Writing the story

Today, writing calls. Really, it calls everyday, but I always seem to find ways to avoid my writing desk — which is sometime my bed, sometimes the Food Bar, and, actually, come to think of it, very rarely an actual desk — and put it off until the Call starts manifesting as what I can only describe as an anxious energy. And then I have to sit here and wrestle with these thoughts that I have nothing of value to say to you, and I might as well open my journal like I did in the third grade, but that doesn’t settle the anxious energy, so here I sit, and then, ahhhhhhhhhh, the energy starts to turn into something less stressful.

So for now, in an effort to keep coming back to this place I keep avoiding, I’m going to think of it as a treasure chest of sorts. A place where I gather and keep things I want to remember so that one day I can look back and remember the special moments that felt like something at the time, but what exactly? Maybe time will tell. Maybe not. Either way, I’d rather deposit them here than lock them away, or, worse, forget about them. The important thing is that I get here and put something here.

Today’s deposit comes in the form of a text I received from Kathleen on Thursday morning that I can’t stop thinking about.

I just had the most intense dream about you and your family. You were giving a talk at a conference (I was speaking after you) and you went up first. You started talking about your life but your voice was constricted and quiet. Then you say “and then in an instant everything changed…” And started crying. You couldn’t stop and your whole family came to the stage and they were hugging you and crying with you. I took the mic and said “this isn’t my story to tell but I’m going to help Lindsey finish it as long as she needs me.” Then Hunter took the mic and talked about how brave you are.

It was 2006 when we lost him. It seems like I talk about it a lot — his death — but, like my voice in Kathleen’s dream, something about it feels quiet and constricted. Or maybe the feeling is that, no matter how much I talk about it, there will always be something unresolved about it. It was ten years in February that he unexpectedly dropped to the ground and didn’t get up. It sounds tragic doesn’t it? It was. For all of us — and as it likely would be for anyone. Ten years feels like a long time, but also still very fresh. Sometimes I feel like we should be okay by now, and in some ways, we are. But in other ways, we, as a family, are changed forever. And admittedly, we’re still trying to find our legs. At least I am. And I’m trying to give myself the grace to process it and settle into how it’s shaped me as a person; but, I’m also trying to push myself to move past some of the ways in which it’s held me back. Processing in this way helps.

Doctors tell me I have chronic fatigue syndrome. That my adrenals are depleted and my body is in a constant state of fight-or-flight. I believe them. I can feel it in my body that I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Fear takes over a lot and leaves me breathless, lethargic, cranky, and stuck.

I’ve always gotten myself together, put one foot in front of the other, and moved through. But fear always tags along, no matter how hard I try to lose him. I wish I could talk about this more eloquently, and that my writing didn’t feel so heavy, and even a little depressing, maybe? But, right now, I’m staying true to my story and taking it seriously. And this is the truth: I’m worn out, scared, heavy-hearted — which I don’t mean in a melancholic way, but rather, in a I-feel-verrrry-deeply kind of way — and am still mourning the loss of my dad while navigating the subsequent changes it’s created for my family. But, it’s also bittersweet, because I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today had I not gone through that experience. Either way, here I am, sitting (nervously wiggling in my chair is more accurate) in my truth and writing the story.

If you’re here, thanks for being here.

XO

In the morning light

Welp. It’s Tuesday night and it feels like an entire week has already gone by. These past two days have not been my finest, and, as I divulged in my last post, neither of the past couple of months. Some days are easier than others to find the bright side, and others…well…I struggle to find my big-girl pants. The past couple of weeks have been filled some new and challenging stuff: Quickbooks, tax talk, difficult decisions and the resulting conversations, some health flare ups, blah, blah, blahhhh. I’d be lying to you if I told you that I’ve managed to keep my cool through all of it. I haven’t. There’s been a lot of tears, break downs (sorry Mom and Mimi!), and maybe even (cringe) a few foot stomps here and there. But, hey, I’m human, female, and can’t tolerate many bread products, so there’s that.

But this, patient reader, is not a post that is going to focus on my struggles with adulthood, no! (Although, thank you for lending me your cyber ear for a moment.) This is about a few tunes that have put a slight pep in my step and helped to, at the very least, give my face a break from a focused frown.

I’ve been working to start my day in a way that doesn’t leave me frazzled by 7am (we wake up around 4:50am). It’s not hard for me to do — to get frazzled that is — and it’s not hard to notice when I get there. (My big hair seems to get bigger the more frazzled I become.)

Thankfully, these songs soothe my shot nerves and help me persevere through the day’s work load. I hope some of them do the same for you!

Alex Schulz – In The Morning Light

Gundelach – Spiders

Elderbrook – Could

Any songs you want to share?

Made peace with Old Man Winter

SunSpots
Ahhhh, Sunday. Such a bittersweet day you are. A full day of freedom, but thoughts of to-dos and tasks that come with an earrrrrrly Monday morning are always hovering overhead.

I’ve been in a reflective mood lately. I typically find myself here in the slower, wintry months. (Although, let’s be real: When it’s bitingly cold with whipping winds one day, then in the seventies the next, it’s hard to stay committed to one season or the other.)

This year, winter has felt a bit harsher than usual, and not in climatic terms (or because it’s teasing me with spring-like days). I actually love the cold air, grey skies, and barren tree limbs, and make the most of them as much as I can. But, the shorter, darker days and our increasingly longer and more demanding work loads don’t always play nicely together, and, more often than not, I’ve found myself rumbling with the winter blues.

Wallowing in my sorrows makes me tired and annoyed with myself, so today’s writing project: some observations on ways I’ve made peace with old man winter.

1) I take lots of walks in the fresh air. I typically have a hard time convincing myself to suit up, lace up, and head out the door, but, my sweet dogs are good motivators, and the effects are instantly gratifying. My route usually takes 15-20 minutes and sometimes I do it a couple of times a day (but especially on tougher than ordinary days).

2) I keep light, elevating company. My friend recently offered up this piece of advice and, while it’s obvious, it’s not always easy for me to stick to. But, the older (errrr, wiser) I get, the more important this has become to my overall mental health and success. I’ve had to swallow and absorb the truth that I can’t get along or enjoy everyone’s company, which used to make me feel guilty. But, one deflating encounter or conversation can leave the rest of my day (and spirits) in shambles.

3) I eat good, nourishing foods more often than not. I’ll be covering this on the Nourished blog this week, so check in there on Wednesday for more specifics.

4) I do a lot of journaling. If I give into it, the slower pace of winter offers me some space to think about the past year, and do more of the things that worked well during it. My dear-diary game is strong and I get a lot of cathartic purging out on paper instead of relying heavily on my husband, family, and friends. Journaling has helped me to become more self aware and make wiser decisions, too. Plus, I’m most creative and open when I practice morning pages.

5) I take supplements. This one is hard to generalize because it’s so individualized, but I use my knowledge in functional nutrition to gauge what is beneficial for me. When I’m consistent with my supplements, my body and mind are appreciative.

6) I commit to regular workouts because I’m not as happy, positive, or productive if I don’t. I’ve been doing barre3 workouts consistently for the past couple of years and, without being too dramatic, they’ve kind of changed my life. Having recently opened a grab-and-go restaurant, I don’t have a lot of free money to spend, but this is my one thing. I try to walk daily, but, if I don’t, I make sure to walk on the days I don’t take a class.

7) I use music to make the most of my moods. The first pre-school I went to was a music school (thank you, Mom!), and it’s played a big role in my life ever since. It soothes, inspires, focuses, and revitalizes me, and has gotten me through life’s more trying periods.

8) I dwell in the light — literally. I open all the blinds, loll about in the sun spots, etc. (One of my dogs and I compete for the sunny spots in the house but his eyes slay so he wins a lot.) I’m not as nice, energized, or useful without daily exposure, which sounds easy and obvious, but sometimes it takes effort. I even notice that some of my body aches and pains are more irksome when I don’t get a good dose of light. No matter the season, I make a point to spend 15-20 minutes in the light.

9) Warm baths help me thaw out and unwind. I bust out all the woo-woo stops and use whatever essential oils are calling my name that day, and indulge in a few other self-care practices. This is my transition between work-day mode and home life, and soothe any creaks and groans brought on by the weight of the day.

10) I’m do things that help me focus on the good stuff. Focusing on the positives comes naturally for a lot of people, but I’m prone to worry and fret, which means that negative thinking can be easier than the opposite. Jamie, my mom, and a few good friends have helped me a lot here. Jamie got me this calendar for Christmas and wrote me a dreamy note with the suggestion that I use the calendar to write one positive thing from each day. It’s helping me build the habit of dwelling on the lighter side.

So there you have it. I hope some of these tactics help lighten the rest of your winter load, so to speak, or any non-seasonal related blues you deal with, for that matter.

Thanks for being here.

Any other thing than the one thing

I graduated from high school in 2003 from Robert Service High School which was located on Abbott Road which was the road just behind my house. I could’ve walked to school, but decided to make the drive instead. A regrettable decision the more I think about it. When I left Anchorage, I was relieved and very, very ready to go. (Now, it’d take very little convincing to get me back to the Pacific Northwest region). And go I did, back to Oklahoma where I took to studying journalism and writing. I wasn’t much into news writing, but was decent enough at it, I suppose. When my dad died, it was all I could do but get myself off the couch, let alone to a class or write something of worth. The last thing I wrote around that time was a eulogy for him, but my Mimi essentially had to hold my hand for that, so, really, I only half-wrote it. He died and, poof!, so did my voice and writing. I avoided a lot of things at that point, but especially writing. I even went so far as to change my major my senior year — the ultimate avoidant behavior?! — to dodge the written word. But it’s always in the background, tapping its foot.

There’s not much spare energy these days, and, for some reason, writing takes a lot from me. Whatever it is that’s asking for my attention feels charged and I don’t know how to articulate it right now, but the word raw comes to mind. So instead of spending my free time going there, I sift through the mail and do the dishes and walk the dogs and read all the things and just about any other thing than the one thing I feel I need to be doing.

WestFacing

On a positive note:
This song and a hunter-green GMC Yukon, a new city where snow boots were the daily shoe choice, a Halloween carnival (the year of the perpetual hippie), and a mom who was way cooler than I gave her credit for (hear minute 3:32 on onward).

Today, two women stumbled upon our food bar by way of Yelp who were passing through on their way to Kansas City to drop off some of their artwork for an exhibit. One of them had just spent time in residency at Kohler learning more about her craft which is figurative sculpture, but not making toilets or baths or sinks. They were lovely to visit with and, oddly, encouraging.

I’ve done my time here. Pleasant dreams.

Settle in

The first day of 2016 didn’t start out with resolutions, goals, or intentions. The only focus I was able to give was spent on a game, played with my husband and dear friend, sipping water, listening to my dogs snore, and occasionally growl at one another over food, while the afternoon sun warmed me up in our otherwise drafty older home. I needed that — to not give any energy whatsoever to anything but fake money, buying tuna boats, and accumulating said fake money from Jamie and Kathleen.
MarleyDayOne2016
I like setting my sights on new goals as much as the next guy. Or woman. But in this new year, what feels true and good is to settle in to my life, who I am, and quit striving so hard. Does this sound cliché? Maybe.

Everyone is talking about choosing a word for 2016 — so if it feels good to settle in, then maybe my word is settle which sounds boring, and maybe a tad lazy; but, oh, I don’t know, maybe not. Then again, I drank more glasses of champagne over the last two days than I did in all of 2015, which may be contributing to my nonchalance around the topic of resolutions. (Major lightweight right here.)

In other news, we celebrated the last night of 2015 with a few friends and family doing what we do best: eating and cooking and drinking. Well, to be honest, neither Jamie nor myself are very good drinkers. But, we did an okay job of it. We ate dinner at Rococo, a restaurant in Oklahoma City owned by a man whose seeming passion for food, or at least his restaurant, feels nice. He thanked us a few times for choosing his place to eat and celebrate. He came to our table to answer any questions we had about the menu. He walked around, talking to his other guests, too. His staff seemed to love him and also their work. I hope that we are building something like this.

Afterwards, we sat around at our house, breaking in our table with whiskey, bubbles, chocolate, talk of the show The Wire, and more conversations. Harley and Marley reveled in lots of ear rubs. There were party hats and noise makers (which we used rather unenthusiastically), but as soon as the clock struck midnight, our house cleared out in under ten minutes. I was glad we made it that far. Usually, Jamie wakes me up at 11:59 with a tiny glass of bubbles under my nose, we toast, wish each other a Happy New Year, then go to sleep again. (We’re not as boring as we may sound. We just really like our sleep.)

Before bed, Jamie decided it would be a good idea to polish off the remnants of egg nog, and I of peanut M&M’s and Christmas-themed Cadbury mini eggs while starting, with bleary, bubbly-blurred eyes, Roz Chast’s memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?. I finished the book yesterday, sans fuzzy eyes and candy, and today I’m eating leftover toasted oats from our New Year’s Day brunch, while pretending, la la la!, like I don’t have to get back to our full reality in just one more day.
NewYears2016
If you’re reading this, thank you for being here and allowing me to share.

Happy New Year, everyone.

I like it there

AnotherWindowAtMimis
November and December bring on an interesting hunger. A hunger for years and experiences that happened long ago, people, a certain smell in the air…for a taste of something old and familiar. It intensifies each year — the feelings involved do, too. Currently, I’ve gravitated toward the kitchen as a sort of sanctuary for getting to know this hunger I speak of. I can also choose to let everything go, and focus on nothing more than producing forth a dozen or so delicious, nutty cookies or an ugly, albeit moan-inducing cake. Either way, I like it there.
ApplesaucePrep
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my kitchen produced quite a few delightful dishes, and I emerged from it in a delightful, far less melancholic state than what my writing might otherwise suggest. Our holidays are busy. We celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas about three times each, which is not as tiring as it sounds. This year, I decided to bring a few new dishes to the table, which included: roasted Brussels sprouts with a maple vinaigrette; a bread-less stuffing, which was basically roasted winter vegetables and herbs typically found in stuffing; a cranberry chutney that my family swooned over last Christmas — it comes from the blog Orangette, authored by Molly Wizenberg (if you haven’t noticed, I am a tried-and-true reader of a handful of food writers. Not only do I savor what they write, but the recipes shared are just as worthy, and never, ever disappointing. Molly is one of those writers.); and an applesauce cake that I also read about on Molly’s blog, the original recipe coming from Food52.
Thanksgiving2015
It was one of the most enjoyable Thanksgivings I’ve had in, well, maybe ever. For the cake, which called for unsweetened apple sauce, I decided to try a roasted applesauce recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers, who is another lovely food writer and chef. Her recipes are simple, but special and very worthy of your time. Her instruction feels equally satisfying. That’s the kind of food writing I love the most — the kind that draws you in and makes you eat up every last word. The kind that seduces you into your kitchen. The kind that encourages you to get to know your food and appreciate the art of cooking and eating, too.

This particular recipe reminds me more of the apples that go on the inside on a pie than of an applesauce. Then again, the only applesauce I have experience in eating comes from a jar and is shelf-stable. The recipe is wonderful on its own, and, of course, would also be great with a bit of cinnamon and vanilla. The peeling might seem tedious, but paired with a good podcast it can actually be quite relaxing.
NightBeforeThanksgiving2015
Roasted Applesauce
From The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers

Judy recommends using crisp eating apples for the applesauce, instead of baking varieties. I think I used galas for this particular version, but you can also use Sierra Beauties, Braeburns, Pippins, or Golden Delicious. I used this batch of applesauce in the making of the cake, on top of roasted chicken, as a topping for a pumpkin muffin, and straight off of a spoon while standing, with the door open, in front of the refrigerator. It made roughly three-and-a-half cups.

3-1/2 to 4 pounds of apples
Pinch of salt
Up to 2 teaspoons of sugar, as needed — I used organic cane sugar, but I do wonder if a richer, darker sugar would have been better.
About 2 tablespoons of butter
1 splash of apple cider vinegar, if needed

Peel, core, and quarter the apples — take a small bite to determine how sweet they are. Toss the apples with a bit of salt and a bit of sugar to taste — if your apple is very sweet, you can choose to skip the sugar. As Judy says, if they are tart enough to make you squint, add the full amount of sugar. Spread the apples in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Place slivers of butter on top of the apples, cover tightly with foil, and bake until the apples begin to soften. This will take 15 to 30 minutes and depends on the apples.

Once the apples have softened, remove the foil, turn the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and return the dish to the oven. Leave the apples to dry out and get a bit of color for about 10 minutes. You’ll know the apples are ready to come out of the oven when they tips of the apples become golden and the fruit is tender. When they are done, place the apples in a bowl and stir into a chunky mash. Taste and season with salt and sugar, as needed. You might consider a splash of apple cider vinegar if the flavor needs brightening. Rodgers recommends removing a small amount of the mash, adding the apple cider vinegar, and tasting to see if you like it before brightening the whole batch.

This is the first time I’ve made this recipe, so I’m still not entirely sure of it’s lifespan; but, stored in an airtight container in the fridge, this applesauce has lasted well over a week.

I’m still wobbly

WindowAtMimis
I’m good at dancing around the subject. I’m also good at trying things on for size. I’m an impressionable woman. I almost typed girl and that’s probably the correct noun to use. Sometimes I feel like I can’t call myself a woman yet — for no other reason than that I feel immature.

Life has felt serious for a long, long time, so lately I find myself seeking out people who don’t take themselves, or life, too seriously. I study them, which sounds totally creepy, and practice bringing some levity into my day based off what I observe. It feels so much better this way.

When I said I’m good at dancing around the subject, what I meant to say is that I’m confused and am looking for some personal truths. Here I am, 31 years old, recently married, with a new house and a one-year old food bar (which kind of means a stationary food truck), and I’m still wobbly in who I am — still finding my legs.

I’m waking up to the truth that the past ten years (and beyond that even) have been tough and complex. I know I’m not special — whose life hasn’t been tough and complex? I don’t mean to imply that I’m special here. What I mean to say is that the past few years have been some of the most emotionally complex I’ve yet to come across in life. I told myself early on that I had come to terms with my dad’s sudden death back in 2006. (Again, I’m good at dancing around the subject.) I suppose I am okay — I’m alive, mostly well, able to maintain work, stay warm, feed myself, and all the other luxuries that feel overlooked in this world. But emotionally, I feel like I’ve taken a massive blow that’s taking a lot of work from which to recover.

An unexpected, sudden death leaves one with a lot to think about — it did me anyway. And, of course, like all deaths, a lot of emotions. A lot of questions come up: Did he feel it coming? Did he hurt? Was he scared? Did anyone notice him struggling? Did he die quickly? Please say he died quickly and wasn’t scared. Please say he wasn’t cold or that he didn’t hit his head when he fell. Please take this mental image out of my head. Someone said that a lady ran over to try to help him, but no one was around with CPR knowledge and by the time the ambulance got there, he was gone. I should re-learn that — CPR, that is. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Geez. How can life not feel serious?

Man, I failed miserably here at not taking life too seriously.

Being here

DiningRoomLight

It’s quiet in the new house. It reminds me of long, warm afternoons spent holed up in my bedroom as a young girl. This must have been before my twin brothers were born. Although, when I think back on those days, I don’t remember the house getting much louder or chaotic when they arrived. Just more exciting on a deep, internal level. Anyway, when I’m in our new house, I feel familiar feelings of my childhood. Every creak feels special and deserving — our home was built in the late twenties, if I’m remembering correctly — and the kitchen cabinets give the impression that they have soaked up a lot of stories over the years. When I’m in our kitchen, memories from my childhood kitchen rise to the surface every now again. It’s a nice feeling, being here. (And there.)

Our house is the kind of house that almost feels as though you have to work to live in it. The kitchen is pretty tiny, and I like it that way; our washer and dryer set up is in the garage. There was a tiny door, built later in the life of this house, that connects our living room to the garage, which sounds weird and it kind of is. I don’t know when that door was built, but there were a good number of years during which whoever occupied the home didn’t have this luxury. The house isn’t small, but it is doesn’t leave one with a lot of space to fill, which I also love. You can only fit what you really need, and with those things you have the capacity to create so many memories. This is the kind of house that gives the impression that it can’t be owned. It doesn’t feel like we own it, at least. Rather, to me, it feels as though our family will be only a small part of its rich life.

They don’t make them like this

I never sat around as a young girl imagining what my wedding might be like. I went through a short phase of naming my unborn children, but wedding planning didn’t make the cut. (At ten years old, I planned on naming my hypothetical son Jackson Michael, in case you were wondering. I’m fairly certain Free Willy was a new release and Will You Be There gave me all the feels.) Anyway, I had no idea what I wanted out of a wedding except that the people we love, and who love us, would be in attendance, and that it would encompass who we are as individuals and as a couple.

Jamie and I have been married for one week, plus a couple of days, and to say that our wedding weekend was perfect would be an understatement. But it was. It was perfect. During a meeting on our first day back to work, my friend asked me if things felt different. I said no, but I lied.

I can’t seem to put my finger on what’s different, but something is. And I’m not in any rush to figure that something out.

They don’t make ’em like this anymore. And by this I mean Jamie. I realize that phrase is generally used when describing objects, but it seems appropriate here, too. But on second thought, I’ve actually never met anyone like him. So maybe what’s more accurate is to say that they don’t make them like this, period. Either way…I lucked out.

Photo by Choate House Photography.
Photo by Choate House Photography.

XO,
Lindsey

Food habits

So most of you reading this blog know that my job is to talk about food, especially as it relates to health. I’m studying functional nutrition through a couple of different programs, and have supplemented with a few science courses for a sturdy foundation of the science behind our bodies and food. I took a break on the science classes this year because of opening the food bar, but I will be jumping back into them as soon as things calm down. In the meantime, I’m taking two distance-learning programs geared toward understanding the connection between food and our body’s anatomy and physiology.

Since 2011, I’ve acquired the belief (and proof) that food is the number one tool to utilize in living the life you want. After experiencing a few health hang-ups and not receiving adequate answers or care from my (then) health-care team, I took matters into my own hands and dove into learning how to eat in a way that made me feel good. Prior to 2011, I felt awful for a good chunk of time. According to my doctors, all my problems could be fixed with pills: Allergy medications, ADD medications, and then anti-anxiety/anti-depressant meds. When I finally started exploring health, I started questioning this kind of “care.” And when I finally hit rock bottom, I refused to accept medications as the solutions to my problems. (I only take a few choice supplements now.)

Fast forward to today and I’ve come a long way in managing my health issues. And it’s been through food and lifestyle changes alone. I’ve had some great guidance from my integrative physician, but by and large the number one factor that dictates whether or not my symptoms show up is food. Some days I feel sorry for myself for the “hassle” I have to go through to feel like a functioning human being. Then again, when I apply the I chose this mindset to it all — meaning I choose to feel good rather than like crap — I feel inspired and energized by it. My diet is a little repetitive right now. But at the end of the day, the avoidance of the physical pain my body and mind feels when I’m eating certain foods greatly outweighs the temporary discomfort I might feel in craving and having to avoid those foods.

When I get settled after our move and month of wedding festivities, I’m going to start experimenting with food more and sharing it here.

Have a great day!