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Beyond Food For Survival, The Beauty of Healthy Mentality

Today, my diary entry touches on interesting aspects about bonding, being more than a "survivalist," the need for understanding atypical sensory behavior, discipline versus punishment, examples of trauma bonding versus healthy bonding, and, of course, last but not least the beauty of a great Caesar salad. First, here is a fun lesson from history. Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in both the U.S. and Mexico, is the man famous for the creation of the Caesar salad. He invented the dish in 1924 on the 4th of July after a rush of thirsty and hungry American tourists depleted the kitchen’s stock in the wee hours of the morning. In her classic, “The Way to Cook,” Julia Child remembers: “When Caesar Cardini first served his famous salad in the early 1920s, he used just the hearts of the romaine lettuce, the tender short leaves in the center, and he presented them whole. The salad was tossed and dressed, then arranged on each plate so that you could pick up a leaf by its short end and chew it down bit by bit, then pick up another. However, many customers didn’t like to get their fingers covered with egg-and-cheese-and-garlic dressing, and he changed to the conventional torn leaf." (Audrey Hart, Traveling Boy)

I love this story. I love it because it talks about how when you run out, of anything, you have to become creative if you are going to survive. Caesar Cardini had no choice. He had to entertain people in a restaurant. He was left with not much in his refrigerator. He had to find a way to entertain so that he could keep his clients happy. Today, when my beautiful mother called me up all the way from Romania to remind me that anchovies are delicious, I remembered Mr. Cardini's story. What is so beautiful to me about the story is how Mr. Cardini turned a bad situation into a great opportunity. I can associate with that. At the core I am not "surviving," I don't look at life this way. Even when I am "surviving" it's not that I am just surviving. I am disciplined and because I am it sometimes feels like I am barely surviving when in fact I am doing more with my life than most people around me. If anyone ever makes you feel like you are a "survivalist" and that is not "good enough" please don't allow others' negative opinion to alter your peace. There is a saying I am sure you heard quite often, "you are what you eat." To some extent this is true. But you also are what you choose to believe about yourself and if bad people are going to influence you, you are screwed. I feel sad at times for young men and women today. They listen to so much negative garbage, constantly being pulled in so many directions that aren't beneficial. It's no wonder so many young men and women are confused about and fearful of life, often developing unhealthy relationships with anything from their iPhones to their artificial friends. Which brings me to this, if you have young men and women in your life please find ways to bond with them now before it's too late. Maybe you can replace the Caesar salad from a restaurant menu and make one together, bonding over the process of creativity in the kitchen. My mother and I bond via video every week. We bond over talks about food primarily as we both love to cook, are quite creative, and we both have talent. Regardless if it's over food creativity or something else, be inspired to bond with those you love by doing something together. Each person being on their iPhone in the same room, doing his or her thing, is NOT bonding. Bonding should be positive and not involve punishment.

I once worked with a woman who was "punishing" her son for being super brilliant by putting him on meds or in front of a TV screen for hours long. He was too young to be on meds, for one. And being in front of a TV for long hours can lead to atypical sensory behaviors which could be the very reason why the child is acting "out-of-control." Think of this scenario for a minute: mother puts the boy in front of a TV, he develops atypical sensory behavior, mother yells at the boy for atypical sensory behavior related hyperactivity, the boy feels punished, the mother and boy relationship is now altered and hurting. Next, it's time for the psychologist/psychiatrist to solve the problem. Is there any problem with this case scenario? To me, all of it is a problem! First, putting a child in front of a TV isn't at all challenging to a child curious and eager to learn. Not to mention, the more addiction to the screen the higher the dissociation with the living world outside the screen which can lead to other kinds of problems in children. If I was a child and my mother put me in front of a TV screen, I'd think, for one, she literally has no interest in me as a person. If the child is being yelled at for a behavior it cannot help exhibit as a result of a pre-conditioning, the child will feel punished not loved. Then, when the child is finally on meds, he definitely thinks "I am a sick person" or "I am not normal" or "I'm not good enough" which now can lead to a lack of self-confidence and self-love all meanwhile transitioning into adulthood. In summary, bonding and punishment don't go together. Discipline isn't punishment. Discipline is a set of rules, which once carried out and successfully completed leads to an enjoyable reward. For example, "if you do your laundry and homework, you can put $20 extra dollars in your piggy-bank!" Clearly, this isn't a punishment but a rewarding task for a child who needs to know how to treat money later in life and be accountable when he/she has to play "being-a-grown-up" for real and deal with real life responsibilities. I share this short story because it hurts me every time I see bad parent-child relationships convert into a total mess. I say make that Caesar salad together and talk about what is fun about it once done, teach via love.

Lastly, going back to the topic of Caesar salad, making it is clearly very easy. However, I will share that for dressing I use the "Follow Your Heart" vegan brand, when I don't have time to make it from scratch. I like it because it's lower in calories, less in saturated fat, and even though it's high in sodium I use very little of it because it really takes very little to create magic with it. I will also make a note about anchovies that they are a wonderful source of many great things: omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, protein, Vitamin B12, vitamin A, potassium, to name a few, but you want to be careful. If you are allergic to anything, you should make sure you have no allergies first. Second, if you are on any meds you want to check in with your doctor because meds combined with some foods can lead to adverse reactions. I am not on meds of any kind and I am not allergic to anything other than pollen, so I can eat anything I want. But everyone is different. While anchovies have many benefits, you don't want to eat them often because they are high in sodium and though lower in mercury than many other fish, you still have to take that into consideration. In addition to consulting with your doctor, you also should be doing your own research on the side because your doctor isn't perfect. Doctors are wonderful people, though not all. But, I like to think most of them have good intentions in their hearts. However, they aren't responsible for educating you. They can only give you so much aid because they too lack certain knowledge. While some doctors can and try to help you with the proper diagnosis and treatment, they cannot guarantee anything. They are doctors and you should consult with them, keeping in mind that the word "consult" means to seek information or advice from someone. Giving an opinion, giving advice, doesn't always translate to the guaranteed result we seek. This is why you hear people say, "You should get a second opinion." The medical field is very complex because the subject being studied, diagnosed, and treated is complex. You empower yourself by learning. So, read about your meds, conditions, food, etc. And most importantly, surround yourself with positive people doing positive things. This is much better than any medicine on the market today, especially when it comes to dealing with stress. Caesar salad, or not, you owe it to yourself to try to eat well. And it can get expensive, but it can also be affordable if you are resourceful and creative. BE INSPIRED to live your best life while being and staying positive, creating healthy relationships. A man I once loved told me that E. Europeans are "just surviving." He forgot I was born and raised in E. Europe. Perhaps he was right but I have some final words about that below.

"Survival is not enough" is an ignorant statement. Survival of the Homo sapiens is how we all got here and why we are still here today. While we evolve we survive the evolutionary processes which press against us along with every other adversity we face. We fight for our survival until our bodies leave us. And, someday, our bodies will leave every one of us. Thus, take pride in your survivalist nature and understand that being a survivalist is being part of the Homo sapiens species at the mercy of forces greater than life, time, and space. Being Homo sapiens it's the greatest both struggle and joy we will ever know.

Carmen A. Cisnadean

Author. Artist. Poetess.


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