July 2014 archive

Super Positive and Uber Trusting and Whatever

I’m all super positive and uber trusting in the universe and all loving of my circumstances and whatever. But the truth is, when you get a $108,000 bill just from your 4-day stay in a hospital after you break your leg (this doesn’t include surgery or anesthesia or ambulance or follow-up visits), you’re awesome rockin’ attitude can kinda waver a little freaking bit.

I’ve been trying not to freak about it. I’ve done the whole, “I live in abundance,” routine and “money is only energy” mantra and blah blah blah…you know, the evolved crap I say to myself. Either way, though, I had to start dealing with whatever I owe this past month as it’s now been 3 months and bill collectors are going to start calling if I keep ignoring it all. (BTW, ignoring it is just another one of my evolved methods of handling monstrous medical debt.)

First things first, I applied all my medical bills to my insurance. My somewhat psychic ex-husband suggested I stay on his insurance until the end of the term when we were getting divorced, and this term included the date of my accident and surgery. Mega thumbs up there, because by the time everything ran through I only owed a $500 deductible plus about $6,000 in services to the hospital.
Psychologically speaking, when you receive a bill for $108,000, you roll your eyes and throw it away because I’m not even going to consider trying to eat that elephant.
But when you receive a bill for $6,500, it’s way more plausible that you could actually pay it off someday, and that almost sucks more.

Once I applied the insurance, I was down to 5 separate physicians charging me for their services: the EMTs, the ER doctor, the ER radiologist, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologist. I called the billing department for each one, explaining that I could not pay these bills in full but that I could make payments.
“Ok, thanks so much for calling us,” they would all start. “It’s so helpful when people call to explain their situation with us so that we can work with them.” It feels like they’re going to REALLY help you when they say stuff like this. Then they say, “So would you like to split this $2,000 bill into 2 payments or 3?”
“No, you don’t understand. I have an extra $200 after I pay all my bills each month. It’s going to take me a long time to pay this down. I need small, manageable monthly payments.”
“Oh,” they then say. “So you can’t pay half now?”
“Not even close.”
“Well, you’ll need to make a monthly payment of $50, then. That’s the lowest monthly payment I can allow you to make.”
“Allow me to make? If I make a $50 monthly payment on every medical bill I have, I will be paying $250 a month. I don’t have $250 a month.”
“Yeeeeeeah,” they say like Lumberg from Office Space. “Fifty dollars is the lowest I can offer you.” Suddenly that whole gracious attitude thing goes away.
“Well, then I can’t make payments,” I respond wondering if this person making $12/hour on the financial customer service line has a spare $250 a month to pay the minimum on a $6,500 medical bill.
“I guess I could try putting you in the system for $25/month?” they ask, because they all lied when they said $50 was the lowest they could go.
“I can try to do that, but there might be months when I can’t do even that,” I respond, hoping against hope that one of these people is going to understand I’m a human being who just got divorced and lost financial security without actually having to get food stamps.
“You’ll have to call us on those months, because we need some form of payment every month.” This suggests to me that they’re all lying and that if I just send them $10 a month, they won’t ever go to the trouble of sending me to collections.
It’s after the first round of calling each of these organizations that I realize I haven’t yet asked if there is a financial assistance program.
“No, I’m sorry. We’re a for-profit organization.”
They all say this.
They all say this even though upon further investigation, I learn that a majority of for-profit medical organizations have a financial assistance or medical bill donation program. Yeah, that’s right. You’re screwing with a girl who has Google and knows how to use it.
Armed with THAT information, I start calling these places again. We go through similar conversations until finally, one…count ’em ONE…of the organizations agreed to send me a financial assistance form.
“You’ll have it within 7 days,” she said regretfully, as if I’d figured out the cheat to go straight to the Save the Princess Level.

Seven days passed. I called again.

“We don’t have your address on file so we didn’t send it.”
“You don’t have my address?! You’ve sent me the bill 3 times.”
“That’s billing. This is financial assistance.”
“Can’t you ask billing for it? Don’t you have their number?”
“It’s not in our system so we can’t send it.”

They’re not problem-solvers over there in financial assistance. So, I gave her my address. Problem solved. So easily.

Three days later I received a form for financial assistance asking all kinds of questions about my income, dated July 7. It was July 12th. The fine print said I had to have this paperwork signed and sent back within 7 days of the date on the letter. I have never prayed to USPS before this very moment…

After having some more panic-stricken middle of the night hysteria, I decided the smartest thing to do would be apply for a 0% credit card and pay off all the medical bills at once, making small and manageable payments to the 0% credit card for as long as it was 0%. The good news is that I have AMAZING credit thanks to the fact that my mom got me a credit card when I was 13 and TAUGHT ME TO USE IT. (Parents: do this. Do this for your children. It is so helpful when they break their legs at 32.) I paid off everything except for the one wherein I MIGHT qualify for financial assistance if it just so happens that financial assistance and billing find each other’s phone numbers and communicate that day.

Long story longer? I got an INCREDIBLY formal and celebratory piece of mail today.

photo (5)

One down. Four to go. Keep up the super positive and uber trusting in the universe and all loving of the circumstances and whatever people.

 

Archetypes

I had a phone call with my boss that blew my mind this morning.

I’ve been working for her for 6 months, and essentially she works with small business owners to get very clear on who they are and what they wish to offer the world by way of Carl Jung’s Archetypal Theory. Everyone falls into one of the Archetype categories, and it is there that “who you are” is very clearly illuminated. Perhaps you’re a Revolutionary or a Warrior or a Romantic. What I’ve found over and over again is that when people learn which Archetype they belong to, they suddenly feel this intense and almost effortless permission to be who they are. It’s like a validation of what they’d like to be and perhaps have been ignoring, suppressing, or even disliking.

Once you learn your archetype a few things tend to happen. It could be that you then entirely shut down to the truth of who you are because it’s too hard to stop being the pretend-version of yourself you’ve been being for so long. It could be that you take the results with a grain of salt and gloss over it as not being worth much (though it will then haunt you for months to come). OR, you will feel an invaluable ease, lightness, freedom to live life just as you like embracing exactly who you are.

Jester 3I am a Jester.

When I learned I was a Jester, I chose to gloss over it. I didn’t entirely disagree with it, but I didn’t find that it described who I primarily am. I am organized, on time, precise, A-type, and reliable. The Jester isn’t a party animal who shirks any and all responsibilities. A Jester is someone who finds joy in having fun. And it wasn’t until my boss said this to me this morning that I completely understood who I am in a brand new and unquestionable way: “You know, Erin, not everyone finds joy in just going and having a bunch of fun.”
“What?!” I asked. “What else would they find joy in?!”
“Well, I find joy in sitting in bed and reading a book far more than having a bunch of fun,” she said lightly.
“Sure, but you also enjoy having fun, right?!”
“I prefer learning.”
“What?!?! Wait, you’re blowing my mind. What else do people want to do besides have fun and read books to experience joy?!”
“Well, an Alchemist probably enjoys transforming a room or a person’s life more than going on about having fun. A Nurturer probably enjoys caring for others more than attending a party,” she began and went on and on…
“Ok. So, wait. You’d rather read a book than go to a party?!”I asked.
“Yep. And I’d rather host a party than attend one.”

My mind almost blew out of my ears. It suddenly became so much clearer to me how different every person on this planet really is. I mean, I knew we were all different, but I assumed we all liked going to parties. I assumed everyone sort of hated meditating but did it anyway because it’s “good for us.” I assumed everyone wants to go out to lunch as opposed to eating at home when given the choice.

Holy. Crap.

I have spent years and years in my work and life trying to measure up to a standard. I have tried to be a nurturing mother, an organized housewife, a reliable employee. And it’s not that I’m NOT any of those things; I’m simply not those things according to the world’s rules. I will nurture my son, but I will do so by playing with him (not snuggling him). I will clean the house, but if there’s something more fun to do then I will probably do that first. I am an INCREDIBLY reliable employee. I will NOT miss a deadline. But I won’t mention that I’m going to complete the project 2.5 moments before it’s due instead of spreading the work out over the week prior. And none of that makes me wrong or less-than. It just makes me…Erin.

“So you wouldn’t go out to lunch if you had the chance?” I asked her, astonished.
“God no. I’d much prefer have a sandwich in the kitchen by myself,” she responded.

I’m learning more and more about myself, or rather ACCEPTING more and more about myself each and every day thanks to the experiences the Universe is giving to me. And I’m so grateful because it’s all starting to come together that I actually am OK just the way I am.

If you’re interested in learning your Archetype, my boss has a free test that she created on her site to learn about your Archetype. You do have to opt-in to an email list in order to gain access to your results (which are very thorough and an interesting read) so you can always unsubscribe to that if you aren’t wanting more information in future newsletters. Watch the video first and then fly through the test using your intuition – don’t overthink it. I hope you experience the kind of clarity I am just by having my true self reflected back to me.

Have a beautiful weekend.
Oh, and here’s a little book about Archetypes.

Don’t Be a Selfish Butthead

Did you read yesterday’s blog? Did you watch the video?
Ok. Then proceed.
Alright, I know the guy appears to be in need of a psychological counselor and never once opens his eyes during the video. I realize this is weird. Yes. It’s weird. Let’s all acknowledge how weird it is.
Ready to move on?
Here’s what I learned from getting over how weird this guy is and watching this video a few times: Follow. Your. Heart.
You seeing, following your highest excitement just means taking your life minute by minute and asking yourself what would make you intensely excited next. It doesn’t mean giving up responsibilities or your job. It’s a matter of acknowledging your own wants and desires, the things that light up your heart, as a practice so you can learn to actually recognize what sparks you up.
It seems I turned that part of myself off for a very long time. I did what others needed, what I thought I SHOULD do, even what others were doing because it felt “selfish” to do anything I wanted. Here’s the thing, though: there’s nothing wrong with being selfish.
(CAR!) – Yes, I know. It’s not cool to be a selfish butthead and do things that only serve you at the expense of others. That’s not the kind of “selfish” I’m talking about.
(GAME ON!) – Doing things that warm your heart, fill up your chest with happiness…well, those are the things that recharge your batteries and give you the levels of joy you need in which to SHARE joy. I am always trying to share my joy, but when I’m running on empty and I keep sharing joy in hopes that MAYBE some will come back to me, it’s no big “you ARE the father” surprise when I come up short on Joy Cash at the check out.
So how does this translate to real life? I’ll tell you how. I have spent the last few weeks since watching this weird, weird video asking myself all day long, “What would make me really excited right now?” And here were some of the answers:
keep-calm-and-eat-spaghetti-for-breakfast1. Pasta for breakfast.
2. Going to Starbucks to work for the afternoon.
3. Watching Ted Talks for an hour.
4. Reacquainting myself with Orange is the New Black, and then having a marathon.
5. Painting my nails.
6. Doing an ab video.
7. Listening to “Turn Down for What” in the car 8 or 9 times in a row.
8. Listening to “Turn Down for What” in my bedroom and making up a short dance to it that I then envision other people are doing with me.
9. Writing letters I have no intention of sending.
10. Putting money into my savings account that I knew I’d have to take back out later this month just because I wanted to see the number in my savings go up.
These aren’t life-altering changes. And once I realized how small the things that bring me excitement are, the easier it got to allow myself to do/eat them. I wasn’t taking the day off to go shop for designer jeans and top it off with a 5 star sushi dinner. I was drinking an extra cup of coffee or trimming one of the rose bushes in the front yard for 10 minutes. THAT’S IT! And as I began giving myself little moments of excitement throughout the day, I gave up judging myself for the things that DIDN’T bring me joy. I washed mine and Abe’s sheets while he was at his dad’s the other day. I put my sheets on my bed. But you know what? I didn’t feel like putting Abe’s sheets on. So I didn’t. I didn’t get down on myself or call myself a bad mother. I just left them sitting on his bed. And they’re still there.
Eventually I’ll put them on and he will be none the wiser that his bed sat unmade while he was gone.
I implore you to ask yourself 5 times a day, “What would get me really excited right now?!” Try to find things you can actually do. And if something you want to do isn’t exactly possible, like quitting your job, then try the next best thing. For example, spend 10 or 15 minutes of your break researching your dream job or looking up dream vacations. It won’t fix things, but it will remind you what exciting feels like. I think if we can remind ourselves throughout the day that we’re supposed to feel good most of the time, we may actually attract more good. (I haven’t been doing this little experiment long enough to prove that little theory right or wrong yet, but I’ll get back to you.)
 

 

Even If (Teaching with Tonsils)

I could go on and on about how breathtakingly awful it is to watch your precious only child suffer terrible pain because of a surgery you signed off on. I could tell you how awful it was getting no sleep while holding your baby as he screams at 4am. I could try to express to you the anguish of allowing your sugar-free, gluten-free, nearly dairy-free son eat Bomb Pops and Icees by the dozen…

…but I won’t.

What I will tell you is what I learned from this little experience thanks to some kind and helpful words of Pastor Steven Furtick from the Elevation Church podcast (which I enjoyed listening to during my long and sleepless nights) that perfectly echoed what I was experiencing. The message one particular incredibly early morning (or far too late night) was not to focus on the “What if?” but to focus on the “Even if…”

If you know me, then you know What-If Monsters are kind of my jam. I enjoy playing out my wildest fears in a What-If fashion. As Abe was wheeled into surgery I What-Ifed he was allergic to the anesthesia? What if he can’t eat for weeks and loses too much weight? What if he doesn’t recover his voice after the surgery and he sounds like a smurf forever?

Of course, there were the serious What-If Monsters, too. What if he doesn’t wake up from surgery? What if he is brain damaged?

So as I laid in bed that night asking myself, “What if he never sleeps through the night again?” I heard Pastor Steven Furtick say, “Not ‘what if?’ Say ‘even if’.” His message basically stated to me in that moment that even if Abe was allergic to anesthesia, even if he didn’t recover his voice, even if he (GOD forbid) he didn’t wake up…I would be ok. Life would be ok. I have faith and love and a future. He reminded me that if I’m going to play the “What if” game, I have to play it out to the end and then some. I have to go from What If something happens to Even If something happens, I will be ok.

This was kind of life-changing. Because instead of just playing a What If to the end, you spin it on its head. Because Even If that happens, everything will be fine. We spend most of our time worrying about things that never even happen, and the BLINDSIDED by things that we never even considered. And through the worst of the worst things, everything eventually ends up being fine. Sometimes it’s a new kind of fine, sometimes the “normal” changes from what you’re used to, but then it becomes a new normal. Even if it happens, I will be ok.

I laid there in bed thinking about my major What Ifs. What if Abe doesn’t sleep again for 3 months and I don’t get a good night’s sleep for 3 months either?
Well, even if he doesn’t sleep again for 3 months, he will eventually sleep again. And in the mean time, I will be OK.
Not to mention, some of those nights in the next 3 months his dad will have him which is AUTOMATIC sleeping time.
Oh yeah.
Plus, he always sleeps through the night. There is really no reason that he wouldn’t sleep SOMETIME within the next three months…

And there ya have it. My Even If led me to, “Eh, that’s not even a real possibility anyway.”That seemed to be the running theme when I Even-Ifed something.

What if his voice never comes back the right way?
Well, even if his voice doesn’t come back the right way, there are plenty of speech pathologists in the world. And in the mean time, I will be ok.
Not to mention, my ex mother-in-law was a speech pathologist. She could help him.
Oh yeah.
Plus, a speech pathologist will eventually be able to correct the issue.

Eh. That’s not even a real possibility anyway.

1139088-Cartoon-Clipart-Of-A-Black-And-White-Sitting-Male-Tooth-Fairy-Vector-Outlined-Coloring-PageGo ahead. Try it. Don’t just fight the What-If Monsters. Invite in the Even-If Fairies.

Gremlins?

Elves?

Elves.

Even-If Elves.

I dunno, I’m still working on which mythical creature belongs with the whole “Even-If” idea.

Jillie and the Tonsils

I ran (hobbled awkwardly) to pick up the angriest child on the planet before I remembered I have a broken leg and the risk of dropping him on my way to the chair next to his post-op bed was too high. It did not pass The Dateline Test. (In case you never read The Dateline Test, it’s a post from my first blog site.) Luckily, the nurse noticed I wasn’t “all there” (I MEAN THE LEG, SMART ASS) and offered to pick him up and put him in my lap.
I immediately began apologizing to him. “Honey, I’m so sorry. Mommy is here. Mommy is not going to leave you and she is so, so very sorry…”
Sensing that my apologies were an admission of guilt, he immediately began to squirm from my arms and repeat the words every mother resents with her entire soul: “I want Daaaaaddy. I want Daaaaaaaaaddy.”
I looked at Abe’s dad. “He wants you. Take him.”
He gently took him from my arms and sat down in the chair. Just then, the post-op nurse approached us.
“Hi there! I’m Jillie and I’ve got some paperwork to go over with you!”
“Ok,” I think I said out loud but might not have because I was just staring at my child while my heart melted from the nuclear heat of guilt.
“So, first things first is it’s very important for him to drink. He needs to drink lots of fluids, as much as you can get into him…”
“Yes,” I answered, as if she’d asked a question.
“Now, does he want some juice or something now?” She asked me this and I looked around to see if there was some reason she would think I had any idea what my high three-year-old wanted in that moment.
“I don’t know. Abe, do you want to try some apple juice?”
“Mmmmmmmm,” he angrily growled at me.
“He doesn’t seem to want any.”
“Well, it’s really important that he drink fluids,” she said as she wandered away as though someone had called her name…except no one did.
Regardless, she returned a few moments later with a small can of apple juice. I did not have the energy to address this.
“I need to go ahead and take his IV out of his hand there…”she said, handing me the apple juice.
Yeah. That’s right. They put the IV in his hand. This, to me, was the work of a person who has never encountered a child before. The FIRST thing he’s going to do when he stops being so very, very high and angry is try and rip it out. Jillie the Nurse began removing the tape around Abe’s IV and Abe (pardon my french) LOST. HIS. SHIT. He all but ripped it out himself, causing blood to rapidly run down his hand which freaked him out to hell, breathing heavy and trying to yell causing him to exhale blood out his nose, which stained his shirt and caused him to freak out even harder.
Jillie had zero back-up plan for this situation. It was her first encounter with a three-year-old, too. She just kind of stared at Abe while Abe’s dad tried to calm him down.
“Do you have a bandaid?!” I asked in a panic.
“Ummm….yes.” She looked around and handed Abe’s dad a piece of gauze to hold on his bleeding hand and then wandered away.
I started rummaging through boxes and drawers near the little post-op station, searching for a bandaid or even some medical tape while Jillie did…whatever it was she did when she disappeared.
True to form, she returned several moments later with something that didn’t really appear to be a bandaid; rather a square sticker with Spongebob on it, which she then attempted to stick onto the gauze to keep it on his bleeding hand…while he flailed and tried to cry but couldn’t make sound either because it hurt too much or because he was too high to find his own voice box.

This all seemed to happen in slow motion because I had enough time to think in my head, “How am I witnessing a grown medical professional make less sense in a surgery center than I do, a concerned mother with zero medical experience…”

Jillie eventually finished doing the thing she was doing that wasn’t helping and began handing me papers to sign. “I don’t know if you keep the yellow copy or the white copy…hang on…” and she wandered off again.
This is when I wanted to scream: ARE YOU NEW HERE? TO THIS PLACE? AND TO MEDICINE? AND TO LIFE?
She returned several moments later and proudly announced, “White. You keep white.”
Can I just mention to you that Jillie wasn’t young. She was a middle-aged woman who should have had enough life experience to know that if she didn’t know what she was doing in the situation, she still should have been faking it.

photo (3)Within about 30 minutes we were given the green light to take Abraham home (the perks of having the surgery done at a surgery center vs. a hospital). His daddy carried him outside while I ran (hobbled awkwardly) to get the car. After a short drive, we got him back to my house and onto the couch and within seconds, he was asleep.

And that is when the hell that was my life for a week began.

Isn’t this a fun blog series?

The Tonsils

My child has had tonsils the size of mailboxes for almost a year. As they grew bigger, so did his resolve to hate anyone and everything. He became this little miserable guy, presumably because the golf balls in his throat were always hurting, not to mention obstructing his airways while he was just trying to get some sleep. The tonsils and I were sworn enemies, but getting them taken out isn’t as easy as showing them to an ENT and explaining that your child’s tonsils make him a monster and they must be removed.
They don’t really buy that as “medical evidence of a necessary surgical procedure” or whatever.

This last time, though, the ENT looked at Abe’s tonsils during a routine bought of tonsillitis and he said, “Yeah. Those are really big. Time to get them out, I think.” He looked at my ex and I as if we were going to have a second opinion.

After some incredibly uncomfortable moments trying to explain that Abe’s dad and I are not married but don’t hate each other and wouldn’t be arguing over whose phone number to put on file for emergencies, the date was scheduled. Monday of this week, we took Abe in for surgery.

We met at the surgery center very early. Neither of us were very sure how to explain to Abe what we were doing there. We danced around it for a while and finally my ex whispered, “Why don’t we tell him the doctor is going to take the coughs out of his mouth?” This seemed sufficiently “three-year-old”, so I agreed.
Abe just said, “Ok.” So we figured it went well.
Sitting in the pre-op area waiting for the anesthesiologist to come back and grab Abe, I suddenly felt a horrible sense of guilt. I mean, I COULD tell him he’s about to go be put to sleep and have his throat sliced open…but SHOULD I? Is it lying if I don’t tell him? Am I creating an air of mistrust?! Will he look back and remember the incredibly juvenile lies I told him about his surgery being a simple little doctor visit wherein he would “remove his coughs”?

Before I could dive in and explain the procedure to him, the anesthesiologist (a giant and tall man in scrubs) came and picked Abe up from us. “I’m going to go ahead and take you back to see the big breathing balloon, Abe!” he said. Oh great, right. The big breathing balloon.

I hugged and kissed Abe, feeling simultaneously like I was sending him off the Tonsil War and like I shouldn’t make this a big deal because for all he knows, he’s just going to grab a beer with a doctor in the back. He was carried off before I really even made a decision about throwing my body on top of his to save him or casually waving goodbye.

And now, we wait.

The surgeon said 45 minutes. This is less than one episode of Dr. Phil and yet I could not wrap my head around the fact that the surgeon wasn’t coming out to update us at 5 minute increments. I made small talk and looked through my purse at nothing and stared at the fish tank wondering why on Earth doctor’s offices have fish tanks and oh, maybe this is why…

Just as my toes were about to tap off my foot, the surgeon came out. I stood up as if I was meeting with him in the lobby of a major hospital after a 20 hour heart transplant surgery, full of worry and hope.
“He did fine,” he smiled.
“Oh, thank God,” I said very dramatically.
“His adenoids were very large,” he went on.
“Oh, dear God,” I said very dramatically.
“But I got it all out and he should see great results,” he finished.
“Oh, thank God,” I said very dramatically.

photo (1)We were led back to him in a post-op room and that is where I found my beautiful, sweet, perfect child sitting up on a bed desperately wishing he was able to speak so he could look me dead in the eye and say, “You lied to me, you miserable woman…”

To be continued.
Have a beautiful weekend.

 

Ode to the Strainer (Italian-ey Chicken and Rice)

Since getting divorced, a huge passion of mine has fallen by the wayside: cooking. It’s hard to cook for one. A single chicken breast, no matter how eloquently prepared, is just kinda…sad.

But I really have a knack for making stuff up based on the taste I want to have in my mouth. Tonight, I REALLY wanted chicken cacciatori. My mom taught me to make it when I was about 23 and it’s one of my favorite italian meals.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pasta. Or chicken breasts.
So, I decided to make a similar dish using what I had: brown rice and chicken thighs.

I started by straining a large can of stewed tomatoes. Stewed tomatoes are a STAPLE in my kitchen because they are cheap and can be used a gabillion different ways. And my strainer pops up way more than I tend to realize in cooking.

Tomato juices drip drip dripping.

Tomato juices drip drip dripping.

I got all the liquid out of the tomatoes and ended up with about a cup and a half of juice. I put the leftover tomatoes in a tupperware and set it to the side. I dumped the juice plus half a cup of water into the rice cooker, to equal 2 cups of liquid. I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the tomato liquid.
Next, I measured out a cup of brown basmati rice. To be honest, plain brown rice or white basmati rice would have been better for this dish, but I’m using what I have. I also rinse my rice in a strainer.

Seeya starch.

Seeya starch.

Rinsing rice gets all the starchy rice dust off and keeps the results…how do I describe this…cleaner? It’s just feels less gritty than rice can sometimes feel if you don’t rinse. Soft, smooth rice. You get it.
Finally, I hit the herb garden. Bear built me an herb garden right before I broke my leg. Luckily, the hot Florida summer sun and daily afternoon rains did their jobs without much tending from yours truly.

The basil trees.

The basil trees.

I have tomatoes, purple and green basil, mint, flat leaf and curly leaf parsley, rosemary, chives, and oregano in there. Today I went out and snipped a big branch of basil, a hunk of flat leaf parsley (I prefer flat leaf for italian cooking, and curly for things like Mediterranean dishes), and a handful of ornery oregano.

Clean basil

Basil bath

Back to the strainer. I strained and rinsed all the herbs. Many of them have little bug-nibbles in the leaves and you know what? I think that’s cute and I like sharing.
Once they were all rinsed and dry, I plucked the leaves from each herb and set the stems aside as I went. Why? Because cooking rice with fresh herbs can really kill the herb flavor. It makes the leaves all mushy and kind of an unappealing, soggy mess. So instead, I use the stems in the rice cooker! Right on top they go, infusing all their delicious flavor into the rice as it cooks. As soon as the cooker ding-ding-dings, I’ll pluck them right off the top! No muss. No fuss.

The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

With the rice cooker ready to begin it’s long journey (sometimes up to an hour and a half for perfectly cooked whole grain brown rice), I got out my chicken thighs. Why chicken thighs? Because I buy organic chicken and sometimes that’s the only cut I can afford. Full of flavor and a nice, soft texture, chicken thighs sometimes get a bad rap. Give them a chance.

Stop looking at my thighs.

Stop looking at my thighs.

I trimmed all of the fat off of them and seasoned them liberally with salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder. I cut them into nice little pieces and massaged them into the leftover tomatoes I’d set aside in the tupperware. I grabbed about 8 basil leaves, ripped them apart with my fingers, and massaged them right into my chicken and tomatoes. I left the whole party in the fridge while I finished up some laundry and waited on the rice to do its thing.

Chicken, tomatoes, and basil getting. it. on.

Chicken, tomatoes, and basil getting. it. on.

When the rice cooker showed 12 minutes left on the timer, I picked the chicken out of the tomatoes and popped the pieces into a pan with olive oil, giving them a quick high-heat sear.

Hot thighs.

Hot thighs.

Once they were all seared I took the chicken bits out and placed them on a plate and put some olive oil, garlic, and white wine in the pan. After a few minutes I added the tomatoes leftover from the tupperware and let all the flavors slow dance over medium low heat.

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Now it’s the tomatoes turn to get hot.

Just then, the rice dinged.

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Just pick those little stems right off the top! Easy peasy!

I chopped up all the herbs into little tiny pieces and added them to the rice. Remember, fresh herbs are FAR less pungent than dried herbs, so using a bunch of them (like a handful) is ok. Add a little at a time and taste as you go to be sure.

Nom.

Nom.

I added the chicken back into the pan with the tomato sauce to coat it and give it a little warm up.
Plated the two together, and let me tell you…it tasted NOTHING like chicken cacciatore. HOWEVER, it was freaking delicious and absolutely quelled my italian craving.

Sprinkle a touch of parmesan onto the chicken.

Sprinkle a touch of parmesan onto the chicken.

Check the “Peas” page for the recipe! And if you don’t have a strainer, it’s a cheap little kitchen tool you’ll use all the time.

 

 

Deserving the Good

Let’s see. So far in the past 9 months:

I got separated.
I moved out of my home.
I got divorced.
I suffered a debilitating depression.
I lost my job.
I went to Hawaii on a one-week yoga retreat.
I got a new job.
I (very reluctantly) met a Bear.
My son got sick 4 times.
I broke my leg and three ribs.
I got an all-expenses paid trip to Vegas.
My son had to have a tonsillectomy/adnoidectomy surgery.

I had a life coaching session this past week with Bryan Reeves, a guy I randomly ran into in the comments section of a blog a few months ago. It was our second session and, frankly, I was just sort of throwing my hands up in the air when we started talking. I mean, look at the list. That’s not even all of it. How could a life coach even begin to coach this erratic life?

We talked for almost 2 hours, and as usual he helped me come to a few of my own conclusions. Talking around and around my frustrations and hearing him mirror back the parallels in my own little speeches, it came down to the same thing it always comes down to: the belief that I don’t deserve the good that happens in my life.

I always find excellent reason for deserving the bad that happens. The “bad” is teaching me something, redirecting me in life, giving me a better understanding of myself. It’s not that I think I deserve bad things…it’s that I think bad things happen for an important reason and I can accept that. What I can never wrap my mind around is that I don’t just have to learn through pain. I can, and deserve, to learn through joy as well. And I deserve for the good things that happen to me to be just that…good things.

I received these beautiful roses this week. Repeat: I deserve roses because I received roses...

I received these beautiful roses this week. Repeat: I deserve roses because I received roses…

Uber-Honesty Alert: Accepting the good into my life is super difficult. I don’t want bad things to happen to me, but sometimes it’s just easier to share the bad things than it is to gracefully accept and share the good that happens. Ever notice how calling a friend and saying, “You are not going to believe some bullsh*t that happened to me this morning…” creates a far better conversation than, “My day has been awesome so far!” I’d much prefer share the Facebook status “I broke my leg” as opposed to “I made a bunch of extra money week.” It feels braggy to share the good, it feels like the rest of the world will far faster judge the positive I attract into my life than they will the negative. But guess what? I made a bunch of extra money this week. It may not start the world’s greatest conversation, but that doesn’t mean I ought to feel bad about it!

We ended the conversation with Bryan talking to me about evidence. He knows that I’m a practical person, someone who needs the numbers, the PROOF that I deserve something good. As if I need to experience a certain amount of bad to be able to accept some good. He said to me, “The evidence that you deserve all the good that is happening to you is that it’s happening.”

That’s it.

It wouldn’t be happening if I didn’t deserve it. That’s just how the universe works. And the bad stuff that happens…it doesn’t mean I deserve a divorce and a lost job and a broken leg and a kid with infected tonsils. It means life happens and sometimes a lot of it happens all at once. It’s not indicative of whether or not I’ve EARNED a broken leg.

Because that would be silly, Erin. No one earns a broken leg.

If you’re like me and you have major issues accepting compliments, taking gifts, being loved for no good reason…just stop it. You deserve the joy, and you deserve to LEARN from the joy. Bad stuff is gonna happen, but no one is going to be mad at you if you share the good stuff with them. And if they are, they’re jealous. And maybe dumb.

 

 

Entitlement – A Rant

entitlement3Lately, I’ve been noticing the trait of entitlement in others more and more (which means that somewhere in me I am exercising entitlement…more on that later). I’m keenly aware that with the prominent messages out there promoting self-love, self-care, and self-concern (all of which I find really necessary) we might be forgetting that life actually requires work.

My generation has been taught that we must work hard, suffer, and sacrifice in order to earn our place in this world. Somewhere along the lines the generations before us forgot to mention that we are worthy and valuable by virtue of simply being alive. So I see a lot of folks my age and younger who decide to create the life they want without 40 years at a job they hate waiting for retirement or giving up on dreams because they had children. They realize that they are allowed to begin living the life they want NOW because everyone deserves that, and everyone can.

What it seems like my generation and the generations that follow are missing from this idea is that, while you do not have to needlessly suffer and sacrifice, you do have to put in the work. There’s no such thing as creating a vision board and sitting back on your ass waiting for it all to happen. There seems to be a disconnect between inherently deserving a good life and not being HANDED everything. It’s true when they say if something is right, it should come easy. That means the idea to become a doctor could come easy (“I always knew I’d be a doctor.”). However, it doesn’t mean you don’t have go through medical school. That means the idea to marry the person you want to marry could come easy (“I knew I was going to marry her the second I saw her.”). However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to compromise, work on yourself, and learn how to best love another person. The feeling, the intuition, the knowing should come easy. The “doing” still takes doing.

Something else we seem to be forgetting? You also have to consider OTHER PEOPLE. The “codependency” movement took hold of my generation and shook us all by the fat of our cheeks. “Don’t do things to make other people like you! Don’t be codependent! Do what’s right for you and only you!” Well, I get that too. You shouldn’t bend over backwards worrying about what other people think of you and your choices. But you should think about how your choices affect other people. You should do your best not to hurt other people in order to reach for your own dreams. And you absolutely should maintain a respect for the people around you, as they deserve to live their best lives, too.

I look at my own life and I realized this past week that I was starting to feel entitled to my Beachbody business flourishing. I mean look: I broke my leg, I survived in part because of my connection to Beachbody, I went to Vegas to meet with the trainers and speak to a room full of people. I shouldn’t have to TRY to build a business. It should just come to me now. Well, that entitlement didn’t work. I do have to try. I do have to put the work in. Just because dedicating my life now to fitness and helping others gain financial freedom feels right, it doesn’t mean the dollars will roll in all by themselves.

So I urge you to take a look at your life and decide if you might have some entitlement issues surrounding what you “deserve”. Don’t sit back and wait for your life to happen. Get up, suffer, sacrifice, struggle even! Do it for the things you love, for the people you love. WORK for it. And while you do, respect the people around you.

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