Systems for Success

Assorted mobile phone chargers and adaptersI have been traveling a lot recently. Mostly I love to travel, even if it’s just to visit family or to attend conferences. Unfortunately there are two parts of traveling that stress me out:

1. Driving off of Long Island (which requires either a ferry ride or a trip through the outskirts of New York City).

2. Packing.

At this point, there’s not a lot I can do about my location or making New York City roads less crowded. So I’ll focus on my issues with packing.

In the years before I had kids, travel was pretty easy. All I needed was my clothing and something to read. This was followed by two decades of traveling with children and pets, during which I counted my blessings if I remembered my clothing and, if I brought a book, had time to glance at it.

Now I’m once again traveling solo and keep waiting for it to get easy again. Except it’s not. Because now I have to pack electronics (phone, camera, laptop, kindle, GPS) and all of their associated chargers. Plus I now take daily medications. And, because I’m no longer a fresh-faced 20-year-old, cosmetics are also required.

Because I’m on a gluten-free diet (due to celiac disease), I must also pack food. This is particularly necessary when I go to conferences, where there are pastries for breakfast (not gluten-free) and wraps for lunch (also not gluten-free). So I end up bringing cheese, nuts and protein bars so that I don’t starve during the day. If I have a hotel room with a fridge, I travel with a toaster for my gluten-free bread (which I also bring with me) and a mini-blender for my morning protein shakes. (Yes, I travel with shake mix too.) Nobody can accuse me of traveling light!

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend and admitted how much I hate packing. She also travels frequently and shared her secret. She uses an app called Simple Grocery List and keeps her packing lists on her phone. Rather than creating a new list before every trip, she has a system that includes separate packing lists for business and pleasure trips. She even has a list for items she needs to bring when she boards her dogs! It’s easy! She pulls out her phone, clicks on the appropriate items, and knows that she’s leaving the house without forgetting anything.

This is the kind of system that makes our lives (and our businesses) run well. I installed the app and added items to the list as I was packing. Knowing that I have a system in place that will make future trips a whole lot less stressful.

Today, blog about a system that makes your business (or life) easier.


Celiac Disease Book Review: Jennifer’s Way

Even though becoming gluten-free seems to be a new fad, it is a serious matter in my household. In addition to myself, my husband and two kids all have celiac disease, which is an auto-immune disease that means you can’t eat foods containing gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye). We have been gluten-free since 2001. You can read my family’s story here.

My son spent several weeks this summer doing a political internship, which lead to our decision to binge-watch all six seasons of Spin City (a situation comedy from 1996 in which Michael J. Fox plays the deputy mayor of New York City). We saw cast member Jennifer Esposito interviewed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. During the interview, we learned she had celiac disease, had written a book and had opened a bakery in New York City. (I also learned that Jon Stewart’s son has celiac disease.)

I was very curious about her story. Celiac disease is a great masquerader and presents with a lot of weird symptoms. Jennifer had most of them. It severely interfered with her career as an actor and had a long-term impact on her health.

She tells one story of having surgery and being very clear she had celiac disease. When she woke up, the nurse gave her a tray that included wheat crackers.  When she once again asserted she had celiac disease and could not eat wheat, the nurse “… squinted at me. ‘I’ve been a nurse for fifty years and I’ve never heard of that.’ … I could tell what she was really saying was, ‘You’re crazy.”

I’ve had the same experience multiple times, even at the GI specialist’s office where they’re treating me for celiac.

The latest estimation is that 1 in 100 people have celiac disease, so it may affect your life as well. Not only is this a good story, but it contains a lot of practical information for people with celiac disease, or anyone who wants to understand it better. This book would also be a thoughtful gift for anyone who is struggling to live gluten-free.


Gluten-Free Travel Trials

Gluten-free Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Blue Sky and Clouds.After 13 years of being gluten-free (no wheat, barley or rye) because of celiac disease, I am smart enough to travel with my own food. This morning is Day 5 in hotels and I went to check out their free breakfast. While the cereal, pastries and waffles might be wonderful for the average traveler, there was absolutely no option (except coffee) for anyone who is can’t tolerate gluten.

Add to the fact we’re in a different country (Canada) that has different formulations. Here they put wheat flour in ham (don’t ask me why) and also in salad dressings. So sometimes our “safe” gluten-free choices are out of the question.

I did pack a cooler full of safe foods. Then I discovered that our first hotel, whose online information said all rooms had fridges, did not have a fridge. So we were dumping buckets of ice into our cooler so food wouldn’t spoil. That doesn’t add any fun to the travel experience.

My mom and I are planning a bus trip in a few months. Already I am concerned about what I will eat when I have limited luggage and no choice about restaurants. While some restaurants are awesome about serving gluten-free foods, many others offer nothing I can eat. So, rather than looking forward to the trip, I’m anticipating how I’ll deal with my food issues.

Today, blog about challenges you face when you travel and how you overcome them.

Sharing My Passion

Gluten free words - tag cloud illustrationEarlier this month, I attended a seminar that aimed to help  participants to develop a larger vision for their businesses. The leader was enthusiastic about an education-based organization and actively involved in its fundraising.

At that moment I realized that I wanted my business — even though it’s currently small — to have a big vision. I wanted to help fund a cure for celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that effects myself, my husband, and both my children (plus my brother and mother-in-law). That afternoon, I committed to give 10 percent of my earnings to celiac disease research. My big vision is I want to help fund a cure by 2023.

This morning, I updated my website to share my vision. Yes, I feel fantastic about it! And, even though I’m normally I’m reluctant to talk about my family, I decided to share our story. You can read out story here.

How about you? Is there an organization that you support? Do you have plans to change the world, or maybe just your neighborhood? Please share your passion!