Janine’s Hospitality

When Janine was in her 20’s, she developed a low-impact philosophy of living. She doesn’t own a car and strives to live in a way that encourages financial independence, walking, public transportation, and simple living. Living this way has its hardships and her paper towel addiction highlights that she doesn’t always live up to her ideals, but she mostly sticks to this path. No matter what, Janine tries to find joy and happiness.

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When she bought her house with her husband several years ago, they bought a true fixer-upper. It was basically a shell when they bought it and have slowly worked to renovate and improve. It is still slightly more unrenovated than renovated and is not on the nicest of streets by most people’s standards but it is a house they love and a place to call home.

 

Janine values hospitality. In fact, on the day they moved into their house, they hosted her husband’s cousin and a friend who were traveling for an acrobatics workshop. They had barely gotten the keys to the house and they were already having people over and sharing a meal together. To this day, that has not stopped. They regularly host strangers overnight who are in town for conferences or work. Her house is not perfect or done by any standard, but she overcomes the society placed embarrassment to share joy and gratitude with others.

 

That doesn’t mean Janine is done. Her house is about half way to respectable and they continue to work on it often. She’s busily raising 3 children, teaching them to be more independent, and fill them with her values–the idea of a slower lifestyle with less stress. They live on a single family income and sometimes she wonders if they are making the right decisions. She looks at the flip side of the coin and wonders if they would have more luxuries or if the income would just go to the necessities of that lifestyle.

 

“I feel like it’s easier as I get older to feel comfortable with my choices and to feel good about them, without constantly checking on what we are missing out on in the alternatives.”

 

Recently Janine faced a challenge that shook her to her core. She has developed multipe life-threatening food allergies. She managed them well for about five years but this past fall, out of the blue and with no warning, she went into anaphylatic shock after consuming something that contained almonds. For those of us with food issues, we are well aware that cross-contamination and trace amounts of something can be devestaing. For Janine, it can be deadly. With her other two allergies, they were easy to avoid if she read lables and cooked mostly at home. Not so with nuts.

 

Trace amounts of nuts can be hiding virtually everywhere.

 

Since nut allergies are more deadly and restritive than her other food alleregies, suddenly a lot of things they’d enjoyed as a family changed. She had to train her children to use an epi-pen in case they had to save their mom’s life some day. That is a lot of weight to put on a 7 year old. Dinners out became out of the question as the most allergy-friendly places couldn’t guarantee 0 cross-contamination with nuts. Even her house became toxic.

 

She had been using lotion that contained almond oil before her reaction and almond flour to cook and bake with. She had to throw out all the food in her kitchen and start anew. Literally every surface in her house could potentially contain almond. All her clothes had to be re-washed because suddenly she was reacting the pine nut in the laundry soap.  Since Janine broke out in a rash if she touched something that had almond on it, everything was in question

 

Her husband and her mom surrounded her with love. They took on the task of washing down every wall and floor in the house without complaint. It was an exhausting job as they were cleaning what they could not see, all so Janine could feel safe again.

 

Janine felt raw, exposed and paranoid. She refused to tell people and hid it from friends. She retreated from her hospitality and socialization. She worried about her professional life because most of her jobs involved socializing over food. Could she ever return to the professional world and work again? But Janine didn’t stay there.

 

“I could either figure out how to live with it or be a hermit.”

 

Embracing honesty didn’t come easy. It was a hard road to walk but Janine reopened her door to hospitality. She reached out to those she had alienated when she shut down. She made having people over to her house for meals a renewed priority. She reconnected with her social networks and slowly she began to feel comfortable in her skin again.

Janine Squirrel hunt

Their first squirrel

 

She also reconnected to her passion of low-impact living. She took her food challenges and spun them into a new passion. She learned to hunt for her own food. It gave her great pleasure to be out in the woods trying to bring home her own meal. It also gave her something greater….

 

“Reaching out to hunting and refusing to be afraid of being alone in the woods – safety is a real concern given the severity of my allergies – really gave me my joy back. A couple months after that initial reaction, I did some solo hunts for deer over winter break.

“I was not lucky enough to put a deer in the freezer but I got something much more important. That was when I think I really embraced joy again and got over the fear, especially of being alone. I don’t take reckless chances with my allergies, but I refuse to let them stop me from living, either.”

 

Janine has found contentment and her green grass through offering hospitality and sharing with others. She doesn’t have much, by nearly any American first-world standard, but she has enough. Her food allergies threatened to take that away, but instead she took her time to wallow and quickly recovered, embracing joy instead.

I asked Janine if she were to go back to the beginning, would she still do things the same. She addressed her children’s future and that they have no expectations to be able to afford college unless there are some serious scholarship opportunities.

“But I feel sure it will be fine and we and they will just work with what we have. Part of being happy is anticipating what kind of mental tools you will need to carry you through the rough patches.

“I will wallow but recover quickly! I am by nature a wallower and a pessimist, but I have learned to resist that tendency from my husband. He never worries about such things and has made it his campaign to convince me to take a similar approach. He’s right and I have made a lot of progress towards just letting go and not worrying about that “greener grass”.”

 

I’m sure Janine will face challenges in the future but I have no doubt that after a bit of wallowing, she’ll recover quickly and surround herself with her network of family and friends. Reaching out to strangers and offering them the hospitality that fills her with joy. Who knows, maybe she’ll be serving venison.

 

Thank you, Janine for allowing me to share your story with others.

 

~Crystal

 

 

I’m always looking for people who live in Green Grass–being content with life, no matter the circumstances. Janine finds her green grass by providing hospitality and sharing herself with others. If you know of someone who deserves a Green Grass Award,  let me know using the contact form under the Green Grass Awards tab or by clicking here.

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