How Do You Stay True To Your Roots?

My biggest fear is one day I’ll wake up and won’t recognize the face looking back at me in the mirror. I worry I’ll get wrapped up in materialistic values and forget my humble beginnings.

Well-fed cornfields, dairy farms, and long country roads paint my earliest memories. The seclusion allowed freedom to shoot off model rockets with Dad and build bonfires in the backyard. Mom taught us how to build castles with books and how to use the floor vents to make sheet forts when the furnace kicked on.

Happiness never related to possessions, and it wasn’t until much later I realized my family’s resourcefulness wasn’t out of creativity but necessity. Growing up with less (and helping to carry my parent’s adult problems at a young age) made me grind for success.

A common phrase in my house growing up was “figure it out on your own,” so I put my nose to the grindstone and worked full-time while attending (and paying) my way through college. It took me almost eight years to finally get my Bachelor’s. I could only do so many college credits at a time because unlike most of my classmates, I also held the responsibility of living on my own with no financial backing.

This ambition to never quit and continue to strive for better is what landed me here, out of the restaurant industry with a job that pays well and has “regular” (off on holidays and a routine 9 to 5 schedule), located in sunny Orange County, California.

Now, when I wake up in the morning I have choices of what I want for breakfast and drive on a freeway that’s frequently littered with million dollar homes and exotic supercars, not a cornfield in sight.

Jlo speaks about this in her song, Jenny From The Block. “Don’t be fooled with the rock’s that I’ve got, I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block. Used to have a little now I have a lot. I’ll always know where I come from (the Bronx!).

Most of us haven’t gone from a private person to a public person making millions but we’ve all experienced some form of reckoning that’s forced us to reconcile with what once was compared to what is.

Living in Orange County I’ve seen what an excess of privilege does to a person. I fear eventually I’ll get used to this good life (affording Brie, aerial classes, and financial freedom my parents never had) and forget where I came from and the values that got me here.

Now, this might sound crazy because I’m not Jlo going from nothing to holy-shit-something…

…but for those of you who have dug themselves out of the deep pits to successfully changing your own stars, know what I’m talking about. This abrupt, yet painfully slow transition from past to present is internally conflicting. And man, can we talk about the guilt for a damn second?

There are some days I have a really hard time digesting how much money I spend now compared to ten years ago. A little rotten voice in the back of my head constantly questions is what I’m buying sensible and how I should be saving it instead.

The truth is I’m not spending money on frivolous items, it’s being invested in my physical and mental well being, which is a tough concept to digest. Also, how come it feels so strange to invest in me? Ugh, a blog post for another day. 

So how do you make sure you don’t forget your roots?

There’s an old saying about acknowledging your path to success and the author from Bodhi Tree writes…

“There is no way to grow and strengthen if you are walking on flat ground. You have to climb. You have to fall and claw your way back up again, and when you emerge covered in dirt, sweat and smiles, it’s beautiful! It’s worth it. If you rub away the climb and the fall, you rub away the story itself.”

Basically? It’s practicing gratitude and honoring your struggle. Acknowledging a fear means you’re aware and won’t let ‘it’ happen because you’re not living with your head in a hole.

ps: I had an afterthought aha moment…what if staying true to your roots is just remembering your past, and bringing its best lessons and values with you everywhere you continue to go and grow? It’s not about reconciling, but an important piece of staying grounded. 

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Reoccurring​​ Nightmare​s

Get to the coastline before sunrise to save your sister. My heart is beating out of my chest and my legs can’t run any faster, sweat is pouring from every orifice and it feels like I’m not getting any closer to the coast. I’m starting to panic. What’s going to happen if I can’t save her? I can’t even think it, there’s no question; I must save her.

Dangerous obstacles slow my pace, a few moments ago I had to outrun a gang of dudes and it sent me in the wrong direction. I fear I’m going to be late. An orange hue has started to paint the sky, time is running out. “Must run faster,” is on repeat in my head. I can’t breathe but I don’t care. Where is my sister?!

Yellow has begun to mix with the orange, at any moment the sun will crack the horizon; I lay eyes on my sister. She’s in a deep pit and our fingers brush at the tips. She’s just out of my reach. I’m as far over the ledge as possible, any further and I’d fall in with her. “Jump! Jump!” I scream. She’s drained, eyes sunken in, she gave up hope long ago. “Please!” I beg, “Jump, I’m here, I’ve got you!”

She makes a runner’s lunge and throws herself up. My feet are dug deep into the earth, my stance wide and strong. I grab for her hands, prepared to lock on tight. We catch each other’s eyes just as the sun hits her face. “I’ve got her, I can catch her. She’s going to be safe,” I say to myself.

As the sun rises higher, the bottom of the pit slowly crumbles and shows the sky. How did this happen? We’re high up, too high up. Just as our fingertips are about to lock the sun shifts and momentarily blinds her which makes us miss hands. One of us screams, everything slows down, and I watch her fall.


My recurring nightmare has the same theme. I’m in a desperate situation frantically trying to rescue someone (it’s been my dogs sometimes, too) and miss saving them by a fingertip every time. No one else is ever with me in these dreams, it’s only me.

I never really read much into it. Chalked it up to an active imagination. Then I read this book written by a psychologist who shares one of her patient’s reoccurring nightmares that sounds an awful lot like mine and shares this explanation:

“*Natalie’s dream captures what it feels like to be emotionally alone. She has to deal with everything by herself and doesn’t consider asking anyone for help. This is how children of emotionally immature parents feel. Their parents may technically be present, but they offer little help, protection, or comfort.

Children like Natalie often grow up like little adults, helping their parents, giving them no trouble, and appearing to need practically nothing. These capable kids may seem like they can parent themselves, but they can’t. No child can. They just learn to cling to whatever emotional scraps they get because any connection is better than none at all.

Natalie is a successful adult and has created a rewarding life both personally and professionally, so who would guess the powerful woman walking into business meetings with a great marriage, successful children, and close friendships because she knows how to relate to people from every walk of life is carrying this deep sense of loneliness with her in every aspect of her life? Her dreams pull back the curtain to reveal that loneliness.”

She goes on to ask Natalie if she ever wondered why she was always alone in her dreams. Before my eyes finished reading the sentence my heart had lurched to my throat. I’m alone every single time, too, and I couldn’t stop those tears no matter how hard I tried to look up.

And her explanation felt really familiar. I never considered the amount of emotional loneliness I carry around or what that feeling I’ve always felt had a name. Therapy is helping. I’m unwinding the patterns and being aware is lightening my load. I haven’t had this nightmare in a few months, so maybe I’m getting somewhere quicker than it feels.

reoccurring nightmares quotes about moving forward

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Proof It Changed My Trajectory

As I often tell teachers–some of our most important leaders–we can’t always ask our students to take off the armor at home, or even on their way to school, because their emotional and physical safety may require self-protection. But what we can do, and what we are ethically called to do, is create a space in our schools and classrooms where all students can walk in and, for that day or hour, take off the crushing weight of their armor, hang it on a rack, and open their heart to truly being seen. 

We must be guardians of a space that allows students to breathe and be curious and explore the world and be who they are without suffocation. They deserve one place where they can rumble with vulnerability and their hearts can exhale. And what I know from the research is that we should never underestimate the benefit to a child of having a place to belong–even one–where they can take off their armor. It can and often does change the trajectory of their life. 

– Brene Brown, Dare To Lead

I am proof a safe place changed the trajectory of my life. 

You know that saying, “being welcomed with open arms,” I don’t remember a feeling a sense of welcomeness or openness when I was younger. “Constantly on edge,” is more accurate.

It didn’t feel like I had space to breathe. There was a suffocating pressure to be the best and it left no room for error.

When I think back to where I felt safest as a young adult my Highschool band room pops to the front of mind. I knew who I was in that room and Mr. Ponder was a calm dude who didn’t lead with guilt or shame. He genuinely cared for his students and never picked me apart, or anyone else for that matter.

Unfortunately, the band room wasn’t a day in and day out constant. It took twenty-seven years for me to find my safe place and another two years to trust it. I fought the ‘safe feeling’ because my mind and body didn’t know how to respond, and the two who were creating it for me weren’t the people who I thought should be the ones doing it.

Can I trust this soft place to land when it’s being given to me by my bosses? They’re not obligated by blood or marriage, is this how it should be, is this allowed? ps: I get hung up on shoulds and rules. #workingonit

If you’re like me, you need an example of this soft place to land because it didn’t compute in my head for a long time, so here we go:

My first “oh-shit-I-fucked-up-big” moment came about six or seven months into the new job. I was designing an e-blast for The Knot and spent a full week designing and editing content to create the best call to action, possible. Somehow I didn’t notice until after the email went out I had embedded the wrong link and was sending thousands of people to an incorrect event page.

I almost barfed. The word mortified doesn’t cut it. I quickly edited the page the users were being sent to, to represent the event we were advertising for but it took an hour to correct. Accountability is huge in my book so I prepared myself for a tongue lashing and the possibility I’d get fired.

Ya know what I got? “These things happen, you’re human.” If your mouth is gaping open and touching the floor, #twins. I didn’t know what to do or say, all I remember was feeling uncomfortable and wishing she had shouted at me instead. Wtf am I supposed to do with…kindness and understanding?

And fuck, just had another aha-moment. I’d rather be shouted at? In what world does that make sense. I’ve been following a pattern unbeknown to me until this very flippin’ second. Ready for this? Big breaths…

I’ve been striving for perfection and ultimately falling short, which would lead me to fess up to the ‘leaders’ in my life (bosses/parents) and their response was a consistent shouting and/or belittlement before being ‘allowed’ to move on until the next time it happened, and then the same pattern would occur.

Eventually, I didn’t feel better until someone had followed through on their part. And because I thought this was healthy behavior I’m guilty of shouting to release frustration. How sick am I for thinking it was therapeutic? #workingonit #therapyisawesome

This kind of openness to welcome me as is set the foundation for a soft place to land. Maybe some of you reading are thinking, “no, this is an example of your bosses being lenient.” Tell me what good comes from making a person feel smaller? Do you work harder for those type of leaders?

It wasn’t one instance, either. It’s been a compilation of little moments where it would’ve been easy to criticize or put me down and they choose not too. Instead, they reminded me I was enough and worth it. Constantly filling me up with feeling enough and worth it.

This new space encouraged me to read self-empowerment books, get into therapy, deal with traumas I’d buried, and shed a layer of crushing armor. It felt hippy-dippy at first and not for people ‘like me.’

But guess what? My spirit feels lighter, my life feels happier, and I appreciate my relationship with my Hubs ten times more than I did before. My head comes up for air more frequently instead of keeping my nose on the grindstone.

It changed the trajectory of my life. I’m proof.

Ferris bueller quote

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Poppy’s Creme Brûlée

Did you read today’s Taste Test recipe and tense up a little bit? I wonder why it’s made out to be such a difficult dessert to try, maybe it’s the fancy top hat above the ‘u’ that makes it seem way to fancy to try? Let me tell you, I’d rather make Creme Brûlée any day over that damn bread that gave me bruises!

I got this recipe from my Dad (aka Poppy). He made it on Paint maybe a decade ago and emailed it to me. I kid you not, he made it for me on Paint and it is carefully preserved in my cooking binder between two plastic sheets.

But first, let’s recap in case you don’t know my rules…

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. I hate the word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

4 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

6 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

What you need:

Mixing bowl, wire whip, ramekins, pyrex oven pan, heavy bottom saucepan, thermometer, torch spark, and wire sift.

  1. Gather supplies/ingredients. Get some water boiling and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat 2 1/2 cups heavy cream in a heavy bottom saucepan until it reaches 175 – 180 degrees and remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile place 6 egg yolks, 4 Tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in mixing bowl and whisk until frothy.
  4. Remove 1/4 cup of the hot heavy cream and slowly pour into egg mix while whipping vigorously to temper egg mix. Repeat with another 1/4 cup.
  5. Slowly pour entire tempered egg mix into heavy cream while whipping with might. Scrape bowl well with rubber spatula.
  6. The mixture will be frothy on top. Use a skimmer to remove the froth. Be sure to let liquids pass through simmer back into mix before dumping froth. Repeat until very little froth is left.
  7. Place 4 ramekins into your baking pan and fill pan with water until the water reaches halfway up ramekins. Pour approximately 2/3 cup of mix into each ramekin.
  8. Bake in over for 20 – 25 minutes. When sides are firm but the center is slightly jiggly the custard is done. Remove from oven and leave in water pan for 10 minutes. Place in fridge and chill for about 4 hours.

To Serve:

  • Sprinkle 2 teaspoon of sugar over top of the Brulee and lightly shake the ramekin back and forth to get an even coat.
  • Brown sugar with a torch. The tip of the flame that is yellow is the hottest part. Sugar should meet flame at top of the yellow tip. Use a right to left back and forth motion starting at the top and work your way down as sugar carmelizes.
  • Note: I like to serve it with a whipped cream rose and strawberry fan on the side or on a plate with a spoon. You can also serve whipped cream on top of Brulee wit
  • h a sprinkle of raspberries, too.

My Findings:

  1. Do not dump all of the hot heavy cream into the egg mixture, it will curdle the eggs. You need to have patience and not rush the tempering.
  2. If you don’t have a small wire sift to skim the top, use a spoon and carefully de-froth the top.
  3. The boiling water is for the water surrounding the ramekins before it enters the oven. I think the boiling water help keep it at an even temp. in the oven and it takes longer to bake if you don’t use heated water, don’t quote me but that sounds right.

Would I Make It Again?

Hell yes. It’s easier than it looks (and sounds). I remember being so nervous I was going to fuck up the tempering I was SUPER and ridiculously slow at it. I never thought the mixtures would ever be melded as one…so find a happy medium, you don’t have to be a psycho like I was the first go around and you can’t dump half or all of it in one or two shots.

Have you ever tried to make Creme Brûlée? How’d it turn out? Tell me in the comments.

Creme Brûlée quotes or sayings

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This is my Dad’s recipe that he wrote up on Paint for me some 10 years ago. I have no idea where it came from or if it has his own tweaks.

 

 

My First Trip To The Upper Left

A city built on top of a city surrounded by water and formerly known as the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest and the Gateway to Alaska is where I spent a long weekend last week.

Seattle was wicked cool, and worth the agonizing plane ride…kinda. The weather was gorgeous, sun shining for half the day and a cool haze for the remainder. It sprinkled a few times and I saw snow while hiking up Mt. Tiger!

On Friday I hiked it up to Kerry Park for one of the best views of the cityscape, ate BBQ inside the armory at the Seattle Center, walked through Sculpture Park, and finished the evening with a drink and an old friend at The Edgewater Hotel that has a view like no other. Sit in the lobby and order a drink during happy hour, you won’t be sorry.

Kerry Park, Seattle
Kerry Park

Saturday started at Pike Place Market with rows of fresh flowers, cheese churning across the street at Beechers and the longest Starbucks line you’ll ever see for convenient coffee.   The afternoon was filled with a hidden lighthouse and a bike ride down the boardwalk at Alki Beach with another spectacular view of the cityscape and futuristic Space Needle.

Alki Beach
Alki Beach

I got an early start on the day Sunday with a long hike up Mt. Tiger with the same old friend and her husband. But first, we made a pitstop at Caffe Ladro and got one of the best damn cups of coffee, ever. I went for round two on Monday morning, too.

Mt. Tiger, Seattle
Mt. Tiger

After the mountain whooped our asses (literally) and we refueled at a local Mediterranean eatery, they dropped me off at my hotel and I wandered down to Pioneer Square where I hopped on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. It came recommended and I too highly recommend it if you find yourself in Seattle.

Seattle is a city built on top of a city because of a massive fire and unstable (very wet) ground. This tour takes you down to the basement of Seattle where you can walk the old roads and learn the city’s history, like how The Emerald City was actually built by a woman and her…”seamstress” business.

I ate dinner at Petite Toulouse and got the spicy shrimp, homemade andouille and crawfish onto cheesy grits. The beignets are not like the ones you find in NOLA but they are at least the right shape. Also, STOP serving them with coffee sauce. I need raspberry!

Monday morning started the same way, at Caffe Ladro with The Perfect Bar for breakfast. After a semi-lazy morning, I hit up MoPop and got lost in its Prince, Fantasy, and Horror Fiction exhibits. Two hours later it was time to head back to the hotel and call an Uber to the airport.

The greenery and fresh air were exactly what I needed and I’m looking forward to more adventures this year. When I go back to Seattle, what should I check out next?

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear. (10).png

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Taste Testing Mary Berry’s Victoria Sandwich​

Has anyone tried making any of the recipes I’ve shared, yet? Share it in the comment section below so I can see what everyone else is up to on the other side of this screen 😉

Today’s taste test involves another great recipe found by watching The Great British Baking Show (thanks Netflix! I was late to the GBBO craze) and it’s Mary Berry’s Victoria Sandwich recipe.

Luckily, converting this one was MUCH easier than the Povitica recipe I shared a few weeks ago due to the fact she has the ounces next to the grams and my measuring cup has the ounces listed, haha. The odds are more in your favor here.

But first, let’s recap in case you don’t know my rules…

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. The word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe annoy me. Oh, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

For the sponge

4 large free-range eggs

225g (8oz) caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

225g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

For the jam

200g (7oz) raspberries

250g (9oz) jam sugar

For the buttercream

100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened

200g/7oz icing sugar sifted

2 tbsp milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line two 8in sandwich tins: use a piece of baking or silicone paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking paper.
  2. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder and soft butter. Mix everything together until well combined. Be careful not to over-mix – as soon as everything is blended you should stop. The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins. Use a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl and gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
  4. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the door while they’re cooking, but after 20 minutes do look through the door to check them.
  5. While the cakes are cooking, make the jam. Put the raspberries in a small deep-sided saucepan and crush them with a masher. Add the sugar and bring to the boil over a low heat until the sugar has melted. Increase the heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into a shallow container. Leave to cool and set.
  6. The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.
  7. To take your cakes out of the tins without leaving a wire rack mark on the top, put the clean tea towel over the tin, put your hand onto the tea towel and turn the tin upside-down. The cake should come out onto your hand and the tea towel – then you can turn it from your hand onto the wire rack. Set aside to cool completely.
  8. For the buttercream, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Add the remaining tablespoon of milk if the buttercream is too thick. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  9. To assemble, choose the sponge with the best top, then put the other cake top-down on to a serving plate. Spread with the jam then pipe the buttercream on top of the jam. Place the other sponge on top (top uppermost) and sprinkle with caster sugar to serve.

My Findings:

  • I had never made jam before and was super worried about it ‘setting’ so I picked up some pectin just in case and added a sprinkling of it to my mixture. I also added the sugar scoop by scoop because I wanted to control the sweetness. I ended up using a little over a half cup of sugar.
  • My piping bag was a Ziploc baggy with the corner cut off. Now, this works in a pinch but it did not give me the freedom to make those beautiful pillow clouds of buttercream you see pictured on Mary Berry’s bake.
  • Nothing with homemade buttercream is going to be awful.

Would I Make It Again?

YES. It was super simple and flipping DELICIOUS. The proper storage will keep the sponge fresh for days! I use an oversized container with a locking lid as a makeshift cake holder/saver.

eating cake quote

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Originally recipe found, here.

5 Minutes of Kindness Goes A Long Way

All week on Instagram my topic has been centered around the importance of finding confidence and feeling powerful as women. Today’s post was going to be based around the same topic, but then I went to a conference in San Diego and something wonderful happened…

ps: I love San Diego. Every year, right around this time, I attend a marketing conference where I get to be a nobody in a sea of people, learning new tricks of my trade and it’s my absolute favorite. When I turn the corner from Kettner to get onto Harbor and see the two ginormous Hyatt skyscrapers, I feel home. I don’t take this for granted.

On the trek to my hotel I bustled past a number of homeless. The sun had gone down so the temp was dipping into the low 50s and I couldn’t help but feel extremely privileged (then a little guilty) as I scurried past them with a full stomach, a bag full of clothes, and on my way to a hotel where a big warm bed (that I didn’t have to share with my husband) was waiting for me.

The next morning I still felt this pull inside my heart to do something for those I’d be walking past that morning who were packing up their sleeping bag. All of a sudden I remembered I had a leftover snack pack from the train ride in the night before and decided this small thing might be capable of making someone else’s day that much sweeter, so I grabbed it as I walked out my room and spent the elevator ride pumping myself up to not chicken out.

For those of you who don’t know, I do an annual fundraiser every year in November for homeless youth. I spend one night out on the street in front of Covenant House California so that another kid doesn’t have to. This is my passion, but I’m human and learned Stranger Danger so it’s still a little nerve wracking because you’re not a fortune teller and won’t be able to know how your good intentions will be received.

As the elevator doors opened my game plan was solid. I would walk my route and the first person who looked at me, said good morning, or smiled at me (basically letting them make the first move, sorta), I would ask, “do you need some food? I have some extra.”

Having a plan and what I’m going to say makes me feel solid. So off I went and it didn’t take more than 50 feet for me to give away my snack pack.

He was an older gentleman digging through a trash can, possibly for recyclables, possibly for food, and he was next to the crosswalk I needed to get across Harbor, and I think when I didn’t walk around him to avoid him, he looked up at me and said, “good morning.”

I told him good morning, and asked him if he needed food. All he could muster was shaking his head. He didn’t reach out his hand until he saw I was indeed handing him the box. After he grabbed it I told him I hope he had a good day and I was off. The whole scenario was less than 5-minutes.

By no means did I do anything to make his day better. A snack pack from the train isn’t going to end world hunger, but I’m hoping I made his morning a little brighter and it took absolutely nothing from me to do it (besides the balls).

I put the whole exchange on my stories and fought back tears while telling it. There is something about the look he gave me when I asked him if he needed food that tipped my emotions overboard. So I decided the next two morning I’d be doing the same thing.

After the keynote speaker on Monday night I went to the gym to run and work off some of the pent up energy I had after sitting all day. When I was finished and looking for some water, I noticed a bowl of apples…

Yes, I pulled a Ross and took a handful of apples knowing I’d be giving them away the next morning. Earlier that afternoon I had also stocked piled a cup of nuts from the conference with the same intention.

Tuesday morning I walked out from my hotel with a ziplock baggy filled with two apples and a coffee cup filled of dry nuts. I gave it to a man who was brushing his hair and when I asked him if he needed some extra food, he paused.

“Of course, yes! Yes, yes! Sorry, I don’t know where my head was there, I was off thinking about something else and wasn’t expecting…yes, yes, I would love some food, thanks.”

Day Three: I raided the gym bowl of apples again from my run the night before, had another cup of nuts, and two Kashi bars I had grabbed from home as my “just in case” snacks during the conference.

An older man who had said good morning to me got one of the apples and then asked me where I was from, I told him originally from Buffalo, and he said, “okay thanks, have a good day.”

I was saving the majority of my hoard for a family who popped up the night before, a man, woman, and two small children. They didn’t acknowledge me, I said good morning and the gentleman jumped a little like he was caught off guard.

“Do you need some food?”

Nobody deserves to be hungry. We all fall on hard times, some of them are harder than others. There is plenty of food in this world to go around and I think we ought to start sharing it.

A 5-minute gesture of kindness could change the world if done once, twice, or three times a week. You never know.

Stay kind my friends. Happy Thursday!

RAK it quote

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Blank Stare & Nod

My brain has been fried hard and served up on a stale piece of toast. The last five months have a re-reoccurring theme; lack of control and this constant wake up call has flared up my anxiety about an upcoming girl’s trip to Seattle. Is the universe teaching me to let go of control so that when my plane goes down at the end of March, I’ll be at peace? Anxiety is a bitch.

If I had to sum up the last four-ish/five months it would be placed in a folder labeled, Are You Fucking Kidding Me! The short of it is multiple car accidents, one less car, Hubs out of work for 7-weeks due to injury from said accident which equals limited dough, to family turmoil, some more family turmoil, and if I continue it would no longer be “the short of it.”

Point being, I’m going through some shit and it’s been hard to stay positive, which is super relatable because we’ve all been there, feeling like someone took out our brains and scrambled them up while we watched with no idea how to take the spatula away.

And because I have anxiety and panic attacks, what do I do? Think, think, and think some more, because that’s what I can control and what feels ‘routine’ for my brain to do. And of course, it’s not the healthy thinking it’s the let’s think about the worst possible scenario and keep thinking about the worst that can happen until I can feel it tightening my chest and wah-lah, panic!

The upside? I’m still here, practicing gratitude and trying my best. This is what matters. I am trying my best.

How do I combat my anxiety and panic? What has worked for me is taking deep breaths and focusing on each inhale and exhale, when I was younger I used to count them but now the simple in and out of breath calms me.

Why don’t I get a prescription? Addiction runs in my family, both with alcohol and pills, so I don’t want to tempt the beast.

What has also helped me in more recent times is focusing on my own health both physically and mentally, and that I don’t need to learn how to conquer my anxiety, just know how to live with it and how to give myself grace when I can’t keep a handle on it because sometimes…

The only thing I can muster is a blank stare and a nod, and that’s okay.

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear. (7).png

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Tony Robbins Mic Drop Part II

“Which parent did you crave love from the most…” and, “who did you have to be in order to get that person’s attention.”

This is the Tony Robbins mic drop. This question ALSO relates back to last week’s post about drowning in other’s opinion of me. I craved love the most from my Dad. I never felt loved for who I was, only for who I could be for him. The person I needed to be was someone who went above and beyond in every and any situation.

For example, one time, Dad needed somebody to help him paint the outside of the house underneath the deck. He convinced me I was a perfect size and fit for the job, so I agreed. Put on my painting clothes, climbed underneath the deck and crawled over to the spot where dad was hoisting down my paint bucket.

I got paint all over me by the time I was done. Instead of a thank you, I got criticized for how much paint ended up on me and a lecture about being better, faster, and smarter. Everything I did was expected to be perfect, there was no room for grace.

Nothing is good enough as is, you must always push for better and greater, otherwise, you’re a lazy bum who will amount to nothing. And this is a theme I carried throughout childhood and working on to this day to unwind because while it’s important to have the drive, it’s also important to celebrate your victories along the way. Otherwise, you live in a constant perpetual state that plows you through life without appreciating any fruit of your labor and leaves you always feeling, never good enough.

This constant pressure to know better, be better and do better, fueled my need to overachieve in all the things. What I didn’t know then but know now is that I was over-performing in hopes I’d get his attention. Tell me I’m doing a good job, please! Tell me you’re proud! Tell me I’m not a fuck up! 

And right about here is where the bomb exploded in my head like, oh shit. I’m still living and making decisions based off of the want to please my Dad and make him proud because I want to hear ‘”I’m proud of you,” or “I love you for you,” from him before it’s too late.

Jesus, I’m still living under his strict and harsh expectations for me and I haven’t lived under their roof in over a decade! Instead of asking myself how I want to proceed, etc. I’m operating out of habit and the underlying need to please Dad.

Well, hot. damn.

Once again, I need to get the extra voices out of my head and focus only on mine.

Let’s go back to last week’s post for a moment and bring these two together. I have anxiety because I’m trying to please those on the outside looking in and ignoring my own personal wants by burying them under endless mountains to climb/projects to finish.

By not paying attention to MY voice and worrying constantly about how I can show up for others causes massive anxiety because I feel split. Do I actually want to freelance? Do I actually want to have my own company one day? Do I actually want…

When people ask me what I want to do I simply tell them, I want to write books and make a difference. I realized I need to commit to making this real. I never commit to consistency with this blog or the content I publish on my Instagram. I’m not intentional and I keep it small by not sharing these blog posts on other platforms.

I feel less anxiety when I embrace every part of me that makes me, me. And if you need the reminder to love you for you, here it is: we need you as you are, you’re you for a reason.

Tony Ribbins Mic Drop quote on blog

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Everything Will Be Okay, It Could’ve Been Worse

“Everything will be okay,” and, “It could’ve been worse,” are two of the most deaf-toned responses to someone who has suffered a loss, survived a traumatic experience, or in the midst of a difficult time. What these two phrases do is actually dismiss any of the emotions the person suffering are experiencing.

About three weeks ago my husband was involved in a gnarly accident. A driver decided at the last minute he/she didn’t want to exit and slammed over into my husband’s lane, which fishtailed his truck up an embankment, flipped, and then rolled back down to the freeway exit. The driver who hit him never stopped.

His collarbone is fractured and hasn’t been able to return to work since the accident and won’t be able to for another couple of weeks, at least. It’s been difficult. The Hubs can’t lift his arm up, he’s in pain, he can’t work or do simple things like taking out the trash because it requires two hands to lift the lid and pull.

The air in our apartment is tense at most times because we’re both a little frustrated we don’t know what we didn’t know and we couldn’t know unless we’d experienced it prior. You think you’ve asked all the right questions but if you’re going in blind there’s no real way to know, until you’ve figured it out, which is frustrating and confusing. It’s been one big crash course in health and auto insurance.

It’s frustrating that some faceless no-name driver who caused this pain in our life, won’t be held accountable, because they simply chickened out and left the scene. How does that person even sleep at night? They don’t even know if he survived. Ugh, makes me rage.

Add the holiday season to the mix and currently, in the midst of moving apartments, “you’re going to have a bad time,” as that ski instructor on South Park once noted.

It’s been difficult. I’m grateful I got the phone call I did that night because I understand it could’ve been an entirely different situation, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to feel frustrated and angry, or tired and upset just because it wasn’t a lot worse.

Two things have surprised me throughout this entire experience. One being how defensive I got when random people noticed my husband’s sling and asked what happened. Mind ya business. Two is how people respond after THEY’VE asked the question.

So how is he doing? Well, he’s in a lot of pain. We’re trying to do our best to keep his movements limited. Yeah? He’s SO lucky it wasn’t any worse.

How are you (me) holding up throughout all of this? It’s kinda sucky. He’s frustrated about constantly asking me for help and I’m frustrated about reminding him to ask for help so he doesn’t further injure it. Everything’s going to be okay. 

Was he able to return to work? No, the doctor wouldn’t clear him because he can’t lift his arm above his head. We’re a little stressed about an extra three weeks off. It could’ve been a lot worse, work won’t let him go. 

Over and over again the same thing, he’s so lucky it wasn’t worse, everything is going to be okay, it could’ve been way worse, over and over and over again. For the record, you don’t know if it’s going to be okay or not, nobody has a crystal ball they can look into and see that in fact everything will be okay. So. Hush it.

I’m a little surprised about how frustrated it made me, like why ask the question if you don’t want the truth? How come when we answer with the truth about our pain and discomfort it makes YOU so uncomfortable you fumble for a response? What if you just said nothing and sat in the suck with us for a moment?

I remember the friends who didn’t try to pull out some positive remarks to help “remind me of the bright side,” or try to give me some crap about life’s lessons. It meant more to me when their response was, “This sucks, I’m sorry. What can I do?”  Even if the answer was nothing, the simple acknowledgment of the suckiness made it feel less sucky, because it does suck and that’s okay.

 

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear.

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Come be my friend on Instagram. I  just launched a podcast centered around getting to know our homeless youth in hopes to better understand how to stop it by getting to know the young people who survived it. Listen to the very first episode, here