financial badassery, part 1

Hello, loves. I haven’t blogged in a while, but I have been Google Sheets-ing like a fiend. Anyone else out there make nerdy spreadsheets to track goals?

My latest one is somewhat revolutionary for me. It’s a short list of pre-planned purchases I will allow and budget for in the upcoming months. Prior to this month I used to just buy whatever I “needed” as it came up, plus random other stuff I liked along the way. I was lazy with money. Not heinous, but lazy. Now, however, I’ve decided that I will be credit card debt FREE by the end of the year, and that means Being A Financial Badass.

Here are the steps I have taken so far:

  • Sharply curbing the temptation to online shop by deleting my eBay and Zulily accounts, removing my saved payment methods from Amazon and Etsy, and unfollowing a slew of boutiques and shops on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Making it harder to shop in physical stores by leaving my credit cards at home in the safe and cancelling my loyalty/store credit cards.
  • Finding non-shopping-related ways to pass time when bored on work days (this is particularly problematic for me during lunch breaks or on slow-moving days when deadlines have been pushed back) – so far I’ve thought of blogging, working on my “things that make me happy” list, building happy playlists to motivate me through more routine tasks, finding new walking routes, and going home for lunch whenever I can.
  • Refining my You Need A Budget (YNAB) to include a “yearly and surprise expenses” pot that I now automatically put $65 into a month. This will prevent the emotional blow of erratic but hefty expenses like car registration, paddle and parks passes, membership renewals, etc.
  • Seriously decluttering and minimizing my things (aka KonMari-ing) to A) reacquaint myself with how much abundance I already enjoy, B) reduce stress, and C) help me build a *real* “things to buy” future list that that reflects all the things I already have or could use to make a DIY. I’ve done this a hundred times before in a very half-assed way, mainly as a way to enable myself to keep on shopping without being buried in things. Pete wisely pointed out I was defeating the purpose of KonMari-ing by getting caught in low-key but still financially and environmentally crappy “shop-and-purge” cycle.
  • Asking myself if I can make, rent, borrow, or buy secondhand before automatically searching Amazon. This has proven especially powerful for me, as I have always loved DIYing and this has the added benefit of being zero-waste. Reduce demand, reduce the size of landfills.

Good stuff, yeah?! I’m stoked so far.

In another post I’ll share what I have planned next and things I have learned.

PS: For accountability’s sake, this month’s non-essential “to-buy” list included only a strapless bra for the dress I am wearing to Jen’s wedding and a bulk bag of shea butter to refill my jar. Foot pain prompted me to expand it to include shoe orthotics (got ‘em half price at TJ Maxx!) and a pair of gym shoes with memory foam arch support ($50 at the Sketcher’s outlet), but I’ve already recouped those costs in selling things. 😊

There are two other items I am also considering allowing are worms for my new DIY compost bin and a mortar and pestle from the thrift store (unless I can successfully make pesto in my blender). This is way shorter than the usual list of stuff I buy!

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100 happy things, part 2

  1. Hearing one of my jams while driving, sometimes three times in a row because I’ll hit ‘replay’ as much as I damn well please.
  2. Franklin County Dog Shelter’s photo albums of recently adopted dogs.
  3. Old people who take power walking extremely seriously.
  4. Laughing to the point that all you can do is make desperate, high-pitched sounds.
  5. Slushy drinks.
  6. Cars freshly glistening from the car wash.
  7. Friends who encourage me to tackle fitness challenges.
  8. Foxy mascara.
  9. The scent of tropical sunscreen.
  10. My Dad’s weekly updates on what squirrels he’s caught.
  11. Turtles.
  12. Fridays.
  13. The unique and potent scent of sun-drenched tomato plants.
  14. Wildflowers running rampant on highway medians and railroad tracks, particularly Rocky Mountain dwarf sunflowers, lupine, and vibrant blue chicory.
  15. Driving by horses, llamas, donkeys, etc., when out and about.
  16. Coming home after dark to cozily glowing windows and a welcoming front light.
  17. Fist-bumps.
  18. Watching the ecosystems change as a high-altitude hike progresses.
  19. The phrase “shred the gnar.”
  20. Elk bugles. Completely ridiculous.
  21. Barwick mailing me old books.
  22. Poetry.
  23. When you stop petting a dog for a second and it reaches out a paw to beg you for more.
  24. Cat purrs.
  25. Beautiful and healthy betta fish.
  26. Dinner parties.
  27. Encountering something in glass/cardboard/zero-waste packaging instead of plastic.
  28. Garden centers.
  29. Commiserating with strangers about universal human experiences like being tired on Monday.
  30. Prairie dogs.
  31. Deep-sea mysteries.
  32. Dinosaur Ridge.
  33. Seeing cacti on a hike and overreacting because cacti don’t grow in Ohio and are therefore *extra cool*.
  34. When dogs wag their tails so hard their whole bodies wiggle.
  35. Freshly painted nails.
  36. Classy picnic dinners consisting of olives, almonds, grapes, wine, and assorted charcuterie.
  37. Seeing a honeybee and rooting it on.
  38. My inability to keep my birdfeeder full because all the critters chow down HARD.
  39. The word “shenanigans.”
  40. Mary’s Glacier.
  41. Making colleagues jealous with a baller packed lunch.
  42. Making eye contact with someone and grimacing dramatically when a workout is hard or a line is too long.
  43. Dancing to swanky music in the kitchen – especially when I can sing along in Spanish.
  44. Homemade pizza.
  45. Hand-made gifts.
  46. Lake Isabelle.
  47. Stupid YouTube videos like Dancing Shower Turtle and Power Thirst.
  48. Craft stores, particularly when I am on the hunt for inspiration.
  49. Houseguests.
  50. Women who wear really bold lipstick.
  51. Fluffy hotel towels.
  52. Foxes.
  53. Succulents.
  54. When an NPR reporter makes a dumb joke or pun and you can tell they’re trying hard not to laugh for the rest of the sentence.
  55. Corgi butts.
  56. The Northern Lights. Can you believe we have those?
  57. Cars covered in ridiculous bumper stickers. The less appropriate, the better.
  58. Luna moths.
  59. Ginger’s ridiculously finnicky way of eating edamame.
  60. Dog sighs.
  61. Sakana, and the memory of the first time Pete and I went to eat at that cute little place.
  62. My 4H neighbor’s random front-yard menagerie – especially the ducks.
  63. My dad referring to our dogs as his “grand-dogs”.
  64. The live jade plant and pretty seashell I keep in my shower to make it more spa-like.
  65. Seeing people carrying a bouquet around the store and wondering who they’re buying it for.
  66. Picking raspberries (or eating someone else’s).
  67. Making everyday things that pretty much nobody else cares about aesthetically pleasing to me, like vitamins (I decant them in a cute porcelain jar) and shampoo (I use a green glass dispenser instead of the plastic bottle).
  68. Being a moonchild.
  69. Watching fireworks.
  70. Stories and jokes that begin with the phrase, “THIS bitch—”
  71. Sailing.
  72. Scouring Anthropologie for DIY ideas.
  73. Suddenly asking, “DO YOU THINK THIS IS A GAME?!”
  74. Two-toed sloths, especially when they’re squeaking.
  75. Making someone laugh and then hearing them struggling not to crack up again a full ten minutes later.
  76. Bioluminescence.
  77. The cormorant rookery on Standley Lake.
  78. Hot fudge + froyo.
  79. Overhearing ludicrous fragments of other people’s phone calls.
  80. Anklets and the silly way they make me feel like an island princess.
  81. Sprinkles.
  82. Earning fuel perks at the grocery store.
  83. Treasure-hunting antique malls and thrift shops.
  84. Dog yawns.
  85. Stepping out into warm sun after having been in A/C for too long.
  86. Hearing the quiet clacking of my dogs’ claws accelerate into a loud CLACKCLACKCLACKCLACK when I call their names.
  87. Girls who build one another up.
  88. Shavasana.
  89. Pete’s thrifted Obama family photo mug.
  90. Journalists, and how I very nearly became one.
  91. Rocking crazy, uncombed, callick hair.
  92. Using the leafblower like “I HAVE THE POWER!”
  93. Ads that are inclusive, say by including a child with Down’s Syndrome or a homosexual couple, particularly when they’re in something low-profile and normalizing like a catalog or banking commercial.
  94. Yelling “smash the patriarchy!” at Pete when I’m riled up about sexism and injustice.
  95. Mario Kart, Smash Brothers, and other old-school competitive videogames.
  96. The phrase “lookin’ like a snack”.
  97. People who overuse emojis when they text.
  98. String lights.
  99. When people donate old jewelry to me for me to use as craft supplies. 😊
  100. Yelling “get it, girl!” in the gym.

100 things that make me smile

  1. The way Luna always waits outside the bathroom when I’m taking a shower, then gently noses the bathroom door open to check on me and received forehead kisses.
  2. The way Apollo transforms into “Dr. Apollo” if he detects I am even the slightest bit sad or unwell.
  3. Ginger’s sudden loss of composure when she’s happy; she flails around on her back, buries her head in the blanket, sneezes loudly, and otherwise throws her dingo majesty to the wind.
  4. Pete in general, but especially Pete when he’s talking to the dogs in his adorable dad voice.
  5. Wildflowers.
  6. Iced coffee.
  7. Mowing the lawn.
  8. My daily garden inspection and love sesh, complete with me saying folksy things like, “Wow, that mint is sure out of control!”
  9. Making a huge mess making art.
  10. The way paint brushes become their own art after use.
  11. Randomly announcing “We have a house!” to Pete, and both of us still being stoked about that fact.
  12. Seeing a car with a stand-up paddle-board on top of it and wondering where they are going.
  13. DIY projects.
  14. The sound of my Dad’s voice.
  15. Farmer’s markets and natural grocery stores.
  16. Chocolate-covered honeycomb.
  17. Crisp mountain area.
  18. “DANGER! COYOTES ARE ACTIVE IN THIS AREA!” signs.
  19. Wearing a silky bathrobe.
  20. Super comfy pants.
  21. The sound of beautiful piano music wafting over the neighbor’s fence.
  22. Morning dove coos.
  23. Doing New York Times crossword puzzles in the hammock.
  24. Seaweed snacks.
  25. The sound of wind and the sight of sunlight in trees.
  26. Midwestern politeness.
  27. Lifting heavy weights.
  28. The dogs’ reaction when we bring home new toys.
  29. Pete bringing me coffee in bed or getting a Monster on the way to the gym
  30. Baby goats.
  31. Alpine starts.
  32. My Team Training family, who bring me happiness both in and outside of the gym.
  33. Bonfires with Lia.
  34. Climbing a route I initially thought I’d never complete.
  35. Super-short hair.
  36. The breathtaking view of Standley Lake and the mountains I’m treated to every time I turn the bend on 88th.
  37. My pastoral commute.
  38. Noticing other people singing or jamming to tunes in their car.
  39. Saying “dog!” every time Pete and I drive past a dog, and Pete appreciating how important is to acknowledge that the dog in question is a good boy.
  40. Gorgeous tattoos.
  41. Tagging friends and being tagged by friends in ridiculous memes and gifs.
  42. Animal rescues and the people who support them.
  43. Being barefoot as much as possible.
  44. The endorphin rush from a really good workout.
  45. The zero-waste movement, especially when I do something to reduce plastic use myself.
  46. Good hot showers.
  47. The song I share with Pete.
  48. Cleaning and the feeling of peace afterward.
  49. Day-dreaming and Pinteresting for my future wedding.
  50. How awesome my Facebook friends/feed are.
  51. Getting sucked into a good show, book, or anime.
  52. Randomly jumping over things and shouting “PARKOUR!”
  53. My favorite local coffeeshops.
  54. How good and effortless it feels to speak Spanish.
  55. Contemplating my ancestry and how I came to be.
  56. The ocean, particularly swimming and beach-combing.
  57. When Cassie asks, “How is your heart feeling?”
  58. Rob’s frantic “I’M SORRY WE SHOULD TALK MORE!” What’sApp texts.
  59. Daydreaming about visiting John and Brian in San Fran.
  60. Pens that write really, really well.
  61. Seasonal foods like corn and watermelon.
  62. Following talented artists on Instagram so I can treat my eyes to their greatness each day.
  63. The smell of wood smoke.
  64. Fishing, and how it’s somehow both relaxing and exciting.
  65. The changing of the seasons and all the small pleasures that accompany each one.
  66. Butterflies, especially when I know what they are called.
  67. New outdoor gear.
  68. Cold canned beverages like White Claw seltzer, Monster, and La Croix.
  69. Thistles that grow taller than my head.
  70. The smell of summer rain.
  71. My boss’s ridiculous habit of saying things like “Whack a duck!” to avoid swearing.
  72. When Mic and I gchat each other poetic greetings like “Good morning, fox maiden” and “How are you today, songbird?”
  73. The Rooftop Girls.
  74. Snapchats from pals, especially Sam-snaps and baby-chicken-snaps.
  75. Freshly grilled food.
  76. Blankets and throw pillows.
  77. Finding simple, one-ingredient beauty DIYs that work, like shea butter as a facial moisturizer.
  78. Noticing a houseplant growing new leaves or buds.
  79. Gas station snacks.
  80. Feeling foxy in a flattering dress.
  81. Confident and empowering women.
  82. Being able to do something really well.
  83. That feeling of excitement when a storm is brewing.
  84. Ultra blue high-altitude skies.
  85. Really good hugs.
  86. Coming home to a riot of joyful dingos and dropping everything to play with them.
  87. Learning something new.
  88. Traveling somewhere new.
  89. Getting a new stamp in my passport.
  90. Getting a surprise card or package in the mail.
  91. When Pete says “nerd” and I know that means “I love you.”
  92. Thinking of something nice to do for Pete and racing to finish it before he comes home.
  93. Hygge, complete with salt baths and candles, even more so when we have a big snow.
  94. Reminiscing about life in Japan.
  95. The North Woods.
  96. When I refer to my childhood house in Ohio as “home” and Pete corrects me, “THIS is home.”
  97. Random phone calls from my brothers.
  98. When people are eager to share something they love with me.
  99. The scent of fresh herbs.
  100. The delight, surprise, and relief when perennial plants come back the next year.

self + care

Last night I dreamt that I had long, beautiful blonde hair and violet-blue eyes. My limbs were lithe and my skin flawless. When I woke up, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at my choppy mousy mop, my sallow complexion, and the ugly mottled redness across my arms. It doesn’t help that my face has grown fatter from weeks of eating like crap, mostly thanks to the discovery of Door Dash and Way Better Chips. It also doesn’t help that my hat caused stinging break-outs after my hike.

I couldn’t look myself in the eyes this morning.

This means I’m overdue for some serious, take-no-prisoners self-care.

Now I’m not talking about the bullshit self-care in magazines centered on consumption. This isn’t the time for bath bombs or a pedi. Rather, this is the time for treating myself like a person I want to thrive, which means I need to parent my inner child rather than spoiling her. This means taking vitamins again. It means foam-rolling and stretching before and after work-outs and going to the chiro more regularly. It means buying bulk iced coffee so I’m not tempted to stop at the gas station for caffeine (and chips!), deep-cleaning my make-up brushes so the allergens don’t spread, and gently tending to the small scrapes and bruises I’ve earned while at work in the yard. It means balancing my budget so I don’t feel stressed and uncertain every time I pull out my card.

It also means having an honest conversation with myself about the current state of my self-care, which right now is going something like this…

Am I hydrating properly?

No, I am not.

Am I eating sufficient protein?

No, I am not.

Am I treating exercise like a joyful privilege rather than a punishment for imperfection?

… No, goddamnit. I totally am not.

I think you get the point.

So that’s what’s on my mind right now. I don’t need reassurance that I’m pretty or a badass or anything like that, because appearance has nothing to do with this mood. This mood is about unkindness. It’s about what grows when we sow a hundred little seeds of laziness and disrespect toward the self.

Slowly (because doing it all once never works) I’m going to seriously improve my self-care, starting with something as simple as a glass of water and the removal of all of my make-up as soon as I get home. I need to let my skin breathe again, I think.

And also my half-loved spirit.

thoughts on love

wild.jpg

PART I: WILDNESS

Wildness, to me, is the opposite of safety. Wildness is being free and open and vulnerable to the whole wide world of danger and opportunity. It’s a sprawling vista, a door that won’t close, a clock that doesn’t matter anymore… Exposure. The feeling of being dwarfed by an endless roof of stars.

Of course, wildness is also getting caught out in the storm. Wildness is price you pay when you trade your shelter for a chance to be alone with the Moon.

Love is notorious for this kind of wildness. Just think of all the songs that romanticize love’s soaring highs and breath-taking lows. We’ve all experienced the racing heartbeat, the inability to quiet our thoughts, and the sudden and exhilarating departure of logic when love takes the wheel. Wildness is what makes love so compelling. Love is the sunlit ocean begging us to tear down the walls and let the waves surge in.

The prospect of giving into love this way is terrifying. Will we sink or will we swim?

The answer is neither.

When we surrender to love, we become love.

That is the goal.

The intellectual is always showing off,
the lover is always getting lost.
The intellectual runs away
afraid of drowning;
the whole business of love
is to drown in the sea.

– Rumi

PART II: SAFETY

But love that is only wildness is grueling. Over and over again we wash up battered and broken on the rocky shore, completely destroyed by the very hands we trusted to lift us up. We dive into the sea and are stung by jellyfish. Shark-hearted people swallow us whole. Eventually we protectively drag our sea-sick and sun-burnt hearts into the shade, declaring that love is not only foolish but also fucking insane.

We’re not far off.

But the problem is, we are mistaking passion for love.

Love that is only wildness is passion. True love – full love, life-giving love – balances vulnerability ­and safety. The truly beloved jumps off the cliff of passion knowing that they will be caught by their lover, trusting that they will be held and cherished when the stars cloud up and the sea begins to rage. The beloved roams freely, but not without anchor. Love gives shade and shelter along with the wide open sky.

It took me a long time to find love that could be both wild and peaceful, passionate and gentle, heart-racing and soothing. Love does not have to be a struggle.

And to be honest, it took me even longer to accept that fact.

Love should not drop the bottom out of your life without providing a new, shared foundation. Love should not constantly demand that you run to catch up. If you find yourself exalted by wildness but starving inside for stability and calm — leave. That is half-love. You deserve better.

Special thanks to Pete for teaching me that love is not only a shared adventure up a mountain, but also — afterward — the wordless honoring of each other’s favorite side of the couch.

and were you being good to yourself?

Recently a group of people I was briefly with close with gathered together to celebrate a wedding. Others had a reunion in my city. Looking at the photos they shared, I was startled with a sudden realization:

For three years I was nearly impossible to love.

Looking back at graduate school is painful. Japan, even more so. The year before – worse. For three years I was not so much a woman as a bear trap of anxiety and need, simultaneously begging for love and violently warning it away.

When I look back, several moments stand out to me in painful clarity. Once on a patio in Costa Rica I was told that I talked too much, that I made my “friends” feel like I was uninterested in hearing about anyone else. This of course was the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish with all my talking – the chatter was a desperate attempt to accelerate bonding and find common ground.

I cried myself to sleep to that night feeling powerless and misunderstood. I would do this many more times with many more people in the years to come – especially in Japan, where my companions were kind but courageous enough to say we deserve better.

What a relief to have come so far.

—-

I do not begrudge the people who wisely avoided me when I was aboard the Hot Mess Express. However, I am hugely grateful for the friends who stuck by my side, and particularly glad for those who told me, “It doesn’t have to be like this. You can get help.” In my case, therapy and medication were the tools I needed to begin digging myself out, but everyone’s different. You never know when someone is a phone call away from finally being freed to become their best self.

Blessed are the clear-eyed.

Blessed are the kind.

I’ll end with an important poem from Warsan Shire.


 

“[love letter to self]

i don’t think so. but, i forgive you, girl, who tallied stretch marks into reasons why no one should get close. i forgive you, silly girl, sweet breath, decent by default. i forgive you for being afraid. did everything betray you? even the rain you love so much made rust out of your jewelery? i forgive you, soft spoken girl speaking with fake brash voice, fooling no one. i see you, tender even on your hardest days. i forgive you, waiting for him to call, i forgive you, the diets and the cruel friends. especially for that one time you said ‘i fucking give up on love, it’s not worth it, i’d rather be alone forever’. you were just pretending, weren’t you? i know you didn’t mean that. your body, your mouth, your heart, made specifically for loving. sometimes the things we love will kill us, but weren’t we dying anyway? i forgive you for being something that will eventually die. perishable goods, fading out slowly, little human, i wouldn’t want to be in a world where you don’t exist.”

Warsan Shire, “and were you being good to yourself?”

monday morning thoughts

I haven’t blogged in roughly two years. Cass says I ought to. The sunrise agrees.

So, here’s some thoughts.

  • On Saturday, 29 million people tuned in to watch the royal wedding. That means that for one beautiful morning millions of people put down their weapons, shelved their discontents and disagreements, shut down the endless to-do lists in their brains. I’ll never understand the accusations of frivolity. The world needs beauty more than anything right now.
  • Yesterday I noticed an elk crossing sign on my commute. I sometimes see mule deer and packs of coyote in the open space off of Indiana, but elk? I had such a hard time imagining roving herds of elk there that I Google image searched to confirm. Yep… turns out herds of elk are an actual road hazard in my neck of the woods. I’d love to be late because I had to wait for a herd of elk to cross the road.
  • This morning the sun came out after an unusual stretch of cold gray rain and the world feels brand new. Everything’s leafy and green all of a sudden! The light is filtered through glistening leaves! I believe we should get the day of work today. The world’s too beautiful. Go outside. Your deadlines can wait.
  • Why does office coffee always taste burnt?

Wind and Snow Paralyze the Northeast.

I tuck my flip-flopped feet underneath me and minimize the news.

It doesn’t feel right that it’s so mild out today, that the sky is once again bottomless blue. The brownness of the grass doesn’t feel right, either – back in my hometown, there are already tiny flowers beneath the snow.

When will it rain again?

Everything feels like it’s waiting and it’s tired of that wait.

Right I’m sitting in the Panera where I first apartment-hunted two years ago. I’m sitting in the exact same table, in fact, looking out at weather much nicer than before. I can just make out the roofs of the apartment complex I would end up living in before I found my beautiful house… the house that I have now had the pleasure of living in just shy of a year.

Last year at this time, my mind was on fire with excitement and impatience to begin renovation. One year later, I once again find myself restless with the need for a DIY project, the desire to trade my sweat for a small transformation consuming my thoughts. I need methodical tasks to relax, these days. I need the before and after of dirty wood and crisp paint.

Grief is heavy on my mind, confusingly muddled with gratitude and hope.

I wish that I could throw myself into work today, that my mind would engage and rise to challenge of building my professional development plan.

What is your vision for the next two years? The next year? the worksheet asks. What tangible action items can we put on your agenda for the next six weeks?

I don’t know.

I write, “Improve my agility with sales forecasting tools.”

That’s the right answer, but the real answer is learn to breathe air rarified with grief without stopping to catch my breath.

5 Tips for Surviving the Transition to a Gluten Free Life

1. Try a gradual purge.  Some time ago I consulted my good friend and weight loss guru Josh Hillis for advice on how to improve my diet.  He suggested that rather than trying to overhaul my entire diet at once, I work to tidy up one meal (breakfast) for four days or a week before working on lunch. After that I could focus on improving my dinners, my snacks, my post-workouts, etc… The idea was to improve my eating habits in a manageable and sustainable way. I urge anyone who isn’t celiac (if you’re celiac, don’t play! Gluten is like crystal meth for your gut!) to try the same technique with gluten.  In my experience it is especially helpful to figure out a variety of gluten-free breakfasts before attempting anything else, as it will set the tone for your day and help you feel empowered instead of overwhelmed.

2. Gluten withdrawal.  So hot right now.  Recently there has been a lot of research into the addictive properties of food. And not surprisingly, it’s starting to show that gluten and many of the sugary foods that contain it are obnoxiously addicting.  Depriving your body of its gluten “fix” may leave you cranky, fatigued, and anxious, and if you sharply cut carbs (‘sup, paleo pals?) you may also experience the dreaded “low carb flu.”  These unique discomforts are yet another reason why the gradual weaning approach is nice, or if you are celiac, why you might find it easiest to initially rely on gluten-free substitutes (g-f breads and cookies!) before transitioning to a cleaner and less expensive way of eating.  Regardless of how quickly you transition, definitely be sure to hydrate like crazy, eat a bit of salt, nourish yourself with vitamin- and mineral-rich foods, take probiotics, and pamper yourself with some appropriate treats. (Also, if you’re an athlete read up on ‘safe starches’ and experiment with the right amount of carbs for you.)

You’re not. It just feels that way. 😉

3. Feed the flora. Please acquire probiotics ASAP. You cannot radically alter the composition of your diet without affecting your intestinal flora, so pick up a bulk bottle of probiotics and show your gut some love. Also, probiotic foods are legit – think fermented things like kombucha, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, and plain Greek yogurt. Just don’t be that well-meaning buffoon who fills their cart with ridiculously processed, sugar-filled Activia. 🙂

4. Deal with the feelings. Although I’m a rather low-key person who has always prioritized health, I was shocked how many powerful emotions hit me when I first went gluten free. For days, weeks, and even months later I’d experience sudden moments of grief and frustration, such as when I encountered a nostalgic tasty (funnel cake at the fair! Okonomiyaki at Zencha!) or ran up against an uncooperative barista (“Eh, I’d just assume everything has gluten.”) To be honest, I still have damnit moments of self-pity and irritation today, and that’s fine with me. Don’t give yourself a hard time for being human and culturally conditioned to assign enormous value to various foods. If you need to mope or cry or complain, do it, especially in the beginning of your journey, but please don’t let yourself start to think like a victim. Promise me you won’t internally reframe yourself as a sickly, deprived, high maintenance, alienating, or otherwise negatively special snowflake – because you aren’t. You’ve got an autoimmune condition that means you can’t eat certain kinds of foods, and it sucks, but it really doesn’t affect your awesomeness to any degree. Relax. Have hope. I will help you deal with the hard emotional stuff in an upcoming post. 🙂

Stay strong.

5. Finally: be patient.  As you probably gathered from the tips above, gluten is a tricksy substance that will not go down without a fight. It will continue to affect your system for quite a while after you’ve stopped actively ingesting it. Some people will notice an immediate improvement in their health after cutting gluten for a day, but most will not see improvements for at least a week. Celiacs and those with strong sensitivities/intolerances may need three months to a year to get back to maximum health. This sounds discouraging, but actually it’s kind of awesome: every day for a year you get to wake up excited to see what unexpected health improvement you feel. As your gut heals and the chronic inflammation in your system continues to fade, you may discover that your lactose intolerance has faded, that your joints no longer ache, that your skin is surprisingly clear, etc.   Expect to start feeling a bit better quickly but not a ton better until months later – at which point you will be so deliriously happy that the “struggle” of going gluten-free will have transformed into a pleasure instead. Isn’t it cool how a simple thing like a dietary tweak can dramatically improve your health?! Yeah, I thought so.

Celiac, food sensitivities, etc.: because regular life was too easy for you.