Landmark Prize Fight

It is so interesting how the Lord answers prayers and helps you to learn what you need in order to grow.

June 2010 has been a banner month in my life. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a more unexpected turn of events. I began the month being the manager of a produce store. This was a little unexpected since I had only agreed to be an employee, but then, halfway through the month, I was given the choice to let the place close, or take over ownership on my own. The details don’t really matter, but what you need to know is that I couldn’t let the store close. Luckily, my Heavenly Father was looking out for me, and I found a business partner. With his help we have a real chance at success.

If learning the ropes and dealing with the ups and downs of last-minute business ownership weren’t enough, I had to also have some really stupid, dumb, and irresponsible personal decisions come up and bite me in the butt on the worst possible day.  What it boils down to is that I have to eat a big piece of humble pie and move in with my grandmother… which isn’t so bad, but it’s not so good either.

Every day of the last month or so has seemed like one round after another of some sadistic boxing match, where I can’t even see who I’m fighting. I’m just out there, sweating it out and throwing blind punches.  There are people in my corner, and people in the stands who are cheering for me. I’m just not sure how many more rounds I can take.

I suppose what this really amounts to is that I’m finally, after 27 years, having to face the music and toss of the last fragments of my care-free youth. That part of youth that doesn’t like, want, or step up to responsibility when it comes. The part that expects parents to bail them out.

This is also a result of a few prayers asking for help in learning to be more responsible with my time and money.  Let this just be my testimony to you that PRAYER WORKS.

I am just grateful that I know I am being refined. I’m pretty sure I’d be curled up in a corner crying right now, if I did not have faith and trust in a loving Heavenly Father. When I get to the other side of this, I’ll see my opponent, and be so grateful that I am not her anymore.

Finding Real Food

I know, 2 posts in 1 week! If I post again this week, it might be a record.

A month ago I finally found the excuse that I needed to start eating healthier.   I found a doctor that leans more toward using supplements and lifestyle changes instead of a million and two prescriptions.  What we found is that, while I do not fit the clinical definition of Celiacs, I have functions in my body that do not work 100% right now, and the consumption of most grains slow and hinder the healing process.  I am currently trying eliminate corn, soy, and all grains with the exception of millet, spelt, brown rice, and any sprouted grains. It is amazing that in the 4 weeks since I began the program, I have become HIGHLY sensitive to the things I am trying to eliminate from my diet. If wheat and white rice weren’t enough, corn and soy byproducts are in EVERYTHING!!!  I have found that I cannot purchase anything at a grocery store that comes in a box, can, or bag.  I even found Sour Cream that had wheat or corn in it!!!

It has been VERY hard changing the way I think about food. For years I have had an unhealthy addiction to all the bad types of food.  I love to cook, and I tend to side with Julia Child who said something like, ‘You can never have too much butter.’   I love southern style cooking, and that is all breaded, fried, or smothered in butter.  I love all baked yummies, and I love, love, love chocolate.  Giving them up is not going to be easy, and chocolate will be the most difficult, but my health and ability to function without a headache are more important to me than any of the food.

I have discovered two really great things in this journey.

#1 – There is an entire world of possibility that opens up when I cut out the unhealthy food, and I don’t have to sacrifice flavor or eat salads every day.

#2 – The good food fills me up. Because my body has difficulty processing all the bad foods, it leaves me feeling hungry all the time. When I eat these new dishes that I’m discovering, I don’t have to eat as much to be satisfied, and besides it has SO much more flavor and I’m able to actually enjoy and savor each bite!

Now when I cook, I lean heavily on certain vegetables, fruits, and all-natural spices to add flavor and variety to my menu.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not 100% cured of my addiction to unhealthy food. I still eat pizza and taco bell every once in a while, but slowly, I am learning that I don’t want them. I don’t feel good after I eat them. In fact, it usually induces pain, depression, and extreme irritability, all of which I’d rather avoid.

As I rediscover food, I’ll post my findings, along with pictures, so that you can try them and see what the possibilities truly are!

These are a couple of recipes that I don’t have pictures for yet… I’ll add them when I get them.

PomGran Crisp

This is REALLY fantastic as a granola or crisp with your dairy of choice. Yogurt, milk, icecream… take your pick!

1 1/2 cup nut meal of your choice (I use 1/2 and 1/2 Pecan and Almond nut meal that I got at Sharp Shopper. Those of you who have food processors can grind your own. The nut is ground to the size of coarse sand.)
3 tblsp butter (Do yourself a favor, don’t use margarine. Go for the real thing, and if you have it, use coconut oil instead.)
3 tblsp honey (get local honey if you can)
8-12 oz or 2-3 cups of pomegranate craisins. (Other flavors are available… take your pick or use the original!)

You can add whole nuts and oats if you want. Since I’m not eating oats, that’s out for me, but I’m sure it’d be good.

Mix the nut meal and craisins. Melt the butter and honey and pour over the dry mix. Spread it all into a 13×9 pan and broil for about 3 minutes, stir, and repeat until the mix is as crisp as you want. Let the mix cool and store in a dry place. It should keep for a couple of weeks at least. If you want this to be more of a dessert, just mix the nut meal, butter, and honey and crumble it onto the fruit of your choice. Bake for about 20 minutes on, oh… 350 until it looks done.

Lettuce Wrap Tuna Burgers w/Summer Salad

Tuna Burgers

Makes about 6 small patties.

3 cans tuna, drained
1/2 small green pepper, diced very small
3 tblsp coconut oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice.
2 tblsp each of fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice.
Salt, Pepper, Garlic, and Ginger added to taste.
1 egg whipped (this is to help the patties stay together.)

Mix everything together, form into 6 coaster-sized patties and cook in a skillet.  Top with cheese if you want, I used mozzarella, but it’s just as good without.

Summer Salad

For this, I just chop up and add whatever vegetables I have in the house, however, I do not add lettuce of any kind. Below I’ve listed what I added this last time.

1 large slicing tomato, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large squash, zucchini, and cucumber quartered and sliced thin

I also usually add
1 red pepper, diced
1 head broccoli, chopped small
2-3 stalks of celery chopped small

Combine everything into a bowl, stir and serve. Can be served inside the lettuce wrap with the tuna or on the side. Top it with dressing of your choice . I used an asian sesame dressing… a bit of soy, but I’m gonna try and make my own… I’ll let you know how it goes. Slivered almonds taste great too!

If you try these and make any alterations that are really good, let me know so I can try them!!!!

Houdini Habits and Happily Ever Afters

I am an escape artist.

At least, for the last 15 years or so I’ve tricked myself into thinking I am one.

I am a romantic heart, and I have spent much of my life believing in ideals.  As a child I loved the Disney Princesses, and I grew up reading about ‘the Anne-girl’ and Jo March. Later I grew into Elizabeth Bennett, Emma Woodhouse and Drew Berrymore’s Cinderella story. I spent life looking for Diana Berrys or the occasional Laurie, and, admittedly, had young dreams of Prince Charmings and Gilbert Blythes that turned to idealistic lists of Darcy and Knightly-ish traits.  Life for my heroines fit so nicely into what I wanted for myself.

Most days I know that I have it good. I have found my Dianas, my Lauries, and I even know a few Mr. Darcys.  However, when life gets bumpy, uncomfortable, and overwhelming I usually immerse myself in books, movies, or the music that mirrors what I want or how I feel in the moment.

Over time, the habit has morphed into an unhealthy addiction.  When I feel out of control, I find what I can to help me forget about my responsibilities for an hour or two, be they literary, audio, or visual in nature. I create an emotional band-aid by covering what I am feeling with the feel-good nature of whatever media I’m consuming.  Eventually this isn’t enough.  I do whatever I can to forget what I want to ignore. I waste time on youtube and facebook, or I find any excuse to spend all day with other people or things that keep me distracted.

What I am learning is that these things I call ‘an escape’ are effectively burying me alive under ignored and forgotten responsibilities.  I cannot expect for life to be what I want unless I am willing to work to get it, and work VERY HARD.

Life has fairy tale moments, though they are few and far between. In movies and books we believe the manufactured ups and downs that lead to the happy ending. We forget that after the credits roll, the hero and heroine do not persist in the state of bliss in which we left them.  Work still has to be done, problems must be attended to, there are days when the prince behaves like a beast, and Prince Charming will not be quite as, well, charming as he was the night of the ball.

Houdini spent years perfecting the art of escaping his self-imposed prisons.  Every time he trapped himself to prove that he had the ability to escape in the nick of time.  Each exhilarating escape led to the next more dangerous attempt, and eventually he stepped into a trap that he could not get out of.  He wasted his life perfecting the art of fabricated freedom.

Our society perpetuates this Houdini ideal. We all want the high life, the easy fix, the fast answer, and our own happily ever after. We think that we have to live on the edge of sanity and thrive on the rush of crisis living. When we are presented with people who are actually free and happy, we stand in awe of what they have achieved and envy the lives that they live. We tell ourselves that “we want to be just like them”, but are we willing to do what is required? If we were to ask  them how they did it, we would find that they do not expect anything to be easy or quick. They never treat work like a four-letter word and they understand and strive to live the golden rule.

Learning to become free and happy requires accepting that it will take hard work and an open-minded willingness to make all necessary changes. ANY change requires that you live every second with the end goal in mind, repent of each mistake as it happens, and commit again to the path you have chosen.

It is in this that each real ‘Happily Ever After’ is found.

Washed Clean

I LOVE the way rain storms make everything so much better. Honestly, the bigger, rougher, wilder, and louder that they are, the better I feel after they’ve gone.

Just as I was sitting down to dinner with Heather, Cameron, and their 2 little girls today, the heavens opened, and the wind started blowing the rain vertically into the windows. Lightening shattered the growing twilight, and the little girls’ eyes got big as the cannonade rumbled across our little valley. Even in the house we could feel the cool front settle in, the hot, muggy afternoon completely washed away. Rain poured in WAVES against the house, and we marveled at the storm while we ate. (REALLY good home-made spaghetti sauce over brown rice, but that’s beside the point.) Just after the hail stopped, we began to see blue sky through the downpour. By the time dinner was over, we could see blue sky and tall, billowy clouds framing a BRILLIANT sunset. In another 10 minutes the rain stopped and the fiery sunset burned out as dusk settled in.

I am forever humbled by the beauty of the earth that we have the privilege to live in. I love that my Heavenly Father knows me and sends me tender mercies like this storm, and this sunset to remind me of the beauty, peace, security, and love to be found in the midst of my storms. I know when it’s all said and done I’ll be washed clean, and be able to stand, facing the horizon, and savor the glory of the sun.