Welcome! My health problems add craziness to my life. Here I post ideas I've tried, also questions I'm still asking. I have an electrolyte disorder. So I have crazy neuro stuff like complicated migraines, alkalosis, loosing my speech and paralysis. (including legs and hands) Little by little, foods had to go, they affected my brain and immune system. So I avoid like the plague: soy, dairy, gluten, nightshades, and try to avoid refined sugar. My body requires pink salt and electrolytes. I now use a speedy red wheelchair that I love. I've craved a simpler life, but how do you do that with crazy health stuff? I've already had a fire and flood, so I really don't value possessions. I value people and experiences. I am not compensated for any posts, just my opinions.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quiet time is essential for me.

Today I was reading a blog post that sends inspiring words to homeschooling moms. This post on Simple Home School was about Self Care For Highly Sensitive Parents. Well that's me, sensory overload takes over my life sometimes! The blogger talked about this book that really helped her called "Quiet..." by Susan Cain. book on Amazon I can't get enough quiet, so I had to see what this was about. Over 4,300 reviews, best seller book in lots of places. People like Andrew Weil and psychology professors giving it great reviews. How could I have missed this when I love books so much? Then I saw the publishing date. Oh, that was an extra bad health time for me, preparing to move to a one level house and trying to get around in a wheelchair. Glad I can learn from it now though. I watched this video today, ordered the book on kindle and have completely loved all I've read so far. I completely loved this TED talk. I found it inspiring, and had a good laugh through the camp story.

Here was a TED poll

I thought maybe I just liked to hide out more, because I was too tired with bad health stuff.  The older and more exhausted I get, I seriously dream about how life would be easier being a hermit. I guess I associated introvert with shyness and I'm not shy at all. My daughter jokes that I'm the polar opposite of social anxiety. She saw me reading reviews and watching this video, so she read me the actual definition of extrovert. Oh, well I do not fit that all! Um, guess I should have read the definition a long time ago. As far back as I can remember, I made treks to the library, carrying stacks of books home. Then I built a fort to read in. I preferred puzzles with grown ups instead of joining the kids my age playing ball. I loved to talk to friends about books, and share books with them. That was way before my health stuff got crazy, so I've really always needed and enjoyed quiet time. Quiet recharges me. Noise, flashing lights and crowds of people for hours exhausts me and makes me feel ill. I think bad health stuff makes it more noticeable. I also think that goes the other way too. If a person with depression is also an extrovert, getting out and seeing people is needed even more when the depression gets worse.

I think one of the first times I realized I was really different from other people around me was on a 7th grade field trip to Montreal, Canada. I loved seeing so many flowers in the city. I wanted to see everything, because  some of my ancestors were early citizens of Montreal and Quebec. I loved the old walls, the old buildings, the beautiful churches, the French accents, boats on the river... It was so beautiful to see and feel! A highlight of the trip was to watch a game in the Olympic stadium. I was sitting in the stadium... completely baffled. Everyone else was having a great time, so what was wrong with me? I get no pleasure from watching sports. It's so loud, so crowded, lots of fast movements, people yelling, whistles, echoes from announcements...how could anyone enjoy anything so loud I wondered? How did yelling make people happy? Or why did they yell when they were happy? How can anyone think in a complete sentence with so much noise?! People leaving trash and spilling popcorn every where, yuck...Then of course a massive headache begins. I spent the whole game watching people and their reactions, trying to make sense of it all, wishing I could walk back to the hotel room.. But I'm glad it makes other people happy. When I first got married, I told my husband I wouldn't stop him from watching sports, but I just could not watch games with him, way too much sensory overload for me. It's worked for us. Thankfully he enjoys sports but isn't obsessed with it.

 So what would I like to do if I had tons of free time? What are my favorite ways to decompress? As soon as I walk into the Library of Virginia I feel immensely happy, excited, yet peaceful! A lifelong dream for me would be something like digitizing a collection at the National Archives. Or going to really old churches in Europe to help digitize their records. Once I went to an event at the DAR hall. I had to go around just to take a peek at the library, even though it was closed. I love visiting old farms where my ancestors were from or going to various libraries and archives. I love puzzles, board games, sewing with my mom, reading books, family history, trying to learn stuff on my violin, studying old maps of forgotten cemeteries (and homesteads) seeing how they fit together, gardening, more time with my husband and scanning (digitizing) while watching a BBC Masterpiece Theater movie on my computer, ...Pretty much all stuff that completely bores or isn't exciting enough for people who thrive on excitement. But I love that stuff.

A big challenge for me is that the rest of my family needs to be around lots of people to feel better. I've known people who had to go out to get popcorn or a drink, when it was in their cupboard. I couldn't grasp that concept. Getting in the car is never fun for me, and I despise shopping. (It's a chore) It would be so much nicer to eat allergy friendly popcorn in my quiet house, with birds outside my windows. So I've discovered I can be polar opposite of a lot of friends and family, but that's OK. If I need lots of people I can hang out with my big family. I have lots of friends, but like to meet in small cozy groups. When my daughter first asked me to go to the mall, just the thought made my heart race, immediately thinking "how can I get out of this?" Some of my kids over the years felt like they would shrivel up and die if they didn't see mobs of people or the mall, while at the same time I knew I would die and need 3 days in a dark quiet room to recover. I have to mentally remind myself these are normal and pretty safe things for teens to love. I am painfully aware now, that I was a very abnormal teen.  I spent all my high school lunch time in the library, that overlooked the ocean. The librarian became a friend and put books aside for me that she knew I would like. I've never had any interest in bars, clubs or parties. My idea of fun was a walk on the beach with a few friends, sharing some chocolate. Or having a picnic at a beautiful place. Thankfully my husband doesn't get overloaded and can take the kids to big things. And its really nice that my daughter can drive herself to crazy busy places that I avoid like the plague. Then everyone keeps mostly content.

I do love the messages in the book and video. We don't want everyone to be forced to be introverted and vice versa. We each have our strengths. The world needs all kinds of people. This explains differences in how people think and feel (even physically) to better understand each other. All very helpful things for me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Finally! An effecient way to think about food

Food is supposed to be my friend. Yet, I despise it by 5PM when I'm exhausted and really truly don't want to think abt it. I'm frustrated daily, that it's almost time for dinner, I have to decide what to eat (while my brain is going into shut down mode), then see if we have ingredients for it. Fast food or take out isn't an option. I'd rather skip a meal then face all the allergic reactions for several days. But I know the rest of the family needs to eat, and I know I need to be consistent with food too. Really, whether I can walk or speak or not depends on foods and electrolyte supplements. By evening it's just all way too overwhelming to think about. Daily I think about how much easier my life would be if I could meal plan. I had the goal to just plan 2 days. That worked for awhile. But then I had days where I went to make the meal and found I was missing ingredients. Or I just couldn't stand up (or even think sitting -from bad episodes) or think of what to tell the kids to make. My brain could only sometimes plot out dinner, then fend for yourself the other two meals. But then its easy to miss multiple meals without a plan. Even a really simple plan would help, I just couldn't do it. Too many vicious cycles, for too long! My husband is amazing with food. He can think about food effortlessly, and it always tastes good. When I just feel like I'm going to cry about food, he can think up a plan and cook it. But he commutes a rather horrendously long, exhausting commute. In my opinion, food is my biggest obstacle of all my health stuff. Planning it and following through with meals. My children are great helpers. But to have a plan...

Then this epiphany moment came while reading Tsh Oxenreider's post about "3 things I'm not doing..." http://theartofsimple.net/to-not-do-2016/   I thought, "This is EXACTLY what I need!!!!"   I loved the overall idea of not making more resolutions, but rather instead rethinking your life, then simplifying. She mentioned she is using Plan To Eat (PTE), and included a picture. I immediately checked out the site. It's really truly free to test out for a month. I was an instant fan! I just gave an email address and created a password. https://www.plantoeat.com/   There's lots of great video tutorial clips.

I really can't use cookbooks. If I'm lucky, I might have one or two recipes in a book that meet all my needs. So we had a big stack of papers I kept in the kitchen cupboard. I love being paper free, but hadn't got to that point yet with food. I added the little "PTE button" to my toolbar. I found recipes, clicked the button, and immediately I had the recipe ready to save. It includes a link to where I saved it from. I also thought up recipes that we just do, without paper, so that ingredients could get on the grocery list. (Like polenta and roasted veges) We love carbonara. We make a version GF and dairy free. Corn pasta seems to work best for us. And we use Ramono or other sheep and goat cheeses. I was thrilled to see Jamie Oliver had a GF recipe like ours, except we often add fresh parsley. So I saved Jamie's recipe, (Jamie's site) added a parsley note, no need to type, yeah! Notes like "soak beans" automatically show up on the calendar the day before. I always forget that stuff. I found that on some sites with a lot of adds, it didn't copy over well, but a warning showed it didn't copy. If that happens, you just copy and paste. (There's a video abt that) I was also feeling more confident seeing several new food sites with lots of food allergy safe recipes. When I first started gluten free, I had to do a lot more mixing. Better mixes have simplified things a lot. It was great to find recipes that reflected that. I thought it was funny that my daughter explained "pizza, all mom's allergies in a box!". I actually found a pizza recipe I can make, while the rest of the family can eat regular pizza. http://minimalistbaker.com/goat-cheese-caramelized-onion-pizza/ I also found a Chinese dumpling recipe, gluten free. So excited to try that. I miss dumplings of all kids more than anything since going gluten free. So I'm really starting to feel optimistic and happy about food now!

I spent a few days doing "start up" stuff of finding recipes, basically going digital. I love efficiency. In two minutes I planned two weeks of meals, paper free. I just dragged and dropped on the calendar. Click on carbonara picture, drop it to Thursday night dinner slot. So easy! I also found I could copy a link, into my family Google calendar, and now there's a feed going straight from PTE to my calendar! I use Android. So I logged in through the browser, and there it is on the site. Planner, ingredients list, including a staples list. So if my husband is on his way home from work and stops at the grocery store, he can look at his phone and see what food is needed today, or 7 days, or two weeks, etc. Multiple options. I think the mobile version is good visually and with efficiency. The subscription is very nominal. There's no ads on the site, which I also like. I find all this totally worth that cost to have all my crazy food needs addressed. It's easier to plan healthy meals. And I only need to get what's on the list, instead of a cartfull because I hadn't decided on food yet. Hooray!! I'm am really excited about this better solution to my challenges.

(PS. I get no compensation for this. This is just a really nerdy happy customer.)