I have no words to describe the week I’ve experienced. For starters, my week began last, Saturday 9/6. This was the day before my new book, Fury From Hell, was supposed to be released on Amazon. However, the formatting was not completed. And my 1 year-old daughter was extremely active that day only napping for short periods of time. Did I mention that I had scheduled myself to go to a Gluten-Free (GF) Expo that same evening? Talk about pressure!
I knew I wanted to go to the GF Expo simply because I was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. For the past few years, when it began to surface that gluten may be the issue, I’ve been experimenting with food and trying to change my choices by trying new things. I knew that going to the Schar Gluten-Free Blogger Expo would be an important milestone in my gluten-free journey! So, I gave myself a deadline stuck to it — and was still late!
I was so nervous when I arrived at Chelsea Piers for this event. I didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, the image of an open vendor type space with samples and the like were dancing around my mind. I also noticed that the e-invitation gave the hours of 5pm – 11pm which seemed to reinforce my mental image.
Was I wrong! The Schar GF Blogger Expo was held in the Golf Building at Chelsea Piers in a duplex loft-like space. There were about 22 bloggers present — gluten-free bloggers. SERIOUS gluten-free bloggers! Did I want to bolt? Yep. Yes, I did. I felt like a fake from the moment my daughter and I walked up the stairs.
I came in during the introduction phase where the bloggers were sharing about themselves, their GF journey, and their respective blogs and GF related businesses (most of them had one, or several). The feeling of being a fake generally faded because as I focused in on the stories of each blogger, I heard a retelling of a number of different experiences I’ve had over the years. I found myself nodding vigorously time and time again which allowed the feeling of otherness to recede.
Picture this, me listening raptly while crawling around after a very busy (wet!) 1 year-old girl who wanted to sit in everyone’s lap. <sigh> (Yes, yes that is exactly what happened.) Do you know everyone was understanding? Shortly after the introductions, I took her downstairs to the lower portion of the loft space to change her (and reduce the sound of her chirping!).
Downstairs was where the barman had set up gluten-free drinks including wines, sodas and…BEER! It was Damm Daura beer which is made from barley malt and is below the gluten threshold. I never acquired a taste for beer (Wow, how smart was my body!?) but I decided to try this one. It was actually pretty good! It tasted like beer. I was a vegan in the past and had near-beers (Ugh! But that is a story for another post.) and those ‘vegan’ beers were simply awful to my palate. Not Damm Daura! Even hubby was suitably impressed. He said he could drink Daura even if there were other beer choices available.
Now, here is where I am supposed to pull out my journalism skills and get all the names, blogs, people and stories. Right? Okay, not so right. My hands were literally full with baby girl making networking and fact-finding quite problematic. You can see me one hand raised the other is holding my daughter.
I managed to speak with four of the bloggers present:
- Lauren Landgrebe – Blog: The Fit Gastronome – http://thefitgastronome.com/food-sensitivities/
- Elizabeth Gavino – Website: http://elizabethgavino.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/
- Dana – Twitter: https://twitter.com/ABCGlutenfree
- Erin Smith – Blog: Gluten_Free Fun – http://glutenfreefun.blogspot.com
My goodness — I didn’t tell you about the buffet! It was lovely! Of course, it was all Gluten Free and there were some vegan options as well. There was pizza (and beer!), breaded chicken, meatballs in tomato sauce, antipasti, bruchetta and a lovely tomato relish to top it off. Normally, I take pictures of the food first but my little one wanted to eat the pizza and lots of it!
I learned so much. There were so many stories! Diagnosis of one blogger happened when she was 2 1/2 years old! Another happened when she was 12 — right at the age where food and social events go hand-in-hand. Celiac-related illnesses were mentioned and how some of the bloggers present had lost good friends and family to these illnesses because they were diagnosed late in life (after 40). My head fairly exploded with the information!
Fertility is something that can also be affected when you have celiac. I came to understand that my having had children was a very minor miracle and a blessing. It now makes total sense the challenges I had surrounding my pregnancies.
If I continue, this post will end some time next week! I will leave you with the few pictures I was able to snap off in the moments my daughter was entertaining another blogger. 🙂