06 September 2012

thankfulness thursday / why i took a break

Today I'm linking up with my friend Ashley, author of Domestic Fashionista, who had this wonderful idea to practice thankfulness in order to be more thankful and happy. It's happening every Thursday until Thanksgiving, so get in on it! What are you thankful for? Plenty, I'm sure, so add your voice.

A few weeks ago, I posted that I was taking a little break from blogging in order to be less tempted at every turn to buy more stuff, which is an occupational hazard of writing a home blog (and a lot of you agreed with me!). While it's certainly true that I've been feeling the need for a break from the home blog part of things, that's only part of the story. After all, this is also a food blog, an entertaining blog and a DIY/crafts blog.

The truth is that I needed a break from having a public self. (Now, having actually typed that out, it feels a bit dramatic, but it's true.)

I wrote a few months ago about the discovery that I have to be gluten-free for the rest of my life. I'm generally a pretty matter-of-fact person, and tend to meet challenges head-on. So at first I thought, "No problem. I'll just figure this out." But soon I realized that giving up such a fundamental part of the American diet is fraught with complex emotions. And I think I've been in a type of mourning.

I love food, and food is certainly important to me. But it's really not just that. It's not just knowing that I'll never again get to treat myself with a Dunkin Donuts Boston creme donut, or that cookies and creme ice cream is permanently off the menu. It's not giving up daily sandwiches since I was never much of a sandwich person anyway.

Food is social, food is tradition, and I've never been more aware of that fact than I am now.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year. I love the planning, the cooking, the hosting, the tradition. All of it revolves around food, around doing things a certain way, and all of that has to change now. We also used to love going out to eat, but now I'm so hesitant to even set foot in a restaurant after having learned the hard way how sick I can get from mere cross-contamination in a restaurant kitchen. We're talking about something as small as toasting gluten-free bread in the same toaster as regular bread. There are still times when I have to eat restaurant food, especially when traveling, but a major part of the joy is gone for me, at least for now.

On one hand, yeah, whatever. I have to eat different foods. Big deal. On the other hand, it's a major life shake-up, and one that's forcing me to rethink things every day and constantly mourn the traditions, family recipes and ways of entertaining that are no longer a part of my existence.

But here's the thing: I'm still super grateful. (I knew I'd get back around to thankfulness at some point here...)

Despite how tough the transition has been for me, even when I haven't wanted to admit it, I still wake up every day so thankful that I've finally figured it out. After 20 years of mysterious, seemingly disconnected symptoms, many of which doctors refused to acknowledge, I finally have the answer that I've been seeking. And I can't even express how grateful I am that my solution is truly a solution, not just treating the symptoms. And it's drug-free! Amazing.

My health still isn't perfect, but I feel a thousand times better than I used to, and I'm on my way to total healing. I will tell you, though, that going gluten-free is not a great weight loss plan.

Recently a woman I know was diagnosed with breast cancer. A tiny stage 1 lump that had shown up in several mammograms and didn't appear to be growing, but her doctor decided it warranted a biopsy, and it turned out to be malignant. Her reaction was, "Why me?" I wonder what my reaction in the same circumstance would be. With total sympathy for her, and how tough it must be to get that diagnosis, I can't help but think that I'd feel really fortunate to have caught it that early, and to know that it's completely treatable. 

We don't often get clear answers when it comes to our health, and we don't always get them quickly. But when we do get them, it's worth being thankful. Real answers -- not just bandaids and drugs to mask the symptoms -- are few and far between in life, and when we have them, the real healing begins.

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  1. YAY! You're back :) I have been wondering how the gluten free diet was going. I'm sorry to hear it's so tough :( Food is so important to me too and it's hard for me to image going through what you're going through.

    I recently was diagnosed with rosacea, and while in the grand scheme of things it's not a huge deal, and certainly not life-threatening in any way, I'm still having a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that yoga and spin classes all of the sudden make my face super angry! Not to mention sun, wind, cold, hot tubs, wine/beer, spicy food, hot cocoa, soup...to me it seems like freaking everything! Especially everything associated with the joys of mountain living. Just out of the blue. But compared to what you're going through, mine is just superficial and I shouldn't be so caught up in it. Arghh.

    Thanks for your post :)

    1. There is always someone with worse problems, but that doesn't mean we aren't allowed to struggle with our own. Rosacea has to be a tough diagnosis to get, especially in the mountains! Sorry to hear that. I would definitely frustrated if all of those foods and activities -- especially the mountain ones! -- aggravated my skin so much!

      This will probably sound completely wacky, but have you tried magnesium supplements? They seem to have a really positive effect on anything inflammation-related, and it's just really calming overall. May be worth a shot...

    2. I will look into magnesium! I've been reading about anti imflammatory diets...I'm hoping I can make some changes with some things, and hopefully keep the others LOL. Thanks for the tip!

  2. This is my first time to your blog but I love your post. Gluten free stuff seems to be popping up all over the place and I am with you I would mourn some of my favorite things too but how wonderful that you have a solution that is drug free. Good luck on your journey to gluten free and if I see any fabulous recipes I will be sure to pass them along.

    1. Welcome! Thanks for reading and commenting! I would LOVE to see any recipes that you think are worth sharing. :-)

  3. Somehow getting to thankfulness we have to address the difficulty in life to turn it around and choose to be thankful instead of letting it take hold of our joy. I have felt this every week since starting TT. I start writing and I think, I thought I am supposed to be thankful! But it usually turns around! Or I have to start over from scratch! ;)

    My mother in law has recently had to go gluten free as well and she has shared some of those same hardships. To get to a point in life where you are confident in your cooking and have grown to learn certain family staples...and then to have to start all over! Sounds like a tiring task to me!

    Today I went to two doctor's appointments. The first was taking my dad to get some dental surgery done...because he put off taking care of some health issues that have made things even worse. And then to an appointment with Brent to look at some questionable moles that ended up being nothing...but still cost us $80 just for the appointment. And I think of what you said and cannot help but be thankful that it is better to find and search these things out sooner than later. My dad is paying that price and I am learning that I will not let that habit continue on starting with Brent and I.

    Thank you for sharing and linking up today! Glad to have you back!

  4. Tanja, I'm so glad you're back! I really enjoy your writing. In fact, I was so moved by your post announcing your break, that it inspired me to write one on happiness. I shared your link in this post.
    Here it is in case you're interested: http://gwenmossblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/on-happiness-and-waiting-for-things-you.html
    Leslie (aka Gwen Moss blog)

  5. I've been on vacation so am only just seeing this... Very glad you're back. I can only begin to imagine the huge shake-up that gluten-free living necessitates: if it were me in your shoes, I doubt I'd deal with it so well.


Thanks for taking a moment to leave a note! I would love if you would leave your email address so I can write you back! But no pressure. :-) (No anonymous posts, please.) xoxo, tanja

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