Monthly Archives: October 2014

CPS Should Take Me Away From Myself

cpsThis is the view from my desk right now.

From left to right: A tangled knot of yarn that I’ve managed to untangle and re-tangle about 4 times now. Fell off the couch when I fell asleep on it last night. A dish towel my puppy stole from the kitchen, and a pillow she stole from the couch. Also an old water bottle that is actually something she is legitimately allowed to chew on. The vacuum cleaner that has sat there since Friday, when I vacuumed up the last chew toy she destroyed (pictured behind the vacuum: new destroyed chew toy). And last, but not least, a TV dinner tray that she accidentally drug around and flipped over with her Elizabethan collar.

Now most of this mess, yarn and vacuum aside, happened in the last couple hours (though I should really just put that TV tray away, it’s the fourth time). So since my puppy has been home from surgery and destructively bored in her recovery for the past 6 days now… I’ll let you image the state of the rest of the apartment.

My puppy has finally ceased her hour long tantrum about not being allowed to eat off the counter and fallen asleep. One might suggest that I take this golden opportunity to pick up her mess, revacuum the floor, and… well, let’s face it, leave the vacuum out to vacuum up the next mess she makes. But I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

You see, I feel like I’ve been a pretty good puppy mommy this week. I made her homemade puppy food and puppy treats. Helped her eat and drink and walk when she was on her sedative. Sat with her and soothed her when that sedative gave her puppy nightmares. Held her toys for her so she could get chew leverage inside her Elizabethan collar. Slept on the couch all week so she could sleep next to me (and by next to me, I mean on me) because the bed’s too high for her while she’s on jumping prohibition. Stayed home nearly 24/7 because her dog crate is uncomfortably small with that giant cone around her head.

But there’s someone I’ve been neglecting for the past couple days. Someone I have been depriving of sleep, forgetting to feed, and completely ignoring. Someone I’ve reduced to tears three times in the past two days by overwhelming them with unrealistic expectations and belittling them when they couldn’t meet them.

“Why hello there, Old Me. When did you get back in town?”

If I were a child, Child Protective Services would LITERALLY take me away from myself for the way I’ve been neglecting myself. And the funny thing is, I would never treat a child this way. I would never treat my puppy this way. Hell, I wouldn’t even treat the cat this way.

But for some reason it’s ok to treat Me this way. It doesn’t even cross my mind that it might not be ok until I’m reduced to tears because my head hurts so much, and I’m so exhausted, and I just don’t know what to do about it… oh wait. Maybe I should try eating. My first meal of the day. At 8:30 p.m. When I’ve been up since 6:00 a.m.

YEAH?! You think that might be a good idea?!?!?!

You’ll have to forgive the yelling. I just get so frustrated with myself, because I do this all. the. time. I always say I’m going to put myself first, and I always mean to, but it’s so easy for me to forgetSo easy for me to lose myself in someone I love. Even in a frickin’ puppy.

So I’m not cleaning right now. Messy living room be damned. I’m eating my chili, writing my blog, and taking some time for me.

How to Be Awesome Tip #12: Don’t just know your priorities – live them.

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Stage 4 Colon Cancer

This is a post from my best friend, Tracy Bye. She’s 29 and was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer. For more information about her condition and situation, please check out her blog.

Since Tracy works for a non-profit, she is ineligible to receive any sort of disability pay for the extensive time off she will have to take to fight this disease.

After much hounding from me and others, she has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay her medical bills: http://www.gofundme.com/fs0na4

Any support you are able to offer, either financially, by reblogging, prayer, or good will, would be much appreciated by both her and me. Thank you!

Tracy's Trappings

So for the people who are asking, here is a link to my gofundme:
Gofundme.com/fs0na4

Thank you all so much! I feel truly and completely blessed through this whole experience! You guys are all so amazing!

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Idle Hands

They say that idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

Objectively speaking, I haven’t been idle today. I went to the farmer’s market and grocery store, planned my meals for the week, cooked lunch, took my puppy for a walk, did training with her (the most “playing” she gets while her stitches are still in), and sat on the couch with her for hours, coaxing, comforting, and distracting her so she didn’t run in circles. She even had a huge tantrum and I suffered it out until she passed out in my lap.

It was exhausting. But now, I have a 60 pound puppy sleeping in my lap. I’ve been watching the same TV show for 4 hours (yay, Netflix marathoning), I’ve run out of yarn for my crochet project, and my right leg is asleep. Did I mention that it’s now 11 pm and I haven’t eaten since lunch?

And I wish I were doing something. Exhaustion, for me, always causes a feeling of helplessness. And helplessness is exactly what my monster feeds on. And as I sit here, unable to move, those dark little thoughts creep back into my head:

How could you be so impatient with your puppy? What will you do when you have actual kids? You’re going to be a terrible parent.

If you were more organized, more motivated, more patient, you’d be doing much better at this. It’s a shame you’re incapable of doing it right.

It’s so unfair that you gave all your time to Madelyn (the puppy) while she was awake, and now she’s stealing your time while she’s asleep.

Oh man, I hate that nasty little voice! It’s the only thing in the entire world that I can say that I truly despise. It exists for no other purpose than to break me down, make me doubt, make me fear, make me resent, make me hurt.

But then I look at my beautiful little love bug, as I call her. Not because I love her (though I do), but because I know that she loves me unconditionally, and trusts me entirely. And I want to do everything I can to be worthy of that.

So am I exhausted? Yes. Out of patience? Strung out? Feeling a big long cry coming on? All of the above. But am I going to keep sitting here so my puppy can sleep happily in my lap, and find a moment of peace in her long, boring, painful recovery from surgery? Of course I am. I love her.

How to Be Awesome Tip #11: Accept that you can’t choose what you feel, but acknowledge that you can choose which feelings you act on.

Gluten Free Gluten Day

One thing I was warned about when I decided to go gluten-free was that I had to be careful. Gluten-free does not automatically mean healthy – there’s a whole lot of processed food and junk food out there that is gluten free and not healthy.


Gluten-free. Obviously a key part of healthy, sustainable eating.

Another big concern of mine was my love not only for gluten, but of one particular thing made of gluten, that I’ve never been able to give up on any other nutrition plan. It’s always been my breaking point: Pasta.

Mmmm, delicious, carb filled, high calorie, cheese accompanied Pasta. You can tell just by the way I speak of it that it is one of my great loves in life, and there will never be another like it. Even on my most successful, two year long, CHOCOLATE FREE health food stint, I allowed myself pasta once a week. It’s how I survived.

So Saturday is my pasta day. And the moment of truth is upon us:


Dun dun DUUUUUN!

Gluten-free raviolis: Brown rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum in replace of wheat flour. Filled with delicious stomach ache inducing ricotta cheese (actually, since I went gluten-free, I’ve noticed that lactose isn’t giving me stomach pains anymore). Cooked in a delicious creamy sun dried tomato sauce. Tell me that doesn’t sound like pasta heaven, and I’ll tell you that you don’t know what pasta heaven is.

It was really very delicious. The pasta itself had a slightly different texture to it. Overall, on the scale of pasta I’ve made at home, I give it an A- for flavor. Which is darn good for being wheat free. But still, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing… of course! Cheesy garlic bread sticks!

A side of carbs to go with my carbs, please.

Woah woah woah. HOLD THE BUS! All that trouble to make gluten-free pasta, and I spoiled it by eating cheesy focaccia bread sticks with it?

Don’t be silly. That bread is made out of cauliflower.  It doesn’t look like it. And I assure you, it doesn’t taste like it. In fact, I might have a hard time believing it, if I hadn’t riced that stupid cauliflower myself. (Minor point of contention. I don’t have a food processor currently, so I had to do it by hand.)

All credit, honor, and glory goes to the man of The Iron You for his amazing cauliflower crust garlic breadstick recipe.

Those breadsticks, sadly, were probably the only healthy part of today. But pasta day isn’t about being healthy. It’s about being delicious. And, now, also about being-gluten free. Which means I definitely won today.

How to Be Awesome Tip #10: Feel free to indulge, but never compromise yourself.

When Life Gives You Lemons… Cook Them.

My best friend (29 years old) has stage 4 colon cancer. Shhh, she doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her. But anyway, that’s the (month) old news. The new news is, she can never have babies. That’s right. Because of the location of her cancer, the radiation is, with little wiggle room, certain to kill off all the eggs in her ovaries. The cost of the procedure to remove them and store them for later? $15,000. Not covered by insurance. Only about a third of their annual income.

I know she’s heartbroken. I can hear it in her voice. What I can’t do is hug her or look her in the eyes while I promise that everything is going to be okay, because she’s in California, and I live in New York now.

So the more in my face concern: My puppy ripped out her stitches. You see, when she’s really excited (aka always), she does this thing where she doesn’t just wag her tail, but literally her entire hindquarters waggle with it. Adorable, but non-conducive to surgery recovery, so after stitching her back up, the vet prescribed her a low dose sedative to help calm her down. The downside? Now she’s super woozy, and needs help to eat, drink water, and pretty much everything else.

Leaves me stuck at home, absolutely happy to give my puppy the care she needs, but with not much else to do in the in between. And I certainly don’t want to spend my time mulling over how my best friend’s life is un. fucking. fair. (Sorry for the colorful language, but I feel it’s necessary to describe the extent of the unfairness in this particular situation.)

So I cooked today. Boy did I cook.

lunchAnd I played with my food. What can I say? Five years old at heart.

Ignore the boring old turkey burger, and let’s focus on these delicious, amazing, sweet little orange peppers I picked up at the farmer’s market last weekend. Oh, how I hope they have them again tomorrow! I will buy them all. All. The ones pictured above are filled with black beans, corn, avocado, salsa, and mozzarella, topped with green onions. Broiled for about 4 minutes until the cheese melted. But I also filled some with bacon, garlic, artichoke hearts, and mozzarella (didn’t have any spinach, or I would’ve tossed that in too), and they were absolutely delicious, too.

So that was lunch, and my puppy made pleading puppy yelps all the way through my cooking it, so I thought I better whip her up something too (see previous entries about her being S.P.O.I.L.E.D.).

Hello Puppy Pumpkin Cookies:

They smelled so good, I literally ate one.

So from a human perspective, I can tell tell you that these taste a little bland. But boy did my puppy gobble them up and then try every trick she knows (which is a lot!) to try to earn more.

Now, like my puppy, I am also on a gluten-free diet. And I have to tell you, I had MY  FIRST MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH TODAY. I mean, my first moment where I actually thought I could really stick with this long term.

If this doesn’t look delicious to you, it’s because you’re distracted by the
Tomorrowland plate it’s sitting on. I get it. I love Disney, too.

Meet spaghetti squash. I’d never had it before, but I heard it was a “pasta replacement.” Being a pasta connoisseur, I was highly skeptical. But… the flavor is pretty close. Kind of like a buttery angel hair. It’s the slight crunch that’s a little off putting, but I eventually got over that. You see, pasta is my weak point. But this… I could live with this. (Pictured above with chicken sausage, kale, onions, and garlic.)

I also made peanut butter chicken jerk for my puppy, and Halloween bark to mail to my boyfriend. I wasn’t joking about cooking all day. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t make my best friend’s cancer go away. It didn’t raise money to pay to have her eggs removed. And it didn’t heal my puppy. But surprisingly, it did make things better. Life continues, and that’s a good thing.

How  to Be Awesome Tip #9: Shit happens. Don’t stop living because of it.

Southwestern Chicken Salad

swsaladYes, I shamelessly staged my salad for a photograph before tossing it into a bowl with the dressing and mixing it up. I’d post a picture of what it looks like tossed, but it’s in my tummy now, sorry.

So, I woke up this morning exhausted. And I use the term woke up loosely, because I didn’t really sleep at all.

My puppy came home from being spayed and having her rear dewclaws removed yesterday afternoon. Here’s a video of her being adorable, and what I spent most of my evening doing:

It was the only thing that stopped her from crying and chewing at her poor ankles. And because of the Elizabethan collar, she couldn’t even hold the bone for herself. (Don’t mind the noise in the background, that’s just Dexter, Season 8 – no spoilers except that Deb eats.)

So, my little Madelyn puppy usually sleeps in bed with me, but my bed is really high, and she’s not supposed to be jumping, so instead I set her up in the bathroom, then blocked the door off with the couch so she could sleep next to Mommy. Just as I was falling asleep, I got a huge punch in the gut, opened my eyes and saw this:

puppy“Please don’t make me sleep alone on the floor, Mommy.”

So that’s how we slept. Or rather, how she slept. It’s difficult to sleep with a 57 lb puppy tossing and turning in discomfort on your tummy all night.

Anyway, all that is to say, man I’m tired today. And there’s a lot to do that I didn’t get done yesterday. And boy did I just feel not at all like doing any of it, especially making lunch. Couldn’t I just order take out, or even better, delivery? Oh it sounded innocent, but there was that monster of mine sneaking in again! And what it was actually saying, under the guise of “giving me a break,” was Just give up on the clean eating, gluten-free challenge. You’re not worth the effort when you’re tired.

Oh but I am worth the effort. Even when I’m tired. In fact, especially  when I’m tired, I deserve extra TLC, even if I’m the one who has to give it to myself. (After all, if I don’t think I’m worth some extra effort, why should anyone else?)

So I whipped up this delicious southwestern chicken salad – very little effort to chop things while the chicken cooked – and my own homemade dressing. I originally got the dressing recipe from greens & chocolate, but the link no longer works, so I’m going to post it here:

  SOUTHWESTERN RANCH DRESSING
  Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ranch dressing mix
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning

  Directions: Mix ingredients. Easy peasy.

And I feel good about myself. No take out binge followed by guilt trip today.

How to Be Awesome Tip #8: Remember you’re worth the effort.

Clean Living

cleaneatingThis is what 600 calories of clean eating looks like. Good grief, how am I ever going to eat that much???

You see, I may have made a mistake. I’ve been working on a prayer shawl for my friend, Angel. And the thing about praying for someone every day, is that they’re always on your mind.

I met Angel three years ago, when she worked as an aide in my classroom. There’s nothing to say about her except that she’s a truly amazing person. She has gone through hell and back, multiple times. And she stays strong, optimistic, and crazy energetic.

She got on a serious health kick about two months after we met. Actually, she blames me for it, believe it or not (I sure don’t – have you seen the way I can scarf down an entire loaf of sourdough bread with butter???). You see, we were in the middle of the school Halloween parade, when one of my students needed to go to the bathroom. I asked her to take him back to the school, and he took off sprinting. She couldn’t keep up with him. And it made her think: What if there were a real emergency? What if my son were hurt, and I had to get help, and I couldn’t?

She told me that she realized that day that if she wanted to be around to take care of the people she loves, she had to take care of herself. So she joined the gym, she got a personal trainer, she started eating healthy – she went from sedentary to running a half marathon in about a year. If this woman isn’t someone to look up to, I don’t know who is!

So she eats paleo. She’s convinced that gluten is the root of all nutritional evil. She’s told me about how most of the stuff it’s in is processed, and contains preservatives, so that’s no good to begin with. She talks about how it’s been genetically altered, and no longer contains the nutrients and benefits that once made it essential to our diet. She’s shown me the research indicating that it may have addictive qualities (well duh, have you seen me when I haven’t had a piece of bread/bagel/cupcake/brownie in over a day?).

I try to eat healthy, I really do. But I’ve always been unwilling to give up my bread and pasta in the past. Staunchly against it. (Geez, if that isn’t addiction, I don’t know what is.) All this praying for Angel lately has rubbed off on me though, I guess, because suddenly… I’ve found the resolve to give it a try.

I’m not going paleo, sorry. Things like wild rice and quinoa are packed with healthy nutrients and, more importantly carbs that, as a runner, I simply can’t live without. And nb4 paleo runners start posting in comments that I’m wrong – I just meant that I can’t live without them.

But I’ve decided to do a two week clean eating challenge. No gluten. No processed foods. No added preservatives. And… /grimace… I’m going to cut out most dairy, too. Simply because I’m lactose intolerant and shouldn’t be consuming it anyway. >.>

So here’s my first real meal since starting: Naked turkey burgers and spicy sweet potato wedges. And the first thing I notice right off the bat is that it’s a lot more food than I usually eat. When you cut out all the empty calories, you sure do have to fill up the plate with real calories. I’m an hour into lunch and still picking at the sweet potato wedges… but there’s no way that second burger is going into my stomach anytime soon.

How I would love to save it for dinner, wrap it in a bun, and melt some cheese on it… but I’m going to pass. Because I’m stronger than my carb addition. And because I hear that I’ve got to take care of myself if I want to be around to take care of those I love.

How to Be Awesome Tip #7: Take care of yourself.

The Pampered Puppy: Homemade Beef Cakes

madelynThis is my beautiful, sweet, (kind of derpy), loving six month old puppy, Madelyn. This picture is from a few days ago, because as I type, she’s at the veterinarian, sleeping off the anesthesia from surgery. Nothing serious – just getting spayed, having her dewclaws removed, and getting the all important microchip.

Still, it’s surgery. And it’s my baby. And she’s going to be gone from home two whole days. If you’re not getting the idea yet, I’m having separation anxiety. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve been without her… I spent practically the entire last month traveling back and forth between New York and California. But it’s the first time I’ve been home without her in the entire 3 months since we got her. Also, did I mention that it’s surgery?

I know it’s gonna be rough on her, barely being able to walk for a few days, and then going over a week with no running, playing, or swimming. And it’s going to be especially hard for it spend all day lying down, not being able to follow me everywhere and do everything with me. She (like most labs) is a very social puppy.

So as a treat, to help add some low key excitement to the otherwise boring week she has ahead of her, I decided I would cook her dinners for her while she’s recovering. Being a good puppy mommy, I already knew what kinds of foods a healthy puppy diet included (important for picking the right puppy food and treats), but I didn’t really know in what proportions. So… to Google, of course. The Whole Dog Journal has a fantastic article about how much of what to feed your dog. Time to get busy in the kitchen!

meatloafYes, it’s Mickey Mouse shaped puppy meatloaf (don’t hate, it’s the only muffin pan I have that’s not still in California – also, Mickey is awesome). I got the recipe from Dog Training Central – thought this was a great one to start with because it’s FREEZABLE. Will prevent me from having to spend extra time away from my puppy cooking on the first couple days when she can’t really walk.

Definitely going to try their tuna roll too when she’s up and walking again, except with canned salmon instead, because man does she love her salmon puppy treats.

Yes, my puppy is spoiled. Very spoiled. Very very spoiled. It’s what happens when you have an unemployed puppy mommy with too much time and money on her hands. But I’m not going to apologizing for loving her too much.

How to Be Awesome Tip #6: Never apologize for loving too much.

Where You Ought to Be

sorting

“Oh you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.

You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.

There’s nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can’t see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.”

I made this lovely little gem over the weekend, modified slightly from the pattern CRAFTYisCOOL so kindly provided on their blog. And as I was putting the finishing touches on it, it got me thinking two things:

First, that I need to carve a Harry Potter pumpkin to wear it, and definitely crochet my puppy a Hufflepuff scarf so we can match on Halloween.

But secondly, and arguably more importantly (though I do need to get on that scarf), it made me think about labels. You see, I really don’t like labels. I don’t like the Stupid-s and Liar-s and Bully-s. But, and maybe even more so, I also don’t like the Smarty-s and Winner-s and most of all the Perfect-s.

Labels reduce us, box us in, and define us. If you label someone a liar, for example, you remove their option of being something else, or of you seeing them become something else. Maybe they think, “She already thinks I’m a liar, what’s the point in trying to tell the truth? Or in convincing her I’m telling the truth?”

Of course. Negative labels hurt. We called it “name calling” where I used to work, and it wasn’t allowed in the classroom or on the playground. But what’s wrong with Smarty? Winner? Perfect? Those are all nice things to say about someone, aren’t they? What’s wrong with them is that they put the value of the person in the attribute. Do something “stupid”? You’re now worth less in the eyes of everyone who thought you were smart, and most importantly, in your own eyes. Lose a game? You’re no longer a winner. The people who thought you were cool because you were a winner must no longer think you’re cool. How can you face them at school tomorrow?

And perfect. Don’t get me started on how perfect ruined my life. I spent so long trying to be the perfect daughter, perfect student, perfect wife, perfect employee. Perfect people have it all together, all figured out, nothing gets to them, they can solve every problem. And every time I fell short of perfect (which was, you know, every. time.), a piece of me broke. I felt I had let someone down, hadn’t tried hard enough, was a disappointment, was unlovable.

So, how  can I hate labels so much, but still be like LOOK AT THIS CUTE LITTLE SORTING HAT I MADE! EEEE! SO CUTE!?

Because the Sorting Hat reminds us that, while there is power in labels, there’s more power in choices:

Harry: Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin.

Sorting Hat: Not Slytherin, eh? Are you sure? You could be great, you know. It’s all here in your head. And Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, there’s no doubt about that. No?

Harry: Please, please. Anything but Slytherin, anything but Slytherin.

Sorting Hat: Well if you’re sure, better be… GRYFFINDOR!

How to Be Awesome Tip #5: Define your own labels – don’t let them define you.

Paradigm Shift

ppChances are, if you care at all about the pro-life/pro-choice discussion, Planned Parenthood inspires some pretty serious feelings in you.

When I was in high school, I once took heat from my very conservative boyfriend for giving a freshman girl a ride to Planned Parenthood. I didn’t support her sleeping with her boyfriend (especially since I knew him and always considered him kind of skeevy), but… he refused to wear condoms, and neither of them were going to not have sex just because she couldn’t find a ride to get a birth control prescription… so I figured it was better if they had birth control. As I reasoned to my boyfriend, “These aren’t the kind of people I want reproducing.”

It didn’t help that they are one of the loudest pro-choice advocates in the country, either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly anti-pro-choice – I’m just also pro-life. I don’t think making it illegal will make women stop having abortions. I think it will just make it more dangerous and painful. But I do believe a baby’s life (from the moment of conception) is a sacred thing, and the thought of a baby being aborted breaks my heart.

So Planned Parenthood. It was a place for slutty teenagers and baby killers.

As I’ve grown older though, I’ve grown more… tolerant. [Translation: I’m less of a conceited bitch and no longer believe I have all the answers.] I know now that what’s right for me, might not be right for someone else. I also know that sinking pretty far into wrong is what ultimately woke me up and helped me set my life right. So I no longer have any interest in dictating to people what they can (or even should) do, or judging them for what they choose to do, so long as it doesn’t effect me.

The reason I bring this up is because I went to Planned Parenthood yesterday. Unemployed and uninsured, they were really my only option for women’s health services. And I felt… dirty, walking in there. What if someone I know sees me? How could I stoop to going to Planned Parenthood? Can I really give money to a place that not only performs but helps women pay for abortions?

But I felt even dirtier walking out. Because you know what? They were friendly, and knowledgeable, and took really. good. care of me. And I realized that Old Me was still alive and well. I may have put aside judging individuals, but how could it be so easy for me to continue to judge individuals as long as I grouped them under the label  “Planned Parenthood”?

It was a big paradigm shift for me: Realizing that I held onto this old opinion that conflicted with my new belief system. That I had been so intent on disliking someone, it was painful to admit that I didn’t dislike them at all. And it left me wondering where else in my life I may be holding on to outdated opinions.

How to Be Awesome Tip #4: Be willing to admit when you’re wrong.