Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Thank You, John Green, For Everything

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

-John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

 

Before I get to the 5 Reasons You Should Read Any John Green Book, I’ll start here…..

I recently read two John Green books:

The Fault In Our Stars 

An Abundance of Katherines 

…and not quite so recently, I read another of his:

Looking For Alaska 

I’ll start by saying something surprising, given that I’m writing a blog about the author. I didn’t love Looking For Alaska.

I liked An Abundance of Katherines.

I loved, loved, loved The Fault In Our Stars.

In fact, I just spent a few hours of my life crying, sobbing really, as I read The Fault In Our Stars. And even though I didn’t love the character Alaska in the first book I read of Green’s, I still liked it. I still related to the characters.

John Green is a classic American writer disguised as a Young Adult author that some people might not take seriously. I mean, his books are easy to read and are probably geared toward teenagers, but they always involve a greater theme, references to books that would make the most sophisticated (slash pretentious) college student who is getting an English degree proud to recognize, and truly life-changing sentences.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

-John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

Here are five good reasons to read any John Green book.

1. You will be forced to remember the people you dated in high school, and the way you remember them will probably make you laugh and wince and then, eventually, smile with nostalgia. 

In An Abundance of Katherines, there’s this guy who has dated only girls named Katherine. This (of course!) felt like a giant statement… that perhaps we all date a different version of the same person until one fine day, you finally will yourself to change and then, and only then, can you find the one you are meant to be with. This book also made me think that maybe “meant to be with” is a naive statement. I still don’t know what “meant to be” means and sometimes I feel like I don’t even know what love is. The characters in Green’s books find love in different ways, but they’re usually very quirky teenagers with a view of the world I had never considered. A lot of them have a much straighter head on their shoulders than I ever have managed in this life.

And I did remember all the past boyfriends. I did cringe, but then I remembered those old hand-holds, the kids we named at the age of fifteen, the breakups, and finally, the fun moments that made it all worth it.

Even though this is a post about John Green, a Feist lyric comes to mind

The hardest part of a broken heart isn’t the ending so much as the start.

Though it’s hard and painful, try to remember the good times; try to remember the good part of a relationship and let yourself smile with the memory, rather than cry with the end of that relationship.

AND remember… age has nothing to do with it. The feelings I felt when I was 14 are just as real (even if misguided or hormone driven) as the emotions I feel on this very day.

Also…. a thought….

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”
― John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

2. You will be humbled by the fact that there are tons of people who are smarter than you are. 

It’s hard to admit, but yes, there are thousands and thousands of people who analyze more thoroughly, who have better grammar, and who actually understand quantum physics.

“…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
― John Green

3. You’ll want to create a fantastic nickname for yourself and all of your friends. 

Looking For Alaska

Miles= Pudge

Chip= The Colonel

Alaska= Alaska (but her name is so odd, it’s like a nickname)

An Abundance of Katherines

Colin= so important, that the other Colin in the book is called TOC (The Other Colin)

Hassan= Daddy

Katherine= Katherine The Great, K-1, K-19

Old People= Oldsters (not the most original, but still poignant)

The Fault In Our Stars 

This book was perhaps too serious to have awesome nicknames, but I think you get the point already.

Do you have any nicknames? Mine include Mel, Lou, Melly, Mel Bel and occasionally, Twin or just Meredith… who is my twin.

4. The hurtful truth of death, depression, illness, heartache and sorrow will cut you to the core. Get ready. 

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”

– John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

I literally, literally, cried for probably 75% of the pages in The Fault In Our Stars. It’s about teenagers with cancer. And then, it’s about so much more than just teenagers with cancer. It’s about teenagers with hopes and dreams. Teenagers who love and want to be something great. They want to go places, read all the books, have all the conversations. They want to see, even when they have cancer in their eyes. They want to go on walks, even when their lungs cannot handle much more than a walk to the mailbox. They want to fight for a good cause, even when their last checkup confirmed cancer- everywhere.

“That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.”

– The Fault In Our Stars

How could you not cry?

Or not look outside and see that the sky is still there, you can still see the birds, take in the fresh air…

Or feel selfish for the last time you felt sorry for yourself?

A great quote from another book I read, Norwegian Wood: “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes feel sorry for themselves.” It kind of fits the situation.

5. You will laugh a lot. John Green is HILARIOUS. 

That was one of my favorite things about his writing. His characters are always saying the funniest things. The kind of I’m-actually-laughing-out-loud-as-I-read-by-myself type of writing. He’s nerdy and isn’t afraid to show it. More often than not, his protagonists are also nerdy and very smart and have the oddest friends who keep the humor pumping out of each chapter. There are always light moments amidst the dark. That’s a good reminder, too.

I will read his other books as soon as I get my hands on them.

You should start reading John Green NOW.

“My responsibility is to try to tell true stories. To me a true story is always hopeful, but never simply, uncomplicatedly happy.”

-John Green

Well said, John. Well said.

And thanks for writing.

Love, Lou

 

 

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My Dream is My Plan “A” (Thanks Mom and Dad)

This post is dedicated to my parents. Not only are they the most iconic, beautiful people who had the best photos taken of them … they are also genuine and supportive and they have taught me more in life than I could have dreamed possible.

dreams, living your dreams, not giving up, parents

my dad- senior year of college

parents, dreams, living

my mom- around the age of 25 and my sister Jessica

Have you ever heard anyone talk about what they’d really love to do… like become an artist, a journalist, a glassblower… whatever it is! More often then not, they have a “regular” job they aren’t too happy with and they consider this dream of theirs to be plan B.

“If things go well… if all the planets line up…if I get lucky, etc.”

Here I am today saying that if you don’t consider your DREAM TO BE YOUR PLAN A, then you aren’t dreaming in the right way. It’s entirely true. It’s as cliche as the day is long, but you guys, we only live once. One time. Uno. One go around – and it’s up to us to make the most of it.

My parents have always taught me this. They’ve also taught me that money can buy you ZERO happiness. Zero. Having enough love to support you throughout your day is what we all need. They’ve taught me that, too.

And if that isn’t enough, do the old “When I’m 80” test.

When I’m 80, I do not want to look back at my 9-5 (unless that’s my dream- which I know for some people, it is) and wonder why I was willing to sit under a florescent light (think Joe vs the Volcano…) and go through papers and not move throughout the day. When I’m 80 it won’t matter if I spent up to a year in my 20’s very poor, hungry and not sure of what was to come next. It WILL matter if I wasted it and became unhealthy and unhappy and unfulfilled in the process. 

Think about that. It doesn’t even take the “when I’m 80” test sometimes. Sometimes all I have to do is think, One year from now, will this matter? 

When Greg and I stay up late and drink coffee and chat under Christmas tree lights -because we have a Christmas tree up all year round- this is usually what we’re talking about. I imagine my parents did the exact same thing when they had all these surprise daughters, a pastor’s paycheck, and rice and beans. They were the poorest of the poor… but they say they’d have it no other way. They started out living in a rented basement. They had my older sister way sooner than planned. My dad still became a pastor. They made things work. They were skin and bone, quite frankly. But they had love.

my mom, pregnant (both age 24)

my mom, pregnant (both age 24)

This is something that brings tears to my eyes. I get very emotional, realizing that my parents are REAL people. Have you had the same epiphany? In these photos, my parents are MY AGE or younger. They were once in their early 20’s and they had dreams, worries, and they were scared of making  mistakes and raising a family.

Sometimes I look at these pictures and it just hits me how similar I am to them. Right now, this very day, I am so much like my parents. It’s hard to believe they were once my age. They once had a life without Melinda. They cried when they found out they were having twins (partly because of happiness, partly because they had no idea how that would work.)

they still enjoyed a little wine, like we ALL have to do

they still enjoyed a little wine, like we ALL have to do

Because my own parents have such a rich story, one that I love to hear and one that I don’t mind living in my own way (being poor and young and in love), I have a certain way I want to live my life.

I’m BLESSED enough to have parents who support what I want to do. Never once, not ONCE, have they told me that I should consider such and such job, because it would pay well. Instead, they hear me say I want to be a writer and they say, “Okay. You better spend plenty of time and effort on it, then. We believe in you. As long as you are doing what you love and what God have given you as a spiritual gift.” They are really big on that- spiritual gifts. I truly believe that mine is writing. My sister and husband are in a band; their spiritual gifts are obviously music.

I told Greg long ago I’d never ask him to get a job that meant wearing a tie. That means a whole number of things, but most importantly, Greg hates wearing ties. That’s one way we keep ourselves happy. He supports my writing enough to tell me, “Don’t get a 9-5… if you’re working full time, make sure it’s something you love. Focus on your writing. Spend time on it every day. It will be worth it.”

Today I read Amanda’s blog over at The Lady Okie and it really got me thinking. I am in a similar situation as she is… I’m about to be unemployed. It’s scary.

But that’s what happens when you drop everything for a farming internship that pays next to zero, and then they don’t have winter work. That’s kind of how the farming world works. I wanted to be outside and learn… and now, well, that part of my life is about to be over. For the first time ever I don’t have the next job lined up. I’m choosing to believe that this is one of those Blessings In Disguise my mom is ALWAYS talking about. More time to write, right? More time to read… right? If I really spent 8+ hours a day on my DREAM, then being unemployed would probably pay off in the end.

In the meantime, I don’t mind having no extra money. I don’t mind following in the footsteps of my parents and drinking cheap wine with Greg over a meal we planted out in our garden. We’re taking time to spend less. We’re enjoying more that way. It’s surprising, isn’t it? The less you have, the more you enjoy things.

Talk about a blessing in disguise.

before there was the twins....

before there was the twins….

Plus, having no money builds character. Kind of like going through an ugly duckling phase in middle school. Yup, built all my character. ;)

I refuse to stop writing just to get a job that’ll solve all of our money problems. I am willing to sacrifice now so that when I’m 80 or older, I’ll  look back and smile and say, “Wow, I really went for it, didn’t I?” I want to take that risk because without risks, what is life, anyway? A flat line means dead. Let’s spice it up a little and have our highs and lows, because that means we’re alive. (think hospital monitors…)

And if you are blessed to have parents like mine, that’s awesome. Let’s get together and talk about how awesome they are. If you have always had issues with your parents pushing you toward something you aren’t passionate about, then let me be the person to tell you that life is too short and precious to waste on something that doesn’t give you a reason to wake up in the morning with a smile.

You Only Live Once doesn’t mean taking crazy stupid risks and living in the moment. That’s selfish. It means taking care, believing in yourself and others, and trusting that it will all be okay. It means working hard to achieve a goal. It means being true.

Thanks Mom and Dad, for teaching me this. I love you guys so much.

iconic

iconic

today :)

today :)

Love,

the appreciative Lou


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Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Got Overwhelmed)

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It Blog Series… here we go for round Three. 

chickens, cows, livestock, gmos, conditions for animals, current food system

If you’ve read about how I used to eat, how much I weighed and how I felt about it, then you know that I wanted a change.

If you’ve read about how I started to change the way I eat and the “rules” I began to follow, then you know that I wanted that change to be drastic, yet totally realistic. 

Here are my goals for this post:

NOT to sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist… and yeah. That’s pretty much the only goal.

OH! And also, to inspire and possibly lead to some new pondering thoughts for anyone who reads it.

So far I’ve talked about :

the weight I gained, the acne I painfully and embarrassingly made it through, and the bad mood I was perpetually in … all due to what I ate. There are always other factors, sure, but don’t all of those also directly relate to what we eat? Life is always stressful in some ways. I wanted to never let stress cause me to have a bad relationship with food ever again.

the book I read, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

the changes I began to make, following some simple food rules and maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude.

~~~~~

Now is when I want to get real. I want to tell you guys just how overwhelmed I was at the start of it all. It’s all fine and dandy to have a good attitude and a smile. But someone close to me (again, POOR Greg!) was lucky enough to see the freak out moments… the moments where I panicked.

These were not the types of panics you might be imagining.

The adrenaline rushes and the overwhelming feeling that everything was going to hell in the food world caught me unaware. All of a sudden I was reading about the treatment of factory “farm” animals, the engineering and modification of our precious food, and the way it was affecting people and the environment.

Now. I’ve always considered myself to be level headed. In many ways, you could call me conservative, though I usually want to leave politics OFF of Hey Lou and stay on more uplifting topics. (Let me also note here that I think words like “conservative” and “conventional” are drastically different these days than the ideals they are really meant to represent. Isn’t living sort of a hippy lifestyle and growing your own food “conservative?” Anyway.)

On the same note, now I guess I have lots of ways of living that could cause someone to point at me and call me liberal. Or libertarian. Or a damn hippy. Or whatever the heck you want to call it.

I’d call myself completely un-trusting of any of those titles… and I’m just me. 

Though the more I read into food and big agriculture and big animal operations, the more political it got. The more depressing it got.

TRUTH? I couldn’t even finish The Omnivore’s Dilemma the first time I read it. Because it overwhelmed me. I could no longer trust certain aspects of life that I thought I could. I looked at the glossy apple at the regular grocery store differently. I looked at the Manager Special half-off steak differently.

If you want to know the truth about why, just pick up a book about the food system. But I can almost promise you that it won’t be anything you haven’t heard of before. What I want to know is this:

Even though most people are aware of the fact that animals are stuffed and overpopulated and kept in completely unsanitary conditions throughout their lives, for the sake of OUR dinners, WHY is anyone okay with it?

Someone told me recently, a reminder perhaps, that I can’t put human emotions on to an animal. They don’t have the same thought process as us.

Okay, fine.

What I will do, then, is look at the facts.

Animals have instinct, yeah? They do. Probably a better survival instinct than most humans. Even if a chicken cannot think, “Oh my, what’s happened here? I must be in an awful situation and therefore I’m sad,” I believe that the same chicken can do this: Sense that something is wrong. 

The same goes for any animal, especially ones we eat. Nothing healthy happens when humans are stressed out. Toxins are released in our bodies and all kinds of bad things happen. Why should an animal be any different? If an animal has lived a stressful life, completely out of its natural environment (like… in a building…) how can you tell me that this animal isn’t at least a little bit stressed out? (If not SAD about it, too?)

Cows were meant to graze freely on grass. Chickens were meant to peck around at insects and fresh greens and have plenty of space to do it. Pigs are actually very clean animals with a keener sense of smell than dogs. Now picture these animals in feed lots, surrounded by their own waste. Picture them surrounded by loud animals of the same kind, with barely any room to move. Imagine a chicken who has been pumped with hormones and can literally never walk around… the thing I KNOW chickens love to do?

chickens, treatment of animals, current food system,gmo

PROOF! Ray Bradbury… running through the yard.

It breaks my heart, guys. It really does. It doesn’t take something drastic to have a say … to have a vote… for what will go on with livestock in the future. Choosing meat that came from an honest farmer, spending more on that meat while eating less of it (maybe twice a week? maybe once a week? maybe a small portion of your meal, rather than the main event?), and being a good example for others is all it takes. If each person in our generation said NO to large factory farms and made conscious decisions about what went into their mouths, we could start a revolution.

You wouldn’t even have to make a sign and attend a protest. All you have to do is cook an awesome meal each day!! HOOOORAY! That’s good news, no?

It’s not just the treatment of animals that gets me in a tizzy, either. It’s the land used all over the world in order to grow enough corn to feed these animals, who, by the way, shouldn’t even eat corn. It’s the nitrogen and waste infiltrating our water supply (wonder why your tomato has a problem? probably because the water used to grow it had cow you-know-what in it), it’s the excuse of “solving world hunger” that GMOs use, when really, the majority of them go to feed livestock. It’s the fact that if you take a seed that has been engineered in a laboratory, you can’t regrow that plant freely. (More on Genetically Modified [Engineered] Organisms in a post to come…)

All of that can be changed. I’ll never stop believing in that.

cows, gmo, organic eating, food system

a happy family of cows :)

Changing the DNA of our seeds, essentially torturing the animals that grace this Earth for us to shepherd and take care of, well, it overwhelms me. It makes me wonder WHO can sleep at night, if this is something they are actually a part of. It makes me wonder just how much money is involved (LOTS…) and it makes me want to make a stand.

So I did.

This might be a long Blog Series, folks.

LOVE, LOU

 


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Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Began To Eat)

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It Part Two

Welcome back guys! I hope my last post, What I Used To Eat, was enough to get you interested in the changes I made to my diet and lifestyle. What I described as far as diet choices and workout choices (P90X!) may have sounded perfectly normal and healthy to you. You might be the rare type of person who was shocked by how unhealthy it actually sounded.

Either way, I’m glad you’re back. This is going to be a “blog series” journey that will take you through the journey that was the last 5 years of my life. The road has been challenging, but it’s mostly been:

FUN…EXCITING…INSPIRATIONAL…EDUCATIONAL and… LIFE-CHANGING

Five years changed me into someone who:

Doesn’t own a microwave

Buys minimal processed food (usually only for special occasions when I “don’t have time” to cook, which is rare)

Tries to know her grower/farmer

Reads almost as many non-fiction food books as fiction (!!!)

Interns on a farm

Owns chickens

Has a garden that feeds me at least once a day

chickens,garden, eating organic, eating, health

Don’t worry. I don’t want to overwhelm you yet. I also don’t expect everyone to go out and buy baby chicks, start a garden, or throw their microwave in their trash can. The microwave can wait a few more blogs… then I expect it to go. (Just kidding… kind of.)

I guess I’m just sort of fascinated by my own story, because so many people have reminded me that, “The Melinda you used to be would not believe the Melinda you have turned into. It’s crazy.”

I prefer the crazy Melinda, I s’pose.

Back when I was 20 pounds heavier, took three medications for acne and felt angry/frustrated/confused every single day, I decided to make some decisions. And those decisions, folks, were made quickly. One cannot put off change. I hate to say it, but it’s completely true. Stop putting it off. 

“To change one’s life:

Start immediately.

Do it flamboyantly.

No exceptions.”

-William James

I did exactly this when I made a decision to at least try to follow some of Michael Pollan’s food suggestions. Along with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I also read Food Rules, a very short and sweet book that lays out simple rules for eating.

A few rules that really shouted out to me:

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. I might even change this to great-great grandmother for some, depending on which generation you’re from. Think she would have recognized “yogurt” in a tube? Think she would know what to do with a box of mac and cheese (“What’s this package of orange powder?” She would say.)

Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Sure, it’s “just another sugar,” but it’s everywhere, and that makes it something to avoid. Really, just avoid food with loads of added sugar. (Another Food Rule is to avoid foods with some form of sugar listed as one of the three first ingredients!)

Avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients. The exception to this rule would be something with a long list of herbs or spices. I would go grab a cardboard package of food from my kitchen to tell you the ingredients list, but I cannot. I currently don’t have anything processed in my home.* (YAY!) The list should be short and sweet. It should contains words that sound like REAL food. A small child should be able to pronounce and recognize these sort of words. It shouldn’t look like a science experiment gone wrong.

Avoid food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low-fat” or “nonfat” in their names. These are gimmicks. Hoaxes. What happened when the low-fat ads began popping up in the 1970’s? Oh yeah, people began eating way more sugar to make up for this loss of fat. Just take in your good fats. (Olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocado… don’t act like you haven’t heard this before!)

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. I am a very visual person. I stopped drinking pop (soda?) when I was a senior in high school because one day I had this vision of sugary liquid in my brain, causing a headache, and I couldn’t get past it. I often feel dehydrated, even with all the water I drink. If I were to drink a sugary pop, I’d freak out. So….. this rule was very visual for me. Metal, steel, robots, machinery, surgical caps, lab coats, food running down belts and being splurted into jars… those are not good visuals. Think about what you eat, what sort of plant it was made in, and just how foreign and new it is, when compared to the generations before us who ate nothing that came from a plant. They ate plants.

Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. Or, in my case, just don’t eat cereal for breakfast. But if you do, choose a healthy one. And unless it contains beets, it shouldn’t be affecting the color of your milk. (Red 40 is definitely something your great-great grandmother would not recognize as something to EAT!)

Pay more, eat less. (the next rule: …Eat Less) Did you know that in France, people use up to 16 or 18 percent of their income on food? Here, the average American spends less than 10 percent of their income on food. We are always looking for the cheapest, fastest, and most convenient way to eat. Guess what? It should come as no shock that none of those factors equals healthy. I truly believe that it is affordable to eat in the healthiest ways possible. Not only does some produce for a quick stir fry cost only a few dollars, but there are other factors I’d consider important… and hopefully these will change your point of view. If anyone tells me that the food at the farmer’s market, Coop, or Whole Foods is too expensive to buy, or that organic or “specialty health items” in their regular grocery store are simply tooooo much, here is what I will ask them (I’m asking YOU right now. You can answer in the comments box, if you’d like):

How much do you pay for your TV? Cable? Dish? Ten zillion channels?

How much do you pay for your cell phone? Is it a smart phone?

How much do you want to pay for high blood pressure medicine when you are older? Or for that physical trainer to give you a meal plan once you realize that you are in too deep to get yourself out of this mess?

I have one word for you: PRIORITIES

You guys, I am rarely this straightforward or opinionated. Honestly. I’m just me, I’m positive and laid back, but this is my passion. I care SO MUCH about the health of others, that yes, I would ask this to your face. How much do all of those things cost? Add it up. And don’t forget to add up all of the other potential medical expenses that could occur, too.

If I had these things to pay for, guess what? I would not be able to afford the food I eat. I’m not rich, when it comes to money. (though I am totally one of those overly sentimental people who would tell you just how rich in love I am!)

Greg and I don’t have a television. 

We have the most cave-mannish cell phones that most children of today wouldn’t quite recognize as a phone at all (aka, not smart phones).

And I weaned myself off the acne medication because I didn’t want to use it OR pay for it.

We made sacrifices, which turned out to only be positive, and not really sacrifices at all, in order to eat the way we do. I understand what it took to get that cucumber onto my dinner plate. I will pay the price. Over and over and over again.

Will you?

Cook. It’s the last rule I’ll list here, but one that is possibly more important than all others. The question I would ask you for this round would be:

How much time do you spend cooking each day? And then… how much time do you spend watching TV? I’m not trying to demonize TV, but I don’t understand how people have time to watch it. So many people use “busy” as their excuse for so many things, especially what they eat or how much they work out. I’m saying that those are the least legitimate excuses in the book. IF you are doing something like watching TV. (As in… I am NOT talking about single parents who work three jobs and then come home to three kids. I am talking about an average situation. There are always exceptions.)

You guys, I spend a lot of my time cooking. I cook something for every meal. I wake up earlier than the old Melinda because I usually wash/chop/satuee/bake/cook something every single morning. During that time, I also make whatever I’ll pack for my lunch. Then, when I get home, I do the same thing all over again for dinner. We don’t need a microwave because we cook each meal, and usually in small amounts so there are rarely leftovers. If there are, guess where I heat them up? On the stove or in the oven. There are no “quick meals” here.

The “slow” meals taste too good to leave behind.

And they’re really not slow at all. I don’t wake up an hour earlier… just 15-20 minutes. That’s all I need for the prep time, cook time, and cleanup time. I’d add on maybe five or ten minutes if I were feeding children, too.

When I made these changes… I swear… the weight melted off. Melted. It just disappeared, and then another 5 pounds, because I was no longer a super muscular cheerleader like I had been in high school. In reality, I was close to 25 pounds overweight without even knowing it. I’m not stick thin now, either. I am comfortable and healthy. I feel good about my body because I feel good about what goes into it. I started taking less and less of my acne medication, and during that time, started to make more and more of these food changes. Suddenly, about a year and a half later, I threw the last of my tretinoin acne pills in the trash. I ate another salad. I no longer had to worry about breakouts. (I also cut out gluten. You can read more about my experiences with acne and finally getting clear skin here.) Notice how nothing changed overnight? The weight came off within the year. My skin changed, but there were days when I felt like nothing was happening. Our bodies are jam packed with junk. It DOES take time to get rid of it all and replace it with what it actually wants.

Our bodies want to be as healthy as they can be.

So many people (mostly woman) have talked to me about their body issues lately. They usually say something like, “I can’t control what I eat,” or “I have issues with my body and I feel so depressed because of it,” or “I wish I could eat healthy, but I always give in. It makes me feel bad. I wish I could change it.”

One of the things that helped me MOST in changing my eating lifestyle was having a positive attitude.

I formulated many mantras, all of which I still use to this day.

I CAN DO THIS.

THIS IS EASY!!!

THIS IS FUN!

MY FOOD TASTES GOOD!

Food doesn’t need to be purely fuel. Thinking that way might even backfire. (One of Michael Pollan’s rules is also: Break the rules every once in a while.) It is an experience. We should be salivating when we think about our next meal. We should be excited to cook and eat. Food should be something joyous, not something depressing or scary.

We have to eat to survive. But I’d say that even more than that, we have to be happy in order to survive.

Here’s my challenge for you:

Consider taking baby steps and adding a new “Food Rule” to your shopping list each week. These will accumulate, not change out. ;)

Wake up and force yourself to smile. This smile will eventually become a real one.

Wake up fifteen minutes early and have your meals planned.

Sit at a table for each meal and savor the flavors. These will eventually be flavors YOU decided should be there, and not some company trying to hook you into buying their product again.

Tell me how you’re doing.

This was a long blog, but I just couldn’t stop at one thing.

AND there’s more to come!!! (My detailed week of eating, prices, facts about subsidies and why the “rebel” in me cares so much about organic and local food, and moooooooore)

To say the least, I’m excited.

melinda short hair

So much love, 

Lou

* I lied!!!! I actually have a box of Larabars that were on sale at Whole Foods. I chose the Peanut Butter & Jelly flavor. Ingredients list: dates, peanuts, unsweetened cherries, sea salt. No added sugar, check. Under five ingredients, check. Real food items, check!!


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7 Reasons Why I Smile

In lieu (lou?) of what The Lady Okie wrote about today regarding one’s lot in life, I decided to make a list of things that make me smile. A LOT.

I’ve had my moments where it felt tough to smile. Just like Amanda (The Lady Okie), I, too, have been jealous of others, wanted what others had, and failed to recognize that ultimately, I am a blessed person. In fact, if I really think about it… I am far too blessed. Reading her blog made me realize that. And just like most of life’s little blessings and messages, it came at the perfect time.  I don’t deserve an ounce of this happiness but guess what? I have it anyway. I couldn’t be more thankful.

It’s a simple list.

It won’t include:

-technology

-$$$

-anything you can buy with $$$

But it will include a lot of good ol fashioned happiness.

Here goes!

1) I have a husband who loves me for me.

We’re been together going on 7 years. We’ve been married 3.5 years. And he is still with me. I’ve been stubborn, messy, gross, laughed too much at my own jokes, selfish, smelly (uh…), emotional, worrisome, foolish…. and that list is never ending. Yet Greg has loved me for every imperfect moment. He never gave up on me. He makes me smile every day and tells me he loves me. He teaches me to be a better person. And most importantly, he is hilarious.  (Also, we may or may not both have consumed alcohol before the picture below. There’s just something in our eyes… but HEY it was vacation.)

lou and lou

2) I promised Greg that I would never, ever, ask him to get a job anyplace where he has to wear a tie.

(And guess what? That means I don’t have to, either! ha) Some people thrive in ties. They’re comfortable, they make money, they enjoy what they do, and they don’t mind (or even love) to get dressed all spic and span for work. Guess who is the opposite? Back when Greg worked at a bank for a few months, we found out just how that sort of “business” work attire affected us both. I hated, I REPEAT, HATED, dressing in “professional attire” for student teaching. Greg hated doing the same for his job. So what did we do? We switched gears. We took some risks. We changed our paths… together… and are now more satisfied with what we call work.

Christmas, 2011

Christmas, 2011

3) I get to read the comics.

Yes, they make me laugh out loud. Yes, my father-in-law saves them for me so I can catch up when we’re at their house…. And YES, F-Minus is my very favorite comic. Those writers know what they’re doing. (I thought, since the comics are in the paper, it would be cool to use the sketch edit icon on my free picture editing system. Hoooooray for that.)

thanks Frank

thanks Frank

4) I have five chickens.

And I’ll never tire of writing/blogging/talking about them. Some people have dogs. Some have cats. I have chickens.

chickens, happiness, marriageAnd a smattering of pictures of them. To show off at my ten year reunion.

Kate Burn Photography

Kate Burn Photography

chickens,

5) I have a new internship at a farm.

An organic farm. A place where I get to wear boots, non-skinny jeans, plaid button up shirts, hats that make me look like a boy, zero makeup and zero tie (or the girl equivalent… high heels.)

No picture yet. I just started today!! AND IT WAS AWESOME. I helped harvest crops, roast green chile, and get some pigs some milk from a local dairy. How cool is that?

6) I have a passion for a few things:

Writing

Fighting GMOs and the current food system…and the animals who are captured in the current food system

Supporting organic food and local farms

Reading

Laughing

and I get to do all of those things every single day. 

Yup. That’s right. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Because I love my family and friends and I want them to live as long as possible. Because I love sharing my ideas, whether fiction or non-fiction. Because I believe that we all have a vote… when we buy our groceries and when we put food in our mouths. Because reading defines who I am. Because I believe that laughter can cure any and almost every thing. Because what we’re passionate about should be a daily act.

7) And best of all, I have an awesome family. 

My parents have showed me real love. They’re one of the happiest couples I know. They never cease to amaze me. And guess what? They have never pressured me to do anything for money. They have always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I owe them BIG for that.

family, chickens, happiness, marriage

I have two nephews, Carson and Landon, who I couldn’t love more. They are growing up to be the sweetest boys who give me BIG HUGS AND KISSES and SHARE and say KIND THINGS to people. Emily and Brian have really paved the way as far a parenting :)

cochrans

Landon’s birthday…

cochrans2

And um…. what 4 year old poses like this… ON HIS OWN??? My amazing nephew, Carson, that’s who!!

cochrans 3

And my sisters have always had me laughing. That’s one thing I love best about having sisters (along with watching Little Woman and crying the entire time…)

This is us, 6+ years ago. (WOW!) (I was 18, okay? I think teenagers are still allowed to do the stupid duck face.)

family 4

This is us not so long ago… and still laughing. Thanks mostly to Meredith’s random moments of hilarity that make our abs hurt.

family 3

(it’s a balloon…..)

So think about what makes you truly happy. COUNT your blessings rather than counting what others have been blessed with.

And have a lovely evening!

Love, Lou


5 Comments

If You’re Going To Be A Writer…

…you should probably consider marrying someone who is slightly obsessed with coffee. Not just making coffee or drinking it, but knowing the beans, learning how to roast, and brewing it in at least 5 different ways.

coffee, writing, marriage, roasting

there’s ray

Or, marriage aside, learn to do all this yourself. You just can’t go back to drip or those weird little cups after experiencing the real thing.

Because like me, you might know that having a cup of coffee or tea is just about the nicest way to start a day off. Why is this? I think it’s because it’s warm and cozy (even in the summer), tastes great, and is equally nice to enjoy alone or with someone.

I love drinking coffee on my own. I love drinking it with Greg even more. (And that’s only partly because I usually mess up the measurements somehow.)

This morning my dear hubs roasted his own green beans for the first time. And it worked like a charm.

coffee, roasting, marriage, writing

the green beans

roasting coffee, marriage, writing

roaster and beans afterwards

coffee, roasting, marriage, writing

Greg!

After a morning like this, a writer should surely be able to bust out at least one poem.

And if that’s not enough… grow some flowers. And get a chicken that is cuter than pie.

coffee, flowers, roasting, chickens, marriage, writing

lovely! When I drink my coffee, I look at these.

chicken, coffee, roasting, marriage, writing

Harvey’s cute butt

Happy Tuesday everyone. Try to step out of your coffee comfort zone and brew in a new way today!

Love, Lou


1 Comment

Tear Down to Build Up

Some thoughts recently:

Even though this got me down, I realized that all I needed to do was refocus. I got rejected. So what. I’m a writer and that’s part of the process.

I hate to admit that the taste of success, followed by the rejection, really did affect me. I haven’t written nearly as much as I should have. Plus, with that Blog Every Day In May Challenge… I was giving all of my focus to the blog, and very little to my fiction/short story/novel writing. I realized I had to start over. I had to just let things go…. I had to stop, drop, and sit back and relax. I took a short blog break. I took a sort-of writing break altogether, but I’m back in action.

During that time I:

Chopped off all of my hair. It’s one of the most refreshing, liberating, and confidence-boosting things I’ve ever chosen to do. Yay!

short hair, change, the pickaxe

I’m loving it.

pixie cut, the pickaxe, change, tear down

me and mah books

 

Began a new book. It’s very personal in some ways, and just the book I’d like to pick up and read (which they say is the way to do it, so, yay again!) Some parts have been difficult to write, & I am finding myself writing out plot lines, character details, and chapter by chapter notes for the first time. I think this is a good sign. (though it’s by no means super organized. Read here about why that is.) I’ve had fun making up the (tragic) scenarios, because although the book might feel personal, it is very different from the life I live. That’s the beauty of a book. You never know what lead the author to writing it, what he or she took from real life, and what came from simply listening to a song. Ahhhh, the beauty of secrets.

writing, organization, notes, the pickaxe

I’ll never be completely organized, but this is a start!

I got a new job!!! Well, internship. I gave my two weeks at the bakery (which is really almost a month, since this starts in mid-august), and starting soon I will be interning (full time!) with Skarsgard Farms here in Albuquerque. I am SO EXCITED and SO READY to take on a new challenge. (Come visit me at the market!)

This will be me, not just at home, but at work:

garden, albuquerque, local, organic, produce

out in the garden

Those are the highlights of the changes in my life.

Oh, and I also thought I’d be giving you all a summer reading list update every Sunday. I realized that goal was a little too burdensome for me. Now, I’ll just be doing those at random. But don’t think I’ve been slacking off, either. I finished two books in the last two weeks, I’m reading two right now, and I still have two more for book club. (Ask me how I have so much time to read, and we’ll have a real conversation, oh boy!)

I have been relating to a poem of Rumi’s lately, so I’ll leave you with that. Maybe it’ll speak to you in the same way.

The Pickaxe

Rumi

Some commentary on I was a hidden treasure,

and I desired to be known: tear down

this house. A hundred thousand new houses

can be built from the transparent yellow carnelian

buried beneath it, and the only way to get to that

is to do the work of demolishing and then

digging beneath the foundations. With that value

in hand all the new construction will be done

without effort. And anyway, sooner or later this house

will fall on its own. The jewel treasure will be

uncovered, but it will not be yours then. The buried

wealth is your pay for doing the demolition,

the pick and shovel work. If you wait and just

let it happen, you’d bite your hand and say,

“I didn’t do as I knew I should have.” This

is a rented house. You don’t own the deed.

You have a lease, and you’ve set up a little shop,

where you barely make a living sewing patches

on torn clothing. Yet only a few feet underneath

are two veins, pure red and bright gold carnelian.

Quick! Take the pickaxe and pry the foundation.

You’ve got to quit this seamstress work.

What does the patch sewing mean, you ask. Eating

and drinking. The heavy cloak of the body

is always getting torn. You patch it with food,

and other restless ego-satisfactions. Rip up

one board from the shop floor and look into

the basement. You’ll see two glints in the dirt.

~~~
Maybe you need to tear down your house, like I did, and find something that works. Make a big change. Take a portion of your life and start over. Good luck!
Love, Lou

 


3 Comments

Always Be True. Period.

Day 25, Saturday: Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget (good or bad)

It wasn’t so much something about me, as it was advice, that changed my life and stuck with me forever.

Always, always, be true to your husband. – Grandpa Bob

I had the very special opportunity to spend time with my Great Grandpa Bob in the last few years of his life. He was the most interesting man and let me tell you… I have yet to find someone with eyes that twinkle the way his did, a smile as contagious, and an outlook on life that was more positive.

To put it simply: I have yet to meet anyone as happy as Bob was.

I try to be more like him each and every day.

advice, grandpa, writing

might have been the most attractive human being to ever walk the earth, just sayin. is that weird? to have a crush on my great grandpa?

We sat together and chatted for hours and hours.

He sang, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” He was willing to answer any question. He ended most of his profound statements with a strong, “Period!” (“And that was how it was! Period!”) He may have had moonshine some whiskey in his fridge.

We discovered that he and I have the same hands. I used to dislike my thicker fingers (Meredith got the slender, skinny and delicate hands of my mother’s side) but when I noticed that each of my fingers were shaped exactly like Bob’s, suddenly I loved my hands.

writer, new writer, short stories, poetry

There’s that SMILE!!!! Please, God, let me be cool enough to still sit on santa’s lap when I’m 90 years old. LOVE THIS!!!

He told me he loved me. He told me that God would always be with me. He told me to always, always, be true to my husband.

Oh, and about his continuously positive outlook on life… one more little fact… he was blind.

advice, staying true, writing, young adult, short stories

when Meredith and I went to visit!!

Grandpa Bob had no problem talking about his own death, which he referred to as “crossing the threshold into eternity” and nothing else. We talked about heaven. He wanted his body to be donated to science, to help others with the same eye condition. He lived to be over 90 years old and his mind was sharper than a blade. (I hope I also get that gene.) Certain points in our conversation brought us both to tears. I suppose I get that strong emotion from Bob, too. We laughed hysterically and he told me outrageous stories from his youth.

writing, short stories, poetry

giving him a smooch!

He had Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye condition that worsens with time until eventually, you are legally blind. My grandmother (the beautiful one who I had mentioned here) and uncle also have this.

They, too, are the happiest people I’ve ever met.

How is this possible? How can these three individuals, who were robbed of something as precious as sight, still smile wider than all others? How can they laugh, cry, and show emotion that seems to radiate out from them without them trying? How can they see so much?

I’ll never know and I doubt I’ll ever be as wise or gracious or sparkle the way they do. But I’ll never stop trying.

I’ll never forget my Grandpa Bob, his hands, or his advice.

writing, new writer, short stories

my visit with Greg, the last time I saw Grandpa Bob

Love, Lou

(And I love you forever Grandpa Bob!)


3 Comments

2+2=4 {Not Just A Math Equation}

Update: WE HAVE BEEN BUILDING OUR CHICKEN COOP ALL DAY!!!!

but you can’t say I’ve missed day 4 of the challenge… it’s not midnight yet! The challenge continues…

Day 4, Saturday: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it

First off- The Runner Ups:

You are what what you eat eats. -Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. -Ray Bradbury

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. -John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy. Holden in Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger

All right, then, I’ll go to hell. – Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

(Pat yourself on the back if you can tell WHY those are quotes I think of each day.)

Drum roll please… my favorite quote of all time is this:

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. -Winston in 1984, George Orwell

Have you read this book? If not, you should. I think it’s the most imperative read out there.

I’ll tell you why.

We are living in a day and age when media and advertisements rule all. One story in the news will disappear while another shows up out of the blue, telling us something completely different. It’s confusing.

One example:

Drink milk- we all need our calcium. What those ads don’t tell you is that drinking milk is one of the worst ways to get calcium into your body. In fact, calcium is actually stripped away in order to process the milk. Dr. Frank Sabatino, PhD (as quoted in Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran) says, “Bone health is not dependent on the calcium you take in, but on the calcium you keep in. Calcium, in its charged state, can be used to alkalinize the body by buffering or neutralizing acidity. As the body becomes more acidic from a diet high in animal protein, it will pull calcium out of the bones to neutralize the negative effects of acidity and inflammation.” Also: Scandinavia and the USA have the highest rates of hip fracture. And the highest dairy intake. (the good news- we can get our calcium where the cow got hers, through greens. one cup of collard greens has more mg of calcium than a cup of milk)

I won’t even get into the more depressing “facts” floating around. There are too many.

If you read 1984, you will see that Winston is conflicted. His job is to take yesterday’s news, make it disappear, and replace it with today’s news. He sees the error in this because the news stories are always opposites.

“We are at war with Eurasia” one day.

“We were never at war with Eruasia, we are now at war with Eastasia” the next.

Winston knows that they were at war with Eurasia. He remembers it. But that is not the way he is supposed to think.

War is peace.

Freedom is Slavery.

Ignorance is Strength.

That’s what Winston is supposed to believe. But guess what? He doesn’t. He knows that as long as he is aware of the Truth, he will be free. He can pretend to agree with the government. He can go with the flow of the crowd. As long as he can think the Truth.

When Winston is faced with the toughest, challenging moment of his life, here’s what he’s told:

‘How can I help it?’ [Winston] blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’

‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’

Do you think it’s enough? To know the truth and hold onto it no matter what? Do you think that if you were in jail for years and years, but you still had your own freedom of thought and knowledge, that you would in some way, actually feel free? I honestly don’t know if I’m that strong. It’s scary to think about. All I know is that I will take Ray Bradbury’s advice and never stop reading. We can’t stop reading, ever.

We need to believe what Winston believed. We can’t let anything take that away from us. (Um, I won’t spoil the ending, but just know, your life will never be the same after reading 1984.)

If I ever get a tattoo, it will say: two and two make four.

Because freedom truly is the ability to say something real, even when the government (or any “higher power”) tries to tell you otherwise.

2+2=4.

It’s true.

What idea or quote do you hold onto as a way of living life?

<3 Lou


16 Comments

Lou’s Really Good At…

Here it is!! Day 2 of the challenge- to write a blog every single day of May. Uff-da!

Day 2, Thursday: Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you’d like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)

First off, let me tell you all a few things I am NOT so good at. I’ve tried and failed at so much, the list is hard to compile.

Being super fashionable. I just don’t do fashion. I mean, I think I pull off a great outfit every once in a while, but that’s largely thanks to Pinterest and the example of others. In high school my friends constantly teased me for my lack of ability to match. My shoes NEVER matched my outfit. I only have one purse. One. Not one for each outfit. I wear the same thing two days in a row. I could never do a fashion blog.

Arguing about politics. I know what I like, what I don’t like, what I want to support and what makes me want to cry. What I am bad at is arguing for these things, purely with political stats and facts. I am horrible at remembering which article x info came from, or which (scuzzy) politician said what (scuzzy) thing and the date it was said on, or what happened 20 years ago that directly impacts such and such decision. I get all shaky and my heart starts to pound when people have in depth political debates in my presence. I have a new approach- never get into a political discussion, at least with anyone who I know will raise their voice. It won’t end well.

Being completely organized and/or neat. This will never be a “how to organize your life” blog. I am kind of a run with it, figure it out as you go along, probably lose an important piece of paper kind of gal. I simply cannot change. There will always be piles of paper in my home. I’ve tried to write down all of my random thoughts in one concise place, like a small notebook, but I never stick to it. I try to keep a tidy kitchen 24/7, but sometimes reading a book is way more important than washing a dish. I am who I am. I’ll say it again: I cannot change.

That being said, there is something I am good at. I have said enough about writing and reading by this point, so I will shift gears today.

I am good at sticking to a healthy diet and keeping a gluten-free, semi-vegetarian home.

Here’s my story:

Suddenly, out of nowhere, when I was a senior in high school, I developed acne. Yes, acne. It was awful. The acne formed mostly around my jawline, mouth and cheekbones. I cried myself to sleep, cried in the morning getting ready for school (I remember one devastating morning, when the makeup just wouldn’t cover up the purple/red I had going on, and I broke down in my parent’s bathroom. They didn’t know what to do) and went to the bathroom between every single class, fixing whatever I thought needed fixing… by adding more makeup. I went to a dermatologist, who gave me THREE chemical peels, an antibiotic to take 2x a day, and a face cream: Retin A. The results? I constantly felt like my face was peeling off and to the annoyance of my twin, Meredith, asked her at least ten times a day, “Does it look like my skin is peeling?” My skin was bright red all the time. I still had pimples. I still cried a lot. I remember dreaming that I woke up with smooth skin. It was really a nightmare and I woke up… never to forget that dream. (there are zero pictures to show… I shied away from the camera. I didn’t want my face documented)

There are a two factors I believe contributed to my dilemma:

partially: High stress (isn’t high school always this way? but it was a particularly bad year, mean girl-wise)

but mostly: DIET  (with the new found freedom I had in going to class later a few times a week [flex schedule, being a senior] plus driving myself there, I was for some reason possessed enough to find myself going to McDonald’s on my way to school. Can I even believe that I ever did such a thing? Barely. But I did. It was truly weeks into eating McDonald’s ~2 times a week that I started having acne. Growing up we never ate fast food. It was rare, and every time I did eat it, it made me sick [surprise, surprise].)

I didn’t see the connection between diet and skin. I just didn’t. Dermatologists don’t say, “Hey, you should really try changing your overall diet.” No. They say, “Here, let me prescribe x, and x, and x.”

I’ve said before that I love the word CAHOOTS. Well, I think dermatologists (and most western health care professionals) are in CAHOOTS with the drug companies. ***NOT ALL. There are some who I think truly care, truly believe they are doing the right thing, and only want to help.*** But there is an overwhelming majority who, I believe, are influenced by $ and $ alone. If people simply changed their diets, what would the drug companies do? Go out of business, that’s what. 

Anyway!

It took years, YEARS, for me to discover a new way of eating and living. My mother-in-law has celiac. It’s absolutely no joke. She survived cancer, caused by eating gluten when “gluten free” was a term used by no one. It’s almost funny now, because one can hardly have a symptom of sickness without her asking, “Well, do you think you might have celiac?” But I think she may be on to something. She suggested I try going gluten free to try and fix my skin problem. I didn’t really think it would help.

But then I tried it.

I started eating a gluten free diet about two years ago. My skin improved dramatically. Whenever I would “cheat” and eat gluten, guess what? A pimple would pop up, pretty much the next day. I began to see a direct correlation. So I stopped cheating. I have been eating 100% gluten free for a year and a half now. My skin has improved. During that time I also started taking my antibiotic once a day, rather than twice… and eventually stopped taking it altogether. I didn’t want to depend on something like that. I stopped applying the Retin A. I stopped seeing a dermatologist.

Want to know something kind of sad? The first 5 years of my relationship with Greg, he never once touched my face. Because I was obsessive compulsive about anything touching my face. I didn’t touch it, I changed my pillow case every night, and heaven forbid Greg touch my cheek. I wouldn’t let him. How sad is that?

I’m proud to say that now, I don’t have to worry about anything touching my face. I once said, “I want to use make up as an enhancer, not a cover up.” Now I do. I wake up, wash my face, and I sometimes put on make up, sometimes go without it. I no longer buy or use pimple cream. I stopped with those harsh cleansers… the ones claiming to be “acne fighting” and make up containing salicylic acid. None of those things helped. They only make things worse.

Now I use natural skin care products. I mostly buy MyChelle brand items, use 100% Argon oil, and a light fruit enzyme mist. That’s it!!! It’s cheaper and easier, let me tell you… than relying on prescriptions galore and all kinds of horrible make up.

My skin has never been better. And it wasn’t just the gluten free. Cutting gluten out of my diet helped, but it didn’t solve every single problem. I still had a little bit of red, my scars still needed to fade, and I’d wake up every once in a while with a blemish.

There was one more step on my road to clear skin. And I thank God every single day for what I’ve learned.

I began to eat organic. I started eating greens every single day. I stopped eating meat every day. 

Which inevitably led to educating myself on the food system in general. It’s outrageous, if you do your research. I started with Michael Pollan’s Ominvore’s Dilemma. Then I read The Food Revolution by John Robbins. Next was Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran. The list goes on, but the knowledge gained goes on forever. I began to see the connection between big companies… whether they’re GMO seed companies, like Monsanto, or big animal torturing meat companies, like Tyson, they’re all contributing to the unhealthy distribution of food. No WONDER our generation has seen an influx of medical maladies. No WONDER kids suffer with acne, obesity and overall sickness of health. Look at what we, as a nation, are eating!! “Food like substances.” That’s what. You can hardly call a McDonald’s Happy Meal food. Or happy. (I haven’t eaten fast food in over two years. It overwhelms me to think of every bad element that goes into one fast food item. I simply cannot do it.)

I try my hardest to advocate for the things I like, rather than bashing the things I cannot abide by. Like Michael Pollan says, we can vote for what we support THREE TIMES A DAY!! That’s a lot of voting. And how is that done? By what we eat. What we choose to buy… each time our food gets scanned at the grocery store… that’s a vote. I choose to vote for smaller companies, preferably organic, and to limit my meat intake, which ultimately helps water conservation, the way animals are treated, and my own health (Please, please.. I beg of you… read those books I listed above!!!)

When I started:

-cooking every meal from scratch

-eating 100% gluten free

-buying ~95% organic

-eating a ~90% plant based diet (roughly…)

my skin became perfect.

I am not here trying to boast about it. I’m not here saying that makes me, in any way, better. But it makes me happier. When I wake up, I can touch my skin and smile, feeling that it is smooth. When I look in the mirror, I no longer want to cry. (Though I have, literally, cried from the joy and hardly being able to believe that my dream of having clear skin finally came true.) I want to shout all of this from the rooftops in order to help every teenager and adult who feels like their acne just won’t go away. The solution is so simple. If I can do it, you can too.

I love this topic. I love discussions about healthy eating. PLEASE FEEL FREE to email me (mgreywilliams@gmail.com), comment on here, or contact me on facebook. I will tell you every single meal I eat, if that will help you. I’ll give tips on how to shop this way, make it affordable and tell you over and over again… it’s easy!!!

So many people blow off a good diet and use the excuses it’s too expensive or I don’t have time or I don’t believe it. Don’t let these poor excuses keep you from knowing the truth and improving your life!!! Because investing in your health today is a whole lot cheaper than paying for medical help later on in life. BE that older person who doesn’t rely on pills or a doctor. BE that person who is free from that and who lives simply.

I want to write all day about this. But I think I’ll stop here.

Just a recap…

– I had acne, which directly correlated with eating fast food, being stressed, and gluten intake

-I fixed my skin… my own way, by:

– educating myself on the current food system

– choosing to “vote” for and support local and organic food and farms

– NEVER, ever, ever, eating fast food or supporting big companies such as Monsanto, Tyson, McDonald’s, etc.

– cooking from scratch, always including healthy greens like spinach, arugula or kale

– choosing to make my household primarily vegetarian (for so many reasons… too many to write about today)

I am so excited to be sharing this with you. I hope it helps!

I just want everyone to know how attainable a healthy, glowing complexion is!!! I don’t want ANYONE to suffer the way I did. No one deserves that.

food, acne, writing

the smile I wear couldn’t BE more real :)

Love, love, love

Lou