How I Found Out I Have a Gluten Allergy

How I Found Out I Have a Gluten Allergy

How I found out I have a gluten allergy was quite by accident. I never dreamed that I was allergic to anything, least of all bread or wheat. When I was little, my mother stayed home while my dad went off to work, and she cooked and she baked. Boy, how she baked: Vienna tortes, chocolate chip cookies, applesauce cake, chocolate eclairs, and, last but not least, homemade bread! I’ve grown up loving the smell of the yeast dissolving in water, the dough rising, and the warm comforting aroma of the bread just hot from the oven. Let’s face it, I was hooked. I LOVED bread, long before I had ever heard that there was such a thing as a gluten allergy.

Throughout my life, though, I’d had issues. Nothing too out of the ordinary—a little sluggishness, bouts of constipation—until I reached middle age, when my magic charm ran out and I gained a lot of weight. For my milestone birthday, I planned a big party to celebrate going “over the hill.” Six months before, I had started the “Atkins” diet to get rid of those extra pounds once and for all. I did so well on that diet (I did love bacon and cheese!), that I went from a size 14 to a size 6 in six months. You can find out more about the Atkins diet here.

Never did I exclude vegetables from my eating regimen—the only changes I made to were to eliminate breads, potatoes, and sugar from my life. The diet worked so great that I stuck to it more or less religiously for five years. I maintained a good weight and stayed around a size 7 or 8 during that time. At the end of five years, the Atkins diet worked so well, I thought I could go back and eat foods I had previously denied myself, like bread.

Looking back now, I realize that the symptoms of gluten allergy coincided with me going off the Atkins diet. I was no longer able to go hiking anywhere without easy access to a restroom because I would have urgent diarrhea. I had to stay close to home a lot because I needed the bathroom every half hour.

It was no fun to live like this! Finally, I made an appointment to get a colonoscopy because I feared the worst—colon cancer. The specialist assured me that I did not have cancer and that everything looked ok, except for what he called “micro-bleeds” of the intestine. He couldn’t tell me what caused these bleeds but assured me that I didn’t have cancer or polyps.He also said it wasn’t irritable bowel disease (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease, either. He told me to come for a checkup in five years! 

Mysterious Ailment
© Edisaacs | Dreamstime Stock Photos

With all this tummy trouble, I lost a quick ten pounds from losing all that fluid and, soon after that, bounced back up an extra 15 pounds that I just couldn’t get rid of. The diarrhea eventually stabilized but the weight did not come off. I never got up to a size 14 again but did feel bloated and gassy all the time—my stomach at times would look like I was 6 months pregnant.

A Mysterious Ailment: How My Nephew Helped Me Discover I Had A Gluten Allergy

Meanwhile, I found out that my nephew had been consulting a number of doctors trying to get answers for a mysterious ailment that he had had since his mid-30s, or for about 10 years. He was always not feeling well and when I saw him during one visit back home, he looked really sick. I was really scared for my nephew. It was heartbreaking to think that something could happen to him.

One day my sister old me that a doctor had finally figured out what was wrong with my nephew. He had celiac disease! I really had no idea what that was—I thought it was the same as Crohn’s disease, which I knew was something bad. However, the only thing that he had to do to live a normal life again was to avoid anything with wheat in it. didn’t know a wheat allergy could make someone so sick but when he quit eating wheat, he came back to normal health and looked better than he had in years!

When I talked to my nephew about his experience with celiac, he explained to me that he was allergic to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat. He could never have it in his diet again, but he said it was pretty easy to avoid gluten foods and still eat well. When I asked him what symptoms had brought him to the doctor, it sounded a lot like my experience: he said that he had had uncontrollable diarrhea and bloating. In fact, he said once he avoided foods with gluten, he lost 20 pounds right away and the digestive troubles associated with gluten allergy and gluten intolerance just stopped.

Gluten is in a Lot of Foods! A Partial List 

Thanks to that chance conversation with my nephew about his wheat gluten allergy symptoms, I decided to try to stop eating wheat, too. It hasn’t always been easy to know how to avoid foods with gluten, because wheat is not just in whole-wheat bread, it’s in nearly everything on your grocery shelves. (You can even find wheat in soy sauce, and I don’t just don’t get that at all!)

Here’s a partial list of foods with gluten in them:    

Gluten in beer
© Scantynebula | Dreamstime Stock Photos
  • Most flours (white or wheat)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Soy sauce (tamari is OK)
  • Alcoholic drinks except for wine
  • Barley
  • Beer
  • Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
  • Farina
  • Barley
  • Grain vinegar (apple cider vinegar is OK)
  • Grain alcohol
  • Durum
  • Couscous
  • Graham crackers
  • Kamut
  • Modified food starch
  • Olestra
  • Packaged puddings
  • Semolina
  • Orzo
  • Flour tortillas
  • Cream of wheat cereal
  • Croutons
  • Most cornbreads (mixed with regular flour)
  • Bran
    NOTE: This is not a complete list.

How Do I Know if I Have Gluten Allergy?

If you are concerned that you may have gluten allergy, you can ask your doctor to order antibody (usually IgG and IgA) tests. Be aware though that unless you are actively consuming wheat or gluten, these tests can turn up negative.

In my opinion, your body will tell you whether or not you have gluten allergy, so I prefer to do my own challenge testing. Watch how your body responds when you stop eating certain foods for a week or so and then try and eat them again. You may notice that your tummy puffs up or you feel gassy and uncomfortable. Oftentimes, the effect will be immediate.

The reason for the puffiness or bloating is that gluten (if you are sensitive to it) erodes the lining of the intestine and can lead to “leaky gut,” where the impurities in the intestine leak out to the surrounding tissues and cause inflammation. Based on my reading, I think that much of what we call obesity is just inflammation of the tissues as a response to attack on the immune system by an offending substance in the intestines, like gluten.

Dr. Mark Hyman’s Warning About Gluten and Gluten Allergy

Here are some links if you want to learn more about gluten allergy and celiac disease.

Screening for Celiac Disease
Celiac Disease Symptoms

Why is Bread So Bad? What I Didn’t Know About Modern Wheat

Though I’ve been interested in natural health and healthy eating for many years now, I’ve only recently read “Wheat Belly” by cardiologist, Dr. William Davis. Dr. Davis explains exactly how modern wheat is different from what most of us knew growing up. Although wheat is one of the grains that are affected by genetic modification (along with corn and soybeans), the changes in its basic structure started long before GMOs became news. Using specialized breeding, or hybridization, scientists began a widespread experiment in how to better feed the growing population of Planet Earth. In approximately 1985, a hybridized form of wheat, a “supergrain” was developed that could potentially solve world hunger. The hybridized form of wheat had a larger seed head and shorter stalks, making it faster to grow and easier to harvest; in addition, it packed a lot more carbohydrate into the edible portion so that in places like Africa and India, where harvests were meager, what little bit of grain farmers grew would yield more nutrition.

Sounds like the perfect solution, right? However, what happens when that carbohydrate-packed grain ends up in the diet of developed nations like the United States? With a sudden increase in the carbohydrate content of wheat, then it’s no wonder that obesity rates have skyrocketed in the last three decades, and younger and younger people are struggling with weight issues. Childhood obesity rates in the United States are at record highs.

Check out Dr. Davis’ book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health to read this fascinating story of modern wheat, and all the serious health problems that have developed because of our addiction to foods that contain wheat.

What Does This Have to Do with Gluten?

In addition to more carbohydrates in the edible portion of the wheat stalk, the gluten content has skyrocketed. Gluten makes baked products lighter, fluffier, and helps the dough stick together so it can be made into bagels, bread, and muffins that have the desired consistency and appearance that we are used to. Gluten does much more than that, however. As Dr. Davis mentions in his book, gluten is one of the only food substances that can make the intestine permeable, meaning it allows the contents to leak out, spilling into places they don’t belong like the abdomen and causing toxic reactions and immune responses, like cramping and bloating. As if that weren’t nasty enough, gluten gets carried along in the bloodstream and can pass through the blood-brain barrier into your brain, affecting mental clarity (“brain fog”), making you sleepy, irritable, and even depressed.

I won’t even attempt to address the question of whether our digestive tracts are meant to handle grains (i.e., grasses) at all. (That’s something for a future blog!) However, I believe we would do well to try and avoid wheat in all forms, stay away from genetically modified foods whenever possible, and to try to eat food that comes from local and known sources. There are a number of products you can find that will substitute for mainstream flour and wheat products and I’ve tried some of them.

I have listed some resources below if you suspect you have a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance. Take charge of your own health and do the research to avoid gluten allergy and other health issues stemming from overindulgence in carbohydrates, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Doctor Says Genetically Modified Wheat a “Perfect, Chronic Poison”
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Gluten-free by Tradition: What Is Gliadin?

Recommended Reading

Bob’s Red Mill GF Homemade Wonderful Bread Flour “Never Fails!”

Bob’s Red Mill has been making products for gluten-sensitive and people with celiac disease for over 30 years. I love buying these products, but the best and easiest by far is Bob’s Red Mill Bread Flour. I have baked bread twice now and got exactly the same result: perfectly browned, with a hard shell crust rising up out of the baking pan. And the taste is heavenly! I don’t even miss “real” bread any more!

The bottom line: it’s called “Wonderful” for a reason!

What is a Bad Relationship?

What is a Bad Relationship?

What is a Bad Relationship? How Do You Know When to Break Up?

 It’s not always easy to recognize what is a bad relationship once you’re in one. A lot of the time, everybody else seems as though they can see it, but why can’t you? Here are a few signs to know when it might be time to break up–or at least rethink why you’re with the person you’re with.

1. MOST IMPORTANT! You’re Being Abused, Physically or Mentally, (or Financially) There is no excuse to stay in an abusive relationship. If you are afraid your partner may abuse you, or you have already experienced abuse by your partner, please get help NOW!

Here are some resources that may help.
Safe Horizons (for Women)
Domestic Abuse Hotline for Men and Women

2. You can’t stand the sight of each other, but you can’t let go. Misery may love company, but it is fair to keep each other trapped from a happy life? Weirdly enough, unhappy couples can even stay together out of spite and to keep the other from finding happiness. You might see this after infidelity and to punish the guilty party. Another huge influence is religion, family pressure, or being from a culture that frowns on divorce. This is a difficult consideration, and it’s a matter of personal conscience whether or not to leave.

3. You (or your partner) are constantly finding fault. There is no such thing as constructive criticism. If you are criticizing or being criticized, there is nothing constructive; you are not building up your partner or they you. A good relationship is built on kindness and mutual respect.

4. You can’t ever be yourself. Walking on eggshells so as not to upset your partner. This is no way to live your life, and leads to having to change yourself when you’re around that person. (Which leads to the next point.)

5. You have forgotten who you are. Submerging your true persona to keep the peace.

6. You feel you are substituting for a parent (or a therapist) most of the time. It’s not your job to change your partner, or they you. Often, we choose our partner subconsciously to help heal wounds from the past (more on that below).

7. You’re not your best you. When a partner brings out the worst in you, and knows which buttons to push, you don’t have to react. However, in these instances, it’s hard not to! Remember you are only responsible for your own feelings and response—it’s helpful to literally count to three before you react and say or do things you will regret.

8. You don’t remember what you ever liked about your partner. When there has been “too much water under the bridge” and too many hard feelings, it makes it difficult to remember that you once loved this person. It may be too late to recapture that love. Only you can decide whether that is the case.

9. You have lost your voice (or never had it). When you always have to give in to a strong personality. You may not have an option of speaking your truth with your partner. If they are not open to hearing what you have to say, or become upset or violent, it’s best to leave.

10. You’re just not happy and can’t say why. This is when you need to listen to your intuition! Sometimes that’s enough to help you make your decision.

 Points to Ponder

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • The “Stockholm syndrome.” Becoming resigned to and justifying staying in a bad relationship or situation just because it’s familiar and comfortable. I’ve thought a good bit about this phenomenon, and have written about it here: What is Stockholm Syndrome?
  • I don’t deserve the best relationship: “I’m not worth more than this.” This could be an indication of some long-term issues with self-esteem. I encourage you to find a therapist who can help you explore and understand these issues. You will be more likely to seek out healthy relationships if you feel happy and confident about yourself.
  • Forgiving yourself for your past. Remember that we all make mistakes and it’s not helpful to beat yourself up for them. Don’t let your partner guilt-trip you for it.
  • Knowing what and what not to tell your partner. They’re not your therapist—you’re allowed to keep some things to yourself and not feel guilty for it. Nothing good can come of discussing old boyfriends/girlfriends or other private matters from the past. If it doesn’t benefit the current relationship, keep it quiet.
  • Forgetting what happiness is and feeling you don’t deserve it anyway. Again, this touches on the issue of poor self-esteem and our reasons for being afraid to leave a bad relationship.
  • Having no pattern for a happy relationship—repeating learned behaviors. Many times, the only relationship role model we had was that of our parents, and it’s easy to bring those same behaviors into our current relationship. It helps to be aware if this is the case. For instance, you might find yourself craving drama and excitement in your relationship so you “start something” just to get that adrenalin pumping—is this because you always saw a lot of strife and fighting in the family when you were growing up? Remember: just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s good!
  • Losing your voice: stuffing down emotions and forgetting where you put them. This is easy to do if you haven’t taken the time to know who you really are apart from your partner. I encourage you to learn to listen to your “truth,” meaning that you start paying attention to how you really feel as you go through your day. For example, do you notice a “yucky” feeling in the pit of your stomach or tightness in your chest when your partner acts or speaks to you in a certain way? This is an important indicator of what your true feelings are. Remember though: you don’t need to REACT right away to every emotion you have.
  • What does attraction mean to you? Do you really know what you want in a partner? Attraction and chemistry are real, but have you ever thought about why you are attracted to the same kind of partner over and over again? For example, do you always choose the bad boy or the stray? It may have a lot to do with your self-image, e.g., do you see yourself as not worthy of a nice guy (or girl), or do you see yourself as a “fixer”? These are important to be aware of when choosing a partner; otherwise, you’ll continue to repeat bad relationship patterns the next time around.
  • Feeling you’ll never measure up: making decisions due to poor self-esteem or old unhealed wounds. Often, I’ve noticed that we choose a partner based on childhood issues of self-esteem and/or conflict with one or both of our parents. Are you continually choosing a partner like your father or mother? If so, it helps to know it in order to realize that you will never resolve those past issues with your current partner, and it’s not fair to them, either. I recently read an article in which the author theorized that we choose a mate similar to the parent we’ve been in conflict with–hoping to heal those old wounds. Unfortunately, most couples do not know this is why they are attracted to a certain type of person, and blame their mate for being just like their parent!
  • When you can’t ever be yourself: conforming to others’ expectations. It’s difficult to have a happy relationship if you can’t be yourself—sometimes it’s necessary to step away from any relationship and get the help you need before embarking on another romantic entanglement.
  • You don’t know how to set boundaries: it’s ok to say NO! Many of us are taught that it is selfish to say no to others. This could be a case of co-dependency and putting up with bad behaviors. Believe me, it is very freeing to decide what you will and WILL NOT tolerate in a relationship.
  • What about cheating? Zero-tolerance or tolerated? What constitutes cheating? I personally have a no-cheating policy when it comes to relationships. Many of us have been misled into believing that everybody does it and they just have to put up with cheating because they’re afraid they’ll never meet someone else if they leave. Believe me, it’s not true! This goes back to setting boundaries and feeling that you deserve the best for yourself. If a partner values you enough (and has been raised with good standards of how to treat a partner), they will stay loyal to you. Loyalty to me means no cheating (either physically or emotionally) with ANYONE outside the relationship. A good relationship requires nurturing, and that can’t happen if you (or your partner) uses someone else as an emotional outlet.
  • Codependent behavior: dealing with an addict or abuser. This is a very important subject unto itself, and there is a lot of good reference material out there. My favorite book on codependency is “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie.

 Can This Relationship Be Saved?

Failure to Communicate

It’s not always a bad relationship that you’re dealing with—sometimes couples have a relationship that is all right, but it could be better. Remember that two people trying to blend their lives together isn’t an easy thing, especially if you have different expectations for what constitutes a good relationship, so the two of you might have to sit down and figure out what will make things work better between you.

Now, if you didn’t have a stellar role model for a relationship (like most of us didn’t growing up), you will most likely have to become educated about what a good relationship is, and how to know which issues are minor and not really deal-killers. One of these issues that you can learn to overcome is your communication style and how you expect to be shown love by your partner.

For instance, some time ago, a friend gave me the book, “The Five Love Languages,” to read. From reading that book, I finally understood that not everybody speaks the same love language. For example, a woman may define feeling loved as having her mate buy her nice and expensive gifts, and if her partner enjoys showing love by showering her with gifts, then they are on the same wavelength and understand each other.

On the other hand, what if she feels that LOVE means spending time together and talking about feelings, but he thinks talking about feelings is a waste of time and instead considers that by him going to work and earning a good salary to support his wife and kids, THAT alone is showing love. Many times, if we don’t speak the same “language” or understand our partner’s way of showing and expecting love, it leads to resentment, anger, and accusations that “you DON’T CARE about me!” or “you DON’T UNDERSTAND me!”

Nobody is really at fault here; it’s just that neither person has ever learned that there are many different ways of expressing love and it’s not just the way you see it in the movies!

How much easier it would be if there was a handbook to make sense of all of this confusion. Well, there is. I do highly recommend “The Five Love Languages,” because it’s a good read and easy to understand, and will encourage those couples who are dealing with a “failure to communicate” about the different ways they expect their partner to show love for them.


Recommended Reading:

Codependent No MoreCheck PriceThe Emotionally Abusive RelationshipCheck PriceSecrets to Tell, Secrets to KeepCheck PriceThe Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive RelationshipsCheck PriceHealing Your AlonenessCheck PriceThe 5 Love LanguagesCheck Price

During my divorce and subsequent years in the single and dating world, I have read an extensive amount of books and articles about dating and relationships, and encountered a host of amazing people on the same journey. Carolina Robin, for instance, has been one of my role models. I would like to thank Carolina Robin for her support and encouragement during some very confusing times. Read my breakup story here

You can check out Carolina Robin’s articles on dating and relationships. She is also the founder of a successful work-from-home blogging business called Pajama Affiliates.

 Relationship Advice

These are some of the resources that may help you in coming to terms with the end of a relationship and searching for a new, happier one.

Should You Stay or Go?: Deciding the best course in your relationship
Wise Advice for Women from “The Man Whisperer”



70s Clothing Styles for Women

70s Clothing Styles for Women


Was the 70s the Decade That Fashion Forgot?

When you look back at 70s clothing styles for women, you might say the 1970s was “The Decade That Fashion Forgot.” People typically think of disco, Farrah Fawcett hair, and red leisure suits with white belts. If you dig deeper, you might see that this is a little unfair: when it comes to clothing styles for women, I don’t think any decade has more variation than the 1970s. 1970s fashion had its low points to be sure, there were hot pants and platform go-go boots, but also there were some very robust fashion influences ranging from Afghanistan to Newport, Rhode Island. In this page, I want to share some of my very favorite fashions of the 1970s.

The photos in this article are from the author’s personal Vogue magazine collection, unless otherwise stated. Credit belongs to the original photographer(s).

A Time of Rich Color and Luxury Fabrics: Classic Style

1970s fashion for women my life banquet
Raquel Zimmerman, Vogue, August 2010. Designers: Inez & Vinoodh

In this photo, Vogue model Raquel Zimmerman wears a classic autumn ensemble of fur cape, cinnamon suede midi skirt, and leather boots. Though from the August 2010 issue of Vogue, this look is a perfect illustration of the 1970s fall fashion for women that I remember.

My favorite season is autumn—I clearly recall the sound of dried leaves crunching underfoot when I walked across the lush green lawns of Northern California. In the early 1970s, mid-calf length wool skirts and tall boots with block heels were in vogue, literally: perusing the issues of 1970 Vogue magazine brings back memories of heavy, quality materials featured everywhere. Tweed culottes over patterned knee sox, buckled leather brogues, ribbed heavy cotton turtlenecks in eggplant and gold, and red tartan wraparound skirts fastened with a pin, leather chocolate-color maxi-coats with oversized fur collars—all of these marked the first years of the decade for me.

I still recall a beloved forest green midi dress that my mother made from a pattern, and which I wore with cordovan leather knee boots and a wide corset-like leather belt with fringe laces. When I outgrew it, out it went—sad, but I had to make room for reinventing myself!


70s Clothes for Working Women

70s Clothing for Women Classic Styles for Women

More than ever before, women were present in the workforce in the 1970s. We were stylish and yet comfortable, whether at work or at play. The expectation for women in the 1970s as opposed to their mothers was they no longer stayed home but contributed equally to the household income. As for me, off I went to the corporate world: working in the Financial District of San Francisco in the 70s, I had easy access to nearby clothing boutiques, was single and made good money, so finding the latest fashion was not an issue. I wore my favorite wood and leather wedge platform shoes with pale green high-waisted tweed tailored bell bottom cuffed pants. With these, I paired either a skinny turtleneck or blouse with a Kenzo Takada-inspired tiny red cotton plaid bomber jacket. The wide elastic waistband of the jacket reached just to the waist, which worked perfectly with the high tailored pants popular in that era.

This is a favorite photo from that time, wide bell-bottomed blue jeans and the plaid bomber jacket, in my MGB-GT.

my life banquet styles of the 70s


Toward the end of the decade, I was looking for a more casual and comfortable silhouette, and I discovered the designer, Alvin Duskin: all cotton, flowing separates, with flared loose pants and a long tank overdress that fell to the knees, worn with a midi-length knit sweater. My favorite outfit was a dusty gold knee-length tank dress with an eggplant purple turtleneck. The long cotton sleeveless “sweater” that I layered over this was a dusty teal color. I also had an Alvin Duskin knit dark teal sweater set as shown below with a matching mini-skirt (pictured). How I’d love to have those cool 70s fashions today!


Classic 70s Style on Amazon

 Fashion in the ’70s: The Definitive Sourcebook Fifty Fashion Looks that Changed the 1970’s

When Disco was Queen: Club Fashion, fashions of the 1970s
Girl in gold lamé, Vogue

Even though this is probably everyone’s least favorite 1970s fashion trend, disco style didn’t skip over me-I admit it! Though I never owned a polyester jumpsuit (honestly!), I did own a pair of brown hot pants that I wore with nylons and either some snug-fitting faux ostrich knee boots or blocky, heavy strapped leather sandals. I had the purple suede fringed vest too, but I paired that with a lavender polyester tailored long-sleeved blouse and purple corduroy slightly tapered bell bottoms. Purple with a fringe was the bomb! To top it off, I had either a tight perm or a shag hairdo at the time, along with a pair of very cool aviator shades!

I arrived at a Sly Stone concert one time in a silver-black metallic long-sleeved tunic with matching metallic sparkly pants by Alvin Duskin. Sly Stone never showed up to perform, but I was “stylin'” at least I thought so! 😉


Vintage Boho 70s Clothing for Women

 Boho Embroidered Boots Hippie, Size 7 Vintage Rose Chiffon Betsey Johnson Dress Boho Chic Plus-size Green Paisley Peasant Dress

Bohemian Chic: Nature Girl

fashions of the 1970s,
Lauren Hutton, Vogue

The tail-end of the hippie era as shown in the pages of Vogue reflect on a bohemian chic fashion aesthetic embodied in this photo of model Lauren Hutton. The remnant of the flower children appeared as fresh-faced nature girls with wavy hair wearing ethnic-inspired knit skullcaps and scarves with long maxi skirts. Makeup consisted of either brushed on pale brows or  ultra-thin plucked eyebrows that mimicked the silent movie stars of the 1920’s, with white eyeshadow around the eye, topped off with pouty red glossy lips and red gel blush on the cheekbones.

Turbans and caftans, though shown in the pages of Vogue, didn’t really feature in the preferred attire of 20-somethings. Hostess dresses were meant for middle-aged socialites, after all! We liked our large brimmed straw hats with peasant blouses and oversize ponchos, wide cinched up belts and the occasional colorful head scarf. Other than leather sandals and knee boots, I also had two pairs of espadrilles with laces that wrapped around and around the ankle and tied. Espadrilles represent classic timeless style; I wish I’d never given those away!

Knee boots continued to appear, but with natural materials and colors that were at the far end of the spectrum from the white “pleather” go-go boots the disco girls were wearing. Patterned jersey with paisleys and flowers were quite popular (like my beautiful midi-dress that still hangs in my closet).

Popular hairstyles were long and parted straight down the middle with the obligatory headband at forehead level, or up in a tidy bun with curly forelocks at the cheeks recalling the 1890’s Gibson girl. At one point, my friend Michael referred to me as the Gibson girl because that became my style briefly. However, I soon lapsed into my favorite version of casual “boho” chic: a colorful head scarf with bell bottom jeans and a comfortable long-sleeved shirt or T-shirt.



If I Could Go Back to the 70s


If I could go back and do the 70s over again, other than being a lot more choosy about who I dated(!), I’d save that wool green midi dress, the white peasant blouse with tiny orange and yellow flowers that went so well with my rust velvet mini-skirt, the blue silk espadrilles, the red plaid Kenzo bomber jacket, the Alvin Duskin separates, and lastly, the my wood and leather platform shoes that were SO comfortable.

But alas, I only saved the black flowered midi-dress, and even though I’ll never be THAT size again, I’m not about to give it up!


Vintage Items to Complete the Authentic Boho Look

 1970s  Vintage Swedish Hand-painted Wooden Kurbit Clogs 1970s Midi Dress Boho Red Hand Painted 7″ Wide Lace Up Boho Corset Brown Leather Stretch

My True Dating Horror Stories

My True Dating Horror Stories

(or, It’s No Wonder People Stay Married!)

That last part is tongue in cheek. Dating can be a great experience to get out and grow your confidence after a breakup or divorce. But it can be pretty scary, too!

My True Dating Horror Stories

However, as promised, I am telling the story of the time I was single and dating, right after my separation and eventual divorce. I was in my 50s and out of a long marriage, having just broken up with the guy I met right after my separation. I was cast adrift into the dating world, where I spent a number of years looking for the elusive “Mr. Right” and beginning to wonder if I was going to have to settle for “Mr. Alright.”

Some Really Bad Date Stories

My Really Bad Date Stories MyLifeBanquet

I’d like to introduce you to some of the interesting characters I’ve met along the way, in no particular order:

The Lineup of Really Bad Dates

    • The “50-first-dates” guy
      • He chose the restaurant, the menu, bragged about his intellect, and did most of the talking. He thought it amusing to mention that he had literally been on “50 First Dates.” When the check arrived, he shrank back and exclaimed, “Oh, what do we do about THIS??” and blamed the fact that he didn’t want to pay for the meal on (get this!) “women’s lib.” Chalk up 51 first dates!
    • The sneak-attack
      • Older attorney gentleman who claimed to be 5’9″ on his profile but may have been 5’6″ (I was wearing 3-inch heels and we met eye to eye), showed up at the restaurant, looked around, and finally figured out I was the one he was to meet. After he remarked that “I wish the matchmaking service gave us photos beforehand,” we proceeded to sit at the bar and discuss drinking and golf (neither of which I had any interest in, a fact which the matchmaking service blithely ignored). After dinner, he walked me out to the parking lot and dived in for a kiss! I sidestepped and thanked him for the dinner. Photos AND some ground rules would have been nice beforehand!
    • The vindictive ex- hater
      • Speaks for itself. Spent the whole meal talking about his ex-wife and the much younger model type women he had been dating since his divorce.
    • The “sure thing”
      • Very nice man who never called again after I explained that I liked going out with him but (in the interests of full disclosure) that I had to continue to date others to fulfill my contract on the prepaid matchmaking service.
    • The disappearing hunk
      • Had a great day and evening at a music festival and we seemed to hit it off and have fun. Curiously, he was in interview mode, practically answering his own questions before I had a chance to speak. Invited me out to see the movie “Inception” the next week and never followed up. Poof!
    • The guy who still slept with ex-wife
      • A nice, funny guy who is the only one I went out with twice from the matchmaking service. For some reason, he thought it would also be funny to mention he was still intimate with his ex-wife! Not so much.
    • The nonstop talker-stalker
      • First candidate from the matchmaking service who would phone me up and talk for an hour nonstop;  I literally could not fit in a word. When I explained that this would not work with me, he left me phone messages, emails, and Facebook messages trying to convince me to give him another chance. Since he wouldn’t listen and obviously could not buy a clue, I blocked him.
    • All the other nice-enough, no chemistry dates
      • No explanation needed. There are a lot of nice fellows out there, but it’s very difficult to present a realistic picture of who you are on one date. Sometimes, you just don’t click and I don’t believe you should worry about it too much. I wouldn’t advise giving up on online dating, but it’s just one component of dating, and there are many other ways you can meet somebody.


Rating the Dating Sites My True Dating Horror Stories MyLifeBanquet

Site Paid (Y/N) Rank Pros Cons Y 1 Good selection, different pricing plans. Profiles may be out of date. Membership auto-renews unless you cancel in time.
Eharmony Y 2 Extensive screening process. Must be divorced. Occasional discount pricing. Very expensive per month unless you sign up for long term. Can’t be separated or estranged.
Plenty of Fish N 3 Large selection of men sign up for this site and there is a lot of activity. Nibbles, not many bites, i.e., you get “winks” and maybe an email but real life meetings  mostly don’t materialize.


OK Cupid N 4 Free. Lots of responses. Computer match system makes poor choices. Somewhat intrusive questionnaire with seemingly pointless questions. The nature of free sites is that they attract “thrifty” men, and this is no exception.


Zoosk N 5 Free. Has its own phone app. Ease of use invites dabblers; not very many willing to follow through. (See note above about free sites; don’t expect go-getters here, either.)



Y 6 Sister site of Not as well known as Match. I personally have not used this one but including it as an option.
Elove Y 7  

Interviews, background checks. Traditional format for matchmaking interview.



Prohibitively expensive. Ironclad contract. Limited number of candidates to choose from.  Promises much more than it delivers. To me it was a total waste of money, other than adding material for my dating horror stories.


Other Ways to Meet People My True Dating Horror Stories MyLifeBanquet

Other Ways to Meet People

There are ways to meet people on a no-pressure basis, to get out of the house, participate in a favorite activity or help out a good cause, and get involved with like-minded individuals. Some of these non-traditional avenues for meeting people may be too expensive for many to afford—do your research first!


  • Craiglist personals (Strictly Platonic section is good for seeking activity partners)
  • Yahoo! Groups

No-cost (Membership required)

  • Society of Single Professionals (San Francisco Bay Area)

Paid Activity Groups

  • Urban Diversion (initiation fee, monthly membership $30 or so, plus cost of activity and guide), based in San Francisco
  • Events & Adventures (cost in the range of $3000)


Since I’ve been in the dating world, some other new ways to meet people, like the ones listed below, have gotten started. These are other free or paid groups that are not necessarily focused on dating, but can help with meeting new people. I can’t speak from experience about these, but you can check them out if you like.

What is Your Favorite Way to Meet New People?

What's the Best Way to Meet New People?
  • Church or school
  • In my circle of friends
  • Outdoor activities
  • Nightclub or bar
  • Online dating

Dating Help and Advice from the Man Whisperer, Katarina Phang, dating coach and author of Feminine Magnetism – The Art Of Being A Woman That Enraptures A Man’s Heart.

 The Ultimate Guide to Dating Unavailable Men or Guys Who Want to Take it Slow How To Be A Feminine And High Value Woman Without Being A Doormat Four Components Of Melting His Heart Group Coaching

In Conclusion

At this time, I haven’t included Facebook in my dating sites, because a dating site was not what I signed up for when I joined Facebook, although this is where I eventually met up with my husband. We went to high school together and got in touch again many years later on Facebook.

We are still together and having a wonderful time—apparently, we were both dating misfits who weren’t the type to put our best foot forward in online dating. I’m thankful for that, because then he and I were both available when the right time came along!

This is an account of my true dating horror stories; yours may be different but I hope it helps you to know that you’re not the only one!

Wishing you all the best in your dating adventure…

My True Dating Horror Stories MyLifeBanquet


My Take on Serial Monogamy

My Take on Serial Monogamy

How Do You Define Serial Monogamy?

The definition of serial monogamy in popular culture is the practice of having one mate at a time for a limited period of time, rather than having one partner over a lifetime as previous generations did. With the threat of sexually transmitted disease and the advent of practical birth control measures, serial monogamy feels like a safe alternative to dating multiple partners. The disadvantage, on the other hand, could be settling in with a less than ideal partner for the sake of convenience.

My Views on Serial Monogamy Then and Now

I recently ran across a never-published article that I wrote a few years ago, in the midst of my frustration over finding a good man. I was single and faithfully following dating advice, leaving (almost) no stone unturned, whether it was Match, eHarmony, and even a paid matchmaking service that I thought would yield results. What strikes me in reading the article now (other than the undercurrent of anger) is that I was manifesting a “scarcity” mindset about dating and the availability of good men. What this means is pretty obvious: I thought there were too few of them to go around, that all the good ones were taken, and this was my answer as to why I thought so many men were “off the market.”

Here is the article I wrote in August 2011, word for word:

Why Serial Monogamy is Ruining our Social Lives (and Chances for Lasting Love)

The more I know about dating, the more I dislike the notion of serial monogamy. But… monogamy is good, isn’t it? Certainly it is, under certain circumstances. But, what are we losing with this trend of instant relationships?


I am a single (read divorced and looking) woman who came of age during the era of Free Love, and a young adult during the Sexual Revolution (remember singles bars?), so I am no puritan. It seems to me that sexual liberation has come full-circle in many cases, however—how many couples do you know who are ensconced in what I like to refer to as “little marriages” right now? They believe in one partner at a time, which is admirable, but that partner is often settled upon with a very short interval between the first meeting and the U-Haul truck.


Has anyone considered the downside of serial monogamy, however? I will venture to do that on this page. So..what does serial monogamy provide us, and what are the repercussions?


Firstly, monogamy provides safety, and stability: you know who you will be dating Friday night, and you know where he or she has been lately so there’s not as much fear of catching some strange disease.


However, I believe that, in our haste to become monogamous, we choose quickly rather than wisely when settling on a mate. If it takes (as I believe) somewhere between 3 to 6 months to let down one’s guard and begin showing our true self, what happens when we find we are with a person who we do not like very much, e.g. he has annoying habits like picking his teeth, or she does not comprehend how she has any stake in the division of labor around the house? Well, this is where a decision must be made: does one stay on and live with these “quirks” and hope they’ll go away or get better, or does one move on and get involved with someone else?


This is tough—mostly we stay on because of the fear of jumping back into the dating pool, starting all over again and putting our hearts on the line once more, possibly finding no one even remotely interesting. After all, bird in the hand and all that…


But, what are the effects of serial monogamy on a wider scale? I believe there are several:

  • The effect on single people looking for a mate: a large number of men and women who would have been available for dating are now siphoned off to short-term monogamous relationships (referred to in the personals as “LTRs”) and are, for all intents and purposes, off the market. Since there is then a perceived shortage of eligible people to date, we may tend to seize every opportunity as if it’s our last—leading us to settle down right away with anyone.
  • The effect on our emotions: in getting involved with a person too soon, we “put our hearts out there.” After a few so-called LTRs, often we become delusioned when it doesn’t work out after we’ve dared to share our body and soul with the person we mistakenly thought was “the one.” We may close ourselves off just a little more each time, becoming less and less vulnerable to love the next time around.
  • Serial monogamy is a trap—we may be missing out on that person who is just perfect for us, but we won’t know because we did not allow ourselves to date and meet many different people. If he or she is out there, we won’t know because we’re already “committed” to someone.
  • Serial monogamy is not marriage. It may lead to marriage in some cases, but mostly it’s just an extended test drive. (Remember the old saying about not buying the milk if you can get it for free?) If you are in an LTR and hoping for it to magically turn into a permanent situation (with or without the ring and the dress), you may be disappointed; that’s all I’m saying.
  • Since it is NOT marriage, serial monogamy doesn’t have the implied boundaries that marriage does. Either partner can always rationalize spending time with friends of the opposite sex as long as they doesn’t cross the “sleeping with” line—and this can very easily lead to an outside emotional attachment or an affair, which could destroy the relationship if the offender is caught (or confesses, in hopes that the offended party will either forgive the transgression, or initiate a breakup which would allow the offender to pursue another relationship).

What is the alternative to serial monogamy then?

I’ve done quite a bit of reading on the subject of dating, and was introduced to the concept of “Circular Dating,” made popular by Rori Raye, a well-known dating coach. Simply put, the idea is to keep your options open—if you are single, get to know a variety of people before settling on one, taking time to realize what you are looking for in a mate so you can make an informed decision about which one will make you happy.



When I think about it, this advice hearkens back to the popular debutante of the 1950s, who had a dance card filled with the names of eligible and interested suitors, who would have to take turns waiting for her attentions. She did not go home with the first young man who glanced in her direction—no, she carefully deliberated for some time before sharing the pleasure of her company with the best candidate.
She held herself to a higher standard, and she certainly didn’t pack up the U-Haul truck!

katarina phang dating coach mylifebanquet
Read Why Dating More than One Man is a Single Woman’s Best Friend

Why Date at All?

All this dating advice aside, one of the best things I ever did for myself is JUST GIVE UP DATING for a while. This helped me to move beyond the need to have a man in my life at all times and just be comfortable with myself. The last year before I met my husband, I finally decided to quit trying so hard to meet someone. I found myself to be pretty good company and learned a lot in that time.

Sex 3.0: A Sexual Revolution Manual by Mr. J.J. RobertsHave Him at Hello: Confessions from 1,000 Guys About What Makes Them Fall in Love . . . Or Never Call BackI Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating

Getting Past a Scarcity Mentality in Dating

I don’t regret going through this stage because my post-divorce dating experiences made me who I am today, and I learned valuable lessons there. I subsequently came to realize that there are plenty of good men around, and just because I chose to be very selective and wait for the right one, didn’t mean there was a shortage. Whether or not a lot of men are “tied up” in LTRs (as I assert in my article), there are still a whole lot of unattached good men who are just waiting for you to notice them.

However, I do still believe in the concept of “Circular Dating,” because it can be invaluable for a woman who tends to “put all her eggs in one basket,” especially when obsessing over an ex who shows no interest in getting back together. In that case, it’s helpful to learn to date for dating’s sake and spend time with a variety of people, whether they are long-term material or not.

Other times, you may meet someone who you already know is the right person for you, and you don’t want to spend another minute with anyone else! Circular dating is a helpful tool you can use in specific instances but may not fit your situation. For me, it did help me get over a breakup and adjust my thinking about that person.

7 Steps to Letting Go of the Past, Embracing the Present, and Dating with Confidence

For the record, I am now in a happy relationship with a man who I reconnected with only a few short months after this article.


How I Survived A Breakup

How I Survived A Breakup

Dating Again after Divorce


I never knew that at this time in my life I would be writing about how I survived a breakup. After a separation and impending divorce, my children convinced me that I should be trying to date again, but dating was the last thing on my mind. Eventually, I followed their advice and went to the Craigslist “strictly platonic” section of the personals to meet someone, having no expectations that anything would come of it. I certainly didn’t think it would ever get as serious as it did.

And that is how I met a man about my age and started out as platonic friends—he was tall, easy to talk to, intelligent, had a dry sense of humor, and did interesting and fun things. Since he was out of state when we first met online, we decided to meet up on his upcoming return to my city, which was also his hometown. We decided to meet and go for a walk in the park because he lived close to the park. I, of course, had been sensible and made sure I had left his name and phone number with one of my kids before I left.

The walk went very well—in fact, though we walked several miles, the time passed quickly. We found that we knew at least one person in common—as such, he felt safe to me. When he went back out of state to complete his move back here to San Francisco, we texted daily and communicated by IM, developing more and more of a bond. I soon took a huge leap and agreed to join him on his drive back—a trip of a few days.

This might seem naive on my part but I felt that I was a good judge of character and could trust him. And to be fair, he was a perfect gentleman and didn’t get out of line at all. He was easy to talk to and easy to travel with, and I felt I could be myself with him. After some little while, we soon became much closer and continued to date after his move back here.

After a while and with my inexperience in the dating world, I thought that what we were having was a relationship. That was my first mistake—he had clearly stated that he was NOT ready for a relationship and I agreed that neither was I. (That’s what my head said, anyway.) But, what many women don’t realize is that our emotions (fueled by our hormones) are speaking another language than our brains are!

katarina phang getting desperate is giving your power away

There is a pesky little hormone that is released when two people have a physical relationship—sex, fondling, even kissing can trigger it—that is called oxytocin, the “bonding” hormone. This is the same hormone that is released by our bodies when we give birth, and its purpose is to bond a mother to her newborn child. What I found surprising is that, even though I had some doubts whether this was the right man for me, I felt a “chemistry” with him. I assumed that he was feeling the same way and must surely be as committed to me as I was to him. And he did seem to be, for a while.

But as it turned out, after a few months of feeling very close and contented, he began to seem impatient or angry with me, and I started to notice that I wasn’t always being invited out to special events and trips with him any more. In fact, one time I noticed that he had a pair of tickets on his entrance table that he hadn’t mentioned to me. I didn’t think anything of it since he was still with me and I had assumed we were in an exclusive relationship. (In retrospect, I wonder whether he was dropping a hint with those tickets.)

When he admitted he had been seeing someone else, we had a terrible fight and I walked out. This is where I made a really HUGE mistake—I second-guessed myself. Instead of trusting my intuition and standing firm on my boundaries of what I expected from a relationship, I tried to win him back. I read everything I could on the subject, figuring that if I had only done something differently, he wouldn’t have pulled away and left to pursue someone else.

Why Do Men Do What They Do? Ask Your Dating Questions Here

Even though, as I said before, I wasn’t even sure that this was the right man for me, but when he started to pull away, I reacted. The hormones that I talked about earlier were telling me that this couldn’t possibly be happening—and it hurt like hell to be torn apart when we were supposed to be bonding! And so it went for nearly two years! I couldn’t go on like this.

Why Does a Man Disappear and Reappear in Your Life?

And, so, for about a year and a half after I had broken up with this man, we were still “friends” (without benefits—I do have my limits!) while he got into one ongoing relationship after another. I mistakenly felt that, if I gave him enough time, he’d eventually wander back to me because, after all, what we had had was special (so I thought, anyway). When I wouldn’t contact him for a while or be available, he would get curious and start texting or messaging me again. This behavior, however, did nothing but keep my hopes alive and I only was able to halfheartedly attempt dating someone else.

So How Did I Survive A Breakup Finally?

Heart shaped box.
© Absolut_photos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

In my reading and online research (where I discovered “Why He Disappeared” by Evan Marc Katz—an excellent resource—plus tons of articles focusing on how to “keep your man” or “get him back”), I stumbled upon the Dating Without Drama, an e-course that, as a bonus, had an online forum where women who had recently gone through a bad breakup or were trying to learn how to date again successfully, without all the drama, could get together and talk about their experiences and provide emotional support and advice to each other on a private online message board. Those wonderful women were a big part of how I survived a breakup.

On that forum, I met many amazing women who gave me good advice and helped me see that I was not alone in my relationship troubles. While there was a host of wonderful friends on that site, the best and most helpful advice came from one woman named Robin, who had discovered that a little method called NO CONTACT was the best way to recover from breakup trauma while tearing down the emotional bonds that hold us hostage after a relationship has ended.

About the same time, I found that this man was dating a much younger woman now. Finally, along with my determination not to continue feeling like a fool and not wanting to compete with somebody 20 years younger, I had had ENOUGH. I instituted the no-contact method. 

What is No-Contact? It’s just what it sounds like. No contact. Period.

Find out more about No-Contact

I immediately unfriended this guy from Facebook, blocked him, and ignored his texts asking where I had gone to. The only text I sent was to say that I’m not going to compete any more, and basically get my head out of the sand and start living my life. It was not easy. It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done—giving up hope and throwing in the towel—because I like to WIN and not give up and admit defeat. But you know what? That is the moment when I started to heal. I highly recommend it because it’s the only way to break free of the chains of a broken relationship. Seriously. No Contact.

So What Have I Learned?

1) The first thing I learned was to listen and pay attention to what a man says right at the outset. You will learn a lot and save yourself a lot of grief. Remember that this man said, “I am not ready for a relationship”? He wasn’t lying. I thought that I could change his mind or that I was different and special enough to make him reconsider—none of that matters. He had told me right away what I was in for, but I ignored it and didn’t listen.

2) Chemistry isn’t everything. Your hormones will fool you into thinking that this is the only man on earth for you. It isn’t true. For this reason, I suggest waiting for at least six months before becoming intimate with someone. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. It will save you a lot of heartache when his bonding hormone peaks and then declines and yours is still going strong! If you choose to become intimate earlier, be prepared for the “honeymoon” to end at about 6 months (sometimes 3, sometimes as late as 9, depending on the couple) and for that initial glow of excitement and intensity to fade to a feeling of more like a dull routine. Couples who can stay together and keep their heads on straight past this point have gone over a huge hurdle. It is at this point that people often get bored, feel they have made a mistake, and have to start all over again with a new person to keep that initial thrill going.

chemistry evan marc katz mylifebanquet

3) Don’t sell yourself short and hang around where you aren’t receiving the treatment you want or expect. You can become a very unattractive version of yourself if you desperately try to hang on to a relationship after it’s obviously over and you’re not getting your needs met. The best thing you can do is to pick yourself up and move on, by whatever means necessary. In my case, it was no-contact that got the ball rolling and, sure enough, a few months went by and I started to wonder what I had seen in this guy in the first place and I was embarrassed at how much I had tolerated. The spell was broken.

To Become a High-Value Woman, Stop These Excuses!

4) Don’t be afraid of being alone. I had been married just about all my adult life and couldn’t imagine being single again, and then this breakup just about did me in. I read all the books I could find on self-help, got a good therapist to vent to, and went out on dates and activities whether I felt like it or not. What I discovered is that I not only was able to live alone, but that I actually enjoyed it most of the time and did a darn good job at taking care of myself. I learned a lot about my own strengths and what I could handle.

5) Even though there are some not-so-quality people in the dating arena, there are still plenty of nice ones. During this time, I met a lot of interesting characters and some decent guys but either I wasn’t interested or they didn’t call back. That bothered me at first but now I understand that it’s not unusual. On one hand, men have a lot of options, with single women outnumbering men, or many don’t put themselves out there because they are afraid of being rejected. That doesn’t mean there are no good men out there. You just need to be patient and hold to your standards (see #6).

6) A must-have list is essential! One of the exercises I had done along with my reading was to make a must-have list. This started out with the obvious “red flag” list of things that I would not tolerate: druggies, boozers, cheaters, etc. Then, I created a list of must-haves: must have a good relationship with parents, must love animals, must not lie or cheat, to name just a few. Some might find it helpful to create a vision board to go along with the must-have list, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

7) Don’t expect someone to come to you. We’ve all read those dating advice books that say that men must pursue women or the relationship isn’t going to work. While I do advocate finding and getting comfortable with your feminine side (in contrast to your masculine business side) when you looking to date a guy, you can’t expect them to do all the work. Be friendly and approachable and give a little encouragement if someone wants to talk to you. Not everybody is going to be date-material but it’s just common courtesy to be friendly to all the men you meet. Eventually, your patience and persistence will pay off.

What is Feminine Energy and How You Can Attract Masculine Alpha Males With it

Recovery after a Breakup how I survived a breakup
© Wizdata | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Now, after having spent more than five years being single, I ended up in a real relationship with a kind and caring man who thinks the world of me. I know he’s the greatest guy for me who shares many of the same experiences and has the same expectations for a relationship that I do.

Yes, there’s great chemistry, but in the end, it’s all about kindness, acceptance, and respect. And that is how real love and commitment grows, and that is how I survived a breakup.


katarina phang dating coach mylifebanquet
Katarina Phang, Dating/Relationship Coach


Homes of the Arts and Crafts Movement

Homes of the Arts and Crafts Movement

The Homes of the Arts and Crafts Movement

I have always been drawn to the simple yet sturdy design of Homes of the Arts and Crafts period of the late 19th and early 20thcenturies, without realizing what it was called or knowing much about its history. I just knew I liked the way the buildings looked and was naturally attracted to the earth tones and simple elements of wood and stone whenever I saw them. Eventually I learned that these beautiful structures were homes of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Famous Arts and Crafts Homes

For my most recent birthday, we drove down coastal Highway 1, from Santa Cruz to Pismo Beach. Our main objective (other than to relax and soak up fantastic scenery!) was to visit San Simeon for a tour of the famous Hearst Castle. This was my second visit to San Simeon. If you haven’t yet visited “La Casa Encantada,” you really should take the time to visit. There is nothing else quite like it.

The Castle at San Simeon (c. 1919-1937) – Julia Morgan, architect

At our visit, I learned that Hearst Castle was designed by a famous architect, Julia Morgan. Even though she was first denied entrance to the Beaux Arts Institute in Paris in the early 1900s because she was a woman, Ms. Morgan had become a well-known architect in her own right, with offices based in San Francisco, when William Randolph Hearst called upon her to build his dream home in the hills overlooking San Simeon Harbor.
Hearst San Simeon Arts and Crafts Movement MyLifeBanquet
View from Hearst San Simeon (Photo by author)
The Perfect Location

The spot William Randolph Hearst chose was quite a distance inland from the coast, on land bequeathed him by his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, and the original site of the family ranch and campsite established by his father, George Hearst, a miner who had struck it rich with the discovery of silver at the Ophir mine on the famous “Comstock Lode.”


Plaza of San Simeon-Hearst Castle overlooking San Simeon Harbor Arts and Crafts Movement
Plaza of San Simeon-Hearst Castle overlooking San Simeon Harbor (photo by author)

Julia Morgan worked for nearly 20 years with W.R. Hearst to help him design and build his home, using her special reinforced concrete technique to provide stability in a region of high seismic activity. In addition, she incorporated elements of European design, from Moorish, French, and Venetian influences. According to the history, W.R. Hearst and his mother Phoebe had taken the “Grand Tour” of European palaces and castles when he was a young child, and thus Hearst’s dream was to come to fruition in his own castle on a hill with Ms. Morgan’s steadfast dedication and skill.

When he received his inheritance at the age of 57, along with his own fortune from the Hearst Newspaper empire, Hearst could finally afford to begin construction.
San Simeon-Hearst Castle Arts and Crafts Movement
San Simeon-Hearst Castle


San Simeon-Hearst Castle trefoil motif Arts and Crafts Movement
San Simeon-Hearst Castle quatrefoil motif (photo by author)


Julia Morgan’s other notable works include the former St. John Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, California, as well as the Asilomar Conference Center in Carmel. These structures seem to me more typical of the Arts & Crafts Movement than is Hearst Castle.


St. John Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA Julia Morgan architect Arts and Crafts Movement
St. John Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA Julia Morgan architect
Asilomar Conference Center by Julia Morgan Arts and Crafts Movement
Asilomar Conference Center ( Creative Commons)

The D.L. James House in Carmel Highlands (c. 1919) – Greene & Greene, architects

While we were driving slowly down Highway 1 through Carmel Highlands, enjoying the cool air and aquamarine color of the surf below, my husband called my attention to the long stone fence running for some length along the edge of the road. As he is an architect, he recognized the stone fence as the hallmark of the famous Greene & Greene House of Carmel Highlands. We pulled off the road and walked back to get a better look. Sure enough, it was the Greene & Greene House, constructed almost entirely of the same native rock from which the cliff was composed. To my eye, I saw elements of a J.R.R. Tolkien “hobbit house” but in stone rather than earth, and distinct Mission-style touches in the bell tower and unique curving red Spanish tile roof.

D.L. James House, Greene and Greene architects Arts and Crafts Movement

The architects were brothers, Charles (1868-1957) and Henry (1870-1954) Greene, both of whom were prominent in the American Arts & Crafts Movement of the early 1900s. Their other most well known project is the Gamble House in Pasadena, California, built for Procter & Gamble magnate, David Gamble, and his wife, Mary.
gamble house greene and green architects arts and crafts movement
David B. Gamble House, Pasadena, CA, Greene & Greene architects


Charles and Henry Greene also utilized elements of Arts & Crafts in furniture and lighting in accordance with their architectural designs. Both the Gamble House and the Robert Blacker House, also in Pasadena, contained a wealth of furnishings and fixtures designed by the Greenes.
Japanese inspired Greene and Greene chandelier Arts and Crafts Movement
Japanese inspired Greene and Greene chandelier


The Swedenborgian Church, San Francisco

Bernard Maybeck (draftsman); A. C. Schweinfurth & A. Page Brown, architects

Before knowing anything about the Arts & Crafts Movement, I already knew what I liked. As a teenager growing up in Marin County, I made myself at home among the quiet redwoods and natural beauty that surrounded me in places like Mill Valley and Larkspur. There were waterfalls, ferns, and natural redwood forests interspersed with homes made of wood and glass that seemed to blend right into the natural habitat. I was particularly fond of homes that incorporated hewn stone, heavy timbers, and stained glass.

When I was looking for a place to have my wedding back in the 70s, a friend suggested the Swedenborgian Church near the Presidio Wall district in San Francisco. It was perfect!


Swedenborgian church brides chamber, 1976 Arts and Crafts Movement MyLifeBanquet
Swedenborgian church brides chamber, 1976
I saw an unassuming building at the corner of Washington and Lyon Streets, built of heavy concrete with brick archways enclosing a quiet above-street-level garden. The chapel itself draws from rustic natural influences, with a large fireplace taking center stage at the back of the nave, dark ceilings with rough-hewn timber logs meeting overhead to form the apex of the roof, nature murals, and stained glass inserts in the windows. For me, the Swedenborgian church was absolutely heavenly and definitely “me”!

I recently went back and visited the Swedenborgian Church, and discovered that a very well-known architect of the Arts & Crafts Movement, Bernard Maybeck, had been involved in designing the building. He is now one of my favorite architects—I’d feel at home in every building I’ve seen that he has designed!

Swedenborgian church interior Arts and Crafts Movement mylifebanquet
Swedenborgian church interior (Photo: Eric Luse, SF Chronicle)
Swedenborgian church exterior Arts and Crafts Movement mylifebanquet
Swedenborgian church exterior, photographer unknown

Bernard Maybeck

Bernard Maybeck is well known in the San Francisco Bay Area.  His other buildings of note include the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Berkeley, California, considered a prime example of Arts & Crafts architecture. Probably his best-known work, however, is the Palace of Fine Arts, which he conceived for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
First Church of Christ Scientist Berkeley Bernard Maybeck Arts and Crafts Movement mylifebanquet
First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Berkeley, California



Also designed by Bernard Maybeck, the Roos House in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, which demonstrates such distinctive Arts and Crafts features as the quatrefoil (four-pointed star).

Roos House Bernard Maybeck Arts and Crafts Movement MyLifeBanquet
Leon L. Roos House, San Francisco, Bernard Maybeck 1909

Bernard Maybeck was born in 1862 and was a graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He was an early mentor of Julia Morgan, and taught at the University of California at Berkeley. Many homes designed by Maybeck or his protegees can be found in North Berkeley. Unfortunately, in the fire of 1923, many historic homes in this neighborhood were destroyed.

The Arts and Crafts Movement on Amazon

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Featured Image: Sheep fountain, Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA (Photo by author)

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Applying This Term to Bad Relationships

A good friend and I were discussing the condition known as Stockholm syndrome yesterday, and I got to thinking whether this might occur with those people who continue to stay in abusive relationships and, by extension, those who make excuses not to leave a hated job or situation. As it turns out, there is much written on this little-understood subject.

Back in the 1970s, the newspapers of the time used the term Stockholm syndrome to apply to the famous Patty Hearst kidnapping case.  Ms. Hearst, granddaughter of the late William Randolph Hearst and heiress to the Hearst media empire, was kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment by a revolutionary group who called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). She was initially tormented and kept hidden but eventually Ms. Hearst gained sympathy for the SLA’s mission and joined them as a gun-toting accomplice in the robbery of a Hibernia Bank branch in San Francisco, California. 
More recently, a young girl, Jaycee Dugard, was rescued after being held for 18 years by a man who kept her hidden in a shed and reportedly raped her. Even though she was allowed to go into town to run errands, Jaycee did not run away, even helping her captor to run his business. 
This situation, a kidnapping victim developing empathy and understanding for her tormentors, has been categorized as Stockholm syndrome, based on a bank robbery in the city of the same name in which hostages held at gunpoint for six days wept and hugged their captors as they were being led away by the police. 
Vietnam-era prisoners of war have also been observed to have the syndrome, becoming close to their captors and relinquishing their own views in favor of agreeing with their enemy. Prisoners have been reported as saying they appreciated being allowed to live, when so many of their comrades were killed or disappeared.
It is thought that this so-called Stockholm syndrome is the mind’s way of justifying what is happening and to make some sort of sense out of an otherwise incomprehensible situation. 
It is not much of a leap to imagine a Stockholm syndrome pattern occurring in bad relationships, whether it be parent-child, husband-wife, or even employer-worker. 
Making excuses for an unhappy job situation
Let’s say that “Bob” loses his home and his livelihood and is forced to take a job as a janitor in exchange for rent. Bob sees this as a temporary solution to an immediate problem–however, four years later, he is still a janitor and is at the beck and call of his manager. “Bob” justifies the situation, saying that the manager, however demanding and unreasonable, has “saved his life” by providing him a place to stay and work to do. The question now arises because, after so much time has passed, “Bob” has given up a lucrative career and, along with it, the confidence in his ability to ever get back to his former standard of living. After this long, Bob really despises what he does but finds himself “stuck” there and makes excuses why he can’t change his circumstances.
What about parent-child relationships?
If a kidnapper can gain empathy from his or her victim, how much more would an abused child have a great deal of difficulty hating or blaming a parent or other family member because of the deep family bonds in place. It has been documented that an adult children of alcoholics, for example, often have a limited ability to blame or hate their parents, even years later, feeling a misplaced loyalty for the parent and instead blaming themselves for “being bad.” 
How about abusive marriages and relationships? 
I wonder how many marriages and relationships last for years, not based upon love or kindness, but upon the belief that the abuser “has good reason” or “is doing the best he (or she) can under the circumstances”? If a prisoner can develop empathy in spite of mistreatment, I would think that an abused husband (or wife) would eventually become incapacitated and unable to leave their abuser. 
The sources I’ve consulted seem to agree that Stockholm syndrome is more common than one would think, and perhaps many of us can identify with staying in a bad job situation or an abusive or unsatisfactory relationship for far too long in the mistaken assumption that we are wrong and they are right.
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