In this episode, Small Stepper Karen Hamilton talks about how she learned to connect with her baby as a single parent, donating a kidney to her husband (!), and how keeping things simple and kind has changed her relationship with food.
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Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
Lisa: Hey everyone, it’s another episode of the podcast. And lucky for you, today I am interviewing another rockstar Small Stepper. Now, this woman has one of the most interesting stories that you’re going to hear. There’s a lot going on with this woman, and the topics that we’re going to be covering today, I think so many of you are going to resonate with. And I definitely know that you’re going to feel a bit more inspired about a certain topic.
So, think about rules that you have created around food. Think about the guilt that you’ve created around food. Think about creating multiple meals for your family members, for the one meal. This is all stuff we’re going to be diving into, plus stacks, stacks, more. Karen Garner Hamilton. Welcome to the podcast!
Karen: Thanks Lisa.
Lisa: We might have a slight little delay.
Karen: You make everything sound so full-on!
Lisa: Well, Karen, let’s just get it out there that this is going to be a pretty cool chat. I am really excited to talk to you, because not many people have been through some of the things that you have.
We can get a bit whingey in our lives, sometimes, I definitely put my hand up there. But some people have really been at the coal face, and I think that you’re one of those people.
Karen: Yes, we’ve been through a bit.
Lisa: So, let’s dive into it. Can you tell us a little bit about your story? I know that that’s hard, a little bit, about a pretty interesting life story. Tell us about what happened when your son was born.
Karen: Okay, so my ex-husband decided to leave about five days after I found out I was pregnant, and so had a fairly tumultuous pregnancy. It was fairly stressful, and things were quite up and down throughout that.
My son was then born about four weeks premature, so spent a bit of time in special care. So, I had to go home from the hospital without him, so, without a son and without a husband in my house, which was a pretty emotional time, for a few weeks, there.
Once he was born, we sort of reconciled for a little bit, from when my son was about two months to about four months old, and then he left for good, finally. So, then I became a single mum for the next, well, two years, until I met my lovely second husband, who has been with me now for almost six years.
Lisa: Karen, I can’t even imagine the-, I don’t know, what is it? Fear, sadness? You know, to be alone, or left, pregnant. What are your actual thoughts? What was that time of life like for you? And also, just the first two years of your son’s life. I can’t actually imagine doing it without Nick, the thought actually makes me feel terrified.
Karen: You know, I’d never been a really maternal person, and so the thought of having a baby by myself, knowing that I’d never really felt like being a mum was something that I’d be good at, was super-scary. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to handle it.
I was in Hobart, and my whole family were in Queensland. So, I had friends down here, but I didn’t have family down here, so that scared me. At one point I was, ‘Do I move back to Queensland, to be in hot weather that I really don’t like, but really close to my family? And leave my job, and everything down here? Or do I stay down here, and just get on with things?’ So, that’s what I did.
Lisa: I think you’re amazing. So, you’d established a career down there, like, it wasn’t as though you wanted to move? You wanted to keep your life down there?
Karen: Yes, I definitely wanted to keep my life down here. You know, I love living in Hobart, my house is in Hobart. At the time, I had great friends and everything down here. And my son’s father was down here.
Well, particularly while I was pregnant, I was still hoping at that point that maybe things were going to work out, despite that I should have seen the signs that they wouldn’t. You know, I was still hoping that my son would get to have two parents with him the whole time.
It was really tough, and I cried a lot throughout my pregnancy. I wasn’t sure that my son would recognise my voice when he was born, because all he’d hear was me crying. But, you know, we got through it and I’ve got an amazing eight-year-old now. So, we’ve obviously done pretty well to get to the point where we are.
Lisa: What was it like, because I reckon there are probably a lot of women out there who would be heading into motherhood, who perhaps, they’re a bit frightened because they haven’t had those mama vibes. What was that like? How do you feel you ended up managing? Did the mother love kick in, or was it something that you felt a bit differently about in the beginning?
Karen: Initially, I had a lot of trouble even connecting with this little baby that was inside me. I refused, despite my friends telling me we needed to start getting things organised, and picking cots, and prams, and stuff, I just refused to buy anything, or get involved with anything like that for quite a long time.
I also didn’t tell people I was pregnant until, probably, I was between four and five months pregnant. Because I wanted to tell my parents in person, because they knew that my ex and I had split up, but I didn’t then want to tell them over the phone that I was also pregnant, and shock them during that. So, I didn’t really have anyone around me who knew that I was pregnant, apart from my ex, who I wasn’t really talking to that much.
So, yes, the bonding part. So, as soon as I could find out what sex my baby was going to be, I did that, so that I could start to try and have a bit of a connection, and at that point, picked a name and everything for him, so I could, sort of, start that process.
It wasn’t easy. At times, you know, I questioned whether I should be a mum, and whether I was going to be a good mum. Was this baby really meant for me? So many things went through my head at the time.
Lisa: Wowser. Wow. And I mean, now, he’s this eight-year-old boy, your little sidekick. It’s amazing. So, then, talk to us about when you met your new husband, because there’s an interesting story behind you guys.
Karen: So then, yes, probably when my son was about eighteen months old, I was sick of feeling like I was just a mum, and I needed to do something for myself. So, sort of, got back into exercise and things like that, and once I’d been doing that for a few months, I thought, ‘You know what, I really am ready to try and, maybe, meet somebody else.’ I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to work with our scenario, but thought I’d give it a go anyway.
So, jumped online, because as a single mum, you can’t actually go to pubs to meet people. You can’t really go many places to go to meet people, so online needed to be where it was at. And I met some rather ‘interesting’ people in the process, and had to, sort of, schedule meetings with them when my son was with his dad.
Eventually, this very nice man, who could spell, which is always a plus for me, and could actually email back some intelligent banter, was very nice. So, my now-husband was actually in Fiji when I first contacted him online, and every night, when he was in Fiji, at someone else’s wedding, would send me an email so I was pretty impressed with this.
It was before he had a phone that he could send me messages, so he’d go to their internet room each night, and send me some emails, which was lovely. And then when he got back, we met up. We met up a couple of times, and then I invited him for dinner, because it was just getting too hard to co-ordinate times.
So I was, like, ‘Right, you just need to come to my space.’ And yes, he was amazing, because he was quite happy for me to hide him in my house, from my son, even though he was only two years old. I was determined he wasn’t going to meet him yet, so he was rushed out the door in the morning, while I hid my son in the kitchen. He’d come over late at night, so my son was in bed.
Lisa: It sounds like something from a soap. Like, ‘Quick, quick, out you go!’ How much more exciting does that make it, as well?
Karen: Yes, it makes it a bit exciting, but I was also, like, ‘Oh, is he really going to continue to do this?’ Because, you know, he’d text me from upstairs, in my bedroom, and go, ‘Okay, I’m ready to leave.’ So, I’d run up and say, ‘Goodbye,’ to him, and then I’d say to my son, ‘Okay, I’m going to go in the kitchen now,’ and he’d sneak out the front doors.
Within a few months of us meeting, my now-husband’s kidney function just started to decrease. He’d had kidney issues for about ten years, at that point, so he needed to be starting dialysis. So, during that process, his mother was being tested as a donor, which we thought was going to go ahead, but then it couldn’t. So, in the back of my mind, whilst that was happening, I was thinking, ‘Well, maybe I could do that.’
So, once his mother had been ruled out, I started talking to him about it, and he was like, ‘No, you can’t do that. That’s too much.’ And we had all the doctors telling us that we hadn’t been together long enough, and all of these things as to why it couldn’t happen. But eventually, I was pretty stubborn, and he was on dialysis.
So, eventually we got to the point, after a lot of fighting, pretty much, to happen, it was two years to the day that we met, that we were admitted to hospital for the kidney transplant.
Lisa: You gave him a kidney.
Karen: So, I gave him a kidney, yes. So, as my son tells everybody, David has three kidneys and I have one, because he has two that don’t work, and one of Mummy’s that does.
Lisa: So you had no qualms? Like, you just knew that this is what you had decided to do?
Karen: I did. Along the way, you know, you have a lot of people telling you, particularly the medical people telling you that if you do this then you’re not going to be able to have any more children. How are you going to feel if you do this and then he decides to leave you, or you break up? And all of these different things.
In my mind, it was like, this isn’t some way to try and trap him, or anything like that. This is just what we need to do, because dialysis was hard work. You know, he was going there four-to-five times a week, and would be there for anywhere between four and six hours at a time.
We’d be heading out there and dropping him off, and he’d be doing dialysis, and then we’d be going back to help him pack up. We knew doing that long-term, and waiting for a deceased donor, could take anywhere from straight away to five years.
We knew that, probably, trying to do that was not going to be sustainable with a three- or four-year-old child, he was four at the time. So, yes, that was what we decided, and I knew was going to be the best for all of us.
Lisa: I just think it’s miraculous, number one, that it can be done. Like, I still find it extraordinary. I’m a person who has ticked all of the-, you know, I want everything to be given when I die. Everything’s donated, no problems there, absolutely no issues around that. And I’ve made sure that everyone around me knows it.
But it’s a totally different thing to be alive and donate organs. Now that you’re part of that community, like, you’re part of a pretty exclusive club of people who have done this. What have you learnt about living organ donation?
Karen: Living organ donation, it’s still not hugely common, but it is getting more common. You probably learn more about organ donation as a whole whilst you’re doing it, because whilst you’re with somebody who needs one, you’re realising that so few people pass away in a way that means that their organs can actually be donated.
And so, therefore, the number of organs that become available each year are not that high. You know, there are lots of people who obviously indicate that they want to be organ donors, but so few people die in a way that actually means their organs can be used. So, waiting for that process is really hard work.
Lisa: Yes, I can imagine. So, what was it like for you? Is there a special program for organ donors? You know, what’s the process that you were put through?
Karen: Yes, so I had to do all the medical testing. I had to meet with a counsellor, I think, twice. Then I had to meet with the surgeons, so that they could quiz me about the process, and how much I knew about the process, and the risks involved in terms of the process. So, it’s pretty intensive, up until the point that you donate. But that’s, sort of, where things tend to stop.
Lisa: So, like, then that’s it? It’s like, ‘Thank you, and we’ve stitched you back up, and you’re off and away’? Did you have any weird feelings afterwards? Like, do you feel like there should be support for people afterwards?
Karen: Yes, definitely. Because even in the hospital, prior to the donating, the recipient is always the focus. Which, for me, was fine in terms of that, because obviously I wanted my then-partner to be better than he was.
I’d been given this idea, on one of the Facebook groups that I was on about living donors, that you feel like you’ve done your part and then you’re, sort of, left. Yes, it’s all a very emotional time when it’s all happening, and so you’re not sure whether it’s just the fact that you’ve had major surgery. And I’d never had any type of surgery before, so it was all a bit new to me, actually, even having surgery.
So, you don’t really know whether what you’re feeling is normal, or whether you’re just being really sensitive. Yes, so, I do think, having gone through it, that more follow-up support for donors would be helpful. Probably from people who have donated, because as much as all the medical people can give you all the medical know-how, and the counsellors can talk to you about it, they have no idea how you feel.
Lisa: Yes. There’s a Facebook group in that, totally, Karen, right now. Just saying. There’s totally a blog in it too, just, you know, thinking that we can talk. Okay, so tell me, now you guys are happily a dialysis-free unit, a little family of three, let’s talk about food. Let’s talk about what life was like for you before. Well, tell me about your journey with food, a little bit.
Karen: So, I’ve had, probably, a varied journey with food. I’ve done various diet programs, I’ve joined various gym programs where you’ve got eight weeks to change your life, or whatever. I’ve done various 1,200-calorie eating programs. Yes, so, pretty much everything. I’ve done Weight Watchers at home. You name it, I’ve pretty much done it, in terms of food.
None of those things meant that I had, probably, the greatest relationship with food. In our family, once we became a family of three, then my husband, even though he doesn’t admit it, he’s quite fussy. My son has always been a pretty good eater, but he’s picking up some of the fussiness that was introduced to us.
Up until this program, particularly last year, I was making up to three different meals a night. So, you know, was pretty much hating dinner time, and pretty much refined down meals to the same meal each week, each night. You know, there would be a rotation of seven things that each of us, sort of, would have bits and pieces of, and that would be the same.
My friends used to think it was the greatest joke ever that, you know, Monday night was steak and veggies, and Tuesday night was sausages, and Thursday nights were lamb cutlets. That never varied.
Lisa: In some ways, it’s genius, let me just say. Because I think a lot of people struggle all the time, thinking they’ve got to cook new things. But I can see how a repeating pattern like that, over a long period of time, might get tired, for sure. But I’m interested to know, at what point did you, kind of, sign on to all of those diets, or calorie-controlled stuff, or the gym stuff?
What was the underlying issue? Was it carrying a bit of extra weight, or was it just something that had always crept in, like, you ‘should’ be doing this? You know, what was actually really going on?
Karen: Yes, most of the time it was weight-related, for sure. You know, one was prior to my first marriage, and like all brides do, trying to work on that.
Lisa: That is a theme amongst Small Steppers. So many interviews. It’s like, ‘Yes, when I got married, when I got engaged, and I just thought, “Yep, okay, better do something about this.”’
Karen: Yes, totally. And then, other times, you know, some of the times it was because people at work were doing it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I really need to do that, and if I’ve got support around me it will be easier.’ But it was normally around weight. Absolutely, for sure, to try and tone up. Yes, try and find a way that could make it easy and sustainable, achievable. But it never really seemed to make much difference long-term.
Lisa: So, what happens to your headspace, and your relationship with food? I guess there’s a lot of focus on it in those kind of regimes, and you kind of learn all these rules around food, what’s in, what’s out. You’re counting points, or you’re counting calories, or you’re portion controlling, those sorts of things. How do you feel like that affected you and your relationship with food?
Karen: To me, everything was guilt. Always. You know, you’d have one thing that didn’t follow the rules, and you’d feel guilty about it, and then you’d probably eat more things because you were feeling guilty. And so, you’d then just say, ‘Well, I can’t do that, it’s too hard.’
I’d be thinking about food all the time. Like, I would always be thinking about food. I’d be thinking about, ‘What did I just eat?’ and whether that was good enough. What should I eat next, and should I wait and not have a snack, or should I have a snack so then I don’t eat as much the next meal? Is that going to be okay, and is what I’m doing okay? Particularly when I was existing alone by myself.
‘Am I doing the right things for my son, am I doing the right things for me?’ When my husband was having dialysis, ‘Am I giving him the right foods? Is this what he needs for where he’s at?’ And so, everything about food was always that I had to be thinking about it all the time, and it was normally, I was feeling guilty about it.
Lisa: Wow. Like, that’s life, for so many people. And it’s so frightening that that can happen.
Karen: Yes, and it’s such a big part of your life. You obviously have to eat. So, yes, when it’s consuming all of your thoughts a lot of the time. And you’re not enjoying what you’re eating most of the time anyway, because it’s either what you feel you should, or you’re eating because it’s something that somebody else will eat, and so it’s just easier to make what they like so you don’t have to worry about something else for yourself.
Lisa: Okay, so let’s go back to this seven days a week thing, repetitive, everyone’s eating little bits of the certain meal. Tell me about some of the changes that you have made in your household, and what a difference this has made to you.
Karen: So, at the end of last year-, last year was a pretty stressful year for me. I had a stress-related eye condition, which doesn’t help when you’re an optometrist, and know stuff about eyes. And, you know, everyone around me was telling me, ‘You need to stress less about everything,’ and I’m like, ‘Yes, but everything is so stressful.’
So, I decided one of the things that I could change the most was not cooking three meals a night. You know, I was rushing home from work, and then trying to do a quick meal for my son, so he could get to bed, and then doing the other one or two meals for my husband and I after work.
So, I sat down and had a chat to them. I was doing the additive course through the Sistermixin girls, so we had a bit of a chat about, you know, that I was doing some stuff to try and work out which foods might be healthier for us than other foods. And that some of the things that we had in packets weren’t always so great for us.
Then, after that meeting, we then had another one where I said, ‘It’s really hard for me to be making different meals each night, and so we need to be sitting down together more. So, I’m going to look at making the same meal for us, only making one meal a night, and trying different things.’ So that we wouldn’t just be having the same things again.
And that there would be, probably, things that none of us liked, and there would be things that, maybe, one of us liked, or whatever, but we would all try them. And if we all liked something then we would add it to the things that we liked, and we’d have it again. And if we decided that it wasn’t one of the things, that we wouldn’t have it again. But I got agreement from both of the boys that we would at least try each thing, and see how we went.
Lisa: I love this so much. Do you know why? Because I reckon they probably would have been cool with that for quite a while, but it often takes us putting boundaries around what is okay for us. You know, we try to be all things to all members of our family, and great workers, and this and that. And at the end of the day, we’re just stressed out.
So, for you to be able to go, ‘This isn’t cool for me any more, and these are the reasons why.’ It was actually all that needed to happen, because they’re, like, ‘Sounds good. Okay, bit weird, but I’ll go with you. These seem like logical reasons.’ And your son’s old enough to not have a tantrum about it, and whatever. And really, it was just the change needed to come from within you, to put those boundaries around what was cool, and what was not any more.
Karen: Yes, because I think I was maybe hoping that they’d suddenly say to me, ‘Oh, you really don’t have to cook three meals for us. You know, we’ll just start eating the same thing,’ which obviously was never going to happen. So, I needed to say, ‘Right, this is what I need for me. I know that I’m going to be doing the best for you guys, so let’s just make this happen.’
Lisa: And now they’re even cooking a meal?
Karen: And now, yes. So, probably about a month ago, I sat them down. My husband finishes early on a Thursday to pick up my son from school, and I said, ‘You know, you guys have got a few hours on an afternoon, on a Tuesday, and I’m still at work, and I’m still getting home and rushing around and cooking dinner. So, I think you guys should start doing a meal a week.’
So, we’ve started with very simple things, and simple things that they don’t need to do very much. So, just little bits, marinating some chicken wings with the honey tamari mix. You know, a very basic sort of crumbed chicken. So, little bits and pieces that they’re getting there, and they’re just so proud of themselves when they’ve done it, which has been the best thing.
My son was so funny, the first night that they did something, he took a photo of it, and he goes, ‘Mum, I need to download these photos, because I’m going to write a food blog.’
Lisa: Oh my God, bless his heart! Yes, yes, you are.
Karen: So, we’re still trying to get what this food blog will look like, but he’s desperate that he wants to do his own food blog, and tell people what he’s making for dinner.
Lisa: He’s pretty much my hero right now. So, anything he needs, I’ll give him a hand. This has to happen. There has to be a YouTube channel, as well, because I want to see his cuteness on video. And you can just tell him that I’ll help him out.
I love that so much, because what you have actually done, by standing in your truth, and putting boundaries around what’s cool for you, is you’ve actually empowered them, and empowered him, in such a huge way. It’s just actually quite crazy, when you think about it, how everything starts to flow once we can honour ourselves.
Karen: Yes, and it’s doing so much for the both of them. I’m still blown away, they did a pasta dish two weeks ago, and my husband goes, ‘I’ve never actually cooked pasta before,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t even know how this is possible.’ So I was like, ‘Part of this is me.’ I said, ‘I just need you two to know that if I’m not at home, you can actually make a decent meal for you two, rather than having to get take-away or something else.’
So, yes, trying to instil the skills. And particularly my son, thinking that when you’re no longer at home, in ten or so years, that you’re going to have these group of recipes that you’re happy to just make, and do, and it’s been second-nature because you’ve done it for so long.
Lisa: Oh my God, you’re amazing, and I reckon every single mum is now just going, ‘Man, I’m going to do this. I’m going to start this.’ It’s so inspiring to hear these stories, I can’t even tell you. So, you went for a long time probably not looking at recipe blogs, or opening up books, because you were just in your zone of creating what they’re going to eat. So, what’s it been like to get creative, for you, around food?
Karen: Well, I used to love cooking. Before I met my first husband, I used to love baking, and trying different recipes, and things like that, but it just all got so hard that it was just easier not to bother even looking. You know, I’d got rid of all my cookbooks and everything like that. Occasionally, I’d see recipes and things like that, and it would be like, ‘No, somebody in the house doesn’t like that, so don’t even bother,’ in terms of it. So, yes, it’s been interesting.
Certainly having my Thermomix made things a bit easier, in terms of knowing that there are heaps of things to look at that aren’t really that difficult to do. And obviously your program, Lisa, has made a huge difference, because some of the recipes that we’re using from Small Steps are amazing, and are so easy. I’m gradually working them up towards more of those.
Some of the things that they’re eating. You know, my son’s favourite meal is butter chicken, by far. There’s no way, six months ago, that I would have been feeding either of them butter chicken.
Lisa: That is so good. They should totally try my chicken and feta patties. It’s just a bit of grating, they could definitely make those.
Karen: Yes, we will totally move onto-, yes, we’re just taking very little-,
Lisa: Yes, I know, but that’s the thing. I think that that’s the cool thing, though. That’s what I always say, that’s why I freaking call everything ‘small steps’ because if you set the bar too high, and you start looking around at what other people are doing, and thinking, ‘What? Okay, shivers, that’s what I need to be doing,’ then you’re just setting yourself up for big-time failure. It’s okay, and it actually should take time for us to change these habits so that they stick.
You know, expecting anything more from ourselves, and from the people who we live with. Like, it’s fine for us to go, ‘Cutting out gluten and dairy, and I am going off blah blah, and I’m basically going to just eat avocado,’ or something. And that’s all fine, like, we can do what we want for ourselves, but taking other people along on the journey is a whole other ballgame.
We can be as inspired as we want. We can do the online courses. You know, when I did my course, I’m saying to Nick, ‘You know, I just think we can’t eat this anymore.’ He’s like, ‘What do you mean, we can’t have Lamingtons on Australia Day?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s a bit sad, isn’t it? Okay, I’m just going to find ones that don’t have any of this, this, this, and this.’ And it’s like, the life was getting sucked out of him. I just realised that I might feel certain things about food, but he’s got his own journey, on his own. And that’s totally cool.
Karen: Yes, and I’ve had to totally step back a few times with my husband, who is, yes, coming along with this. He’s certainly eating a whole lot more variety of food than he ever has before. And still says to me, ‘You know, I’m a grown-up and I can choose to eat whatever I want to eat.’ And I have to respect the fact that, yes, that is the case.
You know, we have wins along the way. So, we’ve discovered raw capsicum is good. So, I just keep just trying little bits.
Lisa: Yes, nice. I mean, do you ever pull the kidney card? Do you ever, kind of, like, ‘Well, if you don’t eat this, I’ll have my kidney back’?
Karen: No. No, and that was something that we discussed very early on. Our friends are always saying, ‘Yes, but you can’t actually say that, because she gave you a kidney.’ But no, that very rarely gets-, the only time I ever pull the kidney card is on our kidneyversary, and one year he forgot it was our kidneyversary, and I pulled the kidney card then. But apart from that, no.
Lisa: Yes. What does he give you, each year, for your kidney? What’s a kidneyversary gift?
Karen: We just, you know, remember the fact that it happened. He always says to me, ‘There’s nothing that I could ever do, or give you, that could ever even come close to you giving me a kidney.’
The fact that I see him every day, and we can go on holidays. Like, last year we went to America, which is something that he’d always wanted to do, but we knew that we could have never done if he hadn’t have had the transplant. And so, just being able to do those bits and pieces, and being able to do it all together. You know, that’s all I need, to see that everything was worth it.
Lisa: You’re amazing, honestly. I would be asking for something. That’s just me, but I love Nick, I do. But in saying that, I think for the first six years of marriage, we forgot our anniversary every single year. We’d get a text from my mum going, ‘Hey guys, happy anniversary,’ and we’d both look at each other and go, ‘Shit! I love you.’ ‘Yep, I love you.’
Karen: Well, we did get married, and he always said that he was never going to get married. So, maybe that was the exchange for the kidney.
Lisa: He sounds like a lovely man, and you know I’m only having a joke. I think that you guys are both absolutely, totally, fabulous. So, to finish up all podcasts, I always ask my guests if they have any small steps. Tips, that they might recommend to other people who, I guess, they might be far along on their health journey, they might be just at the start of their journey. But from you, what would you say has made a big difference to you? What’s a small step that you would recommend?
Karen: Mine is just looking locally around you, and what you can find in your area. You know, I’ve been amazed with all the things that I can actually get really close by. I can get organic spelt flour, cheaper, rolled three days ago, than what I can buy from the supermarket. So, when you can get amazing things around you, then just search for the stuff.
The organic rolled oats that we now get, the packet tells me they were rolled out two days ago, rather than, maybe, two years ago that the ones on the shelves are. I’ve had to adjust cooking them, because they’re a bit different to cook. But things like that, that we can get so easily, close to us.
I think there are some things in Tazzy that we struggle a little bit with, but in terms of a lot of things down here, then yes, we’re pretty lucky. And there are lots of people on the foodie journey down here. So, it’s pretty easy to find things if you, sort of, start looking.
Lisa: I absolutely love that. And I realise that we just didn’t close off, I guess, that whole ‘guilt’ feeling that you had around food. How are you with that, these days?
Karen: Yes, I don’t think about it. You know, we were away for the weekend, and there were various bits and pieces there, and I didn’t even question whether I should have it, or should I feel guilty after I’ve eaten a chocolate biscuit, or whatever. It was like, you know what, we’re here to have an awesome weekend with the family, and that’s part of it, for us.
So, yes, I think about it in terms of planning meals, in terms of what we’re going to have for the week, but I’m not thinking about how that fits in. And, you know, ‘If I had that for dinner, what should I have for lunch the next day?’ Or anything like that.
I’m just concentrating on, ‘What’s the best that we can eat?’ at that time, and what are the new things that we’re probably going to try together? Even though I’m doing a lot more with it, I feel like it’s so much easier.
Lisa: That’s so awesome. Jude Blereau talks about it so beautifully, when she talks about food nourishing us on so many different levels. I really do think that that is the case. It feeds our physical body, but it also feeds our spirit, our soul, whatever that, sort of, part of us is. It’s a way to connect with people, it should be joyous.
It’s not always going to be, let’s face it. Sometimes dinner just needs to bloody well get up on the table. But I don’t know, I feel like our cultures kind of miss the point, with the fast food, and the connection, I guess, that it can bring to people.
Karen: Yes, and we’ve got quick and easy things that we can get on the table, rather than having to resort to something in a packet, or takeaway. And there are times that we do resort to takeaway, but I don’t even worry about that, because I think, ‘You know what, that’s what we need right now, and that’s what’s going to make all of our lives better.’ And tomorrow, you know, we’ll have something that’s different.
Lisa: Oh gosh, yes. Oh my gosh, you’re just like the ultimate Small Steps grad. Like, the holding onto the stress around food, holding onto the guilt, that’s just going to be worse for us in the long run. And it leads us down this path of being on, or off, with healthy eating. And then once that starts to happen, then all sorts of self-sabotage, and all sorts of nasty voices in our head take over.
It doesn’t give our bodies the chance to tell us, and us to just tap into what it needs next. You know, if we just come from that place. That’s what I do. I’m like, ‘Okay, that didn’t feel too good. Okay, well the next meal is just going to be this.’ Or, I just find myself, and it’s so weird to say, but I find myself thinking about food a lot less when I haven’t put rules around it. And I’m glad to hear that that’s the case for you, too.
Karen: Yes, for sure. I think about it so much less. And I think my example for my son is so much better now than it was, in terms of trying to restrict what came into the house. His attitude, I think, to food, long-term, is going to be far better than if I’d continued in our very regimented way.
Lisa: Well, we’re just trying the best that we can in the moment. So, whatever I’ve done in the past, or whatever I’m about to do tomorrow, I’m just forgiving myself all the way, because at least we’re trying.
So, I am so rapt that you have taken the time out, and we’ll just tell everyone, slightly delayed start. Totally my fault. I thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I think it’s fascinating, I think you’re an amazing woman, and you’ve got a lot to share. So, use that voice. Get your son on bloody YouTube and get him a blog, and then you start a support group for organ donors, and it’s happy days!
Karen: Will do. Will do.
Lisa: Oh gosh, I just think everyone has a message, and everyone should be sharing stuff. It’s an actual disease of mine. But thank you. I know 100% that you will have made a difference in the lives of the listeners today, so thank you so much, Karen.
Karen: Thanks, Lisa.
Lisa: Speak soon.