January 2015 archive

Gotta Work on that Judging Books Thing…

Bear and I brought the money raised by friends and family to the lovely people who found and cared for our Bella. And let me tell you…it was a lesson in never judge a book…

IMG_0419 (1)When Bear showed me the house, it was modest at best. The cars were mid-class and the back yard looked like it needed some help. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I rang the doorbell, which literally sounded like a school bell. When she opened the door, I saw a line of children sitting in the living room and another sitting at a piano. “She” is Carrie (not her real name). Carrie, if taken out of that house and placed in a Whole Foods or a Nordstroms, looked as if she could be a soccer mom living out at the beach. Adorable, gorgeous smile, perfectly put together, clean-cut, and very personable. Carrie greeted us with a huge hello, so VERY surprised to see us. She immediately invited us in as we began thanking her and handing her the envelope. I told her we didn’t need to stay long, and she explained she was a piano teacher in the middle of lessons. “These are the people who own the dog we found,” she announced to the kids in the living, and to her daughter who walked in from school while we were standing in her living room. “Is she ok? Can she lie down now?”
“She can. She’s getting better and better everyday,” I told her. “And that envelope is a thank you from a lot of people who love Bella.”
“What?! Oh wow, thank you!” (She was surprised, but I know that after we left and she opened that envelope with her husband in private…she was REALLY surprised. There’s no way she could have guessed how much was in there, I don’t think!)
“Thank you,” I told her. “Honestly, Bella is like one of our kids. We love her so much. Thank you for calling us and keeping her safe.”
“You are so welcome,” Carrie smiled.
We quickly said our goodbyes as it was clear that hanging out much longer would interrupt her piano schedule. We didn’t even get a picture with her. We walked back to the car and I said, “I never would have guessed…” and Bear interrupted me. “I know. You really can’t judge a book.”

I started thinking about all the other houses I see, neighborhoods I drive through, assuming I know who and what kind of people live inside. But for heaven’s sake, most of the time I look like I just rolled out of bed or was very recently homeless. I can only imagine what people think of me when I decide to go grocery shopping after hot power yoga. It’s shameful, but I make knee-jerk reactions about where people live or how they dress. And I’m sure they make them about me. Carrie made me think that I might be better-served actually getting to know people or having no judgement at all, which is DEFINITELY going to take conscious thought. I mean honestly…I make a lot of judgements based on how people look or live. And I want to stop doing that.

Tonight I hope that Carrie and her husband were excited and surprised to see the money we all helped raise. I do hope it helps them do something nice for themselves. And I’m kinda glad for the little lesson that I got out of it, too.

In other news, tomorrow morning is surgery day. I have to get to the hospital at 4:30am (ugh) as I am the first surgery of the day. If all goes well in surgery, if I wake up and answer questions like who is the president? and what year is it?, then I’ll be good to go home by lunch. Fingers crossed for a smooth, simple screw-removal and a swift bone-fusing couple of months!

 

Stop Going and Getting

447750b08c60a5fe95bec77859518212I’ve known a lot of “go-getters” in my day. They are people who are constantly creating new businesses or coming up with ideas for inventions or hurriedly seeking their own personal fortunes.
I’m definitely a go-getter.
I love taking myself to the limits to create something new. There are few challenges I won’t win and then master. It’s just part of my perfectionistic personality. When I was told I had gestational diabetes while pregnant with Abraham, I was offered insulin to control my blood sugar. But I refused it and, instead, counted every gram of sugar in everything I ate to maintain healthy levels just to prove I could.

You hear that? Just to prove I could.

I, like most people, am comparing myself to everyone around me. I do it all the time. And a lot of the time I base my actions on how I can PROVE I can do it to y’all. For example, I want to prove that I can make it on my own. I want to prove I don’t need anyone else to pay my bills. To take care of my financial needs. I will pinch every penny until they all split in two. I will go without for MONTHS to prove that I can do it on my own. And I feel like people looking at me are thinking, “Wow. She’s really independent. She can really handle herself.” I feel proud. Exhausted, empty, overwhelmed, and PROUD.

So sick, right?

So if my intention is to prove I can do it, and I actually MEET that goal, have I done something worth mentioning? The intention with which you do anything is the real point of it. If I pay for the woman in front of me’s groceries but I do so because I want to show God how giving I am, then what’s the point? I’m sure she’s glad her groceries are paid for either way, but the greater good isn’t actually served because you acted out of ego, out of pride. And if you’re reason for being a go-getter is anything less than your most passionate, passionful, passion-ey passions, then you’re not being of service.

Being of service means following the call and doing what you KNOW you were meant to do. (And if you don’t KNOW what you were meant to do, then being of service means finding out.)

I nearly killed myself this last month being in a play. I took care of Abe and Bear, and then Bear took care of Abe for me, and I cooked and I cleaned and I memorized lines and blocking and collected costumes and on and on and on. But you know what my intention was? To practice something I LOVE. I mean LOVE. Even when I hate it I love it. I would rather be exhausted and overworked and near death WHILE being in a play than bored and well-rested wearing clothes I actually coordinated. I didn’t do it to prove I could. I did it because I love it.

So I want to offer up permission to some of you who might need it. In all my divine right (there’s no real way to prove divine right, I googled it, so don’t argue that point), I give permission to those of us who are tired of “going and getting” to just stop it. Stop going and getting and give yourself permission to just be. If it’s the constant stream of revenue you’re trying to create, just relax for a minute. Get a job at Starbucks or whatever to pay the bills and RELAX. If it’s the fame or to prove you can or whatever, just stop it. Unless it’s because you have a passion (and don’t say “making lots of money is my passion”), then take a look at you intention and figure out how you can make small changes towards what lights you UP inside.

And then go.

Get it.

(Thank you to those of you who donated to my sweet Bella’s caregivers. I was able to raise $200 in under 24 hours. As soon as the money is deposited into my account by GoFundMe, I will be taking them $200 in cold, hard cash. Pictures to come!)

All Day ErrDay

sameness-741394The message comes in lots of different forms, but it hasn’t changed in almost two months.

First my kundalini yoga teacher helped us meditate on keeping a daily practice that is the exact same every damn day. Choosing one and no matter how much it bothers you, how much you hate it, how much you don’t want to do it…sticking with it. Mine has been yoga. I go every morning. And most mornings I DREAD it.
But no matter what, you will eventually find something beautiful in it. And a few times, I have.

Then I heard Alanis Morisette in an interview say that she is embracing the magnificent monotony of life. That it is the way each day unfolds so similarly to the day before it that is her greatest challenge. And that finding the beauty in the laundry or the Mondays is the actual secret.

And most recently, this month Pastor Furtick started a new series called The Power of Same. He says, “We chase the new, but what we really want is the same.” What we’re looking for, despite saying we need the new iPhone 6 or the latest season of Homeland, is actually the comfort of same…if we can handle it.

I spent a very long time seeking new, seeking better, seeking different, seeking LOOK HOW HAPPY I AM! And by God I manifested it. I got what I asked for.

And I am so very tired of different. I just want some same.

I do want new experiences and fun, exciting, spontaneous joy. And I don’t want to be a control-freak about the sameness that does occur in my life, needing it to be the same but only in a certain way. I just want to feel what’s it like to know what’s coming and even DREAD what’s coming because it is so similar to yesterday…only this time with the experience of already knowing what it feels like for every day to be so painfully new that I can never stop to catch my breath.

And so, never again will I complain that today is the same as yesterday. Certainly I’ll slip up and complain about the boring same old same old…but I will never forget what it feels like to be unsure and scared everyday for over a year. Just as soon as God sees fit to give me some of that SAME…I’ll take it.

 

10924750_10153543059414829_7441811828113481911_n-1In other news, my sweet Bella dog ran away late Friday night after chasing an animal into the woods. A kind husband and wife found her Saturday afternoon and called our phone number that Bear left on the fliers all over the neighborhood. I don’t have enough money to give them a proper reward. If you have even $2 to spare, I would love all the help I can get thank them. I want them to know how eternally grateful I am. 
Click here to donate. (EVEN $2!!)

Needles, Needles Everywhere or Aspirate my Femur

If you’re not up to date on the leg drama, read here and here first.

They wouldn't let me bring my camera in to the room, so all you get is stock images of aspiration needles.

They wouldn’t let me bring my camera in to the room, so all you get is stock images of aspiration needles.

Dr. Busy insisted, despite having clean blood test results, that I have the break in my femur bone aspirated, fluid removed, and then tested for infection. This basically consists of a radiologist inserting a needle into my leg all the way to my bone, shooting lidocain all the live-long day, and then inserting this teeny, tiny little tube-needle and he pokes around in there while watching a live-action X-ray TV. Once he gets the little tube-needle right into the break, he sucks out fluid. It was actually not unlike a video game.

The thought of this entire process terrified me.

Bear and I sat in the waiting room on the radiologist’s office in the hospital while I had minor panic attacks.
“Salem?”
I stood up.
“Hey, I’m your nurse Shelly. I’m trying to understand your chart. Why are we aspirating a femur?”
I explained it to her because, obviously Dr. Busy was too busy to write out why I would need my bone aspirated as usually they aspirate a joint after surgery.
“Oh! Ok, I see. Let me explain this to my doctor and I’ll be right back with you.”
I sat down next to Bear. “It’s going to be fine,” he said.
“Ok.”
I stared at a shelf of free books, most of them looked like Tom Clancy novels but I never actually saw his name. A woman across the waiting room was sitting in the “extra wide” chair, though she didn’t really need it. She looked nervous, too.
“Salem?” She called me again and smiled because we know each other now.
“Can he come with me?” I asked.
“No,” she said with a face that also would have worked for, “Your hamster passed away this morning while you were at school.”
“Oh no, really?” I asked, like maybe she’d change her mind.
More sad hamster face.
“Ok, but if you hear me screaming, you break down the door, OK?” I told Bear.
“You know I will,” he said with his angry Bear face.

I walked back with Shelly and she asked me about nine different ways what we were doing, I assume to ensure they didn’t start aspirating my ear lobe by accident because someone pulled up the wrong chart. She then gave me a gown and some sticky socks, which I love, and set me up on the table.
“I really don’t want to do this,” I said.
“It’ll be fine, baby. I promise. If you want anyone doing this, it’s Dr. Bedside.” (Not his real name.)
“Really? He’s nice?” I asked like a 5 year old.
“He’s the best,” she smiled as she pulled a giant, square telescope over my leg. She flipped on a TV screen and there was a live X-ray of my leg. It was crazy cool. She went from my hip to my knee and I could see all the hardware in there, and the break. “That break isn’t very big, it’ll be tough to get a needle in there,” she said.
“How magnified is that picture?” I asked.
“It’s as far as it will go,” she said.
Wow. My bones grew a lot closer together than they were even a month ago. Just then, Dr. Bedside walked in. He was tall, fairly thin, looked to be about 45. He had nice blue eyes and a soft but meaningful smile. He walked straight to my head.
“Hey! How are we, Erin? I’m Dr. Bedside.”
“Hi, I’m scared. I don’t want you to do this. It’s going to hurt.”
“Yeah. It’s going to hurt, I won’t lie. But looking at the screen, I can pretty much tell you don’t have an infection so…”
“So, we can just write that down and then not do the aspiration?”
“I wish that were true, but I promise. I will go quickly. I’m going to use the smallest needle possible and I will numb you as I go down, so you really won’t be in pain for more than a few minutes. After that it will be uncomfortable pressure as I get the tube down by the break. Don’t worry. You can cry or curse or scream or whatever you need to do.”
“Um, Dr. Busy?” Shelly interrupted. “Please don’t make her scream. Her boyfriend is in the waiting room and she told him to break down the door if she screams. And I saw him. He’s big. And he looks like he could be mean.”
We all chuckled for a few seconds before I said, “No seriously. He’ll kill you.”

After a little prep work and some writing on my leg, which I assume was just for fun, he told me to take a deep breath.

Let’s go ahead and talk about pain. Yeah, it’s painful when someone sticks a needle into your skin. Into your muscle. But when a needle hits your bone…you can feel it in the back of your teeth. I mean all the way down to your pinky toe, it’s electric. Thankfully, it only hurt like I was being murdered with electricity for about 45 seconds. The rest of the procedure was pressure, like my thigh muscle was trying to push the tube out of my body without me telling it to. It reminded me very briefly and on a WAY smaller scale of that moment when if I didn’t push Abe’s entire body out of my body I was going to EXPLODE. I just wanted that thing out of my thigh. I breathed slowly and deeply, in and out, like yoga.
“Go ahead,” Dr. Bedside said. “Curse.”
“This fucking hurts,” I whispered. Shelly giggled like it was the first time she’d heard a girl say that word.
“You can tell your boyfriend some asshole doctor made you curse,” Dr. Bedside quipped through a concentrated voice.
“I will. He’s going to beat you up,” I whispered.
“Somehow, I believe that,” he said.

A few more deep breaths and, “All done, Erin,” Dr. Bedside said as he pulled the tube out.
“Did you get anything?” I asked.
“There wasn’t really any fluid there. I grabbed what I could. I think you’re fine,” he smiled and took my hand. “I also think removing that screw is just what you need for these bones to heal together.”
“Really?! I’m so glad to hear you’re confident in that! I didn’t want to have the whole rod replaced.”
“Nah. That wouldn’t have been necessary. I bet this will do the trick.”

Now, Dr. Bedside isn’t an ortho, but isn’t it nice to hear someone else say I don’t need my rod replaced right now?!

I limped out because I couldn’t really feel my thigh and Bear was standing right outside.
“You ok?” he asked while I buried my face in his chest.
“Yes. I don’t want to do that again.”
“I don’t want to do any of this again, so I’d say we’re on the same page.”

Agreed, Bear. Agreed.

Because I don’t think I ever told you guys this…

A year ago this past weekend, I got an email from a guy on Match.com. I was on Match.com essentially trying to pass the time with free dinners and new people as my divorce was being finalized. I was really lonely. I was really sad. And I was kind of terrified. The man that emailed me honestly seemed less “showy” than the other men. He was more…normal. He asked me for my phone number and when he got it, he immediately called me.

At 3 o’clock in the morning.

I was asleep, and my phone ringing startled me because (A) I usually turn my phone off at night and (B) Abe was asleep in the bed next to me. Oh, and (C) because it was three o’clock in the freaking morning.
I didn’t answer. Because rude.
He left me a message acknowledging that it was totally inappropriate to call me so late but that he’d just received the email with my phone number and that it felt like “Christmas” and he wanted to call right away.
I texted him the next morning with the words:

And the first-impression award goes to…

Then I wrote him off.

However, he did not write me off. He remained persistent, sending me lovely texts and asking if he could take me to dinner over and over and over again. I made up excuses, tried my best to blow him off, but he was relentless. And finally, on a Tuesday, I conceded.
“Can I pick you up at 6?” he asked.
“Pick me up!? I don’t even know you!”
“Well, I don’t want to tell you where we’re going. It’s a surprise.”
“Of course it’s a surprise. I know nothing about you. Anywhere we go will be a surprise.”
“Ok. I will tell you where we’re going closer to the time we eat.”

At about 4:00pm, he texted me a set of coordinates. I immediately entered them into my map app and found location. I zoomed in and got an address. I googled the address and it was a cuban restaurant, cafe, and bar.

Ooookaaaaay.

I arrived about 5 minutes early and the restaurant. was. empty. Completely empty. The host and owner asked who I was looking for and I said I didn’t really know, but I was fairly certain it wasn’t the elderly couple sitting in the back. So he sat me in a booth. Alone.

So let’s recap. First he called and woke me up at 3 o’clock in the morning. Then he sends me on a chase to find our date. And finally…he’s late to our date. Because now it’s 6:10pm.

Finally this well-groomed, bald as an eagle, proud-looking man comes walking in with BIG eyes and a bigger smile and shakes the restaurant owner’s hand who tells him it’s good to see him again.
“You’re late,” I said.
“This is for you,” he said and handed me a red rose. “It’s to make up for calling you so late. I guess now I have to make up for being late to our first date.” I later found out he was late because he was trying to find a place to buy roses.

The date was fine. Conversation flowed easily and we had a good time laughing. I wouldn’t say there were fireworks. Not for me, anyway. But what I kept noticing was the way he looked at me. No one had ever looked at me that way before. He wasn’t looking at my face. He wasn’t ogling me. He was appreciating me. He was really looking at me.

Over the next 2 weeks, he came to my house with dinner, brought me an endless supply of flowers, and fell all over himself every time he saw me. I stood back watching everything as if outside of myself. What is happening here?! This man was courting me, full on courting me, and loving doing it. He was everything any woman would wish for.

And for me, he’d arrived at the wrong time.

You see, I was only expecting Match.com to be a fun way to distract myself while I trudged through a divorce. I was planning on going to my Self-Improvement Retreat in Maui, praying for a year about the man that would enter my life and sweep me off my feet, and then eventually meet him in the grocery store while both grabbing for the same tomato. I was not planning to be so raw and vulnerable when I met him; so damaged. But here he was, way too early, being all perfectly imperfect…and I wasn’t ready.

Each time I told him I wasn’t ready, he smiled and said OK. And waited. He waited while I was in Maui (and sent roses to my hotel room), he waited over Valentine’s Day (which I spent with my son, so he had to cancel the reservations he’d made the day after our first date), he waited until finally I looked at him with a smirk on my face and said, “Fine. I’ll be your girlfriend.”

I am still not sure how I ended up so lucky. I have this man who might actually think that I hung the moon. And who, as it turns out, is one of the most brilliant, funny, kind, hard-working people I’ve ever met. I definitely did not mean to fall head over heels for him, and it did NOT happen over night. But I did. I can’t claim to know the future, nor can I predict what tomorrow morning holds. I just know I’m so lucky to be with someone who has my back, and who lets me be myself.

10922477_10153529128109829_8904350303225542171_nI don’t think I ever told you all that story because by the time I introduced him on my blog, I’d broken my leg. So I thought you should know that one year ago today, I met him in a cuban restaurant, cafe, and bar…and I feel so blessed to have gone back to that same place today with a whole new life. (And I got a dozen roses this time…)

Happy 365, Bear.

Curry Cauliflower Snack

I know I said I wasn’t going to be all “Look at me, I’m fasting!” this month, but some of these veg recipes are too good not to share.

This one is a combo of a few recipes I found.

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil (just gently melt it in the microwave)
1 Tablespoon curry powder (or more if you like curry, and I do)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (or more if you like turmeric, and I do)
S&P

Mix ’em all up in a big bowl, coat the cauliflower really well, and put in the oven at 375 for about 25-30 min (depending on the amount and size of your florets and how roasty you like ’em).

Pull them out and mix them with some salted cocktail peanuts, crushed or not crushed (depending on how hungry you are).

IMG_0320

Add sriracha.
Add cilantro.
Add whatevs.

So so nom. It’s the perfect “I’m working but I’m starving” treat.

Fast

Here’s the thing I’ve learned about diet and exercise…or really any healthy habit:

I’ve learned that I love to control things.

Anytime I can control the shit out of something I will do it. Measuring out food, getting my workout in, watching the number of ounces of water I drink…It’s all control. And because of that Phaeton Level 12 Control I’ve reached, I’ve always just figured I’m really good at diet and exercise.

But diet and exercise, or any choice you turn into a habit, aren’t supposed to be about proving how much you can control. They aren’t supposed to be about willpower or strength or personal stamina. To me it’s supposed to be about your intention. What’s the INTENTION behind my awesome diet and exercise habit?

Welp. It’s control. My intention is to control the few things in life I think I can control because there’s so much I can’t. Maybe yours is to look good naked or a really pure reason like being an example to others so you can help them. But mine is control.

I only just freaking figure this out today.

Today is the first day of a 21 day fast that many churches ask their followers to participate in. When I first heard our Pastor mention this yesterday I was all…Nope. Fasting for 21 days? During the run of a theatre production? Amen and amen? Nope, and nope again.
Then, of course, I learned I wouldn’t be subsisting on water and rice cakes for three weeks. The suggestion of the church is that I fast consciously and with intention from anything I feel called to abstain from. The church recommends choosing what’s known as the Daniel Fast, because in the bible Daniel ate vegetables and water to protest King Nebuchadnezzar. I am going to try this kind of fasting, but I’m not going to be all rigid and freakish about it.

Why?

Because then I would be fasting to prove I was in control. To prove I could do it. I wouldn’t be fasting with the intention of staying conscious throughout my day, making decisions based on where and how I feel led to serve and based on what’s best for those around me. And that’s what I really want to do. My daily rituals and routines are all great, but IF the intention behind them is simply to prove I can do them…well then what good are they?

Soooo….

This week, I’m cutting out all meat except eggs. And I will continue to cut other things out of my diet as I go along until I’m fully vegan by the end of the 21 days. My experience will be mine, one of humility and honesty, just me and God. I won’t be sharing with everyone how well I’m doing, letting everyone know if I fell off the wagon to prove how “human” I am, nor will I be documenting each and every meal I prepare and eat. This will be my own little journey and it’s only me I have to face in the mirror every morning to answer the question, “Am I doing this all for the right reason?”

This is the last you’ll hear me speak of it.

If you can think of something you might give up for 21 days WITH THE INTENTION of gaining focus in your life, getting conscious with your choices, and whatever else fasting opens up for you personally, just know that silently I am right there with you.

This is the one and only time I will post a picture of the vegetables I've eaten over the next three weeks. So soak it up.

This is the one and only time I will post a picture of the vegetables I’m eating over the next three weeks. So soak it up. (I already want a cookie.)

Winter Stewp

Rachel Ray coined the term “Stewp”. Thick soup, soupy stew…It’s Stewp.
This is the Stewp I throw together every time someone get sick or it gets cold. Our recent apocalyptic cold snap here in Florida has resulted in MUCH needed Stewp.

I start with what’s left after Bear has demolished a rotisserie chicken. I put it in a big pot, cover it in water, boil it and then leave it on low for as long as possible. This time I let it go for almost 24 hours. At least 3 hours is preferable. (Using the store-bought rotisserie chickens with the leftover skin also helps flavor the broth.)

Strain the broth, but not directly down the kitchen drain. Strain it into a big bowl. (Admit it. One time or another you've drained your broth right down the drain and were left with a LOVELY colander full of neck bones and gizzards.)

Strain the broth, but not directly down the kitchen drain. Strain it into a big bowl. (Admit it. One time or another you’ve drained your broth right down the drain and were left with a LOVELY colander full of neck bones and gizzards.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get your broth back on the stove! Warm it up, it's cold!

Get your broth back on the stove! Warm it up, it’s cold!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now add the hard veggies, in my case carrots and celery. (I like the leaves so I leave them in the pile.)

Now add the hard veggies, in my case carrots and celery. (I like the leaves so I leave them in the pile.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dig up some parsley and rosemary from your garden and whatever other herbs you like.

Dig up some parsley and rosemary from your garden and whatever other herbs you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strip the leaves off the stems and put the stems in your Stewp.

Strip the leaves off the stems and put the stems in your Stewp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(What?! Why?!?! Because they will flavor it so well, they're easy to dig out, and if you add the leaves themselves at this stage they'll get all smoosh.)

(What?! Why?!?! Because they will flavor it so well, they’re easy to dig out, and if you add the leaves themselves at this stage they’ll get all smoosh.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they're all in there, happy and splashy, add in lentils. How much? How many? Oh, about a cup. I chose to execute four, graceful, beautifully executed palm-full dumps.

Once they’re all in there, happy and splashy, add in lentils. How much? How many? Oh, about a cup. I chose to execute four, graceful, beautifully executed palm-full dumps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now add your dry rice. DON'T. GO. CRAZY. If you have a standard soup pot going, I wouldn't add more than 1/2-3/4 of a cup. It's so easy to eyeball rice and turn your soup into...well. A large pile of rice.

Now add your dry rice. DON’T. GO. CRAZY. If you have a standard soup pot going, I wouldn’t add more than 1/2-3/4 of a cup. It’s so easy to eyeball rice and turn your soup into…well. A large pile of rice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're adding quinoa, add about the same amount as rice. EXCEPT. Let it soak in some water for 20-30 minutes, strain it, and then add it. Quinoa can be bitter and give your soup a weird after-taste.

If you’re adding quinoa, add about the same amount as rice. EXCEPT. Let it soak in some water for 20-30 minutes, strain it, and then add it. Quinoa can be bitter and give your soup a weird after-taste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let all that goodness bathe on medium for as long a it takes you to go pick up you kids from school. (That’s 30-45 minutes if you’re me.)

When you get home, add a giant hunk of garlic. (I added 2.)

When you get home, add a giant hunk of garlic. (I added 2.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add lots of veg now. I got a big bag of vegetable stir fry and gave it a good chop. This saved me tons of time.

Add lots of veg now. I got a big bag of vegetable stir fry and gave it a good chop. This saved me tons of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I introduced the veg to all the other Stewp party participants and turn up the heat just a touch. It won’t take long for everyone to get dinner-worthy. If you aren’t in a hurry, then turn the heat DOWN and let it hang out longer.

Right before you serve, add your frozen veg. I added peas because I add peas to everything because they're delicious, OK?

Right before you serve, add your frozen veg. I added peas because I add peas to everything because they’re delicious, OK?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I added my herbs. Let everything warm up and through before you serve.

Then I added my herbs. Let everything warm up and through before you serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you’re left with is dinner-worthy for one, big, hunky, hungry Bear and is a delicious yum-yum nom-dinner for one, adorable, four-year-old Abe. Not to mention…it freezes REALLY well!

Have a beautiful, yummy, WARM weekend. 🙂

The Thee-ah-tah

51f5d5cdff75981a59d18435ed8dc117I love the theatre. That’s theatre with an “-re”. Pronounced with a British accent, like “thee-ah-tah”. I love the stage. I love that people get vulnerable enough to stand, live, in front of each other and share the ideas and feelings of some other vulnerable soul who chose to write them down. I love that we all get to be in the room together when it happens. I love when YOU are in the audience and I’m on the stage and you laugh at me and I suddenly want to work that much harder for you because I know you are paying attention.

I’ve done theatre since I was 10. I probably did close to 100 shows growing up. When I was younger, I did it because I loved it. Now I do it because I love it AND because every show teaches me something different. This time around I’ve narrowed the lessons down to two things:
1. I have way more time than I thought I did.
It happens every time I’m in a show. I start rehearsals 4 or 5 nights a week after Abraham goes to sleep and I can pretty much keep up with the rest of my life. Then about 2 weeks before the show opens, the pressure builds. Suddenly, day-to-day things like laundry and dishes are missed and lists pile up. I white-knuckle my way through those last dress rehearsals, just trying to hold it allllll together. The show opens and 4 nights a week for the next 3 weeks I focus and stay in character and give the show my very soul.
Then. The show closes. And it’s over.
And with that, my nights are free. I no longer have to remember pages upon pages of lines. I’m not going over stage directions in my head in the shower nor am I scrambling to get Abe into bed so I can make it to Starbucks before rehearsal so I don’t fall asleep back stage.
It’s all over.
We, in the theatre, often call it Show Flu. It’s that feeling of emptiness, of loss, when this group of people you now know SO well and worked with tirelessly all go back home and you have more time on your hands than you ever knew possible.
Except that it’s the same amount of time you had 2 months ago before rehearsals started. But it’s simply amazing how, even in the midst of all that chaos, I still managed to get everything (or enough) done to survive. That’s, quite simply, all I needed anyway. To survive.
I can stop freaking out about whether or not the laundry got separated properly or if the sparkling waters are on the “drink shelf” in the fridge because, well, we all survived and that’s all that has to happen even NOW that I have all that time back.

2. It’s so important to compliment each other.
Or, at the very least, acknowledge each other.
When I am on stage and the audience is just sitting there, silent, motionless, like an oil painting of tired people, I give up a little bit. I quit trying as hard.
But the quietest chuckle, the softest, “Woah”, those little tiny acknowledgements make me want to keep going. Because if you thought THAT was funny, let me show you this…
The same is true in my relationship, in my friendships, even in my interactions with the check-out guy at Publix. When I give them just the smallest acknowledgement, they care that much more about me. And it grows and grows and grows! I give you my best because of your acknowledgment, you get more amped about how hard I’m working and pat me on the back some more, and it goes on and on.
Take one night a few weeks ago as an example. I had rehearsal and Bear was staying home with Abe for me. All Bear had to do was read Abe a story and say goodnight, but I was just so grateful he was willing to take care of him for me so I could go. I made sure he had a proper dinner before I left, thanked him profusely, lots of kisses, and told him to leave the dishes alone as I would do them when I got home.
Guess what?
He did the dishes.
He felt so appreciated that it made him want to work harder for me.
And I felt SO good that I didn’t have to come home and do the dishes.
So whether you’re in the audience or just with someone you love, look for things to applaud. Chuckle at their jokes. Gasp during their stories. You don’t have to go overboard, but a little acknowledgement goes a long way.

Theatre, y’all. It’s teachin’ me all the time.
And if you happen to be in the Jacksonville area, Time Stands Still opens on January 16 at the San Marco Theatre. Call for tickets: (904) 396-4425

I’m Not “What it Looks Like” Anymore

8b35e3d2e4504c93cbd231d7f4d77481So Christmas Eve night at Elevation Church, Pastor Furtick (LIVE AND IN PERSON!) went OFF on the story of Christmas. He pointed out that before Mary and Joseph were married, he found out she (a VIRGIN) was already pregnant and was telling everyone that it was the son of God. He had ZERO other information. Go ahead. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a minute. Your fiance lets everyone know she’s pregnant, that it’s not yours, but don’t worry…because it’s God’s baby.

The picture of Christmas we have today is that Mary and Joseph gave birth to a baby in a barn and they were both just THRILLED about it and everyone was happy about this perfect little “whose baby is this?”-baby in the hay. But the truth was, Joseph was basically made aware of his fiance’s God-baby pregnancy and never really got to talk to her about it (not in the bible at least). THAT’S PRETTY FREAKIN’ SCANDALOUS! Despite having no idea what the hell was going on, Joseph didn’t shame Mary. He didn’t announce she was preggo and it wasn’t his on Facebook. He just kind dealt with it.

I imagine her mouthing across a large crowd of people from behind her enormous belly, “It’s not what it looks like.”

And it wasn’t what it looked like.

And so the title of Pastor Furtick’s sermon was…
“It’s Not What it Looks Like.”

Hey. How often does that happen do you?

You stand there judging a situation while someone is scrambling around trying to convince you, “It’s not what it looks like!”
Or you get caught in a situation that looks RIL bad and you wanna scream, “IT’S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!”

Worse, though, are all the times no one gets to say “it’s not what it looks like.” No one is given the opportunity to explain. Judgements are passed around like smoked oysters and decisions are made without half the information needed.
And it goes in both directions.
I don’t really need to remind you how easy it is to judge and make snap decisions based on a few bad reviews. However, it’s just as easy to go on that first date and listen to allllllll the amazing things he does, or the money he makes, or how much she really wants to be a mom. We listen to the best parts of someone and then, when they have a bad day or lose their job or change their minds about an opinion they once had…we flip out. And then we accuse them of flip-flopping or even lying about who they are or what their situation is. But were they lying? Or are they now standing in front of you saying, “It wasn’t what it looked like.” Maybe they DID change their minds, or maybe they did LOSE their minds when they were having a bad day.

Haven’t you ever done that?

It seems that we are so quick to latch on to one version of a person we know/love that we are unwilling to accept the newer facets or the evolutions they make as a human being. Do I believe the same things I did 10 years ago? Even ONE year ago? Nope. What I once looked like…I don’t look like anymore. I’m not “what it looks like” anymore, on the inside or the outside. And I really can’t expect anyone else around me to remain the same either, now can I?

I also think, quite frankly, the 80/20 rule applies here.There will often be 20% of a person that we no longer like. And when we focus on the 20% it can feel like 80%. That is why it is so important to focus on the 80% of the things we DO appreciate about a partner, loved one, or friend if the relationship is to last. As those people we love go through changes and grow, it’s easy to focus on the changes as things we don’t like. Face it – none of us like change. But when that second number approaches 20%, remember that the person you love won’t always be “what it looks like” anymore. (And, come on, would you want your friends/loved ones to NEVER grow?!)

Y’all have that friend that posts nothing but happy baby pictures of Facebook and then you find out in real like she’s battling post-partum.
Or the one who drives the Beamer and only wears designer clothes, but can’t afford the rent.
Or the chick who takes a solid spiritual game and then talks crap about the other moms in her neighborhood.

It’s more than just giving people and situations the benefit of the doubt. It’s recognizing that it’s not always what it looks like in the present moment, and what it looks like now might not be an accurate reflection of what it looks like tomorrow. Stop accepting everything you THINK you know as truth.

We’re not always what we look like. None of us. So give each other a break.

Thanks for the awesome reminder, Steven. (It’s cool. We’re on a first name basis for SURE now.)

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