♦ My Sweet Life

Dear Shaina,

Don’t despair. There is hope for the burn-your-ass and keep-running-like-a-rat syndrome. Eventually you find your stride. Eventually you make your place and settle in. Eventually you realize that you don’t have to feel the burn in order to do some good.

I hate to acknowledge that you may have internalized this suffer-until-it-feels-good affliction from my side of the family. I think its about survival. The good news is we are all surviving. The tough part is that we all have to figure out how to do it on our own.

Speaking of survival tactics, I hear you’re doing a little yoga. Mahjong and yoga…hmmm…I won’t say a word. You are already 30 years ahead of where I was at your age!

In the meantime,I am celebrating my fiftieth year of living with Diabetes! Hard to believe…that fifty years have gone by…and that I am still here to write my daughter a letter about it. On June 6, 1965, the day I was diagnosed with what was then called Juvenile Diabetes, my odds for surviving another fifty years were slim.

46 years ago

46 years ago

The chatter I heard on the street as a 13 year old newly diagnosed diabetic was about a neighbor, an elderly grandfather, a long lost cousin…who lost a leg, went blind, died from kidney failure or heart disease. I chose to tune out most of that. I was instructed to never go barefoot, to not get upset, to eat the same thing at the same time every day, to stay away from sugar, to test my urine four times a day, and of course, to take insulin shots. I chose to ignore most of that too, except taking insulin and staying away from sugar. I knew I had to do those two things in order to survive.

I made the decision, early on, that I wanted to live and that Diabetes was just going to have to live in my life. I wasn’t going to live a life ruled by the fear and dogma that was the prevailing diabetic wisdom of the day. So I went barefoot outside in the summer, got mad when I was mad, stayed away from sweets, took my shots and avoided doctors as much as possible. I allowed myself to hate diabetes without having to hate myself or my life.

I live my life fully everyday; I work; I travel; I celebrate with friends and family; I love my family deeply. I cherish each day! Diabetes has been my constant, many times, unwelcome companion. Our relationship is based on mutual respect and acceptance…acceptance of our mutual goals and our individual needs…and the necessary compromises required for any relationship to succeed.

It is hard for me to believe I have reached this milestone. I am grateful for all the skilled doctors who have hung in there with me despite my stubbornness, for all the latest and greatest torture devices designed to help me manage this disease and for all the research that has enabled me to see the world through my own eyes, to walk as many miles as I feel like on my own two legs and to love with a heart that beats regularly and reliably.

IMG_6061

I am thankful for all the miracles in my life…especially for you and Dad…and hope that I have not overly burdened you.

I know I have been lucky, but I still hate diabetes…and I am ready for the cure! I wish I had a fairy godmother who could temporarily turn me into one of those lab rats at the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center, www.uab.edu/diabetes, where they have been studying a drug that essentially cures diabetes in diabetic rats. I’m putting my hope on that research and I plan on spending this year prodding them along with a little fundraising support.

I have so many things to celebrate in my life. This year, my sweet life is at the top of the list!

Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoox

Summer Kale and Pesto Pasta

Image 5-30-15 at 11.41 PM

It’s summer time and the garden is rich with basil and kale. This meal is dedicated to you, Shaina. You and Dad went out to the farm and picked a garbage bag full of young tender kale…and you even washed out the dirt and most of the grass. We may overdose on kale this summer…kale smoothies, kale quiche, kale salads, kale burgers…but it’s all good! I am already seeing green!

Pasta

Small bow tie pasta, basil, olive oil chopped garlic dried or fresh good black olives sundries tomatoes pine nuts (optional) shaved Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain. While the pasta is still hot, mix in basic basil pesto (fresh basil leaves, olive oil, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, all thrown into a food processor) to taste. Add olives and sun dried tomatoes. Set aside.IMG_6054 (1)

Kale

Fresh kale, as much kale as you have or want fresh chopped garlic, to taste olive oil salt pepper hot pepper sauce (optional)

Wash kale thoroughly. If kale is mature, remove thick stems and tear leaves into pieces. If the kale is young and tender, the stems do not need to be removed and you can use the whole leaf.

Heat a large sauté pan. Add a little olive oil and the chopped garlic and sauté lightly.
Add the fresh kale and salute until just cooked and tender. Add salt, pepper and more garlic to taste.
Place pesto pasta on a plate and top with the sautéed kale. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese, pine nuts or pepper sauce, if desired.

Advertisements

◊ Halfway Where

DSCF1157

Dear Mom,

I’m done with my first year of my second round of grad school. “Halfway there!” and high-fives all around.

This year, I shot and edited video, produced an audio story, published long narratives and quick-turnaround pieces, sort of coded things, made a web site, learned some Arabic. I ran a half-marathon, moved (twice), saw waterfalls, played mah jong, built friendships, brewed Kombucha and made a lot of snacks. I worked on projects that made me cry. I left class with goose bumps and almost threw my computer on the floor more than once. I was overwhelmed with gratitude by the generosity and depth of guidance offered to me by mentors. I was humbled and inspired by the kindness and brilliance of my classmates.

This is what my computer screen looks like before I almost throw it on the flow. those red boxes... editing failure.

This is what my computer screen looks like before I almost throw it on the flow. Those red boxes … oy vey.

Now, at the end of this very full year, I’m halfway there. I feel no sense of accomplishment or relief. All of the things that happened this year inched the bar higher and higher so that each step I take toward there pushes there farther and farther away.

I’m scared that my whole life will be like this.

In your last letter, you said that life is “a series of intentional meanderings and instinctive pursuits of ever-evolving targets.” Do you mean that life’s a calculated chase? Do we ever make a catch? And what happens if we do?

I know how to celebrate the small victories and to live in the moment and blablabla be here now. Like, in my brain, I get it. And I AM grateful for finding a path to follow, surrounding myself with inspiring people, dumping my energy into meaningful stories. But I never feel full. I just keep pouring gasoline onto the fire under my ass until it burns so strong that I can’t think about where or why or how I’ll run. I just run and run and run like a lab rat on a treadmill toward what? You know?

my favorite running spot in Berkeley

my favorite running spot in Berkeley

Don’t tell me I need yoga.

xo,

Shaina

DSCF1189

The recipe I’m sending you is ambitious. It’s for a true adventurer. And (gluten free, paleo, vegan, grain-free) it’s oh so Berkeley.

I went through pounds and pounds of broccoli and several versions of this recipe to get these weird savory vegetable strips. At first I was going for crackers and was unsatisfied with the chewy outcome (the internet says that it’s possible to toast broccoli mush into a crisp, but I’m weary). The outcome of my labor was not successful until I reframed my expectations —  it sounds gross, but… JERKY!

Broccoli Jerky (or Chewy Broccoli Crackers)

  • 2 large heads of broccoli, steamed (4-5 cups chopped)
  • 5 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 2- 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 tbs flax meal
  • 2/3 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1 bunch fresh basil (12-15 leaves)
  • 1 tbs mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon (about a tsp)
  • dash of cayenne powder, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • plenty of cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs flax seeds
  • 1/4 C sun dried tomatoes, chopped

DSCF1136

Set oven to lowest possible temperature. (A dehydrator is ideal for this recipe. I don’t have one, so I set my oven to its lowest temp – 200 degrees.)

Once steamed, chop broccoli (including stem) into 2 inch pieces. Add broccoli with remaining ingredients (except for the flax seeds and sun dried tomatoes) into food processor. Pulse for 2 -5 minutes until all ingredients are combined into a thick paste. If needed, add a tsp of apple cider vinegar. Once the ingredients form a thick puree with a consistency similar to a dough, stir in sun dried tomatoes and flax seeds. Get creative here! You can also add other seeds – think chia, sesame and hemp seeds.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or your other favorite non-stick baking tool. Spread broccoli “dough” in a thin layer across entire baking sheet. Start with your hands and then switch to a spatula to make sure all area of the dough are spread to the same thinness. Insert into oven and leave for 1 – 2 hours (but check frequently to make sure nothing is burning!) until the dough has dried – the corners of the baking sheet may be dry or crisp at this point. Remove from oven and score into squares with a sharp knife immediately. Allow to cool and remove from pan. Store in air-tight container. For a more crispy version, place in oven or toaster oven at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes before serving.