With my gregarious Yellow Naped Amazon Parrot, Merlin, who is in her mid-30s and is hilarious.
It is 2013. July of 2013. This means another birthday for me. I feel very fortunate that I am not one of those people (my gender seems to be notorious for it) who dreads each birthday and fears the number. I have never felt old, hid my age, or gone through any major emotional upset around my birthday the way quite a few people I know seem to do. I also don't have a ticking clock with deadlines for a list of expectations that I have placed on myself within a certain time frame either. For that, I am even more grateful. I would like for all of the loved ones in my life to let go of those unrealistic and restrictive expectations and goals (as they call them - they don't seem like healthy goals to me). Year after year, those goals make them feel like failures and lead them into a state of depression. I don't know how I got so lucky to be sans this pressure that others seem to put on themselves. But this year while thinking about my birthday, I realized how incredibly lucky I am. The only thing I even seem to be dreading is the reality that we will likely be spending my actual birthday in Kansas City versus taking a trip to a more Marisa friendly city (i.e. a place where I can have dinner at a restaurant with a dedicated gluten free kitchen that also uses non-dairy milk and gives me the peace of mind to order "like a normal person" would at a restaurant).
Today, I am feeling the need to show some gratitude and share it with those of you following the Gluten Free Health Challenge. I hope that this can be a common birthday ritual for all of us. I want that for everyone. So think about that once your birthday rolls around. Just something as simple as reflecting on any possible thing you can be grateful for. Just knowing that you are living your life, embracing this new age, and starting fresh is great in and of itself. I am grateful today for all of the online resources I have to help me navigate my way through ingredient substitutions and satisfying cravings for my allergenic desserts.
|Birthday treats from Cafe Gratitude last year|
I recall a birthday a few years ago where I had not yet taken so many things out of my diet. I believe I had eliminated only dairy and soy. It had been months since I had even accidentally had any dairy. But I was determined to have it on my birthday. I felt so deprived at that point, as if I had been punished. I felt I truly deserved to have exactly what I wanted. So I visited a new local place, owned by a sweet couple who made the best malts ever. I was able to order a custom shake of peanut butter chocolate with some type of spike to it (maybe chocolate vodka?). It was amazing. I still remember the pleasure I got from that food experience. I also remember developing a respiratory ailment soon after and feeling like I had bugs crawling in my ears for a week. I don't even recognize that person today because I have learned so much about my body and its quirky reactions to things. Not to mention, I've learned from the tons of amazing recipes and non-dairy options that I have been privy to, thanks to people online (like Iris, via this blog).
My initial list of gratitude that comes to mind right now includes:
- My patient and supportive saint of a partner, who has lived through this challenging journey with me from the beginning.
- My friends and family who have accepted me for who I am and what I am becoming. These folks are true gems. They appreciate my authenticity and even find the beauty in my quirks.
- My second home and family of choice, Hagoyah, the place where I find peace, acceptance, life changing yoga, and amazing hair styling services. I am so incredibly grateful that this business opened in my neighborhood and is run by the most incredible advocates for wellness that I have ever encountered in Kansas City.
- My four adorable, somewhat insane, and never boring pet parrots.
- The opportunity to be a part of the Gluten Free Health Challenge and work with my health coach, Eryn McEntee, and my Fairy Angel, a.k.a. Iris. Not to mention all of the supportive people in this wonderful community who are helping me gain knowledge, strength, and support every day.
- Business owners who give true consideration to their customers' feedback. I have recently been awed by some of the responses and actions certain places have taken just with my own personal feedback. I have the utmost respect for those people and hope that the trend of understanding dietary restrictions grows. If I focus on the few businesses and people that DO make an effort, I don't get as frustrated with the fact that so many others fall short. It's hard sometimes to get back to that way of thinking, especially when the bad outweighs the good. But those folks who are truly supporting the cause and being respectful should be acknowledged. I hope to do more of that on my personal blog in the coming year.
So, Happy Birthday to me, without any expectations. My intention for this 42nd year of my life is to cultivate a regular practice of gratitude. That is all I really want right now...that and a gluten/dairy free cake, pie, or cheesecake.