Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Home again home again jiggedy jig


I leave to return to Snohomish on Thursday morning. I have to admit, I can't wait. I've been bone tired lately. I don't think I realized how exhausting anxiety is. However, anxiety aside my dad is doing well and I am glad I was here to spend Christmas with him in Ohio.

It made me realize that there are words in my life that have changed meaning as I mature. "Love" is one of them, but I'll save that for another blog. Lately the word I realize has found new meaning in my life is the word "home".

When I was younger, home was always 410 Spruce Dr. Easy. I knew that when I had to go 'home' that meant getting on my bike, or the bus, or a car and going 'home'. Home is where my sister, my dad, my mom and my brother lived. Home was chaotic, but I knew what it meant. I knew where my 'home' was - it was where I felt most myself.

Then I went to college and moved out of my 'home'. Suddenly, that word didn't mean the same thing. I began to develop a 'home is wherever my suitcase is' philosophy. I tossed the word around like it was candy. I was in a hotel for work? No problem, that was home base for a while. I moved a lot, fell in love and eventually created my own 'home', then 'homes with others'. I went through different homes, different loves, my mother passed away, my father moved up to the lake... and all the time I called wherever I was staying 'home'.

But not having a solid 'home' in my life is no longer acceptable to me. In the last 7 years I have moved 10 times. That's CRAZY. It's no wonder I feel adrift. I think I've become afraid to 'settle' down because my life has been so chaotic and I haven't felt safe in my 'home' for at *least* 10 years. I haven't felt like I could really settle into a place and make it my own. For a while I desperately wanted to buy a house because I thought that would 'fix' my ache to have a place to call my own. To feel safe. To build a foundation. I mean, isn't that the real drive to 'own a home'? To have a place of respite where you feel safe? Some small piece of the world you know is yours?

This trip back to Ohio I realized I split a lot of my time between Ohio and Seattle. But my dad's house? Isn't my home. I may still use that term when I talk to dad,  "Okay dad, let's finish at the store and go home..." but it isn't my home.

I was worried I was going to have to move from the place where I now reside. I was having serious stress about it. I talked to the owners of the house and they assured me that even though they want to sell their house, they have no intentions of selling the house where I now live. And while I understand that life changes and people change and there is no way to guarantee 'safe', I realized how relieved I felt when I knew they weren't selling 'my' house. I want to stay in this house where I now live. It's possible I might buy it some day, but then, who knows, I may fall in love and run away to some exotic place with the new love of my life. (It could happen people, don't rain on my parade *lol*). However, in the meantime I want to stop preparing for moving. I want to unpack my boxes, clean out my garage, buy some nice bedroom furniture and settle in. I mean, over the last 3 years specifically, I have been afraid to buy furniture or create a beautiful house because I knew I would be moving. My 'house' didn't feel safe or a place of respite because there was too much tension and stress. I desperately wanted to feel safe and centered when I walked in my front door and I didn't. I changed the things that didn't make me feel safe and I realize that now? I have finally found a place I can call 'home'.

And because I'm ready to 'settle' into the house where I am living, I want to create a space that's safe and comfortable. I live near people I adore, I am close to work, no water view, but I can see the horses and the area is quiet. The house is perfect for me, if not a little big - I have a fireplace where I can curl up close to at night, I have an amazing cat that purrs and loves on me continually, my sister is nearby, I can go swimming any time I want, I have a hot tub and a nice large yard where I can have chickens if I want. I want to plant a garden next year and I have friends who love me and help me when I get called away to come to Ohio.

I have a 'home' and I find when I use that word now? It has a meaning it lost a long time ago. I have a place. A solid base of reference. I have a foundation from which I can move forward from with confidence. Yes, life can be unpredictable, but that doesn't mean I should fear creating a safe, warm and loving environment for myself. I can allow myself to trust again and hey -

Looks like I've finally come home.


Monday, December 13, 2010

It's about love...
and the ethnically correct Santa...


So, my hiatus is complete and I have returned to blogging. After a month of not writing my blog, I miss it. There is a comfort in reaching that 100 status and I plan on completing what I have started.

I wrote a blog for my 43rd birthday last Wednesday. I chose not to publish it, but it got me back into the spirit of writing. I can't promise every day like before, I have to travel again to Ohio and such...but for now? I'm going to dedicate myself to being healthy physically and mentally. Blog writing? Helps me with the mental piece and I'm swimming again for the physical piece, so little by little :)

I decorated my house this past weekend. I put up the Santa head that belonged to my mother from the 1950s. I put up my Christmas tree - my house smells so good. I am going to bake Christmas cookies this week and I made more apple butter. I put on my Christmas music... Andy Williams, Burl Ives, Brenda Lee... 
Hello, 'ethnically correct Santa'

And this week, in some of my classes. We're watching Christmas specials. Oh I know... Christmas is all commercialized. It's a crime. It's not about Christ... but Christmas to me? Wasn't really ever about 'Christ' or the presents. (okay *maybe* it was about the Christmas specials! Hermey, Yukon Cornelius, Heat Miser, etc. - I may have to do a blog JUST about Christmas specials!) I mean going to midnight mass was something I enjoyed doing as a kid... but as an adult I realize more and more that this holiday season is about love.

When I come home from work and see the Santa head above the fireplace in my house, I feel like the world is all in order. I love Christmas. I love the music, the food, the energy, the joy... I love the fresh tree and the decorating. I love how happy I feel. My sister and I aren't even buying gifts this year. I don't care. It's not about the gifts. It's about being together as a family. The past partners I've had in my life haven't really appreciated that in me. That need for family. That love of this time of year. The joy I have in singing to the Carpenter's Christmas album in my car... Seeing snow. The crisp air. They've rolled their eyes, insisted on a plastic tree, never ONCE helped me decorate the house. I was always saddened by this. Found myself feeling alone in my love for this time of year.

I recognize and appreciate all the traditions that are involved with this time of year. I know people who celebrate the solstice, who celebrate Hanukkah, who celebrate Sweet Lucia traditions , I don't know that I particularly care how people celebrate this season. What I care about is love and being part of a family.

In many ways, this time of year reminds me of how much I miss people I once considered family who are now, no longer in my life. You come to love people as part of your family and then life changes and those people are no longer your 'sister' or your 'mother' or your 'dad' or 'brother'. It becomes odd because your former partner has moved on and it is awkward trying to figure out how those people still fit in your life. You don't love them any less, certainly. I always send them love at this time of year - even if we don't see each other or get to talk. And for those, like my mom and grandparents, who are no longer in my life physically, but who never leave my heart, they are remembered as well.

Family. It is why I love this time of year. Because when I see my dad walking and getting stronger every day, I realize how close I was to not having him here this year. When I look back at how wonderful and supportive my extended family was when my sister and I were going back and forth between the hospital and our beds? Some of which I haven't seen in so many years, still opened their homes and hearts. When my sister sits next to me at Penn and Teller and we just look at each other and laugh because we don't even need to speak, I am grateful for having an incredibly precious bond with her. Because the people I work with feel like family and this time of year I feel so appreciative of my job and the people that work so hard to make our school the warm, inviting, caring and supportive place it is. And because 'you' read my blog - whoever 'you' are, I am grateful to you. For loving me, for leaving me notes, both here and in my 'inbox', and for all the support and joy you've brought me in my life.

Because this holiday season, in my life, is all about love.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

A 'double yolker' and the mile long road...


Last night, on my way home from work, I stopped at the neighbor lady and bought eggs. I was so excited, she hasn't had them since I've been back to Snohomish. When I pulled into the garage I grabbed my things, came into the house and started dinner. In honor of the fresh eggs, I decided to have some leftover chicken and an egg sandwich.

One of the eggs looked cracked, so I decided to use that one. When I broke it into the iron skillet, it was a *double yolker*!!! Instantly, I was 10 years old again. Sitting in the old blue truck with the pink carpet driving to god knows where with my dad to get eggs. I spent every Saturday dad would let me tag along with him traipsing around central Ohio. It was from going out into the boondocks and getting eggs, that I learned blue eggs, brown eggs, speckled eggs and white eggs were all wonderful. I had forgotten about double yolkers until today.

I found my eyes tearing up in the kitchen staring at the eggs. Thinking about how close I came to losing dad. A heart attack at 83? Triple bypass? I didn't really understand what those words meant until last week. I didn't understand what it meant to feel helpless in a situation where I clearly had no control. It wasn't until my marriage that I understood what anxiety attacks felt like, and it wasn't until last week that I remembered how powerful they are. For me? Anxiety attacks come when I feel trapped, or when I feel like no matter what I do, I can't stop what is happening.

Seeing my dad in pain wasn't easy. Being the 'manager' the one 'in control' all the time, makes it even more difficult because I was confronted with the 'I can't do anything to fix this' and didn't know how to manage all the emotions running around in my head and my heart. We were fortunate that we had amazing doctors and nurses that were kind, caring and compassionate. They talked us through things, allowed us to stay with dad well past any 'scheduled' visiting hours and called or talked to us several times a day. I was incredibly impressed with the people I came in contact with at the hospital and in the skilled nursing facility. It helped lower my stress and I know it helped lower my dad's.

This morning, I sit here, eating breakfast, thinking about my dad as my cat sits next to me and the fire burns in the fireplace. It's quiet. It's peaceful. I leave again next Tuesday for two weeks to make sure he is adjusting to being home and out of the daily skilled nursing care. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with my dad and my sister. It likely won't be as quiet and peaceful, but that's okay. I'm hoping to reconnect with family this trip. Because family? At least to me? Is essential.

Thanksgiving is going to look different this year, but maybe more powerful because I realize how much I have to be thankful for. I'm going to make every effort to have a 'healthy' meal this year with my family. There is one reason and one reason only that my dad is still alive. He is alive because before his heart attack he was watching his diet closely and he was walking a mile down the road every day. My dad took good care of his body and his body is responding by healing quickly and not quitting. If *I* had a triple bypass today? I am pretty sure I wouldn't be so lucky. I know things have to change in my life. I don't have to be 'thin' but it is time to move. I've been stuck for a while feeling sorry for myself and sad about certain things in my life that it is time to let go and move on from. In my life, it is time to *act* and not *think* about being healthy anymore. Maybe that is part of where my anxiety attacks are coming from. A need to get 'moving' and get 'out' of my head a bit.

I'm not grateful for my dad's heart attack. I liked the world before he got sick. When I didn't have to look at how fragile life is, how quickly and easily it can end. And? What it takes to be healthy to hold on and grow old. At my current weight, I won't grow old. Or if I do? I won't grow old healthy. No one is going to change that reality but me.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For a society where obesity is rampant, it sure is hard being fat...


Okay, I was so incensed by this article I *had* to post a blog on it. Marie Claire Magazine *paid* someone to write this article about the show "Mike and Molly" on tv. If you don't know, Mike and Molly are two fat people that meet at an overeater's anonymous meeting. The tv show is about their growing relationship. This article is about whether or not it is 'gross' to see fat people kissing on tv:


What shocks me is not about how biased and out and out *mean* it is about fat people; what shocks me is how it got past an EDITOR. Really?

My 'favorite' line is:

So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

This got by an editor? An editor with a brain? An editor who gives a DAMN about her publication? I can't decide if this is a publicity stunt or not. What I can decide? Is not to purchase this magazine. *EDIT: It seems she has written an apology at the end of the article. Good for her for apologizing. It does not, however, excuse the editor that let this get published in the first place.

What concerns me is our society's out and out hatred of fat people. The only thing I can think of that is worse than being gay is being fat. Heaven forbid you are gay *and* fat. It's like society needs a scapegoat, so it is anyone who is different that can 'change' themselves. This pervasive attitude that if you are gay or fat you can DO something about it if you weren't so lazy or wanting of attention. That you are disgusting if you are fat because clearly there is NO reason for it. It's one of the hardest parts of online dating. If you have no hair or you have no teeth, that isn't *your* fault, but if you are fat? People actually put in their profiles "no fatties, don't bother to even send me a hello". I understand preferences - I have them, you have them, we all do when we are looking for a partner... *deep breath*

I'm so frustrated.

Luckily, a student came in and I had to take a breath for a moment. Coming back to this blog post I think what disturbs me most is that even with all the high levels of bias I felt growing up, the bullying and cruelty I faced for being fat, I don't remember it being as bad as it is today. I wonder about our society. I wonder at its high levels of anger and rage. The hatred of different religions, Atheism, politics (like this Rand Paul supporter that stood on a woman protester's HEAD) fat people, gay people, teens hating and humiliating other teens, really the cruelty toward people of difference in our society. We have children killing themselves because of the cruelty and bullying they receive every single day. I was made fun of all through high school for being fat. I have made a successful life for myself, but I still see and experience the cruelty from people who aren't willing to get to know me because of my size.

Another deep breath. My question becomes, in order to live a 'noble' life, should I be tolerant of their intolerance? Isn't that sort of my creed? That people should be allowed to believe as they believe? I don't know. What I do know, is that their hatred and finger pointing isn't helping or solving any situation out there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hold On!!!!

no number since I am taking a break. <3

So, many of you know I do Nanowrimo in November. In the month of November I am set to write 50,000 words and 'complete' a novel. Every year that I have attempted this I have finished. It's been close, but I have done it. This year? I am having a very difficult time getting my story going. I read an entire book last night. The third in the 'Hunger Games" series. It was absolutely fantastic.

I realized something important, however. I am finding it very difficult to blog and write creatively. I put so much effort into my blog (it pretty much takes me several hours to write) I have almost nothing left over for my creative writing.

I've decided at this point to take a break from my blog. I'm at 60 entries tonight. (yay!) I am not 'stopping' my blog writing, but for the next 40 days, I am going to be working every night on my 'novel'. Right now, I really need to be putting together my plot ideas and central story...

Writing is a healthy element of my life. I will likely have a blog here and there... don't give up on me! :) Just know that every night is not going to happen. I really need to spend some time working on my nanonovel!

:) Peace everyone and see you December 1st for certain!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Love is...
(liking yourself...)


My parents had these glasses when I was a kid. Actually, my dad still has them. (This sample glass is being sold on a website for $12. My dad has a set of 6 I think.) The glasses are from 1974 and feature a little naked boy and girl with a variety of "love is..." sayings. I think the saying on this glass is "Love is... telling him how much his golf game has improved!" This photo makes it look like it says, "Love is... telling him how much his game has improved!" I kinda like that second one better.

Love in my life lately has been complicated. I thought tonight I'd do my own little "love is..." list.

Love is... knowing when to hold on and when to let go.
Love is... knowing you can cry and knowing it's okay.
Love is... making the healthy choice.
Love is... fitting your 'baggage' in nothing more than the overhead compartment.
Love is... trusting yourself.

*Love is... liking yourself.

I think I get the first four, but the last one? The trust one? Trust just doesn't come easy in my life. I trust my sister. I know I am safe in her presence (after "love is... thicker than water" what does that song MEAN???) But I'm not sure I trust myself, how do you trust someone else when you struggle to trust yourself? I especially doubt myself after ending a relationship. It takes me a while to dust off and pull myself together.

I've spent the last HOUR looking through photos of myself. I didn't like a *single* one of them. I'm adding 'liking yourself' to my list. Because I think that is where it starts. And liking myself isn't hating every single photo ever taken of me. I have a lot of confidence in myself and in how well I do my job... but in how I look? Well... I've just never felt confident in that.

In the end, this blog is about being healthy. And that starts not just with healthy food and healthy exercise... it also has to do with healthy self image. I'm not sure I've ever had a super healthy image of myself, but I'm learning! *chuckle*



Sunday, October 17, 2010

The closer the cow, the tastier the meat...


Today I made a fantastic brisket. Wow that was an amazingly boring sentence. However, the brisket is fantastic, boring sentence aside. It is a thing of beauty. I love meat. Sometimes I feel bad about that. I feel like if I were more responsible about the planet I wouldn't eat meat. And I try to cut back on my meat eating, but it is so good. Right now, in my fridge, I have lamb, organic grass fed ground beef, brisket and chicken breasts. That's a lot of meat for one person. I think that comes from growing up cooking for a family. I miss that. A lot. So if I invite you to dinner... COME for crying out loud. It isn't work for me and it makes me all happy to have someone to cook for that appreciates my cooking. I've lived with people who haven't appreciated my cooking *chuckle* I stopped cooking. Which is a shame. Because I truly love to cook.

Back in college, I used to be a vegetarian. I was relatively happy as a vegetarian, although I did eat fish, eggs and cheese. I don't eat cheese now, as it makes my stomach hurt. And really? I remember the day I decided not to be a vegetarian. I was going to Mexico, knew it would be difficult to be a vegetarian there and decided to go to Burger King. This was 20 years ago mind you. I loved that burger. It had been over 2 years since I had eaten red meat. My body was miserable later, but I remember thinking, my god I love meat.

Having made this brisket, I realize the importance of good quality meat. It is worth the extra money for organic beef. Whole Foods shows the farm where the meat is raised and harvested. I feel good about buying my meat there. Having bought cheap meat at Costco before, now I look at that long cooler full of meat that is stretched out across three isles and I know I don't want to participate in that sort of factory beef. If I am going to eat meat, the least I can do is buy sustainable beef. I'd love to buy a side of beef from a local farmer, but it costs around $600 and I can't afford that right now. Eventually! In the meantime, I buy from farmer's markets, Central Market and Whole  Foods (called Whole Paycheck by those in the know). Maybe I am just buying my meat there to make myself feel less guilty, but I really believe their meat is better. There is a small butcher shop near where I live, I keep thinking I will go and check it out but haven't yet. I tried the butcher that promotes local beef, but I wasn't impressed with their meat.

In the end? I believe in being more organic, eating food that is grown within 100 miles of my home and supporting local farmers who are growing fruit, vegetables and raising chickens and selling eggs. The food tastes better and I feel better supporting my local community. I admit I still buy tomatoes out of season, even though they have absolutely NO taste. I still buy bananas. I still buy other vegetables out of season... but when possible, I choose local and I choose organic.

Next year? I want to have a garden. I have plenty of space for one... I just wish I was better at tending and managing a garden... well... next year is the year I find out. I'm starting with strawberries and going from there! I plan on canning my food, I've gotten quite good at it, and having fresh veggies into the winter next year. We'll see how that goes, but I'm already reading about it! Plus I know a great lawn guy who is fantastic with plants... He doesn't have to know yet that he'll be helping me! *lol*



Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gettin' their hate on...


In my classes this year, I've noticed some kids who *really* seem to have a hatred for Christians. It upsets me. While I don't know that I would put myself in the 'Christian' camp, I have a fondness for their campfire stories. I also like the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Tao and Judaic campfire tales. In fact, for the most part, I'm pretty open to the parables and narratives from just about any campfire. Heck, even though I may not be able to fathom the belief in some of the tales out there, I can appreciate the right of someone to believe what speaks to his or her heart. I also recognize that to many, the foundations of their beliefs are not mere 'stories'. I do not think I will ever see it otherwise, but my saying that isn't meant to demean another's belief. If your belief is that the written word is absolute truth, I can respect that about you. My caveat is that you don't try to force me to hold that same belief.

What I don't get is the 'hate on' some people today have for Christians. I think a lot of this new crop of hatred comes from fundamental Atheists led by Dawkins and other 'militant' believers. Calling an atheist a believer may seem like an oxymoron, but it isn't. People who follow some of these dogmatic 'leaders' that decry any "Faith" as 'drivel that serves absolutely no purpose' are as dogmatic as really any other fundamental religion. These people scream out the Bible is a 'fairy tale and a BAD one that has practically destroyed mankind' and are so enraged they almost scare me as much as the people they scream about. They have put their 'faith' in the 'rational'. Yet they turn around and are as rude, righteous and narrow-minded as they claim those they rail against are. I wonder if it is *really* Christianity these people are so angry with.

I think what people are truly angry about is the demand that there is only ONE RIGHT WAY. These Atheists think that the Christian religion has forced its patriarchal structure and "one right way' beliefs on humanity for too long. I get that. And I understand the frustration people feel when they are told "Jesus is the ONLY way and if you don't believe it you are condemned to hell and your life is worth nothing." Or, the idea that because you don't share their faith it's okay to destroy the Qua-ran because you aren't "God's chosen people." But just like it is only a *small* portion of Christian extremists that want to burn books, it is a small amount of Islamic extremists that want to fly planes into buildings. And, true to that analogy, it is only a small percentage of Atheists that are 'militant' and want to end *all* religion. Intolerance is intolerance.

The irony to me, is that these 'angry Atheists' are as narrow-minded as the very people they are screaming about. It amazes me that they don't see it. But then, how often do we really want to hear or listen to someone who is so opposed to us? When having a debate for example over Murry or Rossi... can you have a civil discussion? The political ads certainly aren't fair and balanced. Is that where we are now as a society? That we accept hate as a good way of communicating our thoughts?

I believe faith serves an important function in our lives. I know it does in mine. Faith allows me to feel connected to something larger than myself. It allows me to recognize my universal connection to all things. By recognizing we're all *one* family, and recognizing we aren't the owners of this planet but just one of  billions of lifeforms inhabiting this planet - faith really does bring us together.

I won't lie, I still struggle with how some people believe. And I accept that I am, perhaps, a bit naive. I know for me, that in order to be healthy, I have to continue working on being accepting of another's belief even if that person holds beliefs I fundamentally disagree with.

I will hold your right to believe as you believes to my grave. Along with your right to believe as you so choose, I still hold true that your belief ends where mine begins.



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why I Should Take Notes...


I had the greatest idea for a blog tonight. Was super psyched. In the time it took me to get home? I forgot the whole thing. The whole situation is bumming me out. Now? I have no idea what to write about. And it's 9:54.

It's now 10:25. I still have nothing to write about.


Okay, I need to work on my creative writing story for Nanowrimo. National Novel Writing Month. It's in November. You pledge to write 50,000 words in one month. I think my biggest problem is that I can't seem to do both. Blogging is one side of my brain, creative writing is the other. So I don't know.

I just know? It's 10:33 and my idea bank is sort of slow tonight. I'm also really tired and I want to go to bed. So, I think this might be the best I can do.

ps. Hockey game on Friday again. I will be more aware of my eating.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugar. Damn it.


Two cups of super sweet hot chocolate, rice crispy bar and sugar infused corn dogs and cornsyrup infused ketchup? Great hockey game. Terrible food choices.

Holy sugarcrash Batman! I don't eat that much sugar and tonight for whatever reason I went nutso. The thing about sugar is that it is a drug. It acts like a drug in my body. There is a reason why I don't eat sugar. It starts a bad cycle of craving. For example. Right now I'm sitting here craving food. I am absolutely NOT hungry. Not even remotely. But all the sugar in my body and the dopamine my brain is producing is like being in my happy place but already I'm thinking MORE. I need MORE SUGAR. But um... I need water because I know I'm gonna crash and my headache tomorrow will be monstrous. *groan*

So... yeah. I'm not sure why I ate so much sugar tonight. It has made me stupid. I can't think. My sentences don't go well together. So with that thought? I'm gonna crash. Wish me luck tomorrow! *smile*



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Parthenon, Perfection and Readiness


Short blog tonight. I'm watching a special on restoring the Parthenon in Greece. It's a 70,000 piece 3 dimensional jigsaw puzzle. I'm fascinated by it. Turns out? That as much as we are taught that the Parthenon is perfect? It is actually an optical illusion designed to make it LOOK perfect. SO hey if the Parthenon is only an optical illusion to give the appearance of perfection? I can let go of thinking I need to have my life perfect. It's all illusion anyhow! One of the things about the restoration of the Parthenon I find amazing is that we can't put together in 30 years what it took them 9 years to build 2,000 years ago. I want to go there. Part of why I want to get healthy is because I want to go to Greece. I want to go to Africa, Italy and India as well. I do believe I will make it to all those places. I'm still struggling with adding the exercise piece to my 'healthy' living.

We've been talking at work about 'readiness'. About how we have some students who can do the intellectual work of a class, but don't have the readiness to do the homework piece, or the reading piece, or the writing piece, etc. That each class contains a series of skill sets, and that for some students, they can handle some of the skill sets, but struggle with others. And no amount of forcing them will make them ready until they are ready.

I think that is true with my exercising right now. I can try to force myself to be ready, but until I am ready? It won't matter. I'm close. I have been exercising more, but right now? It is still more than what I can do consistently.

I read about a fascinating book today called "The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite" I'm excited to read it; here is an article talking about it. It's all about how our food is full of additives that affect our brain chemicals and create cravings.

So I'm going to read it, I'll let you know what I think of it when I finish. In the meantime, I'm going to get some sleep. 



Monday, October 11, 2010

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.
 Erica Jong


I've been thinking a great deal about when to speak and when to *not* insert myself into a conversation. As a natural extrovert, it's hard not to jump in to conversations. Part of what makes me good at my job is my ease with people - my ability to connect and communicate. Although I have been told I don't know how to listen and I'm not a good communicator, I believe the guy who said that is wrong. I believe I do communicate well. I think, however, that in the process of communicating, at times, I find myself giving 'advice'...

Do most people really want advice? I ask my sister for advice all the time, but until I am really ready to hear it she might as well talk to a wall. Because when I ask Margaret for advice? The truth is? I already know the answer I am just not ready to hear it. My most recent foray into a relationship is the perfect example. My sister told me what she saw, I told her that things had changed. Things hadn't changed. I just wished they had. I *wished* things had changed. I *wished* I was finally appreciated. I *wished* the future was what I had always hoped it would be. But they hadn't, I wasn't, and on some level I knew it wouldn't. I held on for a while but finally let go. As soon as I was ready? All that advice my sister gave me? Yeah. It all made sense. But the key is that it wasn't information I didn't already have inside.

Here is the thing. I think I seek advice when I have stopped trusting myself. Because I knew. I KNEW that as much as I *wished* things were different? They weren't. When I look back on my life, I got the most screwed up when I started asking everyone around me for advice. Once, several years ago, I was crazy for a guy. But I knew... bad idea. For many reasons. But I kept spiraling down, down, down. Until one day? My sister walked into my office. I looked at her and said, "Marge, just tell me what to do." She looked at me. I started crying. Because I knew. And there wasn't anything she could tell me that even from the pit of my denial, I couldn't already see.

When I stop trusting myself, I get lost. I take that *first* small step off of my truth and justify it. Addicts do it all the time, I'll use food addiction. I tell myself  I'll just go to that favorite restaurant to hang with my friends. I won't eat my favorite dessert! I'll have just a salad. Then I get to the restaurant, and my favorite appetizer is on the menu, well I'll just *share* it with everyone. Well, I can have the Halibut because it's JUST fish... Oh and my sister ordered my favorite dessert so I'll just have ONE bite. Next thing I know? I have eaten more than HALF of it. Each little step off of my path leads me farther and farther away from my core truth. It's one thing when it's trying to resist a favorite dessert. It's another when each little step takes me farther and farther away from a core sense of self that leaves me empty and lost when I turn to myself for advice.

I can almost always tell when I am stepping off my path. And I am getting better and better at stopping myself before I fall head first down the cliff. I still struggle like hell sometimes. Like tonight, when really? I want to eat the entire damn fridge. But I don't. I'm sure it is the smell of that apple butter permeating my entire house. It smells SO good and warm bread with warm apple butter is pretty much the only thing I can thing about.

Which means it's time for sleep. And time to listen to my own advice. Which apparently? Is the best person I should be taking advice from...



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumn Nights, Shifting Patterns

10/10/10, cool!

I've already talked about the joys of homemade apple butter, but there is something about the apple butter in my kitchen cooking that makes me so happy and comfortable. My whole house smells like Autumn. ahhh. It is the most relaxed I've felt in days.

I love the Autumn. I love the smell of the leaves, the colors, the fire in the fireplace. I have one going tonight. I don't need a fire, but it makes me happy to have one. I have always loved Autumn, ever since I was a child. My biggest struggle, is like the polar bear that wanders through my dreams, I pack on weight. As soon as the weather starts to change? My body goes through this 'pack on the weight' thing. *deep breath*

I'm trying to be aware this autumn and not 'eat so I can go hibernate' *chuckle*. I'm glad I'm taking the time to be aware of my body and make good choices.

I think life is full of patterns. Some of those patterns take me forward, some of those patterns aren't productive. I look at where I was at this time last year, the patterns that ruled my life. I'm glad I was able to step away from a pattern that wasn't working in a space where I was so unhappy, to find a more healthy pattern and a healthier way of seeing myself.

I have a long way to go, but in letting go of my drive to be 'perfect' and to keep 'control' of everything in order to appear like I have no faults, no struggles and no 'issues', I realize I am living a more authentic life. Living an authentic life, being present to struggle and honest with my successes and my stumbles is a lot harder than it seems. However, I believe the rewards for sticking this out, are worth it. Not to be some 'perfect size' or some 'perfect person' but to be a better person. A person who can act from a more compassionate place. A deeper spirituality and connection to myself and others. :).

So I'm going to snuggle by the fire tonight, and stir my apple butter and pet my cat.

Have a wonderful Autumn evenings everyone...



Saturday, October 09, 2010

Zut Alors! I have missed one!


Ooops. I actually forgot yesterday. I think I was just so super tired I couldn't really think. I fell asleep and woke up at 4am. I wrote a short story and got ready to have my writing group over for our Saturday writing group.

I had an interesting experience at work on Thursday that reminded me why I love my job.One of my students walked into my office and asked me the following question: "Can you tell me the difference between empathy, sympathy, pity and compassion?"

Because that isn't a hard question! Eeesh. So we started talking. We first looked up each word and I asked him what he thought of the definition. The definitions were often sort of vague and the following is sort of a summary of the 30 minute conversation we had.

I started with pity. We talked about how pity is sort of looking down on someone/something. It doesn't always contain scorn, but it often has some undercurrent to it.

Next we moved on to sympathy. We talked about how sympathy is when you feel a connection to someone and you feel compelled to act. For example, you see a beggar and you feel compelled to give that beggar money because of guilt. It's not too far from pity, but sympathy is still acting almost unconsciously.

Empathy, we sort of talked about how it is the capacity to be able to put yourself in the 'shoes' of another human being. Especially for a situation you have never experienced personally. For example, I have (knock on wood) been fortunate in my life to not have needed to get so much as stitches. However, my best friend is going through a lot with her reconstruction surgery. It's been almost a month and she still has drains in, can't bend over to pick things up and needs help. I can't understand her situation from a physical perspective, but I can in some small way share her frustration and empathize with the difficulty of her situation from an emotional perspective. It's the ability to identify with someone without having had the experience yourself.

Compassion? We sort of decided is the 'noblest' of all the choices. Compassion is a deep awareness of the suffering of another. There is no compulsion to act. It  implies a freedom of choice. An awareness of suffering and an ability to hold that suffering without feeling guilt. To act from compassion is to act almost altruistically. It is the freedom to give to a community without requiring something in return. It is, to me, why Mother Theresa worked with orphans. She had compassion for the suffering of that community. She had no guilt, no order to give, she gave because it was how she chose to dedicate her life.

I then asked  if he knew the idea of apathy. He said he didn't. I shared the idea that the opposite of love, to me, isn't hate. He looked at me. I knew he liked Halo. I said, do you love Halo? He said, yeah! (he's only a freshman, a bit early to love a girl *smile*) I said, tell me what you think about Halo. He told me about how he thought about the strategy, about the graphics, about how great the story line was, about how cool the new weapons were. I told him to imagine I hated Halo. I asked him how he thought I would act if someone said how much they like halo. He said I'd tell people how stupid I thought the game was. How much I didn't like the graphics and thought people that played Halo were dumb. (He'd obviously had friends that didn't like the game). I asked him if how I felt 'hating' the game was different than how he felt 'loving' the game. He's an amazingly perceptive kid. He said he could see how the two were similar. Both people had strong feelings about the game. I said that those feeling were attachments to something. That one attachment would be considered a 'positive' connection and one a 'negative' one, but both people were strongly effected by their feelings for the game.

Then we tackled apathy. I said apathy is not caring about the game at all. If you asked me about Halo and I said that I knew about Halo, had maybe played it a couple of times but didn't care if I ever played it again. I might be considered apathetic about it. I had no attachment to it, or to if there was ever another one of them made. He got that.

It was a fascinating conversation. His assignment was to go and look up different perspectives of those words and tell me what others thought about them.

It was a great class. Thus why I love my job. I love digging into topics like that. Some might say that it had nothing to do with world history which is the 'official' class we are having. I say? It has everything to do with it.



Thursday, October 07, 2010

Remember that 'dating' blog entry???


So, my blog Dating again...hmmm that I wrote all of 5 days ago? I'd like to retract that one please. I might have been jumping the gun. I forgot how much dating isn't fun. Until you find mutuality,  you are stuck being either the rejector or the rejected and *neither* position feels good. It doesn't matter if you are rejected by someone you've loved for years, someone you've loved for months, or someone you've loved for moments. It. Still. Sucks.

I think, perhaps the hardest thing, is how I've gone about meeting people in my late 30s/ early 40s. Most of these guys are guys I've first 'met' online. I've never seen them, but I've build up a story in my head no matter how hard I've tried *not* to do that.  I get to present the sane, best side of  myself - he does too. On paper/screen, we seem to have so much in common. Then? We meet and I realize (or he does), no way. Or even while we are chatting I think, um...this isn't going to work. Then I have to tell another person (who might still be excited by the idea of further deepening the relationship) that it isn't going to work. I feel bad, the other person feels bad. No way around it. I rethink everything I said, wonder if there wasn't a better way to say it... then pick myself up and do it all over again.

Yeah. I didn't even make it to the first date. I'm not sure I trust myself right now. I keep being told that I don't listen. That I don't hear what a guy is actually saying. I swear I actually spent the last relationship I was in working HARD to listen to what the dude was saying because I don't always trust what he says. I was crazy enough to think we were at *least* in the same chapter. Nope. Not even in the same damn book. Over and over again guys say,  "I *never* said that, MK. I don't know where you got that idea, but I *never* said it." 

And I think, ... am I making shit up? Am I an idiot? Am I stupid?

I am none of these things. And I believe I  'hear' what a guy says. I do think, however, that two things are going on. On my side I'm attached to a certain outcome and it colors my perceptions of what the guy is saying. On his side, I think people say things they don't always mean when they want to make someone happy. Once upon a time I was dating someone who was crazy about me. Every time I looked into this person's eyes? I knew I couldn't return that level of devotion. I *wanted* to... but I knew I couldn't. I found myself saying all kinds of things to make the other happy. I said things at the moment that I believed, but knew deep down weren't going to happen. Perhaps because *I* hoped on some level that *maybe* I could feel those things. But I didn't. And the end of that relationship was painful; to this day I wish I had ended it better... with more compassion. I guess I've learned each time I've loved. It doesn't get easier. Even when I've thought, ohhh I *found* it! I found a relationship with someone who loves me and we now get to build a life together! Even then there aren't any guarantees. 

I hope I don't sound morose, or bitter or angry. I'm not. I just realize the way I have gone about meeting people or reconnecting with people from my past, hasn't really worked so well for me... So for a while? I'm going to stop actively seeking a 'partner' I'm going to do things that make me happy. One of my dearest friends was in her 50s before she met the man of her dreams. So yeah, it's not like I *need* to be in a hurry.

I'm going to spend some time exploring my own curiosities and following my spirit. I'm also going to cultivate the friends I already have. I want to do activities that make me smile, like picking apples or mushrooms this weekend. I'm also researching different spiritual groups (there's an interesting church near where I live that is non-traditional...) Maybe I'll join a choir or perhaps do a little theater... We'll see.  I'm okay with meeting people and striking up a conversation with someone, as demonstrated by my serenading dinner companion the other night *lol*. I'm okay with the idea of hanging out. The rest? Well, the rest can take care of itself. When I sit in the quiet of my office after a busy day is over, I know my life is upbeat, present, healthy and happy. Anything on top of that is gravy. :).



Wednesday, October 06, 2010

My Wild Days? Ain't Over Yet... 

Today is day 50. Well, 50ish. I'm halfway through my goal of 100 days. Can someone please tell me why I didn't pick 30 days?

So I've learned at the halfway point, that it takes more than just me writing to be healthy. I have to move... I have started moving more and I can already tell the difference. I've preordered Just Dance2 for the Wii -it's coming out next week. That should be fun exercise as well...

I've also learned that maybe? I'm not really ready to date yet. Who knows. I think I'm going to be clear about what I am seeking, then step back let go of trying to meet people on the internet and focus on fostering the relationships already in my life. I also want to follow my heart and find a group or two to get involved with - spiritually or maybe musically. I'm thinking letting it grow organically might be the best option in my world.

I feel like I have a better understanding of my world, my relationship to food and my relationship to myself. I still stumble but I really do keep getting back up.

There really isn't anything harder than heartbreak to navigate, and I feel like I am slowly finding peace and my centeredness again. Maybe it is a lot easier for some people to move on than others. I know for me? It isn't ever easy or quick. It takes a long time for the hopes and dreams I had to fully release and for me to be free of the visions I had for a future that isn't going to come to pass. These next 50 days for me are going to continue to be focused on being healthy, eating well, exercising, deepening my connection to my spirit and enjoying my time with my circle of people around me that offer me love and support. I have a lot to learn; each day I find something more that I didn't realize about myself and about how I relate to people in the world.

I don't suppose I'll ever reach a point where I am 'done' being healthy or 'done' working on being a better person. I grow because I feel compelled to understand myself better. I feel compelled to understand my relationship to my spirituality better. I feel compelled to understand my relationship to love better... As I become more aware I realize that this journey I'm on? This life time of experiences never stops...

The other night, I sat alone in a restaurant eating dinner. I was reading my Kindle. There was a gentleman sitting three tables away also eating alone, reading his Sony eReader. He was wearing a dream catcher ear ring with a golden feather on it. I figured he was probably my kind of people *chuckle*. Anyhow after I ordered, he started to talk to me. It was a good conversation about mythology and free ebooks and how Amazon and publishers are stupid for not realizing their audience very well...He talked a little about how he had the sony ereader and his wife had the kindle. Then we started talking about scifi and I mentioned I taught Mythology classes. Somehow I ended up mentioned the mythic goddess Inanna. We talked about Inanna and strong female characters in books and novels. He said he didn't know the story of Inanna very well, so I told him about the myth of Inanna and her trip to the underworld, where Ereshkigel - Queen of the Underworld just laughed at the boldness of Inanna and took off Inanna's skin and hung it on the wall. Fascinating myth. Anyhow the guy said, "Hey I know a song about Inanna" and began singing this "The Burning Times" (the refrain goes: Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Innana). In the RESTAURANT. This guy I didn't know, will likely never see again, began singing this song...to *me*. What is odder is that I KNEW the song. I almost had a GLEE moment and started to sing along, but my inhibition and the people staring in the restaurant held my tongue. But it is such an obscure song... anyhow. I bring it up because my life? Never ceases to be fascinating. Just when I think I am old and my 'wild' experiences are over? Something like this happens to remind me that my life? Isn't even half over yet. I haven't even begun to experience what the universe has in store for me...

The more I connect with my spirituality, the more these connected experiences happen in my life. So, obviously if the other night was any indication? There are plenty of wild experiences left! Plenty of spiritual moments. Plenty of love, passion, delight, mystery, pain, sorrow and joyful experiences left in my life to savor.

I want to be healthy so I can delight in all of them.

Now, tonight? I'm headed off to a hockey game! GO TIPS!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

people and cats first...


Tonight I had to put people and cats first. I had a long day and my halfway post is something I want to be well thought out. So after spending two hours working out "people stuff" Princess Kitteh has come and curled up on my chest begging for attention. Not being able to see my keyboard is making typing difficult. But I'm having an amazing moment of 'centeredness' as kitteh sits here on my chest purring... I feel more at peace than I have in a while. I will write blog post 50 tomorrow night. :)

Hey the cool thing to my 100 days of getting healthy is that i get to make and alter my own rules!



Monday, October 04, 2010

Sometimes, bed is just the better choice...

So today? I don't know if I managed to do one healthy thing. I had three cups of coffee, I didn't work out, I emotionally vomited all over someone *and* I didn't really eat that great. Oh, did I mention?  I'm absolutely exhausted.

*sigh* I am just taking a deep breath and heading to bed. Because I think too much. And because tonight?

I just don't want to.



Sunday, October 03, 2010

Pardon me, did I get emotional vomit on your shoe?


I had a wonderful day today. The Writer's Conference was inspiring and so was the lunch I had with a friend. We sat, looked out over the water and talked about writing, where our stories come from, our dreams and Jesus.

I like Jesus. And we talked about liking Jesus. And I told her of a situation in my life right now that has caused me to confront some parts of myself that are... complicated concerning religion. I'm not talking about my beliefs again, I covered that pretty well here. But I very much enjoyed our lively discussion about god, Jesus, life, the world. It was an absolutely wonderful afternoon. We didn't see eye to eye on everything, but we navigated our differences respectfully.

Yesterday she and I were talking and I said something I felt was harsh. I brought it up at lunch. I apologized and she asked why I felt the need to apologize. The thrust of the conversation was that she had said something that had pushed a button in me. Instead of processing how I was feeling, I jumped into the conversation and disagreed with her. What I was apologizing for was practically cutting her off with my need to get my opinion inserted into the conversation. I took my emotional frustration out on *her* instead of making my feelings of unease about *me*. I apologized for emotionally vomiting on her. She said she was used to that, she worked in an office of guys that often dismiss her. Then? I felt even worse. Anyhow, we talked through the situation and  I believe we both had a better perspective on why  I reacted in the way that I did. I was grateful for the chance to apologize and I learned a lot from our conversation about it.

One of the faults in my life that I've been working on lately is feeling the need to comment on every conversation. I've been trying to process and practice not interjecting my thoughts into every discussion. I have been consciously asking myself: Does my addition to the conversation add to or further the discussion? What is the value-add to me speaking right now? Am I only speaking because I feel uncomfortable in the silence? Is speaking right now about me wanting attention or approval? Is putting my opinion on the table useful or productive?

If the value is positive, I might go ahead and share. But if what I am adding is only me interjecting my opinion onto the person telling his/her story? It is not only unnecessary, it is rude and detracts from the person speaking.

I have spent much of my life speaking out my thoughts in groups - easily, quickly, loudly and emphatically. In the past I haven't been particularly comfortable in silence, which has also caused me to blurt things out. Shockingly, the world doesn't always need to know my thoughts (yeah the irony that I just wrote those words in a BLOG is not lost on me). Usually? I have spoken up in groups because I wanted approval or because I wanted to be 'liked' or perceived as 'smart'. Also, I am a natural extrovert and much of my processing comes externally. As I spend more time learning about myself and growing, I realize those reasons aren't healthy.

I think I noticed that I am shifting my way of being in groups because of an incident that happened this weekend. At the keynote speaker event, after giving her lecture,  Natalie Goldberg invited questions about the writing process. One woman stood up and started talking about how her mother had never encouraged her and how her family no longer spoke to her. When Natalie Goldman gave the 'mmm' in a sympathetic tone, the woman who was still going on about how cut off she was from her family got upset saying, "I would appreciate you not saying 'mmm' as I am standing here trying not to cry and that isn't helping." Natalie graciously replied that she identified with struggles the woman was presenting. So, the woman asking the now *very* drawn out question went on a bit more about her family, and finally Natalie gently but firmly said, "So what is the question here?"

And I realized the important part for me wasn't the question(which believe it or not I can't even *remember*), but the shock I felt. I sat there listening to this woman, this stranger, this young attractive lady, emotionally vomit all over 500 people. That this young lady would stand up and share such deeply personal information to a room full of strangers made me turn and look at my friend only to see my friend was as puzzled as I was. I started to contemplate the questioner's motives and I realized she was pushing my buttons because in the past,  *I* have done that.

I even started to think about graduation speeches. And why I cry every year. And I wondered, who is that crying about? Me or the student? It is something I will have to spend more time processing, because I am wondering if I need to rethink my graduation speeches and what I share. Is my raw vulnerability on the stage necessary? Does my crying end up detracting from the speech? Does my crying make the speech about *me* not about the student standing up on that stage? All real questions. All issues I have to spend some time processing. Don't misunderstand, my crying is never an 'act'. But it comes because I write very emotionally honest speeches. The crying comes because I put myself out there because I want the audience to really *see* in the student standing there the amazing human being *I* see. And I'm wondering if that is really necessary... perhaps there is a way to do that without being so emotionally invested - because I really do wonder if the people in the audience? Are uncomfortable when they see me struggle to get through my graduation speeches.

So tonight I am getting out a good novel (on my Kindle), perhaps lighting a fire and spending some non-tv time with myself and my nutty cat. I am not really ready to dig into the whole "am I  being emotionally irresponsible when I give graduation speeches" question yet, but I am realizing that it is one thing to share and it is another thing to emotionally vomit all over someone else. I don't emotionally vomit all over people during graduation, but I have, in the past, been known to act from an emotional place and ram my opinions down someone else's throat because I am anxious or upset. This weekend was a good opportunity for me to see some of  my own human foibles and to illuminate some pieces of myself that, while I may not be fond of, I can use as an opportunity to grow and become a healthier more compassionate person.



Saturday, October 02, 2010

Write On The Sound...


I have spent hours today enveloped in writing, with little left over for my blog. I spent the day at a writer's conference in Edmonds. I go almost every year and have not been disappointed. Today I heard a lecture by Natalie Goldberg. She wrote the book Writing Down the Bones.Her speech was great and I felt very connected to the people around me listening to what she had to say about getting in touch with the deeper writer within.

There is something so empowering when you spend time with like-minded people. I can't begin to describe how much I enjoy spending time with other writers at this conference. Now, some of these people are a little off the beaten path (okay, some are so way off the path they need a Garmin) but that desire to write? That push to compose? It's wonderful immersing myself in that energy and connecting with the people that swim in that particular pool. I suppose every human craves a community. A place to feel loved, connected, accepted. I feel that way with my writing group (I <3 you Teri, Val and MaryAnn) and I feel that way with the people at this conference. I may never publish anything, but who knows! The world has room for all sorts of magic and dreams are a part of being happy. I remember once telling someone in a jovial manner 'hey, I could publish a book and never have to work again!' His response was, "You know that isn't going to happen, right?" well phooey on that response! I *like* to dream, it is what makes me a good writer, a good story teller and a good friend. I believe being around people who also like to dream and tell stories and laugh.

Being around people that write makes me light up inside. I like hearing and reading their writing, I like how they all want, no it's more than want, it's *need* to tell the stories inside of them.Some people get that community feeling from biking with friends, or horseback riding, or being part of a group that makes glass 'flowers' out of old antique dishes, or gardening groups or reading groups or one of a million other hobbies that bring people together...

I like writing. I like being around writers. Some of them grate on my nerves like steel wool on porcelain, and some? Some of them are like finding family I didn't know I had, but feeling as if I have known them all my life and being so very glad to see them. I met a woman like that today.

If you have a passion... something that makes you sing inside? I hope you follow it. I hope you connect and find a community where you feel loved, accepted, cherished and appreciated. Because I have and I do.

I thought I would share something I wrote in a flash fiction class today, the 'assignment', was to take a phrase (I chose the phrase 'because I could') from some of the handouts and then in about five minutes use words from the previous sentence to compose a piece of 'flash fiction':

I left
because I could
because I could walk away
because I could no longer face your eyes
your eyes that held no passion and never had
once, when I was young, my eyes held great passion
and I thought my great passion was enough
but it was not
and I am not
and because I could?
I did.

:). Not bad, not great but for 5 minutes? I thought it wasn't too bad of an effort. :).

Off tomorrow to the conference again. Looking forward to day two of learning, sharing and just basking in the joy of being part of my community.



Friday, October 01, 2010

It's apple butter time!!!!!


I'm going to put up my apple butter recipe tonight. I had a few people ask for  it today. I don't have any apples at this time to actually *make* apple butter... sooo when I do this fall this is the recipe I will use. And yes... most of you will get apple butter for holidays because I jar it! Oh and once I *do* make apple butter? I'll add some photos to my blog!

I use a pretty low sugar recipe, so you might want to add more sugar to your liking. I also use agave sweetener - you can use sugar instead if you don't like agave. Also? You can use store bought jars of applesauce. Organic, non-sweetened is what I recommend. You'll need enough to fill up to one inch of the top of the crock pot, then you'll want to add more later once it starts to cook down. I have no idea how many because I only use apples, but I'd say, depending on how much apple butter you want to make? At *least* seven quart jars.

You'll need:
a canning pot (even if you don't plan on canning this - it's to boil apples)
a 6 qt crock pot (I have this one but honestly? I don't love it)
good pumpkin pie spice (it's my secret. I can't believe I am telling you! *grin*)
apple cider vinegar
brown sugar (use the best organic whole brown sugar you can find. It makes a huge difference)
whole sugar (I use turbinado)
agave syrup
food mill
sweet apples! here is a great chart on apples click it to make it bigger

You can pick apples, or buy seconds or even thirds from the growers. You're going to be boiling them then straining them, how they look is unimportant. HOWEVER if you can? DO NOT BUY APPLES WITH WAX on them. It just... is icky when you are boiling them and the wax stays in the water blah blah blah. avoid it.

To make applesauce:
You do *not* have to peel your apples first. Slice them into quarters or use an apple slicer and dump them into your canner. Fill it full of apples, then add water. I also add a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar. Cover with water. Let boil for at *least* an hour. I usually boil my apples until they are *really* soft. 

Then, save a cup or so of the apple water - I use this if my apple butter starts to get 'dry' before it turns a nice dark shade of brown. I usually leave the apples in the water and use a strainer to take out the apples and put them into my food mill. I have one of these and I have one of these. Both work great, but the automatic one is a lot easier on my arms! (a box is a huge amount of apples).

That's all there is to apple sauce. Transfer the strained apple sauce to your crock pot(put the seeds and skin in your compost!). Add cinnamon to taste, then add about 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup whole sugar and 1/4 cup agave. That is *all* the sugar I add. I also add at least 1T of pumpkin pie spice, sometimes more. Now taste the mix. If it tastes perfect? You'll likely be adding more sugar or spice later. Don't overdo spices now! It will cook down and then you'll try it again and can decide if you want to add more spice or sugar.

The key now? Is to leave the lid slightly cracked open and put it on low. It will take about two days. Maybe more. About halfway through, I sometimes add more applesauce. 

Stir it. Your house is going to smell amazing. 

But it really does take about two days. And if you think it is done? Let it cook longer! It should cook down *more* than half. Let me know how it goes. Apple butter in my world is a pretty much batch by batch experience. But once you make the applesauce and then taste the apple butter? You'll understand why it is so amazing and why all my friends hope and hope they'll get a jar for the holidays!

Good Luck and let me know how it goes!



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dating again...hmmm


Soooo I have decided I think I am ready to enter back into the world of 'dating' again. I think enough time has passed and I believe I have resolved issues with the end of previous relationships. I wish I was more excited. I mean I *am* excited and I've talked to some really nice guys... It's just kind of daunting and it can be an emotional roller coaster ride.

I realized this time I am in a new space. Confident in myself and not desperate for anyone or any particular experience. I cut ties that have lasted a long, long time. It feels almost odd not to carry them around, but I find myself so much happier without them.

I'm down a few more pounds I'm not in any hurry with that either. I am who I am. :). I suppose that makes 30 since January. I'm hoping to make it closer to 50 by the time January rolls around again. I'll keep you posted. *chuckle* I have water slides to navigate again and a goddaughter who will drag me on every one of them! *smile*

So I've checked a few different web sites. I'm not completely sure I want to dig into web sites again. Lord. It's the bars of the 80s and I hated those. The biggest problem I find with online dating is that when you meet someone online, it is so easy to fall into unrealistic expectations based on email conversations. I always find it a good idea to meet quickly... But one thing I have realized? I don't want to settle for 'comfortable'. I've watched people do that and it doesn't usually end well. And? *I* don't want to be the one settled with... so hey... it could take some time to find that good guy in my life... 

I am a relatively optimistic person :). I like that about myself. And I believe? There is a good guy out there because I am a good gal and there is someone out there that will appreciate that and not dump me for... well... someone else. So on the one hand? I'm pretty excited about meeting that person. On the other hand? Online dating seems like a meat market of high expectations and old photos that are supposed to be 'recent'. Okay guys... I may be a bad judge of age, but you are NOT 49. Ummm? Being honest is such a better policy... And sometimes some of these websites people get to 'rate' your profile! I had enough of people 'rating' me in high school. I think I will avoid those sites.

I think I'll also avoid the people who just send me messages without even reading my profile. For example this fine 'hello' from a  ' conservative, god-loving, christian, romantic guy'.  I wrote back, "Hi! I'm not sure that a conservative god-loving christian would really want to spend much time with a bleeding heart liberal pagan. Best wishes" I'm not a pagan, but I thought... wow dude... did you even LOOK at my profile? I'm going with NO. Thus? I'm gonna pass on desperate. I'm also passing on "well he's nice so I'll say hello back." If I read a profile and I'm not interested? I'm not going to spend a lot of time 'chatting'. Maybe that sounds crazy but I have so many wonderful friends in my life already... I'm not really looking for a good friend. And I simply can't see myself being deeply involved with someone who doesn't share most of my core values, I tried that once. Not such a great idea.

I also think that I would rather meet someone upfront somewhere. Maybe in a real place. I wonder if I want to join an organization, or a spiritual group... I don't know. I had a dream about it - I trust those. So I guess I'll just take this experience as I see it and feel it. One day at a time. I trust that life will unfold.

I have had people tell me that a relationship will just happen if it is meant to. I relay the following joke in that situation: A (blond, wolverine, brunette, pick your inappropriate social group here) was sitting in the living room of her house. She prayed to God to win the lottery. No luck. Next night she says if God will let her win the  lottery, she will buy a new house and fill it with paintings of saints! Nothing. Next night? She gets really desperate so she begs God that if God will let her win the lottery she will buy a house fill it with saints, help the poor and needy and adopt orphans. Finally, God gets frustrated and says to her, "Hey how about you start by BUYING a LOTTERY ticket!!!!"

dah dum dum! And thus my weak but appropriate example.

I don't think that things 'just happen'. I also don't think you can force something to happen if it isn't going to. In order to meet someone I have to be willing to risk and put myself out there. I'm willing to do that and I'm willing to pay the price of admission. I guess I'll just see what happens next and enjoy the experience as I go... :)



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

and we're walkin'...


Tonight's blog entry is going to be short. I'm super tired. I was working at school until 6, then dinner with my sister, then shopping at Trader Joe's, then home at 9, took out the garbage, then went for a mile walk in the dark(yay me!) then worked on homework to get ready for class tomorrow, then answered email.

Then I went to go to bed (with the intention of reading Hunger Games for a while) and thought... *crap* no blog! So back out here I came to honor my commitment to write every night for 100 days. :).

I've had some interesting responses to my blog about babies... or in my case not having babies... I think people are pretty much on one side or the other, but at least among the people I know? There seems to be an understanding of both sides. I was thinking today and was sort of surprised at how many people I know that never had children. It's kind of a high percentage.

Did I mention I walked that mile tonight in my heels? I took out the garbage and just kept walking. Note to self... take the time to put on the tennis shoes!

*hugs* to all of you


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Baby, baby, no baby...


I went to a birthday party recently, for just about one of the cutest 2 year olds out there ;). It was lovely. Little mermaid theme! There were *many* two year olds there and lots of pregnant ladies. Not to mention little brothers and sisters of said 2 year olds. Just lots of little ones. I felt lost. I don't know if I lasted more than 30 minutes. Lots of noise, lots of screaming, lots of playing... lots of a world I clearly am not part of.

Part of me felt lost because I never had a baby. I wasn't able to. I used to be sad about it, and even though I made my peace with it a long time ago, I still have moments when I wonder 'what if'. Perhaps, as a woman, I have that 'you MUST have a baby' thing, but I have done a pretty good job of taking that 'baby' energy and using it toward being a good teacher and 'big sister' to more than just my biological sister. It's so ironic to me. My mother used to say a man just had to hang his pants on the door and she was pregnant. Having had 5 kids, I suppose she was correct. I hope that doesn't sound too crass. I just know at 38, when she gave birth to me? She told my dad "She can't grow up alone" and turned right around and had another baby. At almost 40 having two babies in the 1960s? My mom? Was radical.

I also haven't had the fortune of meeting someone I wanted to have a baby with. There was one guy once... but I suppose that is another blog story. Regardless, having a baby never happened for me. I've had people say I was irresponsible for not having a child (implying I should have married earlier), I've people say that it's selfish not to have children. I even had someone say to me once that not having a baby was not following God's plan for me. I was 'living in sin' at the time and I thought about yelling "Get me a HUSBAND and I'll THINK about it!" But I was way too proud to say anything like that. I 'knew' what I was doing. Oh my 20s when I was sure I had all the answers *smile*. I guess I bring this up because if you see someone without a child, you have no idea what her story is. And asking or assuming? Could really deeply hurt someone. Just sayin...

Oh, and just so we are clear, in my 40s? I'm pretty sure I don't have *any* answers. :). I don't know why, as a woman, we so often define ourselves by whether or not we have a baby. What I do know? Is that there are some days I am really sad I didn't have a child. And there are some days I am okay with not having a child. Heck there are even days when I think I still *might* have a child. I know my life is open to a variety of different paths ahead of me.

But it is odd that there is a whole part of the culture  I can't relate to. Babies, videos and photos and constant stories about babies. Women rewriting their lives around their babies. Baby this baby that... babies playing with other babies. Mommy/baby play dates. Baby toys, baby food, baby clothes, baby movies. Making babies smart, making babies 'hip'... it's a lot of baby out there.

I know not having had a baby, sometimes I don't have as much patience for babies as someone who has had a baby. Although I resent someone telling me that because I haven't had a baby, I have no right to be upset when a parent isn't parenting. I had a friend (which I haven't spoken to since) tell me once that because I wasn't a parent I didn't have the right to be upset about a baby crying (okay pretty much screaming) on a particularly long flight. As someone who has never had a child, I seldom tell someone else how to parent.  And I still believe that it isn't a baby's fault when it is on a long flight, screaming with no toys or anything to help the situation. Granted it might have been a first time mother and there are all sorts of perspectives in the situation and simply because I never had a child doesn't mean I should not be allowed to be upset when one screams for hours straight. I believe there has to be a balance between those with children and those without.

Anyhow, I started this blog because I hope that my friends with babies understand when I don't stay long at a baby party. I want to go and I enjoy spending alone time with the little one... but a room full of babies? Well... it can be hard for me. I'm not used to it. I'm not used to screaming, I'm not used to yelling. And in return, I'll be as patient as possible. I'll remind myself that I am not around babies all day and night. I won't give advice unless you specifically ask me, and if you do ask me for advice I will gently but clearly remind you I have no kids. Sometimes I can see things from a fresh perspective, but I never expect you to do what I suggest. Please don't take it personally if I don't stay too long. I have so little in common with your life. I still love you and I still adore you and I think the sun shines from the eyes of your child. You have some patience with my world? And I will support you and love you and be patient with your world as well :).



oh and ps? If I ever DO have a baby or child in my life? Be prepared for a trillion questions. I have no mom to ask and you mommies out there are *doing* it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

An ode to organic and my mom...


I get my eggs from a family across the street. The yolks are deep orange. The chickens run around their yard. I don't even know if they have a coop. Yesterday? When I picked up my eggs, one of the shells was blue. The rest were a variety of crazy sizes and shades of brown shells with chicken dirt on them and hay. Honestly? If you made me an egg from some farm factory horror farm where chickens have their beaks cut and their legs grow into the wire mesh cages, I can't say I would know. Taste wise? These organic eggs taste similar to factory ones. You can tell the difference in the yolks because the yolks are rich and a bit larger than store bought eggs. Factory chickens are force-fed corn, grain and feed full of other dead chickens. I'm not even exaggerating. However, those pristine white eggs fry up like the organic ones I pick up from next door. Except the factory eggs cost about $1.85 a dozen. The  organic ones  across the street? Cost me $4. And I will pay it. Because those chickens? Roam around happily clucking and being chickens. 

Somewhere in the 1950s our country decided tv dinners and drive thru restaurants were awesome! Cool! The food of the future. A lot of people have made movies about it like "Food, Inc", and written books like "the Omnivore's Dilemma" so I'll spare you a full on lecture. All I know is that whenever I am able,  I choose organic if I can afford it. It's criminal that food raised organically is more expensive than factory food, but then, we pay for that cheaper food in so many ways... but I'm really trying not to lecture in this blog. I'm sharing my own issues with organic food. Sometimes I can't justify the expense of organic, but when I can? I do.

And while I might not be able to tell the difference between the organic egg and the factory egg all scrambled up, and while I eat factory eggs and other food when I go out to breakfast or dinner, there is something to be said about knowing where my food comes from. I *like* knowing who is feeding the animals I am choosing to eat, how the animals I am choosing to eat are treated and slaughtered. I try not to eat or buy from a factory system because they have taken away 'seasons' for fruits and vegetables, they've created 'monster' chickens with breasts so big the chickens can't walk because their breasts grow so rapidly they never learn to balance on their tiny legs, they've genetically modified corn to the point where it is almost impossible to get unaltered corn and because every dollar I give them is support for a non-sustainable way of living that will tear apart our culture.The worst part about it, is that they control the media to the point where they even control many of the organic labelled products and use guilt to 'convince' me that it is 'wise' to spend more on organic food that isn't organic! It's hard navigating shopping sometimes. It's why I love farmer's markets. Sadly, those aren't as common once October hits...

I don't know what it is going to take to find a more sustainable way of living. To knock us out of our plastic covered, boneless, hermetically sealed packages of food that somewhat resemble meat. In most cases? It is meat from cows from all over the world. Look on your package. If you buy ground beef? There is a good chance if you aren't buying from someone like "Laura's Lean Ground Beef" that beef is from Australia, Mexico, South America and *maybe* the US. I guess I can only start with myself.

Each day and each choice I make about what I am eating gives me the opportunity to live a more sustainable life. No, I can't always eat organically. But I can choose, when possible, restaurants that serve organic meat. I can also choose to eat less meat and pay more for organic meat when I do buy it. I can also, next year, start a garden. And who knows... maybe after the winter? I'll get my own chickens and let them wander around my yard... 

My mother used to have a huge garden. She'd grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables and can them or freeze them. We'd enjoy the benefits all winter long. I sit here tonight admiring my mom in so many ways. And tonight? I miss her just a little. Because I have to learn all these things on my own and I can't call her and ask her how. Luckily, I have her notes and her cookbooks. Now... if I just had her green thumb.