Or, where I’ve been for the last six weeks (the short version told in pictures.)

Back in mid-December, this happened…

And because I couldn’t figure out why I was having digestive upset, I went to numerous doctors seeking the answer.

Much to my surprise, I learned that I actually have sensitivities to… 

(Ok, not to ALL food; just to all grains, chicken, beef, lamb, shellfish, walnuts, almonds, coconut and…drum roll…lettuce!)  Figuring out how and what to eat became rather complicated.  The more I read, the more I obsessed and got scared.

While death didn’t seem exactly around the corner, the prospects of living a happy life felt rather remote.

I wish I could say I’m all better now.  My digestion DOES seem to be on the mend, but my oh-so-creative mind has been keeping me on my toes warning me of imminent doom every time I have a stomach gurgle or heart flutter.  Anxiety is truly the gift that keeps giving.

All that said, I’m also learning that anxiety can actually be a gift.   Facing it head on means engaging with your inner demons, letting down expectations of perfection, and learning new coping strategies and skills. 



  1. Helen Reich says:

    Namaste! Glad you are starting to feel better. That’s a lot of foods that are suddenly off the table, so to speak. Will you be able to eat them again eventually?

    Here’s news: Norma just announced her retirement. Also, Linda Unkefer will be retiring at season’s end. We were going to have a viola audition in April anyway, so maybe we will be able to hire two people! Maybe three, if lucky.

    Your Jo pix are great! Very cute.

    • Joana says:

      Hi Helen,

      I bet that I will be able to eat the “off-limits” foods eventually when things sort themselves out (maybe after menopause.) While I am not actually allergic to anything, the “clinical significant sensitivities” are to all grains, lettuce, almonds, walnuts, beef, lamb, chicken and shellfish. The milder sensitivities are to coconut, yeast, corn, oats, malt and barley. I’ve swapped the almond flour in my almond flour chocolate oat cookies with ground hazelnuts – figure that a teeny bit of oats every day shouldn’t be a problem. The anxiety is now my main concern. Even though the anxiety seemed initially tied to feeling like I might not make it to the bathroom, now it’s creeping into everything I am doing…which makes me think that there is something else at play (like a hormone imbalance.) A visit to the endocrinologist is next.

      Wow! I knew that retirement might be on Norma’s horizon, but I didn’t think Linda would be retiring so soon. I am so glad I got to play in the MSO “under” Linda. 🙂 I hope whoever comes in to replace her is a good fit with the orchestra.

      How are you doing? How are sales on Etsy? Any travels on your horizon?

      Love, Joana

      On Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 12:57 AM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


      • Helen Reich says:

        Linda is just about at retirement age, I would say. Also, you might want to consider a little acupuncture for both anxiety and digestive issues. The Chinese tie everything together, because it’s all connected. Well, maybe not all.

        Pre-Christmas Etsy sales improved over last year, and post Christmas December sales showed a big improvement. January Etsy sales were not bad, considering that I have had almost no time to devote to it. The MSO is killing me. I think we’ve had four hard concerts in a row, so it’s been practice, practice, practice. Next week will finally calm down a little, and I’m hoping to have a little time off.

        I traveled to Jacksonville in early January to visit with Aaron for a few days. We went to the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia! I’ve always wanted to see it. We might do some traveling in the Carolinas or something during Easter week, but only if he’s not taking an audition.

        When are you coming here??

  2. Darcy says:

    Oh I am so sorry you’re having tummy trauma, Joana! <3 I really hope they get sorted out soon and that you can figure out a way forward. I love that you're meditating and finding ways to soothe the beast of anxiety that so many of us face. Hugs and wishes for your continued wellness!! XOXO

    • Joana says:

      Hi Darcy, Thanks so much for writing and for your support! I, too, hope that I can get a better handle on what’s going on soon. I’m seeing an endocrinologist next week (as well as return trips to the GI doctor and the therapist I started seeing two weeks ago.) My Ob/gyn doctor said this could be hormones – which is what I’ve suspected all along. These days I have feelings of anxiety over seemingly everything. For example, this morning I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make the pork slow cooker dish I had planned to put together. That’s not normal and that’s not me! I carry around a little book of Thich Nhat Hanh’s meditations and am meditating before breakfast every morning as well as doing yoga every day. Reaching out and getting support from others helps a lot. I feel truly blessed to have so many wise and supportive friends (and family!) XOX – Joana

  3. Maureen Gallagher says:

    Particularly loved the little bug 🐛 playing the violin


    • Joana says:

      Thank you, Maureen! Maybe the super blue blood moon is the problem and I’ll be cured by Wednesday morning? I hope you are feeling well. Are you doing any coloring these days?

      A big hug, Joana

      On Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 10:29 AM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


  4. Sharon Miranda says:

    Oh, you’re good! So cute and imaginative. I bet lil
    Jo will help you out. I love you and think you are mahvelous! Mm

    • Joana says:

      I love you, too, Mm And I NEED you!

      xox – J

      On Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 10:47 AM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


Leave a Reply