A to Z of Healthy and Happy G is for Give

Welcome back to the A to Z of Healthy and Happy. I really struggled this week with narrowing down what I would bring to you for the letter G , there really are so many possibilities!  But a conversation with a gorgeous friend (in her gorgeous store) and other chats about community that popped up for me, made it clear the message I needed this week, I'm hoping it's a good fit for you too.

A to Z of Healthy and Happy G is for Give via Mama Nourish

 

One of the best ways to find deep contentment and happiness is not to receive, but to give. Who knew that Christmas message trotted out when we were young (and possibly rolled our eyes at) really really is true?  It's natural to yearn for happiness and often when we fall in to the trap of viewing the highlight reel as a competition it's easy to feel that there isn't anything left over for us.

But the truth is that generosity frees space in our lives to receive the things that we truly need to make us happy.   Here are a few things that you can give away, no matter what your personal situation is, that will build not only your own happiness but your community's.

Give your time

Let's start with something many will sigh and see as the greatest burden to give. After all so many of us are tied up in being busy, or fighting being busy that we just don't want to add more to our to do list. But you don't have to give those hours you don't feel you have volunteering to give your time. Giving your time can be practised in small chunks every day, building up to a big beautiful happy high for you. 

Some simple ways to give your time are:  

Answering questions people have on social media, pick one a day that is in your field of expertise. Not only will you make someone happy that you've helped them, you're getting to use the skills and knowledge that make you unique and that feels awesome.

Checking in with elderly or isolated neighbours, you don't have to take on huge responsibilities or chores to make an impact in someones life. If you have a neighbour who is frail or alone, just stopping by once a week for five minutes to see how they're doing and say hi will make a big difference to their days.  And because you're taking a bit of time to tend your community and build connections you'll be building your resistance to loneliness, which is a great way to increase your happiness.

Give your stuff

One of the things that makes many of us feel trapped, busy and miserable is an overabundance of things that we don't really need. They take up our space and instead of making us feel blessed they make us feel burdened. I'm very serious about the impact spring cleaning your home can have on your state of mind, and having a good deep cleanse means you'll be able to pass on things that are too good to throw out to people in need.  You don't have to put them straight into the charity bin either, take a few minutes to have a ring around and see if the things you no longer need could help a shelter or people rebuilding their lives out. You'll feel lighter by unburdening yourself and you'll feel the joy of helping others.

Give your privilege

No matter how tight your situation is, if you're reading this blog you have a computer, electronic device or access to one, that's an amazing privilege that we often take for granted. Sure we all have problems, but a lot of them are of the better set of problems to have. Most of us are not homeless or going without food. Think about those lovely privileges we benefit from each day, whether it's having a job, staying home and having time, or just living in relative peace and safety. Now think about how you can share the benefits of these things with others. It might mean donating your money, or your voice to others who don't have privilege. If you're a blogger there are amazing resources that you have at your disposal to blog for social good, see Carly Findlay or Eden Riley for some great examples of people pushing through their own challenges, recognising their privilege and using it to help others.  Not only will it benefit others but it will recenter your focus on the good you have in your life and away from your hardships , which will make you happier.

Give your kindness

This one is the easiest and cheapest and potentially has the biggest impact of all the things you can give. Simple acts of kindness make a huge difference in other's days and in yours.  Speaking to people on public transport, being grateful and gracious to the people who serve you in stores (yes even Prue and Trude), helping people that you see struggling with their load; all of these will take only seconds out of your day and yet have the ability to make you and so many others happy. If you treat people kindly they will in turn shine that kindness on to others and so on, it's a small simple trick that has amazing implications.  

Give a sh*t

Finally I want you to stop ignoring the things that aren't right in this world and start challenging yourself and others to change them. It's not someone else's job, it is all of ours. Finding your passion isn't just about finding the positive action that you enjoy and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes finding your passion is about what sets you on fire, what makes you so flamingly angry that you want to rail against the world. Don't just get mad, give a sh*t and make change happen. Even small steps towards improving something are important and clear the path to substantial change. Won't you be happier if instead of being upset by a situation or issue you have found a way to make it better? 

Tell me what can you give away that will make you happier?

The privilege of doubt

the privilege of doubt

It's been a while since I commented on these issues online, or anywhere really.  You see when years go by and there is no change, at least not for the better, it makes me weary and even a little wary of putting my opinion out here. 

Still, if we are going to live nourished lives in a nourishing community I think examining the darkness in our communities is part of that process.  

It also becomes impossible to remain quiet with the Pistorius case flashing a macabre light on societies' reaction to women dying at their partners' hands. Where in the flurry of reporting, his potential is counted as one of the greater costs of Reeva's death. Just think about that for a minute; that a known killer's potential bears mentioning at all. Reeva had potential, in her career, as a daughter and sibling, as a woman who was speaking out against violence in a country rife with it and yet people focus idiotically on the loss of sporting potential, not on his propensity for violence.

Here's the thing three women die*, every, single, fucking day in South Africa at the hands of their loved one. Is it any wonder that Pistorius told Steenkamp that his behaviour was normal when she told him she was afraid of him?  Intimate partner violence is normalised behaviour, if you don't believe that then you have blinders on.   Steenkamp was not the first girlfriend of Pistorius to be afraid of him, a previous girlfriend had been put on a naughty chair and locked in his home as punishment. Abuse does not have to be physical, intimidation is usually a first step, it grooms the victim for increasing violence and is an incredibly damaging form of abuse in itself.

Domestic violence is so normalised that despite being convicted of Steenkamp's death Pistorius has been dating a nineteen year old girl and her family are reported to have embraced him.  Just sit with that a minute and think, would you embrace someone who had shot their partner to death, accident or not?   And then think have you accepted someone who has hit their partner? Excused their violence because of the victims' personality or perceived flaws? People are so willing to extend the privilege of doubt to perpetrators of violence that they will support them through and beyond trials for murdering their former partners. Take Rachelle Louise, girlfriend of convicted killer Simon Gittany who has pledged to wait five years for him to be acquitted before she will move on with her life. So strong is the privilege of doubt she's willing to take the risk of sacrificing her life for a convicted murderer. A  man who threw his previous fiancé off a balcony to her death, who had kept her under constant surveillance leading up to her death. Now you can call these women the exception and naive, and in part you may be true. You may think that this only happens when the perpetrator is in a position of power but I can tell you first hand that is not true.

In my own case, I survived the prolonged attack meted out over several hours, police told me I would not be so lucky if I returned. Undoubtedly true after being locked inside with all phones removed, no way to escape hours of being kicked, punched and stomped on, among other things. A night where even after he had left and I barricaded the house shut he returned and loudly forced his way in, not one neighbour contacted the police. Because of doubt, doubt that it was a one way argument, doubt that it was any of their business, doubt prevented anyone from sending me help.  Extending the privilege of doubt could have killed me and certainly has killed others.  

Thankfully I found a way out. And yet within six months of our separation my ex partner was living with a vibrant, intelligent, attractive woman, because of the privilege of doubt. Because he cried and so the judge gave him community service and a good behaviour bond, had the attack been carried out on a stranger the same sentence would be unlikely, people would be outraged. Instead society makes it easy for the violent manipulators to get a 'second chance', because their victims, provoked them or deserved it. In my case I was accused of having given my perpetrator a black eye (logistically impossible with my dominant hand broken when he stomped on it not to mention our size and strength differences), because he was of questionable enough sanity to hit and scratch himself to look like it had been a fight rather than an attack.  Not only did he go on to mentally and physically abuse the next woman in his life, who had extended him a chance based on doubt, he has since moved on to another woman who again has given him the privilege of doubt.

Why? Because his family and society stand behind him, telling us that he made a mistake and that he is not a bad person.  Courts extend him the privilege of access to his children, because he only hits women

At what point do we stop extending doubt to the blindingly obvious bad nature of some people? At what point do we stop the hatred of women** so ingrained we are giving convicted killers the benefit of the doubt and ignoring their well documented track record of violence?

Isn't it time we shun these people, and make an example of them?  

Yet instead when they repeat and escalate their violence there is another victim ready and waiting for them, throwing themselves willingly into a manipulators' path, because society would rather be extend doubt than hear the voice of a woman as truth.

If we want women to be safe, in the streets, in their own homes, we don't need changes to sentencing laws, we need changes to our attitudes.

 

 

* Compared to one a week in Australia, whose death is no less important.

** Woman are not the only victims of domestic violence, same sex violence appears to occur as frequently, violence against men has been problematic to track.

 

Pumpkin Spice Cake

pumpkin-spice-overhead.jpg

I had grand plans of making some spooky halloween treats, and actually spent two days scouring this city for a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter. Sadly it was not meant to be, I guess that's what I get for deciding I want to make a halloween recipe for the blog the week before halloween.

But my lack of preparedness still brought something delicious to my table, and hopefully yours. A delightful, fluffy, Pumpkin Spice Cake with maple (dairy free) cream cheese frosting. Which goes perfectly with a nice cup of coffee and some feet up time, gives a slight nod to halloween and works out seasonally lovely for any friends the are in the northern hemisphere.

Sure it's not one of those fancy Pinterest cakes shaped like an actual pumpkin, but with it's fresh ingredients, great nutrients and absolutely no packet mixes in sight (seriously why do people use packet mix in recipes it confuses me) I promise this is a great addition to your table this weekend.

Pumpkin Spice Cake via Mama Nourish

Heat oven to 200c, Roast pumpkin for approx 30 mins or until tender.

Remove from the oven to cool and reduce oven heat to 175c.

In a mixing bowl beat eggs and panela until creamy and fluffy, add vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon and continue to mix. 

Remove skin from pumpkin and add it and nuttelex to mixture, blend thoroughly.

While still mixing add plain flour and besan a little at a time, finally add baking soda and quickly mix through.

Pour into cake tin and bake for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched.

Optional dairy free "cream cheese" frosting

  • 227g Tofutti better than cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • Sunflower seeds & pepitas to garnish

Place all ingredients into mixture and beat until combined.  Once ready pour over cooled cake and sprinkle seeds over to decorate.

Why Pumpkin?

Why pumpkin? via Mama Nourish

A to Z of Happy and Healthy F is for Finding connection


F is for finding connection

I think loneliness is a just a little like depression, it's an isolating emotion, and it's a lying one.

It is a sneaky little voice inside that tells us we are the only one that feels like this, it lists the myriad ways in which we are different or left out.  There's a lot of talk of how technology is impacting on loneliness, making us feel less and less connected to each other even though we have more and more access to tiny details of each other's lives. 

So who do we blame?  Often technology.

Technology though is an easy target.

Yes our culture has shifted and continues to shift rapidly, due to technology and us adapting to the way it can be used and impact on our lives and relationships. We're increasingly encouraged to see each other as competition and not as company. We're bombarded by the right way to look, think and feel through technology, and especially television. But the thing is that it doesn't control us, and in fact it is just other people on the other end of technology pushing these messages towards us. 

Technology doesn't isolate us, it truly can connect us, not just superficially but our very hearts can reach each other over insanely vast distances. We can get to know each other in the most beautiful ways without ever getting to sit at the same table.

What distances us is that tricky lonely voice, the one that tells us we are separate and different. Separate and inferior.  Some of us are surrounded by people and still remain lonely, because that connection, the feeling of being really heard is missing.  We all want to be truly seen, and loved.  

But loneliness tries to outstrip that need. It tells us that in order to not be seen as less than we have to pretend we're not lonely, and that in fact everything is going brilliantly. That we're much too busy to fit in the very things that would rid us of loneliness. 

 If we truly want to move away from loneliness we need to  be brave put our hands up, raise our voices and say,

"Hey I'm lonely, and I'd love some company." 


It's hard, especially as an adult to do this, it feels as if you're admitting a flaw. It's time to let go of that flawed ideal, of people totally independent and capable, of not needing anyone else. I for one am a woman who can build my own home, create a kitchen and the things to cook it in, produce beautiful imagery and words. But what would any of that be worth if I didn't have the company and collaboration of other human beings?

A lot of us talk about making time for ME time, myself included, after all it's a big portion of what Mama Nourish is all about. But here's the thing, we don't just need ME time we also need WE time. 

It's important for us to find connections, it's great if we're able to make them face to face, it's also wonderful if we reach out across the electronic abyss and find them there. 

Make time for WE time, and reach out to break away from the trickery of loneliness. find those connections.  None of us need to be lonely.

Follow along with the rest of the A to Z of Healthy and Happy

A is for Air

 B is for Balance, Burnout and Breathe

C is for Clean Out 

D is for Ditch that bad habit

E is for Exfoliate

Five ways co-sleeping will improve your sex life

It’s the question many want to ask about co-sleeping, but are often too shy to.

Doesn’t it kill your sex life?

While it might seem intrusive it’s understandable people want to know. After all, one of the biggest adjustments to a relationship when a baby comes along is re-establishing your intimate connection.

Because of this, families who may otherwise be interested in co-sleeping could be put off by a perception that it will put a further crimp on reconnecting with their partner.

From my own experience and the anecdotes of other co-sleeping families this is absolutely untrue.

If anything, co-sleeping ups the inventiveness and adds spice to your sex life because it forces you to work together to find the space and time to enjoy each other as partners not just parents.

Here are five ways co-sleeping can improve your sex life...

Click through to Kidspot to read them  

 
Five ways co-sleeping will improve your sex life

Parenting a child with Cow Milk Protein allergy or intolerance, what you MUST know.

Cow Milk Protein Allergy or Intolerance, things parents need to know

I read an article recently which while not expressly about Cow Milk Protein allergy or intolerance reminded me of what a hard road it is to diagnose and to navigate the dietary changes that the allergy requires.  I know that at several points I thought we had it nailed, that the screaming and crying must be from something else only to find another hidden trigger.  Now I know that I don't have it under control unless I constantly keep it under control.  Generally speaking this means restricting us to whole foods prepared at home.

It is incredibly difficult in our highly processed western diet to remove all allergens that trigger CMP allergy. Many products contain cow byproducts and absolutely all cow products must be removed from the diet in order to be safe.  Information is scattered all over the place and most of what our family has learned was through trial and error.  I'm going to share what we have learned about living with CMP and while this is by no means exhaustive I hope it helps someone else falling in to the same pitfalls.  Perhaps it will make a family feel less alone, in those times where the screaming just won't stop and they think they might actually die from sleep deprivation.

 

How Cow Milk Protein allergy presents in the early days

  • Your baby may seem to have colic or reflux.
  • They will often not sleep for long periods, depending on how recently CMP has been in their system.
  • You may notice that they sleep better held against you and almost upright.
  • They often will push the breast (or bottle) away even as they are screaming with hunger as they quickly learn to associate feeding with stomach pain.
  • They will pull their little legs and ball up from gas pain
  • Their farts and poo will smell incredibly bad
  • They may have foaming poo they may not
  • They may have infrequent or very frequent bowel movements
  • They my be excessively mucousy
  • They may snore and have rasping breathing from congested airways
  • They may experience sleep apnoea from congested airways
  • They may have hives, red rashes or eczema

 

Hidden food traps and allergy pitfalls

I in all honesty thought many times that we had eliminated all triggers from Eve's diet, hidden food traps meant that another bout of reaction to the CMP which could last for four to six weeks by the time it completely cleared from my breastmilk and from Eve's system.  In the hope of saving others from this here are some ways that Cow Protein may be introduced to your child without you even realising.

Pre-cooked, seasoned and roasted chickens from most supermarkets and fast-food outlets. Most processed chicken is pumped with milk to tenderise the meat, which is not immediately obvious when you purchase a chicken from the deli or at a fast-food outlet where ingredient labels aren't prominent.

These ingredients while not always derived from bovine sources may be, so need to be avoided. Acid casein, Activated carbon, Anti-caking agent, Casein, Calcium stearate, Clarifying agent, Diglyceride, Enzymes-Lipases, Fat, Fatty acid, Fermentation aid, Foaming agent, Gelatin, Lactalbumin, Lactose, Lipase, Magnesium stearate, Monoglyceride, Natural flavour, Non-Kosher Glycerides, Non-Kosher Poly-sorbates, Oleic acid, Palmitic acid, Pancreatin, Pepsin, Processing aid, Rennet, Rennin, Simplesse, Sodium caseinate, Stearic acid, Suet, Tallow, Trypsin, Wax, Whey. 

This list is by no means exhaustive and goes a long way to explaining my shift to whole foods, if in doubt about an ingredient google its name and the word Vegan and you will often come up with the information you need, thank G-d for vegans!

Unlisted ingredients When Eve was small and we had eliminated most of the key triggers from her diet we still had recurring pain incidents. During this time a powdered chai that I had been buying was repackaged and you guessed it now included whey in its ingredients listing, sometimes products are not accurately labelled.  I'm not sure why but I feel that because CMP is often confused by people as lactose intolerance and not a more serious condition labelling for cow based products doesn't appear to be as stringent as for other allergens such as nuts.

Immunisations Despite informing several medical staff of Eve's allergy not once was it disclosed that there are Cow Proteins via both the inclusion of Gelatin and Animal Sera both often derived from bovine sources.  If you see BOX 1 at the base of this link from the Medical Journal of Australia you will see almost every single childhood vaccine contains cow product. This was one of the things that made Eve incredibly ill and ended our breastfeeding relationship.  We experienced four days of continual screaming, often in her sleep, and four weeks of illness after cow products we injected in to her body by medical staff who should have informed me. The ingredients of these injections are not disclosed in the informed consent forms you fill in either. I had to hunt down the information which is not an easy task even in the age of the internet, to be honest I remain incredibly angry about this.

 

Parenting techniques that helped our family

These methods aren't for everybody, but they did help us.

Baby Massage Gentle massage of the stomach and stretching of the legs can help your little one move the gas and soothe the pain that they are in.

Babywearing because of the stomach pains Eve slept more deeply and for longer times if she was held close to one of us.  Obviously as nice as it is it's not possible to spend every nap time in bed helping your little one sleep. Babywearing and finding the right sling was the right choice for us as Eve was comforted and felt safe and I was still able to cook meals and do housework or go places that I needed to.

Whole food diet The only way to be truly sure what you are consuming and passing on to your little one through breast milk or feeding them directly is to make the majority of food from whole sources. This might seem difficult but in the end is a lot less difficult that the nights of screaming one small dietary slip cause.

 

Remember CMP allergy / intolerance is NOT the same as Lactose intolerance

If your little one has a CMP allergy all of those awesome Lactose free products trickling in to the market are not going to do you any good. They do remove the lactose but not protein allergen triggers, steer clear of them.

 

I hope that some of this might be helpful to you or someone you know, as I mentioned before it can be difficult to find information on CMPI/A so it would be wonderful if you could share this resource on social media so it can reach those it could help.