Soul Food


There are so many versions of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” which

really is a great collection of books. I felt happy when my youngest

daughter  started  reading,    “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul.”

She would have a big smile on her face, arriving at the dinner table,

taking each individual story and reading it as a daily devotional.


She would excitedly share about the impact in the story collections

of one life upon another. This, along with her two years of studying

as a confirmand, which is one getting ready in our Presbyterian

Church to be confirmed. . . all of the pieces were falling into place,

with her faith.


Here was a young girl, who at age 11, feeling pain in her joints;

already. My daughter was diagnosed at age 12 after being tested

and a surgeon wanting to cut into her knees. We chose to research

more and found out she had JRA. This is the acronym for Juvenile

Rheumatoid Arthritis. Felicia was diagnosed using blood samples,

at Children’s Hospital. She was ‘taken under the wing’ of a lovely

and giving physician named, Dr. Gloria Higgins.


If anything, Felicia could have quit playing soccer, would never

have pursued in high school, cross country and could have not

been so eager to learn in school. Her energy and her determination

earned her 10th place in the OCC for our high school in long

distance running. She enjoyed being a cadet journalist and “Girl

on the Street.” There were times I would accompany her to the

mall where she would take her microphone and ask questions

like,  “What are you buying for your significant other, Sir?” or

“What is the most popular toy in the store?” to a salesclerk or

busy manager. She would happily exclaim over the loud speaker,

the morning announcements ,


“Good morning, Hayes High School, this is Fox Oldrieve giving you

the news today.”


Let’s go back to elementary school, before she knew pain or had a

‘care in the world.’ She wrote an essay that won her third grade

class’ assignment on the subject of Martin Luther King, Jr. She did

this once more and wrote an essay that won her fourth grade class’

assignment. The amazing thing to me was she also won the whole

school’s award two years in a row. She was asked to speak in front

of Ohio Wesleyan University’s annual MLK, Jr. breakfast. My secret

wish was for her to pursue this and become a newscaster. . . She did

study dual majors at University of Dayton in Communications and

Marketing. No, she is not in journalism.


Her goal is to help others in their pain management, encouraging

them to be careful of what they eat. Healthy choices for her and

she has documented what causes negative joint reactions in her

hands (knuckles), knees and her jaw bone. The way she helps

herself to feel less pain is gluten-free, no milk products, no

sandwich meats or other salty and less natural foods. We shall

see if she finds her dream of this come to fruition. This is not

what my focus is today.


Anyway, the books got her through difficult times, challenging

circumstances. When some people, coworkers and friends, start

to complain about aging and their aches and pains, I try not to

say this thought out loud:


“My daughter was told by not only Children’s Hospital but also,

due to her being a participant in an OSU study on rheumatoid

arthritis, she had the joints of a 65 year old at age 12.”


Here are two motivating quotations, written by John Caulfield,

taken from “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II:”


~ One ~

“Her essay about the wedding ring was short. Kerr wrote,

‘Things are just things- they have no power to hurt or to heal.

Only people can do that. And we can all choose whether to be

hurt or healed by the people who love us.

That was all.

And that was everything.”


~ Two ~

“And so I wait.

I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to my feet once

again. So that I can start a new path, my own path, the one

that will make me whole again.”


Besides chicken soup what can we do to help strengthen our immune


There is always such diversity in lists given by different resources.

There are so many various food sources, also being cleverly labeled

as, “super foods.” A tag that this past ten years has labeled those

foods that give us healthy bodies and provide us rich sources of



Using some of these ingredients will help you stay healthy on

the outside, your body will hopefully battle the daily coughs

and sneezes we are all assaulted with, in elevators, in cubicles

and in the library sitting next to someone you wish you could

say, “Next time, when you feel miserable and sniffly, would

you please stay home?”

1. Ginger-

a. Soothes upset tummies.

b. Relieves muscle pains.

c. Helps your vocal chords (voice to speak)and prevents coughs.


1. Chili powder of chilis-

a. Warm your mouth and ‘innards.’

b. Clear congestion.


3. Garlic-

a. Antioxidants boost your immune system.

b. Helps heart and lowers cholesterol.


4. Mint

a. Helps with colds and fevers.

b. Mixed with smashed peas, minted peas are getting popular.

c. Sipping on mint green tea, adding another antioxidant, lemon is

a great way of combining forces.


Tasty Alternatives in Soups:

~ Homestyle chili with Mexican spice, cumin, garlic, other seasonings

and flavorings both vegetarian or meat/beef style are very good for

us. Also, nice to have a big crock pot of this, so you can pack a few

meals up and be ready for work. (White bean chili is a new favorite.)

~ Garlic soup using sweet potatoes and cauliflower, with curry and

ginger spices.

~Also, some recipes for soups are adding cinnamon, paprika and

bay leaves.

~Roasted pepper and cheddar cheese soup includes cilantro, basil,

garlic and cumin.


One last ‘brag’ about my youngest daughter who handles her pain

and sometimes ‘suffering’ in silence and shows grace. I entered her

in her junior year of high school in a contest by the Columbus Dispatch,

“Who Is Your Hero?” She ‘won’ along with two others, in a three way

tie, the newspaper took a picture of the two of us, we won two tickets

to see Dustin Hoffman in “Hero,” first run movie and it was nice to

receive copies of the first page of the Arts and Entertainment

section from so many people in Ohio.

I mentioned something like this:

“At the end of the day, there are teenagers who would use any excuse

to get out of sports or work, but my daughter has a part-time job, is

involved with extracurricular activities and doesn’t complain. There

are many people around her daily who have ‘no clue’ of what she goes

through. It is nice when we are relaxing to sit downstairs while we

have a fire in the fireplace. But as she gets up, she winces. That pained

face moves me. When her stepdad offers to help her up the stairs, she

takes him up on the kind offer. You know that is when it really hurts

to know what she hides most of the time.”


What challenges do you overcome daily?

(Spiritual, emotional, seasonal, physical, mental or other?)





38 responses »

  1. Robin, I know how your heart must ache to see your daughter in pain. And how it must swell with pride at how gracefully she handles it. She sounds like a truly amazing young woman who refuses to let pain or difficulty get in her way of leading a rich and fulfilling life. Thank you so much for telling us a bit of her story.

    • Thank you, Barb, for such a beautiful comment. I have briefly mentioned this in other places, sometimes in comments, but really had not focused on it totally in one post. I felt compelled to do this, hoping to someday tell you to check out her “Better Blends” business and hopefully finding success in her life. She will always be a ‘success’ in the family’s eyes, but wish her to be financially secure and independent.

  2. “The way she helps herself to feel less pain is gluten-free, no milk products, no sandwich meats or other salty and less natural foods.” Yes. This has worked well for me at sixty-one. Human bodies are designed to take nourishment as directly from the earth as a tree must. Funny enough, we eat ginger, garlic and chiles grown right from the ground in our backyard if not daily, almost. And I can ask almost anything of this body, heir to arthritis and heart problems and gout and what-all from my parents, and nothing shows up but radiant health and yes, a healthy respect for the limits of aging. Smart girl, yours 😉

    • I loved this comment, your validation of Felicia’s choices, too. Bela, you don’t look your age, nor do you act it! ha ha! I love how you are ‘heir’ to these things, but show no signs of them nor are you afraid of them, since you have chosen a healthy lifestyle. I also wish I could just get from my back yard, (I do have little pots of herbs) the ginger, garlic and chiles, you mentioned. You know what, Bela? Just a side note, when I write ‘chiles’ the silly spell check refused it. I think I will have to go back and use your way of spelling it! Smiles!

      • Robin, thanks so much for your kind words. And yes, chiles I guess is the traditional way of spelling. Though we live in such times. I’m sure there’s an acronym for them that I am clueless about! 😉

  3. Good luck to your daughter. I have much sympathy for her pain and am impressed with her perseverance. Maybe she even spells perseverance correctly without needing to google the spelling 🙂

    • I am laughing, since she used to be a rather good speller but sometimes is using spell check, often! I like the label you gave her and appreciate this compliment to Felicia. You know you would fit right in with the girls in my family, ha ha! (I still smile when I think of you asking, “Mom?” on that first comment a month or so ago, Margaret!) Hugs, Robin

      • Micah gives your mother comic relief, that is nice to know. Pets are always charming and can also be amazing companions, too. Micah is my little shadow, we are going to see the movie, “Strange Magic,” after his mother gets off work today.

  4. It is at this young age your daughter suffers from joints pain. So brave of her to take it so positively & gracefully. I really feel concerned about you both. The pained faced of a child would certainly move parents. I am happy that you both enjoy sitting downstairs near fireplace. I will pray for her sound health 🙂

    • It has been awhile since she and I moved into my one bedroom apartment and had twin beds, she was in college when we lost our house, etc. I have been on my own for 6 years, but 8 years single… her stepdad chose to sit for almost 3 years while I pursued a Master’s degree, worked as a teacher and a server at a restaurant. The career and the degree had to be met by 2008, I still had a professional license up until 2013, in a different area of teaching. Just to keep you informed, the blog is one which sometimes doesn’t dwell on the past, my present job has been since 2008 while I have applied for over 360 teaching jobs in Central Ohio. (Also, assistant and tutoring positions.) I am blessed with family and the house is fine, just not mine! (Left my husband in 2006).

      • You have really struggled hard to make things work for you and your family. I really admire your dedication towards your work. May you always get what you aspire for 🙂

      • Thank you, Rashmi. I did not mean to go too much into depth, but did wish to share we don’t have a fireplace but we all have each other. That is a big blessing, in and of itself. Love and family are enough, the money and profession is far behind this in meaning and depth in my life. Smiles and hugs, Robin

    • Thank you, Jill, for thoughts and prayers. She is an achiever and will find a way, plus she has been able to put the joints into perspective. She tells me that to stop moving is worse for them than to just keep moving forward…I appreciate the fact we may see one of your own stories in the Chicken Soup books. Keep us posted!

    • Thank you, Anneli. What saddened me so much was when we first went to children’s hospital, she was one of the youngest there. When they asked her to head over to Columbus Arthritis Center, it was due to large volumes of even younger children. Felicia was 21, so she thought this was fine to be sent to another place, but the little ones were under 10 years old! Thank you for reading and keep those others, little ones in your mind and prayers.
      RA is a challenge, since many of the medications have severe side effects that damage one’s organs.

  5. i love the wedding ring quote so much and i love soups and natural cures the best. i’ve been working really hard to eat healthy since i’ve been back to school and it’s really paid off, i feel so much better in many ways )

    • I am so glad you are choosing healthy foods and choices, since you have found them to make you feel better, too. I am so glad you enjoyed the quote, Beth! Thanks for these kind thoughts!

  6. I just want to revel and celebrate in what your daughter has accomplished and continues to celebrate in life Robin. Good on her! 🙂 I think I read every Chicken Soup book there was until just the recent years. I have since given all of mine away for others to enjoy and be uplifted by.

    • I am glad you are seeing the positive in this post, that is the direction I wished to head with my friends and readers, Colleen! I am also grateful for your generosity in giving your special books to others to get uplifted with and enjoy! That’s the spirit my youngest daughter uses daily!! Woohoo!

  7. I can emphasize with you Robin, the worries that accompany having a child with a chronic disease. My son (who is doing well now) was addicted to drugs, but I always held the belief that he would get through it! You must be very proud of your daughter for the grace she shows in dealing with this disease! Thanks for sharing this part of your life.

    • Thank you, Sherry, for your sharing about your son. I am so glad, as you are, that he was able to overcome and I am sure it is part of his growing process. I have had one child and one sibling go through this and it is truly a blessing when you don’t have to worry anymore. I feel grateful for my daughter’s ‘spirit’ which you have, even in your blog name! Hugs, Robin

      • Your comment resonates with me, so much. There are many times people around me may have made ‘assumptions,’ since like you, we smile and keep on going. Glad to have shared this back and forth comments, one day we will have our paths cross, since you are often in the same areas I travel to, Sherry! Meanwhile, hugs sent your way from me!

  8. impressive and emotional, Robin… I’m a mama of 2 “old babies” in perfect health, so wish you my very best and good luck! stay positive and optimistic to cheer up your daughter’s spirit! 🙂 respectful regards & friendly thoughts, Mélanie

    • Our children are always on our minds, one way or another, Melanie! Thanks for your precious words you shared here, since you are so encouraging in your words. Hugs, Robin

  9. This is a lovely post about the pain that Felicia battled, hid, beat, and had to go about the same fight again the next day, Robin. Wow. What a kid then and person now to make it her life’s work to make other people face the challenges better prepared than she did. Bless her for this courage and you for your pride.

    • Thanks, Mark. I appreciate this so much, seeing all the positives and helping to keep me from worrying. She is on a good path, having her Health Coaching license, a blending business in its ground floor level ‘roots,’ and hope you will be part of her future. Since we are friends, you and I will always be in touch. I am glad to hear about Elizabeth, too. Hope she continues to have a wonderful path and life. Our children are just about ‘everything,’ aren’t they? (Of course, Karen and Ellie B. are way up there, too! ha ha!)

  10. I think seeing our children in pain is one of the most frustrating things for parents because we would gladly take their suffering on ourselves to spare them. My first daughter fought through an eating disorder and my second daughter had childhood asthma. They have both grown healthy and productive, and I hope you find the same is true for your wonderful daughter. Your pride in her accomplishments shines through in your story, and rightfully so! – Mike

    • Thank you for sharing about your two daughters’ struggles. Both could have been lifelong problems and this is what I am so thankful for their overcoming them. I have heard and read that both are very challenging.These troubles are definitely overwhelming while we are going through them, losing sleep and energy worrying. I try to put my children and grandchildren’s lives in God’s hands, remembering He doesn’t wish us to worry. This helps a lot when I find myself focusing on the harder moments in their lives. There is so much more to be happy and feel blessed for. Thank you for mentioning my ‘pride’ and am so glad you could see I meant this in the best of ways, not appearing to ‘brag!’ Smiles, Robin

  11. My immune system is whack-a-doodle, so I know all about what foods tend to inflame it (thus what foods to avoid). I also know that stress of any kind can throw your immune system into a perpetual over-drive state. You’d be surprised at the number of common foods people are sensitive to or are allergic to, thus causing the immune system to constantly be fighting flare-ups when they are consumed (soy, corn, peanuts, gluten, processed white sugar, and dairy–to name the biggies).
    Finding ways to effectively stay relaxed is crucial to a healthy immune system. I also found this amazing herb–Rhodiolia Rosea–that has helped keep me calm and less flustered about everyday stressors. It’s a miracle as far as I’m concerned–and no side-effects.

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