More on Food: Meet Seamus Mullen

Admission time: I’m a huge foodie.  I love to cook, eat, and invent in the kitchen.  I’m a loyal subscriber to Cooking Light, Food and Wine, and Cuisine at Home.  One day, I’d like to go to culinary school.  While surveying the room during breakfast recently, my son said “Mommy…you really have a lot of cookbooks.” I guess the overflowing shelves were his first clue. 🙂

When I was diagnosed, I wondered if I’d have to give up cooking.  Then I read about Chef Seamus Mullen.  He’s a star chef, focused on Spanish cuisine, who owns Tertulia in NYC.  And he has Rheumatoid Arthritis.  He’s tackling his illness with courage and grace, and his career continues to thrive, despite its physical demands and grueling hours.  What’s more, he works to build awareness for RA.  When he appeared on  The Next Iron Chef: Season 2, he even discussed his illness and the additional demands of competing with it.

This week, Chef Mullen popped up again.  One of my favorite bloggers, Sara Nash, published this article about Seamus on MyRACentral.com.  I devoured it, as usual, and am now anxiously awaiting the release of his book.

I adore expressing my love for friends and family through food.  Seamus Mullen reminds me that I can, even though my body might try to make it more difficult.  Thank you Chef…you’re an inspiration!

UPDATE: When we were on our Mediterranean cruise, literally 4 days after I posted this, I discovered that the celebrity chef on board was…..Seamus Mullen! Talk about a crazy coincidence! We tried to get a chance to chat with him, but he was mobbed like a rock star at every event, and we couldn’t get in to any of the private ones by the time we found out.  We did enjoy watching him in an Iron Chef competition with the ship’s Executive Chef. And yes, he emerged victorious. 🙂

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Making a Difference

It was a typical Thursday afternoon. My son and I were in the car, driving home after I picked him up from school. As usual, our conversation focused on the highlights of his day. Here’s what happened:

Bear: Today, I got to write in my journal about what I want to be when I grow up.
Me: That’s great buddy! What did you write about? (I asked this knowing that my son loves dinosaurs. In his kindergarten graduation program, he said he wanted to be a paleontologist).
Bear: I wrote that I want to be an orthopedic doctor.
Me: Really? Why is that?
Bear: I want to put medicine needles in people’s arms, like Nurse Jessie does, so I can help people feel better. Especially people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, like you.

I was speechless.  Tears welled up in my eyes. When I pulled myself together, we talked a lot about what it means to be a doctor, and the importance of making a difference in the world. My son learned this lesson on his own, just from observing my daily struggles with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The moment was a reminder of our interconnectedness. An illustration of the powerful impact our everyday words and actions have on others, especially children finding their place in the world.

Happy Arthritis Awareness Month!

May is Arthritis Awareness Month.  And though you may wonder if awareness is really necessary, consider this.  There are over 100 types of arthritis; each with different causes, different symptoms, different severity levels, and different treatments.  This graphic, taken from the link above, illustrates the magnitude of arthritis perfectly:

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Funding for these diseases is dramatically low, given their impact on society.  For example, did you know that:

– Arthritis costs the economy $128 billion annually?
– Almost 300,000 children live with juvenile arthritis?
– By 2030, as many as 67 million Americans are projected to have some form of arthritis?

Please help support awareness and research funding by visiting the links referenced on this site to learn more for yourself.  Or, consider joining The Arthritis Foundation for one of the Arthritis Walks they’re hosting all over the country this month.  The events are family and dog friendly, and you can find one near you here.  I participated last year with an awesome group of friends and family.  I cannot walk this time, but I donated to one of my favorite teams in Tampa.

Thank you for your support – it makes a big difference for all of us!

It Takes a Village…An Open Letter of Thanks

According to the African proverb, this quote finishes with “to raise a child”.  However, I’ve taken some liberties and adapted this familiar phrase.  As I’ve learned over the last year, it also takes a village to battle a chronic disease.  As isolating as the disease can be, there is no way anyone suffering from RA (or any systemic, chronic illness) can survive without support, guidance, understanding, and especially love from those around them.

I’m lucky enough to have many amazing people supporting me, so today’s post is really about two things.  First, my goal of raising awareness is not just about the disease itself, but about ways to live a full life despite its existence.  Our support system is a key element in making this a reality.  Second, these people deserve a huge thank you, so this post is an open letter of gratitude.  Here goes, in no particular order:

  • Thanks to my friends near and far, who give me encouragement, understand when I have to change/cancel plans, and of course, are there to share lots of good times and wine. 🙂
  • Thanks to my doctors and nurses, who take me seriously, remember which veins to stick, work tirelessly to find the right treatments, and never run out of options to try.
  • Thanks to my colleagues and business partners, who are always willing to jump in, are open to Lync calls vs. face-to-face meetings, and open my Diet Cokes when my hands aren’t cooperating.
  • Thanks to Sam and Cooper, my two favorite dogs, who seem to know when I most need comfort or entertainment.
  • Thanks to my family, who are always there (regardless of their physical distance), listen whenever I need to talk, constantly offer to help, and love me unconditionally.
  • Finally, thanks to my sweet Bear and my amazing Lora, without whom I simply would not have survived the past year.  My rocks, both physically and emotionally, and the two people who join me daily on this journey.  I’m constantly amazed by my son’s capacity to understand this illness at such a young age, and by Lora’s unwavering commitment to being and doing whatever I need at that moment.

No words can ever fully express my appreciation for this “village”, but they’re a start.  Thanks for reading, and indulging my note of gratitude.  Sending all of you love and (virtual, pain-free) hugs today and every day…