Catching Up

Catching Up

I have a confession. I’ve been cheating on this site. I have a new, sleeker, more sophisticated model on the side. But absence has made the heart grow fonder and I miss flojoeasydetox, my site of musings, rants, random recipes, health “talks,” autism revelations and easy detox tips. 

The only tricky thing is that I’ve got lots of things I wanted to chat with you about and I don’t know where to start. Now that I’ve apologised, may I give you a mini summary and then do some proper posts over the next few weeks? Please? Thank you 🙂

Ok, so my new site florenceneville.com is actually for my nutritional therapy practice. It’s been a labour of love and a steep learning curve in terms of design. Luckily I have some fabulous friends who have pushed me in the right direction when I was floundering. I’ve been particularly grateful for Vox Visual and her expertise. Please excuse the current lack of testimonials. I have ransacked my house for the amazing testimonials from my old, now derelict site but they are still proving elusive. And can I remember my old hotmail address where the originals are probably hiding out? No. Bother. 

When I haven’t been working or hanging out with my gorgeous family I’ve been up in the local woods in my vivobarefoots. Building up leg muscles, collecting wild garlic, doing breathing exercises at the base of one of my favourite trees, and admiring the bluebells. Heaven. Did you know that walking amongst trees as a health practice is a thing? Like an actual therapy? Have a read of this. And then this

I’ve also been fangirling over anything written by Nora Gedgaudas. I’ve read some awesome health writers in my time but her Primal Fat Burner goes straight in with the most simple message, if you want to thrive, eat the foods humankind evolved and thrived on. I’ll do a review on her latest book sometime soon. But if you are serious about improving any aspect of your health please read it. (And sign up for a consultation with me obviously!)

Last month I attended a brilliant training day for autistic people interested in developing their public speaking skills. Organised by the National Autistic Society and delivered by trainer/speaker extraordinaire Sarah Hendrickx it has inspired me to push myself out more often from the security of blogging on my smartphone and stand up and talk. In public. To actual people. I’ve run detox groups and have spoken to small groups before but it’s time to reach a wider audience. If you know anyone who needs a speaker on managing stress, anxiety and depression through nutrition and other health practices then please direct them to my new site!

Right. I think that’s about it for now. There’s a tonne of other stuff I was going to mention but I’m going to save them for later. 

And in the meantime you can have one of the recipes from my new site. Without even having to click on a link. Because I’m super generous like that 😉 xx

Chinese Spiced Slaw

High fat, medium protein, plenty of veggies. Ready in less time than waiting for a take-away!

On a medium high heat fry two sliced onions in two tablespoons pastured pork lard for one minute. 
Add 400g organic minced pork and brown off. 

Then stir in half a teaspoon each of Chinese Five Spice and erythritol; one sliced red pepper and one shredded cabbage

Fry for ten minutes on medium high until the cabbage has wilted. Season with plenty of coconut aminos (a wheat free alternative to soy sauce) and serve. 

On Owning our Strengths

I had a text yesterday from a friend, “focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t.”

That’s not in my nature. Is it in yours? It makes sense though doesn’t it. Sure, you need to acknowledge those areas in which you could either improve on, get some help with or just write off; but why do we dwell on what we can’t do to the detriment of what we are, actually, pretty damn good at?

For years dwelling on the things I can’t do has held me back from offering what I can do for the world. Real issues with executive function stopped me from persuing academia; limited social skills meant I lacked confidence to push my business forward; and others mistaking holes in my knowledge for a lack of intelligence began to rub off on me. There’s nothing like others seeing you as crazy or lazy for you to start believing the hype!

I’ve watched friends take huge risks with their careers, living arrangements and long term plans over the last twenty or so years and by-and-large these risks have massively paid off. When I asked,  “Why?” they confidently replied, “Why not?” Meanwhile I’ve always played it safe with the sneaking suspicion that I could-do-better but an unwillingness to risk failure and be laughed at. 

But here’s the thing. More recently I have made some exceptional friends. Off the scale artists and wordsmiths with depths of intelligence and insight that have blown me away. But I couldn’t understand why they didn’t have the glittering careers that they deserved. I would sell my right arm for their talents. 

But. Three things…

1) Each of them is also autistic.

2) Each of them is dismissive of their own gifts. 

3) Each of them is equally in awe of the abilities I have that I had dismissed!

If you have had a lifetime having your flaws and inabilities being pointed out to you – Just be friendly! Smile! Concentrate! Stop doing weird things with your hands! You’re so disorganised? You’re too old for temper tantrums! Why would you even say that? You’re so bad with money? Why won’t you answer me? Oh stop crying! What do you mean it’s too bright/noisy/busy/smelly? Just eat it! Just wear it! Just make the phone call! Stop fussing! I thought you were supposed to be clever? I thought women were supposed to be able to multitask! Everybody else can manage that – why can’t you? – then it is incredibly hard not to focus purely on the things you can’t do.

I am in no way dismissive of the similar trials that allistics (non-autistics) go through. Confidence is often an elusive thing for many, many people. But this theme seems to run considerably stronger through the autistic women I have come across than for most others. 

Because while we can do some things that very few other people can do, we can’t do a lot of things that nearly everybody else can. 

So what’s the answer?

I’m not entirely sure. On a personal level it takes a major shift in thinking to flip the can’t do: can do ratio to something more positive. But we can also all remember in our transactions with others to remind them both of their strengths and of our own. And we all need to all see beyond someone’s more obvious achievements, recognising that the playing field is not always level. A lack of achievement is not always down to a lack of talent. (And, while you’re at it can I please recommend you read this rather brilliant post from Luke Beardon?)

I’m out of words! Tell me yours. What do you think?

 

 

Broth for Breakfast

I did a talk last week for a very lovely group of student teachers and newly qualified teachers. Those of you reading who have experienced full time teaching will know all too well the sheer resilience, stamina and sheer bloody mindedness required to survive in such an environment. My heart went out to these enthusiastic, intelligent and capable young adults who were already showing some signs of stress and exhaustion. 

My talk was on stress management through making easy tweaks to some of the most vital influences on human health – those of sunlight, movement, nutrition, hydration and sleep. I hope they make some of the changes I suggested. They were time honoured diet and lifestyle habits that should discourage early burn-out. 

There was some good discussion on a few of the ideas, particularly with regard to sleep practices. But the question they asked that probably took the most explanation was this, “So what do you eat for breakfast?”

The look of horror and incredulity on their faces when I replied, “well… currently it’s bone broth!” was priceless. A few months ago I’d have laughed at me too. Because something sweet and carby is surely the ultimate in breakfast? Perking you up when you don’t really want to eat much but need a boost? No..?

Well no. Because that sweet and carby stuff does a number on your blood sugar levels and so, in turn messes up your natural cortisol cycle. And what does cortisol do? It waits in the wings ready to increase your blood glucose to help fuel a flight-or-fight response. Then you’ve got to produce insulin to deal with that spike. And the more you call on cortisol and insulin at the wrong times the less response you get when you need them. And so bit by bit we set up an unnatural stress hormone cycle that is highly deleterious to health. 

But broth and vegetables for breakfast is weird right? Well no. Ever had left over curry or noodles for breakfast? Or gorged on a fry up? Or grabbed a flakey meat pasty on the way to work? These all have that salty and comforting flavour; and combination of fat and protein that takes us back to our more primal instinctive taste preferences. But most of us probably don’t have the time or stomach to gnaw on a mammoth bone before our hunt of the day so bone broth is a perfect modern day alternative.  

Glorious savoury umami flavours ready in less than five minutes and with the ability to keep you going all morning and well into the afternoon. Would you like a recipe?

Ok. The first bit does take a while, although the prep is minimal. Stick some roasted bones (chicken, beef, pork, lamb or a mixture) in a slow cooker and cover with water and a tablespoon or so of sea salt. Add extra flavour if you like (garlic, onion, carrot, celery, black pepper) but don’t feel obliged. Simmer on the lowest setting for around 48 hours. 

Five minutes before you want to eat, melt some pastured pork lard, beef tallow or butter ghee in a frying pan, flash fry some veg and tip into a bowl. Then ladle in a few scoops of broth straight from the crockpot. That’s it! Change the vegetables you use, experiment with herbs and spices, add some cooked meat or eggs if you need the extra protein (although your broth will have a decent amount already.) 

And there you have it! A serving or two of vegetables, some healthy fat, some essential minerals and a tonne of gut-healing, infection-fighting, inflammation-reducing, bone building and skin-beautifying collagen all before you leave the house. Let me know if you’ve tried it or are planning to!

Don’t Put Bleach in Your Vagina

Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #7

Ok, so as far as witty, catching and soothing blog post titles go, this may not have been my best one. But I wanted to get the embarrassment factor out of the way first. If you can get past the title, and I really hope you can, you can manage the content. Still with me? Yay! Then let’s begin…

With the onset of menstruation now often beginning in girls around the age of 9, and menstrual flow apparently getting heavier in successive generations of women we, in Western society at least, are becoming increasingly exposed to a dangerous cocktail of chemicals, absorbent synthetics and bleaches in and around the vagina from the products we use every month. And these are damaging our health in a very real way.

Contrary to popular belief, vaginas are pretty good at looking after themselves. They have their own microbiome: colonies of bacteria that are responsible for monitoring infections, cellular health, lubrication and specific diseases. But unfortunately antibiotic use, certain contraceptives, deodorisers, “sanititisers” and all commercially produced tampons and pads all destroy this perfectly balanced eco-system. And that’s when things start to go wrong. Thrush, bacterial vaginosis, inflamed and sensitive genitalia, potentially even cancer.

And why? It’s to do with what materials are used in producing tampons and pads. Here are just a few of the problems: that pure looking cotton? Produced from GMO and heavily sprayed cotton crops. This cotton will have been bleached for cosmetic reasons and treated for bacteria, mould and fungus, not always effectively. Then treated with absorbency enhancers and possibly synthetic fragrances. And those pads? Those weird jelly like absorbency  crystals with “odour neutralisers” release toxic chemicals that have a direct path to your reproductive system. It’s no wonder that women are suffering an increasing amount of “women’s ailments.”
Now there are a ton of different ways to encourage your vaginal microbiome back to a healthier climate. But this is one of Flojo’s Easy Detox Tips so lets just choose an easy one for now eh? Here are your easy instructions for claiming back your vaginal health:

  1. Read through the recommended reading from the links below. Education here is everything.
  2. Next I’d really like it if you went online and found yourselves some washable pads. You’re looking for some that are some kind of cotton and bamboo mix, possibly with a charcoal layer to safely absorb odours and stains. They’ll have poppers to secure them to your pants (no more accidentally sticking the pads to your delicate bits!) and to fold them shut in between use. And all you need to do is chuck them in the washing machine at the end of the day – no fabric conditioner please – and they’ll probably be dry by the morning if you hang them out to air. Yes, they might feel like a large outlay at first but I figure the average woman (whoever she is!) should have broken even within a couple of years.
  3. Finally, have a look into a silicon menstrual cup to replace your tampon use. Yes, they are a faff to get the hang of for a few cycles but it does get considerably easier. And you can use them while swimming. And, most importantly, many women (myself included) note a significant decline in the amount of blood lost over a few cycles. Have a look for various online communities discussing the merits of the different brands and the different ways to fold and insert the cups if you are interested.

Recommended Reading

What Exactly Are You Putting up Your Foof

Wellness Mama: The Problem with Pads and Tampons

Meghan Telpner: Tampons

Podcast with Nadine Artemis: Self Care A Woman’s Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost in Paris

I was all fired up to write either a recipe or a detox post today, but then I got sidetracked editing this blogs categories for a drop down menu, and I haven’t got the time now. Bother. But I did promise myself that I’d write something so I’m going to give you a memory post.

Back in the mid-90s, while I was a music teacher, I joined a friend’s band called Movietone for a couple of years (I think that link should take you to album tracks etc. I’m playing on the Day and Night and The Blossom Filled Streets albums) During that time we also did two sessions for John Peel, played some gigs (Bristol, London and Brighton) and did a mini tour in Paris! In case you are wondering, I mostly played viola but also doubled up on piano, glockenspiel, guitar and bass (the last two of which I had to learn specially.)

Now, a thing I have noticed about us Autistic people is that our personal risk assessment processes are not generally in line with those of the rest of the population. Make a phone call? Panic. Try to leave the house? Panic. Cross the road? Panic. Walk the streets of Paris alone late at night with minimal grasp of the language, a poor ability for map reading, and no working mobile phone? Meh! Which is why, when we had a night off and I found out that another friend of mine was also playing in town that night I figured I’d try and find him to say hello. How hard could that be?

It took me nearly two hours. My map skills sucked more than I can explain. I found myself in various dead ends and alleyways (some with suspicious looking deals going on), and I realised that I had completely misjudged the scale of the map. I retraced my steps several times and I finally realised that setting off on this quest was not, in retrospect, a smart move. I kept ending up the wrong side of the river and I couldn’t work out safe places to cross some of the busier roads. And I didn’t know how to ask for help! A few times I considered turning back but figured that I should see this through. I didn’t want to admit defeat.

Eventually I found the venue but by this time the doors were closed and the queues were building up outside. So now the question – how do you blag your way into a well attended Courtney Pine gig with no language skills? I pushed my way through the throng of fans to the door and, with a highly apologetic tone and some poor miming repeated the two poxy phrases I’d practised to myself before leaving – Er, mon amie? Un bassiste? Seriously, that was all I’d learnt! But you know what? Those crowds of fans, patiently waiting for the doors to open, they worked out the deal and yelled at the security guys to let me in. And, when he tried to argue, pretty much opened the doors and shoved me through as I shouted Merci!! Merci!! What lovely people!

Sadly I only had about half an hour to see my friend before he had to disappear and then I figured that I should probably find my way back to the apartment rather than stay for the gig. But as I left the building my heart sank and my knees buckled with the realisation that it was now about 10.30pm and I still didn’t really know where I was. I sat on the steps, stared at the map and wondered how the hell I was going to hold my shit together. And then the rain started. And when I say rain? It was that freak kind of rain that runs down your neck and soaks you to the skin within minutes. What the hell to do? I couldn’t even clearly see a few meters ahead of me the rain was that heavy. The only upside was that nobody would have been able to see the tears.

Now this next bit was pretty crazy. I took a deep breath, somehow went into some kind of hyperfocus and saw the route back in my head, by which I mean that all the side roads and distractions kind of fell away from my vision and I started to run like I was following a satnav. I think it took me less than half an hour to run my way back without any mistakes and in torrential rain, with a map that was so wet it completely disintegrated. As I got to an area I actually recognised I started laughing out loud and sprinted the last bit.

My friends opened the door to me laughing hysterically while pouring the rainwater from my shoes. I couldn’t get the words out I was laughing so hard.

I wanted to think of a witty and snappy way to round this post off but I can’t. Au revoir!

 

Celebrating Christmas


Here’s the thing. I love Christmas. Truly, truly love it. But maybe not in the way that others do. While we don’t celebrate the day in a religious context my family (my husband and two daughters) and I mark this time with rituals and symbolism that have meaning and significance to ourselves.

Might as well get it over and done with, here’s a list of what we don’t do and why!

  • Cards (massive drain on the environment, finances and executive function.)
  • Increased sugar intake (and thus increased anxiety, irritability, insomnia, acne and weight gain.)
  • Parties (social interaction when our emotional energies are at their lowest of the year? Nope.)
  • Flashing Christmas lights (headaches and anxiety.)
  • Christmas crackers at home (I really can’t justify buying plastic tat produced by severely underpaid and mistreated factory workers and destined for the bin.)
  • Presents for the sake of obligation (honestly, we don’t need anything. Nothing worse than having to smile and gush over yet another item produced by those poor factory workers and using up the earth’s resources.)

But here’s what I love, love, love!!

  • Getting to spend time around my precious husband and daughters. They are my favourite company. I know we may only have a few years left before our girls create their own traditions so we’re making the most of eating good food and snuggling with them while we still can.
  • Food. Easy, simple, delicious. We do the same every year: Nigella Lawson’s cranberry and orange Christmas muffins for breakfast with orange juice and prosecco. (And coffee. Lots of coffee.) Then a mid-afternoon, fully organic roast dinner which I prepare on the day while they watch some Christmas movie. Nuts, a bit of chocolate, a bottle of organic beer or a glass of port will feature at some point but not heavily. And then Christmas pudding with custard or cream for supper. Delicious, filling and minimal food coma!
  • Decorations! Every year a real tree, and foraged mistletoe, holly and ivy. Tiny static fairy lights and decorations made from wood, metal, ceramic or glass. Also pine cones and dried orange slices. And lots of beeswax or organic soya candles.
  • We also have a range of Christmas CDs ranging from pop to jazz, classical and soul. Something for every mood.
  • And time. Time away from school and jobs is precious. So we share the housework and spend our time, resentment free, in cooking, eating, watching movies, walking the dog, reading, playing board games or just chatting and catching up – checking in with each other.

That’s the magic for us. Wishing all of you your own magical festive period, and sending you huge love 💜

Fiddle Lessons. 

A random conversation with a good friend (always the best) about rollup cigarettes sparked a few memories yesterday. They made me smile and I thought they might make you smile too…

In my teenage years the run up to Christmas was always fiendishly busy due to playing viola in a gazillion carol services and end of term concerts. Which left me one year (I think I was 17) doing my gift shopping a mere two days before Christmas and a frantic couple of hours before closing time. But I got distracted by a pair of buskers… a violinist and guitarist putting on a dazzling display of folk, Gypsy jazz, Cajun and bluegrass (amongst other genres). And found myself an hour later still standing there with frozen hands and an empty shopping bag. So I gathered up all my bravery, took a deep breath and asked for the violinist’s phone number. 

Skip forward a couple of months and I’d bought myself a bashed up 200 yr old French violin, bought in pieces from an auction and badly patched back together. And I had started lessons! Unlike my formal viola and piano lessons in dedicated music rooms, this was a matter of sitting cross legged on the bed (more precisely a mattress on the floor), the only available space in her cramped bohemian ground-floor one-room bedsit. She was a whirling dervish of energy scribbling dots on scraps of manuscript paper and recording music tape-to-tape for me to study at home. While I played she rolled up skinny cigarettes (I love the smell of fresh rollies to this day) and left the result hanging out the side of her mouth while she played. And she was amazing! Sadly, my fiddle playing pretty much sucked – I didn’t have the ability to improvise or memorise – but I did truly love my lessons. 

When I left my hometown to study music at uni I had to cease lessons but I did get to see her once more when we recorded backing tracks for XTC (remember them? No, thought not!) but then she moved to France and I lost contact. 

Fast forward a few years and Simon and I went to an intimate jazz gig – vocals, double bass and guitar – and I was struck by the strangest sensation that I could hear my fiddle teacher playing along. I got to meet the musicians afterwards and mentioned this to them, turns out she’d written a couple of the songs on their playlist! 

I think that’s it. I just wanted to add something a little more whimsical to this blog! Catch you later lovelies!