Summer 2017

This has been a supremely weird summer for me. I’ve been laid up since the beginning of July with the flu and other very odd, very scary maladies (I’m fine) and have spent the last two full weeks just trying to catch my breath and let my body recover. I was finally able to resurrect my yoga practice this past week after months of hiatus due to some deep soul wounds that resulted from the dissolution of some dear relationships that just so happened to have a mutual love for yoga woven into their fabric.

I’ve learned a lot about relationships this year/summer; ways to end them, ways to salvage them, how to give grace, how to see from another’s perspective, how to listen, how to speak up. I’ve learned that nothing is formulaic when it comes to loving people, because each person and relationship needs to be nourished differently. I have learned the importance of mindfulness and of keeping my mind open and to consider the perspective of another. I have learned that it is equally important to draw a hard line when it comes to abuse, right and wrong, using my voice, and nazis.

I just yesterday finished reading of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker. It is easily my favorite book of hers since InterruptedI was encouraged in and laughed my way through pretty much every aspect of myself that I struggle with on an hourly basis. Motherhood, womanhood, loving God, loving Jesus, church, standing firm in my sacred and holy convictions, food, wine, my boobs, exercise and friendships. Read it, you’ll love it.

I’ve spent this summer deeply nourishing my relationship with Netflix and all the gems it had to offer, including Ozark, GLOW, and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. My tastes are varied and impeccable. (I also watched one and a half seasons of Jane the Virgin but for the love of sex, I have run out of patience for that show and its 18 hours of footage per season) I have experimented with new recipes (grilled chicken enchiladas with masa sour cream sauce, lavender nutmeg rolls with cream cheese glaze) and spent more time in my kitchen, which always does well for my creative soul. Plus, there’s wine there.

I still have not successfully potty trained Nora. My two and a half year old has bested me. Her go-stinky-on-the-toilet treats of chocolate covered almonds belong to me now. Some days we spend exploring the depths of our creative souls with watercolor paints, crayons and chalk drawings, learning colors and writing the alphabet and counting to twenty. Other days she’s on the line with Sesame Street for four hours so I can drink my ever loving one cup of coffee re-heated seventeen times and read my books (scroll Instagram).

I DID get myself completely off of my anti depressants this summer, which was a huge deal for me. Let me please say that I am and always will be 100% in favor of medication because when it works, it is literally a lifesaver. It just wasn’t working for me, and quitting was the right choice for me. I did quit cold turkey, which I feel obligated to tell you is almost never recommended and most doctors will tell you to slowly wean. Well, I know my body pretty well and weaning wasn’t going to cut it. I got really lucky and experienced virtually no withdrawal symptoms. (Woo-hoo!) I still take medication for anxiety and I’m good with that. I take a lot of natural supplements and I drink ACV every morning, so I’m feeling pretty well balanced in that area.

Again I say, this has been one of the weirder summers I can remember in the last several years of my adulthood. Not the best, not the worst. All in all, just weird. I’m grateful for the lessons learned and the wounds mended, for the friends who text daily and the ones who call yearly. I’m grateful for the home date nights and and the family outings. But I’ll never be sad to say goodbye to a summer.

Fall, I’ve been waiting a whole year for your sweet return. COME TO MAMA.

 

 

 

 

Enjoy this Life

These last six months for me have just been a whole mess of emotions and thoughts and musings and wonderings and questions and seeking. My stress and anxiety have been through the ROOF. I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately.

A. LOT.

enjoy“What does living a healthy life truly look like for ME?” – I’m trying to break the terrible habit of comparison, that bitch.

“What do I really believe, deep down in my heart and soul?” – Both De- and Re-Construction can wreak havoc on one’s spirit.

“Who am I?” – Surely I’m more than a stay at home mom and a full time housewife, right?

“What is/are my passion(s)?” – That answer used to be easy and concise – yoga. Now it’s a bit fuzzier.

“What do I want out of my life?” – What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino? Elephino!

Any of you who’ve been in my life in some form or another have heard me talk about living a life of mindfulness. I believe so deeply in listening to my own body, my own soul, my own spirit; being watchful for cues and needs. When I was living that way, all the time, I was so much more at peace, even despite turmoil in my personal life, in the nation, in my relationships. I’ve lost sight of that. This is going to change.

Those closest to me know how hard I am on myself. It could even be argued that I enjoy punishing myself – mentally, emotionally, etc. I don’t enjoy it, by they way. I’ve just somehow gotten so confused along the way of my adult life that I feel like I deserve it. That’s a whole other saga for another time, but regardless, clearly not a healthy or enjoyable way to live, right?

I’m also a big list maker. And I’m always convinced that with each new list I write – each new plan I form, my life will be changed forever. I’ll lose weight and everything will be great again. I’ll find a creative outlet and everything will be great again. I’ll buy clothes and beauty products and essential oils and everything will be great again. Constantly exhausting myself by searching searching searching for the next thing I’m sure will heal all of my brokenness and make life peachy.

Today I had kind of a breaking point. One of those ugly cry sob-fests that builds and builds and builds until you just kind of implode. I had just finished a yoga practice focused around self care (you don’t say!) and I decided to meditate for a bit. I opened up my meditation app on my phone, sprawled into a wide legged child’s pose and sobbed for about ten minutes. Divine Love showed up there. I was ever so gently reminded of my value, of how my I am loved, and of how much more credit I need to give my own God given intuition.

wineIt’s been…not an easy year so far. I’ve lost friendships that had appeared to be lifers. I’ve mourned over the discord in our nation. I’ve struggled with finances, with HAVING A TODDLER FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, with my self esteem, with my marriage, with my dreams and hopes and faith and future.

But today. Today I was rescued. Today I was loved. Today I was rejuvenated (enough for a jumpstart at least) and given hope again. Today I remembered that my life, here and now, is only one small part. Nora being a two year old WILL NOT LAST FOREVER. And dammit, we will get that girl potty trained one day. My role as full time housewife and SAHM will not last forever. And all things considered, this is a time I want to be present for. So I resolved to enjoy this life. The here and now. I will get back to living and loving mindfully; to trusting my God given intuition; to appreciating the innocent pleasures and little joys that each day brings, even if I have to look really hard to find them; even if I have to create them myself.

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I will appreciate my cool, crisp glass of Rosè on a warm summer evening. I will relish the sacred time spent on my yoga mat and in meditation. I will make time for own mental and physical health; I’ll take detox baths and continue dry brushing and I will reach out to those who have gone before me and created a soft place for me to land when I crash in a pile of doubt. I will soften my soul and make my heart tender. I will soak up each sweet exchange between my daughter and myself. I will love my husband well.

I will enjoy this life.

I Have Something to Say

A quick note before I get started:
I am in the slow process of bringing my personal blog back to life, which includes transferring all of my old posts to this site, as well as slowly editing the page to get the look I want. I appreciate your patience as all of these changes occur.
So, hello! It’s been a while.
Someone recently queried as to why I wasn’t writing anymore. I told them simply that I didn’t have anything to say. I supposed that’s changed now. I love writing (when there’s no deadline). Those of you who’ve followed along with me throughout the years know how much I love words. I’ve missed this.
Those of you who’ve followed along with me throughout the years have also seen me create and destroy this blog a handful of times. Over the past several months, I had lots to say and I said it loudly. It’s been a very tumultuous season for our nation and I felt compelled to speak up and out about a myriad of issues. While I stand firmly by my own beliefs, it was around the beginning of April or so that I felt compelled to quiet down a bit. I took a short break from Instagram (the only social media I will be a part of) and I got quiet. I meditated, I mulled, I considered, I talked with my sister and husband, I even prayed some.
I had a really tough day (okay like six weeks but we’ll start with this particular day) earlier this week, and I’d had a little wine and teensy emotional breakdown and decided to spill my guts all over Instagram. I wrote about the stress I was under, impending decisions that were making me anxious, my insecurities about my body, and then I took a wide turn and began spewing words of disdain towards the western evangelical church and the Bible and on and on. The next day I re-read what I’d written and took the post down immediately. You see sometimes I get it in my head that if I don’t yell, I won’t be heard. But the thing is, when you (I) start yelling, people stop listening. All anyone wants is to be understood, right?
Balance is not one of my strong suits. It’s this elusive thing I have been furiously chasing for most of my life and never quite landing there, at least not for long. I am naturally an extremist and I DO NOT LIKE THIS about myself. I swing so far to opposite ends of the pendulum that I make myself sick and dizzy. I want balance. I need balance. I (we) was (were) made for a balanced life. Balance is good and it’s healthy. Balance helps me love others better. Balance helps me to be a better friend, a better wife, a better mom, a better person. Balance helps keep me sane. And yet I have so much trouble getting myself to that place.
I have a friend who is heavily involved in her church. When I say heavily involved, I mean she and her husband are the lead pastors. She recently asked me basically why she and I had a good relationship (although she was glad for it!) when she felt she represented an institution that I have so much tension with. I answered her as thoughtfully as I could in the moment, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what she said. I talked with Shawn for a while, just sort of getting all my thoughts out into the air. That’s how I solve a lot of problems actually – I speak them out loud, sort through the pieces, and put together a solution.
Anyways, as I was talking and my mind was racing a thousand different thoughts a minutes, I realized how out of balance I’d become. If my friend had to ask me that question, I’ve clearly been yelling a lot about that subject; my feelings about the church and the Bible and so forth. I’ve clearly been yelling about a lot of things. I told Shawn that I don’t want my life to be remembered for everything I’m against, I don’t want to be remembered for what I’ve yelled about. I want to leave a legacy, for lack of a better word, of love, of kindness, of patience, of listening, of being respectful and honoring other people simply because they are people, regardless of any difference of opinion or belief or faith.
So now I have something to say. Not something to yell. I am a very passionate person and I care very deeply about what I believe to be right and true and good. I believe that all people, regardless of gender, of race, of ethnicity, of sexual orientation, of political standing, of status, are very much equal in every way, as humans, and should be respected and loved as such. I believe that God is BIG (big enough to be He or She or anything else, but that’s another thought for another time) and loves us all so much, in a way we can’t begin to imagine. I believe that when God looks at us, humankind, that what is seen is only Love. I believe that we aren’t seen by our flaws or “sins” or what anyone else might consider to be wrong. We are only seen through Love.
I love God very, very much. Because I love God so much, I want to see humankind through Love. There is, of course, a difference in seeing all people through Love, and not standing against blatant evil. Love fights against evil and it stands up for the rights of the defenseless, the oppressed and the marginalized. I’m headed towards a tangent so I’ll get to my main point now. Forgive me for taking the long way to get here.
I have been in a process of “spiritual deconstruction” for about four years now. What that means is that I took a step back from everything I was taught or learned or came up with growing up regarding God and Love and Jesus and the church and the Bible, and I pulled it apart. I broke it down, I threw it out, I started from scratch. I did this because I began to notice a lot of actions, words, and beliefs from this particular people group that I could no longer reconcile with Love. I began to notice hypocrisy (I mean, I’m not immune to it, don’t get me wrong). I began to notice bigotry, sexism, even hate at times. I removed myself from anything and everything related to western Christianity and the western church and even Scripture. The Bible has been translated so many times into so many different languages that I have trouble believing it to be “infallible” (something I was taught at a very young age).
However, it isn’t fair or even correct for me to throw all Scripture away and deem it irrelevant, which I have said before. The Bible, while not perfect, still carries a lot of wisdom, perspective, and even comfort when needed. It is not irrelevant. Not everyone involved in a church somehow is a hypocrite, or a bigot, or a misogynist. I don’t hate all pastors (I don’t hate anyone…well, I work hard not to ::coughDonaldTrumpcough::) and I don’t think all the good has gone out of the hearts of Christians. It was unfair for me to lump every person into a pile like that, and for that I apologize and I ask that you forgive me.
I’m still sorting through many of my broken pieces. While I may still disagree with a lot of things involved in “Christian Culture”, I’m going to work hard at looking through the eyes of Love and speaking kindly about the good and healthy, rather than yelling about the rotten. Another thing my friend said to me was that she’d been battered by the church a lot, so she understood where I was coming from. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that either, because despite the battering, she is a pastor! She keeps moving forward in Love. I want to live like that. Despite the hurt and confusion and anger, despite the battering, I want to move forward in Love.
I like to consider myself an open minded person, mostly because I’m a liberal. But I read a quote a few weeks ago that punched me right in the gut. It said that an open minded person isn’t just someone with a liberal perspective, but someone who is always willing to listen and understand and learn.
So, I’m done yelling. I lost my voice because of it. The Bible mentions that the Holy Spirit whispers to us gently. Well, I do believe in the Spirit, and now I want to follow suit and whisper gently. Divine Love is loud and big on it’s own; I don’t need to raise my voice for it. I just need to live it.

Simple Christmas Decor

When we moved from Oregon to Utah, we PURGED. We went from living in a 1,740 sq. foot, two story, three bedroom, two and half bath house with a two car garage, to a 900 sq. foot two bed, two bath apartment. We got rid of as many things as possible, and are still finding things to donate or give away even now. Needless to say, a lot of my Christmas decor went the way of garage sales and Goodwill. I still decorate, but it’s much more scaled back these days than ever before. My style preference is simple and a bit rustic, but warm and colorful. I prefer lots of earth tones and reds in my decor, and while not all of it reflects that, well, I’m working with what I’ve got. We also invested in our first artificial tree this year. Shawn and I both most definitely prefer a real tree, but with a cat, a toddler, and three flights of stairs – we thought it wise to go with an artificial tree. We picked up a humble little tree from Target the day before Thanksgiving and only paid $14 for it! While I’m sad not to have my beautiful house and front porch to decorate anymore, I love the quiet touches and simplicity of our apartment decor. 

Our Cozy Thanksgiving

I still cannot believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone already! The years just keep going by faster and faster, don’t they? Anyways, this year it was just the three of us for the holiday and we had such a sweet, cozy time together, and I just wanted to share some of our fun and happy times. We spent the day before Thanksgiving out running around, buying a few groceries, having lunch, getting Christmas gifts (and ideas), and I finally got my white picture frames for my prints hanging in the dining room. Oh! Shawn and I also bought some cream sherry to try. We were channeling Frasier I suppose.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!

We had so much fun picking up groceries at Whole Foods, having lunch, and then letting Nora play in the adorable kid's area. She had an absolute blast!

We had so much fun picking up groceries at Whole Foods, having lunch, and then letting Nora play in the adorable kid’s area. She had an absolute blast!

“We never mull without sherry.”

They are BFF.

They are BFF.

While Nora was down for her nap, Shawn and I thought it would be fun to decorate for Christmas so that she could see it all when she woke up. We also decided to split a bottle of Prosecco while we decorated. SO MUCH FUN!

While Nora was down for her nap, Shawn and I thought it would be fun to decorate for Christmas so that she could see it all when she woke up. We also decided to split a bottle of Prosecco while we decorated. SO MUCH FUN!

And our legacy of ridiculous family photos continues.

And our legacy of ridiculous family photos continues.

Pot Roast with Baby Carrots and Potatoes

One of my very favorite cold weather meals is pot roast with root vegetables. I love the way it cooks in the Crock Pot all day, filling my home with a delectable savory aroma and the way the flavors of the meat, veggies and herbs all come together to make an absolutely mouth watering eating experience. This is a perfect warm and hearty meal to cozy up with on a chilly fall or winter evening, and goes great with a robust glass of red wine and maybe some rustic bread.

*Note: Since it’s just the three of us for Thanksgiving this year, I decided to forego our traditional feast and instead prepare this delicious pot roast and a simple pumpkin pie.

My recipe for this meal is a bit unstructured and off the cuff, especially when it comes to herbs and rubs. I mix it up often and never use measuring utensils. Luckily, this is an especially simple meal to prepare, and it can be customized to your personal preference and taste!

Pot Roast with Baby Carrots and Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4lbs roast of your choice (I’m using chuck roast in this recipe)
  • 1 bag of organic, washed and peeled baby carrots
  • 1 1/2 lbs (ish) organic fingerling potatoes, chopped or thick sliced
  • organic extra virgin olive oil
  • minced garlic
  • bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • herbs of your choice (in this recipe I’m using onion powder, dried rosemary, dried parsley)
  • 2/3 c.(ish) organic chicken stock

Instructions:
Get your Crock Pot out and ready to be filled. Place half of the baby carrots and half of your chopped potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Make your rub, mixing your preferred amount of olive oil, minced garlic, s&p and herbs.

Place the roast on top of the vegetable layer in the slow cooker. Top the roast with the rub and spread evenly all over.
Add the rest of the vegetables on the sides and around the top of the roast and place two bay leaves on top.

Pour the chicken stock in the slow cooker, being careful not to wash th rub off of the roast.
Set your slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

Bon Appetit!

How to Deal: Coping with my Anxiety

If you’ve followed along with me through this blog or via social media, it’s no secret that I struggle with anxiety. Actually, struggle might be too light a word for what I truly experience in the middle of a hellacious anxiety attack. I suffer from Severe Anxiety Disorder, and it is one mean son of a bitch.

A while back, I asked you, my dear followers, to let me know if there was anything specific you’d appreciate hearing from me about on the blog. One thing I was directly asked about was my anxiety and how I deal. I’m so honored and happy to share my own coping mechanisms with you, but more than anything, to be able to let you know that I get it and I am with you and you always have a safe space with me.

Anxiety is nothing to be taken lightly. It’s not simply feeling uncomfortable in a particular situation or circumstance. It is gut wrenching, it is terrifying, it is maddening. Anxiety is heavy and dark, like a cloak you can’t unwrap yourself from. Anxiety is the inability to feel anything but fear in the moment – it freezes you alone, afraid, shaking, sick. Sometimes it brings on waves of tears and sobbing. Other times it manifests itself in anger. I’ve even had multiple instances when my anxiety and stress manifested itself through flu like symptoms. Needless to say, it fucking sucks.

I do see a doctor about my anxiety and depression, and I do take medication for it. The meds do help. They truly do. But I have also found some other ways to deal with my anxiety that help to bring rest to my weary soul and healing to my body. 

Last week, I was just coming off of a terribly heavy, anxiety ridden time and I was finished. I was so exhausted, emotionally and physically. I was completely empty. So Shawn and myself came up with a plan for me to take some time to rest and recover. I took a full week off of my regular kettle bell routine. This is important because I can become obsessive about exercise and I was pushing my body way too far. I turned off my alarm clock and slept in until Shawn left for work and Nora woke up. I took advantage of her nap times and slept, every day. I sent the scale with Shawn to take to work so that I couldn’t step on it, as I was beginning to obsess over my weight as well.

I revisited my belief and practice of listening to my body, trusting what it needed and giving it that. I took long, hot showers and breathed in the fresh eucalyptus. I gave myself facials. I painted my nails. I played with my cat. I enjoyed my favorite essential oils. I watched movies and snuggled on the couch with my daughter. 

I cried. A lot. I allowed myself to fully feel the awfulness of my anxiety demons so that I could detox from them. I took time to prepare new meals, giving myself permission once again to be creative in the kitchen. I talked with my friends. I cried with my friends. I allowed my husband to help me with everything. (This is not an easy thing for me to do.)

Parmesan Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

Parmesan Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

I drank lots of hot tea, I soaked in my delicious yoga practice. I didn’t make any plans. I didn’t formulate any structures for my life. I just breathed. I just napped. I just laughed and cooked and watched tv. I painted my nails. I stayed in bed for my morning coffee.

That week of rest and recovery is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was able to reset. I was able to clear my mind of clutter and bullshit and fear. Not permanently, of course, but for the first time in a very, very long time. And while this past week (election week) hasn’t exactly been a week of joy and sunshine, I found that strength in myself that had gotten lost in that storm of anxiety before. Strength for myself, strength for my family and friends, and most importantly, strength for everyone else. 

ALL THE YOGA, ALL THE TIME

ALL THE YOGA, ALL THE TIME

Mental illness is no damn joke. Anxiety and depression are demons that don’t always go away. But, we can always find a way to cope. And we always have each other. So while I don’t always take a full week to recover, I do make certain to implement those practices as often as possible. It’s so incredibly important that we find the quiet space inside, inhale and exhale deeply, and learn what it is that our bodies need, what it is that our souls need, and do those things. If you need to introvert, do it. If you need to cry and scream, do it. If you need to sleep and sleep and sleep, DO IT. 

Unfortunately, there is no exact recipe for coping. But there are always ways to heal; always ways to recover. When you figure out what those things are, you’ll find you can take each day as it comes. Or each hour, or each minute, however you need to take it. I fully understand the hopelessness. I understand the darkness. I understand the unrelenting torture of it all. I have also slowly, but surely, begun to understand the ways of rising above it, of not being defeated. 

Hope does exist. Healing can come. This, I promise you.

I love you very much.