I'm especially excited about today's post for all kinds of reasons. As some of you may know, art is one of my many passions. I have two degrees, one of which is my bachelors degree in studio art. I'm obsessed with art for all it has to offer our world. Each work of art is beautifully unique to itself and there's no written rule that it has to be understood by anyone who views it. It stretches, baffles, excites, and hypnotizes the mind. Art is a tremendously powerful gift. Everyone should explore it- we are all artists. I was never one to enjoy art classes in high school and really only discovered my passion for creating during my sophomore year of college. For a while, I thought I wanted to major in art therapy, but after some thought I knew I had to stick with pursuing my teaching career and take on a second major in studio art. However, the urge to integrate art therapy into my life by sharing this passion with others has never left me.
A few weeks ago I met with the program director at an Alzheimer's residency in my town to discuss the possibility of doing art therapy with the residents once a week. She was happy to have me on board and I was thrilled at the thought of finally being able to explore this undying vision. For me, art has always been a source of healing. My hope is that my experiences with the residents will be healing for them, as well. Fingers crossed!
So what is art therapy? According to the Art Therapy Alliance, art therapy is used to address psychological and emotional needs by using a variety of different art media including but not limited to painting, drawing, sculpting, collaging, story making, and more.
Art therapy is used for...
Supporting coping skills
Supporting those dealing with substance abuse
...and more (Art Therapy Alliance, 2013).
Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and is a progressive, irreversible disease that slowly destroys the memory and other important cognitive skills. A person in the early stages of Alzheimer's typically struggles with using good judgement, often gets lost, repeats questions, and demonstrates mood and personality changes. In the moderate stage of Alzheimer's, there is damage to the areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought. As such, the memory loss worsens in this stage and it becomes difficult to recognize the faces and names of loved ones. Other tasks that involve multiple steps like getting dressed can become extremely difficult. Impulsive behaviors, hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions are also typical during this stage of the progressive disease. In the final, severe stage of Alzheimer's, brain tissue has shrunk significantly. Those with severe Alzheimer's are unable to communicate and they are completely dependent upon others for their care (Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet, 2012).
I love that there are sunflowers on the schedule! :)
I've come up with all kinds of ideas for projects I'd like to do with the residents. One idea that I'm super excited about is called, Timeslips. Timeslips is a special story making technique that eliminates the pressure to remember and instead encourages creativity and imaginative thought in people with Alzheimer's and dementia. To learn more about Timeslips click HERE.
I also plan to combine music with the art therapy. I have information on their favorite music, which will be valuable when it comes time to make a playlist for some of my art activity ideas. It's amazing how activated the brain is when in the midst of a creative process- especially with Alzheimer's patients. They have a tendency to remember more when the creative juices are flowing. By accompanying the artistic process with some good oldies music, it's possible to bring them back to a place in time- just like songs can bring us back to a place in time: a wedding, a year in college, a vacation, etc. However I should note that the effectiveness of this idea is also dependent upon the stage of the disease for each individual. It may be effective for some and not so much for others.
I'm also going to be venturing out on a field trip to the organic farm with the residents every Thursday afternoon, which I'm so excited about! I don't know all the details about it just yet, but from what I understand, the residents will be handing out shopping bags to the customers at the market. They will basically be volunteer helpers. :) There's really no saying how any of this will go, according to the program director. Everything is trial and error with the residents. It could be a good day or a bad day, we will never know. Their moods can change depending on the time of day, the weather, or really anything at all. I look forward to blogging about my experiences with the residents and I'll definitely be posting pictures, so stay posted. :)
"About Art Therapy." Art Therapy Alliance . N.p., 2013. Web. 31 July 2013. <http://www.arttherapyalliance.org/AboutArtTherapy.html>.
"Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet." National Institute on Aging . N.p., Sept. 2012. Web. 31 July 2013. <http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet>.
23 years young today and I've never felt better. It's a very, very happy birthday :)
Share your transformation Tuesday photos with TSL by submitting them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post them on the website! You can do this by clicking the Yahoo icon at the top of the page :) Hope everyone is enjoying their week!
I had a wonderful conversation this afternoon with Jan Patenaude, a Certified LEAP Therapist (CLT), and Director of Medical Nutrition at Oxford Biomedical Technologies, Inc. She reached out to me after perusing through my website this afternoon and wanted to talk more in depth about how she could maximize the utilization of my stories. How exciting! It's always great to make new connections with people on a similar health mission- a mission that delivers true, life-changing information to those seeking better health through nutrition. We talked about all kinds of stuff- my sensitivities, my career, traveling with sensitivities, her personal experiences with elimination diets, nutrition and autism...the list goes on! It was a wonderful conversation and as you can imagine, it got my wheels turning.
I feel that I'm at a point in my life where the universe is just completely opening its arms to me. So many exciting things are happening for me right now that could take me in all kinds of directions. I'm going to start doing art therapy with Alzheimer's residents at a residency in my town next week- something I've never done before. I plan to work towards becoming an affiliate with a number of different companies (TSL-friendly ones, of course) over the next several weeks. I need to start looking at work possibilities for working abroad in Italy come next year. I may consider looking into getting my masters in nutrition. This is all really big, exciting stuff for me! My passion for building The Sensitive Life empire has brought me so much joy. I can't help but think that TSL will take me down an unexpected path before I know it, too. I believe so strongly in everything I share with the TSL community. It has truly become a very important part of me.
My health journey would not be what it is today without the guidance and support of my family and this compassionate lady right here. This is Deb, my nutritionist, who has been with me through all the talk of, "when can I drink wine though?" and "but I wanna know when I can reintroduce all the foods I'm going to be tossing back in Italy." She was truly a soldier for taking me on as her patient. Today Jan even told me that after looking over my sensitivity testing results, she can say it doesn't get much worse than my case- that my results are as bad as it gets. While we all know this is true, those test results brought me here- to TSL. I never would have thought that people would be so responsive to my story and I would build such an amazing following. I'm so grateful to have met Deb this year- the most trying year of my life without a doubt.
For those of you who are in the area and would like to connect with this wonder woman, please see her information below.
Deb Konkle MS, RD, LDN, CLT
Boundaries Therapy Center
518 Great Road
Acton, MA 01720
(978)263-4878 ext. 226
For more information on LEAP MRT, check them out in the social media realm!
LEAP MRT Facebook page
LEAP MRT Pinterest
LEAP MRT Twitter
Also, if you haven't followed TSL on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, make sure to check it out by clicking the social media icons at the top of the page!
Today's post will be about some mayonnaise alternatives. Not everyone enjoys mayo to begin with- for some it's a textural dislike, while for others it's simply the taste that's a turn off. I personally don't mind it, but I had to give it up for quite some time because I couldn't have anything fermented, like vinegar. When I go for the mayo now, I choose Trader Joe's organic mayo. Three alternatives that I've tried in the past (past meaning unfortunately, I haven't had guac or hummus in the longest time due to my sensitivities discoveries) include guacamole, hummus, and pesto. For a while, I was making homemade pesto without garlic, as garlic is one of my reactive foods. I have since reintroduced garlic (thank GOD for that) and can enjoy it in moderation- in pesto and otherwise.
3 avocados, halved, seeded, and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
Directions: In a large bowl, place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let it sit at room temperature for approx. 1 hour and then serve.
Recipe found here.
You will need: A mesh strainer or colander, food processor, silicone spatula, measuring cups, and spoons.
One 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 lg. lemon
1/4 cup tahini
Half of a large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Dash of ground paprika for serving
In the bowl of a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl then turn on and process for 30 seconds. Add olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and salt to whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl and process for another 30 seconds.
Adding the chickpeas:
Drain liquid from can of chickpeas, then rinse well with water. Add half off the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl, add remaining chickpeas and process for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and smooth.
Getting that consistency:
If it appears to be too thick, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water with the food processor turned ON.
*Refrigerate up to ONE week.
Recipe found here.
Basil Pesto (my favorite!)
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Directions: Combine basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese. If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.
Recipe found here.
I received a very touching message from an old friend and classmate this morning on Facebook. I wanted to share it with The Sensitive Life community along with her gorgeous portfolio of Sicily pictures and foodie blog! In her own words, I'm giving credit where credit is due. This girl has true talent- quite the photographer with a knack for making a mouth water.
Your pictures from Sicily are stunning, Chelsea- I can't wait to get there, myself!
Hey Meag! I know it's been FOREVER, but I just had to tell you how much I've been enjoying your new blog! I traveled to Sicily in college and was totally enamored by the whole culture and experience as you were, so it's been so fun to follow along as you describe your journey. If you're interested, you can check out my portfolio from my trip HERE.
I've also been learning SO much from your TSL blog! Congrats on turning such a personal struggle into something so positive! I started my blog, which ironically is likely mostly about food you aren't able to eat , about 2 years ago and have loved keeping up with it as both a creative and professional outlet. I've gotten away from it recently, as life can so often get in the way, but I wanted you to know that you're inspiring me to get back on the bandwagon!
I know this note is SO random but as a fellow blogger and Italy-lover I think it's important to pass on encouragement and give credit where credit is due!
Thanks for sharing! Hope all is well!
Also check out Chelsea's Choice blog HERE for some amazing recipes. I may have to make my own version of that Healthy 3 Bean Vegetarian Chili....gluten free style, of course ;]
We all know it can get super expensive living an organic lifestyle. While it would be ideal if we could all go completely organic, it's not too realistic for most people. I know it's especially difficult for young people still in school or just out of school in an abusive relationship with that dumb bitch, Sally Mae. There are a list of foods, known as "the dirty dozen," which should always be organic when you go to grab them at your grocery store. There's another list, though, of 15 clean foods that according to some sources, don't need to be organic when you buy them. Check out the lists below.
Yes, the squirrels know the difference.
The more research I did, I found that different sources suggested a few different foods on both lists. I'll share a few different lists I found below. As a side note, my personal opinion is that tomatoes, peas, and corn should always be bought organically and should never be trusted as "clean foods." How we label a food "clean," varies depending on who you ask. If you ask me, food is NOT clean if it's genetically modified. Other people may argue that foods like tomatoes and corn are clean because they have the lowest pesticide content. The thing is, "pests" don't go for GMO foods- it's a known fact. The need for excessive pesticides simply isn't there. Pest-resistance is one of the several unethical, unjustifiable reasons why crops are genetically modified. While the dirty dozen/clean 15 lists are helpful to some degree, it's important to set your own standards- what does "clean" mean to you?
Click on each image below for a larger view.
Food for thought:
Some of the most genetically modified foods include: sugar beets, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, papaya, peas, squash, golden rice, soybeans, cooking oils (canola, rapeseed, cottonseed), sugar, and dairy products. Check out the NaturalNews link HERE to learn more about GMO foods to avoid.
My dream vacation is over, which means a number of things. For one, it means I'm blogging all about my trip each day so you have to stay posted and read my Traveling with Sensitivities Blog! It also means that my diet has to change back to what it was prior to leaving for my trip. I literally ate whatever my big heart desired when I was in Italy. I don't regret it one bit. I was symptom free and enjoying some of the best food I'll ever eat in my life. I don't care what anyone says, the cuisine is a tremendous part of the traveling experience. I can say this now with 100% certainty. Fortunately for me, I traveled to a place where the wheat and other foods aren't as processed or genetically modified as they are here in the States. I know this played a role in my ability to eat what I wanted and still feel well. I also did a ton of walking each day when I was in Italy- way more than I ever have in my life. And of course, I danced my ass off every night at the discos/bars- whatever you want to call them. Although my pedicure is absolutely obliterated, my bunz and hamz are tight as hell and I didn't put on any weight in Italy- which is truly a miracle given what I ate each day.
It was very difficult to come back home and resist some of the foods I had been eating without a care for the past two weeks. In fact, I probably most definitely stopped for a Bedford House of Roast Beef sangwich on my way home from the airport. Oops.
I came home from Italy and it was as if I never left- my momma (who is an amazing Italian cook, herself) made pasta with homemade basil pesto and chicken stuffed with spinach, fontina cheese, cremini mushrooms, and shallots in a marsala sauce for dinner. It was so damn good. And I possibly most certainly enjoyed a cannoli from a Bedford bakery that night for dessert. I couldn't use the excuse that, "well I'm in Italy so...." but I could tell myself that the next day would be a new day- a clean slate, and the start of yet another possibly difficult detox.
<-- The following day I had this bowl of Heaven for breakfast. It felt good to have some fresh organic fruit. To be honest I didn't eat as many fruits and veggies in Italy as I would have liked. My body definitely craved the good, healthy foods I had been living off of for so long prior to my trip. Who would have thought I'd miss it with all the unbelievable food in Italy? I guess it just goes to show, when you have your health and you fuel your body with the right foods, you'll really feel it when those foods are suddenly missing from your diet. For lunch I was absolutely thrilled to have some brown rice with mixed grilled vegetables. I inhaled it, actually. I really missed my brown rice, too! But understand- I probably had pasta everyday when I was in Italy. I know I had sandwiches everyday when I was in Italy and I had pizza almost everyday when I was in Italy. That's a lot of bread and a lot of pasta- especially for one sensitive bitch like me. I hesitate to admit it, but I was definitely getting tired of the whole pasta, pizza, bread thing. I know I will look back on these words a short time from now and miss those foods terribly, but for now it's the truth.
Since I've been home I've gone back to a completely gluten free diet and I'm weaning myself off of sugar slowly but surely. I would say in the next few days sugar will be cut from my diet. I have a feeling that the withdrawals won't be as difficult as they were the first time, given that I only had sugar in my diet for two weeks. I've started my workout routine again, which feels great. Even though I got a lot of exercise on my trip, it's still more satisfying to break out the resistance bands and blast some profane music. We all know it can be a challenge to get back into the swing of things after two weeks (or however long) of living the fake life. God knows it can be depressing to come back to real life, but it's important to remember that you're only one workout away from a good mood. Fuel your body with the right juice, tell yourself you can, and just do it. No one has ever said, "I regret that workout" or, "I regret eating that healthy meal." Your body is a fucking temple. Learn to love it.