We All Make a List of Priorities…What’s On Yours?

People ask me all the time: How do you have enough time/money to travel so much? How you do have time/money to do all these fun things? How do you do it all?

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They don’t know my secret.

I don’t do it all.

It’s all about priorities.

There are only so many things a person can do at any given time. We are limited creatures. So we all end up making decisions -what stays and what goes.  This is our list, a list of priorities.

So yes, I travel a lot… because traveling is on my list, as is gathering wild and amazing experiences.  I have many hobbies I enjoy: yoga, music, reading, these are all on my list too. I go to school full-time, maintain a blog, and prep for a freelancing career.  All of these great things are on my list of priorities.

But it all comes at a cost. So let’s be real for a moment.

My bedroom floor currently looks like this:11044597_10153129934998210_682537352493707545_n

A non-dirty home is a priority.  A tidy home?  Not a priority.

Also, as I write this blog post, I am wearing my last pair of clean undies and my fridge is empty.

But tonight I will go to the gym, finish this blog, start a paper on Virginia Woolf, and then snuggle with my main squeeze while we watch House of Cards = These things are on my list.

Then there’s money.

I don’t have a huge wardrobe. And what I do have was likely purchased with gift cards. I wore a dress out on the Strip last weekend – I bought it for $2.99 at Forever 21. My necklace was $3 at H&M. My bright red lips? $1 E.L.F. lip crayon.  And I didn’t have a good jacket to go with it.

I don’t have the latest and greatest of anything (except a laptop, of course, because writing is a primary concern of mine). I don’t have a TV or a dishwasher that works.  My car is banged up.  I don’t decorate my house because my priority is to travel, A.K.A. leaving my house. I would rather be on a boat.

On a Boat

When I do travel, luxury is not the name of the game.  Give me a cheap motel, and I’m a happy girl.  Why?  Luxurious travel didn’t make the cut, but frequent travel did.

So I make sacrifices, and they don’t always come easily.  Sometimes I wish I had more clothes, jewelry and handbags.  I wish my house looked Pin-spired.  I wish my car didn’t have scratched paint. I wish I could pig out on donuts and watch more movies.

But these things are not my priorities; they aren’t important enough to me to be on my list.

Some people’s lists include babies and all that comes along with them, others want to get a pilot’s license, some want to write a novel or become CEO or teach Kindergarten.  Some put golf, foreign languages, art, weightlifting, church or Netflix marathons on their list.  To some, high-end clothing and fancy parties are important, others focus on green living, social justice and world peace.

Our lists should match our loves.  That which makes your heart beat wildly should top your list of priorities.  We have to let go of the expectations of the world.  The world may tell me that the supreme priority of a woman is to be a mother.  That’s not currently even close to making my list.  Maybe someday.  Not today.

I’ll do my thing; the world can deal. You do your thing; the world can deal.

What’s on your list?  Are your top priorities all the things that excite you?  Have you forgotten to include the pursuits that bring wonder and amazement into your life?  Put them back on top.  We can’t do it all. So fill your list with damn fine priorities.

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Church, I Beg You: Lay Off Your Pastor’s Wife

Pastors Wife

Dear Church,

I hate to break it to you all, but your pastor’s wife is a normal human being. I’ll give you a moment to let that blow sink in.

…Moment over…

I’m sure she is special and all, but special only in the way that every human being is special. You seem to think that she is super-human, but I’m here to inform you that she is the same mixture of wonderful and crappy we all are.

The only thing that makes her different is that she married a pastor. You married a plumber, and you over there married a teacher, and you in the back haven’t found Mr. Right. It’s safe to say that we all are either married or not married.   Old news.

When this woman married your pastor, God did not beam down all the knowledge and dainty grace you expect her to have. All she got was a piece of paper that read: “You’re hitched.” Then she probably didn’t have sex that night because she was too tired. And then she was your pastor’s wife. Not necessarily A Pastor’s Wife.  No.  Your pastor’s wife.

But again and again, Church, you seem to place these ridiculous expectations on the poor woman.  She needs to be pretty, but not sexy. Helpful, but not intrusive. Well-dressed, but not a spendthrift. Busy, but available. Knowledgeable, but submissive. There, but not there. Breathe, but don’t breathe too much.

She is not a martyr. She is not your savior. She was not born into this world to fit herself into some crazy mold that you deem to be … duh duh duh … A Pastor’s Wife.

She may not be exactly how you think she should be… And that is perfectly fine. For example…

  1. There’s a good chance she says “Shit.” It might be only when she drops something, or it might be a regular part of her vocabulary. Or maybe she doesn’t cuss ever and that doesn’t make her boring. It just makes her … her.
  1. Maybe your pastor’s wife is a feisty sex lover. Say what? She might seduce her husband in a slinky body net she bought at a sex shop. And that’s great.  Or maybe she doesn’t want him to touch her with a 10-inch pole. Or maybe she wishes it were a 10-inch pole… I digress.  She is sexual because she is a person.
  1. She probably feels insecure about her body sometimes. You might have a hard time believing that because she hides under an oversized dress, or because she has huge fake boobs and lip injections. Or maybe you feel like she should hit the gym a bit because those evening prayer meetings are offering her one too many cookies. Her body is her body.  She may hate it. She may love it.  Be kind.
  1. Your pastor’s wife might not want any children. She might want a career instead, and she just might be badass at it. Or, possibly, your pastor’s wife may want fifteen children, six adoptive children and forty-three grandchildren and good for her. Or, maybe she’s wanted a child for years and all your badgering is one more dagger in her disappointment. Her womb = off limits to you.
  1. Speaking of children – How your pastor and his wife parent is a decision they made together.   You might think they should spank their children, or you may think they spank too often. The good news is, you can make your own children and screw them up in your own special way. Let them screw their children up in theirs.
  1. Your pastor’s wife may have a spotless home, or it may be a bloody mess with Wednesday night’s dishes still in the sink on Sunday morning. She may be the best little baker for all those bake sales, or she might buy a premade pie from the Kroger. Don’t you be complaining! You know a dollop of whip cream makes any pie delicious.
  1. I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that your pastor’s wife has a sense of style that doesn’t include thoughts of you. When she is shopping at Gap or Savers or Gucci, she’s picking out the clothes that she likes to wear. And her hairstylist does not need to think about your expectations when giving that pastor’s wife a trim and highlights.
  1. All human beings need to rest, and so does your pastor’s wife. Just because she doesn’t show up on a Sunday does not mean their marriage is in trouble, so you do not need to organize an emergency prayer meeting. Sister simply wanted to sleep. Or maybe catch up on The Bachelor. Or maybe take a bubble bath and read a book.
  1. Final tidbits: not all pastor’s wives play the organ or volunteer in the nursery or do their husband’s laundry. If his shirt is wrinkled, don’t blame her.

So church, simply put… lay off your pastor’s wife. Let her be. Smile at her, be nice to her, and don’t judge her. It’s not easy sharing the care of your husband with hundreds (thousands?) of parishioners.

Gluten Free When In Puerto Rico

Gluten Free Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an easy vacation for Americans.  You don’t need a passport, the flights are typically reasonable, and many locals speak English.  It’s a great country to visit to dip your toe into traveling internationally.  In the same way, a trip to Puerto Rico is quite easy for all Gluten Freers.  Last summer, I was nervous about visiting this country with my strict no-gluten diet and was pleasantly surprised just how easy it is to navigate this Central American country with Celiac disease.

A staple of the Puerto Rican diet is Arroz con Pollo – Rice with Chicken – a perfect meal for those who eat Gluten Free.  This is no boring, bland rice and chicken either…some of the best food I’ve ever tasted was Puerto Rican Arroz con Pollo.

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I ordered the above Arroz con Pollo and fresh Mango smoothie at a little shack on Flamenco Beach, only the most beautiful beach my eyes have seen:

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The food was truly fantastic.  Don’t let the styrofoam plate confuse you, it’s tasty tasty tasty.  At first, I was concerned because there were so many bees swarming around the beach and food area, but they left us alone.  Apparently it is a normal occurrence.

Chicken can be found prepared in other ways as well.  One of the best meals I had during my stay was in a little restaurant called La Jaquita Baya, right across from our hotel, Ciqala.IMG_1191 2

Everyone in our group loved this restaurant so much, we went back twice.

Plantains are another staple in Puerto Rican cuisine.  Friend plantains are wonderful and addicting.  When they are fried, they are called Tostones.  Then you dip them in a mixture of mayo and ketchup.  Gross, right?  Except totally not! It ended up being one of my favorite things on the trip.

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A common dish I had during my trip was Mofongo, which has a base of mashed friend plantains.  You guys.  So. Good.  You must get it.

Now, if you decide to go on any adventures while in Puerto Rico (and you should!), I highly recommend booking your tour through Acampa.  Our tour guides were knowledgable, funny and friendly.  They guided our group through the Toro Negro rainforest – we zip-lined, rock climbed, repelled, and hiked our way through the most gorgeous greenery.

After we were done exploring, they provided a homemade, authentic lunch.  Before your adventure, they give you a sheet to fill out and ask you to list any food allergies.  They were so attentive to my Gluten Free diet and provided a lunch entirely geared toward my needs. So delicious.

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The popular Puerto Rican beer is Medalla.  Just like all the other beers we are familiar with, it is not Gluten Free.  However, Puerto Ricans happen to have a phenomenal rum, Don Q.  I made Don Q con Pina (run and pineapple) my drink of choice for the entire week.  And when I say the entire week, I mean it!

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Keep in mind that the water is safe to drink in Puerto Rico.  I even drank out of a stream on our rainforest adventure!

Now, just because the base of Puerto Rican diet happens to be filled with Gluten Free foods, does not mean everything is Gluten Free.  Almost every restaurant I went to had an English speaking staff member who could tell me what, if anything, had gluten.  We did have a Puerto Rican in our group which helped immensely, but it is still possible to figure it out even without a native/fluent Spanish speaker.

I rarely had to think too hard about what to eat.  Gluten Free in Puerto Rico was a stress-free experience, exactly how a vacation should be.  So, if you have Celiac or a Gluten Intolerance, rest assured that this country is a safe vacation spot for you!

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Hello. I’m Taylor, and I’m a Codependent.

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(I am not a doctor, psychologist or therapist. Everything I have said in this post is based on my personal research and my personal experience. Always consult a doctor, psychologist, or therapist for accuracy and a diagnosis.)

It’s easier for me to talk about what’s wrong with the world than it is for me to talk about what’s wrong within me. I’ve found flags to wave with pride, bringing attention to causes I deem important. I can easily talk about the things near and dear to my heart, but it’s harder to talk about the things going on in my heart.

One thing I don’t really write about at all is something I should be shouting from the rooftops. Mostly because it’s part of my belief that I should be “brave enough to tell my story and kind enough to not tell anyone else’s.” Also, I happen to think that my story is awfully similar to many people’s stories – even if they don’t know it yet.  And there’s something miraculous that comes from a “Me too.”

I am a Codependent.

I will never forget the moment where codependency came on my radar. I was in the car with a dear, trusted friend. I was ranting about all the problems that were leading me to file for divorce at the wee age of 22. She asked me if I had ever read the book Codependent No More.

My response: Why? Does he need to read it? (Because, of course, it’s always the other person who has all the problems.)

Her response: No, Taylor. You do.

**crickets**

(Side note: You always need a friend who tells you the truth. The friends who tell you that you’re great 100% of the time are lying to you.)

I had no idea what codependency was. So I did what every 20-something does: I googled it. And then the tears. I spent days (which has lead to months) researching and studying codependency.  This is what I learned:

Codependents need somebody to need them. They need other people to be okay with them in order to be okay with themselves. With heavy amounts of people pleasing/caretaking and low amounts of self-esteem, Codependents have trouble setting up boundaries and taking care of themselves.  Often, Codependents are attracted to those with addictions and/or narcissists because they are some of the neediest of people.  And we need to be needed.

The website for Co-dependents Anonymous has a great overview of the generalized, common symptoms of codependency (found here). I will copy and paste some of the ones that jumped out at me as being daily problems in my life, for my entire life:

Codependents often:

  • have difficulty identifying what they are feeling
  • think they can take care of themselves without any help from others
  • mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation
  • express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways
  • have difficulty making decisions
  • judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough
  • have difficulty admitting a mistake
  • value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own
  • need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and may even lie to look good
  • are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want
  • look to others to provide their sense of safety
  • have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries
  • are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long
  • put aside their own interests in order to do what others want
  • are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings
  • believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves
  • attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel
  • have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others
  • demand that their needs be met by others
  • suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable

All of a sudden my life made sense to me. The struggles I had since I was a little girl, the difficulties I had in relationships, and all the confusion finally made sense.  It was the most liberating realization: I wasn’t crazy or broken. I simply had a problem. And we all have problems.

Soon after, I did read Codependent No More (HIGHLY suggest it!) like my friend suggested and let all the information soak into my brain. I wondered how a young woman growing up in a healthy, addiction-free home struggled with this problem. I wondered if this was something I could learn to overcome. I wondered what to do next.  Lots of wondering was happening.

This was a year and a half ago. I’m not healed, I still struggle with it daily, and I only have some of the answers. But my awareness of the problem makes my life easier. My codependent tendencies may affect my relationships, but they no longer control my relationships. It may take years of therapy, lots of hard work, and very patient loved ones for me to fully understand this problem. But it will not control my life.

With knowledge, I am empowered and retraining my thoughts. I am learning tools to make tomorrow better than yesterday. I am learning to say no when I need to, to do what I need to do when I need to do it, and to allow others to live their own lives.

I would like to write more about Codependency on my blog, but to do that I had to start by saying –

Hello, my name is Taylor, and I am a Codependent.

You too?  Me too.  We can do this.

What They Sometimes Forget to Tell You about Chasing Your Dream

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They tell you it will be worth it.

They tell you it’s the only way to be happy.

They tell you your dreams are there for a reason.

They tell you to follow your heart.

They tell you to be brave.

They tell you your future is bright.

Chase.  Your.  Dream.

They are right.

But…

Sometimes…

They forget to tell you that it will be really, really hard.

There will be days where your exhaustion overwhelms.

There will be days when it doesn’t look so bright.

There will be days when you snap at your biggest cheerleaders.

There will be days when your biggest cheerleaders snap at you.

There will be days when you wonder what the hell you’ve done.

There will be days when you take every elevator and forget every staircase,

because it is just. too. much.

There will be days when you feel defeated and you’re convinced all your work is shit.

There will be days when you will be forgotten.

So…

Take a breath.  Take a seat.  Take a nap.

Cry if you want.  Watch a mind-numbing comedy if you want.  Run away for a day if you want.

Then…

Get back up.  And keep pressing on.

Because…

It will actually be worth it, it will bring happiness, those dreams are there for a reason, your heart should be followed, bravery is the only way, and your future actually is that bright.

Chase.  Your.  Dream.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” – A League of Their Own

Image – Creative Commons via Google Images

#iwearyogapants

yogapants

 

To a Montana representative wanting to make yoga pants illegal and various conservative bloggers wanting to ban them:

I get it.

It’s bad enough that I’m causing America’s men to sin by showing them an outline of my FULLY CLOTHED butt (I mean, there’s just SO much being left to the imagination). But then I have the audacity to want to work out and make my body strong and healthy. Woah now! I should probably find a way to lift weights in a floor length denim skirt. Until then… because the bill was squashed, and I’ve already messed with the balance of the universe – I’m gonna head to the free weight section of the gym and hang out with the big boys – part of accomplishing all of today’s goals: work hard, eat ice cream, and smash the patriarchy.

Namaste, 

Taylor

#iwearyogapants

An Open Letter to Millennials from a Gen Xer: You’re Changing the Heart of the World

I asked my mother, a talented, loving and wise Gen Xer, to write a guest post to Millennials.  She ended up writing them a love letter of encouragement, and it couldn’t be better.  Not only do I agree with every single word she wrote, I also think she conveyed herself beautifully and hysterically.  These are vitally important thoughts.  They should be read by Millennials, yes, but they should also be read by all.  ~Tay

~~~

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There seems to be a human condition that I’ll wager dates back to the first and second generations of human life. It is that dreadful sense of knowing that the generation following yours is clearly insane and headed for catastrophic self-destruction. Did the first generation of cave dwellers wonder why the second insisted on wearing their animal skins so short, piercing their noses with bones, and filling their bellies with plants and seeds rather than the good, iron-rich wooly mammoth meat their fathers worked so hard to bring home?

The Silent Generation (born 1925-1945) thought the devil himself had entered their living rooms via their television sets when Elvis swiveled his pelvis while singing (gasp) rock-n-roll on live TV. Later, that rockin’ generation, The Boomers (born 1945-1964), couldn’t understand where they had gone wrong when their sons had long hair, their daughters had short skirts, and young folks were protesting all kinds of things that had just been accepted as “the way things are” up until that point.

The Boomers rolled their eyes and gnashed their teeth at the next generation – my generation – Gen-X (born 1965-1980). We were hard rockers in leather and ripped jeans, or punk rockers sporting our totally awesome purple mohawks. What’s a parent to do? My generation, in turn, gave birth to you Millennials, as well as the following sentences, “Can’t you put down that damn iPhone?” and “Get away from that video game and go outside to play!”

Each generation has its share of amazing, world-enhancing individuals, as well as a good number of people enrolled full-time at the University of Learn Things the Hard Way. Yours is no different. Even so, I see you Millennials – as a whole – as bright and shining stars. Truly. Yours may well be the first generation that will eventually be carved into history as The Generation Who Most Radically Changed The Heart Of The World For The Better. That’s a bold claim, but I like the way you’re living.

From front row seats in your living rooms, you were there to witness your parents battling valiantly to be and do all the things we felt the society of our own making expected of us. Too often, you saw us voluntarily sacrifice opportunities for exciting life experiences, and sometimes even our own families, in order to work senselessly long hours at jobs we hated just to purchase bigger houses and snazzier cars, and overstock our IRAs and mutual funds.   You watched that battle destroy too many of us with stress-induced illnesses, fractured relationships, prescription addiction, and lack of self-care but plenty of self-loathing. You experienced your own stress as we maxed-out your childhood schedules with anything we felt would help you become adults who were our idea of successful.

And you found a better way.

Life will tell you often enough that you’re screwing up. From my perspective as one who is older and supposedly wiser (stop laughing!), I want to share with you a few of the ways I think you’re getting it right. And I think your greatness – yes, greatness – comes from a combination of being wise enough not to repeat your parents’ mistakes, and courageous, creative, and honest enough to lead your own life rather than the life others may expect of you.

1. I see you choosing careers consistent with your dreams, passions, talents and personal values – even if they may never become the jobs that let you overstock fragile bank accounts. And if that job does not exist, you create it!

2. I see you understanding the importance of self-care. You’re in yoga class and running 5Ks. You’re eating clean and taking time to relax. You’re researching ways to be physically and mentally healthy, and then you’re actually putting your research into practice!

3. I see you preparing for your future while living fully in the present. Not seeking grander things at the expense of sacrificing relationships and experiences. Living your day-to-day lives modestly so you have the time and money to pursue the adventures you cherish!

4. I see you making a priority of experiencing cultures other than your own, so you may love instead of hate, understand rather than judge.

5. I see you using your time, energy and gifts to battle for the underdog. To speak for those who have no voice. To be kind and beautiful. And I think the future is safe in your hands.

I see you, Millennials, and I believe you’re changing the heart of our world. You’re fresh perspectives on a meaningful life are intriguing. You inspire me to live wiser, fuller, kinder, bolder, more purposefully and certainly more honestly.

I see you, Millennials. And I have great faith in you.

~~~

Image via Flickr

When In Las Vegas: Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

It’s hard to remember that there is beauty to be found close by.  With the free-spirited heart of a wanderer, I’m drawn to travelling here and there and everywhere.  I get antsy when it’s been too long in between trips.  This discontent is typically something I’m perfectly fine with.  It spurs me on go on adventures.  But sometimes I forget to take a peak at what’s in my own backyard.  I forget that beauty and adventure are anywhere – even in Las Vegas.

I drive around this city daily and all the scenery blends in – I mean, all those wedding chapels and strip clubs start blending in with grocery stores and all your left with is: blah.  It’s old news to me.  But then there’s Red Rock Canyon.  30 minutes away from most spots in the entire Vegas valley.  It’s gorgeous.  The beauty of the desert abounds.

A Saturday morning of flat tires and other joyous events left me grumpy and under-enthusiastic.  Somebody with a spontaneous nature decided it would be a better decision to leave my wounded car in the garage for a couple extra hours and go exploring instead.  I was more than happy to agree to the idea!

One quick pit stop to pick up various travel supplies (Gluten Free cupcakes) and we were on our way to the beauty of Las Vegas.  Mountains of varying colors including a vibrant red.  Breathtaking skyscapes.  And a plethora of opportunities to pull over and take beautiful pictures and very serious selfies:

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10953385_10153068982758210_7758955096057588560_nA simple drive through the canyon gives you enough beauty and exploration to get through any rough day:

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There are plenty of hiking trails and great spots to get out and move your muscles (which you can find HERE). But this Saturday called for an easy breezy drive.

Fun Fact: The professional pictures I have throughout the blog were taken at Calico Basin right before you get to Red Rock.  It’s a must-stop.  There is a nice easy walking path for a quick stroll.

View More: http://bethanypaige.pass.us/taylorduvall

 

How My Parents Accidentally Made Me a Feminist

How My Parents Accidentally Made Me a Feminist

I grew up in what many would consider to be a traditional home. My father left for work at 7am and faithfully returned around 5pm to join us for dinner made by my mother, a woman who stayed home to take care of my little brother and me. She was our teacher – taking us to the park and piano lessons, instructing us on topics from math to laundry. Also, she taught us how best to get lost in a book and the most important lesson of all: one must always play music throughout the day. Dance party.

There was love and then more love. Support, laughter, and play. My father would take my mother on dates. We would go on family vacations to Disneyland, attend church most Sundays, and say prayers before meals and bedtime. My brother and I played together and then disagreed on which movie to watch.

We were exactly what you would expect a Christian homeschooling family to be. Except that we weren’t. And for that, I will be eternally grateful to my parents.

How My Parents Accidentally Made Me a Feminist

I was a cowgirl, a girly-girl, and a total nerd.

To begin with, Dad never told Mom what to do. I can only picture my little brother and me laughing hysterically if my father were to command anything of my mother. Mostly because my mother is a firecracker, also because my father is good. My mother did as she pleased, but never manipulated or controlled my father. Even as a young girl, I never saw “my father being the head and my mother being the neck.” I saw two complete human beings standing tall, holding hands, and walking through life together. I witnessed a healthy marriage – each person listened and gave to the other. There was no imbalance. My mom was not my dad’s servant.

My mother always put her children before her housework. Sometimes there were dirty windows, smudged with our little nose prints. There were messy living rooms cluttered with Legos and building blocks. There were dirty dishes, with ketchup smears hiding our favorite Disney characters, in the sink. Our home was always clean and welcoming, warm and safe. But it was never perfect…Mom was too busy living. Sometimes we had takeout or breakfast for dinner. My mother never exemplified that the utopian housewife must be the ideal for a woman. A woman’s ideal was to be exactly who she wanted to be.

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Then there was my father: the provider who never bragged about being the provider. To him, it was always “our” money. My dad never made us feel like he had any more right to it because he made it. He wasn’t concerned about roles; he was concerned about his children being happy. He would take care of his family the same way my mother did. Every night my father would do the dishes (except for the grueling few months when it was my job to do the dishes; I have still never forgiven them for that injustice). My father never demanded respect; if he had, I have a hard time believing he would have received it. My father simply lived respectably. Every. Single. Day.

How My Parents Accidentally Made Me a Feminist

My brother and I would both bake in the kitchen. Evidently, we were each nerds.

Together they raised my brother and me in the exact same way. They didn’t groom him for success and me for motherhood. They supported us as we each became exactly who we wanted to be. I have heard that some homeschooling parents teach their sons differently than they teach their daughters. I have nothing but anger for this. This falls out of my typical “to each their own” mentality. To raise a son to be a doctor with math and science and to raise a daughter to be only a wife/mother with only cooking and cleaning is nothing but negligent parenting. Each human being needs both – to be given all the tools for any possible life path. In our home, there was no difference between my brother and I.

My parents didn’t set out to teach me about feminism. They didn’t leave Gloria Steinem books by my nightstand. My mom didn’t forbid makeup or teach me how to burn bras. Instead, my parents taught me that each human being is equally important regardless of sex. My parents taught me that my brother and I could each reach out and grab any star we’d like and claim it as our own. They didn’t even have to speak it; they lived it. Our examples. I love men, I champion women – how could a girl with TWO equally strong AND loving parents do anything differently?

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In a few weeks I will be 24, and I now know two facts: I was blessed as a female child, and not everyone else is. I have spent the past few years researching and asking questions and peering into the lives others to see how women are treated. It’s often not so grand. On a world perspective, it’s downright shameful. I know there can be better, because I grew up in better. My heart beats to see real change happen globally for women and girls. So, you see, my parents didn’t tell me to become a feminist.  They just accidentally made me one.

Family Photo from dinner last night.  

And then the real family photo, taken after my brother and I embarrassed my parents.

Because we’re nerds.

 

Cruising Gluten Free on Carnival

cruise update 1

Traveling anywhere with Celiac disease can be anxiety-producing.  A vacation is meant for relaxation and enjoyment.  But when a tiny bit of food can throw your body into a nasty tailspin, it can be difficult to stay carefree.

Carnival cruises removed that fear for me.

I went on two cruises to Mexico recently.  One was the 3-day, one was the 4-day. (Read about the ports of call: Ensenada, Mexico here and Catalina Island here) Everytime I was on the ship, I had a great selection of Gluten Free Food and knowledgeable staff members ready to assist me.

1.  Breakfast

Each morning I would either grab a hard-boiled egg or go to the Omelet station.  There are no Gluten-filled ingredients at the Omelet bar, so I wasn’t afraid of contamination.  I’d have eggs with all the veggies you could want, ham, bacon, and cheese.  Then I’d grab a yogurt, some fruit, and a piece of Gluten Free bread.

2. Lunch

Carnival carries Gluten Free pizza crust and Gluten Free sandwich bread.  I was so impressed by their attention to preventing contamination.  I went to the panini station one day and ordered a ham and cheese sandwich on Gluten Free bread.  Without a word from me, the employee changed his gloves AND washed the utensils and the panini press.  Very well done, Carnival, very well done.  Also, a well-stocked salad bar can add to a filling, healthy lunch.

3. Dinner

Dinner was the most impressive part.  On the first night of each cruise, my waiter would list off all the naturally Gluten Free dishes.  Then, after my meal that night (and each night after) I was given the dinner menu for the following night so I could order anything I wanted.  They custom-made each order to be Gluten Free.  I enjoyed dishes like GF escargot, frog legs, pork chops, fish, and even a molten chocolate cake (I may have had that cake every night)!  I would also be given Gluten Free bread at the beginning of each meal.  I was made to feel as though I was dining in luxury just like everyone else.

4. Extras

Aside from Gluten Free food, the bar also carried Angry Orchard Hard Cider and a Gluten Free beer, along with a full bar (For a comprehensive list of GF Alcohol click here).  There is always chocolate and vanilla ice cream available, if you’re desiring a quick sugar high.

Not only was I provided an entirely Gluten Free experience on the cruise, but I was also provided with delicious food.  Worry-free and tasty.  I highly recommend a Carnival cruise to any Gluten Freer!