A Pain in the Ass

Oh this past summer was going to be the one! Yep – I had the grandest of plans. Yoga three times a week. Get back to running and finally complete the half marathon training that I ditched in the spring. Meditate- Every. Single. Morning.

I could already hear what my friends would say come September “My gosh Lori – you look amazing! You have an ethereal quality about you…. downright angelic!” And I’d just smile coyly and reply “Geez it must be all the fresh air. Maybe the quality time spent with my three loving children and ultra-romantic husband. I guess it might be that …oh and perhaps the homemade gourmet food I whipped up.” [insert self-deprecating laugh here]

And it really did start off with a bang – 3 yoga classes and two runs the first week of July. Booyah! Week two we were heading to a friends cottage for a relaxing vacation. After about an hour of driving – I felt a slight twinge in my left butt cheek. Kind of like a pulled muscle. “My bum hurts” I said to the kids and my 7-year-old erupted with laughter. I smiled at him in the rearview mirror and kept driving – confident in the knowledge that the pain would soon disappear.

However, when I hopped out of the van a couple of hours later, the pain was even more intense. In fact, I could barely put any pressure on my left leg. It felt like an electric shock was racing from my butt cheek down to my left knee with every step. “I must have done something at yoga. Damn downward dog!” I muttered to myself, as I hauled armloads of stuff into the cottage.

The first few days were excruciating. I was convinced that I’d pulled a muscle, so I stretched it out and went for a walk each day to try to get it to release. Sleeping was impossible. The only position I could get comfortable in was with my left ankle crossed over my right knee. More than one night I left the bed and went to sit on a chair in the living room with my legs criss crossed and my eyelids drooping as I thumbed through an old issue of People magazine (I may have shed a few tears over the unrelenting intensity of my pain….and the still shocking breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston. They just seemed so perfect for each other!)

I emailed my massage therapist from the cottage. “I know rubbing my ass probably isn’t high up on your summer wish list. But I need you” I pleaded. She replied with an LOL and promised to fit me in as soon as we got home. “Her magic hands will do the trick” I smugly thought to myself.

It wasn’t until week later, as I lay face down on her massage table, that I got an inkling that perhaps this wasn’t going to be a such quick fix. “This seems like sciatica,” she said. “Don’t expect to hop off the table feeling all better. This is going to take a while to heal.” What?! I had to tamp down the urge to reach back and smack her. Never mind, I thought to myself. I’ll just do my own research as soon as I get home.

Turns out she was bang on. Over next three months- I repeatedly consulted my doctor, my massage therapist, an acupuncturist, an osteopath,  and a chiropractor. Sciatica was the official diagnosis but turns out – there was no easy fix to alleviate my discomfort. So I took pain killers, plied my back, butt and leg with ice, heat and healing lotions, and contorted my body into a variety of stretches. And still the pain persisted.

Eventually, I even did a session with an intuitive to find out if an old buried childhood issue was causing the pain. Hey – I was desperate! She leaned over me intently and put her hands on my sore bum. “This pain is coming from your feminine side,” she said. “There is a female in your life that is literally giving you a major pain in the butt.” “Aha” I thought. “This is gonna be good!” I waited anxiously for her to blurt out the name of the offending female. Oh boy – that woman was in for an earful! But after the hour session – it turned out that the pain in my butt was me. ME. According to the intuitive, I am my own pain in the butt. Ugh.

Needless to say, I did not emit an ethereal glow. Rather I wore a somewhat pained expression and limped through each day with  grim determination. Sleeping continued to be a real challenge so I was tired. A lot. I was grumpy -a lot. My husband and kids were sick of hearing about it (and frankly I was sick of talking about it) – so I just pushed through and carried on the best I could.

To top things off, because I could barely walk or even bend over for that matter – exercise was virtually impossible. I was limited to floating in the pool or taking painfully slow walks around the neighbourhood. And no exercise plus an inordinate amount of time sitting on my ass meant that soon my pants all started to feel tight. Sigh. (Bless you jogging pants and your delightful expanding waistline).

I really started to believe that the pain was never going to go away and vacillated between crying, raging and trying to maintain a sense of humour about it. I told my husband that if it got to the point where he had to start wiping my ass – he might as well just shoot me.

BUT. But. Butt.

As I write this, the pain has finally, blessedly subsided significantly. I can feel a dull ache in my leg but the sharpness has disappeared. I feel hopeful for the first time in three, long, agonizing months. I also feel a deep compassion and greater understanding for people who live with chronic pain. The pain in my bum and leg made me feel crazy and there were times I think I would have tried anything to find just a moment’s relief. (That’s probably why I found myself googling “medicinal marijuana” at 3am on a particularly tough night).

I wish I could say that the pain transformed me into a brighter, shinier and wiser version of myself. But truth be told – the past 3 months were often a brutal slog of simply trying to stay afloat as a human being. And right now, I am so overwhelmed with relief that I haven’t had time to truly process the lessons this experience has taught me.

All I know is that today I touched my toes – and that is huge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Anxiety

The first time it happened I was in Vegas of all places. My husband had a work trip in sin city and I tagged along to enjoy a little getaway from the usual chaos of life with small children. My girlfriend and her husband were there too and we were schmoozing and dining out and partying like a bunch of footloose and fancy free twenty-year-olds. I seriously hadn’t had so much fun in years!

After one particularly late night, my husband and I crashed in our hotel room long after midnight and fell into a deep sleep. Around 3 in the morning I shot up in bed. There was a weird pressure on my chest and I was having a hard time catching my breath. I immediately shook my husband awake and leapt up like a crazy person. “I can’t breathe!” I screamed.

He rolled over and looked at me. Perhaps I have just the teeny tiniest history of freaking out for no good reason – so he took a moment before he jumped to any conclusions. “You seem to be breathing just fine” he said sleepily. But I knew better. I was clammy and shaky and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. “I need to go outside” I announced, and I threw on my clothes and made him accompany me to the back of the hotel.

I felt a little better once I had some air, but it took a while for my heart rate and breathing to return to normal. My husband slumped on the sidewalk with his head in his hands and watched me pace back and forth on the pavement, as drunken revellers stumbled past us on their way home from the casino.

The next day, I felt better but I was totally freaked out. What if I’d had a heart attack? Or an asthma attack? Or a stroke? Should I call the hotel doctor? My husband checked the price of sending a medical staffer to our room ($500 US!) and decided that I was probably fine. He seemed completely unfazed by the entire situation, but I was really worried.

As soon as we returned home, I made an appointment with my doctor to check things out. He was stymied. My vitals were fine, my lungs looked good and I appeared to be perfectly healthy. “The only thing I can think of is perhaps it was an anxiety attack?” he suggested. I was taken aback. Anxiety!? But I was happy and relaxed. I’d danced and sipped wine and pulled slot machines until the wee hours of the morning. What the heck did I have to be anxious about?

I chalked it up to a freaky random incident (perhaps one too many glasses of wine?) and I put the whole thing out of my mind. Then it happened again.

Months later, I was in the middle of a wonderful 2-day workshop in Toronto. I’d been fortunate enough to be included in a session led by a well-respected expert from the States and I was happily scribbling notes and basking in the experience of being surrounded by friends and mentors. And suddenly, out of nowhere, my heart started beating quickly and my breath caught in my chest. The same damn feeling from Vegas! I didn’t want to make a scene so I beat a path to the bathroom and sat on the floor until I’d composed myself enough to re-enter the class. It was only ten minutes or so but it seemed like forever. I’d actually felt a bit faint this time and that was extra scary.

So back to the doctor I went. He read my chart and listened patiently to my symptoms and then turned to me with kind eyes. “Lori,” he said “I think this is classic anxiety.” Despite an immediate urge to launch an objection, I let his words sink in. And I knew he was right. I felt terribly ashamed of myself.

We chatted for a bit and he tried to comfort me by sharing how common anxiety is and how many things can be done to alleviate the triggers and symptoms. He offered me some literature and suggested I may want to consider possible medical treatments if the frequency of the attacks increased or became more intense. I left his office feeling like a complete failure.

Listen – to be honest, this diagnosis did not come as a complete shock. Anyone who knows me even casually knows that I’m a worrier. My resting face is basically a furrowed brow, and complete strangers have been known to ask me if I’m ok. But “worrier” sounded so much less dramatic than “anxious”. I’d taken things to the next level.

I knew I wanted to get better not only for myself but also for my children. My anxiety was affecting the whole family and I didn’t want it to completely consume my life. So I went to talk to someone. I read as much as I could on worry and anxiety. I began meditating regularly and working out. I practiced paying attention to my thoughts and labelling them without judgement – “Oh that’s a worried thought” “Hey that’s fear.” “Oh hello anger.” Somehow just noting them seemed to alleviate their grip over my mind.

When I opened up to friends, I was amazed by how many people shared similar experiences. It was comforting to trade horror stories of being in the throes of an attack (one friend passed out on the bus!) and to uncover what was working for other people. One girlfriend was trying medicine and seemed to be feeling better. Another was going for hypnosis, and another was working through her issues with a psychologist. Even just saying it out loud seemed to make us all feel better. We cried and laughed and learned from each other. It helped.

It’s been over ten years since the incident in Vegas. Am I cured? Heck no!  In fact, just a few weeks ago I was in a movie theater when my heart began to pound and I felt a familiar tightness creeping across my chest.

But instead of leaping out of my seat and immediately freaking out like I would have done in the past- I try to handle things differently now. “Oh hey anxiety” I said in my head. “Are you trying to tell me something?” Boom, boom, boom – goes my heart. I fight the urge to panic. Breathe in and out Lori. In and out.

My rationale brain starts a familiar back and forth with my reptilian brain – “You are fine” versus “Holy shit – you can’t breathe!”. My meditation teacher suggested that our emotions are like beach balls on the surface of the water. The more we try to shove them down, the harder they’ll spring up in our faces. So I focus on relaxing, breathing and letting the feelings wash over me. It’s a struggle but slowly, I start to relax and the panic passes.

“Geez mom.” my little guy leans over in his seat and snatches a bag of popcorn from my hands. “Why are you making your worried face? This is the part in the movie when the water buffalo has a farting attack. It’s supposed to be funny!”  Leave it to a kid to put life in perspective. It also helps to have a sense of humour about yourself, I’ve learned : )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner Table Mix Up

I’ll admit I have been sorely uninspired when it comes to cooking lately (sorry about the lack of recent recipes) but I promise I’ll get my kitchen mojo back on once the fall weather hits, the kids are off to school and I get reacquainted with my kitchen.

In the meantime, I have been thoroughly enjoying my final week of summer holidays with the kids. We tried out a fun/interesting/slightly harsh family exercise the other night at dinner that I thought I share with you. If you are open to some real honest-to-goodness feedback about your parenting style and/or your personality – you can give it a try and see how it goes!

family dinner table

It’s very simple – all you do is mix-up your regular seating arrangement at the dinner table and then assume the identity of the person who normally sits in that seat. You can also do this if it’s just you and a partner by simply switching chairs. When we tried it out my husband was me, the toddler was my 9-year-old daughter, my daughter was the toddler, I was my 12-year-old son and the 12-year-old was my husband. Instead of setting any ground rules, we just decided to go with the flow and see where the experiment took us and it was quite funny and very enlightening.

Although I’ll bet you think you have a pretty good idea of how you act towards others, it’s most interesting to see how you come across from someone else’s perspective. Personally, I think my hubby was being a little too over-the-top as me….I mean am I really such a money spending, veggie pushing, overly enthusiastic, self-improvement junkie? (note to self: tone it down already!)

This can also be very helpful if you are experiencing any challenges within your family dynamic. Because you are all role-playing, it provides a fun and safe environment for your children to express things that may be bothering them. For example, in the course of our mixed up dinner, my daughter was able to share her feeling that my husband and I dote on the toddler and that we are always on his side. It’s not always easy to hear these things but it helped us gain a better understanding of something that was hurting her- and perhaps causing her to act out against her little brother.

I encourage you to mix-it up at your next family dinner and please share your experience in the comments below. My kids had so much fun that they’ve asked to do it twice more and each time we take on the role of someone different. If you are doing this with children, I would suggest you remind them not to make any personal attacks – keep the tone as positive as you can. And have fun with it! It’s refreshing to try on someone else’s role for a change and I’m betting you’ll learn something about yourself in the process.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes….

First of all I must apologize for not posting very much over the past few weeks. I recently picked up a rather large voice over and writing assignment that is going to keep me hopping until mid-November so I won’t be able to write on my beloved blog as much as I’d like to. My plan is to put up one post per week but you’ll have to be patient with me as I attempt to strike a balance between an increased workload and the hectic schedule that fall inevitably brings.

That being said – if any of you would be interested in offering up a guest post with your favourite veggie recipe or your best tips and tricks for staying healthy and happy – fire your ideas over to me at loriandmark@cogeco.ca and I will gladly pop them up on my blog.

In the meantime, here are a few things I’m loving lately to tide you over until next week:

Genestra Bio-Enzymes– If you are anything like me, a more relaxed summer mode sometimes equals a less than ideal diet. Summer parties at friends houses, lemonade and chips on hot summer afternoons, quick and easy take-out meals and evening jaunts to Yogurty’s can sometimes leave me with a serious case of gut rot. Since I usually endeavor to eat fairly cleanly, my body sometimes rebels when I chow down on an over abundance of junk food. So a huge thank you to my good friend Jess who turned me  on to these amazing chewable digestive enzymes. They are guaranteed to contain no added wheat, starch, yeast, gluten, soy, artificial flavoring, preservatives or dairy products and they naturally “support optimal digestion and proper absorption of nutrients.” I even give them to the kids if they are complaining of tummy aches and they work like a charm!

genestra

Drive-In Movies – one of my favourite childhood memories is of throwing on my pajamas and piling into the car with my family, our pillows, blankets and huge buckets of popcorn and heading off to drive-in movies. I was very excited to share the fun with my own kids and now that the youngest is 3 (and napping for 3 hours each afternoon) we decided it was time to hit the drive-in. We loaded up the trunk of our van with a thin mattress and sleeping bags and brought the kids to see Smurfs 2. Honestly the movie wasn’t my favourite but we had an absolute blast snuggling under the blankets, munching on popcorn and enjoying a flick under the stars together. Guaranteed family fun!

drive in

Dog Shaming– I recently stumbled upon this hilarious website at www.dogshaming.com and I can’t get enough of these laugh-out-loud photos. The premise is to catch your family pet either in the act or just after they have done something naughty and then take a photo of them with a little note explaining what they’ve done. My whole family is cracking up over these photos and I’m fairly sure I’ll be posting a pic of my own Scooby Doo quite soon.

dog shaming best

Garden Fresh Salad– thanks to my hubby’s green thumb, my garden is currently overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh basil. I wanted to create a simple summer salad featuring these beautiful ingredients so I chopped up the veggies and basil and threw them in a bowl with the juice of 1 lime, a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. Yum!

garden salad

Self-Improvement– my dad instilled in me a love for self-improvement and life-long learning. I fondly remember him toting me along to seminars with Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent-Peale at a very early age and teaching me about the principles of Dale Carnegie and other motivational leaders. As a result I am somewhat of a junkie when it comes to this stuff and I am always reading and seeking out inspirational material. I’m currently loving Joseph Campbell’s book “The Power of Myth and following a number of amazing bloggers like “Zen Habits“, “The Daily Love” and Crazy SexyWellness“.

zen habits

Ashton Kutcher Video– have you watched Ashton Kutcher’s acceptance speech from the most recent Teen Choice awards yet? Thanks to my friend Sue who posted the video on her facebook page, I have watched it at least a half a dozen times and I learn something each and every time. Who knew the guy from “Dude, Where’s My Car?” could be so profound? If you haven’t seen it – gather your family around the computer and watch it now. It’s must see!

Thank you for your patience as I concentrate my writing efforts elsewhere for a while. And please get in touch if you’d like to try your hand at a little writing on my blog!

Week #2 – Getting Vegucated

I bounced up the stairs full of enthusiasm for our second week of family learning – Healthy Eating – only to be greeted with groans, sighs and some fairly harsh commentary. “Geez mom, we always eat healthy. Do we really have to spend the whole week talking about it?” “Oh yay, more smoothies and salad. Can’t we eat some normal food?” “Please, please don’t make us go grocery shopping with you!”

Ouch! All of my wonderful plans for gathering my eager children around my kitchen island to prepare some vegan delights while we discussed the latest research on sea vegetables and they oohed and ahhed about how yummy my latest batch of kale chips tasted just evaporated in the blink of an eye. It seemed I would have to take a different approach.

The last thing I want to do is turn my children off of healthy eating habits by shoving my own ideas about food down their throats (so to speak). As a rule, I cook a mostly plant-based menu at home and then shut my mouth and allow them to make their own choices when they are at friends houses, parties and at restaurants. For me, one of the hardest things about following a veggie diet is that once I learned about the animal cruelty and environmental devastation involved in the meat and dairy industries and the myriad health benefits associated with a plant-based diet – I just wanted to share that information with everyone I know and love. But I’ve discovered that it is important to back off and let people come to these ideas when they are ready – and that includes my own children. And oftentimes, it’s easier to receive suggestions and ideas when they aren’t coming from your mom!

I had watched the documentary Vegucated a while back and found it to be full of great information that was delivered in a funny and thoughtful manner so I decided to have a family screening of this movie one night during the course of the week (it’s on Netflix in Canada). In the film, Director Marisa Miller Wolfson convinces 6 regular meat-eating New Yorkers to go vegan for 6 weeks and she documents their journey as they change their diet and their thinking about food.

vegucated 1

Overall this movie is lighthearted, informative and funny but if you are considering showing this doc to your family, I would suggest pre-screening it to see if you think they can handle a couple of disturbing scenes. After my daughter burst into tears watching a baby calf being taken from his mom, we decided to fast forward through that part and one other small section where there are a few upsetting moments during a tour of an abandoned slaughter-house.

Here were the kids comments after watching Vegucated:
“I am becoming a vegan….starting today!”
“Isn’t it awesome that Oreo’s are vegan?”
“I had no idea that’s how we got milk and cheese.”
“Can we go on a trip to a farm sanctuary?”
“I feel so sad for the animals.”
“Are veggie burgers from Harvey’s vegan?”

Do I expect them to stop eating bacon at Cora’s or a cheesy pizza every once in a while? Not a chance! But they did get a much better understanding of how animal products get to their plate and they’ll definitely carefully consider their food choices based on what they’ve seen and learned. And I would call that a success!

Next week: Self Love & Acceptance.

My Kitchen Helper and Oat Flour Pancakes

I have a “helper” in the kitchen when I am whipping up most of my culinary masterpieces. He is about 2 feet tall, has blue eyes, blond hair, a killer smile and he’s been known to throw a measuring cup full of almond milk across the kitchen in a fit of rage. No I am not talking about a mini-Gordon Ramsey – it’s my feisty and adorable 2 year old son.

kitchen helper 1

Most of the time I enjoy his “help” and the way he loves to stir every batter, pour every ingredient and lick every spoon (not so keen to try my muffins now are you?) but sometimes he truly drives me nuts. Like the time he dumped an entire bowl of flour all over the floor. Or the time he spilled beet juice on my marble island. Or the aforementioned “almond milk incident”.

But I know all too soon he will be skipping off to school with his brother and sister and I will be alone in my kitchen missing his company and longing for the days when he was so eager to pull up his chair and assist me in any foodie endeavor.

kitchen helper 2

My little helper definitely has some strong opinions about my cooking and baking (beet salad = “that tastes terrible mommy”) but his very favourite thing of all to make has gotta be pancakes. Since I am on Day 19 of my Kathy Freston cleanse, I decided to enlist the help of my assistant in whipping up a batch of pancakes that would be tasty and still adhere to my requirements of no gluten, sugar or animal products.

I started by making a fruit puree to use as a topping on my pancakes (the kids and my hubby just stuck to maple syrup). Then my helper and I ground up our own GF oats to make the flour, stirred in some milk and coconut oil and in no time at all we had whipped up a delicious meal. These pancakes are yummy but they are actually more like a big oatmeal cookie when you cook them – crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.

These giant cookie/pancakes make a delicious breakfast and a fun dinner that the whole family will love. And if you are interested giving them a try and you’d like to enlist the help of an eager toddler smack dab in the middle of his terrible twos- give me a call ; )

Oat Flour Pancakes with Fruit Puree

oat pancake 2

1 1/2 cups oat flour (I ground my own GF oats in a food processor but you could simply buy oat flour)
1/2 cup barley flour
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp. of flax meal mixed with 1/2 cup of water – let stand to get goopy)
2 cups of almond milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and grease with earth balance or organic butter. Pour 1/2 cup circles of batter on the frying pan and cook until bubbles form. Flip cakes and press down with the spatula to flatten slightly. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with fruit puree and/or syrup, fresh fruit and chopped pecans.

oat pancake 1

Fruit Puree

2 cups pitted medjool dates
2 apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. When cool, place in a high-powered blender or food processor and puree.

Enjoy!

Cleanse Day # 8 – Dining Out and Not Starving

I’m often asked how I can survive this 3 week cleanse (and how I can be a vegan for that matter) and not starve. Trust me, it’s can be done and it’s not even all that hard. It can however get a bit tricky when I am away from home- especially during cleanse time. When I’m separated from my kitchen and my beloved vitamix I have to be prepared.

Actually, I had to be out 3 nights last week and I was fairly sure that vegan/gluten-free options would be in short supply. So I armed myself with snacks, drinks and creative ideas for finding something to eat that wouldn’t compromise my 21-day clean eating plan.

nuts and seeds   larabar

I always keep a container of nuts and seeds and a couple of Larabars in my purse for emergencies. I also lug along a big container of water or my new favourite refreshing/energy boosting drink: Chia Fresca. I got this recipe from Oh She Glows and it is a neat one. The drink itself is simply made with water, fresh lemon juice, agave and chia seeds and is a very popular beverage in Mexico and Central America. Chia seeds are considered a superfood because of their incredibly high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, protein and fiber. They are also a mucilaginous seed which means that they get gel-like when wet and pull toxins out of your body as they travel through your system. The texture of this drink is really different so it’s not going to be for everyone- but give it a try and see what you think.

Chia Fresca (adapted from OhSheGlows.com)

chia fresca

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups water or coconut water
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Sweetener, to taste (I used 1 tsp agave nectar)

Add chia and water into a jar or glass and stir very well to combine. Let  sit for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to swell up. I like to use a jar with  a lid so I can shake it up really well and break up the clumps of chia.
Add lemon juice and sweetener to taste. Stir (or shake) well to  combine and enjoy!

So what did I do in addition to my snacks and Chia Fresca on those 3 nights? Well, on night #1 I hit up Mucho Burrito for a veggie salad bowl (minus the tortilla shell bowl) and ended up with a delicious dinner of chopped romaine lettuce, rice, grilled veggies, black beans, fresh tomato salsa, guacamole and cilantro all topped with a light vinaigrette. Not bad eh?

Night #2 I was off to Toronto for an evening voiceover gig so I packed a dinner to take along. Here is my quick on-the-go creation that left me full and satisfied:

leftover salad

2 cups of leftover rice
1/2 a can of organic mixed beans, rinsed and drained
Handful of chopped cilantro
1 chopped mini cucumber
Handful of raw sunflower seeds
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp gluten-free tamari
Salt and pepper

I’m going to be honest and tell you that night #3 was the toughest and it had nothing to do with the food. My husband and I were out at a local restaurant with friends and I really, really, really wanted to enjoy a cocktail! It was so tough when everyone else was sipping wine and beer to sit there like a teetotaler with my water and lemon. I did it though and by the end of the night I was happy to just watch the crazy drinkers and thank my lucky stars that I wouldn’t be feeling like them the next morning ; )

Bottom line – as a (mostly) vegan, I’ve had to learn to be adaptable to ensure that I can enjoy something to eat and drink in all situations without being too much of a pain in the butt. It has taken some work, some exploring, some mistakes, some research and some frank discussions with friends and family but most of the time things work out just fine. Do I always get it right? Not a chance! But hey, I’m sure not starving in the process.