Update: My Mysterious Illness

At the beginning of December, I was feeling pretty discouraged by an on-going, persistent roadblock in my health. Waves of dizziness and vertigo hit with unrelenting regularity. It was a little scary to feel so out of control and out of sorts and to not know what the trigger was or when it would hit next. Sometimes in class, I would stagger out of the room and get to the bathroom as quickly as possible to avoid being sick in front of my students or fainting. Deep breathing became my best strategy for calming down in the midst of an episode. And I went to my doctor for a variety of tests that all left me with no conclusions as to the cause. What makes it so unnerving is that it was both predictable and unpredictable, and definitely connected in some way to my emotional state or hormonal state. It would increase intensity at certain points in the month and disappear at others following somewhat of a pattern. So in order to combat this mysterious situation, I turned to some some dietary changes and creating new healthy, mindful habits. Now you know the origin of my resolutions to be healthy and happy from earlier.

Since the autumnal holiday of Thanksgiving, I have really felt and noticed that if I eat crap, I feel like crap. With reducing my dairy intake and switching my morning milk in my coffee to almond milk, plus taking a probiotic, my belly gut feels so much better! I thought the dairy switch would be hard but actually because I feel so much better skipping out on the cow’s milk, it has been easy to side step and embrace the overall better vibes and energy I have gotten in exchange. With this extra energy, I have had the courage and stamina to cook more often and authentically from scratch which has in general made me feel happier in the kitchen and excited because as the kiddos are getting older they are getting SO into helping in the kitchen. More vegetables, fruits, and goodness is making all of us slim down on those extra pounds we were carrying about. So with the extra energy and the slimmed down 5lbs, it has also been easier to get into a consistent workout plan with lots of slow flowing yoga and some strength training. I am feeling stronger and this positive momentum always has me feeling like I can keep it up and going. So things are feeling good right now. I still got a dizzy spell about a week ago but just one and that is SUCH AN IMPROVEMENT that I could cry in gladness over the dramatic change I am feeling from some positive dietary changes and activity choices.

The other piece that is probably helping me feel overall healthy and lighter is letting go. A part of me has wondered if some of my nauseous feelings and lightheadedness were related to my deep-seated desire to have more children which is in direct confrontation with David’s reproductive choices. While I was telling myself I was making progress because I was stifling it down better, I had a sneaking suspicious that perhaps some of these symptoms were psychosomatic. Was I acting pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant? During break, I tried to reflect on this a bit and figure out ways to shift my perspective from “woe is me” to a viewpoint of choice and empowerment. A friend from high school reached out to share a bit about gender sadness she was experiencing and how she connected to some of my previous sharings on the topic. It felt very humbling in the moment to realize that I am not alone and it gave me a feeling of stability within the whirlwind of emotions I have carried about me since David’s procedure. After that conversation, I thought to myself, “hmmmm if some of my longings for another child stem from gender sadness, and if I am not alone in these feelings, perhaps there are other moms out there who have written about gender sadness in missing out on having a boy?” There must be a mom out there with a gaggle of girls who has expressed a tinge of sadness of what it would have been like to have had access to the part of her heart that wants to love a son. I googled and googled and googled and asked David to google for this and we found…..nothing. At first I was like, wow no one is sad about only having daughters and then I thought, what the heck! Why aren’t women sad about missing out on the love of a son? My sons’ love is AMAZING! It is playful, messy, and intense, it is sweet and and gentle. It is boyish and not gendered, it is one of the most beautiful bonds I have ever experienced. My perspective has dramatically shifted. I don’t need a daughter in my life to live fantasies of dress shopping and superficial nonsense that I have been holding desperately too like some deranged Disney villain longing to live our her princess fantasy. And instead I was reminded that sometimes when I need a miracle I look into my sons’ eyes and realize I have already created two.

Maybe its causation or correlations but healing my tummy and healing my heart was a lot of healing this past month, and I definitely am feeling the changes.

weeknight chicken parmigiana

My favorite dinner recipe is a good anything parmigiana style.  What is not to like about a protein smothered in tomato sauce and covered in gooey mozzarella cheese? My best friend and her husband are currently living with us while their new house is renovated. Their added company has been fun and the mealtimes have been easy with the extra hands and conversation!  Last night after a long day of odds and ends, we settled into making my favorite kale salad obsession and some quick and easy chicken parmigiana. It takes approximately 20 minutes from start to finish and it is always my go to when I am looking for something warm, simple, and delicious.

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Lay out some panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish along with one egg scrambled in a bowl to give the chicken breasts a quick dip in the egg and then a solid coating in the bread crumbs. These panko crumbs are an italian blend with oregano, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper.
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Once the chickens have been dressed, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and cook the chicken. Since I cut a chicken breast in half they usually cook up quickly. Approximately 2-3 minutes per side.Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 7.44.03 AM

Transfer chicken to a baking dish and coat in your favorite (or homemade) tomato sauce.  As an italian I like to be generous on this step.  Then top with fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese.Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 7.44.18 AM

Bake in the oven at 300 for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melty and a little bubbly.  Serve with your favorite side!

panzanella salad

The other night David and I settled down to a dinner of panzanella salad. I was inspired by smitten kitchen’s summer’s last hurrah panzanella. The home made vinaigrette she designed was delicious and so simple.  It will clearly become a dressing staple in our house.

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For the vinaigrette
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

The salad itself is super easy. I followed smitten kitchen mostly.  But, really this salad could consist of anything in your crisper.  We added yellow and orange peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, basil, onion and grilled a chicken breast. We skipped the capers (David is not a fan of these), and we topped it off with some delicious smooth goat cheese. This would be a great salad to bring to a cook-out.  Filling from the homemade bread croutons and satisfying, it was a delicious recipe that smitten kitchen posted and that can be easily adapted.