Me to Me: Stop Stifling Yourself To Make Others Happy

It’s been quite a long while that I’ve been on this journey of self acceptance. Long ago there was an anonymous submission area on my blog and I got the sweetest message from a reader who said, “I wish you would be yourself and embrace it instead of hiding behind _____.”

I did hide. I hid behind my mom as a child, I hid behind Ben (my first love) as a teen/young adult, and I even hid behind Audrey Kitching and some other friends I did design for (I wasn’t as codependent with them) online and played with offline. I gave Audrey my illustrations and original artwork, I sent her inspirations daily, I blogged for her, I designed for her. We were close then, but I was always in the shadows. She would sometimes copy other designs from other artists and I didn’t want to promote any of my work because I was afraid if I took credit for my Tokyolux cats, designs, and pop art that it would be assumed I was taking credit for ALL of the copies as well.

Let’s get to know each other again.

That often happens to people who were traumatized in their youth. I was happy to create amazing things that everyone loved as long as I got to be in the background and no one really knew me.

When going through divorce or trauma it’s easy to do whatever you can to forget your memories and the pain. Embarrassingly enough, I imploded and “acted a fool.” I even pushed a lot of those friends in that community away back then. I met them all one last time at a Sanrio VIP party right near the end of my shadow self life. I was tired of being in the box I allowed myself to be placed in and I just freaked out and ran away.

I closed my store and I stopped updating my website. I fell off the online world to hide from it and isolated myself.

I’m super into SELKIE right now.

Now I’m 35 and I feel like I’ve been starting all over the last few years. I started traveling again and participating in shows in LA and NYC again (prior to the CORONAVIRUS of course). I started reconnecting with my old friends again. Like actually connecting. As myself.

I also started, 3 years ago, doing work for myself and I’m learning how to be comfortable promoting ME and MY WORK. IT’S HARD. It’s hard everyday. I often slink away and still struggle with quieting myself because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what you will think of me or what you will say if I’m not who you expect or want me to be…

… but I’m done with that! I’m pushing myself harder each day to be MYSELF for ME. Not anyone else. I’m set on not becoming anything for anyone else. Except of course a loving mom who encourages her daughters to be powerful and NEVER stifle theirselves for ANYONE.

Thanks for coming along. I hope you brought snacks. xx

I haven’t released this anywhere else yet! The new Deericorn pendant at long last!!!

Staycation: Create a Hotel At Home During Coronavirus Season

Does the COVID-19 Coronavirus social distancing have you down about missing your spring break vacation or plans?

Bring them to you.

Decorate. And please bring some flowers in and have a tray of muffins in the kitchen for a bed and breakfast feel. Or have a tray of special snacks on your coffee table and decorate your living room like a motel. You can also pretend your living room hotel is anywhere: the beach, Disney World, France, space, Japan, decorate it accordingly.

Get these coasters and more at bando.
Beverly Hills Hotel Pillow By Floral Inferno

There must be a limit to how much Netflix and snacks a person can handle, which are reasons we all can enjoy a few fun activities to make our staycation even more splendid (and memorable).

This article is about actually blocking out a few days or a week of time to “be on vacation” at home. It’s not a list of things to do on regular days of social distancing.

1. Splurge on Meals

Often times when we’re on vacation we eat meals out but on this staycation we may need to order in if places are looking too busy. Look up your favorite restaurants on DoorDash or UberEats and order dinner or takeout.

You could also make a cooking date night and subscribe to Hello Fresh or Marly and Spoon for the week you plan your vacation.

Orange Juice vase from bando.

2. Host a Fancy Cocktail Party Or Themed Gathering for Housemates

Your vacation at home is probably one of the best times to have a fancy gathering with your best friends or family members. Why not go all out and make a whole decadent meal?

If you’re worried about this being a lot of work on your end, try a pot luck and invite others to help prep.

3. Be a Tourist

Most staycations are a great time to act like a tourist and go on an adventure exploring your hometown. If you are having your staycation during the period (now) of distance restrictions it would be best to go to the forest, nature parks, walks around non-crowded areas, etc. Pack a picnic, enjoy your time, take everything in. You may find new favorite spots!

Picnic in your own backyard, the forest, a meadow.

4. Break out the Games

Grab some cards or board games and sit at a table inside or outside and play. If you live alone, download a card game app (Uno, Exploding Kittens), or play a board game online. They even have board games on most gaming consoles. Play a few different types of games, nostalgic games that you’ve been missing or didn’t even know you liked!

5. Make Your Own Spa Day

Create your own Spa Day and make sure you have some epsom salts, essential oils, and candles. Treat yourself to a bubble bath with a cold glass of champagne or green tea and a book. Try a face mask. Exfoliate.

After your bath, turn the shower on hot and fill the room with steam. Breathe deep and relax.

If you’re living with someone you feel comfortable asking, ask to swap massages.

6. Get in the Holiday Spirit

Pretend it’s Christmas for a day and that you’re snowed in. Make hot chocolate, light some candles, decorate cookies. Cut snowflakes out of a few squares of white paper. Sing Christmas carols and watch a Christmas movie on tv. You could even have a holiday-staycation where each day is a holiday theme: New Year, Halloween (ex: swap the hot cocoa with cider, bob for apples, wear costumes, watch scary movies, spooky); Valentine’s day (make valentines and cookies, make strawberry sodas with strawberry ice cream, sprite and strawberry jam, hearts); Easter/Spring (hide eggs with either scavenger hunt notes OR treats, boil eggs and dye with food coloring, pastel colors)

Drinks and doodles while listening to records?

7. Camp In Your Backyard

Want to go camping but don’t want to be in a campground? Do it in your own backyard! You also have access to necessities and snacks. And bathrooms. Make a fire pit and roast marshmallows. Tell spooky stories. Count the stars.

Lounge outside and make it an event.

8. Go For a Crawl

If the travel restrictions lift, get together with a friend or your partner and explore your city by going on a crawl. Choose a theme for your crawl such as sampling the best tacos, donuts, beer, or pizza.

If you’re stuck inside, try a bunch of the candy, chips or teas in your house and rate them.

9. Get your DIY on

Try to learn to do a new craft or project you’ve been wanting to do. Make it a group effort and invite everyone over to work on the same type of project such as knitting, cooking, painting, even digital creations (laptop party!).

You could also plan to learn to do a project together such as friendship bracelets, painting wine glasses, making dream catchers, creating vision boards, etc.

10. Take an Online Class

Have something you’ve had on your to-do list to learn for quite awhile? Something you’ve been wanting to learn, do, create, or experience? There are all sorts of classes online where you can join with others and achieve your goals right from the comfort of your own bed!

A few great places to try:

“Vacation is a state of mind – you don’t have to actually leave your house to get that same relaxed, never-leaving-this-room-again feeling you get in a hotel room. These products will help you recreate that feeling, whether you’re on your way to paradise or bringing paradise to you.”

ban.do?

Show Me How to Be

There are some people who look at themselves and don’t see the need to work on anything. They’re awesome just they way they are. I’m not one of those people.

I’m a person who is always searching myself to see what I need to work on to make myself a more loving, compassionate, caring human being. I’m pretty sure that started when I was 15.

That year, I prayed and asked God to show me how others saw me. And I hated what I saw as a result of that prayer. I was harsh and extremely judgmental. I was defensive and quick to bite back. I wasn’t well liked (probably even by my fiends) and it wasn’t hard to see why.

There were hurts and wounds that had caused that behavior, but I was responsible for how I allowed those hurts to effect how I treated others. Hurting people Tend to hurt other people. I didn’t want to be a source of that kind of hurt towards another person.

I’ve prayed that same prayer many times over the years. I’ve been surprised that I didn’t really have anything revealed to me. I’ve been listening and searching and couldn’t see the specific areas I felt I needed to work on.

This past week, I’ve had a couple people tell me some very sweet things. That I deal gently with others feelings. That I am knowledgeable but not pushy in how I share the things I’ve learned. That my stories I share are full of love. The past few days I just kept thinking, “Wow! I really wish those things about me were true! I’m going to try hard this year to live into those things. Try to really be THAT person!”

Bumbling around my mess of a Christmas break house, thinking on these things, trying to live into them so that I don’t allow the anxiety of mess to make me snappy at the family that has to live with me, I felt God ever so sweetly nudging me with thoughts. Thoughts that said, “You asked how others see you. Why do you think that has to be that they see hard things?” And my response is, of course, “because I too am beautifully flawed!! There is always something to improve on!!”

For the second time in as many weeks, He pressed on me that I only see him as a God who corrects when He is a God who loves us just as we are. That He sees me as uniquely and wonderfully created. That as my father he sees me with pride at who I’ve grown to be. Loving me just as I am. And that I have to accept that sometimes that’s a gentle, loving space.

It’s so much easier for me to see the good things in other people. Because I know my own thoughts and heart!! And y’all, sometimes loving people is HAAAARD!!

But today, I’m going to be gentle with my words to myself. Learn to accept the fact, that for 27 years, I’ve worked hard to bust up the hardness of my heart and let love win. To choose forgiveness over anger even when it offended my own sense of justice. I’m going to follow my own advice and let sweet words flow over me and balm my own bruised spirit.

I’m going to take those things and make them as true for my little family as they often still live with my rough edges.

Thanks for letting me share a sweet space this morning if you’re still reading my novella.

Namaste, Friends. Thank you for letting me share.

I’m Not Telling You About Miseducated Monday

I’m not. I’m also not going to tell you about how I made a promise to myself to blog more. That if anything I should just choose a day and devote that day to blogging. Because then, at least on that day, I would be continually making new content.

No, I’m not going to tell you because I started this plan WAY BEFORE New Year and I already didn’t follow through. I don’t want you to look at me as a lazy blogger, you see. Especially because I am a very lazy blogger and I intend to change.

What is your New Years resolution? Don’t give yourself a lot. Don’t make a list. Nothing is more off-putting than an endless list of ways you expect yourself to change. No. Choose 1-3 things you plan to focus on improving about yourself or your life this year. Do that. Don’t “Lose 20 lbs eating healthy and exercising at least 5 times a week” yourself. Don’t “Stop eating sugar, drinking wine, and smoking” yourself.

Personally, that is one sure way I will not succeed. We have to make it easier. You can always add another goal after you achieve the first one. You don’t need an endless list of things you must do to accept yourself or feel accomplished. No.

My 2020 Resolutions:

  1. Blog on Mondays
  2. Make a gratitude list of at least 5 items each day.
  3. Be more open hearted. Tell people what they mean to you more often. Love more. Judge less.

What is on your list? What is your main focus of self-growth this year?

Happy New Year!

All of the cute diner food is from Baby’s which used to be Talbott Street, our favorite club! Check it out this year!

Baby’s Indy

2147 N Talbott Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202

You’re Using Self-Help Gurus and Happiness on Social Media to Hurt Yourself

I’ve been through a lot in my life and have experienced a lot of pain. I got so low when I hit rock bottom that I knew it was the end of my life if I didn’t get help. I had to do a lot of work to heal myself and make a new life. I have never again felt as low as I did then. Not even close. I have an amazing life. I’m grateful. I’m truly happy and excited for each day.

But.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still get sad. Everyone still gets sad. This movement going on in print and on social media is dangerous.

What movement, you ask?

You’ll notice online there is no shortage of self-help books and blogs. Positive, motivational, and personal self-help, social media accounts, even. The quotes, the promises.

You also may notice in your own social media feed that your friends are also posting the great times, the special moments. However is it still acceptable to be honest about being sad? About feeling vulnerable? About heart break or failures?

I can’t tell you how many readers have contacted me about how I gave them hope with some of my brutally honest, personal articles. Hope that things can totally change. That they can be happy. That’s AMAZING! I’m so grateful for that every day.

I do wonder though, when they get sad or have a hard day do they feel like a failure? When their house is not as perfect as a picture do they feel like giving up? When their vacations and events aren’t Pinterest-worthy do they feel less-than? How about if they spend the day arguing with their partner because they wake up feeling “not good enough” and sad?

I have also been contacted about similar sad situations by readers. About people that eat this motivational stuff up just knowing that one day they will be enlightened like that woman but keep on feeling discouraged because they aren’t. They have hope that their wildest dreams will all be manifested and they will never have an emotional day. They will not have bad days.

The problem I have with some life coaches is that they sell their life, disguised as a coaching product. Perhaps a result of the growing popularity of the lifestyle design industry, these life coaches spend more time trying to live and sell a lifestyle that suits them, rather than investing in the service they are allegedly providing to others. – Medium

Do you know that woman‘s personal life? She does have bad days. She wakes up feeling bad about herself. She recognizes her own failures. She posts another quote and completes a recommended self care regimen and feels better but she still makes mistakes. She still feels blue sometimes.

I know some of the top female gurus and I’ll let you in on a secret:
The positivity and perfection are an illusion and I know that you’ve used it to make yourself feel worse.

That woman does not exist. You are looking through a rose colored lens because you cannot see her behind closed doors. You don’t see her personal life.

Am I saying she is a fraud? No, she’s probably a good motivational speaker and writes inspiring, best-selling books. However, she also has bad days that you don’t see. You can’t use the illusion of perfection to make yourself feel less-than.

You do exist. And you are amazingly and perfectly imperfect. You will have bad days. You will wake up feeling less than. You’re not. We all feel that way sometimes and it’s ok.

Pst, Here’s More Proof

Breakup Rehab: How to Get Over a Break-Up and Impress Your Ex


I’ve finally started writing more self-help based articles and books again. Please enjoy my first official Kindle ebook, Breakup Rehab!

Because I’ve been through it first hand, discussed it with friends over tea and researched the hell out of the current material out there, I feel I have a lot of advice to offer you that actually works. If it works for my obsessive mind, it can for sure help you.

I deeply wish someone would have written this for me many years ago so that I didn’t have to learn things the hard way. However, I am thankful I can provide you with some insight.

The value in this for you is that I know exactly what you need to do to be successful in your endeavor of heartbreak and I know just as well how to ruin your chances. This was once a long article posted here but I have since published it into an ebook for the Kindle to make it easier to read and take along with you during hard times when you’re expected to play it cool, calm and creative.

Please feel so inspired to purchase the inexpensive (it’s only $.99 for a limited time!) ebook and come along aboard the love train with me, keep your hands inside and your rings on tight. This is going to be bumpy ride. I appreciate all of the support I can get and I know my long-term readers will appreciate it.

This article is geared towards those of us in a serious relationship with, or married to, a man. If you’re interested in getting a woman back you’ll obviously need to go about things quite a bit differently but this advice could loosely be used to get a girl back as well since it’s mostly about helping yourself progress to attract your mate so feel free to replace all the ‘he and hims’ to ‘shes and hers.’ If you’re interested in revisiting a friendship just remove all of the romantic parts. This majority of the advice is great for getting over any break-up in a positive and successful way so feel free to make use of it as you please.

Want more advice?

If you’re looking for more ideas to save your relationship or marriage stay tuned for an actual relationship course (that you can take alone but it would be best to take with your significant other). I promise to first subject my friends and eventually my significant other to the course so I can include helpful hints and extra valuable information along the way. You might say we’re still collecting inspiration so if you have a story about parting ways with or reconciling with your ex be sure to let me know all about it! Don’t worry, you can always remain anonymous.

The Beauty Benefits of Bathing in Tea [Part 2]

Bathing in tea is not only beautiful and extravagant, it feels good. I’m a big tea and coffee lover in general and I can’t often use scented bath products as they aren’t the best for my skin or feminine health due to the chemicals they have. Bathing in herbs and teas is certainly a much better relaxing, decadent choice for most of us than sitting in bubble bath!

I still get messages from readers about our “The Beauty Benefits of Bathing in Tea [in Australia]” post by Michelle Walker and I decided it was finally time to do a beauty update! For one, many of you explained that you don’t have access to take baths so I’ve given you some more options for “bathing in tea.” Enjoy!

Great Teas to Bathe In

  • Chamomile: A great choice if you suffer from break outs or just want a glowing complexion. It’s no surprise that chamomile is also stress-relieving and relaxing, as it is commonly enjoyed to calm down before bedtime, so also try it as a relaxing bath before going to sleep.
  • Peppermint: A great refresher after a long day and a great choice to get you going. I even love simmering peppermint leaves on the stove as a winter blues pick-me-up and it’s a great scent to clear your sinuses if you’re feeling under the weather. I have also found peppermint is is very helpful if you’re feeling nauseated or sick to your stomach.
  • Green Tea: Green tea is also great for your skin as it contains antioxidants and a high amount of vitamin B, It’s a great choice for relaxing muscles and sweating out toxins. Also, as it has caffeine, it’s a good morning ritual.
  • Lavender: The most relaxing aroma (in my opinion) that helps you destress and will even improve a migraine. I keep a sachet of dried lavender beside my bed for just those reasons alone.
  • Jasmine: Jasmine is moisturizing and is said to improve stretch marks. The scent, to me, is intoxicating and one of my favorites to bathe in at the start of my day.
  • Rose: One of the prettiest teas to bathe in, of course you can toss in rose hips, rose buds and rose petals and feel like Marie Antoinette herself. What’s even better is this makeshift rose water tightens pores without drying them out and is also full of antioxidants. Rose water is a great toner–your skin will certainly thank you for this one!

Cream or Sugar?

Of course you can’t add sugar to your relaxing bath (a yeast infection waiting to happen!) but milk is a great addition to bath teas.

  • Milk Tea Bath: Milk contains a lot of fat and protein that leaves skin feeling supple. Lactic acid in milk helps to exfoliate and soften the skin leaving you with a glowing complexion. Add teas for more benefits.

Only Have a Shower?

You can still “bathe in tea!” Shut the bathroom door and let a steamy shower run for a few minutes on some teas and herbs placed within muslin, cheesecloth or pantyhose prior to getting in. Leave the tea bags in the shower while you bathe.

Steam Treatment

Another option is to heat the herbs in a simmer pot on the stove and do a steam treatment on your face. You’ll simmer the herbs in the pot, remove it from the stove and then cover your head in a towel while you hold your face over the steaming pot — be careful the steam is not hot enough to burn! Make sure you stay far enough from the simmering water or it will harm your skin (or mood!) more than improve it.

What if You Had One Week to Live? I did.

I don’t like the phrases “live like there’s no tomorrow”, “live like you’re dying,” or “what if you had one week to live?”

This is a very matter of fact depiction that I wrote while I couldn’t sleep. It’s purely to request you to think deeper about the previously mentioned phrases, and not a current mental or physical state. Rather, a perspective from an insider. Be warned, It’s long, riddled with errors, and the context also changes frequently, my grammar fanatics.

This is coming from someone who (several years ago now) truly believed that their life was coming to a near end due to health related issues.

None of my doctors were optimistic about my chances for survival, and I believed them.

The problem with believing that’s there’s no tomorrow is that we fail to take into account that there are consequences for our actions. We perpetually minimize things that have a major impact on us long-term, and don’t take into account the repercussions that will arise from rash indiscretions.

Sure, I understand what the concepts are trying to portray. “Seize the Day.” I understand that the message is supposed to be, “Tell people you love them, take chances, follow your dreams, spend time with your kids, etc.” However, when you believe you’re dying or that there’s no tomorrow (or at best very few of them), those are not the actions that I found myself making.

What I found during that time was that most people I interacted with had little concept of what it actually felt like to live this way. I lived in the parallel universe that no one seemingly made sense to me, and I beyond baffled everyone I came in contact with. Consequences didn’t matter to me anymore, because I wouldn’t have to live through them.

So, in that aspect I’ll give you a brief summary of what it was like for me to live as a person who was dying and the thought of no tomorrow.

Romance

I didn’t date seriously. A lot, but not seriously. I wouldn’t let anyone get close to me. I avoided new legitimate relationships. After all, how do you answer the question: “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” How could you seriously allow someone to become emotionally attached to you knowing there’s nothing in store for them but heart ache?

Friendships

I like to think that I was just unlucky with picking my friends, and that most humans don’t interact this way. However, if you are ill long-term you will more than likely lose most of your friends. (At least in my experience). You slowly start declining more and more invitations for social activities. You cease to invite people over/out. You fade away. You need more and give less. And to be completely honest you’re boring and depressing, which most people don’t tend to seek out. You get questions like: “How’s it going?” You either lie – “great!” Or you tell the truth “well, I can’t get in and out of the tub anymore. It’s too hard for my to stand long enough to shower, so I’m using a lot more baby wipes” or “I’ve lost 12 pounds this week, because I can’t keep food down.” You begin let go of people that you care about.

Work

If you’re even still healthy enough to work. I was unfortunately not in a financial situation to be able to take off work. I was a single adult who still had too many bills to pay (plus new ones with all of the medical expenses). I no longer tried to improve my quality of workmanship. I couldn’t afford to put any further energy in increasing my skill set. It took all I had just to get out of bed each day. Impressing people no longer mattered. I had to be driven to work, because I became too weak to drive myself. My quality of work rapidly declined. What was the point?

Health and Wellness

Many of the health trends are due to us wanting to live long and healthy lives. If you know you’re dying, then why not? I was sleeping on average 18-20 hours per day. You’re too sick to want to expend the energy on exercising (in fact walking across the room, is enough to make you need to take a nap). I couldn’t stand long enough to cook anything, which I had loved cooking and baking. My diet became a menagerie of fast food, delivery, high sugar and caffeine (for energy), alcohol for the pain. **Alcohol was a major contraindication for my medicines, but what was it going to do? Kill me?. I had also tried approx 10 different pain medications for my severe pain, most of which caused horrible reactions. (Rashes, edema, panic attacks, etc) Tylenol even put me in the ER** (If you know me now, my diet is very strict and I still get teased for not consuming alcohol.)

Finances

So, what happens when your lease is up when you know you won’t live another year? If you don’t renew what about your stuff? Should you put it in a storage unit? Money was way too thin to justify it anyway. I gave away almost all my furniture, clothing, and home goods. I was too sick to move it, and what did I need it for anyway?

I didn’t file my taxes. Come rob my grave, IRS. I stopped paying a lot of my bills. Were my student loan companies going to come repo my diploma? I was already choosing between medicine and food. One prescription was $1000/mo. Obviously any kind of saving was out of the question.

Healthcare

I didn’t go to the dentist, the eye doctor, my OBGYN, regular doctor for check-ups, etc. why? Anything seriously wrong with any of those departments would take years to manifest, and I had months at best.

What I can say positively is that I suffered from depression prior to these events, and I can also say that it honestly cured it. I have previously tried to recount these concepts for people who claim I was just depressed and had given up. Quite the opposite. It cured my depression and I fought every day to see the next one. I just had to pick my battles, and I found I could fight fewer and fewer as my health declined.

Why anyone would want to live like they were dying is beyond me. It only proves that the ones who state these ideas have no concept of what it’s really like. My overall trend was “what’s the point?” Especially while I was already spread so thin on just trying to survive one more minute.

Advice

What I believe is that we should live as if we have our whole lives ahead of us. We should act and build now. So that we can have as long as possible to reap what we’ve sown. Build something beautiful that you can love and share with others. Save money. Travel. Splurge on loved ones. Put your toes in the sand (even if you don’t like the beach – get an umbrella). Go camping (even if you don’t like bugs – get a cabin). Go to a foreign speaking country, and feel what it’s like to be an outsider. Do things that scare you (parasailing… Absolutely terrified me!) Try things you don’t think you’re capable of. Don’t stay where you’re not appreciated. Give up when you can’t make a difference, so that you can find where you do. Avoid debt as much as possible. Support people’s passions. Help those during their trying times. Most of all never live like you’re dying, because there’s always a point.

The Story of Babydoll, the Little Chicken That Could

Most of us eat chicken but are so removed from our food that we don’t consider the actual life that gave us the meal. Meanwhile, upon starting a backyard flock of my own I’ve realized more and more about how important it is to treat your living food well. Happy chickens, chickens treated well with adequate space, food, affection and adventures, in my experience, have better tasting eggs. Their eggs are creamy and dark, full of nutrients factory hens are lacking.

So upon my quest to learn about all things chicken I decided, or my hen decided rather, that it was time to try our hand at hatching eggs. You girls are what, a year old now?

It happened to be my youngest hen, Macaron, that decided to go broody. Broody means she decided to steal everyone’s eggs and sit on them until they hatch. (They weren’t going to hatch.) She didn’t even have a rooster in her flock. Can you imagine? I thought about never being with a man and suddenly deciding I would have a baby anyway, any day now. She tickled me. I admired her persistence. Against the advice of my breeder I got her some eggs to sit on. Some blue ameraucana eggs and a few silkie eggs as well.

Now, to understand why someone would be against hatching chicks with a hen you have to understand a bit about chickens. These days, chickens have been bred more for looks or for egg production (or meat, gasp). Mothering instincts have not been prized by many breeders. If you’re a good mother but your feather quality is crap then you’re not going to be bred. Chances are a chicken aficionado won’t be buying a hen based on possible mothering skills. Many farmers and chicken hobbyists alike use incubators because it’s just easier for them. You don’t have to wait on a broody hen to possibly hatch chicks when you can hatch them year-round on your own.

I had faith in my Macaron. I knew she was head strong. So she sat. She didn’t give up. She got up to eat, drink and poop once a day and sat the rest. She sat during the lightening storms, she sat during the humidity.

“My only hen that was able to actually hatch chicks ate them as soon as they hatched — are you sure you’re ready for that?”

I just had to let her try. If I didn’t, I’d never know. If she failed we’d just assume hatching wasn’t our flock’s strong point. I candled the eggs (with a flashlight) at around seven days, on Mother’s Day to be exact, and each egg had veins.

Twenty days later a pip. A small beak poked through a blue ameraucana egg. I’m a little fearful my mother hen will eat it. She has to be really hungry and irritated by now, right? Possibly little case of cabin fever? I left for the day and when I came back a tiny chick emerged from underneath her fluff. She did it. I was as shocked as she was. She thought the chick’s toes were worms. She tried to snag them. I got a little worried. However she quickly realized they weren’t worms, much to her disappointment.

The next morning all but 1 had hatched. The tiniest silkie egg. Too tiny to have a yolk? I thought it had veins but perhaps I was wrong. Oh well. Nine out of 10 is pretty good for our experiment.

Macaron was so pleased, she really seemed proud. I realize have a serious issue with anthropomorphizing animals but I could tell she was living out her dream. She protected the chicks as she did the eggs but the excitement caused her to chase them all around. She let me hold them and pet her, she was done being aggressive and puffed up. Her feathers relaxed. The poor girl was already tired but now she was also exhausted and frantic.

Later that afternoon the small egg’s pip was larger. I saw the little blue beak take a breath and I snapped a photo.

I checked that evening around 6 o’clock and the egg had been partially smashed. It was bloody (I’ll save you that photo, it’s terrifying). The small chick lay curled up within half of it. I felt scared but left it with her. She must know better about hatching chicks than I. A few hours later the chick was pushed away into the nest bedding and cold. So small and lifeless. Curled like a baby robin. Looked much too small to be a chicken, to survive, to thrive. All the other chicks raced around and peeped. Happy and strong. I took the chick into my hands. I held it close, assuming it was dead, and it peeped. A small peep. As though to say, “I’m still here.”

I snapped a photo for a chicken advice forum and went inside to tell my husband the sad story. I set up a makeshift brooder with a clip-on light bulb and made sure it was warm. It laid there all evening. It started to dry but didn’t open it’s eyes. I noticed it was white, the only white chick.

Hours later it rolled over on it’s back. Dead? Maybe. I rolled it back over and let it rest. Chicks absorb their yolk the last few days in the egg so they don’t need to eat much, if any, for a couple of days after hatching. This was only a time for rest.

The chicken forums flood with advice, with concerns, with questions. People contacted me from all over the world to see the chick, to hear how she’s doing. I’m shocked at so much interest in a tiny hatchling. I feel grateful to be a part of a community like that.

The next morning I dreaded going downstairs. I knew I’d look in the shower and it would be hard and lifeless in the brooder. I heard my husband exercising in the living room. I assumed he would notify me of the terrible news. I dreaded walking down the stairs and hearing him say my name. It’s just a chick, you tried as hard as you could. It wasn’t meant to live anyway. The mother hen knew it was a waste of time. It was probably sick or something. It’s such a tiny, disposable animal. It’s absolutely ridiculous to feel sad about it.

She lived. I don’t know that she is a she but I’m calling her Baby. It’s more of a pet name than an actual name. I’m afraid to name her because I’m afraid to get attached. It’s still touch and go. However she is alive. Surviving any of that is a good sign.

Baby’s legs don’t work. She seems to have what is referred to as “spraddle” legs. They stick out and she can’t walk. Makes it hard to eat or do much of anything. I research a treatment and create a small brace with yarn and medical tape. She stands. She’s wobbly and weak. She passes out flat anytime she wakes up for a few seconds. I feed her some water with honey from a cotton swab. She drinks it. I continue to feed her this every few hours for energy. She starts to wobble around trying to walk.

I feed her some scrambled egg and she tries to eat it. She tries to eat chick starter and can’t. Her little weak beak can hardly eat anything but honey water. I bring her a chick friend and it’s a disaster. It runs over her and she has no energy to compete. I let her stay alone a little longer. I keep dipping her beak in water every few hours. I’m her mother hen so I have to teach her how to do everything, even drink. My husband and I hold her in our hands, against our torsos while we watch tv in the evenings. She cries loudly when we put her back in the brooder.

This is the second evening I’ve spent with Baby. I feed her some egg and she eats it. She eats a big piece and gulps it down like the large hens eat whole cherry tomatoes. I feel excited. I know if she can start to eat she’ll make it.

The third day I wake up to Baby walking around with her brace like she’s been doing it for days. She leaps and races around. She speeds really fast and then wobbles about trying to stop. She’s like a bumper car without breaks. She’s headstrong and ready to go but not so sure about how to stop. She ends up in the water dish several times and I have to rework things. I cannot imagine finding her having drowned because she couldn’t walk very well. I would feel so terrible to come this far and lose her over a silly mistake.

See the leg brace?

Today I decide I’ll try again to increase her attention by bringing her some silkie friends from Macaron’s brood. They all spend hours crying for their mom. I feel terrible about them leaving the flock but know that Baby needs some friends besides me. She needs other chickens. They start to settle down and connect with each other… I feed them egg and chick starter and they begin racing around chasing each other. Just like the hens. Baby is now accepted and can hold her own in the group. They were all hatched on the same day and she is half their size but her spirit is triple.

Because of the interest in adopting the healthy chicks, Baby’s nursery has taken in a new bearded blue cream silkie chick whom was the odd one out of her own brood. Baby has accepted her as her long lost sister. My oldest daughter named her Lil Debbie. They both stayed inside with me for another several weeks because Baby was too small to hold her own with the large fowl chicks. In a large group the very small and disabled chicks often don’t get enough to eat or get smooshed in the huddle. I don’t want to take a chance until she’s a few weeks older and much stronger. If I ever take a chance before she grows up, that is.

After about a week I was notified about a young cockerel (rooster). He had an odd coloring but was an English Orpington like my other big girls. I’d been considering a rooster to protect my ladies and to maybe have a couple of chicks that are all of our own blood line. I couldn’t imagine how cute they would be! So I took him in. He was about 6 weeks old. Much bugger than the silkies. I was told he would smoosh them or hurt them so I put him with the big ladies. They bloodied his comb and I couldn’t bear it. I put him with the silkies. I was terrified so I kept watch. They all snuggled and he became the mom. I was shocked! I set them in the main coop after a few weeks (much too long I’m sure) and put blinders on the hens so they wouldn’t hurt him. He put the other hens in line and established his dominance. Would he change? Some roosters become very mean when they go through puberty. However, he still cared for the little ones. Even today they’re all grown up and if I toss good treats he runs and carries them to the two silkies we kept (Baby and Lil Debbie) and they sleep under his wing.

Baby has taught me a lot about raising chickens that I never would have known even having raised a flock prior to this. She has taught me a lot about myself, too. She’s shown me that even when everything seems to be going wrong or my health seems to be deteriorating that it’s always worth the fight to stay positive. That having such a beautiful, strong spirit is the biggest asset. That even if you’re struggling you can always give of yourself to others because everyone is struggling in some way.

Baby has taught me that we all have 2 choices: We can stay strong in the face of adversity, turmoil and sickness or we can fall, stay weak and remain afraid. We can essentially be our own undoing by accepting that we are a failure. I choose to fight, don’t you?

What’s so great about chickens anyway? Even their name is used as an insult — it’s a common way to call someone out for being a coward. Meanwhile Baby, the tiniest chicken, has one of the strongest spirits I’ve ever experienced. How’s that for a chicken?

The Low FODMAP Diet Helps With Bloating

FODMAP diet

First of all, I’m sure we can agree that diet fads are usually lame. They have little to no health benefit other than the diet-marketers making money and you being attracted with unrealistic body expectations and weight loss dreams. However this diet is not about losing weight.. it is a diet specifically helpful for those who struggle with painful bloating, IBS, sensitive stomachs, prior intestinal surgeries (ding ding!!) and other digestive issues.

After my emergency surgery in October of 2014 I couldn’t eat most things… my small intestine was healing and painful. However because of this, when I was physically able, I had an urge to eat EVERYTHING. I ate ate ate and especially loved sugar and carbs. I have a serious sweet tooth. My tummy did not like this.. it was more sensitive than ever and it began to look like I had a beach ball under my shirt, even more so around “that time of the month”. My whole body was relatively thin other than this big bloat! I even had people asking if I was pregnant AND touching my belly when I was out.. how embarrassingly terrible!

So my doctor had given me this diet and at the time I was just not interested. I didn’t have hope my stomach could change after this intestinal resection. I tried the medication and it worked a little bit but not to the extent I was hoping to relieve of this bloating and pain. After trying to do things my own way I finally realized I MUST try this diet regardless of how hard it would be. After that, I noticed a gradual change even within a week. I would wake up and my stomach would be flat, no bloat. I would go through the day and although it was hard to avoid bread and cake I continued to feel like I was not struggling with bloat! Hurray! Not only that but with increase in low fodmap foods I have been losing the extra weight I put on when I was eating unhealthily. I attribute this to eating healthier and exercising.. which are the only things anyone should be doing to get in shape. Starving yourself, trying fad diet pills, etc are likely just quick fixes and are not improving your health!

So what do you eat (and avoid) on the low fodmap diet?

FODMAP List

Oligiosaccharides

Avoid: Garlic, onions, wheat, leeks, nectarines, barley, rye, lentils, pistachios, kidney beans, chickpeas, broccoli
Eat: Quinoa, rice, corn, potato, buckwheat, eggplant, squash, pumpkin, bok choy, cucumbers, endive, tomato, zucchini, gluten-free products

Lactose (Disaccharide)

Avoid: Milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream
Eat: Feta, cheddar cheese, parmesan, lactose-free dairy (or lactaid), almond milk (ensure inulin is not added ingredient), plain lactose-free yogurt

Fructose (Monosaccharide)

Avoid: High-fructose fruits and foods like apples, mangos, honey, asparagus, pears
Eat: More evenly distributed fructose/sucrose fruits like bananas, blueberries, kiwi, raspberries, strawberries

Polyols

Avoid: Avocado, mushrooms, cauliflower, prunes, peach, cherries, blackberries, sugar alcohols (often in candy like: xylitol, sorbitol), molasses, watermelon
Eat: Honey dew, cantaloupe, raspberries, stevia, white or raw sugar (limited), pure maple syrup

Many of these foods should not be completely excluded, as they can be good for you if you’re not sensitive to them. On a low-FODMAP diet you aren’t eliminating these different types of carbohydrates completely—just reducing them — so if you slip-up it’s not the end of the world, keep going.

Some Go-To Recipes

Because the rest of my family is not really low-fodmap and eats bread, noodles, fruits and veggies that are high fodmaps.. I get major cravings. Some things I can make for them that they don’t mind: fried chicken with corn flakes vs crackers, noodles with rice noodles, homemade pickles (remember garlic and onion are very bad for fodmappers and that stinks!!). As usual my recipes are not exact measurements because that’s how I cook (by sight and feel).

Grilled Cheese Quesadilla

  • Corn (gluten free) Tortilla
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Tomato (love grilled cheese with tomato!)
  • Dollop of non or low lactose plain yogurt on top
  • Directions
    Place the tortilla in a greased pan or on griddle that’s on medium heat. Put some shredded cheese on top and when it melts place a slice of tomato on top, fold in half, top with a dollop of yogurt.

Fried Chicken

  • Corn flakes
  • Bit of Corn Starch or Tapioca Starch
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Egg
  • Thawed Chicken
  • Directions
    Oil for frying (olive oil + bacon grease for flavor!)
    Heat oil to high heat, dip chicken into beaten eggs and then into crushed corn flakes mixture (with corn starch and salt & pepper). Turn chicken when browned. Remove when internal temp is at least 345 degrees Fahrenheit.

French Toast

  • Gluten free white bread
  • Splash of Lactaid Milk
  • Egg
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Maple Syrup (actual maple syrup, not the sugary brands of syrup)
  • Directions
    Dip bread into the milk, eggs and vanilla. Heat in greased pan or on griddle until lightly browned on each side. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with a bit of maple syrup.

Snacks

  • Rice cakes + peanut butter (check ingredients!) + banana slices
  • Plain potato chips (you can haz!!)
  • GH Cretors Chicago Mix (a serving takes care of sugary cheesy cravings!)
  • Corn chips + cheddar cheese + jalapeños + oven/microwave to melt cheese + no/low lactose dollop of yogurt
  • Banana + lactose free vanilla yogurt + sprinkles of raw sugar + thin popsicle stick + freeze for 1 hour = banana pop (my kids LOVE these)
  • String cheese stick
  • WOW Baking Co Lemon Burst Wheat & Gluten Free Cookies
    These cookies have no high FODMAPs! They also make other flavors but the only ones that might be ok are Snickerdoodle and Peanut Butter however I haven’t checked them!
  • Snack Stops: Target, Fresh Market and Whole Foods have a bunch of snacks made for those of us on restrictive diets if you look around and check ingredients! Gluten and dairy free have been more and more accepted in other grocery stores, as well.
  • Peppermint and Ginger teas (if you sweeten use white or raw sugar, not honey) are always a good idea for your tummy!

bagged-lemon-burst GH CRETORS CHICAGO MIX yellow gluten free cake mix

Those should give you a few ideas! For instance you can fry eggplant for eggplant parm with the same mixture as the chicken above but remember to make your own tomato sauce because garlic and onion are in most or all tomato sauces! You can also substitute spaghetti noodles for rice noodles (MAI FUN).

As you see above, I found a new favorite dessert/snack food that doesn’t cause me bloating and doesn’t have any major offenders in it: GH Cretors Chicago Mix! This is really a treat because most candy popcorns I found had at least one big bloat-inducer or just left me feeling those same bloated feelings. It takes care of all of the cravings in one bag.

More Tips

Differing Information

You might notice after exploring low FODMAP food lists that many different doctors and people disagree on foods. I find the best thing is to check Monash University‘s app list then to read about the ingredients myself if I’m not sure in a store. It takes some getting used to and it’s confusing and tough at first but it starts to make sense soon! It’s easier when you’re going and getting more accustomed to listening to your body (belly) and what things bother YOU!

Spices

Beware of SPICES! Although all spices except for garlic and onion are fine many spice mixes (including yellow curry!) have onion and garlic IN them. This includes broths. These two flavorful guys taste SO GOOD but cause me a lot of discomfort especially on this diet.. I notice very quickly if they are in something after I’ve cut FODMAPs down/out. So be sure to look out for them. Green onions (scallions) and chives are safe if only the green tops are used and they’re used minimally. So your cherished fried rice and noodles can survive as long as you skip the bulbed onions and garlic!

How Long?

If you decide you do want to adopt a low FODMAP diet, it’s best to talk to your doctor first. If you can, try to commit to the diet for at least a month before you determine if it’s beneficial for you and your digestive system. It’s best to keep a journal (I have one on my phone so I can always easily write notes about foods) along the way to document changes and reactions to foods. I find even low FODMAP foods can give me bloating and some high FODMAP foods won’t! It’s a good idea to keep it handy.

Introducing FODMAP Foods

Also after you try the diet for a month you can start to introduce new foods you used to love by eating one a day or so and see how they affect you. You might be skipping on something that you find you can eat with little discomfort.

FODMAP Friendly Sites

If you decide to try the diet, let me know your experience and if you need support! I’ll be sure to update about my journey more in the future. xo