“The mere sense of living is joy enough”….

This is one of my favorite quotes from American poet Emily Dickinson. In the past month as I’ve shuffled endless carpools, write, cook, bake, clean, try to sell my house, etc. etc. etc. I’ve had to pause each and every day to remember the joy in all the little stuff I do every day. Yes, I have my share of crappy days like everyone else, but lately I’ve come to realize that it isn’t necessarily the issue at hand that matters, but rather how I choose to react to it, that matters.

For example, in previous years, Halloween really used to freak me out, and not just in the literal sense (I don’t like mock graveyard scenes, zombies and scary movies…I’m a wuss). I used to hate having to think so far ahead about how I was going to handle the school Halloween party, or how I was going to handle trick or treating. This year, the tone was totally different. For starters, my son’s class party was food free, which was fantastic and eliminated all that planning and stress. The kids DID NOT care, believe me. I was in the classroom helping out and they were having so much fun playing games, etc. that they could have cared less if someone brought in a neon orange-tinted cupcake. Second, my 4th grade FA son wanted to go trick or treating without me, and out with his friends. Now, our community is very much like Mayberry, and everyone looks out for everyone’s kids. My son was going with trusted friends, and he took his medicine kit and my cell phone with him. He knew the rule was that he was to eat ZERO, ZILCH, NADA candy while en route, and had to wait until he got home to eat any of the three types of FA safe candy he got. John’s friends knew the drill, and were so aware and thoughtful of John and how to keep him safe. They truly cared about his well-being and were serious about following my rules. I told John, that I am letting go a little to allow him to make his own choices, and that I trusted him to follow the same rules we’ve always had. Then with the blink of an eye, my freckle-faced boy bolted out the door, with pillowcase in hand. He was LIVING…just like any other kid. And though I worried until the second he ran back in through the door, I was grateful he had his moment to let go and have fun. He never takes anything for granted, and I could tell he enjoyed spreading his wings a bit.

As John enters middle school next year, he is inching toward the age group of FA kids who are most likely to die from a food allergic reaction. Last year FAAN released a survey of food allergy patients ages 13-21 years old. Half the respondents admitted to knowingly eating food that they were allergic to, or that they knew was unsafe for them. Only 61 percent of the patients carried their life-saving medication epinephrine. And the majority of the respondents said although they wished their peers knew more about food allergies, they didn’t want to be the ones to educate them. FAAN conducted an earlier study that showed 69 percent of fatal food allergic reactions, were between the ages of 12-21. It is an extremely vulnerable group, and as my FA son grows up, I am realizing how important it is to be forthcoming with all this information to my son, so he can advocate for himself, especially as he increasingly finds himself in social and sports situations where I’m not always around.

I’ll try not to focus so much on the statistics. Instead, perhaps I’ll follow Emily D.’s lead and just live for today, because at the end of the day, time is sacred and shouldn’t be wasted for one minute worrying about things and situations we can’t control. Prepare, plan, but then let go and live freely, right?

One more thing, I just learned today that my Food Allergy Mama blog was nominated as a Circle of Moms top 25 Food Allergy Blog, a true honor and am so excited to be in the running. Please go here to vote, and you can vote every day until November 16th. I am so grateful for all you guys, you really are the most amazing and supportive group of readers I could ever hope for. I’ve learned so much from all of YOU over the years, and hope that I can continue to inspire and create recipes for your families for years to come. Seriously love you all and your comments…;)

Happy Baking…and will be back soon for a Thanksgiving recipe!!!