Archive | February, 2012

Pity Party

28 Feb

Ever have one of those days?  Everything just seems to be a struggle?  Yeah, we all do.  The hits just seem to keep on coming!   What do we do to overcome them?  Take control!  It takes some concentration, but it can be done.  It is easy to fall into that pit of despair and wallow in self pity.  Calling Pity Party of one please?  Pity party of one?  Forget it.   That ain’t no party!

Pity is a one person deal.  One person delves into it.  It is solitary, isolating, which is one of the things that makes it crummy.  Now listen.  I have withstood some serious blows in my time and have thrown a pity party for myself.  Many in fact.  Still do sometimes.  But here is how it works.  Set a  timer for a certain amount of time.  Like 20 minutes.  Then drop down and immerse yourself in pity.   Its lonely.  Its sad.  And it stinks.  20 minutes is plenty of time, maybe even more than enough.   But sometimes you gotta get it out of your system.  You know, some say tears are cleansing.  So sometimes I cry at my pity party.  And I hate it because I belong in the category of “ugly crier”.  When I cry, my eyes puff up, my nose turns red, and the corners of my mouth hang low.  I can’t stand those people that cry and still look glamorous.  I look like a dishrag.  But sometimes I let my tears flow anyway.

So let the tears come.  Let them cleanse.  Then emerge into the joy of knowing that it’s just not that bad.  Just like someone always has more money than you do, some one also always has it worse.  They deserve our sympathy, our help and our love.  We can show that, in part, by rising up into our own glory.  Recognizing our gifts.  And having the courage to share them.  Everyone gets sick.  Everyone gets their heart broken.  Everyone loses a job.  Everyone suffers loss.  Pain.  Hurt.  But instead of those becoming road blocks, let them become tools.  Tools for building.

Tough times can become a building block.  A time to learn, a time to grow.  It is a challenge for sure, but it can be done.  Taking a hit, metaphorically speaking,  and turning it into something useful can be done.  The temptation to delve into pity is there.  And that’s ok.   Set the timer for 20 minutes and warn those around you that a pity party for one is in full swing.  Let the 20 minutes pass.  There is always darkness before dawn.  In fact, we can’t appreciate the sunshine until we have rain.   Our challenge lies in figuring out how to use that road block as a tool to grow.  To help.  To improve.  When that timer goes off, rise up.  Take a deep cleansing breath.  Smile.  Shake off the pity and dig down to find and bring out inner gifts, hidden talents.  Open up.  Let your light shine.  It’s there!  I promise!

My beautiful friend Linda has reminded me of some important words that sometimes get overlooked.  And they are powerful words that can help the emergence from self pity.  She says “You cannot be grateful for something you feel entitled to”.  Love it!!  That is empowering!  Turn that “why me” attitude, that “I don’t deserve this” statement into a grateful heart.  That’s when things seriously turn around.  Truth is, we aren’t entitled to a thing.  So we need to be grateful.  Even for the struggles, the hits, the road blocks.

I value wellness, good health, and strength in the  mind, body and soul.  Wellness can only be fully realized when our head and heart are in the right place.  A good place.  Appreciative.  Happy.  Joyful.  Thankful.  Take those hits, set the timer for 20 minutes, work them through, and turn them into the building blocks necessary to grow.  As I have said before, take a road block and turn it into a detour.  A different path.  An opportunity.  Just like trying a new food can be an adventure, changing an attitude can be rewarding.   And in doing so, better health is yours!

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” A.A. Milne, Winne the Pooh

Mediterranean Mania!

27 Feb

Luscious Lamb Chops!

Lamb Chops.  They are nothing I would have eaten 10 years ago.  In fact, I would not eat lamb in any form.  Didn’t like the smell, didn’t like the taste, didn’t like the preparation.  But alas, just as we must expose toddlers to food as many as 14 times before they dare taste something, adults can benefit from just the same exposure.  Once we become adults, we can lose our whimsy with food.  What a pity!

Food I would not eat as a child included lasagna, lima beans, sweet potatoes, shrimp, and, of course, lamb.  My mother is a fabulous cook, so it’s not like I had yucky food on the table growing up.  My parents took us out for dinner too, although with 5 kids I have no idea to this day how they fit that into the budget!  I grew up exposed to delicious food at home and respectable restaurant fare as well.  I can’t tell you why certain foods were on my “do not like” list when I was young.  Stubborn, childish, or just plain defiant perhaps.  Now some might say that I still have these qualities today, but I do appreciate food.  I did not let my childhood dislikes dictate my adult taste.  I continued to try all food.  Thank goodness!

Recently my wonderful dining companion wanted to try a new mediterranean restaurant in town.  Great, I thought, but in my head I told myself I would eat anything but lamb.  Reservations, check.  New dress, check.  Fantastic dining companion, check.  Ready, set go!  And we did.  Once in the restaurant, it was easy to get caught up in the richness of the decor.  Low lighting,  Heavy furniture.  And the staff was lovely-very authentic with dark good looks and enchanting accents.  The men were handsome and the women beautifully exotic.   Adding to the amazing atmosphere were spicy warm scents wafting throughout.

We looked at the wine list.  We perused the menu.  We listened attentively to the wait staff when presented with the specials of the day.  The waiter left us alone for a moment and we discussed our wine and food options, wanting to compliment our dinner with our wine choice.  I grew brave.  Daring.  Bold.  I called upon my inner food whimsy and ordered the lamb!

What a great decision!  The lamb was fabulous!  Prepared perfectly, and paired with our wine it was delicious.   Perfection!  A superb dining experience.  And I am glad that I, as an adult, continue to expand my palate.  Variety is critical to a healthy and well balanced diet.  That includes trying foods that perhaps may not have appealed to immature taste buds.

So go ahead…keep trying foods-even the ones that may not have been preferred as a child.  Don’t lock your self into dull boring foods.  I now eat most of the foods that I did not like as a child (still hate lima beans though!).  Life is an exciting culinary journey to discover and rediscover all foods!  It is a journey that will continue, happily, and one that I encourage others to embark on as well!

Sitting on the dock of the bay…

17 Feb

Or in the airport! Or in line at the bank. Or at the doctor’s office. We all know and love that old song, with only a few words sung able to evoke the whole song in our head! Life is a series of sitting in lines, waiting, and delays. All part of life, all inevitable. But with planning it can go a little smoother.

A favorite quote of mine is “Embrace the detours”. with credit going to Kevin Charbonneau.  I have this quote posted in big letters on my office wall. Everyone gets frustrated with running into walls, delays, and just plain dead ends. A little word change and make that wall, dead end and delay a detour instead. Huge difference! Being delayed for any reason is a hassle, plain and simple. But planning can certainly help. And lists are a good starting point.

The more I try to remember the more certain I am to forget, so a list is major for me. It helps organize and plan-which is a reduces stress for sure! Portable easy to take food is also a must. And is much easier that trying to grab an expensive day old chewy bagel! Stress is super hard on the body. It can contribute to not only an acute illness, but it can certainly contribute to long term illnesses as well. It is wear and tear on the body in a very negative way.  A little planning can go a long way in reducing stress.

Now back to planning and lists. Planning organizes us. Organization reduces stress. Everyone has their own tools that work best. For me it is making a list. And I always make a little box next to the items on my list so I can they can be checked off as completed. For me, a list is a good way to prioritize tasks. The list can be dated, so there can be a today column and a tomorrow column.  Since “detours” happen, an hourly time frame isn’t practical for me, and a daily one seems to accomplish my goals and fills my needs. I detail my list with special needs, such as “get file folders” or something needed for a task.  And flexibility is key too.

At the moment I am stuck at the airport. But I planned. I have a book, music, my laptop and I brought some nutritious food. People watching at the airport is phenomenal. So many parallel lives converging with many different energy levels.  Even without my accoutrements, I would be fully entertained for quite a while with just that! But my mind is fast, and I need multiple things to keep my interest, hence the book, music and laptop! And food!

What kind of “portable” food works in an airport? A favorite one is instant oatmeal. A cup of hot water does not constitute the national debt as most airport food does, so it fits in the budget and is a good energy source in a pinch. I  just bring instant oatmeal in a little plastic bowl, get hot water, mix it up, then throw my bowl away.  A bag of grapes, an apple, a sandwich are also tucked into my backpack. I am careful about food safety, so the sandwich is a pb&j. The only thing purchased is a bottle of water, and with TSA rules, that just can’t be helped. But if I had to buy all of that food it would have been a kings ransom. I had a list, and packed all of the food that was on my list. No stress.

I of course had my packing list as well. I am confident that my suitcase contains everything I need for my trip…if I ever get on my flight that is!  But until that time, I have planned.  I will just camp out at my gate, people watch, blog, organize the pictures on my laptop, and catch up on the news!

Roast it!

8 Feb

I did it.  I had never cooked fresh cauliflower…only frozen.  But I was inspired.  Not sure what did it.  Perhaps a burst of confidence in the grocery store drove me to break out of the box.  So I tried it.  And not just for my family.  I tried it when dinner guests were coming.  That was a risk!  But luckily, a success.

I get tired of the same old vegetables, especially in the winter months.  And I was in a bit of a rut.  Like all moms, I am super busy,  my time is precious, and I never seem to sit down.  That is certainly not a complaint, but sometimes time is short and convenience rules.  Good news though.  Fresh cauliflower only took 25 minutes to roast.  I was able to bang out a solid pasta sauce as well as cook the angel hair pasta while the veggies roasted.  The preparation of the cauliflower, as well as the rest of the meal was a snap.

Roasted vegetables are a favorite for sure.  And cauliflower is certainly no exception.  Cooking fresh cauliflower was easy peasy.  This is all I did.  I took a head of cauliflower and cut off the florets.  I spread them on a parchment (or foil if you prefer) covered large baking sheet.  I drizzled extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice lightly over the florets.  I sprinkled salt and fresh ground black pepper over the florets as well.  The oven was preheated to 425 degrees.  In went the cauliflower.  After 20 minutes I tossed freshly grated parmesan cheese over the top and put the cauliflower back in the oven for another 5 minutes.  The scent was incredible, it browned up beautifully, and was ready to go to the table right out of the oven.

It was delicious.   Cauliflower is loaded with beneficial vitamins and nutrients, is associated with decreasing the risk of some types of cancer, and it is a low calorie fat free food.  But fair warning.  Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable.  Cruciferous is a fancy word usually associated with…uummm… flatulence.  And flatulence is another fancy word for gas, farts, spider barks.  We all have our own little name for that squeak we all try so hard to ignore.

Don’t let that scare you away though.  The benefits of this vegetable outweigh a little flatulence for sure.  Dealing with a little gas is one of the many things I learned to cope with as the youngest of 5 children.  Let me share a couple of techniques for coping with this little side effect.  The first line of defense, if it is a silent gas event noticeable only in scented hang time, is to blame the person that just walked out of the room.  The second line of defense is to blame the dog…a fan favorite!   The third and final tip I will offer for this is to gawk/glare at the person standing beside you.  This may be embellished by adding an eye roll or other visible  form of disgust.  This move silently places the blame on that person.  No words are necessary.   So go ahead!  Eat some cruciferous vegetables.  And don’t be shy in adopting one of the coping techniques following the consumption!   But what ever you do,  don’t let the threat of a little spider bark stop you from enjoying this amazing food!

Browned roasted cauliflower! Yum!