I spend a lot of my free time reading books or web material, listening to recordings, or watching Ted Talks and videos about the shifting nature of our world. There is so much science-based, thoughtful information out there about how happiness, work, business and fulfillment are all constructed a bit differently than we have been lead to believe.
We all want all of this, right? But we also want security, the avoidance of discomfort and the unknown, and to not look foolish. How do we get from where things feel safe and familiar but lacking to happy and fulfilled?
It’s all about accepting the fact that personal growth feels kind of yucky. But in knowing that it’s supposed to feel un-good helps it feel better. Sort of like when I realized that my crazed state of late had plenty to do with hormonal swings and not actual insanity. Just knowing it was a menopause thing made it that much better. The hot flashes are still unpleasant, but I know they won’t kill me.
Likewise, for those of us who have gotten a celiac disease diagnosis, we have what I affectionately call “The Year of Freaking Out.” We think that the huge dietary shift to gluten-free will end life as we know it. We hate it at first. Then we adapt. We find our new normal. Some of us go so far as to embrace it and turn it into our Day Job. (Okay, that was me.) With the right mindset, we can turn crisis into opportunity.
When I first started blogging, I was painfully self-conscious about it. The benefits outweighed the discomfort, so I kept at it. It got comfortable. I kept at it and made it a real “thing.” So now, What’s next?
New things come along that demand we leave our comfort zone. Sometimes these things will come out of left field. Sometimes they are largely of our own making. Frequently, others can see them coming at us when we are oblivious. Doesn't matter. They come nevertheless. And it's natural to resist. Overcoming the resistance and finding the gift is the key.
For me, I know that sometimes I’m the one to decide that I need to be the change I need to see in my world. My happiness is worth it. It’s really not about getting there after all. It’s about the journey. Seth Godin thinks so too.
It was a whirlwind trip to Orlando for a conference. The Marriott World Center is a city unto itself -- one of those places where one can have a completely encapsulated stay and never set foot off the property, which I didn't.
In the shadows of the Disney empire, I'm sure they can't help but get swept up in the swirling vortex of epic customer service provided by the happiest place on earth. This was to my extreme advantage. I called the day I was to arrive to see what they could do about a safe gluten-free vegetarian box lunch the next day. I was connected with Senior Catering Manager Chris Greer, who was funny and engaging and assured me that they are seasoned pros at accommodating requests such as mine.
First though I needed to navigate Friday dinner. There are, like, four restaurants at this place, plus a food court. The sports bar, called High Velocity, was the only one that didn't have a significant wait time. I was skeptical but knew that I had food I'd brought from home in the fridge in my room if it got too dicy. It turned out to be no problem. I had the veggie wrap fillings on gluten-free bread, which might have been Rudi's or Udi's, which aren't the best with moist fillings. The combo was a little bit of a miss and I wish I'd gone with a salad. The server was very knowledgable and volunteered that fries were safe -- dedicated fryer! -- so I had some. It's been awhile since I had real fries, so that was a treat. and made up for the sandwich.
Breakfast was comprised of food I'd packed in -- deviled eggs and roasted beets, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and potatoes. Yum.
Then the real test: Conference boxed lunch. Aside from labeling my meal "Chair" instead of Claire, which I thought was pretty funny, I was not dissappointed. I had a veggie wrap -- my guess is that it was a Rudi's GF tortilla, but can't be sure. This worked much better than the sandwich the night before. Apple, Lay's Potato Chips and a pack of Enjoy Life double chocolate cookies. Nothing to not like.
Then Saturday dinner. We'd made reservations at Mikado Japanese Restaurant. This is one of those places where the chef cooks at your table, flipping and juggling spatulas, knives, shrimp tails, whatever. the place was awash in soy sauce. Frankly, it didn't look promising. I did my usual patter with our server: "I have celiac disease, and I need a super strict gluten-free diet or I will get very ill. Do you have a gluten-free menu?" Like the sports bar, they don't have a dedicated gluten-free menu, but she assured me they could handle my needs.
Next thing I know, Chef Jason was at my elbow, talking me through it, Noting their use of tamari sauce and offering to prepare my tofu, veggies & fried rice in the kitchen away from the sea of soy sauce at the table. I said yes.
Like the other guests in my party, I appreciated the show provided by the chef at our table. He made an impressive-looking volcano out of onions stacked conically. He bantered. He flipped his utensils. He served everyone. My food arrived a little after. I used the wait time to educate my dining companions about celiac disease. My dinner arrived and was hot, tasty and filling. I couldn't have asked for better.
Overall, I felt well taken care of and was impressed by the overall knowledge that the food service staff possessed. I have no hesitation recommending the Marriott World Center to gluten-free travelers.
Change... It's always something
I've been doing a lot of writing, but mostly now I do it for my work at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. We produce a lot of information, much for the website www.celiaccentral.org, and lots for other publications and uses. I really enjoy it! I try to cross list my "first person" stuff here. For example, in this Erewhon Buckwheat and Hemp Cereal Hot Products post I harken back to the Wheaties of my childhood. It's not the same as posting here, but still satisfying.
Since I'm doing for my Day Job what I once was striving to do for my extra-curricular work, I've been waiting for inspiration about how to move forward here. I was letting things simmer, but then my modest Happy Healthy Gluten-Free Facebook page started taking off with no real push from me. I was very pleased though. Clearly it meant that somehow, somewhere, people were finding me and appreciating my stories enough to click the Like button.
Buoyed, I decided to get back to blogging. So, today, if I have time, I'll post this AND my recipe for Crispy Brown Rice Horny Toads. My thoughtful essays usually don't get much traffic. The recipes always do. Philosophical musings can be a bit in the "navel gazing" category, after all.
My big light bulb of late is that for me, and maybe for everyone, I react to all change that is out of my control in the same way: Denial, Anger, Bargaining. Depression and Acceptance. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Kubler Ross beat me to actually writing down the model and getting all the credit. And you probably know that she was all about grief and loss in the face of death and dying. In fact, her big book was called On Death and Dying. I'm talking about much smaller stuff though.
I often refer to a person's first year with a celiac disease diagnosis as the "Year of Freaking Out." It's that time when you have to reorient your whole world around something you do 3, 4, 5 times a day -- eating. Life is now significantly different than you'd thought it would be. Mostly it's better because you are getting healthier, but at first it seems like a terrible life sentence. Then you sort of go through the Kubler-Ross stages and a new normal emerges and you manage, mostly okay, most of the time.
I've now gotten my first-hand introduction to menopause. I know it's rather pedestrian to mention. It's hardly a unique situation. I know I'll survive it. But I am strenuously resisting it! The stupidist thing is that menopause jacks up your hormones in such a weird way that you think that the anxiety attack you are having is somehow a reasonable thing to have going on inside, and dang it, it's just not. With everything in my life actually going exceptionally well, I'm totally pissed off that I can't enjoy it more because of my wacky hormones. I do have to say that this past year post-hysterectomy-but-with-ovaries has been downright awesome. No period and no menopause? I'm just a little jealous of the males of our species right now.
The holistic remedy for this, as with most things, include the novel ideas of exercise, good nutrition, drinking enough water, and mindfulness/meditation. Yeah, yeah. Next you'll tell me that spending time in nature, taking baths, drinking herbal tea and petting the dog will help too. Oh wait. Those things are actually pretty awesome. It's my hormones telling me that they suck! I do need to visit my GP to figure out what the latest lore on HRT is, but generally I'm disinclined if I can manage without.
I'm open to suggestions. What's worked for you or a loved one?