Day Fiftyteenth: I don’t even know anymore, and does it really matter?

I have basically been at home (with about 3-4 outings for essentials) for 39 days. (The minions were ill 2 weeks before the stay at home orders in our state were put into effect). In these 39 days, I’ve learned a couple of things about myself. I consider myself an introvert, with a few extrovert tendencies. I cherish alone time – not only that, it is essential for functioning. If a solo recharge doesn’t happen on the regular, shut down is guaranteed. Being amongst the peoples drains me. Through this craziness I find I am in fact the “chatty-chat monster” that the minions have long-accused me of being. Who knew I was such an extrovert?! I will talk the ear off of a random person in the checkout line, the checker, the bagger, the checker 2 aisles over – they are adults; let’s converse the day away! I apparently have no shame. Now? Oh man, do I miss the niceties and courtesies that we all share when conducting our everyday business. 

I have been craving the creative. Photography, sewing, writing, and of course art projects with the kids have been recent channels of expression. Blocks of time to fill with no must-do’s create an enormous vacuum, and Netflix, internet surfing and mindless activity will only take us so far. Creativity has been heart-filling and anxiety-dampening.

Nature hasn’t been forgotten, simply not prioritized. I crave nature like oxygen. Hiking, biking, running, walking the dogs, even standing in the back yard and feeling the soft blades tickle the arch of bare feet – it all satisfies. I feel the presence of the divine when lost in my thoughts while lost in nature. More often than not, magic happens when in that space. Not magic in the slight of hand way, but what I call “Universe Winks”. Things like butterflies landing on my shirt, that are more than just “woo-woo”, and far more than coincidence.

Whales are common in Puget Sound. But, in most of my life living here (save a few years of duty stations elsewhere) I have never seen them in the wild. Neighbors had been posting that they’d “seen the whales playing out behind our circle”. I would rush out, and by the time I’d arrived, the whales evidently thought it was time to hide. Disappointed, I would return home. My daughter and I walked along the trails that border our neighborhood looking expectantly for any signs of whales. Lots of seagulls, which I also adore, but no whales. Countless times I walked out expecting to be awed, praying for a “moment”, then immediately chastising myself for asking for something so trivial when I have already been given so much. I felt greedy hoping for more. On one of these outings, an eagle flew right into viewfinder of the camera.

fullsizeoutput_1b4b

Seriously, how could I desire more with the beauty that already surrounds where I live?!

fullsizeoutput_1b4c

fullsizeoutput_1b49

This is a 2 minute (if that) walk from my front door.

pmgudo2xTTmz2vElQEFsAgfullsizeoutput_1af2But, that is human nature though, isn’t it? We struggle with desire versus contentment. Learning to be content is the key to true happiness. I continued to walk out to the water and desire more.

fullsizeoutput_1b56And then it happened.

The Universe not only winked, it wrapped me up in the best fluffy-sweater, cozy-warm, first-cup-of-coffee-in-the-morning, sun-beaming bear hug. Turns out that sobbing uncontrollably while playing photographer is as hard and awkward as it sounds! Wiping tears off of the view finder while whispering prayers of thanksgiving for such gifts that are not deserved-yet bestowed with flair and grandeur-the camera click-clicked away attempting to capture one of the most breathtaking moments.

fullsizeoutput_1b72

Incredibly close to shore! And directly in front of my shore-front driftwood seat!

fullsizeoutput_1b68

fullsizeoutput_1b6d

Heeeeeeyyyyy!

fullsizeoutput_1b6e

fullsizeoutput_1b70Not only did I witness a whale, but TWO whales. Oh Universe, you are so extra and I ADORE YOU!

Thank you isn’t enough. But it is what I have.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

❤️

 

 

What COVID19 is Revealing

On the phone while walking the dogs, my mom and I chatted about, what else? The virus. We were remarking on things we’d been seeing, hearing on the news, and from friends. Between poop pickups and her calling her dog, we had one of many of our “solving the world’s problems” chats.

“I wish more people would take this seriously and stay home,” she said. We both lamented the spring breakers in Florida (not to mention Miami’s local authorities) and community members still acting as though life is just normal, continuing on with routines and activities. We considered the words of local government officials. We recounted the measures we are both taking. Those with compromised immune systems as well as people over 60 are most at risk. Both of my parents fall into this category, as well as some other complicating factors for my father.

After we said our goodbyes, I kept thinking about some of the things we’d discussed. Our respective counties have the highest number of cases in Washington outside of Seattle. It’s not as if this is some far away issue that “others” are having to deal with. It’s local. A friend of my husband just passed. No one thinks it can happen to them, until it does. But it got me to thinking about what this quarantine has brought out in us. 

All of us.

For one, greed with a capital G. One look at grocery store shelves show just how much people are hoarding. Toilet paper is not going to prevent the spread of a virus, people! There is also not a food shortage. Leave some for the next guy. 

I’ve heard it said that “people are 1 missed paycheck away from being homeless.” (Yes, people live paycheck to paycheck. Yes there are financial issues and health care costs, and childcare costs, mental health issues, job losses or other reasons that contribute to a dire situation. Those very real scenarios are not what I’m discussing here. ) What I’m talking about is the continual mindset of living for the now. This is more than just finances. Yes, people should be saving for that rainy day. That’s life – the rain is going to come. Put a little away. But it also goes for basics, like eating. There are so many people that simply do not know how to cook, it’s frightening. I have heard people complain that they are petrified about how to feed their family if the restaurants do not offer take out. WHAT?! No, I’m not saying everyone should be a chef and love cooking, but knowing how shop for, plan and prepare a meal is a literal survival skill. We have to eat.

Our current culture chases and worships busy. It’s a badge of honor to just not have any time because our calendars are filled with busy. Appointments, celebrations, work, extra curricular activities, playdates, get togethers, holidays, school functions, church,  Go, go, go until we fall into bed staring into our phones stuck to our palms, distracting us into unconsciousness. This time of social distancing and isolation is bringing up stuff that we’ve spent time and money avoiding: being with ourselves. We either busy it out or numb it up. Drinking, smoking, shopping, gambling, working to excess, spending too much time on social media or in front of screens. Busy and numb to avoid the quiet; to avoid the whatever it is that we cannot stand to sit with. 

Try it. Seriously. Try just sitting and praying, meditating or simply being quiet for 5 minutes. It’s harder than it sounds. Thoughts will distract you and you’ll have urge after urge to get up and go do something. Check the phone. Wonder what’s streaming. Look at social media. Wonder what the kids are doing. Hear a noise. Make a list. Anything. Even laundry. Something to avoid just being. We have the hardest time sitting in the uncomfortable and staying there. Taking away the obligation of busy is revealing our inability to just be.

For sure the anxiety is at a high. You can feel it in the tight lipped smiles of others as you walk by, respecting the 6 foot social distance. Our kids are picking up on our tightness. They are cooped up and anxious, as they overhear news reports. (My daughter is currently a stage 5 cling on, barely letting me leave the room. I get it.) Every time you turn the corner in the grocery and see yet another bare shelf it ratchets up the anxiety and anger another notch. Anger is being lashed out on retail employees and others who have zero control of supply. Fear and anxiety are as contagious as the virus itself (if not more so). People are still downplaying the situation citing that “it’s only the flu” or “it’ll pass, the media is making a bigger deal out of this than it should”. Downplaying escalating cases and deaths world wide scream fear. Fear seeks to minimize and downplay any danger because it is a situation over which we have very little control. Fear and anxiety are certainly real. 

Yet….through all of this, it’s revealing other things, too. 

We are being shown that sometimes less is more. I have seen more people out in their backyards playing with their kids, walking their dogs, going for runs and walks, riding bikes and just being together.

Covid19 is giving us a gift of community. Yes, at a social distance, but community nonetheless. I smiled as I walked the dogs, looking for shamrocks hung in windows of our neighbors’ homes for St. Patrick’s Day. The latest effort has been to “Chalk the Walk” and spread a little joy for others to find as families (separately) take a stroll around the neighborhood.fullsizeoutput_195e

We are wired for connection and this separation is hard for all of us. If anything, this experience is teaching us that we need one another. Perhaps more than we thought. People are offering to grab things for others at the store and leaving it on their doorstep to avoid contact. People are asking for the proverbial cup of sugar and others are delivering. We need each other, and we are showing up.

A friend of mine posted a request for songs that fit current events. Suggestions in every genre came in. I was inspired to create my own playlist as a “music as therapy” session. I laughed with friends’ suggestions (and my own, honestly) that were dark and inappropriate, but still hilarious. Humor in dark times. We need that. Like Dolly Parton says in Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

We are given this precious gift of time. The days feel long. “I need a snack” and “I’m bored” are being heard in equal measure. My kids are sleeping hard because they are getting more activity. We are making a conscious effort to ensure it. We make time for what we prioritize. Take away all the excess busy, and we have a whole bunch of time to do the things we say we’ll do “someday”.

Someday has arrived.

Inspiration

Feeling a little blah after the holidays I’ve been not so inspired to write lately, about food, fitness or anything else. I have officially stopped working at the gym (my choice, all good) and have been getting into the new routine working out and doing the mom thing.

A friend of mine started a blog Fiftytwoin2017 in which she posts recipes she makes for her family – but adds her take with humor and practicality! I thought it was a great idea, but still not enough to get me off of Netflix to put some ideas down.

Last week our son had a multi-cultural lunch where each student brought a native dish from their country of origin, wrapping up a 6 week unit studying their heritage. I made Irish soda bread and brought it to the party, and of course Jacob tried one bite and said nope, and refused to try any of the the other dishes, not so shockingly. I picked the bread for it’s plain flavor and relative ease, but also knowing that there was no way my son would ever get near corned beef and cabbage. (For the record, anyone who has no taste/texture issues – the bread was delicious!)

At lunch with my husband today, we tried out a new restaurant. He is not a huge fan of Mexican food, but can usually find something he likes, mainly enchiladas. While he likes many foods I do not care for, he is often hesitant to try new things. (It’s really a miracle that our family ever eats at the same time as we are all food incompatible with each other!) Chuy’s, based out of Austin, was our lunch spot and it was delicious! His enchiladas came and had a tomatillo sauce on top. The look on his face was one of apprehension and worry. (Gah! Green! The horror!) Reluctantly he tried it – and liked it, even saying he would order it again! Win win!

Looking at the Facebook “On this day” feed, I saw that a friend had posted a recipe that I simply HAD to try – 2 years ago. It was a recipe for borscht, the Russian beet stew stuff. Hmm. I suppose after razzing Eric about trying new things, I should probably buck up and do the same. I scanned the ingredients and had most of them…all this cooking and different cultures swirling in my mind I decided to give it a go! Better late than never, right!?

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

454 g ground pork (optional)

I used the pork. Delish. Bonus – Protein!

3 medium beets, peeled and shredded

Shredding was a pain. But worth it. You could also dice them, but cooking time would need to be extended.

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1-6 ounce can tomato paste

¾ c water

½ head of cabbage, shredded

1-8 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste I recommend more than you might think, approximately 1 1/2 tsp each. I ended up wanting a tad more on my serving. 

Raw sugar to taste, approximately 1 tsp

I skipped this ingredient. Don’t need more sugar, but for as much as this recipe yields, it seemed insignificant. 

Sour cream and fresh parsley for garnish

This would have been nice, but I’m not a huge sour cream fan. I would make these optional.

Directions:

Brown ground pork over medium heat until no longer pink, drain and set aside. In a large soup pot, bring 2 litres of water to a boil. Add sausage and beets – cook until the beets have lost their colour. Add carrots and potatoes, cook until tender. Add cabbage and canned tomatoes.

2 liters = about 8 cups.

img_0422

Pretty beets. Pain in the butt to peel, but worth it!

img_0423

Looks like I slaughtered something – oh! It’s beets. (Notice that the last one is diced instead of shredded? Yeah, I’m not into shredding and neither are my knuckles!)

In a skillet, heat oil and cook onion until tender. Stir in tomato paste and ¾ c water until smooth. Add to soup. Add garlic, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes then season with salt, pepper and sugar. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and parsley if desired.

img_0425

Regular white potatoes about to turn red!

img_0424

Getting there!

img_0426

And kid approved!

img_0427

Delicious!

We ate it with mini saltine crackers (classy, I know). This would be amazing with some toasted french bread. (Of course, french bread is always good, I’ve never met a loaf I didn’t like.)

Tex-Mex for lunch and Ukraine for dinner! How’s that for around the world cuisine?!