Wednesday, January 28, 2015

White Rice

Today I am thankful for white rice. Yes, white rice. Specifically, white Basmati rice imported from India because that is what Trader Joe's had last month when I needed to buy a bag of white rice.

I know that brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. I understand that, I accept it, and we do eat brown rice most of the time, 50 pounds of it per year for our family of four. I don't even care what Consumer Reports has to say about inorganic arsenic in brown rice; information from a nutritionist convinced me that people eating a healthy, varied, whole foods diet really don't need to worry about arsenic in food (which has always been there).

But it's 10:00AM and I need to have our main meal on the table at noon, and I didn't plan ahead. Wednesday is a soup or stew day. I still haven't bought potatoes. I don't have any tempeh for chili. We have sweet potatoes in the pantry, but J-Baby hates sweet potato soup. We ate both split pea soup and squash soup last week, three times in total between main and evening meals.

So I will make mujadara, thankful for the bounty of sale onions I bought last weekend and the fact that at some point in the last couple of months I decided to stock up on canned lentils. I don't have any leftover rice in the refrigerator, however, and rice is a major component of mujadara.

Brown rice takes at least two hours to cook (in the rice cooker, I know I can cook it on the stove in less time than but clearly I wanted to come and write a blog post), and I don't have two hours. At times like these I am happy to put on a pot of white rice in the rice cooker.

So yes, brown rice is more nutritious than white rice, and there are those who think I shouldn't even have white rice in the house. But you know what? White rice cooked with lentils and onions is more nutritious than french fries. I don't think anyone can argue with that.

(I also don't have bread for our meal. Oops. Someone might have had a rather lazy morning. I can hide that fact by making some einkorn chapati; the family loves chapati.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Learning Limits

I spent most of today lying in bed. It was a wise choice because by 2PM I started to think that I would feel well enough to walk tonight. Considering that yesterday I was wishing for a medically-induced coma to ride out this flu I would say that I am making progress.

We have several packages that need to go to UPS. Yes, a couple of them have been sitting in the dining room for weeks, but one is our recalled Vitamix container and the sooner we send it out the sooner it comes back (and the sooner we can stop hacking the food processor into a smoothie maker), so the pile of packages jumped up the priority list.

Papa said he would try to come home to take them in time.  I said I would try too. I printed some return labels and hauled myself out of bed to get the packages sorted, taped, and labeled.

I was out of breath and wheezing within 15 minutes; I think I understand what people mean when they say that they feel like an elephant is standing on their chest. That 15 minutes may have set me back to yesterday. Seriously. I got back in bed and texted Papa that I just couldn't do it.

And just like that, he said he would come and do it. Even though he is crazy busy at work, he left to come home to do my errand.

I love that man.

I hate being ill. I especially hate being this kind of ill, the kind where I have to lie here and do nothing (or almost nothing ... I can fold laundry in bed). I used to pride myself on being to keep it all going even though I was sick. Heck, I was proud of myself for pulling off our main meal lunch yesterday (by 2PM I realized what a stupid idea that had been).

But being ill is teaching me a few good lessons, the foremost being that I should take my own advice. Without fail I send my kids to bed when they are sick. Their entire lives I have pulled them out of activities and park days as soon as the numbers on the thermometer rise or their throats are sore. And I have pretty healthy kids, so something must be working.

Another lesson is that my body in its 40s is not as resilient as my body in its 20s or 30s. This is my first flu in my 40s (I did have a weird come and go fever a few years ago that baffled me, but nothing like this). I am guessing that one can't power through the flu quite the same way that one does the common cold.

I didn't get a flu shot. Even though I am rather ill I'm still glad I didn't get a flu shot. Other people can debate them, but for me personally the risk of the shot still outweighs the risk of the flu. I don't know if that will hold true in another decade; as an asthmatic each respiratory illness can be serious. But for now I'd rather not have heavy metals and who knows what else injected into my body.

The biggest lesson of all is to accept ...  my limits, help, even sympathy. To get in bed and stay in bed and let the kids eat cold cereal and let Papa bring in take out and just roll with it.

So I am thankful today for a life that allows me this illness. I am thankful that I will not lose my job for needing to stay home ill. I am thankful that I can afford for us to buy a few takeout meals until I am up to cooking again. I am thankful to have a partner who can help me through this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

For Illness, For Honey

I cursed the grainy, waxy honey as I spooned it into my mug of tea. Cursed it, and then paused and took it all back. Gave thanks for the beekeeper who cared for the bees and harvested the honey, and for the company that chose to sell it to me in its natural state. Which means grainy, with wax throughout and bits of other detritus sprinkled across the top. I gave thanks for the glass jar, the spoon, the tea.

I'm ill, and pretty sure it's the flu because it started with fever and aches and breathing issues and a cough. Only today, three days in, did my nose get involved. My youngest has it too, which is unfair because no mother likes to see her child spend 72 hours straight with a fever, even we mothers who think fevers serve a purpose and don't try to reduce them unless the child can't sleep.

The honey was one of our last ditch efforts to manage this illness without medication. I gave up this morning, driving my sick self to the store to buy cough syrup even though the distance was bike-able. With cough medicine the child still coughs but no longer sounds like he is going to bring up a lung, or both lungs.

Still, the natural has its place. We've taken essential oil baths with epsom salts, soothing in their steaminess. We've sucked on many an all natural lozenge, we've rubbed on menthol salves from responsible companies, and we've consumed large quantities of Emergen-C and elderberry syrup. We've nearly drowned ourselves in herbal teas and fresh orange juice. We've had soup. We've rested and we've cancelled activities. And we bought honey.

I thought we were done with honey; we returned to a plant-based diet nearly two years ago and after awhile we decided that honey wasn't a must have. Maybe I wanted more credibility with the vegan crowd. I could bake and cook without honey, and it was easy enough to sweeten tea with something else (or to give up sweetening it altogether).

But then there was the cough, the mama can't sleep because child can't sleep cough. I trudged through the health food store a few days ago buying more tea, more lozenges, and yes, that precious jar of honey.

I wish it had worked, that magical substance of bees that is honey. Even still I am clinging to hope, having not succumbed to cough syrup yet myself. (I have, however, made best friends with my albuterol inhaler, neglected for nearly a year except for the occasional allergy induced asthma attack that threatens my very life.)

I am thankful today for honey, and illness, and even cough syrup. For a husband who pulled together than main meal while mama was in bed, and for the boy who is just coming down with it who did the dinner prep. I am thankful for forced slowness, for quiet, for care.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fabulous Friday

***The sky was filled with beautiful clouds as we drove to bike class. Thank you!

***We learned that a friend who had been hit by a car while on his bike is going to be okay. Thank you!

***The young woman at the bakery was able to tell us which breads are vegan. Thank you!

***Encore (aka leftovers) Friday went over without a hint of complaint. Thank you!

***The trail bike was ready to be picked up, which meant T-Guy could ride it this afternoon. Thank you!

***I had all the ingredients to bake simple brown sugar shortbread cookies, and they were very easy to make.  Thank you!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday

(A day for introspection along with gratitude.)

I realized this week that I am not who I was a year ago.

I know we all change, but for me 2014 was a year of significant personal growth. Sometimes painful growth; I liken it to having gone through the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly.

I suppose with that analogy that the change goes back to 2013, a year that (other than caring for an loving my family) I did little other than obsess over and feed a gluttonous jewelry obsession. (Ouch - it hurts to admit that).

Perhaps though, I can go farther back, to an event that closed out 2011 and brought me into 2012 entirely broken, destroyed as a human being, afraid, defeated, hurt ... an event that ended up with everything I thought was true and right in my life being shaken to the core. Perhaps at that point I was born anew.

But being born anew doesn't mean that I instantly had profound wisdom. I was a baby. I had to learn many things all over again. I need to learn who was I, what my purpose was, and most importantly, how to love myself again.

2012 was just about hanging on and learning to love from a new place.

2013 unleashed the toddler in me. Pain gave way to anger, anger gave way to entitlement.

But this was supposed to be about 2014, growing up, and finding myself.

First off, I continued in peri-menopause, but everything started to level off in the second half of 2014 and unless summer 2015 brings back hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, insomnia, and more I think I can say that I have moved into my crone years. Happily.

I also experienced what felt at the time like a seismic shift in terms of belief, but deep inside I know it was years in the making.  I just finally opened myself up to it.

I surrendered to unconditional love. I surrendered to love, period. Love for everyone, for everything, for life itself.

I found a new community, one that encourages me to be the best me I can be, the best mother, the best friend, the best wife, the best human being. I gave up things that had crept into my life starting in 2009.

I spent the entire year of 2014 as a vegan. This was my first 100% vegan year after an entire adulthood of vegetarianism with veganism sprinkled in (and 2007 - 2012, when we ate meat).

I had friends drift away, I drifted away from friends. In 2013 that saddened and even frightened me. In 2014 I recognized that it had more to do with me than with them. There were bound to be people who didn't want to hang out because I no longer ate animal products, drank alcohol, or shopped for entertainment. More than that, there were bound to be people who didn't know what to make of this kinder me, this person striving to stay positive, cheerful, and happy, to not participate in gossip and negativity.

So here I am, a new me, a me I am still figuring out :)

***Our taco main meal was delicious; I enjoyed having black beans, roasted butternut squash, charred onions and red peppers, guacamole, and shredded cabbage in a taco. Thank you!

***I felt a migraine starting after lunch (pain over my eye plus nausea and malaise) and went to lay down.  Papa came and snuggled me for about 10 minutes until I started feeling better. Thank you!

***The migraine didn't amount to much. Thank you!

***We walked to Market Night and met up with friends for supper from the vegan food truck. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wonderful Wednesday

We are back on keel, I think. The lesson learned yesterday is that unscheduled early morning training rides can lead to a disruption in the rhythm of the day that takes significant effort to regain.

I woke with this song caught in my head and it has stayed with me all day:

The Wedding Song (There is Love)
by Noel (Paul) Stookey

He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part

The union of your spirits, here, has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is love, there is love

A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
And they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one

As it was in the beginning is now and 'til the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again
And there is Love, there is love

Well then what's to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?

And if loving is the answer then who's the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you've never seen before?
Oh there's love, there is love

Oh, the marriage of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is love, there is love

I first heard this song as a child, at a wedding in the 70s most certainly. I have always found it magical.

This is probably highly mushy, but watching Paul sing the song (thank you YouTube!) the line Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again resonated deeply with me, so much so that I think I need to do a chalkboard for it, or a watercolor. Maybe both, a chalkboard today and watercolor pencils later.

Why that line in particular? After all, usually my focus is love, and I am moved by the feeling of love in the song.  However, having spent more than half my life married to the same man (hmm, I can do the math ... it's 58% of my life so far) I understand so well the concept of drawing my life from my love and giving it back to him; it is a perfect metaphor for a long lasting relationship. (Like I said, rather mushy!)

***I woke up super itchy this morning with no hope of falling back to sleep, and offered a silent prayer that it would be no earlier than 4 a.m. To my delight it was 5:38. Thank you!

***After the sunrise the western sky took on the sweetest baby pink tint across the clouds. It was quietly breathtaking and made me smile. Thank you!

***I had put cornmeal/brown rice mush on to cook in the ricer cooker, and it was a perfect breakfast for this morning. Thank you!

***Our main meal turned out terrifically.  Black beans, quinoa, butternut squash, roasted broccoli, and cabbage salad.  It was well-received by my family, and I may have a new favorite meal. Thank you!

***My sweet Puppy Girl is feeling better and was such a love today. Thank you!

***It was beautifully warm today -- short-sleeves warm. Thank you!

***We sold my mountain bike. Thank you!

***It is visibly evident now that the days are lengthening and I so enjoy the light as it lingers a little longer every evening. Thank you!

(Disclaimer: I know that marriage isn't the only way for people to form relationships and families, but it is the way I have chosen. I could carefully refer to only partnerships vs. marriage, but marriage is my reality and it is one that I cherish and believe in deeply. As for what I mean by marriage, I suppose that it undefined. To me it is a deep commitment, a daily promise, and a setting aside of self. It doesn't matter what the government says about it, but I do believe in the public proclamation and witnesses (and I wish this for all couples of all genders and sexual orientations). To me it means I will not leave you, I will not give up, I promise that I will do everything within my power to make this work. I believe in us. To me there are very few true deal breakers, and periods of personal unhappiness don't count. After this many years I can look back and see an entire year of disconnection and sadness for what it was, something we lived through, and not as a reason to move on. My goodness, how terrible it would have been if we had given up!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Terrific Tuesday

Not everyday can be super fantastic all day long, and that's okay. For me, part of living in a state of gratitude is being thankful for the little things.

So today had some stress, some sniping, and some exasperation, and that's okay. We were up with a child at 2 am. I was made aware of a broken Kindle. I forgot to tip the groomer and had to go back inside and leave it with the receptionist. The boys were pokey with chores and lesson work. It happens.

Still, there was magic and beauty all around me.

***It was an absolutely gorgeous day again, with sunny skies, warm temperatures, and mountains all around us. Thank you!

***Four friends joined T-Guy and I on our evening hike, making for a lively and enjoyable late afternoon. Thank you!

***My new hiking shoes are making going downhill so much easier. Thank you!

***Both of the soups I made for our main meal were delicious. Thank you!

***Papa and I finally went and bought new pants for him. Thank you!

***Papa played guitar and sang last night, which is one of my favorite things. Thank you!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Marvelous Monday

Today ... today was awesome!

It was a Monday, a day that I used to keep as my recovery day, a day to ease back into the week. I never expected them to be easy, so I keep the plans light and the expectations low.

So today might have been even harder than usual, being the first Monday in January, the Papa goes back to work Monday, the winter break is over and we have to homeschool Monday.

But ... it wasn't! My focus on gratitude and acknowledging all of the little things that make life beautiful helped me find a fantastic day.

***We had a smooth morning, chores and homeschooling lessons done by noon, the main meal cooked, and no contention all morning! Thank you!

***Papa invited me to go on a lunch time walk after we ate. We stopped at the local market for vegan cupcakes and got in 1.6 miles in 33 minutes. The weather was perfect, with blue skies and sunshine! Thank you!

***I went to Joann and spent money and was happy about it. (Relaxing about money is one of my goals this year.) I find a new-to-me scrapbooking method and was able to use coupons to buy the supplies to get started. I came home feeling inspired. Thank you!

***I heard the most fantastic piece of music for clarinet, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford's Opus 129 Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. Amazing!  Thank you!

***The Big Dog and I walked downtown to get the boys after their gym session.  I arrived early and was able to talk with friends for about 20 minutes. Then I got to walk home with my awesome boys and their friend. Thank you!

***Papa and the boys are installing a new kitchen faucet for us, one with a working sprayer. We have been so frustrated with the old one and Papa is solving the problem for us. The faucet was even delivered a day early. Thank you!

***Papa and T-Guy went to the hardware store, and Papa texted me a photo of the beautiful moonrise (which I couldn't see from the house). Thank you!

***With the kitchen out of commission dinner was going to pushed very late. I asked Papa to pick up dinner so we can have full bellies and be cheerful. Thank you!

***We recorded Downton Abbey last night and get to watch it tonight. I am so happy to have this show back for another season. Thank you!

***I spent the entire day feeling so happy I could burst.  My heart felt full, my troubles light. I felt connected to my family, friends, nature, and the Light within. Thank you!

Life is beautiful! Thank You, thank you, thank you!

Where It Came From

Last year I had done a few different months gratitude, and decided to do a #365grateful in 2015 and to post my thing I was grateful for on Facebook. But right away I was noticing so many things to be grateful for that I knew I would fill my feed with posts and perhaps dilute the highlight of the day. At the same time, I wanted to keep track of everything that touched me, each day.  And so, a new blog.