Where Is Your Support System Today?

I remember the days where if you got a blister it just meant you were getting tougher, or it was natural to just wrap up that twisted or sprained ankle and try again. When I landed on my head, neck, or back because of a misstep or a slip, I walked it off. No tears. No big deal. Just move forward. When I was 12 and I broke my wrist doing beam drills, I finished my crunches and cool down before I got in the car and told my mom that we should stop at the hospital on the way home. Did I stop pushing myself? No, I did everything I was doing before, just one handed.

I was a gymnast. A hard-core, gym before and after school, chalk smeared on my face and legs, focused, competitive gymnast. There was nothing else so important to me, and no feasible life beyond the doors of that building full of equipment and drive. I didn’t see it as work or exercise, it was training and I loved it.

that's me in the green

that’s me in the green

It really didn’t matter your social status at school or life at home, we all came from different places, were different ages, but as teammates were were also best friends. The common ground was a vault runway and spring floor. I will always consider those girls some of the most important people in my life no matter the distance between us. If you’re reading, I love you guys so much.

So why is this at all important? Honestly, I’m just trying to figure out when I became a fragile little wimp. Maybe I’m exaggerating, I’m not totally wimpy, (I actually have an incredibly high pain tolerance) but I definitely cry more about dumb crap.

A few months ago, before we realized my rib was broken and acupuncture was supposed to be my pain management (and hydrocodone, don’t judge), my acupuncturist said something to me. After asking me about my animal expertise and how that applies to her cat with IBS, she wanted to know where all my stress goes at the end of the day. I told her about my family being far away, my job generally being no human contact, my limited friends here in Chicago, and minimal contact with the ones at home. Then she pointed out something that I never saw as a problem until lately.

“So you really have no support system at all.”

I was a little offended, but I didn’t need to ask what she meant. However, I was high on prescription drugs from my doctor, so it has taken a moment to sink in.

Nationals in Florida

Nationals in Florida (second from left)

I know I’m not the only one who has realized this at some point or another. Are we really alone? No, not really. There are always people somewhere. Maybe the problem is that we have a hard time trusting that new people are going to get our weirdness or where we came from the way the old one inherently did. I have a hard time with trusting people, and for good reason. So how does one develop a decent support system… or any system at all instead of claiming emotional self sufficiency and ignoring the downside of being a hermit?

Any thoughts?

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
William Shakespeare

love and questions,

Advertisements

Best Summer Tip Yet

Blisters. I get so many blisters on my weird little feet from nearly every pair of my shoes. Barring a certain material flip flop and cushy sneakers, my high-arched dancer feet can’t handle even the simplest pair of flats.

I’ve tried a number of things including bandaids, mole skin, various padding, that new skin stuff. Yet sooner or later I would end up with torn little toes and heels. You too? Read on.

Here’s why this happens to us:

No matter what, if you put your feet into an enclosed area, they are going to sweat. Agreed? And nearly any surface, like the one lining your Charles David baubles, will at some point create enough friction against your skin that you and your sad feet will lose the battle against. HOWEVER…

It’s not always about the shoe.

No matter the fit you get or how well you plan, an active person’s feet will not stay the same size all day. Gravity and blood flow cause swelling, which is usually minor and very normal, but unfortunately enough to change the size of your foot and the pressure the shoe is or isn’t placing on it.

Solution!

It sounds totally weird, but this is honestly the best one I’ve tried yet.

In a recent article published in Real Simple, a suggestion was offered that changed everything for me. Spread a layer of clear deodorant along the inside heel area of your shoe and let it dry. It worked so well on a pair of my Nordstrom flats that I went so far as to dot some in the areas where my little toe was having problems as well. Why? For the same reason you don’t ruin your good shirts when it’s hot out, anti-perspirant. When there is less moisture to create friction, with there is less pain.

image

imagewpid-images.jpeg

It’s as simple as that. Now go save your feet!

 

Blessed Amid Wreckage

With all of the stress I put myself through over jobs, money, etc. I forget how blessed I am to have what’s in my life already. I am so lucky to have my family and my little ones safe and in my life. This woman finding her dog in the middle of her home’s wreckage serves as a reminder that we should be grateful daily for that which we have not lost.

“Gratitude bestows reverence…..changing forever how we experience life and the world.”
― John Milton

Healthier Strawberry Banana Bread is Here to Save Your Fruit

I’ve been walking past three bananas in my kitchen for about a week now. I’ve watched them slowly turn from something I might eat to something that, for no realistic reason, weirds me out. Brown bananas are disconcerting. I was bothered to the point that I actually stopped at 7-11 on the way home, crouched by one of its glass fridge doors, and searched like the milk maids in Clerks for a carton of eggs that hadn’t been completely desolated in transit, just so I could do something about it.

violet turning violet

Thank the world for banana bread!

There was only one problem (there were two, but I bought eggs so were good) , regular banana bread is stuffed full of sugar and butter and all those things that we are blaming for the 10+ pounds Americans have on the rest of the world. I didn’t want to roll  Violet Style down that path, so I started searching.

Pinterest is a font, A FONT I SAY, of information for when you need an new recipe or  just want to learn how to build your own bathtub out of four galvanized flower pots and a hand-full of toothpicks. I followed a link to the Domestic Superhero blog, and here is what I found.

Greek Yogurt Strawberry Banana Bread….Healthy and Delicious!banana mash
Ingredients
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar (or 1/4 cup agave)
3 large ripe bananas 
2 eggs
6 oz. Chobani Strawberry Banana Greek yogurt (I only had vanilla, but it worked)

my loaf pan has a hold in it, so I used this.

1 cup diced fresh strawberries (mine were frozen and thawed, don’t judge)
Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Start by combining flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, mash bananas with a fork until they are gooey and liquid-like.
Add eggs and sugar and mix thoroughly.
Add greek yogurt
Whisk until everything is well combined and there are no lumps.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. At this point, fold in the fresh strawberries!
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and distribute evenly.
Put into the oven and bake for one hour, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean (55 minutes for me).
Transfer to a cooling rack and (try to) let the bread cool for at least ten minutes before slicing.
And TADA! I now have lovely squares (loaf pan has a hole in it) of strawberry embedded banana goodness at half the stress and guilt. See!
finished breadNext time I neglect my yellow fruits, cruely leaving them in their vintage orange bowl for days on end, this recipe will spring to mind. Let me know what you think if you try it.

Patience and Dirty Pennies

It’s a virtue right? I learned them all in third grade (yea parochial school…)Patience-is-a-Virtue

It would be easy to say I know a lot about patience, and then tell you that its development definitely has a payoff, and that I am now at some great job with great opportunities for growth because I’ve spent years gaining experience in something that can only be learned. But it isn’t true. I’m not at that great job I know I could do better than the next guy. I’m not writing copy for a progressive media company or marketing firm. I take care of animals, and not enough of them to meet a basic wage let alone live comfortably. What’s true here is that I have developed a capacity for patience, and it has taken more than just time.

I am not always the greatest of people. I have been mean. I have been stubborn. I have gotten easily frustrated, been quick to anger and neglectful with forgiveness. I don’t sit atop a hill thinking I have something to teach anyone. I’m pretty sure that’s not my role. As of semi-recently, through acquiring patience, I have found that I am here to quietly listen and help.

I know the feeling kid.

I know the feeling kid.

“Why is that homeless man yelling?”

“What the crap are these people talking about?”

“Your stupid dog tried to bite me!”

“That old lady has lost her mind, just ignore what she’s saying.”

“This is outrageously annoying. I hate people. Get me out of here.”

“I’ll always fail, won’t I?”

“I wish she would control her children/ walk faster/ calm down/ speak up.”

The list of things we say, ALL THE TIME, goes on and on. I’m not writing this to make you feel guilty. Far from it. I just think that some things are worth an extra moment of open inspection.

run children!

The Lawrence Welk Show!

In 2007 I began a series of jobs that forced a change in my attitude. I, for no reason whatsoever, became a caregiver at an assisted living facility. My only relevant experience at the time was watching my grandmother go, and seeing the help she received in that process. It was a suck-it-up-these-people-need-you-now-so-learn-fast sort of deal. They need you even if they tell you they don’t, that you are a fat cow, that you stole their money and then threaten or act on physical violence towards you. It doesn’t matter. Fast forward 50 years, and that’s you. Not much use in denying that sort of mental deterioration or that the years will always take their toll.

I learned what they needed, how to talk to them and eventually help some of their worried children understand them too. After less than a year I didn’t have as many residents as I had people dear to me that I still think about and hope the best for. Reality is at least half of them are gone by now, but I appreciate them still. My sweet War Heroes, my devious English Teachers, my Giants of Industry who swooned over Elvis and made me watch reruns of Lawrence Welk (Those short skirts! Scandalous! ) Their basic skills were gone, some of them yelled things like “PURPLE!”  when they were frustrated, but they were somehow aware and very much alive.

Then I moved on to animal care. Patients who couldn’t talk with anything but their body language, claws and  teeth. I love my animals, but sometimes I really hated everyone else’s.

guess which one is closest to what working at an animal hospital is actually like.

Guess which one is more realistic…

Woman Rubbing Noses with PuppyAt best, most were defensive in a hospital environment. Yet who can blame them? They are hurt and/or scared. They are angry because where they come from they were taught to be. Still, without understanding, they are put down and out of mind the moment they have a bit of medical trouble or act out by peeing on a blanket.

I once was asked to “get this done as quickly as possible because there’s only 15 min. on the meter.” Don’t be shocked, more than a few people can’t be bothered to deal with daily shots or weekly sub-q fluids. If their kid got scratched or a neighbor got bit, priorities are weighed.  Sometimes it’s asking too much. So the kid pulled a tail or the neighbor startled the dog by sticking a hand in its face or over its head, and not taking a moment to see how uncomfortable the animal became. It’s an aggressive animal in a fragile environment, period. I get it. There are other options, but I do get it.

Learning patience is trying and difficult to say the least. I have been bitten and scratched by animal and human alike (It hurts more with people if you would believe it. More bacteria too, which means worse infections).


So why am I talking about this? Tomorrow I am headed to an interview that may help shape my future in a way that I have actually hoped for. I have been disappointed before when it comes to over inflated expectations. I get a little gung ho and start planning my entire life after one glimmer of hope ahead. That glimmer often times ends up being a shiny gum wrapper or at best, a worn penny tail side up. I am talking about this because tomorrow as I head down to River North, and even right now as I sit here, I have to remind myself to have patience. This may or may not be it. I may or may not take this path. No matter what, with patience I can still retain hope.
 worse infections). There are countless failures. You find yourself inadequate and judge harshly every time you can’t succeed and feel better, somehow accomplished. Feel you’re making some progress. You start forcing yourself to understand people and things you would never want to. Sometimes you do this only for your mental survival. Those you find to be at their worst, or out of your comprehensive reach, then become much more familiar as understanding goes. That’s your pay off I suppose. Empathy. Not a better situation for yourself, not really, but a window into the separate and solitary minds around you.

I have developed a strange habit. When coming upon a penny in the street tail up, I reach down and turn it over so that someone after me can find it and smile. I know it’s silly, but there is still something in a lucky penny that nostalgia clings to. Patience tells me that even if I don’t end up where I thought, I can believe that with a tiny bit of hopeful patience to keep them going, they might find something even better.

penny

A Vegetarian Moment: Just Thought I Would Share The Protein

Ok, I’m not a vegetarian. At all. But I wrote this sample blog for a potential employer, and I thought it would be a terrible waste to just send it in and never share it with you good fellows. So here is it just for the heck of it. (I may have visually embellished it some…)

Put Some Power In Your Diet: An Introduction To Vegetarian Protein

Vegetarianism. It’s not just about animal rights anymore, choosing to exclude meat from ones diet is done for reasons ranging from convicted activism to physical health. Unfortunately, if not done properly, turning your back on a juicy steak can deprive you of some nutrients your body relies on pretty heavily. Finding a replacement for the protein gap left in the absence of chicken and turkey can seem tricky, but it’s essential to maintain your health regardless of your food affiliation.

The CDC website, when referring to the average person’s protein needs, says that, “In general, it’s recommended that 10–35% of your daily calories come from protein.”  For vegetarians this means looking a little harder at your choices. Here’s some helpful suggestions to get you started.

soy

Soy. Soy, in all of it’s glorious forms, is a great option when looking for protein sources in your vegetarian or vegan diet. 1 cup of cooked soy beans will give you 29 gm of protein. It’s also a really versatile replacement for both meat and dairy that also lends assistant to your heart, bones, hair, skin and nails. 

almond flour

Another great option to invest in is nuts. 1/4 cup of almonds will provide your body with 8 gm of protein. Don’t like nuts? Me either. So grab some almond flower from your health food store and replace your regular stuff with something that helps you in the long run.

Beans are also a great dietary choice when heading down the veggie path. The protein you can get from these little guys ranges from your basic veggie baked beans at 12 gm per cup, to a cup of cooked lentils at 18 gm for some serious protein power.Beansinbins

Whatever your choice, protein is something not to neglect in your diet (without it we would be slumpy autoimmune messes). However, you would be wise to remember that protein is also a part of your caloric intake.

For more ideas on balancing your vegetarian habit, visit The Vegetarian Resource Group, they seem to have it down pat.

“If we are creating ourselves all the time, then it is never too late to begin creating the bodies we want instead of the ones we mistakenly assume we are stuck with.”
― Deepak Chopra