Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Diet

"So, I wanna try this Whole 30 thing my brother is doing...", my husband said.  The words didn't even finish coming out of his mouth and I was already pissed.  Great, we're going on a diet!  I already cook healthy meals and now I'd need to spend even more time and more energy into making dinner.  Not to mention that dinner is already stressful with the kids.  And now we're cutting carbs, dairy and sugar out.  Like completely.  But I'm not nixing coffee creamer.  No way.  Because I didn't even agree to this stupid diet!  (But if your spouse goes on a diet and you cook for your spouse, it's kinda unavoidable that you're on a diet too.)

I'm going to eat whatever the hell I want when he's not around.
Because that's how I do the "Whole 30". 
(Without ripping my husband a whole new A-hole.)
Cause I'm super supportive like that.

That's not even the worst of it.  The worst of it is the teenagers.  Not that they have to go on it, but seriously, am I going to put a basket of bread on the table with the chili if I can't eat it?  Hell no!  If I have to suffer, they've got to too. Not to be a bitch or anything, but I can't watch someone else eat bread and not eat it.  Which is why I won't eat the bread in front of my husband to begin with.  Out of seething sympathy.   

Do you know how much a meat and veggie based diet costs?
Did I mention I have 4 kids who also need shoes & other stuff?
Also, do you know the cheapest way to feed insatiable teenagers?

So, we got the cookbook and I begrudgingly have made a couple of the recipes. Which I was underwhelmed with.  Which I spent both too much time and too much money on and left me wanting more.  Like a side of bread. Or a sprinkle of cheese on top. Or some freakin' quinoa.  I really don't think that's too much to ask.  The thing about diets is, there's a reason there are so many out there.  Because the more restrictive they are, the easier it is to quit them.  And then try the next new thing.  Which is why I try to eat a balanced diet all the time.  Life is too short not to eat potatoes.  Or pizza.  Or chocolate.  

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

~Michael Pollan

(DISCLAIMER:  The Whole 30 is restrictive for 30 days at which time you can re-introduce foods back into your diet.  Which may or may not result in gorging on french fries.)

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Invisible Woman

I've spent most of my life invisible.  Content to sit on the sidelines unnoticed.  Comfortable in my quiet anonymity.  Or I thought I was.  Until it became apparent I was only attempting to conceal my inadequacies.  But, it fed them instead, metastasizing like a cancer, eating me alive.

While I wish I could claim I'm cured, I'm not.  Although I think it's in remission, mostly.  Mostly when it doesn't matter if I'm seen or not.  Because all that matters is the authenticity of what I'm doing.  Like when I'm writing or dancing which I do solely to feed my soul.

I don't need to be seen. 
But I'm not hiding either. 

Although I still feel restricted by this invisible fence that surrounds me.  Holding me back from so much more that I now know I'm both capable and deserving of.   I  also know I'm the one who installed the fence.  So, I'm the only one who can disable it.  If only I can crack the code.  And free myself.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mountain of Social Anxiety

My heart was palpitating and my palms were sweaty.  I wanted this I reminded myself.  Maybe I wanted it more when it seemed like a long shot that I'd get chosen.  But, when I got the invitation, the reality sunk in.  I'd have to do battle my social anxiety again.  Face to face with real live people.  Lots of them at the annual Mountain of Authors (MOA) event put on by the Pike's Peak Library District where I would have my very own table to display my books for sale.  And schmooze with other authors.

There are three things that terrify me: 
And schmoozing with people.

What was I thinking?  I've been anxious about it for two solid months already and now it's only two days away.  TWO DAYS I SAID.  Thank god, because then in three days time the endless swirl of possible embarrassing scenarios in my head that are on a loop will stop. What if no one talks to me?  What if they do?  What if I say something stupid?  Which is really more of a "when" than a "what if".  What if I have cilantro from the lunch they're serving the participating authors stuck between my teeth when I say something utterly and ridiculously stupid?

Also, when I get nervous, I get cold sweats.  But even worse than that, far worse, are the nervous shits I get.  So my ultimate fear is that I'll have cilantro stuck between my teeth in mid conversation with someone where I've just said something ridiculously stupid when I realize that I have the nervous shits and need a toilet ASAP which requires I do the urgent, clenching speed walk to the toilet.  And I'd probably unintentionally body slam a few people out of the way in the process.  But, I suppose it could actually be worse than that.  What if I didn't realize I had the nervous shits mid conversation after saying something utterly stupid and I didn't make it to the toilet?

But, the great thing about worrying about everything that can possibly go wrong is that it diminishes the likelihood of any of those things actually happening.  Right?  That's what it does, RIGHT?  Holy shit, I hope my table is close to the ladies bathroom.

Mountain of Authors is a free event open to the public. You can check out the website for the event details here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Urban Legends

We've all heard them, the urban legends that are just too unbelievable to be true.  But no, really, it happened to this guy I know.  Yeah right.  And you want to call bullshit.  But then you kinda don't want to ruin what little magic is left in the world.  Sometimes it's good to believe in things that aren't true.  Sometimes it gives you hope.  But other times you need to dispel the myth.  Because maybe it touches on a personal vexation that you just can't get over.

The way writing is for me.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE writing, but it's the urban legend that most writers can earn a living from writing.  I'm here to tell you, IT'S JUST NOT TRUE.  I wish it was.  Because I'm all about following your dreams, pursuing your passion and all that the universe will provide crap.  Or at least I used to be.  Until I realized, I'm not the exception. Because I'm not even close to earning a living.  An exceptionally small amount of writers are the exception.  And those writers?  They also spend a hell of a lot of time not only writing, but promoting themselves.

Why do I care?

Because now that I'm an author, people start to perceive you as being successful because you have a book.  But, I do hear the same story over and over again.  And it goes something like this (an actual, true story a 30 year old single woman who's contemplating a career change told me a few weeks ago).  So, I know this guy who works at elephant journal and he writes 15 articles a day.  Yeah, and he makes $50,000!  My heart starts pounding, because there's several layers of bullshit here.  And this woman can not quit her job to write believing this is true.  

Bullshit level 1:  The elephant journal does not pay for articles.  I know this because I've written for them.  What you get is a by-line and exposure to promote yourself.  And hopefully get some personal satisfaction in the process. That's it.  Maybe if they choose you to be a regular columnist, you get paid.  I couldn't find that information, but you do have to publish 4 articles with them before you'll even be considered for a position.  The guy in question was supposed to have worked his way up to editing other articles.  So maybe he edits 15 articles a day.  Maybe that's conceivable. But then he's editing more than writing.

Bullshit level 2:  15 articles a day?  They are going to be the shittiest damn articles.  Cause there is no way you can crank out that amount of writing and have it be quality writing.  Because a lot of writing is actually sitting by yourself and doing nothing but thinking about your topic. Like how can I come at this from a different angle?  It's really a huge time suck, but a hugely important part of the process. Unless I'm exceptionally slow or exceptionally critical.  Which could be true.

Bullshit level 3:  Earning a living writing.  Yeah, it's possible. I suppose.  Although, I don't earn a living myself.  I'm not even remotely close.  Fortunately, I don't have to.  I write because I feel compelled to.  Mostly, I do it for free.  And I'm not the exception,  a whole lot of other writers do the same thing because the writing market is completely flooded.  Although, I imagine it's conceivable if you hustle your ass off to find writing gigs and write well for that market and then market  yourself constantly that you could actually make money at it.  I wouldn't know from experience though, because just the thought of it exhausts me.  

So, while I wish this urban legend were true, I think it falls the way of most urban legends, there's actually far more to the story.  And some investigative reporting to find out what the angle is, is probably sound advice before quitting your day job.  By all means write, but maybe start by letting it feed your soul without expectation that it'll feed your pocketbook.  At least right away.

If you're interested, you can read my elephant journal article here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Worn Out

I love fiercely.  With a timeless, yet all consuming, possessive love poets write about.  Doomed to fail from the start because love can't be owned.  Hanging on the the last threads, when I know I should free myself by letting go.  But, I can't.  Even though I was worn out... 

...and so was my beloved denim shirt.

We've been together for over 8 years.  A long time in the world of apparel.  Or Hollywood.  Or really anywhere these days.  It started out as a casual affair.  Paired with chucks.  Until I realized there was so much potential for more.  We could go out together formally.  My stupid preconceived notions and fashion stereotypes of denim were holding us back.  I was afraid it was too late for us.   Because the signs of wear and tear were already showing.  

I wanted us to be the exception.  To live a lifetime, together.  We'd been through so much and traveled the world together.  We went to a bullfight in Portugal,  on safari to South Africa, out on the town in Tuscany and camping in Colorado.  That's how varied and adventurous our relationship was.  We could go anywhere together, it didn't matter what we did.  And, not to be conceited, but we looked damn good together doing it, whatever it was.

But, I wanted too much too fast like I always do.  I admit it, I was needy and clingy.  Ignoring the blatantly obvious fact that if we wanted it to last, we needed time apart sometimes.  So we didn't split at the seams.  And not just the mandatory break when laundering was required.  We needed a definitive separation to save us from the premature demise of us.

Even through the break, I wanted to stay close, which is why I buried my love in the back of my closet.  And set out on my own.  I made an effort to get back out there and flirt with others.  Sure, it was fun for a while.  I experimented with some hot, young trends even.  But, it was all pretty superficial.   And I felt like Mrs. Robinson.  Satisfied, but empty.  Leaving me longing for one my true love, who was always in the back of my mind.  And my closet.  Ailing.  

How could I have left simply because of diminishing aesthetics?  I was ashamed.  The truth was, we'd both aged, slowed down and gotten a bit worse for wear.  I needed to stop chasing perfection once and for all and realize we're imperfectly perfect for each other.  Maybe take things a bit slower this time.  Even though we're both worn out.  I hope it's not too late for us.   

Monday, April 11, 2016

Consumer Reports

I usually mock consumerism, but that's hypocritical.  Because we're all consumers.  And we're all hypocrites.  But, when I come across something I love, I want to share it.  All of these things I naturally stumbled upon on my own.  I didn't receive any products for free.  Also, I don't monetize my blog and I'll probably never break even on my book.  Because money is the root of all evil.  Because I don't really make any money, I'm kinda frugal about how I spend it.  Now that that's established, you may want to go out and buy some of this stuff.  Or not, whatever.  It's not like I'm invested in what you do with the information that I give you in this post.  Only that I give it.  Cause I'm a giver.  Don't make me shove it down your throat. 

1.  Biore Scrub

Full disclosure:  I have naturally disgusting, super sensitive skin.  I had acne until the age of 40 when that was magically replaced by age spots.  Also, I am a drug store product whore.  I will try almost anything on my face if it's relatively cheap, in attractive packaging and makes me feel inadequate.  (See slogan:  don't be dirty.)  I'm pretty much guaranteed to buy it's marketed as natural.  I have tried straight up baking soda on my face before, but the Arm & Hammer packaging isn't appealing, nor does it smell good.  Maybe they just add fragrance to the baking soda, I don't know, but whatever it is, it makes my skin smooth and doesn't irritate it or dry it out. Plus, it smells good.

2.  Shade Sunscreen SPF 30

As a brunette I feel completely gypped that I don't have that gorgeous Mediterranean olive skin tone that should naturally accompany it.  Instead, I'm pasty white.  And I live at nearly 7,000 ft elevation in Colorado, putting my pasty white, sensitive, combination skin even closer to the sun.  And I have tried tons of sunscreens.  So, I can tell you that Honest brand stuff, honestly does not work.  Oh, I totally wanted it to, but it doesn't.  But, hope will not protect you from age spots and skin cancer.  I read about this sunscreen in a fitness magazine which said a lot of female surfers wear it.  And if it's good enough for Malia Jones, dammit, it's good enough for me.  (I don't know if she in particular actually wears it or not.) But, this is the best, water resistant sunscreen I have ever found.  It has a slight tint, but you won't even notice it once you put it on.  And it doesn't feel greasy.  I promise you.  (You can find it where you can find everything else, including my book, on Amazon.)

3.  Green Tea Tea Tree Oil Mask

Over on instagram, I follow this twenty something woman with gorgeous porcelain skin who posted this mask.  I've used it ever since.  Because of course my skin is going to look like hers and I'm going to magically be twenty years younger.  It's ridiculous I know, but I still think it.  Ok, here's the recipe. However, please note:  The matcha tea WILL STAIN your clothes & wash cloths.  Also your skin if you leave it on longer 15 minutes.  So there's that, but I love how my skin feels when I take it off.

Green Tea Tea Tree Oil Mask

1 tsp.  matcha green tea powder (Found at your health food store & kinda expensive)
1/2 tsp.  honey
2 drops tea tree oil
1/2 tsp. water

On-line I found Jessica Alba's Greek Yogurt & Coffee Mask and tried it out last night.  And I can say while her Honest sunscreen sucks, this mask is pretty good.  And cheap.  And you might even have all the ingredients in your cupboard.

Greek Yogurt & Coffee Mask

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp. coffee
1 tsp.  coconut oil
1 lemon

Unfortunately, I don't look any more like Jessica Alba this morning.  Also note, this recipe makes enough for like 4 people. So share it and have a slumber party with your girlfriends or something.

4.  Skinny Taste Recipes

I have mentioned Skinny Taste recipes on here before.  If you haven't yet checked out the Skinny Taste blog out, go now and do it. All of her recipes are real food, low calorie and big on flavor.  I make her recipes at least twice, but probably three or more times a week.   The above picture is her White Bean Caprese Salad, which is absolutely fantastic.  She also has a cookbook out and is in the process of getting a second book out there on the shelves.  But really, if you're cheap, just check out her blog, it's all on there.

5.  Veggie Balsamic Flatbread

Ok, so here's what happened.  My favorite NY style pizza place closed down.  I was in a panic.  What do I do for Friday night pizza night?  I tried TONS of pizza places.  Fresh, frozen, packaged, I tried them all.  And while I love making fresh pizzas on the grill, it's a time consuming process for a family of 6 on a frantic Friday.  It was that desperation that lead me to Walmart.  I know, I know...I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it's true.  That's where I came upon this flatbread located right next to their pizzas, which are pretty bland.  But, this bread?  It tastes gourmetish.  They also have pepperoni and other flavors.  But, the veggie one stands out.  So, go do the walk of shame to Walmart and give it a try.    

6.  Super Sweet Mini Peppers

'Tis the season when these peppers are in supermarkets everywhere.  I can't buy enough of them.  And while you can eat them raw, I love them grilled.  I'll grill the whole bag and have plans to use them in other dishes like scrambled eggs, on nachos and in pasta throughout the week.  And then they'll be gone.  Because my kids even like them.  And they are fantastic paired with steak.  Or sausage.  Or chicken.  Or portabello mushrooms.  Oh, and poblano peppers on the grill earn an honorable mention, but some people in my family (who shall remain nameless) have delicate palates and don't take to the slight heat in them. Wimps.

7.  Listerine Ultra Clean Dental Floss

I know, you're thinking dental floss? I don't even know the last time I flossed.  But once you have those peppers and steak, you'll have a hunk of meat stuck back there in your molars and you're going to need some floss.  Trust me, I know.  One thing in my marriage, my husband and I have never agreed on, is dental floss.  My husband used the waxed kind and I used the tapeish kind.  Until, he went to the dentist and came home with this free sample.  And we both love it.  (Yes, it's possible to love dental floss.)  And now, I have 4 more packs of the kind I loved before I got at Costco to use up while he uses this.  Damn him!  (Also, I just put a pack of dental floss in my purse and felt like a freakin' genius.  Also, if you don't have tweezers in your car to pluck those eyebrow hairs you notice only when you're looking in the rearview mirror, you're missing out.)

8.  Arrowhead Sparkling Water

Again, you're thinking boooooooooorrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnggggg!  I'm always looking for a healthy low calorie drink free of artificial sweeteners for summer time to keep me hydrated.  It's usually ice tea without sugar.  But, sometimes you want bubbles.  Bubbles make things feel special.  And you deserve to feel special in a way that won't give you diabetes or cancer.  Put it in a fancy glass with some ice and some fruit even.  You could get really crazy and mix in some wine and it could be a wine cooler sangria even.  Bonus: antioxidants.  Just sayin'. 

9.  Crocs Sexi Flip Sandals

Again, you're like crocs, really?  crocs?  YES, crocs!  Stop judging me!  A few summers ago, I had to quit wearing cheap $3 Old Navy flip flops cause they hurt my feet.  Enter crocs.  They have a slight arch support and are super light weight. Also, they make everything look a bit more dressed up than your standard flip flops.  And they pack like a dream.  I even accidentally hiked 20 miles in them, through mud even.  Although I wouldn't recommend that, my toe crotch was raw for days.  Is toe crotch a term?

10.  Books

Did you realize you can get books at the library for free?  FREE, I said!  I love books and the last one that I read that I think is worthy of mentioning is this book.  All about the phenomenon of public shaming in the age of the internet.  I couldn't help but think of a friend who was in a situation similar to this book in which she was wrongly publicly convicted over an issue so small it was hardly an issue at all except to internet trolls.  Which resulted in her receiving anonymous death threats on line.  It was horrifyingly unbelievable.  And I didn't realize how rampant it was in our culture until I read this. What's scary is how easily it could happen to you.  In case you needed some light summer reading.  For other book recommendations you can check out what I've read recently on my Goodreads here.

Happy summer prepping!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Babies

Bonnie & Clyde spooning.

I've got kids, but they stopped being babies long ago.   They also stopped needing me long ago.  Or so they think.  Because they're self deluded teenagers who don't want to be around me because I'm embarrassing.  But, I have needs too.  And I need to feel needed, dammit.  Good thing I found replacement babies.  My dogs.

Because dogs stay adorable toddlers forever. 

Think about it.  Dogs understand a few selective words of English like a toddler. They need a nap in the middle of the day.  Ok, naps.  They're both innocently mischievous, getting into things they know they shouldn't.  Like the trash and the toilet bowl. Not to mention the chocolate stash. But, you just can't stay mad at them because they're so freakin' cute.     

But wait, there's more!

I never baby talked to my kids because I wanted them to learn to use proper names for their anatomy and the grotesque bodily functions they're used for.  Also, I wanted to get a head start on prepping them for the verbal section of the SAT.  Plus, it just sounds ridiculous for a grown adult to baby talk to a baby.  Obviously, none of these things apply to dogs.  

My dogs really want to be around me all the time.  They follow me everywhere, just like my kids used to.  They even accompany me to the toilet.  I think when I watch them pee, it gives them the impression that they're also supposed to reciprocate and watch me.  At least I don't have to try to discretely sneak my tampons into the bathroom, like I did when I had toddlers, because my dogs don't care what they are or why I'm using them.   They only care that they kinda look like dog treats.  

Bonnie and Clyde are never going to grow up to be teenagers. I would say they won't eat me out of house and home the way teens do, but they're labs.  So, given the opportunity, they would eat everything in my house, in the wrappers they came in even.   In addition, they're on the special, super expensive food from the vet because Clyde has special dietary restrictions, which is basically the equivalent of buying all organic at Whole Foods. 

At least I don't have to explain the birds and the bees to them.  Because, as you can see from the above photo, they like to cuddle and you know where that leads.   Good thing they're fixed.  Thank god I don't have to teach them to drive. Which means my insurance won't go up.   Also, they'll never go to college.   (They couldn't pass the verbal section on the SAT with all that baby talk anyway.)  Nope, they'll always live with me and destroy everything in my house even after my kids have left.  

My babies.



Monday, April 4, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

You can't help but notice it when you walk in, it's the elephant in the room.  The pole.  With it being in my bedroom you'd think not many people would see my pole.  However, that's not the case.  I've got kids and those kids have friends that they take up to their rooms, which requires that they pass by my room.  But, that's not the worst of it.  That would be the workmen who come to my house.  And this year with a new roof, new windows and painters.  That's a lot of workmen.  Who've seen my pole.  And probably wondered..., is she a stripper?  

Not that it matters what people think. Or so I tell myself while he silently circumvents my stripper pole to measure the windows behind them.  If he didn't have to take strides to walk around it, I'd almost think it was completely invisible.   Except we can all see it's not.  Which leaves me wanting to explain it.  Not that I do that.  Because that would be totally awkward. Not that it's not deafeningly awkward already.  It's just that it's on mute.  I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutually uncomfortable for both parties.   But, probably for different reasons. 

Unless he's also a post modern feminist, who's pissed because I could get paid more stripping than I can with my Master's degree.  

But, I doubt that's the case.  Even though it's extremely sexist of me to assume, I'm still sticking by that statement.  Which probably makes me a crappy post modern feminist (PMF).  Because when I stereotype men I'm not striving for the equality of all genders, races and sexual orientations as the PMF edict dictates.  But really, could I be worse than Camille Paglia?  No.  Obviously not.   Anyway, I'm getting off track here.  Back to the point. 

 Sometimes I feel defensive about pole dancing.  

I shouldn't.  But, I do. Although it really doesn't matter what you think.  All that matters is that I'm helluva lot stronger and a tad less timid than I was before I started pole.   Oh and I could probably beat you in an arm wresting contest.   And you might want to call me when you need help moving heavy furniture.  So, go ahead and think whatever you want.  Also, I wouldn't be offended if you threw a dollar bill my way if you're so inspired.  Cause god knows this graduate degree is not making it rain money over here!  



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