Cranberries and Valentines

Cranberries and Valentines

When I created a vision board in January 2020, I had no idea that my wish for “more time together at home” would break the world. None of us gathered in that January vision board workshop envisioned the year we just had. Yet I have to laugh when I look at all the things I wanted that I did indeed make manifest this past year:

  • more time as a couple … CHECK
  • a clean and organized home (okay, not 100% but I certainly had the time for it) … CHECK
  • guest room ready for guests … CHECK

What about my broader self-development goals? A key one for last year was to “embrace my power,” symbolized by the quote “It doesn’t get easier; you get stronger.” Well, last year certainly didn’t get easier; it got more like a horror movie when we just can resist going down to the basement. But I did get stronger.

Strong enough to know when I needed help, and ask for it.

Strong enough to reach out to others who needed help, and give without worry that it wouldn’t be enough.

Strong enough to know when to shut it all off and go for a walk. And strong enough to face the realities of what was happening without breaking.

It’s been tough, no doubt. And now … we are coming up on Valentines Day. What does Valentines Day, romance, couplehood, look like this year?

How do we celebrate being together after the year we’ve had … tripping over each other as we shared spaced without respite, creating a new dance that aimed to give space where we could, without drifting too far from each other … carving out those precious moments and spareness of aloneness, without hurting each other … navigating the mountains of news, the strong differences of opinion, the social upheaval, political chaos, the pandemic, the election, the ongoing aftermath of it all?

Dare we ask each other to Be My Valentine?

If we do, it must be done authentically and honestly, acknowledging the year we had while knowing this too shall pass.

I’ll most likely bake something; chocolate cranberry scones seem just right. And I’ll linger longer over coffee and tea in the morning, maybe it will even be nice enough to sit on the front porch. Not sure if I’ll get a gift; browsing through the shops is out for a while yet, and the thrill is gone with shopping online. But probably I’ll find something and wrap it up.

More importantly, I’ll mindfully look into my love’s eyes and forget the challenges, the moments of ugliness and stress of the last year, and recommit to him in our walk toward home.

And we’ll eat scones and drink our coffee and our tea and remember that it IS the regular days, the normal times, that make a marriage what it is. And I’ll be grateful for this man by my side and know that, yes, we’ll face more rocky days. We’ll still disagree on plenty of things. That’s life. That’s marriage. And that, my friends, is Valentines Day.

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The bliss of being interested…

The bliss of being interested…

Interesting.

Reading a post this morning from @SandyFosterMorrison (definitely worth following) and this — her mantra, formed in childhood, when things got crazy — “It will be interesting to see what happens.”

Indeed. If I can look at life as “interesting” no matter what, the anxiety ebbs, the chaos calms, and my better angels can prevail.

Interesting — how we are tightening our bubbles, strengthening our tribes, relying on those we know, without question, have our backs, blocking or unfriending those who cause us anxiety. We’ve been given permission to entangle ourselves from toxic relationships, to remove ourselves from their presence. The lockdowns have helped many in a physical sense to do this (except those who are in fact locked in with that toxicity; my heart hurts for you) Don’t we have the right to back away from this miasma on social media too?

Interesting too how our hearts we know we will have to all learn to pull together somehow, even as we disagree, as calls for unity are met with skepticism, resistance, disgust, anger. 

Interesting as we watch the thousands of National Guards troops gather to protect our centers of government, wondering if they’ll be needed, if they’ll be enough, if they’ll be safe.

Interesting as the rumors of more violence seeps through, wondering how much, where, when, how many, knowing how much anger and division is out there … and in here, inside us.

Interesting when we stop to let ourselves feel what can be too overwhelming to even consider. The mind takes us where the heart can’t bear to go. What’s next? What does this week bring? Can we ever feel like a whole country again?

“It will be interesting to see what happens.” 

This will be my mantra for my own self-care this week … and I’ll extend that outward in peace. 

Interesting. Such an interesting word. Such an interesting world. Such an interesting time. Such an interesting feeling of being able to detach from the anxiety, the chaos and even, to an extent, the outcome. If I settle myself, maybe I can settle the world a bit too.

Interesting indeed.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores.

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What if we loved ourselves?

What if we loved ourselves?

This week, I was hanging out on Facebook and saw in one of my groups, a woman who had taken her book outside to read. She was sitting, prettily, in a lawn chair on her porch with a huge smile on her face. She wore a dress with flip flops. She looked happy and frankly, excited about the book in her hand. The snow around her would have been up to Hank’s knees. There was a child in the background, in full snow suit, playing in the snow.

She captioned the photo that she was going to be outside reading while in the middle of a hot flash. She ended her comment that she looked like a whale.

I was so happy for her until that last line. In fact, it made my tummy drop. I immediately responded that I hoped that she enjoyed her book and that she was beautiful.

Why do we do this? Why do we allow ourselves to be so rotten to ourselves? I have looked at my stomach and my stretchmarks and belittled myself. Why? I don’t usually care what other people think about my appearance, but I really care about how I think. I know that my body housed two + children and has walked me miles, has treated me with care, but I look at myself and think about my faults.

What if we looked at ourselves and are thankful to those stretch marks? Our bodies expanded to allow for babies to grow. Or our bodies expanded to allow for more of us to love? How amazing is it that our skin does that for us?

What if we look at those added pounds and dismiss them? I’m not saying that being unhealthy is amazing, but not every pound over our “ideal” number is a pound of awful.

What if we look at our curves and be grateful that we have them? What if we look at our straight lines and love them for what they are? What if we look at our puckers, scars and blemishes and just shrug and move on?

What if we tell ourselves that we’re allowed to take that selfie and post it without adding a disclaimer to the world that we know of our faults?

And to those who may decide that they need to point out anything that they feel make us less than perfect? What if we let them go along with our own feelings of discontentment?

What if we choose to be happy with ourselves?

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How to Bread, Allergen Free

How to Bread, Allergen Free

I’ve been asked a few times about how I feed my family and what are our standard go-to products, so I am going to release several blog posts about just that. In this one, I’m going to concentrate on being WHEAT free. Not necessarily, gluten free, but wheat free. I am very, very grateful to those who are allergic to gluten. Without those wonderful eaters, we wouldn’t have as much alternatives at our disposal. The double edge sword is a thing: I hate that they have to eat that way, I love that we can jump aboard.

Please be aware that if you purchase something from one of my links, I may be receiving a compensation through the vendor.

Oh man, how I love bread. I used to be the girl who filled up on the bread basket at restaurants, who fought for the first slice of my mom’s freshly baked loaves, who would just be happy to eat bread and butter as a meal. Oh, my first love, bread, how I miss you.

But I don’t really. We have really great substitutes. We can purchase wheat free at the store, but we still need to take a microscope to the ingredients list. We are avoiding so many items that even though it doesn’t have wheat, it could not be safe.

Pre-made store bought bread

For sandwich bread, I love that I don’t have to make the bread from scratch. I have and have mixed my own flours to do so, but I didn’t get the bread making gene that my mom has and it was apparent when we took the first bite. So, I am very pleased that I can order pre-made breads. Our main stays are:

Schar Gluten Free Artisan Baker White Bread, 2 Count: this bread is soft but dense enough to put up with Hank’s dairy free butter, even when cold. Depending on what you need to avoid, this company has a full range of gluten free options that taste great and are kid approved. Buns, baguettes and crackers are amazing and all available through Amazon and our local grocer.

Katz Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins | Dairy, Nut and Gluten Free | Kosher (6 Packs of 4 Muffins, 11 Ounce Each): These English muffins also come in plain, however are currently unavailable through Amazon. Hank loves these with his dairy free butter. I have used them as hamburger buns, sandwich buns and they always get dissected so that he can eat the parts of the meal that he likes, separately. The Katz company has a full range of breads and desserts/snacks, including cupcakes, filled cakes and doughnuts. As we are able to (if we are able to) add additional ingredients, I am hopeful that we can introduce more from this company as they are delicious.

Again, read the label. I once bought gluten free ready-to-bake pizza crust and double checked that there wasn’t egg, milk or pea protein that I didn’t even see that it contained orange juice. Guess what? Hank is allergic to oranges, like – instant vom. I had gotten that sucker home and was so excited to use it and had the hubs double check and there it was: Orange juice. Boo.

Make your own bread

I’ve made my own bread before using my oven as well as a bread maker. Again, I didn’t get the magical bread making gene from my mother, but I have made *passable* bread by using the bread recipes in the book Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts.

Colette Martin is an amazing author but also a food allergy mom. She gets it. In her book, she gives tips and encouragement about moving into this new normal of living and cooking. She also teaches how to mix your own flour blends and shares tried and true recipes for everything from the basic bread to scones and doughnuts. She also gives you dairy free options and substitutions.

My best suggestion while using this book and mixing your own flours for other recipes is to measure by grams. I love the Cuisinart Weight Mate Digital Kitchen Scale. It is compact – which means easy to store off my counters. Since bread making is a magical endeavor (ok, not magic, but science), it is important that you measure by weight and not by cup, if the measurement isn’t exact you will get a Pinterest-worthy fail. Trust me, I’ve done it all. My favorite was the raw and runny middle with the burnt outside. That was a special day.

Now, since I don’t love mixing my own flour. I’d rather use a premix blend. My favorite flour is King Arthur Flour, Measure for Measure Flour, Certified Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Kosher, 3 Pounds (Packaging May Vary). Actually, I quite love King Arthur all together. When I post about sweets and mixes, I’ll have a whole section devoted to King Arthur.

As with anything, if you have multiple allergies like we do, check the label, call the company, and observe for any reactions.

Future blog posts will include pasta and sweets for being wheat free, I’ll also start pulling together our other favorite substitutes for dairy and eggs. Is there something that you want to know about? Drop me a message through Instagram or Facebook!

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Bliss … at a time like this

Bliss … at a time like this

Okay, I get it. I’ve not been myself lately.

I’ve been short-tempered, easily rattled, unfocused and anxious. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I’m tired. Not physically tired (although that too), but deep down emotionally tired … from all of it.

These are not normal times. These are not easy days. And the people closest to me bear the brunt of my less-than-blissy vibe.

I’d apologize, but I don’t think that’s really called for. I’m not doing this intentionally, or aimed at anyone in particular. In fact, when I feel this way my instinct is to curl up, stay offline, keep away from humans so I don’t inflict my whatever this is on them.

To be sure, there have been some really great times this past year. For several days around the holidays, my heart was full, light, happy and peaceful. We laughed; we played games with family online, and at home at the kitchen table. What I expected would be a difficult Christmas was actually quite wonderful in a totally unexpected way. That was nice.

There was a wedding (pandemic style, during the fall “lull” … a grand baby born on Christmas Day (we will see her soon, I pray!) and an engagement. Life went on … in spite of the pandemic, the social upheaval, the politics.

Even when I lost my Dad in October, we were able to gather safely as a family and have a private service. I know this is far more than many families have had recently, and I am so grateful for that gathering, the love and the healing that will forever be Dad’s legacy.

Then last week happened. Something changed. What seemed a remote possibility became horribly real. Enough people disagree with the rule of law in this country that the seat of our government was breached, vandalized. People died. It was gutting to watch it unfold in real time.

So you’ll forgive me if I forget my bliss, yes? Because at the heart of all of this, the rules still hold true. I’m better when I spend time each day getting to source, listening to my heart, feeling then deciding. It’s just that what I’m hearing and feeling isn’t bliss. And that has to be okay. For now.

What we are going through now will become our history … this country’s and our own personal stories. We will not emerge from this unchanged. How can we? But I will find my bliss; I will not give up that quest. I will not give up on us, on you, on our country, on humanity.

I was made for these times. To quote Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “Soul on deck shines like in dark times.” I will continue to shine … even if there are days when my light is dim.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

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Leave the Lights On

Leave the Lights On

We’re at the end of the holiday season. We’ve seen the New Year claw it’s way into our lives. It’s time to start taking down the trees, the lights, the merriment that we used to push the end of 2020 out. BUT – What if we didn’t? What if we left those twinkle lights up just for a few more weeks? What if we leave the kissing ball hanging from our doorway up for just a wee bit longer?

We’re running head long into the darkest part of the year and I know that we can ward off the winter depression, the winter blues or whatever you want to call it, with light. We get excited every year when the holiday lights go up, why not let that simmer just a little bit longer? We deserve it. I’ve said it before, we’ve made it through the longest decade ever, known as 2020. We deserve a bit of light and magic to bring us through the rest of the winter.

I will be removing the Christmas tree, I will be removing the greenery, but I vow to leave up my twinkle lights in my home until, Valentines Day, maybe? I want to watch the candles and lights turn on with their timers to warm my home in the evenings. I want for my children to feel the warmth for a bit longer.

Now, I’m off to Pinterest to search for ideas that aren’t Christmas-y to decorate with. As the kids say these days, It’s gunna be lit, fam.

(did I use that right?)

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These are the ones you never let go.

These are the ones you never let go.

Yesterday was hard. Last month was hard. Last year was hard … and in the midst of the hard there was joy, ease and light. Before the funeral, there was a wedding. Before the election chaos, there was the grace of reconnecting in a powerful way with family. While the pandemic raged, a grandchild was born. Through it all ran a heightened sense of who matters and what’s really important.

As things escalated throughout the day, month and year we’ve just been through, my “people” chimed in … a friend texted, a daughter called, I reached out to two fast friends, a FB group chat proved to be a safe place to be scared, to be supportive, to be hopeful, to be pissed … to just be.

These are my people. My tribe. The ones I resonate with. They don’t all know each other (our tribe members have tribes of their own; it’s more a Venn diagram of the best people in your life all intersecting in your heart and soul).

Today the chaos is quieter, yet the uncertainty and the unthinkable lurk right around the corner. So does my tribe. I’m keeping them.

If you have any doubt who’s there for you, who you can lean on when it really matters, you won’t find them by scrolling on FB or Twitter. You’ll find them in your DMs, your chat strings, your text messages, your phone logs, your mailbox, on your front porch when things get hard and when things are joyous.

These are your tribe.

These are the keepers.

These are the ones I’ll never let go.

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Let those resolutions live and die!

Let those resolutions live and die!

It’s that time of year! It’s time to say good bye to 2020 and hello to 2021, time to air out the house and bring in the fresh air. It is also time for half of my Facebook friends and family to post that they hate going to the gym and seeing those who made resolutions and then watching them fail. BUT, I say, yes! Yes, to the resolutions. Yes, to going to the gym, only if it is only for the free trial period. Yes, to moving a yoga mat from the closet to the livingroom and letting it sit there.

I think that as humans, we look at new beginnings as an important reawakening, but what are we awakening? Is it the resolution or the idea that we deserve some sort of inner change? Do we need to follow through? No. Did we do harm by failing? Also, no. We get into our heads every day and bog ourselves down with how we’ve failed ourselves, but even through those “failures” there is something we didn’t fail. We put ourselves first.

How do we continue thinking of ourselves when our resolutions get away from us? Small changes! Even the very small.

I will:

  • Carry a reusable bag with me to limit my plastic usage from quick trips to the store. Stored in the car or in your purse, you can pull it out and know that you are making a difference to our world. If we’re taking care of the whole, we are also taking care of the individual.
  • Walk after I eat my lunch. A quick five-minute walk – brisk or otherwise – can put us into a better mood. Get that blood moving!
  • Seek the sun! (with, of course, proper protection.) We need the sun to live, but we also need it to feel good. All that Vitamin D is free for the taking, get out there and soak it in.
  • Drink your water! How many of us are living on coffee, wine, or pop (soda?) and forgetting about water? Drink it up!

MOST IMPORTANTLY:

  • I will NOT berate myself for not being able to run that mile, finish that puzzle, have flat feet in downward dog, or finish that book that all my friends are raving over. I will look at my limitations or growing disinterest and decide that sometimes, it is better to let things go. I highly doubt that when I look back at the age of 80, that I’m going to feel bad for not finishing one book out of the thousands that I did read and enjoy.

We’re not competing with ourselves; we should not be seeking approval to treat ourselves poorly because we couldn’t do or follow through with something. We’re coming from a hard year. A really hard year, and it is ok to treat ourselves kindly.

So, feel free to make those resolutions, feel free to tell others about them, feel free to be ok if you can’t follow through with them. But don’t create an inner atmosphere that is more toxic than 2020 was.          

Hank and I were talking today about resolutions. And he said that he had one for me, but wasn’t sure how I was going to work on being even better at it. So, all, here is my resolution that he suggested and I’m going with:

I will be great.

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