Shaking It Up

It’s time to mix things up a bit around here. This will be the last master post showing everything I’ve been eating for the week. Instead, I’m going to make it a daily thing, along with my workouts, in addition to other posts. In part, this is due to my feeling disconnected from my blog as of late because I write these posts in advance and then forget about them. I think I’ll have more interesting and fresh posts if I write them in real time. Also, change can be refreshing. On a snowy Monday- what Monday isn’t these days? – I warmed up with a steaming bowl of oats. I went for a banana bread knock-off type bowl starting with mashed banana and ending with chopped banana slices. After boiling my milk, I tossed in the oats and swirled it with a touch of cinnamon and mashed banana for sweetness. For added protein, I threw in a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of walnuts. Along with a dash of brown sugar, I added some raisins for sweetness. Great fuel before shoveling! Peanut butter toast is something that never needs to be changed. Sometimes jazzing it up can be fun and tasty, but the old standby never disappoints!Scrambled eggs with some cottage cheese is one of my favorite ways to make them. They are so cheesy and creamy, along with some whole wheat raisin toast and fruit, and my taste buds were super happy. More oats, this time of the dark chocolate peanut butter variety. With a splash of jelly and a few raspberries on top, I think it actually looked quite pretty. Sometimes oatmeal doesn’t look as amazing as it tastes with it’s versatile flavors. After a workout, I was feeling a couple of different foods. I went with one egg scrambled with cottage cheese and a buttered piece of toast with another piece of toast peanut buttered. Poached eggs will always reign! The golden, buttery goodness of it all screams unhealthy, buts it’s so simple without any added butter (except on the toast). Okay, the buttered toast makes the dish that much better. Thanks to the impending storm, my mom and I needed to head out to the grocery store early on and I didn’t have time to make my pancakes. Instead, I had an egg over easy, hidden by a slice of cheese, and a blueberry scone we picked up at the store. It was an alright breakfast as I wanted to like it more than I did. It could have used some clotted cream! I was so pleased with myself when I thought to throw my leftover pulled pork into a panini. With a bit of shredded cheese and barbecue sauce, along with a healthy dose of veggies, this meal was so delicious. I made a big batch of curry for the week, which turned out pretty well. I just used the sauce from the A Taste of Thai packaging, chickpeas, and a ton of veggies. Over brown spinach rice, it was downright delightful! More curry, this time you can really see the chickpeas! The sweet potatoes in this added a real flash of flavor. A piece of tilapia added to the healthy power of this salad. I love the fresh flavors of vegetables mixed with tangy dressing and cheese. This pasta dish was fantastic. All it comprised of was leftover whole wheat penne, sausage, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and shredded cheese. Lunch on Saturday included strawberry Greek yogurt, granola, an apple, and a bag of cheezits at my cousin Michael’s show. It was a strange assortment of foods, but it hit the spot. Sunday afternoon, after a stop at Trader Joes, I heated up the orange chicken they offer. To make it a splash healthy, I grilled bok choy, peppers, and carrots and tossed it into the chicken dish. I was eating a lot of fish and then that fell away for awhile. This grilled piece of tilapia paired fairly well with pasta and spinach. Leftover tilapia was thrown into a quick stir fry before I headed out to my screenwriting class. To make it a bit more flavorful, I drizzled some barbecue sauce on top. Sausage, rotini, peppers, and mushrooms was an easy, delicious dish. At an old favorite restaurant, they serve this dish called chicken supreme, that is a white sauce. My mom recreated it in divine interpretation. The sides included mashed potatoes, corn, zucchini, peppers, and turnip. Friday night dinner came in this much needed cheeseburger. I opted for a burger with a slice of American cheese, sautéed mushrooms and peppers, and barbecue sauce. On the side was homemade potato chips and baked beans that were maybe the best id ever had. My company was in the form of my friend Katie and it was so nice to catch up! Dinner on Saturday was pizza with family after the show. I was so excited for the cheesy goodness, I didn’t wait to snap a picture! To end the week, and welcome another storm, we had braised short ribs, macaroni and cheese, Caesar salad, and roasted Brussels sprouts. SO good!

Introducing: Thoughtful Thursdays!

In the theme of introductions, I welcome you to what I am deeming Thoughtful Thursdays. I can’t promise that every day will be crowned with alluring alliterations. For the record, these probably won’t all be so serious.

After this long, challenging, but important year and a few wonderful vacations, I am struck with this feeling of having found myself again. At the time, throughout the year, I hadn’t even realized I lost myself. Sensing things so clearly now, I realize that my guard was up, getting me through every day that didn’t feel quite like fulfillment. It wasn’t as though I didn’t work hard or find success or enjoyment out of my every day. I was just putting myself and my heart on temporary leave.

This could have been dangerous, but sometimes it’s necessary to get you through something that is unsavory, but so vital to your growth. That’s how I’m approaching it anyhow.

In this moment, however brief (hopefully brief!) it may be, I can breathe and see again. I’m trusting myself and my body as my senses are reawakened. I have this opportunity to search for what makes me happy.

Around February this year, when classes were increasing their workload and I was struggling with the knowledge that teaching is not for me and yet here I was still juggling this program, I kept having recurring dreams. In them, I was pregnant and eagerly yearning for the child to be born. The constancy of the dreams scared me because I am in no way ready for children. Hello, I’m still balancing myself. However they kept appearing, so I did a little dream research. Take such a concept as you will, whether you prefer to think in the abstract or the concrete, but the interpretation struck me.

Apparently, whenever you dream of being pregnant, male or female, it suggests that a creative spark is surging within, wanting to come out, but has been repressed for whatever reason.

During my first semester of the Fellowship Program, I made it a point to write, journal, blog, whatever every day to keep my creativity flowing. As the spring semester approached, my classes were upped as well as the course work. I now had to travel back and forth between class, after spending a full day at work, three sometimes four days a week, fitting in as many workouts as possible. Writing was pushed aside for sleep when I should have made better time for it, but hindsight makes everything clearer.

After I read more about this dream interpretation, I began to reflect and recognize the truth behind it. My mind was swirling with story ideas, my fingers itching to take pen in hand and foster new worlds. When things began to slow, I wrote four stories in one month. I’m not saying they were great, but they were something.

They made me feel alive again.
On the plane home from California where I visited with and was inspired by my friend Brad, I outlined three chapters of the novel I’ve been considering for the past two years but never made any true progress.

I can’t get the ideas or that world out of my head, a matter in which I will never complain. Excitement is roaring, motivated by the freedom and lightness summer and rest brings.

Fittingly, my horoscope (Scorpio) today says: “Keep reminding yourself that your fulfillment is not only important but also possible. It will make it easier to accept that twists and turns are inevitable.”

What I learned most from this year is that in life, there are going to be trying times, challenging and painful, that you would not have chosen or wanted for yourself. That clean copy of your life you seek to write is really just a bunch of scratchy, messy rough draft copies. But those unpretty obstacles will be the place you learn the most about yourself.

Fulfillment is what you make of a situation, not necessarily what that situation is. Most importantly, make time for the things in life you are passionate about.

I have not been through a soul-crushing, physically bruising time. My Fellowship was a blessing and helped me grow in my education and my spirit. Don’t get me wrong, I understand this. I just didn’t happen to enjoy every minute of it. I probably complained more than I should. I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around all the time. But now I can very much enjoy saying, it is a part of my past and it will help push me forward towards the true fulfillment I seek.

The hunt is what makes it worthwhile.