegetables need to be cruciferous in the form of dark green and leafy; sulfuric vegetables like cauliflower, and brightly colored vegetables that come in hues of oranges, yellows, maroons and reds. And baby let me tell you that any vegetable lightly cooked with some garlic makes me feel like I've died and gone to heaven.  Things will not be boring folks. This cave girl loves Bacon. Everything tastes better with bacon, especially that luscious thick cut pork from my sister’s organic pig she buys each year. The other day I cooked the world’s most misunderstood vegetable - Brussel Sprouts. I love ‘em with all my heart and soul. Just imagine them with a little pancetta. Oh my.... what a beautiful pairing that made. I think it was Fran Lebowitz who said: 'Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.’

I WANT TO DO THIS. In fact, I've been sorta doing it a little more than half-assed for over a year now. And that's because I had surgery, have auto-immune issues like food allergies and my digestive system is sluggish and skeptical about what to do with the grains I feed it. And of course, like everyone knows... dairy, sugar and grains interfere with the body's healing process and depress the immune system allowing for disease. If I'm going to allow my beloved body to heal completely then by golly I've got to only put in it what will speed that process along. Plus, I've got to be absolutely sure that I age the way nature intended and not by the will of corrupt food industry (that is a topic for another time --- or blog post!). 

What will I do with the other 5% of my dining time? Let’s just say I completely subscribe to Virginia’s Woolf’s declaration ‘One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well’. Yep, you betcha, what’s the fun in life if you can’t still splurge, in moderation of course, in worldly delights. Luckily, I can. Although I know some folks whose bodies don’t run that way.  I vow to still go out to my favorite pizza parlors to enjoy a wonderfully mouthwatering gluten-free pizza, perhaps once in a while I'll treat myself to a Burgerville Tillamook cheeseburger wrapped in lettuce with sweet potato fries, and I will still of course always, always, always drink my wine and indulge in appetizing cocktails. Didn't someone’s God say 'Let there be wine'? …Er, uh, maybe that was something else, but I SAID it so I will make it so! I’ve never been one to commit myself to anything rigid that allows for no errors or wiggle room.  Just like religion, I take bits and pieces from what I know to build something that works for me.

I’ve been desensitized. I’ve felt the negative effects of my unhealthy food choices. And after a few trial separations, it’s easier now for me to turn down what used to literally be impossible to resist.  It’s an essential part of my Taurean being that I pamper myself with good eats. I’m just a little wiser about my choices now.  I will post pictures of these edible paleo delights and share my journey. We won't always talk food here but since food is many times my wonderful, trust me; it will be discussed from time to time. After all, as B.W. Richardson said, ‘Preserve and treat food as you would your body, remember that in time food will be your body’.  I know, right? ‘Nuff said.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Remembering the Wonderful

It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to 
day basis.     -Margaret Bonanno

If I asked you right now what the highlights of your year were, would you be able to immediately, with little thought involved, throw out your top 10 in the last 365 days? What about your top 35? Probably not. If you're anything like me, you live day to day, managing appointments and work schedules; maintaining relationships with your husband, children, family and friends; filing taxes; paying bills; getting cars fixed;  traveling or having guests stay at your house; dealing with emergency situations, crises or sickness; making grocery lists, shopping, cooking and cleaning; driving kids to and from endless destinations; volunteer work; and oh, did I mention going out and having some fun and then oh yes, that wonderfully delicious thing called thing called sleep? Yea, that is called life and life's busy and it can pass you by. In fact that's what it does. No matter what you do, the clock still ticks, the sun still rises (lucky for us!), and time passes. Eventually, those little high points through out the year that made you smile are buried and eventually hard to recall if not forgotten completely.  

I always talk about finding the wonderful in every day and I do work very hard to be sure that I can come up with at least one wonderful thing even during the shittiest of days. That's good and all but I want, no, actually, I need to start remembering the wonderful in my days. Not every day but at least some of them. To achieve this fine goal of mine, I've decorated and labeled a jar where we will write down and date, something good that stood out for us in any given day. Then next December on New Year's Eve, I will sit down with my husband and we'll pull out each tiny sheet of paper and read what is on each one. I can already picture it... a cold brisk December evening where we are sitting at the dining room table, each of us with our choice of cocktail in hand, reading and reminiscing about the year that has just about wrapped up. I have no doubt that some of the things we read will be fresh still in our memories and we'll probably chuckle a little bit as we recount that particular day. What I am most excited about is reading about something that I had completely forgotten about yet it was significant enough that one of us thought to write it down. This is where we'll really take a trip down memory lane, evoking piece by piece the specifics of that noteworthy day.  I am even going to set the jar out and offer our visiting/overnight house guests a welcome to donate a bit of their own something good to the jar.

What do I hope to gain from this? I foresee this evening a year from now as an intimate look into the recent past. I don't know, maybe I want a sense of closure to the year, and face it, musing over the recent past is entertaining. More than that though, I want to get a sense of my person, who I was 365 days ago as opposed to who I think I am now 365 days past. And I want to see how those experiences shaped me, changed my perceptions or even perhaps jaded me. I want to see how it impacts my husband and of course, us as a couple to share this with each other, summoning up each story together. Warren and I always have fun together reminiscing anyway. Sometimes we find ourselves at the dinner table long after dinner, polishing off a bottle of wine or laying in bed talking late into the evening topping each other with bygone chronicles of our recollections of a particular event, tales of one of our many cats or dogs, childhood anecdotes, sagas we've lived through and well, you get the picture.   

My sister started a jar and one of the first things she put in the jar was her daughter's first steps. Very significant yet in a year, her daughter will have been walking non-stop for many months. The newness will have worn off and as I said before, life is busy. Can't you just picture my sister, a year later, pulling out that piece of paper describing her daughter's first steps? How many emotions will rush through her as she spends a few moments reliving that day and marveling at how fast time flies and how much her kids have grown and changed in just one year. 

After we have read, reflected and mused over our recent past, I think I'm going to put those pieces of paper into a photo album in order of date - considering that photo albums still exist. I wonder, do they? Or I might scan them and save them electronically, maybe even post them here on my blog. That way our family or  descendants or whomever reads them can not only acquire the essence of who we were but maybe even themselves discover the epitome of attaining the wonderful in every day and making that realization an essential part of their lives.  Or, knowing me, I might just label the jar and put it up in the attic.  Maybe when I'm 80, I'll want to pull it out, fix me up a cocktail and settle in to read the contents of the jar to our grand children, nieces and nephews. 

It's an experiment in the works and if all goes well, I might just do it again every year. I can't remember who said it but this quote pretty much sums it up: 'Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance!'. To me, this jar gives me a reason to do the happy dance on an almost daily basis, whether grudgingly on a low day where I may have to dig a little deeper to find that one good thing or with enthusiasm on an unrivaled superbly wonderful day where that one amazing thing no doubt makes the cut. I will purposefully appreciate these moments that gave me or someone else a glimpse or a blast of happiness. That is what makes life so wonderful, the abundant little good things that blend with the occasional awesomeness that make for a years worth of memories that must be re-hashed. There's one thing that I have no doubt of - There's always something good in every day! It's up to me to find it, identify it, notate it - if I so please, and cherish it. I'll never get that day back or get a re-do, and sometimes I am thankful for that depending on what kind of day its been.  

Ultimately, as I find my wonderful in the days to come this year, I know I am going to feel, live and breathe more in the present than I ever have. And that just might be the first good thing I put in the 2nd jar next year!