Five Things to Love About Being Single

A great deal of the cultural dialogue about being single or unmarried is focused on the negative aspects of being single or on how to find someone to marry. There are negatives to being single. However, I am also told that there are negatives to being married. Yet, we are not bombarded with articles and opinions about how married people should work hard on getting divorced. Okay, that is extreme, but you do see my point, right?

There are people who are single because they do not want to be married, but most of us, including those who are divorced or widowed, are single because our personal and professional choices have not aligned to produce a (or another) marriage-worthy relationship. I told someone recently who was attempting to fix me up that I’d prefer they leave it alone. Why, you say? Shouldn’t I take all the help I can get? No. In my short life I have learned two things about myself and life as it relates to dating: (1) blind dates and fix-ups are usually only good for the purpose of collecting entertaining war stories and (2) God will do what God will do and he’ll tell me about it when I need to know.

So what do we do while we are waiting for our choices to align or God to do his part? We enjoy the good things about being single.

Here are my five favorite things about being single . . .

Freedom

I’m single because I was born that way. Mae West

This is the big one. I have asked married friends and family and the consensus is that the thing they miss most about being single is freedom. As one friend put it, I miss “being able to make any decision without consulting or compromising.  On anything from paint colors, to car buying, to vacationing.” As a single person, I am free from the obligation to consult the schedules, opinions, feelings, needs, and desires of another. I am also free from the responsibilities that come with family and marriage, which are many. I don’t have to worry about the financial stability, safety, or the personal and professional future of another person. I can buy what I want, eat at whatever fancy restaurant I please, travel to places that interest me, and live a lifestyle that supports my interests.

Single people can do whatever they want.

Living as independent single people – not reliant on family or a partner – is the only time in our lives when we will have almost total control over our lives and be really free.

Self-Awareness

I don’t like to be labeled as lonely just because I am alone. Delta Burke

One of my favorite things about being single has been getting to know who I am; getting to know ourselves is a great opportunity. I know that sounds corny and everyone says it, but think about it carefully. While it is true that we can create ourselves into what we want to be – we can become a doctor or parent or school teacher or circus animal trainer – but that is not the same as getting to know who we really are deep down inside. Being a single adult provides the opportunity to explore who we are, what we like, what we value, what we require to be happy, and, sometimes more importantly, what we do not want in life and in relationships. This kind of self-exploration is difficult when you are in a relationship or married. In relationships much time is focused on figuring out the relationship and getting to know or meeting the needs of your partner. Knowing who we really are ensures that we don’t lose ourselves in a relationship and it makes dating and finding a partner much easier – you know in advance what you want and need and the areas in which you are willing to compromise.

It is also a lot easier to “just be yourself” if you know that person.

Simplicity

I like being single, I’m always there when I need me.” ― Art Leo

Being single can be easy – if you let it. Relationships, no matter how good, are complicated. Anytime two people are in close quarters there will be conflict and compromises. Single people almost always, in almost every decision have the option to take the path of least resistance; in relationships that option doesn’t come as often. A single person’s decisions involve only themselves and who they choose to involve; in a relationship all decisions are potential for conflict and complication.

I only have to consider my family at holidays and special occasions. At my house, there are no arguments about the thermostat, how fast the dishes get washed, whether to get cable or pay someone to mow the lawn, or how the house is decorated. I love my 1600 square foot house – it is just what I need – it is small and simple. I only have to buy for one person. That’s one car, TV, computer, cellphone, plane ticket . . . you get the idea. Singleness also provides flexibility; I can accommodate change (like moving, accepting a new job offer, or taking a last minute trip) much more easily than someone who is in a relationship. While there are plenty of things that can complicate life in general, being single is less complicated than being in a relationship.

Selfishness

The only reason to get married is if you want children. – Alice (my Grandmommy)

I do not like being around selfish people. It is one of the hardest things for me to do. I am talking about those folks who can only talk about themselves, are stingy with money, or think we are all here to serve them. So, I am not suggesting that single people act like jerks. No.

Here, I am talking about the ability to focus on areas of your life that would get less attention if you were in a relationship or married. Being single allows you to focus (selfishly) on your career, rather than balance your career time with the career and personal needs of someone else. If you are ambitious then being single will treat you well. You can work long hours, do all the professional development you can stand, and spend your evenings reading all those books on leadership. (Note: this kind of selfishness improves your ability to be a solid and contributing partner in a future relationship or marriage, if that is your aim.)

As a single person you can selfishly pursue your own hobbies, interests and relationships with friends and family without the necessity to balance your time between your partner’s hobbies, friends, and family. I can take an entire Saturday morning to write without the need to worry about someone else’s schedule, I can have friends or family over whenever I please, or I can play the guitar while watching Netflix (this requires the volume on the TV to be at about 45) all evening. Singleness permits you to be selfish in good ways.

Service

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. (1 Corinthians 7:8, NIV)

The Apostle Paul also told the men that he’d prefer them to be unmarried as well. Why? Because they would be free spend their time in prayer and service to God. Being single gives you more time to be of service to others, whether it is your church, a community service organization, or your favorite non-profit. Singleness allows you to be unselfish with your free time and resources. Once you have determined what you value and what you want to support, you can commit to volunteerism and philanthropy without the need to consult with someone else. Time and money are powerful tools in helping others, but money is often a huge point of contention for many couples. As a single person you are in control of how your money and time is put to use. Service is a great way to help others, feel good about you, and make friends.

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list. There are many good things about singleness wrapped up in these five areas. In fact, I chose not to list all the good things individually because there are far too many. This is why I think the discussion of being single needs a new perspective. Being single is not worse than being married, in many cases it is better, but, at the very least, it is just different.

I hope one day to bump into the marriage-worthy fellow that God has for me, but until that time I am going to enjoy my life. Being single is a good thing.

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Celiac Awareness Month: Ten Things Everyone Should Know

May is Celiac Awareness Month.

As you may have read, I have celiac disease and I talk (and write) about it a lot. It is a huge part of my life – it controls everything I eat, where I eat it, the medication I can take, and even what sunscreen I can wear. In my many discussions about celiac disease with friends, family, servers, colleagues, grocery store clerks, doctors, nurses, and others, I find that people are usually very interested in knowing more about celiac disease.

So, in the spirit of increasing awareness, I offer my list of ten things everyone should know about celiac disease.

  1. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. When people with celiac disease eat gluten it causes an immune response and their immune system attacks and damages their intestines. This damage stops the body from absorbing nutrients properly. Celiac disease is not an allergy or an intolerance to gluten.
  2. Celiac disease is genetic. In order to develop the disease you must have the HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1 genes.
  3. One in every 133 people has celiac disease. Many have the disease and do not know it.
  4. Celiac disease has more than 300 symptoms, affecting many different parts of the body, these can include chronic diarrhea, skin disorders, and infertility. These symptoms often subside after a gluten-free diet is instituted.
  5. Celiac disease diagnoses requires a blood test and biopsy. In order to properly diagnose a person with celiac disease the person should be eating gluten, have a blood test, and a biopsy of the upper intestine. If the blood test and the biopsy are positive the person has celiac disease.
  6. The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
  7. The intestinal damage caused by celiac disease can heal over time if gluten is eliminated from the person’s life. A person with celiac disease can never safely reintroduce gluten into his or her diet.
  8. Gluten is found in many products other than breads, crackers, and cereal. It can also be found in soy sauce, condiments, juices/smoothies, candy bars, processed foods, ice cream, beauty products, and alcoholic beverages, to name a few.
  9. Food is not gluten-free if it has come in contact with a surface, utensil, or other ingredient that contains gluten. That is called cross contamination and it can make a person with celiac disease sick.
  10. Not everyone on a gluten-free diet has celiac disease. There are many reasons why people may be on a gluten-free diet.

 

Celiac Awareness Month: Glutino Products Are Certified Gluten-Free

The gluten elimination process can often take a long time and be emotionally and physically challenging. You can read my story here. One of those challenges is finding food to eat. Many patients with celiac disease adopt a whole foods diet to great results. Fruit, vegetables, and most meats are naturally gluten-free (although you still have to inquire about packaging and other manufacturing processes to ensure safety). However, not everyone is willing or able to adopt a whole foods diet and sacrifice all processed foods. Many folks rely on processed foods for snacks, just can’t bear to give up breakfast cereal, or don’t have the time and resources to make every meal and snack fresh from scratch.

In the U.S. the term “gluten-free” is currently not associated with any threshold standards. This means that there is no definition for what gluten-free means on a food label in the U.S. This can make eating processed gluten-free foods extra challenging. One thing that makes it easier is seeking out foods that are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. These foods are certified through testing to have less than 10 part per million of gluten in the final product. This provides some comfort to nervous celiac patients.

Certified_Gluten_Free_Logo

I was approached by Glutino to do a review of some of their products. I have tried Glutino products before, but I always noticed that the packaging lacked the certified gluten-free symbol, yet the website indicated that the products are tested to contain less than 10 ppm of gluten. I wondered why this was, so, I asked. This was the response I received from a Glutino representative:

Glutino products are certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.   Though not currently stated on our packaging, we are in the process of adding this certification notification to our products. While the actual certification is a relatively new development for us, our stringent testing processes did not change. As a trusted pioneer and leader in convenient gluten free living, we’ve long supported the mission of the Gluten-Free Certification Organization to improve the health and lives of those living gluten-free and are proud to be adding the certification to our products for all consumers to see.

This information made me more comfortable eating their products. While I eat a very limited and carefully curated selection of processed gluten-free products I was comfortable trying these products and I recommend them to those looking for non-whole foods options for their diets. But remember, every person with celiac disease is different, what works for some may not work for others.

Here is what I found:

Glutino Table Crackers

I like these table crackers, a lot, but you should know up front that these are not going to give you the same cracker experience as a saltine or a Ritz. These crackers are flaky like a regular cracker, but they are much thinner and are larger in size allowing you to break them off into the size you prefer. They would be great with cheese or soup, but I like mine plain.

Glutino Mini Pretzels

A dear friend who has had celiac since he was a child give me some good advice early on, he said, don’t try to replace those things that you love with gluten-free options, because you will often be disappointed. He was mostly right. Except about these pretzels. If you are looking to replace regular pretzels with a gluten-free option then here it is. These mini pretzels (they also have pretzel sticks and pretzels covered in yogurt, fudge, or chocolate) are fantastic. They have the look, feel, and crunch of a regular pretzel. However, they lighter and in my opinion taste better than regular pretzels. I was worried that I was exaggerating so I asked friends, who are not gluten-free, to try these and they agreed: these are great and not great-for-gluten-free great, but legitimately great pretzels.

Glutino Bagel Chips with Cinnamon and Sugar

These little guys are nothing short of addictive. Again, they look, feel, and crunch of bagel chips, despite the wheat flour. I cannot tell any difference between these and regular bagel chips. But the addictive part is the sugar and cinnamon – this is dessert in a box. Try it, you will enjoy it.

Glutino has a whole host of other gluten-free products from breakfast pastries, to cookies and on to flavored crackers. The company has been around for 30 years and is openly committed to serving and advocating for those who live a gluten-free lifestyle. The company understands that gluten-free living is not a fad, rather it is a medical necessity for many. In response to my question regarding advocating for the celiac community, a director at Glutino responded by staying

Today, through our stringent testing process, Glutino’s products contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten — well below the guidelines expected to be announced by the FDA. Glutino has long been advocating for gluten-free labeling standards and is looking forward to the FDA’s decision to regulate gluten-free labeling. Standardized labeling will provide a safer environment in which consumers – especially those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities – can make safe and informed decisions about their diet.

I am a tough sell and the company’s openness to questions, their thoughtful responses, and the tasty food has made me consider them as an option for my diet.

 

While I did not receive any monetary payment for this blog post it was solicited by Glutino and I was provided with free samples of Glutino products. However, I selected the products that I would review based on my individual diet and needs.