It always puts a smile on my face when a restaurant menu contains a note saying something to the effect of “Please advise your server of any allergies or intolerance”.
To me, that means I’m in a restaurant that will likely take some extra precautions to do its best to ensure my food won’t cause me issues. This definitely takes some of the guesswork out of dining out.
Over the last 13 years, since the discovery of my intolerance to wheat products, the number of restaurants that have adjusted their menus to accommodate wheat-free/gluten-free diets has been impressive and heartwarming. And over that span of time, the improvement in the ingredients, recipes and dishes that have been offered has been spectacular.
I hear the same from friends and colleagues with sensitivities to nuts, eggs, dairy and shellfish. It is getting easier to make informed choices.
When it comes to dining, it is certainly a competitive market. I genuinely respect those establishments that have gone the extra mile to retain and attract clients by helping them navigate their options whether through little icons next to menu items, menus that specifically address dietary concerns, or in extremely well-informed service staff.
I admit that I have to contain my shrieks of delight when the server or the chef says, “Tell us what you’d like and we’ll see how we can modify it.”
Being the over-apologetic Canadian that I am, on a few occasions, I have apologized for asking so many questions about the menu, but I have been met with much reassurance. One chef even went so far as to say that it helps keep things interesting and challenging in the kitchen, in finding clever ways to make the menu work for the client. That completely made my day!
But what happens when a restaurant makes no such accommodations? Continue reading
When I look back on last year’s blog post “Resolution: Inner Peace”, I remember how tired I was with the status quo at that time. For someone who is usually seen as positive, upbeat and generally calm, cool and collected, something just wasn’t right. Even in life’s quietest moments, I found my core jumping into “fight or flight” mode and didn’t know why. Little stressors were sparking up stronger reactions within me and anxiety was starting to take over.
I also found myself having a hard time letting go of chapters that were seemingly concluded. This wasn’t me! As this prolonged over time, I found my energy was heading downhill.
Despite having a huge tool kit of stress management techniques that I had accumulated over the years, I just couldn’t keep these stressors in check and to get past them. Negative emotions were festering and growing. I couldn’t get the upper hand on the situation and I didn’t know why.
I felt like I was headed the wrong way down a one-way street and getting farther away from the more serene self that I aspire to be. My 2017 resolution for seeking out inner peace was probably the best declaration I ever made. I was prepared for change.
Three anxiety attacks into 2017, I had hit my limit. It was time to seek help. My referral to a psychotherapist was the catalyst that helped me begin to break the cycle of anxiety.
But it wasn’t easy. I would say this was one of the toughest projects I had ever undertaken, having to recall and relive many of the stressors throughout my lifetime to find out what they had in common. Continue reading
This past year brought the arrival of Ivy the Wonder Cat into my life and whether I was aware of it or not, in becoming a first time pet owner, I would also get my first taste at parenting. Also, whether I knew it or not, I was probably destined to take after one parent more than the other in terms of parenting style.
The first few months I think we can disregard as unrepresentative, as both Ivy and I were all over the map. Ivy was just getting used to her new fur-ever home and her new life as an indoor cat after being a stray, living a hard life on the streets for 9 months.
In return, I was overthinking and reading too much into her every action, and interrogating my friends and colleagues wondering if any slight misstep was a potential sign of a behavioural problem. Thank heavens for good friends to point out the obvious: that she was a cat, curious about her new surroundings, and just adjusting to her new life.
Just the same, whenever Ivy would jump on counters or the dining room table, I thought action was required on my part or else risk being stuck for 20 years with a cat with bad habits. I tried products and tricks to try to keep her off the counters including aluminum foil, a drop or two of lemon juice, shaking a can of coins. Nothing that would hurt her of course, but just to act as a deterrent. Yet she seemed relentless.
One day, she jumped on the dining room table while I was busy doing dishes. Without really thinking about it, I just slowly walked up to her on the dining room table, gently stroked behind her ears and sweetly asked, “What is it Sweetie? Is something wrong?” She immediately jumped off the table, ran downstairs and sat down by her little exercise ball. It ran out of kibble. Once I added more kibble to the ball, she was fine. That is all it took.
The next time she was up on a kitchen counter, Continue reading