I went through a lot this past couple years. It was definitely the hardest time in my life. (You can read about it here.) Things got so bad for me, I almost stopped blogging. But many people reached out to me and told me they loved Cheeseslave and wanted it to continue. And deep down, so did I.
Which is why I'm back. I'm not doing this for the money. In fact, this blog costs more to run than it makes right now. I'm only doing this for love. In order to come back to blogging, I need to do some things differently. I need to cut out the bullshit and focus on the joy.
No More B.S.
The gift of adversity is it makes you focus more on what you really want. Pain makes you appreciate life more. One of the things I realized over this past couple years is that life is short and fleeting, and it's very easy to get distracted by bullshit.
Bullshit people, bullshit stuff, bullshit commitments. Your life gets so full of crap that you don't want and you don't LOVE that you lose sight of the things you do love.
I used to worry so much about whatever everyone else thought of me that I wouldn't have even used that word: bullshit. Even though that is the word I really want to use. It is the word that says what I am trying to say.
But in the early days of my blog, I used bad words and people criticized me. I talked about politics and they criticized me. I did x or y or z and they criticized me.
I got to the point with this blog that I worried so much about what doing things right and what “people will say” that I wasn't being authentic. And it just wasn't fun anymore.
I'm living for me now. And I'm writing this blog for me. If you happen to read the blog and you dig it, awesome. If not, that's OK, too. Because I am not writing it for you. I'm writing it for me. This blog is my explorations and reflections on the things I care about in my daily life. Parenting, homeschooling, cooking, eating, and loving life.
Hell Yeah or Hell No and Life Changing Magic
Two things helped me transform my life into a no-B.S. life. I'm not there yet — probably around 70%. But it's way better than drowning in crap.
1. Hell Yeah! Or Hell No!
If I'm not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no. Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no.
That quote is from Derek Sivers in his blog post, Hell Yeah or No.
I think I read this in his book, Anything You Want, which I read a couple years ago. (Great book, by the way.)
I've always read that the most effective, successful, happiest people are those who make decisions quickly. This little concept of Hell Yeah or Hell No makes life so much easier for me.
Whether I'm trying to decide what to make for dinner, whether to write a blog post, whether to get a book on Audible, I just ask myself, “Is it hell yeah?” If it's not hell yeah, it's hell no.
2. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
This past summer (2015) I bought Marie Kondo's audiobook, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This is a book that teaches you how to finally once and for all clean up and organize your home and your life — and to make it stay that way forever.
I know, pretty grand claims. But this stuff works. What you do is you pick up each item and you say, “Does this spark joy, yes or no?” And if it doesn't spark joy, you get rid of it.
What do you know? It's another way of doing Hell Yeah or Hell No! If you pick something up and it doesn't “spark joy,” then it's Hell No. And it gets pitched. (Or donated, or sold, or whatever you want.)
I worked all summer to “konmari” my house. Got through 95% of it (not including the garage or digital) by Labor Day. Everything I “konmaried” has stayed amazing. My kitchen is super tidy and I know where everything goes — which makes cooking and cleaning up a joy because it's EASY.
But not only that, the bigger gift was this… getting rid of all the junk has really freed me. I felt like a massive weight was lifted off of my life. And my life is so much more joyful and happy now. Because everywhere I look, instead of clutter and obligation, I see joy.
I'll get to the rest of it (the 5% plus the garage) in the new year. And yes, I'll be blogging about it, so you can join in with me!
New Direction for Cheeseslave
So based on my newfound Hell Yeah philosophy… here are some more decisions I made about this blog…
There will be no blogging schedule. I'll blog when I feel like it. You can watch my Facebook page for updates. Meaning, I will update the FB page when I post. I won't be sending out any emails.
And I am going to write about what I feel like writing about. If I feel like blogging about pressure cooker recipes, I will. And you're gonna see a bunch of those in the near future because that's what I'm fixated on these days.
If I want to just post cute pictures of my kids and write about what I'm learning about photography, that's what I'll do. If I want to write about vaccines and rant about pharmaceutical drug companies, then I will.
Unschooling, technology, quilting… I don't know what will strike my fancy on any given day. All I know is I want this blog to be about passion and joy and living a life that's amazing. And I don't have to impress anyone — it's just for me.
And if you love it, great! If you don't, there are lots of other blogs out there.
The 80/20 Rule
What I've found in life is that the 80/20 rule applies to almost everything. 80% of the benefits/results come from 20% of the stuff you do. And trying to be perfect just makes you (and everyone around you) miserable… and makes you want to quit.
So no more cultish perfectionism. We are just gonna do 80% and that's gonna be good enough. This applies to the way I write recipes (see below). I don't have time for perfect and I know you don't either.
It also applies to how I write blog posts. Perfect is the enemy of the good (and the done) so my goal is just to get posts out. If I never fix the typos, forgive me.
Dr. Weston Price, Not WAPF
When I started this blog back in 2007, I was just discovering Dr. Weston A. Price and WAPF. In the process of exploring Dr. Price and the non-profit organization. I think when you're exploring something, it's good to explore the whole thing and take it all the way… which I did.
And you swing like a pendulum. I embraced WAPF fully in the beginning. And then around 2011 I swung away, toward Matt Stone. And now I'm settled happily in the middle.
I still recommend organic food and healthy fats, and Dr. Weston Price's book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
However, I no longer recommend WAPF (The Weston A. Price Foundation). That decision is chronicled here.
And obviously I no longer recommend fermented cod liver oil. (Read why here.) I still recommend cod liver oil, though, just not FCLO.
Paleo, Not GAPS
Many of you know that I healed myself in my 20s of gluten intolerance, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, seasonal allergies, etc. I did it by going on an elimination diet (basically Paleo) and then slowly re-introducing foods until I found what I could and could not tolerate.
After that first month of strict Paleo, I pretty much just stayed away from gluten and sugar, and took strong therapeutic grade probiotics. It took about 2 years, but that's all it took for me to recover.
This is why I started recommending the GAPS Diet on my blog early on. Because I knew it could help people recover from food allergies and other health challenges.
But from now on, I will be recommending the Paleo Diet instead of the GAPS Diet. Mainly because Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride still recommends FCLO (fermented cod liver oil). And considering the amount of reports coming in from FCLO customers with adverse health reactions, I think this is very, very bad.
Especially because she is a doctor. First, do no harm. I messaged Dr. Natasha on Facebook to let her know that I think she should look into it. But she hasn't. Not sure why… but I just don't want young moms with kids on the spectrum giving them FCLO. So I can no longer recommend her book.
From now on I'll be recommending Paleo, not GAPS. And in the new year, I'll be changing all the links on my site to books about Paleo, not GAPS.
New 80/20 Rules for My Recipes
Not a lot of rules… but some things are changing. Some of these will shock some of you. But again, I'm not writing this blog for you. I'm writing it for me. And this is the way I eat.
1. Meat, fish, dairy, and other animal products are eaten often and enjoyed. I try to buy grass-fed meats, grass-fed and full-fat dairy, sustainable seafood, and I always buy raw milk.
2. Nose-to-tail eating is advocated and endorsed (bones, organs, etc.)
3. Healthy, traditional fats are recommended (butter, ghee, coconut oil, tallow, lard, sustainable palm oil, olive oil).
4. Bone broth is incorporated whenever possible. Lots of health benefits, but it also just makes food taste so much more delicious.
5. I use organic ingredients whenever possible. But if I can't find something organic, I am not going to go to 2 different stores to get it.
6. White flour is OK. I don't think it's bad to eat white flour. If you're eating LOTS of white flour (like the ancient Egyptians), yeah, that's not good. But white flour as part of a balanced diet along with meat, dairy, vegetables, fats, etc. is perfectly fine. I have met plenty of Mexicans and Russians and other ethnic peoples who grew up on traditional diets and ate refined grains in moderation with no negative consequences. I actually like the taste of whole wheat flour so I often use that as well. Many times, I will use a 50/50 combination.
7. I soak and sprout whole grains whenever possible.
8. White sugar is OK. I think people make too much of a big deal about sugar. If you're guzzling sodas all day long, that's a problem. I don't eat a lot of sugar, but I do add it to my coffee and I do eat desserts. I do try to buy organic sugar when possible (due to the new GM sugar beet). But I don't think it's necessary to buy only coconut sugar or sucanat.
9. Cereal is OK. I'm not going to be using Frosted Flakes in any of my recipes but I don't see a problem with, say, puffed rice. I know Sally Fallon has a problem with cereal but I'm just not convinced it's that bad for you in moderation.
10. I don't use the microwave, not because I think it's bad for you (not enough evidence on that), but because I don't like the way it cooks the food.
11. I will use my pressure cooker whenever possible.
12. I tend to cook food that kids love — since that's mainly who I'm feeding these days with two littles in the house.
13. I use mostly whole foods but will use prepared/processed foods when (a) they taste as good as homemade (b) they don't have any offensive additives/ingredients (c) there's no huge benefit to making it yourself. For example, dried pasta is pretty darn good and I don't see a huge advantage to making your own pasta with the exception of that special dinner party. Now, I can taste the difference between homemade pasta and dried pasta, but in most cases, making homemade pasta is not something I would do on any given day — just too much effort for the return.
14. I don't tend to use any soy except for soy sauce and natto. I don't think it will hurt you to eat some edamame here and there. Why would anyone want to drink soy milk anyway? It's nasty.
15. Coffee and tea are OK. Yes, caffeine is OK. I do buy organic whenever possible.
16. Chocolate is OK. Dark chocolate is all right but I personally prefer milk chocolate (this is the Cheeseslave blog, after all.)
17. Booze is OK. My motto: “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.”
Comments Are Welcome
I welcome your comments as always.
That said, I have a new comment moderation policy (see below just above the comments section). I want Cheeseslave to be a safe place to share and learn from each other.
Although I will occasionally use the bad word on the blog (hell and bullshit, see above), overall I strive to keep my blog free of obscenity, including the comments. I also delete comments that are hate speech (sexist, racist, etc.), and comments that are personal attack.
Life is just too short for any of that.
Also, if you want to criticize me, I'll probably just delete that, too. Constructive criticism is valued, but attacking me online because you are in a bad mood or just hate me for some reason — that will not be tolerated.
Because I got hacked last spring, I had to send about 75,000 comments to moderation. They're ever-so-slowly being moderated. So if you left a comment back in 2009 that you no longer see on my blog, that's why. It's still there, just waiting to be moderated. Because of this, my spam catcher is on “overdrive”. It has to be retrained.
So a lot of comments go to spam accidentally — I do go and retrieve them as often as possible (I try every day but sometimes it's every few days). If your comment gets stuck in the spam moderation queue, you might not see your comment go up for a few days — you can ping me on Facebook.