glutenfreegirl glutenfreegirl

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Shauna M. Ahern  welcome to our table #glutenfree #enough

Two months ago, hives started splattering across my chest, mostly along my scar. I itched everywhere, ferociously. And 4 times, my lips swelled up so fast that I ran to the clinic near us to make sure I wasn't going to lose my breath. I've never suffered from allergies before, so I have been baffled. One doctor told me that women in perimenopause can spontaneously develop a new food allergy. But which one? And what to do? ⠀
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For the past 2 weeks, I've been going downhill — terrible abdominal pain, swollen hands and eyes, fatigue. The heating pad and I have become well acquainted with 2 am. Last week I had all the tests required to rule out all the scary stuff. All clear. Still, this pain. The ER doctor told me to do only soft, bland foods for 2 weeks. Happy holidays! Thank goodness for Danny's delicious bone broth. ⠀
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It has been quite a year. In January, I had a mastectomy, then 2 weeks later I was rushed Into emergency surgery to remove all the sutures. Then I stayed in the hospital for 4 days with a nasty staph infection. Two months later, I had a 3-day stay for a very serious strep infection. And then 3 months of antibiotics to prevent the return of those infections. I wrote a book that means the world to me, equally exhilarated by it and doing hard things. I helped to open a cooking school in my town. And then there are jobs to bring in money, two incredible and particular children, and the state of our nation. I've been happy this year. And I've been doing what I can to keep my immune system strong. But it has been a year.⠀
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Those of us with autoimmune disorders know that our bodies are more sensitive — or mysterious? open? — than most people's bodies seem to be. Healing requires quiet and kindness. So, perhaps for the first time, I'm not looking for any answers this time. That struggle to understand is a fight too. I'm slowing down. I know that this will inch forward, day by day, and then I will look up from the ground and see the sky. I will keep walking the beach in the cold air, when I can, and breathe. That is enough.

“Mama, can we make this a tradition? Go to @naamnw for Santa photos then go out for Ethiopian food after? Every year?”
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“You bet, kiddo.”

Sunday morning.

In these early December evenings, the liminal time we greet with candlelight, I have been thinking about the last lines of a poem by Andrew Bohn, which my dear friend @mtantau sent me the other day:
“...in these spaces between
this touching,
this letting go
but now is your time to
gather in the light,
and radiate,
this is your time to live.”

Every Thursday, I pick up Desmond from his preschool at 1:30 and we walk to the car, hand in hand. Every other day, he gets out at 3, like Lucy. But on Thursdays, we have a Mama-Desmond date. We drive to the thrift store and shop for a bit. He gets a little bag of action figures or a whoopie cushion or something for a science experiment. And he plays with his friends in the toy department while I browse and talk with neighbors. After, when we have spent $10 or $12, we walk to the restaurant where Danny is expediting and managing. By 2:15, it’s pretty quiet in there, so Danny can say hi and bring us fries (made in a dedicated gluten-free fryer) and our favorite drink: cranberry juice and club soda, with a cherry. Desmond and I talk and play and eat fries.
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We do this every single Thursday. It has become one of my favorite rituals: small and so right.
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You probably saw the reports going around the Internet this week about how horrible fries are for our health. My favorite take was that we really need to choose another vegetable besides fries. Ahem, do you really think of fries as a vegetable? They are hot starchy-salty perfection, when they are done right. A Harvard professor said we should eat 6 fries and no more. Sure, Jan.
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Our conversations about food in this culture are so often inflammatory. We isolate foods and make sweeping judgments and eliminate entire food groups without much scientific basis. We don’t talk about small pleasures and moderation and individual cases. I think everyone probably knows that supersizing it every day is not a great idea. Does that mean we should make French fries the enemy? I hope not. I hope we have more commonsense. I always have a plate of sautéed vegetables and tofu and let my son eat most of the fries. However, I look forward to my weekly fries as a conscious, cherished ritual. And they taste wonderful, every time.

“Oh what a beautiful morning. Oh what a beautiful day.”
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As Lucy and I started the drive to her school today, I turned on the disc for Oklahoma. “Wait, can’t we listen to holiday music?” she asked me. She and Desmond are in full-on holiday mode.
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“Nope,” I told her. “It’s time for you to learn the history of musical theater, since you love it so much.” .
I knew she would fall in love with it when she heard it, so I turned up the volume as we drove down the road. And waited. Her eyes lit up when the title song came on and she started bouncing in her seat. We listened to “Surrey with a Fringe on Top” and I explained that it’s a love song, a feller trying to woo his girl with the promise of a horse ride with the fanciest vehicle he could provide. She listened, fascinated.
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As we grew closer to school, I went back to “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” It seems like a corny song, unless you really drop down into it.
“All the sounds of the earth are like music,
All the sounds of the earth are like music,
The breeze is so busy it don't miss a tree...”
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And as we approached her school, we saw the sun, fully risen, over the horizon of bright blue sky. “Mama! Did you hear that just as the music grew quiet, we drove up and saw this sky. It was like the song paused for us to notice this.”
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I nodded, too moved to say a word.
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And she skipped off to school.
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(@thepioneerwoman, I thought of you the entire time.)

The husband’s “hey I’m almost home” commute photo.
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#vashonisland #welovewherewelive #enough

Lately I’ve been thinking so much about the joy we create when we build things together. Our daughter has caught the bug of theater, partly because she loves being onstage and mostly because she loves rehearsals and that transporting joy of creating a show, one day at a time, with people who love what you love. My dear friend Tita told me today about how much she enjoyed cleaning out the gutters with her husband, since they have different strengths and that project could not have happened without doing it in tandem. And I think about the folks pictured here, whose names are so familiar to us that they are now portrayed on @radicalteatowel (!) and hanging on the wall of our Unitarian Church. Each of them was singular, an outlier in thinking in his or her own society, but they had the courage to speak out. Others found them and joined in. And together, they built movements that have changed lives. Nothing happens unless we build together.
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Danny and I have been building something together, a new project we’ll tell you about in the new year, when it’s ready. It’s a little like projects we have done in the past and like nothing we’ve done before. We want to build it with others. That’s where the joy is made, in the creating, in the not-knowing, in the conversations. I’m grateful for the building together. I think it might be what really matters.

An ordinary happiness: Saturday morning. A whoopie cushion at the thrift store. A makeup tutorial for the Nutcracker.

It has been quite the week here. On Monday, I turned in the manuscript for the book of essays I have been working on for 3 years. So many of you wrote such kind comments. Thank you. However, I have not been taking baths and sleeping in since Monday. I want to share the other project that has been giving me joy. ⠀
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For the past year, I have been honored to work with Melinda Powers, the owner of @the_hardware_store_restaurant here on Vashon. Melinda is one of the kindest, smartest business people I have ever met. She began the restaurant at the center of our town because she wanted to create community. And she has been running it successfully for 13 years. Danny cooked there for a few years, helping to create the gluten-free menu that is still in place. He's back working there again, this time as front of the house, managing and expediting. It's the kind of place that makes you feel good when you're there. People come back. And Melinda, who is one of the women I admire most in the world, is the heart of it all. ⠀
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She contacted me a year ago with an idea. She wanted to build another space to create community. This time, she wanted to make a smaller space, where folks who don't know each other can come together and use their hands together. She wants to help people learn how to love cooking. But she also wants people to make art together, craft cocktails, learn how to create an organic garden, arrange flowers, and have private parties to celebrate the people they love. And she asked me to help create it. ⠀
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Welcome to @relishvashon. I'm so happy to be part of this. ⠀
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The direct link to the website (relishvashon.com) is in my profile. Take a look. And if you are anywhere near Vashon, take a class. We'll be hosting 3 classes a week, starting in January. For now, we'll have lots of holiday classes — appetizers and cocktails; edible gifts; making wreaths — in the next few weeks. And I'm teaching a gluten-free holiday baking class on December 20th. I'd love to see you there. Book it now. Each class is limited to only 12 people.⠀
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I'm so happy to be teaching again. This is a place to make a little magic with our hands and hearts, together.⠀
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#relishvashon

Three years ago, I spent a week walking around New York City by myself. A few months earlier, I had suffered a mini-stroke. I still spent 2 months with Danny, cooking, photographing, and writing promotional posts for our upcoming cookbook. By the time I reached New York, I was exhausted. I felt confused about my next steps. We knew we didn’t want to do any more cookbooks, at least for a long time. And I no longer wanted to promote ourselves constantly to earn our living.
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So I walked and walked and walked, through deeply familiar neighborhoods and streets I had never been on before. I saw friends and talked to strangers and stayed up having conversations with people I love dearly. I had no purpose for my visit, other than the wedding of one of my best friends. And the chance to work out the ideas in my mind.
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Toward the end of my visit, I had dinner with my agent, @staceyglick, who has been one of my anchors for more than 12 years. Excited, talking with my hands a lot, I told her what had finally coalesced that afternoon. I wanted to write a book called ENOUGH. I wanted to write essays about all the ways I had not felt good enough on this earth for so long. I wanted to write essays about how I had found my rage, then meditation, to reach the place of enough pretending. And finally, as I was discovering, how good life could be after dropping all of it and living with mostly enough. Stacey listened and thought it was a great idea. And then, over the next year, she read draft after draft of my proposals until she felt it was ready to go.
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Today, 3 years and 1 month after that dinner, I turned in the edited version of my manuscript. The wonderful, wonderful @susanroxborough has been the editor of my dreams. She has helped me shape this into the most deeply personal (and hopefully universal) book I have ever written. It is certainly the best writing I have ever done.
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I emerged from my office after hitting send to this sight this afternoon. I didn’t care. That blue sky is up there. And from now until September when this book is published, I will be standing under this enormous sky, feeling grateful for all of this.

Like every year, we bought our tree at the fish stand by the side of the road. And like every year, this tree is festooned with every handmade ornament from preschool gifts and salt-dough experiments and hand-crafted goodness. Plus odd wonderful ornaments from the thrift store. There’s too much on it to be elegant. I don’t care. I’m not going to change a thing.
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Okay maybe I’m going to replace all the pink and purple bulbs in this new light set. Or maybe we’ll call this our tribute to Prince year.

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