Posts tagged ‘comfort’

March 20, 2018

Why Did Your Grandma Make Chicken Soup?

Why did your grandma make chicken soup? Well, she may not have. She may have bought it in a can, but I bet she served you some when you felt under the weather. It’s what grandmas do. Even moms do it. And the good news is, chicken soup really does help you recover from a cold.
Of course, these days grandma may make chicken soup when the grandkids come for a visit because she knows she’ll be needing some. Kids are collectors of viruses that they’re happy to share.

I think DJ recently fed me a poison peach. He had a bite on his fork. He held it out. I leaned in close to say, “Nummy nummy num” and pretend to eat it. With perfect timing as I pursed my lips, he shoved the bite in my mouth. Stupid kid germs! Now I have a really bad cold. I need chicken soup!

So what makes chicken soup good for you when you have a cold?

First, it contains the protein building block carnosine. Carnosine is produced naturally by the body and is important for proper function of the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys. Giving your body an extra boost of this dipeptide molecule may help reduce some stress on the body while it’s fighting a virus. Both homemade soup and store-bought soup contain carnosine.

Some research indicates that chicken soup may slow the gathering of white cells in the lungs in response to a virus. This may help reduce the coughing, sneezing, and stuffy nose symptoms that make a cold so miserable.

Homemade chicken soup can be nutrient rich from the chicken and vegetables you choose to include. Carrots add beta-carotene. Celery adds vitamin C. Onions add antioxidants. Button mushrooms add B vitamins, riboflavin, and niacin. Chicken adds protein. These nutrients support your immune system and give your cells fuel to rebuild.

Chicken soup is often fairly salty. The salt helps carry bacteria away from the mouth, throat, and tonsils much like a saltwater gargle.

Get plenty of fluids is the most common advice given to anyone recovering from a cold. If you have a fever, fluids are especially important to prevent dehydration. They also help flush the body. Consuming chicken soup automatically adds fluids to your daily intake.

The warmth of chicken soup soothes a sore throat. The steam helps cleanse the sinuses. The added touch of grandma’s soothing tones when she serves you warms your soul. Or so they say.

Chicken soup may have been a comforting, loving tradition long before we could scientifically prove it had healing properties. That didn’t make it any less effective. Somehow, we know that comforting, loving traditions have mysterious healing properties.

January 5, 2016

Forget the Resolutions and Pick a New Year’s Theme

Most of us make New Year’s Resolutions that we won’t keep for more than a few weeks, so maybe it’s time to forget the Resolutions and pick a New Year’s Theme. If we’re to believe media reports, most resolutions involve improved personal appearance or health like losing weight, working out more, eating healthy, or stopping some bad habit. Other common resolutions seek to improve our lifestyle by saving money for the future or ridding ourselves of clutter.

I’m not sure anyone really takes New Year’s Resolutions seriously. Maybe that’s the reason we fail so often. It does seem like a good idea to approach each new year as a new beginning in which we can improve our lives. In fact, I’m a big fan of setting intentions for pretty much anything. Unlike goals, intentions simply require that I be mindful, aware, and follow a process rather than achieve a certain outcome. It’s much harder to fail that way! But when it comes to creating a big picture path for the year, creating a theme can be much more fun! And adding more fun to our lives is always an improvement!

What are some possible themes and how could I implement them?

curiosityCuriosity would be a good theme for the year. It’s a choice that could lead me to watch documentary movies, spend time learning programming on Codecademy, attend lectures, try an escape room game, join a meetup group, try online dating, or read science fiction. It would also be a chance to step back and get curious rather than angry in any confrontational interaction.

peacePeace is a good theme for any year. For me, it usually begins with being mindful of spending my time with people who exude calm and kindness. It also means making a choice to curb my impatience when communicating with tech support and customer service reps.

comfortComfort sounds like a possibility. If I choose it, I’ll be mindful each day when I get dressed to choose fabrics that feel good on my skin, shoes that do not hurt my feet (no matter how cute they are), and waistbands that allow me to breathe. I’ll sleep on sheets that feel good. I’ll eat food that doesn’t hurt my tummy. I’ll choose furniture that fits me well.

yogaStillness is one of my favorites. Being able to sit still did not come easy to me, but has given me some of the biggest improvements in quality of life. Stillness can include a practice of meditation or yoga or can just be simply turning off the TV, computer, or phone, and spending time with yourself.

boundariesAfter some thought, I think my theme for 2016 will be boundaries. It’s an oldie, but a goody. Good boundaries are essential for healthy relationships and give me a guilt-free space in which to say, “no”. Lots of things remind me to be conscious of my boundaries: fences, curbs, ropes, hula hoops, parking spaces, walls, cubicles, carrels, plates, placemats, elevators, swimming pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, porch rails, squares, circles, and doors. Lucky for me, the reminders are everywhere.

Are you ready to forget the resolutions and find a theme that will help you focus on improvement all year long? If so, join me and share your theme!

March 20, 2013

Inspiring Lessons of Connection from Parents with Critically Ill Children

The past few days, I’ve had a chance to see both the best and worst of humanity. The stark contrast presented by a unique week of interaction has me pondering the importance of connection, personal power, fear, and our contributions to our own misery.

Okay, admittedly that’s a lot of territory so, for now, let’s look at the best and see if there’s anything we can learn that will help us improve the quality of our lives so that our families can thrive.

My week started with a photo shoot of several families who have children that are critically ill, injured, or have recently received a transplant. As I asked each family if they were having a good day, I received varied answers. One family’s son had just had his chest tubes removed after his third open-heart surgery. He is three. The mom told me that she was grateful to have learned it doesn’t matter what color your skin is. When you are told your child may die, it only matters who you are and what’s in your heart. A family that had arrived in town because the mom went into labor on an airplane and we had the closest airport, moved carefully because of her recent Caesarian. Her new daughter is still in NICU, she is having to shower in a communal bathroom, and her husband has been unable to start his new job. She calmly instructed her 3-year-old son who has to wear his blue sweater several days per week because there’s been no chance to locate other clothes. She wasn’t much for talking; her quiet smile said it all. One young mom wrestled her 4-month-old son who recently had a heart transplant. He has gorgeous red hair, a feeding tube, a mask over his face, and he cries incessantly. He was frightened by the photographer’s strobes. As he wriggled and screamed, his young mom remained relaxed and gentle with him. Her unflappable serenity shines through in the photos.

All day long, I kept expecting to see people at their worst – exhausted, frightened, struggling, hopeless. What I kept discovering was that I was seeing people at their best. They may have felt exhausted, frightened, and helpless, but what I experienced was calm strength and total presence in the moment. Without time or energy for the usual niceties or pretense, connection was natural, easy and inspiring. Over and over again, I felt an immediate connection. With each meeting of our eyes, each smile or look of empathy, I knew my presence made a difference. I felt honored, humbled and powerful.

For these families, life has been stripped down to the absolute essentials. Their challenge is to embrace each bit of kindness, joy, or relief that appears while surrounded by the most difficult of life’s realities. If they choose to spend five minutes wondering why their child must suffer when others don’t, they know that’s five minutes they aren’t fully relishing the time they have with their child. What a choice!

It’s easy for most of us to draw a contrast between our everyday lives and that of these families, but maybe there’s something we can learn from them and apply to our everyday interactions:

Because these families are painfully aware that the time we get in this life is limited and uncertain, they focus on making the most of each day. We can all benefit from this type of focus. Our priorities will then allow us to rid ourselves of the activities or friendships we have chosen that do not feed us or contribute positive energy to our lives.

While they have real reasons to worry, these folks recognize that worry is a distraction that keeps us from being present in the moment and thereby prevents us from fully connecting with each other. It is through this connection that we can give and receive empathy, care, comfort, and love. 

Although presented with heart-wrenching circumstances, the families I observed show up each day to face the situation and make difficult choices. We too are faced with everyday choices that affect our health and quality of life. Do we choose to cower in denial or do we gather our courage and make the choice that best serves our overall well-being even if that’s not the easiest choice?

In the role of parent, the adults recognize that they must function as adults. If they weep and wail and act helpless, their children will become frightened. If they are disrespectful to the nurses or staff, they may inadvertently jeopardize their child’s care. If they decide that they just can’t handle the stress of the hospital, their child will be left alone. These loving parents do not choose to burden their children with adult matters so they summon their best selves and find the strength to cope with each difficult day. How often do we fail our children by neglecting to summon our inner strength to set and enforce limits on sugar consumption, screen time, rude behavior, or frivolous spending?

When parents are separated for days or weeks by taking shifts to provide a continuous presence in a child’s hospital room, the importance of adult time to connect without the children cannot be taken for granted. Are we remembering to value our connection with our partner? Do we make time and space for connection on a regular basis? Do we present a united front to our children?

As days turn into weeks and the world begins to shrink to the size of the hospital room, these parents must find small ways to care for themselves and keep a connection with the larger world in order to remain inspired. There is no energy to feel guilty for a few “selfish” moments; in fact, there’s a realization that feeding their own spirit is not just important, but critical. Some of them make sure to take a walk and watch the sunrise or sunset. Others read a book that allows them to empathize with the characters. Some schedule a meal out once a week so they can get out and people-watch. Some moms just take a long bath and a nap or get a massage. Do we measure our worth in self-sacrifice that causes us to lose our identity or feel guilty when we take care of our spirits?

This week in the midst of tragedy, I had the privilege of seeing the best. I also had the experience of seeing the worst. This contrast reminded me that life-changing events are a chance for people to reveal their real character. Sometimes you learn that your partner, sister, aunt, mom, or dad is too fearful to be supportive, too needy to put another’s interests first, too interested in comparison to have compassion, or too threatened by real connection to let down their walls and be there for you. Can we have compassion for their weakness and the courage to let go of our expectations of more from them so that we can recognize and be open to receiving what we need when it presents itself? 

When we allow ourselves to see the truth, we may be faced with other difficult life decisions. Can we be grateful for a chance to face our fears, embrace grief, loss, and change in order to move forward and heal ourselves?

While we may never have a critically ill child, we will all face trying circumstances. Some of us will choose to live in chaos, pain, worry, and dissonance without ever recognizing that we’re making a choice. If you are struggling at the moment, can you tell yourself the truth and begin experimenting with tiny changes in your behavior? Can you take inspiration from what resilient parents have learned? 

 If so, are you willing to share your story? We’d love to hear it.

February 26, 2012

Are You Well-Heeled or Well-Healed?

I bought the cutest rock’n’roll flavor shoes!  They’re hip, they fit my foot snugly, they have a 3 1/2 inch heel and I can walk in them easily!  Score!  Finally!  With a 5.5 inch W shoe size it’s next to impossible to find this combination.  I LOVE these shoes when I have them on.

How can something that feels this perfect be BAD?


Rock & Roll! I love these shoes. Or I did...

These shoes hurt me.  At first I didn’t know it was these shoes.  I just knew that when I got up in the morning and stepped out of bed, my heels hurt.  The right one hurt pretty badly.  As time went by, even my hips seemed to hurt when I’d get out of my office chair during the day.

It’s summer so I decided I’d buy some cute flip-flops with a wedge heel and wear those for awhile until I figured out whether I was doing something, other than just getting older, that was causing me to hurt.

I spent an hour trying on flip-flops.  I wore each possible selection around the store for 15 minutes.  I chose a $50 pair.  I wore them for 3 days and the problem got worse.  REALLY?

I was careful.  I made sure these flip-flops were wide enough, supportive but not hard, felt good walking around, and that they were cute!  This time it was obvious pretty quickly that they exacerbated the problem.

I tried again.  Three days after I bought the flip flops, I bought a pair of flip-flop sandal hybrids.  The hybrids had several bands of rhinestone embellished elastic straps.  Again, I took my time.  I walked around in them.  I bounced up and down shifting my weight to see if I could feel any pressure points. I still felt the point of primary pain at the top of my right heel, but I thought it was just residual and decided these would work.  They were regularly $30 and I purchased them on sale for $14.99.  I figure I’m $65 in, but that’s not a bad investment if it fixes the problem.

This time I feel even more determined to give the solution a chance, so I wear the new hybrids for a week at which point I can hardly walk when I get up in the morning.  I have to go down the stairs sideways planting the ball of my foot and slowly letting down the heel, shuffling as if I’m on the way to the nursing home.  Now I feel angry and stupid.

I listened as hard as I could to what my body was telling me.  I took my time.  I felt like I made the best choices and yet I’m back in the same predicament.

I feel confused.  I thought I did everything right, but my problem hasn’t gotten better, it’s gotten worse.  I start to feel guilty and ashamed that I could try so hard and be so wrong.  I begin to question myself.  Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe the rock’n’roll shoes aren’t the problem at all.  After all, my feet feel good when I wear them.

I pull out my comfort clogs and wear them around the house.  I even wear them around the office.  I can’t bear to wear them in public, so I limit my outings.  My feet start to feel better.  I schedule some lunch meetings and switch to cute sandals for the meetings.  This is tolerable and if I stretch a bit before I get out of bed, I don’t feel crippled every morning.

Now I have to know.  Was it my fabulously cute shoes that hurt me?  I wear them to one of my lunches and to run errands afterward.  The next morning I can hardly walk.  Am I an idiot?  These shoes feel great when they’re on and destroy my feet at the same time.

Then I remember something I already know from going gluten-free.  Until my injury completely heals, I cannot solely rely on what my senses tell me in any given moment.  But I know from my GF experience that even if I cannot draw a direct correlation from what I do this minute to how I will feel the next minute, I always fare better in the long run when I choose to stay the course and stick with my healing plan. Now I feel calmer. I know how to take the knowledge I’ve accumulated over time and let deductive reasoning play a part in a healing plan. My feet will be okay.  All I have to do is be patient with the healing process.

Wow!  I just realized what a good analogy my shoe scenario is for what many of us experience when we go gluten-free.  We may have so much existing damage that it is difficult to immediately interpret the signals from our bodies.  On those days when we think we feel worse, we may be tempted to decide that gluten wasn’t really the problem.  This is the time that it’s important to use some resolve, medical statistics, and the information we can gather from the struggles and successes of others to deductively reason that until we have given the body sufficient time to heal, we cannot rely on its momentary feedback alone.

If you already have a healing plan in place, all you have to do in these moments is relax and follow the plan.  If you don’t really have a plan and have viewed this gluten-free thing as an experiment you may want to check out the Cooking2Thrive healing plan guidelines.

In the meantime, be patient with yourself.  If you made a bad food choice at lunch, you can make good choices at dinner and breakfast and lunch and dinner and lunch and breakfast and dinner and lunch.  Treat yourself well.  Don’t just choose something for dinner that’s gluten-free.  Pick something that smells fabulous, tastes delicious and has a wonderful texture – something you can sink your teeth into, savor, and enjoy!  Then keep enjoying and choosing well, choosing well and enjoying.  As you heal, a gluten-free choice will become easier and easier.  

Pretty soon, I’m sure I will find some new rock’n’roll, hip, snug fitting, 5.5 W shoes that don’t hurt me, and you will find a gluten-free life isn’t one of deprivation. Or at least I’ll discover that I’m much happier without pain than I am with rock’n’roll shoes and you’ll discover that a gluten-free biscuit can, in fact, hit the spot.


Yum! That hits the spot.