Saturday, December 31, 2016

7QT: Lessons learned in 2016

I pray that everyone has had a peaceful conclusion to the 2016 calendar year and that God blesses you and your families throughout the year to come. Happy New Year!

Below I share some lessons learned throughout 2016.

--- 1 ---

In January of 2016, I took an assertiveness training at work during which I learned that assertiveness is not synonymous with aggression but rather consists of communicating in a way that is honest, direct and effective so that others know what I think (ideally) without feeling threatened or manipulated. I also learned the importance of 1.) apologizing when warranted and 2.) not apologizing when unwarranted. I've tended toward over-apologizing which, in addition to making me come across as weak and overly submissive, can make a genuine apology seem insincere. Since this training, I have noticed that communicating assertively is far less stressful than my usual non-assertiveness.

--- 2 ---

Some of us have an unrealistically negative view of ourselves. Any unrealistic view is unhealthy and a sort of pride that is disguised by false humility. Assertiveness training also showed me the importance of nurturing our self-confidence by spending enough time in company and in situations where our positive qualities will be recognized and affirmed. This is different from fishing for compliments and patting ourselves on the backs, and also means that we need to accept genuine compliments when they come our way. Sometimes we discourage others from providing this support, because we reject their appreciation. Not only is this no help to me, but it can even be harmful to the self-esteem of the one offering the compliment.

--- 3 ---

In order to support others in this way, we must notice and frequently communicate our appreciation of their positive qualities in a way that is genuine and not at all manipulative, in other words, in a way that is disinterested. When we notice something good about another person or his/her behavior it is ok, even commendable, to tell them. Here is a tip: Don't give flowery but meaningless compliments like "You are every lovely word I could possibly think of." The more specific the better. For example, last month I gave an oral presentation and a friend said, "I like how you incorporated humor into your presentation by adding that joke." This was a compliment that I could understand and internalize.

--- 4 ---
Franciscan Postulants with fully professed Sisters

During 2016, I also made discernment visits to four different religious communities. (Wow, that's WAY more than I realized!) I learned more about the progression into religious life: After a period of discernment, if a woman is invited to apply for entrance into the community and is accepted, she will often move in with the community for a period called Aspirancy, which typically lasts on the order of months. During this time the woman has not officially entered the community and typically wears her street clothes. (At the end of each period, both her and the community decide if she will continue.) Assuming she continues, she will enter into Postulancy, during which she is given a frumpy outfit to wear and will conform to the lifestyle of the community for at least one year. Upon passing into the Novitiate, she will begin wearing the full habit and will begin formation in earnest. This typically lasts two years. For a woman to continue after Novitiate, she will make temporary vows with the community. She will live as a temporarily professed member of the community for several years before making her final, perpetual vows. The whole process generally takes about eight years, which provides plenty of time for further discernment.

--- 5 ---
A happy stomach is a stomach filled with acid.

In February, I was convinced that I had a stomach ulcer. During my work trip to St. Augustine, I started feeling horrible, burning pain after eating. Since I couldn't go to the doctor, I started taking proton pump inhibitors and the pain went away even after I finished the full course. Unfortunately, pain started coming back in the summer so I finally got checked out. The doctor discovered that I had low stomach acid. What I learned is that low stomach acid results in basically the same systems as high stomach acid/ulcer/GERD. Sometimes people treat the symptoms with antacids and actually make the problem worse because their issue is low stomach acid. After taking acid supplements for several weeks the problem seems to have worked itself out.

--- 6 ---
It is possible to live a fairly normal life on a highly restricted diet!! Of course, no two persons' dietary restrictions are exactly alike, but mom has Type 2 Diabetes and has settled on a program that eliminates grains, soy and dairy and allows only one serving of fruit early in the day, among other things (e.g. no white potatoes). She also has to avoid pork and can only eat beef twice per week. And of course, she has been limited to non-glycemic sweeteners, primarily stevia, monk fruit, chicory root and erythritol. So far we've found the following fantastic (and often expensive) products, some with slight cheats (e.g. a bit of rice or potato starch). These are particularly helpful at times when we need to grab a quick meal or will be in a situation when others are snacking on products that mom can't have. I may revisit this list and add to it as we identify new lifesaver products.
--- 7 ---

We've also found lots of fantastic recipes, many of which we used for our yuppified "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner, sometimes with slight modifications. We also decided to brine the turkey, which did make it more juicy.

Coconut Flour Orange Cranberry Bread -- sub coconut oil for ghee and stevia for honey
Almond Flour Blueberry Muffins -- sub stevia for honey
Paleo Pumpkin Muffins -- mixed the pecans into batter, adjusted ingredient ratios, sub stevia for honey
Almond Feta Cheese -- sans herb oil
Vegan Paleo Green Bean Casserole -- sans nutritional yeast
Parsnip Turnip Puree -- sub olive oil for ghee
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Squash -- with fruit juice sweetened cranberries, sub olive oil for butter and tapioca flour (in half amount) for all-purpose flour
Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip -- see cheese recipe below
Melty Stretchy Vegan Mozzarella --sans nutritional yeast, sub blanched almonds for cashews
Paleo Apple Pie with Grain Free Crust -- sub stevia for honey, either pre-cook filling or bake for much longer than stated in recipe
Apple Pie Filling and Streusel Topping -- next time I'll try this filling with the above crust
Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie Mousse -- with WAY less stevia than called for in recipe
Sugar Free Chocolate Nut Butter Candies -- with almond instead of peanut butter
Lemon Coconut Candy -- subbed more lemon in place of lime, serve at room temperature

We've also made three sauces for our zucchini and squash noodles, which we froze in large ice cube trays.
Spinach Basil Pesto -- sans Parmesan cheese
Nightshade Free Red Sauce -- sans nutritional yeast, sweetened with tiny amount of stevia
Paleo No Peanut Sauce -- sweetened with tiny amount of stevia

And for a New Year's Eve snack I just made:
Dairy Free French Onion Dip -- sans bacon, sub dill for rosemary, see vegan mayonnaise recipe below
Homemade Vegan Mayonnaise -- sans mustard and sweetened with two drops of stevia

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum!

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