Thursday, October 30, 2008

First Completely Raw Dinner

Raw food dinner party last night. Our house, friends T and Ree attending. Plan: dinner and Rock Band. At the risk of being "that guy," we (okay, I) talked a lot about raw food and about high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Dinner was a hit and rock band was fun, though we (okay, I) did talk through it. Something about raw food makes me kind of manic.

Fresh green salad with tomotoes we picked from the farm this weekend. The tomatoes were the best part - so delicious.

Live pizza. Tried two types of raw pizza. Sergei's Live Pizza made with a flax crust and the same sauce on dehydrated eggplant slices. Both were delicious with toppings consisting of red and green peppers, julienned yam and parsley. (Don't ask me why parsley, all the books suggested it and I had some so I thought, 'why not?')

Dessert: raw apple crisp. The filling was apples, dates, raisins and cinnamon - some ground in the food processor and some sliced. The topping was walnuts, raisins, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of allspice. Freakin' delicious with no sugar or HFCS added.


Then we watched Sarah Silverman's video about Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel's response. Did I mention that my friends told me about this blog/new book?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Binge Living

Prior to this moment, I have had a binging lifestyle. In college, as is unfortunately and unwisely common, I did a fair bit of binge drinking. Currently, I eat too fast and often feel over-full and uncomfortable after eating and even though I don't meet the medical definitions for binge eating, I consider this binging as well. This morning, I've recognized another element of binging - media binging.

I've written about my love of Law and Order, but even I didn't realize how strong its grip on me is. I reviewed my viewing history on Netflix and counted at least 6 episodes one day. The episodes run about 40 minutes, so that's 6 x 40 = 240 minutes or 4 hours. Four hours. Watching Law and Order. One day. That's a lot of Law and Order. I've almost watched everything that Netflix has available. By some strange quirk, I am unable to enjoy watching these out of order, so I'm happy and lucky that Netflix doesn't have everything up to the current season, so I have to wait and can't get hooked to watching it on television.

Another form of media binging is blogs. There are several blogs that I follow and a few that I've started reading backwards, forwards, crosswise and inside out. Christine Kane's beautiful blog is one such. I'm enjoying jumping from post-to-post, reading related entries and then jumping to another random one. This binging seems a bit healthier than food or alcohol or television, but I am aware that I am not and could not possibly be digesting all that is coming at me. Would it be better to miss some posts in order to really ruminate on another?

Can one really get too much personal growth or spiritual work? When I stopped working with my transformational educator several years ago, I certainly thought so. I was a little "worked out" on that front - not quite burned out, but certainly overtrained and underexperienced. I felt like I needed to take some time to assimilate and practice all that I'd learned. It's been several years and seems like my quick attachment to this series might indicate readiness for another guide or more structured form of learning.

Teacher, I am ready, open and grateful for your kind and gentle lessons.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Crisis Is

From my page a day calendar, dated yesterday:
In every crisis there is a message. Crises are nature's way of forcing change - breaking down old structures, shaking loose negative habits so that something new and better can take their place. -Susan L Taylor, Essence Editor

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Bright Side of Life

Lots of crazy-crazy going down with the families at the moment. The trifecta of what can go wrong in life: medical, legal and financial burdens scattered among the loved ones all at the same time. What to do?

I'm not one to suggest looking at the bright side at the expense of dealing with the real, legitimate and important experiences and feelings that are happening even if they are hard or ugly or uncomfortable, but I do remind myself that this, too, shall pass and a list of the positive experiences is a good reminder to myself that even in the dark times, beauty is blooming.

Today, I'm grateful for:
  • the widening group of people that I think of as family
  • the calm and centered feeling I've experienced all week
  • having tonight and tomorrow free
  • Chibo's enduring love and patience
  • my brother calling me for help - even though I'm not sure what I can do, it means a lot that he called me ... and that nothing can rock our relationship as siblings
On the other hand, I'm going to use my free night and day to really take care of myself and A. Some really nourishing food and entertainment, meaningful work and time together.

Powerful Words

There's a great power in words, if you don't hitch too many of them together. - Josh Billings

Words are powerful. I noticed recently that when certain words come out of unexpected mouths, I sit up and take more notice. In coming across this new-to-me blog, I've remembered how healing words can be. And I noticed how knowing certain jargonal words might help someone feel control in a situation that is really not theirs to control.

I'm fascinated by words and their meanings and et·y·mol·o·gies. It started with foreign languages and has evolved to include the evolution of English, street slang, proverbs, catch phrases and mottos. Despite this, I'm not always precise in my use of words and language and in fact, sometimes, on purpose, play with words, such as jargonal, above. Nowadays, after reading this post by Erin McKean, my favorite lexicographer, I almost want people to tell me 'that's not a word,' so I can smile and say 'oh.'

The inspiration for this entry is the strange and unexpected utterance of medical terminology from a non-medical source. E and I have talked a bit lately about how people suffering or believing they suffer from some symptom, syndrome, condition or disease may actually know more about said symptom, syndrome, condition or disease than their medical personnel, because they research it unendingly on the Internet. Now, I think this can be valuable to get some background, read some explanations and learn about options that may not be common knowledge in your own community, but sometimes I think all that's happening is they are learning the words, but not all the connected ideas and experiences that accompany them.

Just using the words might provide some feeling of control in an insane world, but does it really foster understanding or closeness? Or does it simply provide family, friends and loved ones a distancing medical language to use instead of sharing their fears and sadness? In theory, I would much rather tell a patient that they have Stage 5 something or other than to use the words, 'you're dying,' but I think the honesty, commitment and caring in the second are much more powerful than the first. [I do recognize the power of suggestion, especially in words spoken by The Medical Profession and I don't know yet how to balance that with allowing an individual to die with dignity.]

I remember my own experience online when I was sick. Everything I read and even people in the online support group I found told me that I shouldn't/wouldn't/couldn't live beyond 5 years. What did they know?

Not me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Personal Style

Ever since I read this post, I've been pondering the idea of personal style, mostly in a navel gazing 'what is my personal style?' kind if way, but also noticing how other people reflect their personal style and what ideas and lifestyles I guess at or attribute to them based on what textiles they use to keep themselves warm. That, of course, makes me wonder what my clothes say about me.

I made a list of style elements that appeal: natural fabrics, relaxed fit, big silver and earthy jewelry, stones, earth tones, solid colors, neutrals, some bright colors, classic styles, men's styles, separates, natural make up, long hair.

I've looked online at books and services (this one and this one looked good for me) that could help me better define and establish my personal style and considered spending money for such services, but in the end, I just went shopping. After months of arriving to my professional job feeling like somebody's red-headed step child, I bought myself a few comfortable, professional, inter-mixable separates that I feel totally comfortable in. When I went out to dinner in the same clothes I wore to work, I knew I was on the right track.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spinach-Artichoke Yummy Goodness

So. Good. Thank you, Gail. Thank you.

This savory dip was the top winner in the National Dandelion Cookoff (who knew?!) at last year's Dandelion May Fest in Dover, Ohio (of all places?!).

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/4 cups dandelion greens, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, prepackaged or canned, chopped
2 13.75-ounce cans artichokes, drained and chopped
1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 small loaf French bread, pita triangles or crackers

In a large mixing bowl, place mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, dandelion greens, chicken, artichokes, red bell pepper, onion and garlic powder. Stir until well mixed. Place in a well-greased 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Spread out evenly. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve with bread, pita or crackers.

-- Gail Harshbarger, Akron, Ohio

Perfectly Imperfect Birthday

I loved my birthday today. It was wonderful in so many ways, but most (and least!) of all because I just let it happen organically and was prepared for imperfection. This post by Christine Kane (thanks again to KMK for the useful reference!) gave me the idea of an imperfect birthday and in the end, it came out just great! Here's my favorite parts:
  • Waking up to the sound of my beloved softly saying "happy birthday honey"
  • My mom's delight in receiving the birthday gift I sent her three weeks ago
  • Getting flowers at work
  • Cooking for myself and A (yum - recipe to follow!)
  • Staying home
  • Getting to do whatever I want
  • Not having to eat over-frosted cake (or cake at all!)
  • Getting incredibly thoughtful gifts, including: a raw uncook book, a massage and the knowing that my partner does sometimes read my blog (and enjoys it)!

All in all, I think it's been a very insight provoking and self-empowering birthday. Yeah, 32!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

So Much Synergy

This is another of those times where I keep thinking "yeah, I'm going to blog about that later" and then never get to it. I don't feel too bad about it because I recognize that I'm just busy living my life, but I do sometimes regret not getting to express about different things. I keep an ongoing list of topics to write about in my professional blog, but I write there even less than here, though I expect that will change dramatically and soon (because I'll be linking the main webpage to the blog). In any case, the latest theme in my life seems to be synergy. I keep finding links and connections everywhere I look. I feel like I may actually be in the flow again, because things are coming easily and I'm feeling at ease and well.

Today is my dad's birthday and I had a lot of anxiety about how I was going to spend the day. I wanted to mark the day somehow and make it special without bringing myself or the people around me down, but how? Then I thought I wanted to just stay home and meditate quietly and alone. What I ended up doing was beautiful and perfect for my energy and mood. A and I set up our guest bedroom. How that relates to my dad specifically is very peripheral - we have an alter space in that room where I will keep a photo of my dad. But doing the work, cleaning the room, setting up the furniture just so to be welcoming and comfortable for whatever guests come felt really nurturing to me, too, so it was perfect.

And the result of that is a domino effect that seems to clarify the placement of a lot of things that haven't been getting done at home. Oh, if that goes there, then of course this will go over there. All in all, a calm, healing and fun evening.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

TV Follow Up

In follow up to my earlier post about cutting down my TV watching, I am pleased to say that I'm not watching as much. When I started paying attention, I realized that not only were the shows really not that good, but I really didn't miss them when I wasn't watching. I still enjoy Family Guy on Sundays with A and I still sneak my Law and Order on Netflix, but I don't spend all the hours of my evenings hooked to the tube. And frankly, I think I prefer watching on Netflix, because I'm not exposed to all that advertising and if it's really exciting, I can watch the next episode immediately.

My other brilliant idea of going to the gym to watch television (for example, on Heroes night) has yet to materialize, but I'm still holding onto that one. A wants to try going to the gym in the mornings and I say great - even if that does mean we end up going twice a day. Then I'll at least feel like I'm earning my entertainment.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Work, More or Less

Recently, my friend suggested that I welcome prosperity into my life and start working less. I didn't get it. Work less? What about my bills? Am I supposed to proceed on the blind faith that my bills will be paid? What about getting something saved? What about improving my quality of life, even a little bit?

"Yes. Don't worry. Yes. Don't worry. Yes, work less," she answered.

I don't hear that answer often. It seems that everyone -my mom, teachers, boss, government - is telling me to work more. A recent article on burnout suggested that you may be burned out or on your way if you routinely work more than 40 hours a week. I work 50 hours most weeks and 60 several, but instead of comparing myself to those working that 40 hour week, I compare myself to those working 80-90 to put food on the table. Mom's arguments are particularly compelling - she worked overtime waiting tables to feed us kids and we never went hungry. It's a different time, though. I don't have kids and could probably benefit from a little hunger.

In this current climate of financial meltdown, I keep reading about retirees going back to work and baby boomers who are just going to have to work a little bit longer. My partner had planned on retiring at 55 and though I hoped he might work a little longer so we might retire together, I did not want it to be forced on him by the slow death of his 401(k). Why is the answer always "more work?" Or more specifically, why is the answer "more work at a job?" I like the idea of opas and abuelos working with the children, in the garden patch or at educating and guiding our young adults, but I think it's a special form of American cruelty that ties us for longer years to a desk, production line or fast food joint.

It's a depressing time, so perhaps watching some good videos like Obama's talks leadership or Be The Change is in order. And maybe, just maybe, I should try working less. After all, I've been working more for a long time and that's not getting me anywhere fast.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Good Karma

Here's a few signs of good karma in my life:

1. My last place of residence was rented to me more inexpensively than anything else I could find. It required no paperwork, no security and allowed my dog without question. I paid my rent late several times with apologies but no penalties and moving out was simply a matter of mutual respect between myself and my landlord.

2. I got a new car for nothing. That said, out of the four cars I've owned, I've only purchased one. My first car was a gift from my dad, the second a gift from a girlfriend and this fourth car is a three-year loan with option to buy from a friend of A's. Getting a "free ride" is definitely something of a gift from the universe.

3. A and I were invited to a cruise wedding and weren't sure we would be able to go for various reasons - when things seemed to fall into place for our attendance, I requested time off only be told that I would be risking my job to go due to holiday black out dates (no time off granted). My immediate supervisor said she'd try to work something out, so we hoped for the best and booked our tickets. A couple weeks later, my boss pulled me aside and asked me the dates for the trip. After I told him, he smiled and showed me the modified black out dates that start the day I return home.

4. My finances seem to be straightening themselves out. Far from attributing this to karma, I recognize that my hard work, planning and frugal habits have much to do with it. I do recognize, however, that I have much to be grateful for not happening in my life too - it's so easy for this or that negative event to rack up the bills and bring on financial ruin. I say good karma has kept me from those events that could have pushed me over the brink I've been walking so close to.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ding, Dong, The Truck is Gone!

I feel like some transition is complete. I'm moved into A's house and now I've sold my truck. Somehow, having my truck was something left of my pre-living-with-A life and now it's gone. I don't know why it feels so symbolic, but there is definitely a different feeling now that we have his and hers VW Golfs in the driveway. Have I gone from hippie earth cookie doctor to yuppie physician?

It's also weird that I talk about what "we" have all the time now. I don't say it without some self-consciousness, but I still say it and haven't been questioned or corrected to date. As in, "we still have a pick up truck for hauling things around and taking the kayak out."

Anyways, the happy news about the truck selling is that it breaks me even so that I'm in a much more stable financial place in addition to saving money on gas with my new car every month. So, from here onward, if I can continue to keep spending in check, things are just going to get better.

Addendum: I just remembered that this was one of my goals! Goal #26 - CHECK!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

An Honest Day's Work

Worked my shift at the clinic, nothing doing in afternoon, so I left about an hour after my shift ended and came home. I picked up lunch and decided rather than crawl into bed, I would make the most of my day. And so I did:

I took out 1 bag of trash.
I recycled 2 bags of plastic from inside the house.
I unpacked at least 6 boxes.
I recycled all the packing paper immediately and broke down the boxes for recycling.
I found the remaining boxes containing food (made harder by my mixed packing methods).
I discovered new cupboards in the kitchen.
I located my travel coffee cup and brought the dog food in.

Then I went out for dinner. By the time we got home, I was beat! No need for sleep aids when your body is bone weary. Now that I'm up on the day after, I do regret, just slightly, not taking more time to put the unpacked things away. Every burner on the stove, every inch of counter space, the entire kitchen table, the bar in the living room and yes, even the kitchen sink, are covered in misc kitchen stuff. I can get a glass of water, but that's about it. Oh well, I guess that's tonight's project.