Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kids Benefiting From My Diet

Last night I was preparing my Body Ecology Diet dinner of soaked and cooked red quinoa mixed with veggies - broccoli, onion, kale, yellow pepper, carrots, garlic and Herbamare seasoning. Sophia said, "Mmmm....I liked when you made that the other night and gave us some." Yay! I love when what I am doing to improve my health also affects the health of my children. Both kids have been eating more salads and Alexander has tried everything I have eaten. Some things he has liked and others he didn't care for. They have always been good eaters but reducing sugar and adding more veggies can never hurt.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Haunted House

For several years now Sophia has wanted to visit a haunted house. Last year, when she was ten years old we decided to attend our park district's haunted house as a family. It was fun but the "hauntings" were a little lame. This year she was ready for the real thing. We spent some time online reading reviews and deciding on which house to attend. Last night was our big night.

Sophia was so excited and happy that I was going to be the one going with her. With my flare-up last week, I had warned her that Steve might be taking her instead of me, which she was fine with, but preferred to do this with me. When I woke up Sunday morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had slept almost through the entire night and and the pain and stiffness in my knee, shoulders, and fingers was reduced. As Steve, Alexander, and Sophia woke up they each commented on how much better I looked. I was even able to take a short walk with Izzy and Sophia. Yippeee for me!!!!

Experiencing new things with Sophia is one of the highlights of my life. "Living in the moment" comes naturally for her and I didn't want to miss this opportunity with her. I know that in the next few years many of these first time experiences will be happening with her peers and it was important for me to have this fun evening with her. Oh, and it was fun.

We arrived about 15 minutes before the haunted house opened and still waited in line for a while. However, the wait was fun. Actors dressed as different characters were "haunting" those of us waiting in line and they had lots of fun with Sophia. At one point in line she said, "Maybe we shouldn't do this." I told her that was fine even though I knew she would do it.

Finally our time came to enter the "HAUNTED BASEMENT". We SCREAMED and SCREAMED and SCREAMED some more. Together we held onto each other throughout the whole experience. It was wonderful! As we exited, it was raining. What a perfect way to complete the evening. The entire way home we talked about how scared we were and how much fun we had. Sophia said, "This would be really fun to do with a group of friends." She is right. It would be fun to do with a group of friends and I hope that next year she gets that experience too, but for this year, I am glad it was me. Before heading off to bed she gave me the biggest hug ever and told me how happy she was that we went together. I am happy too.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thank You Rheumatoid Arthritis

I teach a three hour class on Tuesday/Thursday mornings, head home, and go back again in the evening for another three hour class. Mornings are new to me this semester so I was lucky last week when my body began flaring up that we were on a week long break to do placement testing and I could just rest. But, I started back yesterday morning with a body that is still in a flare-up. Since mornings tend to be the worse, I had a difficult time hiding my flare-up as I walked into the community college and to my classroom. I was stopped by many teachers and my boss who all genuinely wanted to know what was wrong. I have never had to explain my RA to so many people in one day. Usually I can hide it or just say I am having some knee problems and move on. Yesterday people wanted an education. I briefly explained to several people my journey from medications to no medications. Surprisingly, they all nodded in agreement to my explanation of why I am off drugs and following an alternative path. But also surprisingly were the questions they had about the disease. Why does this happen to young people? (He-he, I am still considered young!) What can you do to cure it? What set it off initially? You can go into remission? They honestly wanted to know the answers and I could see the sympathy they felt for me. (I am still not comfortable with sympathy but I know it comes from caring hearts that will be sending me healing thoughts and I am not too proud to accept those.)

I left work yesterday morning feeling vulnerable that my body had forced me to verbally share my story with so many people in one day. I also felt proud of myself because I didn't cry and I let each person know that although I am experiencing a rough patch right now, that I also have good days. As I was sharing this positive piece of information, I believed it and visualizations of me bike riding even came to my mind as I was talking. How amazing is that?

By evening I was actually feeling worse than I did that morning. My long morning had worn me out and my body was feeling it. I had 16 students arrive last night. We did our normal introductions and I learned each person's name (I will remain known as "teacher" for the next eight weeks even though I ask them to call me Cathy) as well as some personal stories about each person. With each new class I always know from the first night whether there will be a strong connection or not. I felt it with this class and decided for the first time ever to publicly share with a group that I have a disease known as rheumatoid arthritis. I shared with them that there may be nights I arrive to class with a limp, there may be nights I struggle to write on the board, there might be nights I ask for help and there might be nights I feel absolutely wonderful. As I was talking, I had to turn once to the board to choke back the tears, but I did it. I didn't plan to share this information, but decided it needed to be shared. I am proud of myself. I accomplished a lot yesterday. I shared a part of me that I like to keep hidden, a part of me that is very vulnerable. That is hard. But, rheumatoid arthritis is not all bad. It has been given to me as a gift to learn about myself and to grow as a person. Yesterday was a growing experience for me. Thank you rheumatoid arthritis!

Fermentation. Yummy, Yummy for Your Body!

One of The Body Ecology Diet's Superfoods is fermented veggies. According to the book, The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates, raw cultured veggies have been around for thousands of years and provide many good things for our bodies:
~They are rich in lactobacilli and enzymes, alkaline forming and loaded with vitamins.
~They reestablish a healthy inner ecosystem.
~They improve digestion.
~Increase longevity.
~Control cravings.
~They are cleansing.

When I first took on fermenting veggies, I felt it was going to be a huge chore. Not so! It does require some time cutting veggies, but overall doesn't take much time, especially when you consider that you have several jars of veggies ready to eat anytime. Just remember not to heat the fermented veggies because the heat will kill the valuable bacteria and enzymes brought out in the fermentation process.

My last batch of veggies that are fermenting now look so pretty with all their colors. I added green and purple cabbage, kale, ginger, daikon radish, green onions and carrots. That is what is fun about this, you can be as creative as you like. There are specific recipes that can be used or you can create your own.

I like the fermented veggies best in a salad. I just add 1/2 cup or so to a regular salad and it tastes delicious. I also wrap them in nori for a snack. I do have to admit that it did take my taste palate an entire jar full of the veggies before it was ready to accept this new taste. I have never been exposed to fermented veggies in the past, but they do grow on you so don't give up. The benefits to your body are worth it!

Here is a video by the author of Wild Fermentation showing how simple it really is to create your own fermented veggies.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hard Days

My body is going through a huge cleansing and healing process and in the mean time, my body feels like crap. Donna Gates, the author of The Body Ecology Diet, compares our body to cleaning our house. Once we start a big cleaning project in our house, everything looks worse than when we started as we pull things out of closets and drawers and move around dust. Once the chaos is over and everything finds its rightful place again, the house looks and feels so much better. I have been so good on this diet and all I can do it remind myself over and over that right now it is experiencing the worst part of the clean-up and once my digestive tract and liver are working to the best of their ability again that I will experience a body that not only looks good but also feels good.

I am not sure how others handle a flare-up but for me I become withdrawn. I enjoy my family around me but other than that, I need to be alone. Sometimes, like today, it is because I fear that I will break down in tears if I talk to others, sometimes it is because the energy used to get up and move around takes everything I have to give and then of course there is just my own personality which is somewhat quiet anyhow. My friend who is studying to be a naturopath is taking a homeopathy class right now. I have used a lot of homeopathy in my RA adventures, some that have worked miracles and others that didn't do so much. She keeps asking me questions trying to find a remedy that might work for my current circumstances. One of the recent questions was whether or not I like people around when I am experiencing a flare-up. From this one question more followed that were more detailed. These questions seemed to justify how I often feel because when I am in a flare-up, I know I seem distance and maybe a little disinterested in friends and acquintances, but it isn't so. I just need to save my energy for my family and me. When we have a busy day, like today, I know that if I overuse my energy there will not be any left to make dinner, read with my son, talk with my husband or even listen attentively to my daughter. I can't risk that anymore than I have to.

Today is hard. I feel emotional. I feel lots of pain. I feel frustration and I feel overwhelmed. However, another part of me, the deep down inside part believes so strongly in my body and its ability to heal that it can't give up. I know I have to continue trusting that the foods I eat are doing wonderful things within my body. I have to continue reminding my brain that it is healing. I have to continue doing what I believe in and that is healing. Today that healing is just coming with lots of tears. But tears are a way of releasing toxins so maybe that is a good thing, right?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Top Ten Perks to Being Bedridden

My bed and I have become quite good friends since Thursday when my body went into a flare-up it has not experienced in some time. Every joint was attacked and attacked hard. But, that doesn't mean my life came to an end. No way! Being bedridden does not have to be an awful experience, especially if you can ignore the smell coming from your body and the dishes piling up around you. (I have been quite content ignoring them but Sophia mentioned last night that I might want to shower today.)

Top Ten Perks to Being Bedridden:
1. My puppy Izzy seems quite content snuggled up next to me protecting me. She has even let me sleep in a bit in the morning.
2. It gives me a chance to catch up on all the TV shows I recorded but never watched.
3. Extra reading time.
4. Sophia always spends her time next to me which is the biggest reward of being bedridden.
5. I get out of cleaning the kitchen.
6. I am able to pat myself on the back for having prepared foods on my diet ahead of time so I could continue to eat foods that will nourish me.
7. I save water because I continue to wear the same clothes day after day.
8. I have plenty of time to explore all of my emotions.
9. With only a little asking, I can have food and drink brought to me around the clock.
10. Since both of our bathrooms require taking stairs if on the main level, I don't have to worry about any stairs while hanging out in my bed all day.

Down time can be good and I obviously needed it, but today the sun is shining and my flare-up seems to be dwindling. I feel optimistic that my bedridden days will soon be over, that my body had time to cleanse, and that it will soon be moving ahead to the next step of healing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

42 Years Old Today!

Today is my 42nd birthday!!!!! With each birthday I feel lucky to be me. I am fortunate to have great friendships, a wonderful family, two children that I adore, a dog that makes me smile and a husband that still makes me as happy as the day I met him.

My life has been fairly mellow compared to many but I thought it would be fun to look at what it has held for me.

I am number four out of six children.
I grew up Catholic.
My godmother was an elderly woman named Agnes who I absolutely loved.
My older siblings were my role models.
My mom volunteered bussed us to a school outside of our neighborhood for elementary school.
I reached my full height by the time I was in third grade.
My grandparents owned a huge garden and treated us kids like real people. To this day I thank them for that experience.
My first job was at 12 years old. I worked in a Stretch-N-Sew store.
I learned to drive at 14 with my dad. I loved those early Sunday mornings together.
The first time I got drunk I walked into the house without shoes on a snowy night.
I worked at Baskin Robbins and JCPenney through high school.
I don't believe I gave my parents much grief growing up. Really!
I didn't enjoy high school. I was ready to start working.
I graduated half way through my senior year and starting working.
I graduated with my BS in Education in four years from a small Catholic college.
I am still in touch with one of my professors.
I went to watch my sister Stacey skydive and ended up going myself and then calling Steve so he could do it too.
My house has been broken into once (we walked in on them) and my car once.
I once ran the Turkey Trot with my sister and came in the top three for my age. I think I was only 23.
I have been married longer than I have been single.
I had two c-sections. (The birth can still be beautiful!)
I nursed for eight years.
I practice attachment parenting.
With each year I am a parent and wife, I appreciate my mom that much more.
I worked in a doctor's office through college.
I worked in new homes for about two years. It wasn't my cup of tea but allowed me to make some extra money knowing Steve was home with the kids.
I taught 5th grade for five years and ESL to kids for two years.
I have taught ESL to adults for the last eight years but consider myself a stay at home mom.
Steve brought flowers to my work once and left them in the car for me. I didn't even know he was there.
When we first started dating, my car broke down and Steve let me take his car. He rode the bus carrying his guitar and amp.
When picking me up, Steve has never once been late.
For our 15th anniversary Steve bought me a necklace and earrings. I lost one of the earrings but I wear the necklace almost daily.
I am an introvert and need lots of alone time.
I love reading although I consider myself a poor reader.
Being a mother is the thing I am most proud of doing.
I love nights when we are all home snuggled up watching TV together.
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2004.
I have been gluten free/dairy free since the end of 2004.
I have experienced remission and plan to experience it again.
I do believe our bodies can heal.
I have been off all medications since February, 2008.
I am a spiritual, yet not religious person.
I love discussing unschooling, health, children, relationships, etc but don't like confrontations.
I tend to feel I need to "save" the underdog which often causes me to be in confrontations.
I like being me.

Thank you each for being a part of my life. Thanks to my friends and siblings who make me laugh and remind me of who I am. Thanks to my parents for giving me life, for loving me for so many years, and giving me the values as a child that have remained with me to this day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Family Blog

Last November I decided to take my love of blogging one step further and create a family blog for my extended family. We decided to keep it private, which at first I didn't think was necessary, but now kind of like. Each one of us is a contributor. On the blog we keep an updated list of birthdays and honor each person on their special day. We can also find this year's Christmas exchange list on the blog. The blog is the place to go for addresses and phone numbers. We have a large family: six of us originally with now 22 grandchildren and many great grandchildren so keeping up with birthdays, addresses, etc can be a challenge.

This morning I was looking through the blog and it just felt beautiful to look at all the stories and pictures that have been shared in the last year. Recently a photo of a sonogram was put on the blog by my niece who has been waiting to be a momma for a long time and a picture of Caesar, my sister's ten year old lab that died over the weekend. Many of the photos will be shared on Facebook and on personal blogs, but it isn't the same as having all the photos and stories of our extended family in one place. It reminds me of a photo album of our complete family.

It will be fun to look back through our blog in another year and see where my nieces and nephews, my brothers and sisters, my parents, and my myself have been over the year. It will be enjoyable to see new babies, new homes, vacations, sports, and more. And unfortunately, I am sure it will be a place to share heartaches. Thanks to each of my family members for contributing to the blog. We are scattered in our different places but our connection remains strong.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips

The other day on Facebook I entered into a conversation my sister Sherry posted on pumpkin muffins. I mentioned I have a really good recipe for gluten free muffins that are loved by everyone - gluten free or not! It was asked that I share the recipe here. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
¾ cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ cup maple syrup or honey
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup cooking oil
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon allspice
¾ cup brown rice flour
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
½ cup potato starch (I use quinoa flour)
½ cup raisins (I use chocolate chips)
1/3 cup tapioca flour Cooking spray or paper liners

Preheat oven to 350. Spray standard 12-muffin pan with cooking spray/oil or paper liners. Combine pumpkin, maple syrup, molasses, oil, egg and vinegar in large mixing bowl. Beat on low until very, very smooth – about 1 minute.

Combine remaining ingredients (except nuts and raisins or chocolate chips) and add to pumpkin mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened. Stir in nuts and raisins/chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared muffin pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Serves 12

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Positive Energy from Gifts

When I initially entered the blogger world my own world seemed to be constantly changing and I wanted a place to share those changes without bombarding my family and friends through emails and phone calls. What I never imagined when I started blogging was that I would find unbelievable support and friendship from fellow bloggers. Since blogging I have found several blogger friends that I email with on a regular basis and feel a strong connection with their lives even though we have never personally met.

Recently I received a package from one of those blogger friends. Inside were four beautiful scarves - one for each of my family members and myself as well as a pair of fingerless knitted gloves. My body becomes painfully cold very easily, especially my hands, wrists and feet. Receiving gifts that warm my body are gifts that I cherish and warm my heart each time I put them one on because I know my blogger friend truly understands how cold feels to my body.

We are each enjoying our scarves. Sophia likes hers so much that she has even tried to convince Alexander to give up his so she has another color to add to her wardrobe! My mittens are kept in my purse so I can pull them out on walks, while shopping, when leaving work, on cold mornings at home or whenever I need them. What I really like is that since they are fingerless, I can wear them while shopping since walking in the freezer section can cause pain to my hands and I can even leave them on while paying! Also, if the house is cold I can wear them and type!

Thank you to my blogger friend (not sure if this friend wants to be named) for thinking of my family and me. Each time I put on my scarf (which I have had numerous positive comments) or my mittens, I feel a positive energy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

People Are Nice

People really are nice. Yesterday I had two examples of people's niceness that made me feel good inside.

First, I entered my classroom at 8:30am greeted by a reusable cloth bag filled with a cup of tea and two apple pies from McDonald's. One of my students wanted to do something special for me. It was so sweet, especially since she remembered I drink tea and not coffee. One part of me felt this overwhelming feeling of graciousness to Marina for thinking about me on this cold morning and another part of me went into a complete panic - I couldn't eat anything she brought. Not only have we boycotted McDonald's for years but this did not fit into my diet at all and I have done so well sticking to only the foods on my list. I knew I couldn't eat it but needed to make it look as if I was. I gave Marina a big hug and let her know that I appreciated her thinking of me. The good feeling I felt yesterday that someone took the time to think of me stayed with me all day yesterday and is still with me today.

Second, last night at work our students had to fill out evaluations of their teachers so I switched classrooms with another teacher to do the evaluations. On my way out a young gal asked me if I color my hair. At first I thought, "Okay, here comes the comment about the gray highlights." But as we talked more I could tell she genuinely liked the color of my hair. Wow! I left her classroom and headed to break. While in the restroom I looked at myself and thought, "Your hair does look pretty good." As many of you know I stopped coloring my hair a while back and have been very pleased with the results!

Body Ecology Diet

I have completed an entire month of the Body Ecology Diet! I read Donna Gates book a few years ago and felt like it was too much for me and returned the book to the library. Over the last few years the diet has come back to me several times and I finally felt like I needed to listen to this message that was coming to me and research it again. When I read through the book this time it made perfect sense to me. The time had come where I felt open minded to trying this diet and seeing what it would do for me.

~In the last month I have learned to ferment and eat fermented vegetables. It isn't as difficult as I imagined. As long as I keep on a regular schedule of preparing the veggies, my one hour investment of chopping will provide several weeks worth of fermented veggies ready to eat! I like knowing that the veggies I am eating are full of probiotics that are working towards repairing my digestive system and creating a new environment balanced out with good bacteria.

~My favorite part of the day is drinking coconut water kefir. Together Alexander and I cut the coconuts, drain the juice and begin the fermentation process of the water. When it is ready to drink I add either unsweetened cranberry juice/black currant juice or lemon juice and a little stevia. Delicious! This drink helps to break down my foods and allow them to digest easier.

~I have made some wonderful soups that I enjoy for breakfast or anytime I need a little snack.

~This is a gluten free diet which I have been following for the last four and half years but this is more restrictive. I am only allowed amarath, millet, quinoa and buckwheat preferably in the whole grain rather than flour. So, I am experimenting with some new recipes. One night I made Buckwheat Croquettes and Alexander LOVED them. Only, he felt bad for eating my food. No problem. I am more than happy to share.

~I making my own salad dressing which uses olive oil, dulce, apple cider vinegar and a little lemon juice - all of which continue the process of breaking down my foods and making them easier to digest.

~Best of all as I prepare my foods I think of how each food is healing my complete body. I have been able to resist temptations because I visualize the tempting food as an invader that is trying to harm my body and must be saved by the foods on my list.

How Am I Feeling?
I would like to say that my joint pain is gone but it is not. In The Body Ecology Diet book Donna Gates reminds us often that healing is a slow process and there are many layers to healing. So, I am not discouraged because I know in my heart that healing is happening and I am seeing it is other areas. Within the first week of the diet a sensitive tooth I have had for the last two years is no longer sensitive. This diet allows for no sugar at all in the beginning phase - including fruit. That could be helping my sensitive tooth. A cyst I have on my wrist has decreased in size and the bloating I have been experiencing for some time is gone. Plus, I have lost about seven pounds. I am not really looking for anymore weight loss but Donna Gates did share that as the toxins are eliminated from our bodies, we will lose weight. In the last few days I have had a small reduction in swelling of my knee. This is great news for me especially since the weather in Chicago has been rainy and cold.

I am seeing changes happen and remind myself often that we are like onions with several layers. It took us years and years to add on the layers that finally contributed to our chronic disease and it will take work to get those layers off. But with each layer we are one step closer to being free of chronic disease and free of future health problems. Thanks to everyone that keeps motivating me each and everyday, especially Steve, Alexander and Sophia who praise my efforts and make adjustments in their own eating habits to help me. Thanks to my sister Stacey who calls every few days just to see how I am doing. She motivates me, listens to me and encourages me more than she will every know. And to one of my best friends, Olif, who receives my daily emails sharing my ups and downs. Also, thanks to each of my blogger friends who daily provide posts that make me laugh or give me new things to think about. I have a lot of support surrounding me and because of this, I feel strong continuing my diet and my journey. I feel very optimistic and very much in control of my own health. I like that feeling.

The Gluten Free 'Dish'

My good friend Debbie at The Gluten Free Dish has been nominated by Dr. Geoffrey W. Rutledge MD, PhD to be a part of Wellshere Health Bloggers Network. Check out her site which is full of great gluten free recipes as well as heart felt information about healthy living. Then, if you like what you see, vote for her at Wellspere Health Bloggers Network.

Also, be sure to check out her Kid Friendly Gluten and Dairy Free Breakfast Casserole. It is made with sweet potatoes and is absolutely delicious. I think this might have been the recipe that created the friendship I have with Debbie who has been a wonderful friend along my rheumatoid arthritis journey this last year. Thanks Debbie. You are a very special person.