I frequently feel like I don’t play this game of life like one is supposed to.

I read the papers so infrequently simply because they cause a deep unease that I know little of the world, how it works and even less about how to change it.  Politics, economics, business strategy, the property market, investments, style trends, current affairs, what’s in, what’s out….all of it hurts my tiny mind!


This is not to say that I am introverted and without regard for the world I live in, it is more to suggest that it all seems to involve too much thought, a cerebral, cognitive, over analysed process.

I let go of all that thinking and I started to pay attention to the feeling, not the thought.  It has not always been apparent or logical, but that is the point, it has been intuitive and it has helped make sense of my world and my place in the larger picture.

I turned my attention to the invisible, to the microbes which live inside me.   You see I need them more than they need me and that takes care of a lot of the chaos the ego creates!  I am merely their host, and if I am not available for rent, well they will clearly take up residence somewhere else.  However a home without them is a barren place, missing the diversity of chitter chatter that keeps us alive.  Understanding this is key to inviting them in.

My life used to look a bit like this:

Young, ambitious, artificially blonde, still a dreamer, working in the arts, catching the wind.  I have always operated from great intention, but often without strategy or much guidance.  Intuitive thoughts and a chance meeting led to co-ordinating an epic show for the Opening Ceremony of The Special Olympics, Ireland.  A highlight from another life ago.

A spontaneous trip down under brought me to my ‘family’ on the other side of the world and a new perspective of life’s offerings.


A matter of timing co-ordinated the meeting of the man who is now my husband and the father of my children.

Today life looks a little different defined by motherhood, awakened by a new need to learn and, as it happens for most, a chance to reflect on ones own upbringing.

They say when you become a parent you meet yourself as a child.  You view your own parents with new regard and suddenly your own early years are in sharp focus.

My intuitive acceptance of my invisible friends has made complete sense of me.  My upbringing had me primed for them to move right in.

With great intentions and strategic logic, my father wished for me to inherit his pharmacy.  A kind thought, which would undoubtedly have lead to a financially comfortable but dissatisfied kinda life.  From the age of 13 I was in his ‘old school’ pharmacy at weekends and holidays. It was not a bright, shiny Boots experience, it was old, without much of the cosmetic additions and hinged on this desire to truly help people.  Half his pharmacy was a long line of chairs for people to sit and wait for his advice.  I was learning the ropes, dicphering the aliments and prescriptions solutions and translating the farmer’s speak as they requested worming doses or similar potions for their pigs.  My dad had a potion for it all and I continued to ponder on why the hell everyone was so sick.   I remember the long days, standing from 9-5 looking busy.  It was WORK.

I would hang by with mother of an evening, eager to help in the kitchen and continually impressed that everyday, day in and day out, she would have dinner on the table, an epic feast of wholesome portions.  She taught me the five mother sauces of cuisine amongst other things like the wonders of whipping egg whites, allowing me to free style sometimes with culinary experiments for the family.

“An extravagant cook” she used to say which I choose to interpret as a compliment.  I know she meant otherwise as I freestyled, but with a good Roux, what can go wrong?  

For me it meant I  had an imagination.

Jeez, it is the occasional gripe which raises its head in my marriage, that my love of cooking has to be exercised daily to feed the family!

Today my life looks like this.  A published author, launched into the fascinating and competitive world of the culinary arts guided by my intuition and a desire to make food as medicine.

Like I need the microbes, my children need me to set them up for their life ahead, offering them safe place to grow, learn and be nourished.  All of it instinctive, most of the time requiring vast amounts of perseverance and half of the time hard work.  That laundry pile brings out my dark shadow, there is actually nothing more dull than putting away the clothes!  The dreaming of those days of  independence, that fantasy BOOK TOUR, the chance of a chefs’ stage in a michelin star restaurant, to even flirting with the notion of opening my own establishment are currently all rudely grounded mid-thought by having to rush a five year old to the toilet. But like music to my ears, they say things like  ‘fermentation’ and joke about kimchi in funny accents. And they talk about probiotics & the good bugs, weighing up the food they eat as a good thing for the bugs or something they might have to ration.

I am proud.

“The bacteria make me do it”

The engaged process of creating fermented foods is my meditation, keeping me aligned.

They have made sense of my life and the decisions I make.

It is all a thought on the wind and when the logical mind is applied, fear could easily blanket the dreaming and halt any of these seemingly crazy decisions.

This summer we head to Portugal, en famille,  a notion from nowhere, but intuition.

I have a good feeling about this one, my gut tells me so.  The trip is peppered with retreats and workshops, allowing me to transport the bacteria, allowing them to spread their joy.  This allows us to engage with new people and experiences offering a diversity which keeps life sweet.

The Bacteria make me do it.

So here’s the facts:

  1. You have about 90 trillion bacteria in your microbiome. You only have 7 trillion cells – they outnumber you 13 to one!
  2. They have 75,000 genes to your 25,000. They make three times more messages – proteins, RNA and so on – and you cannot live without them.
  3. Your microbiome gets ill first, then you get ill. And, you cannot get better fully until it get´s better fully.
  4. It gets ill? It loses volume and diversity. A healthy microbiome can have 800 or more species of bacteria, including the one you picked up when, as a 1 year-old, you touched the neighbour´s dog and put your fingers in your mouth, or in my case, picking chewing gum off the road and eating it!
  5. But take drugs or antibiotics, or smoke, drink too much alcohol, eat too much sugar or processed foods, become overly stressed and some of the good guys  will die. The pathogens will come out to play.
  6. There are thought to be somewhere between 4,500,000 and 5 million different types of bacteria on this planet.  We are surrounded by them.

Around 4,000 have so far been identified by scientists.  These include the dangerous ones that cause illnesses such as Typhus and Cholera, certain E. coli strains, strains that produce the toxin Botulinum, varieties that infect NHS hospitals, SalmonellaListeria and other bacteria, amoeba variants and even yeasts like Candida.  They cause disease, infections like tonsillitis, thrush, and severe chest ailments whilst others like Helicobacter pylori are linked to stomach ulcers and even cancer.  They can invade our cuts and our wounds causing fever, even death.

Right now, you have them on your skin, in your eyes and ears.

There are more bacteria on your tongue than there are people living in the world.  For too long we have seen them as scary, horrible and clearly here to attack us.

Roughly 400 species of bacteria that live in your stomach and intestines have been identified.  Probably there are really more than double that number found there but scientists have yet to isolate them all.  Some of these bacteria (e.g. bifidobacteria and lactobacilli) are beneficial to us, others are harmful and some may be positively dangerous.  The trick is to try to make sure the activities of the beneficial bacteria are dominant. If you have too few of the beneficial bacteria, then the result is more bad guys, more circulating bad guys, more disease and sadly less intuition.

Now you can appreciate that the bacteria make me do this!  Together, we have a job to do.

See you when we get back…..if we get back, or maybe even see you Portugal!