Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Low Point

I think I hit the low point yesterday. I was so frustrated and down that I had a big crying jag - my Chinese professors were always saying that is the best way to get feeling better quickly. It releases the pent up emotions so that you are able to look at things another way. That certainly proved true for me.

I was frustrated that :
  • I'd let my boundaries go several times with the same people (not that it would be better if they were different people, but especially frustrating when it's the same people)
  • I didn't feel like I was accomplishing much even though I was working really hard
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • Exhausted
  • Dirty house
  • No clothes (that fit my body or my job)
  • Feeling pressured
  • Feeling like a bad dog mom
  • Eating crap despite a fridge full of veggies and overdrawing my acct to buy groceries
  • Etc., etc., etc.

After the crying jag in which A provided exactly the support I needed ('yeah, that guy's a jerk' and 'it'll be okay'), E provided some valuable mirroring. She reminded me that:

People spend their health trying to accumulate wealth and

then spend their wealth trying to attain health.

(And then it's often too late.)

I'm not doing myself, my patients or my partners (not to mention my family and friends for whom I also want to be the happiest and healthiest me I can be) any favors by letting myself go and being constantly stressed out and overworked. In addition, it's all about attitude - when I dropped my emotional attachment to saying 'yes' to every work task that is put before me (only possible after the crying jag), I was able to look at things more objectively and just think to myself, 'no, I'm not able to do that' and 'yes, I can do that for 1 hour.' Now I just have to speak those words aloud and carry this attitude shift with me.

Today's a new day, though, and even though I said yes, I put limits on it. And I'm taking the time to make myself a healthy and delicious lunch. And I am keeping my friend-date to celebrate my buddy's birthday. And then I'm coming home and sleeping early, because 4am is an unhealthy time to have been awake today!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


So, A and I went to the Police concert a while back and A can't stop talking about Synchronicity this and that. Mostly related the the album, but I keep staring the phenomenon in the face.

1 : the quality or fact of being synchronous (relating to occurring at the same time)
2 : the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality —used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung

It's not really a psychic event of synchronicity that has happened, but several small coincidences that remind me of our web. A few years ago, my friend sent me Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country. Bryson traveled to Australia during the time that I happened to live there and described how several American divers were lost off the coast of Cairnes which happened just before I arrived! How unusual to read about my own experience (reading about this in the local paper) in someone else's book.

Another very similar one last night. I wanted to call A right away as he's the only one who shared this experience with me. When we were traveling on the east coast, we drove through Vermont, only stopping long enough to lose our camera at the post office at the state line and to eat in Queechee in a little diner I found online that specializes in local foods. Well, I couldn't have picked a more appropriate place, apparently, because Barbara Kingsolver, in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle describes visiting exactly this restaurant during her year of local food explorations. I don't think most people would think it was a big deal, but for me, it's like a brush with that makes me excited and also vaguely uncomfortable.

Monday, July 21, 2008

B's Basil Balsamic Mashed Potatoes - Yum

Lot of food influences lately. E's went vegetarian, then vegan and now raw. I'm definitely intrigued by the possibilities of these different food choices, especially as I learn more about how to prepare veggies in amazing ways that enhance rather than destroy their delicious complexities. But there is one thing that sticks out to me and the book I'm reading right now points it out: how does one eat raw in a land that has a winter? I don't know about farming in Hawaii, but I assume there is usually something growing, so E wouldn't have a hard time staying raw if she moved there, but what about here in P___?

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is about her families decision (and ensuing hard work!) to eat only locally produced food for 1 year. That's what bugs me about going raw - I think in a warm climate with fruit and vegetable production year-round, one could do both, but I think going raw sometimes means making the choice to import most of one's food supply. I have been thinking lately of going organic and local - in my mind, that results in my buying whatever meets both of those qualifications and figuring out how to make meals out of the result. But when I add raw to that, I find myself wanting to buy lots of tropical products like coconuts and macadamia. I think for today, I will keep learning about raw, but not necessarily go there 100%. Open mind.

At any rate, I LOVE the book. The best of autobiographical writing with information and stories flowing in all directions. Sidebars by her husband include statistical and political information relevant to the discourse and short sets by her daughter include recipes and meal plans. It's really lovely. I was already half in love with it upon reading the back cover in IL, three quarters when I got 30 pages through after being lent the book by a coworker and am now committed at page 130 to finishing this book soon and referring to the web pages and organizations referenced within.

I was inspired by this book to start cooking again, something I've felt oddly guilty about while learning about raw food. I'm glad I got over that, because my dinner was oh-so-scrumptious. The dinner in whole consisted of some rewarmed chicken and green beans from dinner out yesterday and home-made mashed potatoes. Pretty simple, but the mashed potatoes were one of those kitchen accidents that change forever the landscape of how one eats a thing. I may have to make my potatoes this way forevermore. Do try this at home.

B's Basil and Balsamic Mashed Potatoes
all ingredients were what I had on hand, measurements are approximate, substitutions welcome
3 small Yukon gold mashed potatoes, cubed and boiled
1/2 Walla Walla sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. (soy) creamer
2-4 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar

Boil potatoes, drain. Put potatoes in glass bowl. In same pot, add olive oil, onion and garlic. Saute on medium heat until they smell buttery - do not brown. Add chopped basil to warm potatoes in bowl. Add cream and onion/garlic mixture to bowl. Mash roughly with hand masher. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Mix. Serve with salt and pepper to taste.
  1. This recipe treats basil like a green rather than an herb and it's wonderful! When your basil is going crazy or you have leftovers from another recipe you don't know what to do with, use it this way. I was thinking that if we can have parsley potatoes, why not basil potatoes?
  2. I think the sweet onions really made all the difference. I'm a red onion girl, but I could taste the sweetness of these onions and I don't think it'll be the same with other kinds.
  3. Cream may be substituted for soy creamer, but I recommend people who enjoy cooking to try Silk Brand Unsweetened Soy milk and Original Soy Creamer for cooking (or in your morning coffee!). I actually enjoy the results better than cooking with dairy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lessons Learned

I'm feeling 100x better today than the last several weeks. These 'negotiations' I've been talking about have really been stressing me out and they are finally through! Resolution at last. An agreement has been reached. That was pretty much the most important thing to me anyways - that we came to an agreement. I realized as this kept going that I could just give in on the details, so long as I wasn't bullied or shamed into it. I just wanted both sides to come to the decision organically.

I keep using that word that way: organically. I mean some form of naturally, as in what is natural for that person. For example, this other person kept referring to logic and how a logical explanation was needed while I was talking about my feelings and how this or that felt good or bad to me. For him, making decisions based on logic is what is comfortable, whereas for me, I would be unable to make a decision without bringing my 'feeling' about a situation into it. Could be the man-woman thing contributing to that too. We're just different.

So, yesterday I decided that I would let go of what I was fighting for - this wouldn't be my only opportunity to 'have' this thing, so I decided I would make my needs my priority in this, even (and especially) if they were feeling based needs - I asked for another conversation about it, asked for more information from the other party and kept my needs firmly in sight. Seen (in my head), but not heard, so to speak. One of the things I learned from this situation is that sometimes, perhaps often times, it's best to say a little less. The other major lesson I got from this experience is to always remind the other guy that the final resolution was their idea in the first place.

And now I get to pack.


Tofu Jerky Recipe
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 to 4 tbsp liquid smoke
1/8 cup water
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove crushed fresh garlic
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp honey
1 pound firm or extra firm tofu

Mix. Marinade. Dehydrate.

I made this. It's salty and strong and delicious. Everyone I've given it to loves it. The original author suggests watering it down slightly and that might be good, but it's pretty amazing as is.

Two Things I Love and Something that Surprises Me

I can't remember when I discovered Netflix Instant Viewing, but it was love at first...viewing. Online streaming is a miracle - it really has changed my relationship with televised recreation. Now I mostly watch TV online through network stations or Netflix on my schedule, and sometimes that means a three day binge. There are a few shows that I enjoy, namely So You Think You Can Dance, that is not available through online streaming, which I find very frustrating because I've missed several episodes this season that sounded great - it's okay to watch them after they've aired, but always in order. I can't watch last week's episode knowing the results after watching this week's. At any rate, before this turns too confessional, the first thing I love is Instant Viewing. Netflix makes it so easy and I like that there is a big library of things to choose from - not just this week's prime time.

The second thing I love came to me through Netflix and I can't remember when that happened either, but I know it was in this year and I think in the second quarter, so we're talking about three months in which I have viewed 3 years worth of Law and Order: SVU. Wow, I wouldn't think I would enjoy this show so much, but I just love it. It's addictive and probably very bad for my tired adrenals, because I do actually get scared. When I come home from work, I sometimes watch episode after episode and when I go to take the dog out and close the curtains, I actually get scared. I have been keeping my phone and a heavy flashlight near my bedside. Last night, I actually thought of a knife, but then I realized I would probably just roll over on it and impale my already weakened kidneys. But I enjoy it. I think the acting is good - I adore Mariska Hagritay, the stories are gritty and powerful, the ethical dilemmas are real and the cases are painful. Good stuff and I'm not alone - there are all kinds of comments on Netflix. That's the second thing I love today which leads me to the thing that surprises me.

In one episode of Law and Order: SVU, a woman asks a clerk at the market where she can find something - he says, 'oh, it's right down this aisle.' The woman parks her cart at the end of the aisle and walks down to grab that item - LEAVING HER BABY UNATTENDED IN THE CART OUT OF SIGHT! Of course the baby was snatched, but more drama ensued as other kidnapped kids were discovered. What surprises me is not that that happened on the show, but that I see it happen at work all the time. In my work at the market, I am constantly walking by unattended children and purses just sitting in carts with no parent/owner in sight. Today it just struck me for some reason. The even more surprising thing is that I do it, too. But, oh adoptive powers that be, I will NEVER do that to my child - they will always be within sight - actually, that's probably true until they're old enough to walk around on their own, because I really like those baby carriers the hippies use - those are cool.

Okay, enough of this blogging, there are 6 more years worth of Law and Order: SVU to watch!

Friday, July 18, 2008

What She Said

Another voice that echo’s through my head is from years ago when another friend told me that she didn’t even like talking to me anymore because I was so negative. While that may have been an appropriate wake-up call at the moment, it has negatively impacted our friendship and affected other friendships since then. Our relationship has been impacted by my desire not to seem too negative to this friend. To that end, I tell her mostly funny stories and everything is always “great!” when she asks how I’m doing. Sometimes it works out for me – the ends again – and I actually feel better after focusing on what is going great, but sometimes I feel distant and fake with my friend, like she no longer knows the real me that has problems.

I also do this with other friends. And then I feel fake with them. And then I wonder if they would like me if I told them that I was still sad about losing my father or that I was annoyed with my coworkers or that I got road rage and honked my horn at some jerk today. This is not a great place to live and not the person that I want to be.

And not only that, but as much as I think I’m being fakely or forcedly positive, the more negative things leak out – you just can’t be human and keep all that stuff tucked away inside.

So, I told that original friend about my recent ‘negotiations,’ and how hurt and frustrated I was during the process. And I apologized for being negative. And she brushed that aside and told me how she wanted to hear these things. And she gave me good advice. And we organically changed the conversation to more positive things at the right time. And I feel like that goes a long way to silencing the echo of those words said so long ago that she probably doesn’t even remember saying.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Words That Echo

Words stick with me a long time. As my memory problems stare me in the face, I am frustrated by those words that I do remember. This weekend I went kayaking with friends. R suggested that we try to load both kayaks onto one vehicle and ride together. I thought that would be just fine, but as I packed a couple bags for the day trip, I got anxious and another friend’s words echoed in my head, “you pack way too much stuff.” Okay, those weren’t her exact words, but that was the message. A few years ago, on my way home for the holidays, I stayed overnight with this friend. Her making fun of my luggage (one large suitcase, one carry-on for a week long trip) has stuck with me for years and now I’m anxious every time I pack for anything.

For this day trip, A and I each had a small bag with a towel and dry clothes (I included a book and some paddles and balls for out of the water time and A brought his camera) and I packed a cooler bag with lunch for the group. We also had our boat, gear for our boat (including seats, straps, extra rope, dry bag, and hatch cover) and our life preservers. And we used everything. And I felt justified in having brought everything. But I admitted to R that I felt anxious about it and that I would have been embarrassed if we had ridden together and had to transfer (all of) our gear to their car.

During my recent trip to the Midwest, I also focused on packing and worried about the amount of luggage I brought. In the end, I fit everything into my carry-on sized suitcase which I had to check due to liquid restrictions. But I was proud that I fit it all into one small suitcase, the same carry-on that I had taken on that trip years ago along with a large suitcase for the same length of time. I will allow that winter travel requires more space as warm clothes are often bulkier, and home for the holidays definitely means warm clothes!

Why do I pack so much? 1. For eventualities – I don’t always know exactly what I or the local weather will be doing and 2. for comfort – being away from home is always challenging to me. Even when I know A or E had taken care of Chibo and it was okay to go straight to dinner or another event after work, I would still be more comfortable to go home first. Home is my grounding station, so bringing more things along is like bringing that vibrational energy with me, allowing me to feel like home is wherever my ample suitcase lies.

I like the feeling of traveling a little lighter and I love knowing that I used everything I brought, so the result is good. I just don’t like the echo that reinforces this habit change.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dare I say...better than Jimmie Johns?

I'm at the office and I got really hungry having only had a smoothie for out I head, looking for food. Taco bell is so tired, McDonald's grosses me out, there's nothing for me at Outback and I didn't want the work involved in buying my lunch at the grocery store. I decided to grab a slice or even a small pizza at Bellagio's right near the post office. I walked in, braced myself that they might not have slices this late in the afternoon, accepted that I might pay $10 for a small pizza and waited...and waited...and waited...and walked out. If they didn't want to help me, I certainly didn't have any more time to wait. A bell rang when I walked in, and I didn't want to yell into the kitchen.

So I walked to the sub shop next door. Subs, despite my early morning affection for Subway (I unexpectedly love an egg sub), are not my favorite food. They are so often done badly that I just don't trust sub shops. That said, like pizza (damn you Bellagios!), done right, a sub can be perfection itself. Thus was my experience at Big Town Hero. How delicious! The bread was crusty, but soft and available in white, whole wheat or onion - yes, I said it and I ate it, onion bread. And they combined mayo and cream cheese on my sandwich - the most delicious condiment creation I've been wanting without knowing all my life.

I started writing my boyfriend about this, but when it turned into a rhapsody, I decided to post it here. I expect all he really wants to know is what and where. What: best sub EVER. Where: Big Town Hero.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Morning Tea

I admire men who treat their women well. Every day of their lives together, my father made my mother a glass of tea in the morning before he left for work. He often worked much earlier than her, but she would awake to find her tea, ice gone melty, beside her bed waiting for her. This, more than a rose or a love note, was true love. This was romance. At work, I often overhear conversations between my coworkers and their friends, family or who knows who? Usually, because we’re in a room full of people, I get no clues about who my coworker is speaking with – there is no change in tone, very few words whispered hurriedly and no terms of endearment. One exception stands out: a rough hewn gentleman who’s voice goes soft as he tenderly talks to his ‘baby’ about dinner tonight or how she feeling. It’s very sweet and endears him to me.

I would like to say that I admire women who treat their men well, but I don’t think that way. Perhaps because, as was my first instinct on pondering that, most women (that I know) treat their men well, so it’s no exception. This suggests that the men I’ve used as examples are…well, exemplary…and I think they are, but I could fill a book with the sweetnesses of men. My own dating history is filled with such wonderful treatment that my friends in college asked what I was doing to get such treats and treatment from my boyfriends. That might be it or it might be that I appreciate on behalf of my sex the kindness of men towards women. It’s certainly true that I also appreciate women who are more friendly towards other women and less catty. Maybe it’s also that I like to treat my men well with the gifts I have to give: warm regard, fun, acceptance, laughter, delicious food and affection, so other woman providing similar seems unremarkable.

I remember one boyfriend in college that I met too soon. He was conservative in a way that has nothing to do with politics. Weeks of dating and we never even kissed – instead we talked about religion and politics – passionately, but never confrontationally. We held hands and walked in the park, we went out to dinner, we danced, we laughed. I was just crazy about him, but eventually ended the relationship because I couldn’t handle the differences in our dating cultures at that time. In later conversations, we both acknowledged that he had treated me like a queen. He complained that I hadn’t treated him as a king. At the time, I had no idea that he was unhappy with my treatment of him – maybe he really was, maybe it’s only in retrospect or maybe it was because I rebuffed his advances when we met up years later. In any case, I remember those words only too well too, and try to do better.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Feeling Zen... And Then...

Earlier this week, I was explaining to a friend of mine how I feel like I've recycled up a lot of the language and thought-process that I learned when I was doing some pretty intensive personal growth work. This was from about 5 years ago til about 2-3 years ago. In the intervening 2-3 years, I took what I called a practicing sabbatical from personal growth work. By the way, I don't consider 'personal growth work' a euphemism, but some would - it can mean therapy, it can mean working with a shaman, it can mean communication classes. In this instance, it means some combination of these - I spent several years working with an experiential educator who focused on sacred healing learning. Let's call her Betty, not because that is her name and not because she needs protection or anonymity, but because I like the name Betty. So, I was telling my friend that I was recycling these ideas - I read her something I'd written containing words like 'sacred,' 'co-creating,' 'intention,' and 'respect.' I said to my friend, "Isn't that so Betty?" and she replied, "No, B, it's all you."

She's right - it is me. I can own those words - they are only mine. Even with Betty's influence, I wrote that piece and it belongs to me. And then, I had to scratch my itch. The piece of writing it did is a contract of sorts or maybe a mission or vision statement. It's basically a pre-statement to the negotiation that is in progress. (In progress referring to the fact that we keep coming back to it, because it itches so much, and not to the fact that we're negotiating at this very minute - I would be a poor negotiator indeed if I blogged in the middle of a negotiation.) At any rate, I wrote that and got all kinds of zen feelings about how this was all going to work out.

And then I scratched. Until this situation resolves, one way or another, I will feel unsettled. There is also an important time element involved, so it needs to be brought up again and again until it gets resolved. But it sucks. Every time it gets brought up, I end up screaming like a banshee and or crying and sobbing. I didn't wish for my mommy, but I did cry for my daddy. Having lost my protective father and being in this situation where I wish I had a strong male ally who would take my side no matter what makes me wish for my dad more than ever, which of course just adds to my discontent and the drama of the situation.

I look forward to a resolution and to feeling zen again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Hate When I'm Wrong

I do. I really, really hate when I'm wrong. I don't like to be wrong. I'll argue if at all possible and have often convinced someone else that I'm right, even when I'm wrong. I'm really good at that. I'm also good at cleaning up after my mistakes so that you don't know that I erred. But this makes me crazy. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. They say the best way to learn is from one's own mistakes. I have found that to be true - when I've royally screwed something up, I usually don't do it twice.

I was thinking about this in regards to children. How do you teach a child to make mistakes? It's like baseball - I went to my nephew's ball game a while back. He made a couple great plays and then his team lost. How would I support that he did a great job and then help him learn from his errors without focusing on them? I keep wanting to go back to how Jane Goodall raised her son using the chimpanzees as a model.

So, I made a big fat mistake today and the first thing I did was own up to it. And nearly had a panic attack. But I learned and now I've got help cleaning up the mess. And commiseration that my friend would have done the same thing. And an apology from the friend who (kind of) yelled at me. And I'm learning. I'm learning. I'm learning that I might need to keep talking myself down from the panic when I want to learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Not Their Time

This Friday, my brother took his wife and two sons to view fireworks. They went to a place where everyone parks their cars and watches fireworks from there. A space opened up that looked like it would have a better view, so my brother moved the car. Another car moved into their spot. Seconds later, a drunk driver careened over the hill and smashed into that car, sending it over a hill into a field, throwing the people within about and out of their car. The drunk driver and his passenger grabbed their cooler and ran into the woods.

My brother and a friend ran to the car to help. The passengers of the car included a baby, a two-year old who was sent to the hospital on a back board and other children.

It's shocking. I feel such relief that my family was not hurt, but also terrible that this other family was injured. My mom reported that she believes no one suffered permanent injury and she and my brother are using this to teach my young nephews about drunk driving.

A driving mantra that E has shared with me:
Clear and open roads, EVERYBODY SAFE, rock-star parking.

Mom says our family had an angel watching over them and I believe it. Every time something bad happens and we survive it, mom reminds us that we're here for a reason. Good reminder to live fully and love freely.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I ♥ Mud Rooms

And I'm not the only one - Posie likes them too. I also second her love of sleeping porches (or wrap arounds), pantries and butler's pantries. While house hunting, we came across a house with a butler's pantry and I almost choked at how happy it made me. I wanted it. I couldn't even go see the house because I knew I would be too disappointed to leave it. Posie has a point about great rooms - though great in many ways, they also lose the charm of dividing a house up into all those smaller useful spaces.

I'm a Fan

Whenever I would catch one of those programs on television where "Number One Fans" get to meet their idols, I would have this spasm of anxiety ripple through my body. I'm nobody's number one fan. Not only that, I'm only a half-assed number two million fan. I don't know people's names, I don't remember the artist of the latest tune I'm whistling and I couldn't tell you my favorite actor, actress, director, animator, painter, singer or general performance artist. I'm terrified of running into even moderately famous people (despite my odd habit of relating myself in degrees of separation to stars all the time - it's simply confirmation of six degrees). But I do now have a favorite lexicographer.

Strange word, strange experience. I think it's partly my own love of words that makes me fascinated by a person who does dictionaries for a living, but then you throw in her interesting hobbies and the healthy geographic distance between us (it could be a problem if she lived closer - ask me what happened when I bumped into Danny Glover at a juice bar - the memory of it still makes me shudder, thinking 'I'm getting too old for this...) and against all odds and my better judgement, I've become a Fan. It started with a quirky TED presentation that I found under the category FUNNIEST. While I was literally laughing out loud, I wondered at the audience's lack of laughter and admired her costume. Now I know that she likely made that dress herself!

So, how do I know that I'm a Fan and not just an interested party? I'm reading about sewing, nearly every day. I've been resistant to sewing for years. My mom tried to teach me and we wasted tons of cash on fabric and patterns - I would keep trying, but the pattern was out of style before I would even get the fabric cut. My home economics sewing project was a pair of jersey shorts made of two separate colors - one for each leg - and no pockets. Sure, I was done before everyone else, but the pattern was probably meant for a kindergartner! E bought me a sewing machine that I've now lugged through half a dozen moves without ever tuning up and now, based on reading this blog, I'm fantasizing about my office at the new house being 1/2 home office and 1/2 crafting space, so I can leave my sewing machine set up! Leave it set up? It's never been set up?!

I do enjoy the writing and the peek into another world, though. And I even know her name. :)