Pandemic Tool of the Day

Each day for the past week, I’ve designated a #pandemic tool of the day. This started as a silly hashtag I’d send in texts whenever I accomplished something that felt significant during this pandemic: managing to order toilet paper or getting safety advice from a doctor working on the front lines. I quickly realized how grateful I am when I have the tools I need.

I already knew that the right equipment makes developing recipes easier and more pleasant. Now, I’m paying attention to other tools I might otherwise take for granted.


Sunday’s tool of the day: #20_ft_jumper_cables. Thank goodness I had them on hand. My car was parked behind my truck and the battery was dead. There was no way to maneuver the vehicles to face each other. he extra cable length allowed me to start the car easily anyway so I could go…well, nowhere.

That tells you how little I’ve been driving. Luckily, I can work at home so the lack of driving doesn’t mean I have lots of extra time on my hands. It just means I am choosing to stay home to stay safe.

Monday’s tool of the day: #toilet_seat. I have no idea why I bought two toilet seats the last time I bought one, but I was very grateful to have that extra on hand when a seat broke on Monday.

Keeping that purchase may have seemed foolhardy in a Marie Kondo world. It did not bring me joy…until I needed it. Then it changed my world in the best of ways! And I didn’t have to risk the virus to get one.

Tuesday’s tool: #walmart_grocery_app. As you may recall, I was an early adopter of ordering groceries online. In January, I switched from pickup to delivery. At the time, I didn’t know that less than two months later my family would get orders from a cardiologist to stay home to protect my granddaughter.

The early adoption meant all I needed to change was to go no contact. Before that was offered as an official option, I made the change. Once DoorDash assigned a driver for a delivery, I sent a text to that driver telling them to sign for me and leave the groceries by the door. Eventually, the app caught up.

Wednesday’s tool: #paw_patrol_shovel. You won’t even have to ask a kid to help in the garden when you have a PAW Patrol shovel! Just hope they haven’t been watching old reruns of Hogan’s Heroes.

My cousins and I dug a huge hole in my grandmother’s yard one day after watching that show. We were planning a whole tunnel system, and we didn’t bother to ask permission. By the time we were discovered, the hole was four feet wide and three feet deep.

We knew by the fierceness with which my grandmother stomped her foot once we had gone too far. It’s the maddest I can ever remember seeing her.

Thursday’s tool: #pulse_ox. Seems as though silent hypoxia plagues many Covid-19 patients long before they feel shortness of breath. Measuring oxygen saturation levels early and seeking medical treatment sooner can mean a better outcome.

Em’s oxygen levels have to be monitored periodically so we’re quite familiar with the use of a pulse oximeter. It doesn’t require any special skill and may help some patients avoid the need for a ventilator.

Friday’s tool: #technology. Without technology, I wouldn’t be able to see two of my grandchildren as they change and grow. I couldn’t order groceries online. My entertainment and news sources would be less plentiful. And I wouldn’t be able to do much of my job from home.

Rounding out the week, Saturday’s tool: #masks. I wear masks when I do certain projects around the house. My glasses tend to fog or shift so that I’m looking through the bifocal. I sometimes feel claustrophobic. I have to admit, I don’t love them.

In spite of that, they are the most important tool of the week! My friend who is director of pulmonary and critical care at a local hospital advises that the best way to protect yourself is to stay at home and only enter stores where masks are required and people actually wear them. Although his department gets the worst of the worst cases of Covid-19, he feels safer at the hospital than the grocery store!

I’ve been recruiting mask makers for that hospital. They are constantly in need. A friend is sending me some to use when I take a walk. Knowing that I can protect those around me is enough reason to make my peace with an accessory I don’t love.

Who knows what today’s tool will be? Scissors, tongs, power cord, remote, ladder, cultivator, magnetic letters, pitcher, needle nose pliers, fishing pole, earplugs, and hammer are contenders as are thoughtfulness, kindness, courage, laughter, and generosity.

The pandemic tool of the day will reveal itself in time. I’m looking forward to that moment of excitement and gratitude when I realize I have just what I need.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Did Curiosity Kill the Cat or Give it 9 Lives? More Importantly, Can it Help You?

Did curiosity kill the cat or give it 9 lives? More importantly, can it help you? Recent research has shown that curious people tend to report “higher levels of subjective well-being which, in turn, is associated with lower levels of depression.”(1) As for whether curiosity is as good for cats as it is humans, I’m not really allowed to investigate. My grand dog Stewart forbids it and, as you know, he is in charge because he’s just so darn cute!

Nonetheless, it’s good to know that there’s now official research to support my longtime contention that nurturing curiosity and the natural joy of learning in ourselves and our children on a regular basis can give us an invaluable tool to use when we find ourselves unable to shake a blue period. Had I not been inspired by the larger world I discovered by being curious, I do not believe I would be here.

I grew up in a household filled with chaos, anger, cruelty, and neglect that left an imprint which still sometimes colors my view of the world. I feel so grateful to Dr. Seuss, Alice Hegan Rice, Madeleine L’Engle, Emily Dickinson, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Corrie Ten Boom, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Steinbeck, William Golding, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, J.D. Salinger, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and John Updike for giving me pages to turn that held my curiosity and expanded my world. While books were a lifeline for me, you may feel more pulled to music or art or the outdoors.

While I can’t remember a moment I ever felt completely carefree, I also can’t remember a moment in which I wasn’t excited to learn something new. Even at a point when I felt so disconnected and numb that I knew it was time to visit the doctor, my curiosity moved me forward and pulled me toward resources that helped me find a path to change my circumstances and improve my life. That was long ago. I’ve sorted, processed, changed, and healed many more difficult things since then, and curiosity has served me well each time I’ve wandered down the path of healing, growth, and self-improvement.

Sometimes positive change comes from something as simple as allowing myself to get curious about my own behavior. Rather than label a response as good or bad or hurtful or defensive or anything at all in a particular circumstance, I take a moment and look at the moment from an observer’s point of view, shrug my shoulders and say, “Huh, I wonder what that was about?” This has the effect of moving me past a feeling of crisis and into a problem solving mode. It’s an invaluable tool at my disposal whenever I need it.

When I move into the observer position, I automatically talk to myself in third person. Turns out my instinct to do this is another good tool to help reduce anxiety and help me self-regulate. A recent study led by Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor states that “small shifts in the language people use to refer to the self during introspection consequentially influence their ability to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under social stress, even for vulnerable individuals.” The authors note that this is a technique used by LeBron James.(2) Hey if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me. And I love having another useful tool in my arsenal.

At this point you may be curious (we can only hope) why I’m talking about this anyway. It’s really pretty simple. If you’re choosing healthy food and making time to exercise that’s great, but it’s equally important to actively care for your emotional well-being. This is especially true if you are physically ill or are a caregiver for someone else. While this may seem like a no-brainer, most of the daily messages I see about health or healthy lifestyle focus only on diet and exercise. I want to make sure we help fill the gap by providing you with recipes for emotional resilience as well as for good food.

So, today I’m curious what Elon Musk will say tonight on The Late Show. I really want one of those Tesla 3 cars. Well, if I like it once I drive one. I’m curious what we’ll discuss at my Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter meetup this week. I’m curious whether the code I wrote last night will show up correctly on an updated browser, although I could lose interest in this answer pretty quickly since it’s useless code. I’m curious about Bzees shoes since I saw my neighbor’s pair. And…I finally figured out why I haven’t felt compelled to call my former walking partner since the day I turned around and walked off from him without explanation (See, sounds like terrible behavior doesn’t it, but instead of telling myself I must be a bad person, I’ve just been curious about my behavior for the past 4 months). As it turns out, my life is more peaceful when I don’t spend time with him and, along with curiosity, I highly value peace.

Of course I’m wondering, do you find curiosity a useful tool? If so, how has it helped you?

Read more about the research here:


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Dessert First! Day Five.

In the morning before I’ve had a conversation, it’s easy to remain focused on my intent to linger over the sweet moments of my day. It is now Day Five of Dessert First and my bathroom is still under construction so I must drive to my office to shower. During the drive this morning there was a moment in which smoky, thick, tall, blue columns of clouds surrounded the orange-red sun creating dramatic depth in the forefront of the sky. I lingered at a stoplight to gaze and the scene quickly changed as the sun broke free to shine its blinding bright white.

As I stared, I was struck by the contrast between the methodic, dependable, and regular movement of the sun and the constantly changing sky pictures it creates at sunrise. The swiftness and drama of the scene change didn’t feel alarming because I know I can rely on the pattern of the sun’s movement.

Perhaps the greatest reward of week’s shift in focus is that it has led me to new insight every day.  After reveling in the beauty of the sunrise and recognizing that change is part of what made it so awe inspiring but not frightening, I began to think about our resistance to change and the fear it seems to trigger. Why fear? We accept that things must change. If there were no change, when it rains it would never stop.  If there were no change, when we cut our finger it would never heal.

And yet, when we get a new boss at work our first response may be to tense up and assume we’ll be under scrutiny instead of feeling like we are faced with a new learning opportunity and the possibility for greater success than ever before. Or when our elderly parent marries a new spouse, we immediately examine his motives rather than embracing him with our eyes open to all the possibilities both positive and negative.

Are we feeling fear of the unknown? We don’t know how the sky is going to change at sunrise or sunset, but this does not instill fear. We are open to its shifts. What is it about the concept of change that causes us to feel a need to protect ourselves?

This is a big question requiring a big answer. I’m not going to attempt to answer it today. I realize that it is an essential concept that must be addressed in order to thrive. Even more specifically, fear of change must be addressed because it is often the greatest roadblock to the adoption of a gluten-free lifestyle. We fear change more than we fear the pain, illness, and detrimental health effects of ingesting gluten. That is a powerful emotion.

We will come back to this here on the blog, address it in the full website that will launch in January, and incorporate techniques to alleviate such fear in our Essential Utensils Social and Emotional Support Tools.

If you are struggling and want feedback now, please email