We don’t choose our parents, we don’t choose the circumstances we are born into, we don’t choose our bodies. These are a combination of other peoples choices and genetics, but once we are born, it is our parents, it is our environment, it is our body and we have not only the responsibility for our own lives but the choice to live it how we choose.
For those of us with allergies, we didn’t choose them, we don’t even know why our body has them or can’t tolerate certain foods and proteins. But how we manage them, how we approach the obstacles which are laid in our path are what will define who we are as people. Who we are as a person is far more important than our an allergy. An allergy is manageable because the beauty of it is that we know exactly what can make us sick. Who we are as people and how we manage the obstacles that come toward us has a far greater and deeper lasting on us and those around us.
I find that stress is a great way to test our personal strength, do you crumble or do you rally? but like everything in life, you always have a choice. To forget you have a choice, to ignore the choices you have, that you can create is to forget and ignore your own strength. Deciding to ignore your ability to choose is to ignore your own potential to grow and to become better.
I always say that “allergies aren’t about missing out, they are about doing things differently.” I have made the choice that I am not going to miss out, to not miss out I am going to take actions and choices to make this so. That is my choice, my decision. I see a potential obstacle of ‘I can’t eat this cake because it has nuts in’ or ‘most cakes have nuts in’ so I learned to make my own. When I found gluten wasn’t good for me, my boyfriend and I were following a paleo diet but I really wanted something sweet. Unfortunately for me, most paleo recipes use nuts as a substitute – big no no for me for obvious reasons. This was an obstacle. Do I give up at this moment and say – well I can’t have cake anymore/forever? No! (My sweet tooth really wanted cake.) I made the choice to experiment! and experiment I did. It took at least 6-8 months to come up with a cake that actually tasted good and had a good texture. Each time something wasn’t quite right, it could be thought of an obstacle to a good cake. But I thought of it as a “that’s interesting, why did that happen?” I used it like a science experiment. The more things went wrong with my baking the more knowledge I acquired as to how different flours, oils, butters, and other ingredients interested together. I learned WHY some recipes were written in a certain way, I learned about the different qualities and characteristics of different gluten and nut free flours. I wouldn’t have learned this if it had all gone right fro the start. If it had, to truly and fully understand why things worked, to be able to teach other people, I would have had to back engineer the baking of my cakes and other creations, to deliberately make it go wrong to find out why it worked. I would have had to create “obstacles” in order to learn.
In business I used to get really upset when someone didn’t like my food. It would really cut me to the core and make me incredibly upset. In hindsight, some of these people had no idea what they were talking about, others did have some constructive criticism but it hurt. The hurt was my ego getting bruised. But these little obstacles, these little bumps to my ego helped me to learn about myself to make my food creations even better. After a bit of “oh woe is me” time, (Ali White podcast episode4/5 has a great technique, have a 5 minute blubber then carry on), I decided that I was going to develop recipes that no one could fault, I was going to make them so good that no one would be able to realise they were free from allergens. The obstacle in this instance was more my ego, my feelings and I needed to get over them because they stopped me from moving forward.
Later, with some more hurdles to scale (mostly my own brain), I created a recipe book full of chocolate treats and desserts free from the top 14 allergens, which actually sold to people who weren’t just my family and friends.
I think this gets to the heart of it. Obstacles help us to learn what we are made of. It helps us to learn where and how we need to grow more in order to achieve our goals. Our emotions are our own obstacles, our fears are our own obstacles. But thank goodness they are ours and therefore we have control over them!
Lockdown has been an opportune time to tidy, to organise and clear up direction. Some of that has meant cleaning up the files on my Dropbox. This was originally written 19th April 2017, with a few edits today (31st May 2020), and in this current Covid thing that’s going on, I believe the sentiments I wrote about still ring true.