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

 

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To Lose The Gray

Why is it that I am so captivated by being financially organized? It’s like there’s some weird magnetic attraction keeping my attention sub-consciously. I don’t want to put so much emphasis on money and bills and deadlines and savings and investments and budgeting. I don’t want to at all; these things all have power over me. I let these things control my mood, get the best of me and come in between my relationship. So am I wired this way or is it something I can draw back from?

I write a budget down on paper atleast 4 times a month. I make spreadsheets that I only use once. I track my bank account like a bear hunter. Yet it still comes down that I’m micro-managing myself and not letting go. The fact is; if I use the plastic the amounts will go down. So why is it that even though on days I know I didn’t use any money, I still feel the need to get logged onto that infamous bank statement and double, triple check things. It has become an obsession to me, a way to feel better and more confident about way my life is seemingly going and the financial decisions I am making- but why?

So am I wired this way or is it something I can begin to control?

First, I stumbled across the concept of “paying myself.” I actually receive a percentage of my own paycheck. How does that make sense… your paycheck is already your money isn’t it? Not usually. I am always baffled after payday; I get paid and within 3 days my paycheck has dwindled to a 10th of its original size… what?!

Landlords, car loans, student loans, phone bills, car insurance, gas, groceries, cable & electric bills- every one of these entities sucking the green straight out of my wallet. Perhaps it’s this concept that motivates me to live off the grid someday, allowing no company to become my own personal money leach. These things add up so quickly that I feel if I don’t re-budget every month (or even every 2 weeks because I am compulsive) things will all be a lost cause and go to hell.

So I decide to pay myself, let’s say 10% every 1st paycheck and 5% every second paycheck. If I automatically set this up with my bank then who’s to stop it. it will be like it was never there to begin with. Yes, PAY MYSELF- this will be the sole reason for having a Savings account. Whatever I have left over from a pay period I will split up HALF of it into my New Car, Tiny House & Future Farm Accounts! How do I make these my mission statements? How do I live by these? Will it cut down on my OCD and anxiety?

One of my friends used to make me so angry the way he would “not care” about things, brush things off and not stress things that were important. I used to resent him for it. But I now envy him for it. To him everything, everything, simply is what it is. The things we cannot change in life do not bother him- things are simple, things are black and white. Because truthfully WE are the only cause of “gray.” Seeing gray in a situation comes from our analyzing not the truth in the situation. So this is my mission statement: Lose the gray, everything IS what it IS.

I will have to learn how to apply my statement to all aspects of my life (especially my money), stop analyzing and see the BLACK and WHITE of things.

Things are or they aren’t.

It’s yes or no.

It’s do it or don’t do it.

Believe it or don’t.

There’s a solution and a challenge.

Think simply. Think simply. Think simply.

To Make No Sense: Just Write.

(From a brain’s sidenote…) I have yet to encounter a literal oxymoron, one I watch with my own eyes. I watched a GFS Truck(Gordon Food Services aka… processed, unhealthy, chemically induced food services) pulling out of a Rehab center near my house. They also house elderly, sick and patients going through the final stages of dependency and physical rehab. How on earth can the justify receiving food from GFS?!  How are our bodies supposed to heal if they’re just being pumped full of more chemicals, more disease and absolutely  nothing that will provide nourishment, nutrients and strength. Through this pathetic display of “care,” I think I see an outlet. I will provide these centers with healthy food, with knowledge and provide the means to obtain a healthy food system. Keeping my eyes out for new ways to market, I think this could be a wonderful possibility. Though I’d have to confront them myself question what they’re feeding their “patients” and challenge them to make a change. Healthy foods are the first step to any body’s’ healing.  Besides food, besides physical health, and safe food mumbo-jumbo: How can I improve my mental health?

I’ve still got this desire to run, as fast as I possibly can, away from everything. Here I feel relationships fighting and scratching to come up on a clean, healthy surface. Here I feel my feet slipping out from underneath me as I try to stay positive in a workplace full of dullness and routine. Here I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because I’m squinting to see in blackness. Here I want so badly to be free but I’m bound by what I can’t see past: anger, frustration, sadness, urgency, anxiety; I feel like a ball of wires so jumbled even the quickest Rubik’s Cube master would struggle to undo. How do I fix, work on, heal, look away, look up- from all this?

So a quick (I find worthless) search on “improving your mental health.” It returns to me this list of what “healthy” people feel like. And of course, what I do not feel like.

“People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:

  • A sense of contentment. -Not quite.
  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun. –Does it count if I laugh, have fun and live without the whole zest part?
  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity. -Eh, working on it?
  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.This just worries me.
  • The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.I suppose I’ve always been able to do this.
  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.Define “balance?”
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.Can I use the latter… eh, working on it?
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem.”Sure… none of that matters to me, I function with or without it, it does not define me.

I suppose at the end of the day, today, I feel like this: I am not happy fully content with the person I am right now…. So, where do I start?

Physical Health. I’ll start there. What if I challenge myself to walk just 2 miles a day, 2 miles- it’s nothing! I will start today, I’m making a vow, to my future-self. Physical health is the first important step of lifting your mood and improving your brain function. Create a to-do-list…

  • Put in my daily 2 miles
  • Groceries (grain, coffee, milk, eggs, butter, yeast, chocolate chips, flour, cream cheese, chips- healthy chips)
  • Make bagels (Favorite recipe below…)
  • Wednesday- Farmer’s Market! In dire need of produce. Walk to this, it’s just about 2 miles, round trip.

Bagel Recipe

 

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup more, I know I did)
3 ½ cups (500g) of bread flour or high gluten flour(will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Optional Toppings:
Caraway seeds, coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds. (Everyone in my house prefers plain bagels, but I have no preference, so I just went with the plain, so no one could complain.)

Preparation:
1. In ½ cup of the warm water, pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture, until it all dissolves in the water.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.

3. Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. Depending on where you live, you may need to add anywhere from a couple tablespoons to about ¼ cup of water. You want to result in a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.

4. On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.

5. Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

6. Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces (I used a scale to be extra precise, but it’s not necessary). Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms (as pictured below). Repeat with 7 other dough rounds

7. Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.

8. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425ºF / 220ºC / Gas Mark 7.

9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and them flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes each, if you’d prefer a chewier bagel (results will give you a more New York Style bagel with this option)

10. If you want to top your bagels with stuff, do so as you take them out of the water, you may use the “optional toppings” (listed above) to top the bagels and if you’re risky like me, make a combination of the toppings to top the bagels with, but before hand, you will need to use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before putting the bagels into the oven.

11. Once all the bagels have boiled (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet.

12. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

13. Cool on a wire rack

Best Bagel Recipe I’ve found as of yet, here’s her blog too: http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2009/10/new-york-style-bagel-recipe/

I want to make a vow to my future-self to CALM DOWN. I’ve got to breath and for Pete’s sake, STOP ANALYZING and causing unnecessary anxiety. Analyzing does nothing, I’m not a shrink, therapist or anything few and far between, I am myself and I’m not going to fix my problems by picking them apart like roadkill. TAKE WALKS not only to clear my head but to get my brain moving as well. BAKE MORE it’s good for me and it’s something I really enjoy. Turn off the damn TV: TV’s don’t want you to have a healthy relationship with anyone. Turn it off and listen to music instead. Last I need to promise myself that I’ll focus on just One Day at a Time: I sound anxious and eager when I try to take on yesterday, today, tomorrow and the upcoming weekend.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes,

but when you look back everything is different.”

– C.S. Lewis