Musings

Three Times A Lady

Four times a lady’s phone rang in a packed yoga class. (That’s one more time than Lionel Richie’s lady.) Most amazing experience! No one says anything, especially not our Zen peaceful yoga instructor. Everyone maintains their poses. A few, including myself, glance at the lady holding conversations on her mat after answering the old-timey telephone “ring-ring” ring tone. After Shavasana and our Namaste bow signaling the close of class, someone kindly suggests vibrate mode to the offender. Others comment amongst themselves on the rudeness and disbelief of the disruptions.

I noticed the yoga etiquette impaired cell phone culprit seemed without remorse, perhaps even clueless. Upon the gentle admonition, she replied, “I didn’t expect them to keep calling,” a thought no doubt shared by everyone in the mirrored room. Her response provided an epiphany: her reaction is irrelevant to mine. What a revelation!

So many times I expect another’s response to be the way I want it, regretful, committed to change, even somewhat embarrassed, in order for them to be worthy of forgiveness. I judge their intentions before offering or withholding my mercy. My thoughts and emotions during this oft-interrupted class morphed from annoyance to forced sympathy. My thoughts waffled from maybe this person is new to yoga, unaware of our inward peaceful journey, to maybe she has limited mental capacity. If the reason for her behavior was justified, then so too would be my false compassion. False compassion seems to be pity based on judgment. Yet true compassion and forgiveness are judgment free, based on love, free of the actions and intentions of others. Elizabeth Gilbert’s mosquito clad meditation experience in Eat, Pray, Love reminds us that inner peace is not contingent on outer annoyances. Her mosquito bites are our cell phone rings.

What’s more amazing is that “ring-ring” lesson lady arrived late to class filling the exact space of “doing the best I can” lesson lady that left early. “Doing the best I can” lesson lady brought her four or five year old daughter with her to yoga class. Because I arrived later than others, I established my mat in the back next to the child. The child was well behaved, but I was annoyed at her presence. I felt self conscious of her gaze in my direction when she wasn’t loudly leafing through her coloring book. My negative feelings caught me off guard, for I often grant support and prayers to moms with crying babies in public. Actually, even though my six babies are older now, I still secretly and selfishly experience a wave of relief that it’s not my baby causing the cascade of disapproving glances, reminiscent of Bono’s Feed the World “me” generation line, “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” I shuffled through all the possible scenarios why this mom had to bring her child to yoga class to ease my annoyance, when really sending prayers and love were all that were necessary to occupy my mind and heart. I know how hard it is to make time for your health and wellbeing while being a mom.

Prior to hastily setting up yoga camp next to the well behaved, but perceived nuisance nevertheless, child, I was verbally abrupt with my family. I huffed and I puffed my ever so familiar “nobody’s listening to me” monologue. Though it was different this time. This time I listened to my futile verbiage. This time, in mid-complaint, my mind scanned a bird’s eye assessment of the situation that I no longer wished to perpetuate. Be it ever so small, it’s progress. My recognition of my shortcoming allowed me to readily apologize. Feeling the Lionel Richie groove, three times this lady (that’s me) was graciously given opportunities to examine, grow, and practice forgiveness of myself and others. I am grateful for the examined life worth living!

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

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“And no one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.” – Marianne Williamson

I listened to myself, heard judgment, criticism, and complaints, and found insight, compassion, and love. These lessons, brought to you in rewound love infused hyper-vision, transformed my heart in a Grinch-like way, growing “three sizes that day,” three times a lady for three lessons and four cell phone rings.

Musings

You Are Enough!

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The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week the new rate of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is 1 in 68 children. Ten years ago when my oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an ASD, the rate was 1 in 150. And just like ten years ago, the “experts” still claim, “We don’t know what causes autism.” I don’t get it. Can’t the “experts” Google? Not that everything on the internet is true, but can’t they attempt to sort through it all like parents do upon receiving a diagnosis?

Ten years ago, I surfed the web and entered the world of dietary intervention acronyms starting with the Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) Diet. The GFCF Diet, incomplete in grain removal, led us to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). The SCD is the diet of GAPS™, the Gut and Psychology and Physiology Syndrome. GAPS™ amps up the healing of the grain-free, sugar-free SCD by emphasizing gut healing broths, ferments, and juicing. Autism is a symptom of a faulty digestive system, a leaky gut. By healing the gut, people overcome many mental and physical illnesses, including autism. The “experts” did not research the effectiveness of dietary interventions like we parents (including Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, parent of a son diagnosed on the autism spectrum and neurosurgeon who authored the 2004 GAPS™ book) did. The cornerstones of the scientific method of research are experimentation and observation. We experimented with our kids by taking away grains and sugar while giving them broths to heal and seal the gut, ferments to balance their microbiomes, and juicing to detoxify their bodies. We observed that their digestive issues and autistic behaviors significantly improved and/or disappeared. For anyone just now receiving an ASD diagnosis, don’t believe the we-don’t-know “experts”. Become your own expert! You are enough!

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It’s eerie how similar two gut healing experts and moms of sons no longer on the autism spectrum can look! Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride is pictured on the left and I am on the right. Before this post, I never dreamed of categorizing myself as an expert of Dr. Natasha’s caliber and I’m no neurosurgeon. I only did it to make the point that you too can be a gut healing expert and heal yourself and/or your child(ren). You are enough!

The night before the new ASD rates were announced I had a dream. In my dream, a GAPS™ client asked me (I’m a Certified GAPS™ Practitioner in real life), “How will I know if all that I am doing is enough?” I answered, “You will know it is enough, because you are enough.” You are your own expert. Listen to your body. You are enough!

I like to think that healing with GAPS™ can be charted on a line graph with a general trajectory of up, but it’s not a straight line. Healing has ups and downs. The downs teach us as much about our healing as the ups do. Healing, die-off, and detox reactions all manifest similarly. They make you temporarily feel lousy, not quite right, with possibly some of your common symptoms returning. For me, these reactions often manifest as asthma. When you experience a healing, die-off, or detox reaction you can choose to back off or plow on through. For example, if I, having not eaten any probiotic foods before, were to eat a cup of homemade yogurt and started wheezing, I may choose to back off and reintroduce this probiotic food one teaspoon at a time to breathe more freely or continue to eat a cup of yogurt a day wheezing for a few days or more. It’s important that you heal at a pace that is comfortable for you. Healing on GAPS™ generally takes about two years. For some people, it takes slightly less time or some choose to be GAPS™ lifers (like myself) because they feel like their food tastes – amazingly alive and delicious! During your healing period, the trajectory of your overall health and happiness should trend up.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Pie pictured.

The night before I had this dream, my oldest son (you know, the one no longer on the autism spectrum) shared Carl Jung’s theory that the important life lesson dreams are the lifelike ones we can’t forget. Important indeed! You are enough! The teachings of Carl Jung seem be springing forth everywhere for me like a field of flowers after a harsh winter. I love this one. “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― C.G. Jung

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On today, April 2, 2014, World Autism Awareness Day, look inside. Awake to the effective treatment of autism and other mental and physical illnesses by gut healing dietary intervention. Become your own expert for yourself and your child(ren)! After many of my oldest son’s autistic behaviors lessened and/or disappeared, I complimented him for working so hard to overcome these behaviors. He looked at me and said, “Mom, I didn’t do anything.” But he did. He ate nourishing gut healing foods. Given nourishing real food, your body knows how to heal. You are enough!

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Musings

Right to Know

A few days ago, I asked representatives at my state capitol in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to support the labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in an event sponsored by Right To Know MN. What an empowering experience participating in the democratic process! The link between GMOs and damaged digestive systems concerns me as a Certified GAPS™ (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) Practitioner. Numerous mental and physical illnesses result from impaired guts. I believe consumers have the right to know if GMOs are in the foods they purchase. Their health and healing depends upon it. For an engaging and thorough look at the concerns of GMOs, check out the documentary GMO OMG.

Even Moby (pictured below), the marmot from my children’s books, showed his support for labeling GMOs. Moby secretly wanted to carry picket signs and demonstrate peaceful resistance when being carried off to jail by police officers. Oh wait, that was me, not Moby. I fantasized about finally practicing my peaceful protesting skills that I acquired in a college seminar over 25 years ago. In reality, the GMO Label Day at the Capitol was a more organized, scheduled, and productive approach than storming the castle with passionate signage and song. My respectful, heartfelt interactions with elected officials and aides validated my right to a have a voice. I mattered. Voicing my concern for GMO labeling mattered, even though the bill might not pass this legislative session.
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After a day of activism and advocacy, my farmer and I decided to treat ourselves to a swanky farm-to-table restaurant not too far from the capital that used my farmer’s conscientious meats from animals raised without GMOs. After 10 years of successfully reading labels and menus while currently adhering to the grain-free, sugar-free diet of GAPS™, I quickly navigated the menu upon being seated by the hostess. The entrée I chose listed six ingredients, all of which I thought adequately met my dietary needs. No grains. After receiving my meal, I disappointingly proceeded to remove a 1/4 inch layer of bread crumbs crowning my dish, without intention of lodging a complaint. Unsolicited, our waiter came over concerned at my messy crumb removal. After his gluten intolerance inquiry, I confirmed that I do not eat grains. He offered to bring out another bowl of the same entrée without the bread crumbs and I agreed. While the kitchen was re-preparing my meal, our waiter comes by our table again, this time to scold me. He chastised me for not notifying him about my grain-free regimen. I defensively replied, “But bread crumbs were not listed on the menu.” Why would I bring up my dietary preferences if I had no reason to think grains were an ingredient in the dish? He continued to verbally shower me with blame.

I felt belittled and powerless. I reacted defensively, disappointed in myself. After all my inward focus on prayer and guided meditations from Fragrant Heart to be a more peaceful person, his words left me upset and unable to communicate well. Granted I don’t eat at fancy restaurants often. A night out for me is usually at the local $8 burger joint where, if it’s a Tuesday, the meals are two for one. What a bargain! That being said, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck either. I pride myself in successfully navigating the menus of all types of restaurants, from highbrow to hole-in-the-walls. Often I request to know the ingredients of sauces or specifically omit certain foods when ordering. Based on the six ingredients listed on the menu, I thought I was safe. I also assumed this upscale farm-to-table restaurant by nature would be inherently more in tune to its clientele’s priorities.

Still rattled from the experience after arriving home several hours later, I pulled up the online menu from this restaurant. In small letters at the bottom it states, “[This restaurant] requests that you please inform your server of any dietary concerns or constraints.” I did not see this fine print when ordering. Even if I had noticed it, I thought my chosen entrée met my dietary requirements. I would have still deemed it unnecessary to notify the waiter. And why should I? I go to restaurants to have good food with great company without having to explain my dietary preferences and health concerns like a child to wait staff.

Without labeled GMOs on food packages, the consumer is responsible to call companies and inquire about their ingredient sources. Similarly, this restaurant considers it the patron’s responsibility to solicit information because the menu lacks ingredient disclosure. Listing ingredients on restaurant menus empowers customers much the same way labeling GMOs on foods empowers consumers. We have a right to know.

In August 2013, the FDA “encourage[ed] the restaurant industry to move quickly to ensure that its use of “gluten-free” labeling is consistent with the federal definition,” even though restaurants have until August 2014 to comply with the new gluten labeling guidelines according to an FDA FAQ page. Granted, going grain-free is more than just gluten, but identifying gluten is a great start to empowering diners and would include bread crumbs. Yay!

As we were leaving the restaurant with one “Label GMOs” sticker still intact (mine), our waiter voiced his support for labeling GMOs without even realizing the irony of his words.

Musings

Calling All Recipes!

Let me work my magic using 10 years of experience converting recipes so that you can enjoy your favorite foods while healing the grain-free, sugar-free, GAPS way!

Luscious Lasagna without noodles!
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Pecan Pie without corn syrup!
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I made this Cream Cheese Pie out of a cheese danish recipe posted on Facebook.
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I then morphed it into these family favorites!

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Apple Cream Cheese Pie!

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Pecan Cream Cheese Pie!

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Chocolate Pie!

Post your recipes in the comments below or email me, aileen@nourishinghappiness.com. I’ll get creative in my “happy place” (kitchen) and post the results!

Musings

Her Iridescent Heart

She stood in a dim light before her heart
Seeing a dull reflection mirroring her assumed roles,
Worthy of society’s approving pat on the back,
Empty.

She stood in darkness behind her heart
Weighted by a lifetime of self-inflicted fears,
Warranting a tearful ugly release,
Lost.

She then stepped inside the iridescent glow of her heart
Feeling immense love, acceptance, and belonging,
Giddy with peace, purpose, and possibilities,
Full and found.

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Musings

KISS

KISS (Keep It Simple Starshine)!

Let’s face it, you’re not stupid! You’ve endured the rigors of numerous tests, spoken with a handful or more of experts/physicians, and researched your diagnosis by devouring everything that Google dishes at you. You know much about your health condition.

If you’re not stupid, then why starshine?

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I love that the stuff from which we are made is from stars. I love Johnny Depp, Rob Thomas, and starshine. Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory says, “Good Morning Starshine, The Earth Says “Hello!“” I hear these same Johnny Depp words prior to my favorite RIPPED (an insane cardio workout) song How Far We’ve Come by Matchbox 20, with Rob Thomas as the lead singer.

So, let’s see how far we’ve come?

We have a whole host of mental and physical illnesses that we go to the doctor to determine and treat with pharmaceuticals. These drugs, many with harmful side effects, may mask some symptoms, but they don’t heal us. We hurt. We suffer. We follow the scarcity model of health that supports entropic beliefs that we will all get some disease that minimizes the quality of our lives, if it doesn’t kill us. Even if we don’t get a life altering/ending illness, the model of lack lends itself to expectancies of less mobility, energy, and alertness as we age.

So besides Johnny, Rob, and starshine, I love documentaries. The Frozen River Film Festival showcases documentaries in my small Southeast Minnesota town, as its names describes, when the Mississippi River turns to ice. Among the many films I saw this year, was Haenyeo: Woman of the Sea. This short film features a South Korean 82-year-old female free-diver (using no scuba equipment) that harvests food from the sea. Isn’t she supposed to be retired at her age? Isn’t she supposed to lack mobility at her age? It seems that she operates from a different model of health, one of abundance, not lack.

We can follow her example. We can utilize the abundant health model. How? By KISS (Keep It Simple Starshine)! Our bodies know how to heal when given nourishing foods. The diet of GAPS™ (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) is abundant in delicious healing foods.

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These healing foods naturally treat and effectively reduce symptoms in autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, addictions, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autoimmune conditions, asthma, eczema, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, digestive disorders, and other mental health and physiological conditions. Wow! Sound too simple?

We seem to be comforted by complexity. The more complicated ingredients listed on the processed, GMO, chemical laden, sugary, grainy, so-called foods we’ve been “sold” to eat, the more we rely on the complicated world of testing, diagnoses, doctors, medicine, hospitals to deal with diseases often caused by these unreal foods. The irony is that in our more abundantly complex world of medicine, we suffer from a scarcity of health. Largely because, for all the good mainstream medicine attempts, forgotten are two pearls of wisdom from the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, “First do no harm” and “Let food be thy medicine and medicine by thy food.” Our bodies possess the innate abilities to heal when given real food.

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For 10 years, I’ve heard, “I could never do what you do; it’s too hard,” from people convinced cooking real food from scratch is too time consuming and difficult. Granted, it helps that I love to cook and call my kitchen my happy place. It also helps that my son’s autistic behaviors disappeared. Talk about motivation!

But recently I’ve been hearing, “It’s too easy! How could a grain-free, sugar-free diet emphasizing broths, ferments, and juicing heal so many mental and physical illnesses?” It’s simple, eating these nourishing foods heal the gut and many mental and physical illnesses are symptoms of a faulty digestive system.

I recently received a comment that you can’t really expect to balance the gut’s good and bad bacteria, yeasts, etc., without first testing to see which creatures you have populating your body. Once again, the reliance on the complexity of testing and experts is unnecessary and expensive. It’s as simple as eating fermented and cultured foods that introduce the “good guys” to kill off the “bad guys”, picture an old timey Hollywood Western with the good bacteria and good yeasts donning ten gallon white hats. Caution: Slowly introduce probiotic foods so as to minimize a die-off reaction that can make you feel temporarily lousy when the “bad guys” omit toxins upon their death by the “good guys” in the high noon shootout. About 90% of us are the creatures living in us. It’s important that the sheriff and his posse balance the outlaws to maintain peace and health.

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Let’s KISS and eat MEFAVE meals and FAVE snacks, mindful to incorporate healing broths, ferments, and juicing. (Can you tell that besides Johnny, Rob, starshine, and documentaries, I also love acronyms?)

MEat (Protein) + FAt + VEggie (Carb) = MEFAVE meals
FAt + VEggie (Carb) = FAVE

Details of MEFAVE meals and FAVE snack planning can be found on my previous blog post, Six Things to Let Go. Be abundant in quantities! Be full! Be abundant in health and happiness! You matter! What you eat matters! Your body knows how to heal when given real nourishing foods! KEEP IT SIMPLE STARSHINE!

Musings

Six Things to Let Go

Letting go is change. Change can be gradual or abrupt. Certainly Lao Tzu’s journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. As a holistic health guide, I believe the healing of a trillion cells begins with a single bite.

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Slow and steady wins the race is quite effective. That being said, I must confess that I am a huge fan of abrupt change. I released most of these six things by cannonballing into change similar to braving a Polar Bear Plunge, a Goose Bump Jump, a Penguin Plummet, or insert your preferred cute catch phrase fitting for when insane people wearing nothing but swimsuits jump into icy winter water. Just like a frigid fun lake leap, cold turkey change is head first, all at once, not conducive to toe testing, crazy, communal, fun, and awakening, yet still requires a daily practice for transformative sustenance.

Some of these things I let go years ago, others more recently requiring more daily awareness and intention. The more I release, the more I abundantly nourish my happiness and health along with the happiness and health of my loved ones. Oh the joyous irony of life!

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1. LET GO OF GRAINS, STARCHY VEGGIES, AND SUGAR – You can bake almost anything using almond flour, like chocolate cake. Coconut flour is another baking option. Raw honey is an amazing anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal sweetener to make all sorts of goodies, like chocolate pie. Butternut squash serves as a delicious potato alternative. Fire fries are spicy and yummy! Letting go of these specific carbohydrates, you will feel mentally, physically, and amazingly alive. On a personal note, I and my kiddos are now liberated from the previous restraints of autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia of speech, OCD, ADD, anxiety, asthma, skin conditions, and hypoglycemia by being grain free, starchy veggie free, and sugar free. Nourishing the body with quality meats, fats, most veggies and fruits, broths, ferments, and juicing (without grains, starchy veggies, and sugar) is the cornerstone of gut healing with the GAPS (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) protocol.

2. LET GO OF RESTRICTIONS ON FATS, PROTEIN, AND VEGGIES – It’s what MEFAVE and FAVE meals and dishes are all about!

MEat (Protein) + FAt + VEggie (Carb) = MEFAVE
FAt + VEggie (Carb) = FAVE

Eat all the quality meats, fats, and veggies you want. Go ahead, eat until you are full! I consume anywhere from ½ -1 cup of total fats each day. Fats don’t make you fat. They make you feel full, happy, and healthy!

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What do you first think of when you think of carbs? Foods like bread and pasta made from grains, right? But veggies and fruits are also carbohydrates. Change your way of thinking to improve your health. Think of veggies first when thinking of carbs. It’s the reason the VE in MEFAVE and FAVE is veggie. (Plus, MEFACA and FACA sound unappetizing to say the least!) Grains are rough on the digestive system and are not GAPS legal. Focus on nutrient dense veggies and fruits that are organic and/or local. Remember MEFAVE and FAVE to nourish your health and happiness with each meal or dish you choose.

FYI: Nuts contain all three macronutrients – protein, fat, and carbs. I often lump nuts in with the VE (Carb) category in my MEFAVE and FAVE suggestions.

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3. LET GO OF SCALES – No longer voluntarily step on scales. If some day in your future, a medical professional requests your weight, you can oblige, but no longer make it a daily punishing event. By releasing this act of societal judgment and personal pressure, you will magnify self love and acceptance.

4. LET GO OF BRAS – Bouncing your boobs releases toxins and frees the spirit. See my post “I Love Boobs”, lest I ramble on and turn this into yet another boob blog post.

5. LET GO OF DEODORANT, LOTION, TOOTHPASTE, AND SHAMPOO – Use coconut oil as deodorant and lotion. For a great probiotic lotion, consider homemade sour cream. For oral health, brush your teeth with baking soda and oil pull with coconut oil. Shampoo your hair using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Remember to only put edible things on your skin to reduce your toxic burden.

6. LET GO OF SCARCITY – So much of the fear, competition, inadequacy, criticism and negativity in our lives stems from the long held scarcity belief of not being or having enough. Let go of these limiting beliefs because you are more than enough. You are full of possibilities. You are love. Unlock abundant love, resources, creativity, and time with gratitude. Being thankful for things right now nourishes your happiness.

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The life waiting for us is full of health and happiness! Go ahead, let go!

Musings

Rat’s Nest

A year or so ago my youngest daughter’s beautiful long hair frequently tangled into knotted messes, best described as rat’s nests. Refusing all offers of help, she insisted that she brushed it. It often took a hair stylist to unravel the rodent’s lairs. A few days ago, I am sitting with a hospice patient as a volunteer, honored to witness a life story beautifully woven with threads of hardship and hope, when I touched the back of my head. I touched it again, what’s that? Could it be? Oh no, Templeton’s temple! I’m mortified. How did that get there? Was it there the previous night at Bunko? Did all my “Minnesota Nice” dice rolling buddies see my snarled hair, but were too kind to say anything? Did the nursing home staff of the patient I was visiting notice? The patient herself, of long life and rich insight, had actual eyesight diminished to mere contrasts of light. At least, one person had not noticed.

So what insights can I glean from my ball of confusion hair?

In college I loved the song, “Ball of Confusion”, by Love and Rockets.

A few years ago I heard an instrumental of it playing through a local supermarket’s speakers; made me feel old. While writing this blog post, I discovered that the 1980’s version is a remake from the original version by The Temptations; now I feel young again. Lesson #1: you’re only as old as a song makes you feel, which is usually young. The magic of music stirs the senses of yore like they were vivid yesterdays. The rhythmic clank of the “Low Rider” cowbell summons the smell of burnt popcorn under the squinting sight of harsh stadium lights of high school football Friday nights. “Road to Nowhere” compels my body to twist in a dance-like remembrance of college Monday Night Dance Night, quite possibly the most carefree and fun time of my life. I can still feel the vibration of me humming “Eternal Flame” while rocking each one of my sweet smelling babies in the wee hours of the night. Time machines are real. They are called music.

Trapped inside during this winter break’s blast of sub-zero (Fahrenheit) and sub-human temperatures, some of my kiddos and I huddled under blankets enthralled with a “Once Upon a Time” marathon. “Once Upon a Time” is a television series about a modern day town of characters unaware of their folklore personas until a curse is broken by true love’s kiss. Most of the town characters, before love lifted the curse, were unlike their true fairy tale selves. They were lost, confused. Love gave meaning to their lives; suddenly everything made sense.

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
― C.S. Lewis

I am now old enough to start believing in fairy tales again. Love revealed my true self and bestowed purpose upon my life, after a lifetime spent mostly lost. Interestingly, in “Once Upon a Time”, the plot becomes even more complicated and tangled after the curse is lifted, a lot like life. Lesson #2: accept life’s complicated, tangled times and know that everything will be okay. Love miraculously makes you know what you know that you know. You know? With this belief, this faith, you can associate meaning to life’s hardships and chaos. Not in perfect hindsight, but now.

“I gave the book to him because I wanted Henry to have the most important thing anyone can have. Hope. Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.” – Mary Margaret (Snow White), “Once Upon a Time”

Dancing like someone from “The Breakfast Club” back when I thought “Ball of Confusion” was an original song, I often teased my hair into a Texas 1980’s big hair socially acceptable rat’s nest. Until that style rolls around again (let’s hope not), I must heed Lesson #3: brush like crazy and ask for help. That’s what I did; I went home from my volunteering visitation and brushed and brushed. When my kiddos came home from school, I first apologized to my youngest daughter for ever doubting that she actually brushed, because she did, just like I did. But tangles happen. Second, I asked my kiddos to barricade my exit if they ever see another rat’s nest in my head again. “We all need someone to lean on” is a line from another college Monday Dance Night favorite that I DID know was a remake. And just like Love and Rockets, Club Nouveau did it best! “We be jammin’!”

Musings

I Love Boobs!

I love my boobs and boobs in general! I’m not a lesbian (not that there’s anything wrong with being a lesbian) and I love boobs! Whew! There, I said it. My naïve bubble that all women love their boobs (and boobs in general) popped a few days ago when a woman pointed out that women have different relationships with their boobs. What, not all women love their boobs or boobs in general?

I certainly have a different relationship with my stretch-marks-in-plaid tummy. It has been a source of concern for many years. I posted the below pic on Facebook to make peace with my squishy mom belly and it worked, mostly. Some days I still hold my hands at my hips pulling taut my rippled skin, much like my mom frequently lifted her skin up at her temples simulating a facelift throughout my childhood. Most days though, I forget to be obsessed about it. And on good days, I thank my tummy for a job well done (love my kiddos!) and call it beautiful.

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It turns out that upon reflection, I haven’t always loved my boobs or boobs in general. I just have a short memory, one downside to living in the moment and another side effect of a lifetime of discrediting my feelings. I started binding my boobs with bras when I was in sixth grade. As a pretty colored ribbon runner during adolescence, winning the pinks, purples, and if I was lucky white awards, I wore sports bras that bound me as tight as Mulan. Yes, it is possible for a small boobed gal like me to be even flatter. Somehow it was wrong if my boobs bounced, even when my whole body was bounding like a graceful gazelle through gorgeous grasslands. No wait, that’s my runner’s high imagery. In reality, I was the one often struggling with the beet red face, static boobs, and 80’s bloomers. Okay, everyone else was wearing the same unattractive polyester uniform bottoms.

My first boyfriend (FYI high school friends, I never dated an Eagle) told me to “get over it” when I said it felt “weird” when he touched my boobs for the first time. I spent a good portion of my life not only out of touch with my feelings, but also out of touch with my body. The “Our Bodies, Ourselves” instruction manual that my college friends handed to me along with a mirror and a flashlight helped, but could not work miracles. Truth be told, my boobs physically hurt for much of my life. PMS was painful. My boobs hurt with or without a bra. But being true to not being true to my feelings, I called my boobs “sensitive”. I did not wince when putting on clothes because my boobs were sensitive. I winced because they were painful.

My boobs no longer hurt since starting to heal with the GAPS™ (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) protocol. I hope my two daughters never experience boob pain. By eating nutrient dense, gut healing foods they stand a good chance at having happy boobs. But more than being pain free, I hope they love their boobs. My oldest daughter is rather uptight about her boobs and boobs in general. She didn’t want me leaving the house to go to a middle school track meet dressed in the below pictured shirt because it showed too much cleavage. Really? What cleavage? If I had cleavage, I might want to show it. Needless to say, when writing this blog post, I derived much joy from sharing its content with my oldest daughter and scoring an eye roll or two. Hey, don’t knock it. After parenting for almost 16 years, eliciting eye rolls from my kiddos is one of life’s simple pleasures.

boobs

I hope my daughters never bind their boobs with bras. On October 13, 2013, I removed my bra in front of a group of female holistic nutrition students (now practitioners) to encourage participation in the bra-free day of the pink movement. Not one other woman in the room set her boobs free, not even the one singing “Who let the girls out?” to the tune of “Who let the dogs out?” with me. These are knowledgeable women who understand that without a free flowing lymphatic system, toxins accumulate and lead to disease. It must be because women have different relationships with their boobs and/or because they believe in the support myth. The support myth is that boobs will sag if you don’t wear a bra. Elizabeth Vaughan, M.D., explains, “Sorry, bras might make your breasts sag more. You have ligaments in your breasts. They are designed to hold your breasts up. If you wear a bra for years – or, worse yet, wear a bra 24 hours a day for years – these ligaments will atrophy (get weaker and smaller). The good news: If you stop wearing a bra these ligaments should get stronger and you should find your breasts perkier within about three months.”

Sadly, even the head holistic nutrition instructor expressed disdain for her boobs. Women DO have different (and complicated and changing) relationships with their boobs. For all of you who have lost part or all of your boobs due to cancer, I’m so glad you are alive! As for me, I am 2 ½ months of being bra free, emphasis on free. When the lymphatic system is flowing, the spirit sours. I am happier now than ever. Of course, it’s easy to work the layered look in the cold weather months in Minnesota. I’ll let you know how I fare with layers in the summertime. Why layers? Because as much as I love my boobs and my nips, I don’t want my nips to show. Funny, eh?

I hope you will consider your relationship with your boobs and show them some love. And if you love your boobs, in the words of Sting, “Free, free, set them free!”

Note: I chose to use the word “boobs” when referring to breasts in this post because “boobs” is such a fun word. I initially started calling my boobs “the girls” at home, but this only confused my family. I constantly had to clarify when I meant boobs and when I meant my daughters. Ha!