To Find Balance

Last night I watched a documentary that spoke to me in too many ways to count. No Impact Man follows a family of three in New York City, as they venture out to consume less, and produce ideally no waste- for a year. Not only was it moving in the environmentalism aspect, but what stood out to me was the message about Community, Family and having a relationship with the Earth beneath our feet.

When Colin Beavan spoke about community, he stressed the importance of it. The lack of community our society has developed is truly linked to sickness, pollution, poor diet, disease and an overall disconnect. It seems that we are farthest away from the things closest to our being- to our very physical location. If you can tell me you know and could rely on your neighbors for anything, I’d say good for you; you’re probably above average. If you can tell me you take part in community events, community gatherings, efforts and projects, I’d say good for you; you’re working towards the heart of the issue.

Criticism hit hard as Beavan’s family began this journey, with many critics saying things like “The Year of no Toilet Paper, but Plenty of Ass.” His response; why does it have to be critical- how about this?

“The year I lost 20lbs. without going to the gym once. Or the year we didn’t watch TV and became much better parents as a result. Or the year we ate locally and seasonally and it ended up reversing my wife’s prediabetic condition.”

Forget analyzing why someone is doing something, accept that they’re doing it and learn to be humbled by their eagerness to grow with an open mind- maybe even grow to take on that way of thinking yourself.

I think within our communities we have become so disconnected from one another that, like Beavan says, we have no one to hold us accountable for our actions. We think I’ll recycle, I’ll eat more veggies, I’ll walk instead of the bus. These things aren’t enough- it needs to start as a front, a front beginning with an entire community. Though focused on diet, Gene Stone in Forks over Knives says,

“Consider this: If the entire U.S. population were to adopt a plant-based diet for just one day, the nation would conserve the following resources*: • 100 billion gallons of drinking water, enough for every person in every home in New England for nearly four months • 1.5 billion pounds of crops, enough to feed the population of New Mexico for over a year • 70 million gallons of gasoline, enough to fuel every car in Canada and Mexico • 33 tons of antibiotics.”

Now this is just to highlight the importance of what Beavan had done. The documentary hardly touches on the fact that with his ‘environmentally conscious’ meals & product consumption, they were able to reverse his wife’s pre-diabetic condition; on diet and consumption alone. How do these things not register with people?! They are stone. cold. facts.

“Unfortunately, the link between diet and health is still not well understood by many doctors, who are not required to take courses on nutrition in school, and who therefore rely on pills and procedures to treat patients.” -Gene Stone; Forks Over Knives

These things motivate me. They make me want to bring the message into the lives of others. I’m only one person, I have only but two hands- but the changes I wish to bring with them, that’s on me. Beavan speaks about the relationship he was able to cultivate with the Earth through this year of sustainability. He said it took that year of “going without” to create an environment for him to foster a relationship between himself and the very dirt he walks on. Though every square inch may be covered with sidewalks and buildings, he fosters this relationship through work in a community garden. Something I will be blessed to work among this coming Summer.

Fostering a relationship with the Earth is a healing journey. Touch the dirt, understand the potentials it holds. Fathom the power of elements and what the could provide for humankind, should we turn our ignorant minds to the possibilities. Now think, with this dirt alone I can foster nourishment for myself and my family, with this dirt, sunlight and water; I can be humbled. 

I have struggled to find humbling thoughts while stuck at this job, in this cubicle, in this ghetto town so full of everything but community. I have struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to see my path clear or to understand how I truly will accomplish my goals. I fight every day to push through- despite weary hearts from Family Members, despite “knowing better,” I have to find the balance between reality and the fast-track to my dreams. When I do find this, it is my hope that I will be humbled by my progress and continue to move forward in a way that will put pride on the faces of my Family Members, and calm worries they might have had about my decisions. I want 100% support, but perhaps by not having it; this will propel me forward that much faster to success- that is the hope.

Ask yourself, is it possible to have a good life, without wasting so much?

To Heal

Today marks day 2, and while I’ve been sticking to some healthier choices, I felt it hard to find any gumption yesterday. Jack reminded me- “you still went out and did something, you have to start somewhere.” This is why I need him.

I’d like to focus more on meditative healing, mentally. I found a couple neat articles about the healing power of meditation, and I have to say… I’m a quote fanatic, I have a daily quote feed on my phone and my status on FB is almost always someone else’s wise words… though I’m still trying to polish some of my own.

Only a healthy bud can blossom. In the same way, only a healthy being can succeed.

-http://www.artofliving.org/healing-power-meditation

The Oxford Dictionary says ‘healing’ means to make sound or whole, or to restore to health.

-http://goodlifezen.com/2009/02/25/does-meditation-heal/

 

I’ll share my meditation experiences soon! Happy Healing!

To Health!

Alright, I feel as though it’s been ages. I haven’t blogged- perhaps because I’ve been working on myself and some other things. Take a little time off, from computers, and things seem to unfold the way they are meant. Exciting things are happening, I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to sow my own land, an acre that is. Many would think an acre is a small, quite a tiny bit of space comparatively. They know nothing! An acre is a bountiful lot- I have the potential to do and learn so much from this land. I am graciously accepting it as I gear up for early spring seedlings and transplants- life is exciting.

This also marks Day One for me on my journey back to health. I decided to create for myself a 30-day challenge. I have a hard time sticking to any kind of plan that will change my body & mind. Thinking it would be better to create one myself- I’m digging in.

Now back to health, let me clarify- mental, physical and emotional health are all in order for check up. I am determined to take on a gluten-free lifestyle with Jack, I think this will help with headaches & digestion issues. He has been going steady for over a month now- something I will strive to take on, though, it’s always easier with a partner in crime. (What will I do without BEER!?)

I need to work meditation and journaling back into my lifestyle. Who says I’m too busy for it, no one but myelf. With the help of healing meditation and my library card, I’m going to work my was back to mental health. My emotional health will be a slow process. I need to allow myself to feel emotions as they come. I spend so much time analyzing why I’m feeling a certain way, that I forget to let it happen and become immersed in my emotion. This will take time, but I must be wiling.

Physical health- always a struggle. It’s easy to slip, let yourself have an indulgence every now and then. But if it’s not in the house- then I won’t be tempted. Again, so much easier knowing Jack will be helping. I’m vowing to tackle 25 miles/week: no matter the action- bike, walk, run, stroll, blade- I’ll DO IT. Even harder will be with the cold moving in quickly, its that much harder to get my ass off the couch. But I am VOWING, I”LL DO IT.

In an ideal world I’d like to work on other areas to, you know, arms, legs, abs blah blah blah. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’ll try to shoot into a yoga class? Everything is worth a shot, but not if I don’t take it.

Mostly because, I can’t seem to find full happiness until I am satisfied, personally- not to others, with my appearance. I don’t care what others will say- say what you say, you’re not me, likewise I am not you and your words are like air. So here’s to another vow to my future-self. I’ll do it, my happiness depends on it.

Here’s to mental, physical & emotional health! Cheers!

To Feel the Insanities

I feel insanity clawing its way back into my life, this is something I thought I had long since left behind. One simple action will send my mind into a thralling rage. A woman slowly, very slowly making her way through a self-checkout. Someone taking their time parking- while I’m stuck waiting to leave. Yesterday, I actually became enraged over someone who came to a complete stop at a stop sign… So, insanity ensues. I don’t want this again.

Five years ago I felt the wrath of this insanity take hold of my thoughts  emotions, actions and words. I let it rule my relationships and begin to control what I thought I had control of. It is pure rage. How my emotions can go from 0 to 60 in less than 5 minutes I am oblivious- but I wish, to no end, that I could learn to control it. I become irate  I lose my temper. I throw, slam, punch and scream my way through nearly an hour before I can take a breath and realize I am being ridiculous. I don’t want this again.

I remember driving to school my senior year (in the midst of my angst, rage, depression  whatever you want to dub it) I was fine. Driving like a normal morning, sure I was not happy in general- but my CD player started skipping and was eating the CD. I screamed every curse, every explicit- every nasty combination of words one could manage to bind. I punched my dashboard repeatedly  over and over again. I swerved off the road into a marshy ditch. I took a breath and looked up. Between the broken medallion I loved so much, the cracked dashboard and my bloody fist (not to mention looking up and seeing my truck in a ditch) I knew I had lost it. I don’t want this again.

Yesterday, I felt a pang of this angst. As I squealed my tires to get out of a parking lot, blew a stop sign and went 60 in a 35- I pulled into my driveway. I was physically out of breath. My hands shaking, my heart throbbing out of my chest. I look up, I know that I’m losing it. I don’t want this again.

I tend to blame these insanities on the imbalance in my brain. This terror I was in three years ago seemed to be subdued with anti anxiety and anti-depression medication. Match that with 1 year of intensive therapy: I had dubbed myself a new person. Yet now, three years future, I feel myself slipping. I went on and off of those medications too many times (unknown to the Doctor, who will always say, you must ween yourself- it will have side effects if you don’t) Is this a side effect? Is it rage I must now deal with because I have an imbalance? Do I feel happy, sad, angry, irate, depressed, hopeful, dreadful, fearful and lost in the matter of 5 minutes because I am human or because I have tousled my brain chemicals? I don’t want this again.

Things aren’t exactly, looking up. Though last night, post-rage, I made the executive decision to see my doctor again. I am worried, am I causing problems that aren’t there? Am I breaking my cardinal rule; seeing all of the gray, no focusing on the black and white? I have let stressors seep into my thoughts and dig their claws at my sanity. Here I sit, analyzing, adjusting and playing scenarios in my head to pass time; do I go back on medication to calm my nerves- or do I learn to control it. How much control can I have over a chemical imbalance? I just feel lost over what I should do, but this can’t happen again. I don’t want this again.


I want sanity, clarity and independence from angst.

I seek total control and operation of my thoughts.

I need to release the grip of things not in my control.

I decide my fate. I decide my attitude.

I think today, I pray to a higher power that I will gain these things. Or be granted an opportunity to utilize or try developing these skills. I can’t pretend to be in control forever. What better time to try then now. I must learn to lose the gray. I seek only the black and white. I seek clarity. This won’t happen again.

To Pursue Happiness

Today I hold sadness. There’s a certain funk that rolls around like a plague. I catch it, I heal it; I catch it, I heal it. No one controls my mood but me- no one controls my outlook & attitude, but me. Then someone tell me why I am feeling so out of control. Why can’t I tell myself, this is what’s right, right now. You’ll do what you want soon enough. You’ll be who you want to be. I can’t let the cube define me- but it is. It’s sucking the life out of me, and cheating my time. Though I think… 35 hours a week out of 168: It’s not even that bad. Let’s see I sleep 56 hours… work 35… You’d think the left over 77 would be enough for me. It’s not. So far it has been an absurd amount of time for me to settle with.

Get out, get out, get out. It’s running through my head like they’re the last words I’ll ever mutter. My heart beats faster thinking I’ve got 7 hours left in this chair- it’s nearly deafening. Thumping into my ear drums and wavering my palms. I already know I’m unhappy- point and match; do I accept it and learn to live with it, or change it and be unrealistic?

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Though mildly upset, I settle into my rain boots for a weekend of wool socks and puddle jumping. I could hardly open the blinds knowing what the world looked like on the other side. So much of that grey I long to forget. The trickle of droplets seems unusually agitating; I love this weather- what’s making it unbearable? Is it the mere fact that my mind distances itself so far from Monday morning I forget how to put energy into the present moment? That must be it. I’ll settle for a homemade recycling center.

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I promised Caramel Apple Tales.. here you have them.

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We chose to use Kraft Caramels, rather then making the caramel like my previous recipe listing had called for. Note: Trust the package to number of apple ratio given on packages =] Or be stuck with 7 extra bags!

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Gala, Honeycrisp & Granny Smith; All relatively tart & crisp!

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Cakepop sticks- I worried whether they would hold, worked like a charm.

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Roll in your caramel- it’s suggested to wait 30-45 seconds before rolling in toppings. If too runny and hot still the toppings may slide off… but then, who wouldn’t want a chocolate/caramel/walnut disc =]

If you’re going to do melt chocolate put your apple in the fridge before wrapping… in fact, put them all in the fridge before wrapping, it will cut down on stick-age!

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The Finished Product!

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To Come Tomorrow…. Gluten Free Basil/Oregano Personal Pizzas!

“I will accept and change the way I think, I will put less pressure on myself to fit a mold, I will see myself as an individual and have faith that all will mend with time. While accepting the year of the cubicle, I will seek opportunities to grow. I will decide steps to be taken next and plan on the pursuit of happiness.” 

Oct. 15, 2012

 

To Live & Be, Gluten-Free!

Despite the fact that yesterday I finally was too busy at work to blog- the week has flown by. Which after thinking about this, it’s nice when I’m at work for the week to go quickly, but damn, it sure does make your months go by in a blink. I decided to cure my outrageous ‘loss of time’ anxiety with a little baking & life prep last night. Recently my other half and I (mostly him because I lack self -control around beer, bread & dessert) have taken on the gluten-free lifestyle. While challenging my baking skills in the kitchen, it’s forcing me to learn more about the science of baking. I’ve always wanted to be able to bake from scratch- now that I’ve over come the “boxed cake” epidemic, I want to challenge myself to baking from SUPER scratch. without a recipe- really get crazy in the kitchen.

If I can learn why you need binders, what makes it rise, the right ratios, bake times and temps- I think I can manage to bake something from super-scratch. I’m learning. But gluten-free recipes are very broken down- it’s not like using flour and yeast, which have additives that work off each other to create a “rising” dough. You must carefully choose the right amoutns of things to add- it really does effect the structure of your food. Last night I found a Gluten-Free Bagel Recipe. I’ll admit I was afraid to bake these many times over because alot of recipes have SO many ingredients- but most of these flours (almond, tapioca, corn ect) are already being used in pre-mixed gluten free All-Purpose baking mixes. I like Red Mill’s products. Here’s the recipe & the beauties I baked last night =]

Real Honest Gluten Free Bagels
*This recipe with yield 7 bagels

Bagel Ingredients
3 ¼ cups WW gluten free flour mix (You can use any gluten-free mix)
2 tablespoons yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum

Cooking Items
1 gallon water
4 tablespoons sugar
Cornmeal
Tea Kettle of water
Vegetable oil for greasing a bowl
Kitchen towels
Cookie Sheet (I recommend aluminum)
Large stock pot
Slotted spoon

Dissolve the 3 tablespoons of sugar in the 1 ½ cups of warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the water and stir to combine. Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes to proof the yeast (the mixture should get foamy in appearance).

Lightly oil a mixing bowl with vegetable oil and set aside
Set the tea kettle on the stove to get it boiling

To the yeast mixture add the salt, xanathan gum and 1 ½ cups of the flour mix. Use your hand to mix the ingredients together. The mixture will be lumpy so do not fret. Continue to add the remaining flour a ½ cup at a time. When you have about a ½ cup remaining of the flour it is time to turn the dough mixture out onto a work surface. You will really need to knead the dough well to get all the flour to combine. The texture of the dough will be slightly sticky (remember this is not wheat we are dealing with). If you feel the dough is too dry keep kneading it and it should become tacky around the same time that your arms get tired. Form the dough into a nice neat ball and place into the lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel.

Place dough into the oven on the middle rack. DO NOT TURN THE OVEN ON. Place a baking pan on the lowest rack in the oven and fill it with the boiling water. Close the oven door and let the dough rise for about an hour. Adding the water into the oven really helps this dough rise. I have tired other methods but this seems to work best.

After 1 hour remove all items from the oven and preheat the oven to 400 F.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and gently punch it down. Divide the dough into 7 equal sections and begin forming the bagels. I like to roll the dough into a ball using a good amount of pressure (for smoothing purposes) and then I gently flatten it and use my index finger to punch the whole in the middle. Let the bagels sit and rise again for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime set a large stock pot with the gallon of water on the stove and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils add the 4 tablespoons of sugar and bring the water down to a simmer. Sprinkle the cookie sheet with a thin layer of cornmeal.

After the bagels have sat for 15 minutes drop 3-4 bagels into the simmering water and allow them to cook for about 4 minutes. After 4 minutes turn them over in the water and let them cook for about 4 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon remove the bagels from the water and place on a kitchen towel. After all bagels have taken a dip in the water arrange them on the cookie sheet.

You can also put a topping on the bagels such as poppy or sesame seeds. To do this you will want to whisk together 3 tablespoons of water with 1 egg white. Before you put the bagels in the oven brush a thin layer of the egg wash on the top of the bagels and sprinkle them with your topping of choice.

Cook the bagels in the oven for 25 minutes and then turn them over and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Let them cool for about a half hour before you try and cut them. If you try cutting them when they are still hot you run the risk of turning them into a glob of dough.

ENJOY! http://theglutenfreecook.com/?p=3

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My other creation (though I’m sure I’m not the first!) Salad in a jar for easy travel. I hate taking my salad AND my dressing to work- thus we have the All in one Salad Jar! Dressing in the bottom, heaviest things go on the bottom, layer up (I did it backwards) but lettuce should be on top! Genius!

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Do you ever eat lunch at your desk because you’re ashamed to be eating poorly? I do, I do! Those days where I’ve got nothing left in my pantry, no lunch, hardly a snack and NO money… it’s one of those. I’m stuck going to… I don’t want to say it,  don’t want to say it =(… a fast food joint *Gulp* It’s like a haunted house, like an untraveled, horrid place for me. I can’t believe I’m about to do it. It’s in these moments that I understand where the obsession with fast food has come from for America. It’s THERE, it’s CONVIENANT, it’s CHEAP… America’s argument? There’s healthy options!… Healthy my ass! Eating a meal for lunch that’s 2/3 of what your daily calorie consumption should be. Unhealthy doesn’t even begin to describe how terrifying these foods are for your body. Yet here I am on a Thursday- driving down to the neighborhood FF joint, why? Because I came unprepared, it’s there and it’s cheap… I’ll have to dig further into the irony of this situation at a later time. I’m hungry, sigh.