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Clutter

IMG_7660Our house was outta control this weekend.

I’m not talking a little clutter. We got a new computer hutch. I get it… everything needs to be taken out of the old one and put in the new one. I knew the process would be an ordeal given the fact Lyle is very particular about his computer stuff, and when I say “particular,” I really mean he’s a fucking nut job. But I get it. Computers are his livelihood and his passion.

What I don’t get is why he needs to save the plastic, bubble packaging from SD cards purchased three years ago or a huge bag of plastic bags or 20 years of paystubs or eight boxes of staples or an entire drawer of those little square computer disks that are as useful as floppy disks, which we also probably have.

I questioned. Poked. Prodded. His eyes grew wide, really wide. His lips tightened.  He sucked in short, jagged breaths. “I mean it, Melissa, don’t throw (fill in the blank) away. I need it.”

“I won’t.”  But he knew I looked away too quick.

On a calm day, he and I can talk about his hidden stash. I counter ‘You never know when you are going to need it’ with ‘We only have so much space’. ‘It’s wasteful to throw it out’ balances with ‘used wrapping paper has a shelf life’.

The thing is though, I’ve seen his parents’ house. After his mom died, we helped go through a few closets. It took four people all day to go through three closets and a little crawl space. We found broken toys from the 1960s, worn out bath mats from the 70s, stacks of flattened out “gently used” gift wrap, piles of moth-eaten blankets, and one burlap sack from a grain elevator where Lyle’s mom worked before she got married.

I’m pretty sure if it weren’t for me, our house would be a labyrinth of computer magazines, paper grocery sacks, cables (he really loves stray cables), boxes of to-be recycled batteries, old shoes, and stacks of old-shirt-turned rags.

He says I pitch everything, just like my mom. Now, my mom has been known to ‘start fresh’ from time to time. When I was younger, I watched her ditch entire living room sets for something new. I never thought much about it then. I just accepted the cast offs.

I keep some stuff that has sentimental value. Stashed here and there, I have all of Russell’s baby teeth (I know that’s creepy) and love letters Lyle wrote when we dated. But now closets are jam packed, cabinets are overloaded, and the garage is stacked with crates.

When the house gets too messy, I grouch, pitch shit, and then eat chocolate chip cookies (or whatever else is close by).

Well, the house is sorta back together, but now I’ve had five days of eating crap, sugar cravings are back, and my joints are all swollen. The mess that was on the floor 24 hours ago pales to the clutter in my head. Now, I’ve got to really figure out what needs pitched.

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Epiphany Find Me

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Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or common place occurrence or experience.

It’s been a long time since I showed my virtual face. During the two year and eight months hiatus, I told myself I no longer had the time to blog. Other things simply demanded too much of my time. Work. Community Service. Workaholic husband. Teenage son.

In that amount of time, 40 pounds (of the 105 I lost) found me, my teenage son gave me more grief than I can even begin to sort through, family and friends got sick (some died), and some just continue to piss me off. Oh, and I dipped into early menopause. I can’t say that I miss menstruation, but I have a new understanding of hot flashes (more on that later, I’m sure).

I really have no more answers than I had when I left my little blog-o-sphere. The same truths seem to hold. If I want to stay centered, I must eat well, exercise, sleep seven or so hours a night, and practice some sort of meditation. Big fucking epiphany. I guess the real question needs to be why I continue to make life so damn difficult?

My hope is that by returning here, even just a few days a week, some other good habits may surface. But it was a little scary to return because occasionally, I meet people who say, Oh, I read your blog. Isn’t that the point? I’m not sure of that anymore either. What I do know is that returning to these virtual pages felt a little foreign and uncomfortable and squirmy, which is often where I find answers.

Asian Steamed Shrimp

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1 pound raw shrimp
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1 T raw sugar
1 t Truvia
2 T orange champagne vinegar
1 T Tonkatsu sauce
cilantro
fresh spinach
fresh pea pods
fresh mushrooms

mix soy, ginger, garlic, sugar, Truvia, vinegar and tonkatsu sauce. Heat in microwave or saucepan until sugar disolves. reserve 1/3 of liquid.

Layer shrimp on bottom of steamer and vegetables on top rack of steamer. Pour liquid over both layers. Steam for 5-8 minutes. Serve over rice and pour extra liquid over mixture. Let the feast begin.

Agree for Change

I’ve been wrestling with 2012 goals. I hate to call them resolutions, which are meant to be broken like diets and bad habits.

Instead I choose to think what I want to improve upon. This year I want to focus on the positive and re-write negative self-talk and behavior that have been weighing me down in more ways than one.

For at least six months a copy of The Four Agreements has laid atop the end table next to where I scribble in my journal. I’ve read the book multiple times, even writing about it here, but lately it seems to call me. So, every morning, I pull out the book and read a few pages trying to absorb some of the message: be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personally; don’t make assumptions and always do your best.

Recently, I picked up The Fifth Agreement. Be skeptical, but learn to listen. It’s taking me a while to finish the book because it seems appropriate to savor the words like a hot cup of tea with just the right amount of honey and lemon. What is beginning to crystalize is the need to really shift my paradigm of me. I’m tired of being my biggest critic.

As I thought about this and what I hoped to achieve in 2012, invariably my thoughts meandered to the time I wasted in 2011 with my yo-yo diet mentality. Instead of trying to push the negative thoughts into the shadows, I shone a light brightly, feverishly writing every nasty thought about my weight escapades I could muster. It was quite a list – embarrassing and maddening and disappointing.

Then for every negative thought, I created a positive statement to be rewritten repeatedly until it lodges into my brain. Whether rudimentary or revolutionary, the idea is not mine. The exercise came from The Artist’s Way. I’ll spare you the ranting portion, but here are the resulting positive statements:

I am beautiful inside and out.
I will limit exposure to sugar.
Taking care of my being is worth the effort.
I am strong and will achieve weight loss goals of one pound per week.

The first one really makes me squirm. I even hesitated a moment before I typed it here, but the exercise made me realize how negative I’ve become toward myself, illuminating how I’ve struggled over the last year.

In The Fifth Agreement, I’m discovering how to question the “truth” I’ve told myself, and I think I might be ready to rewrite these destructive messages in change for something more affirmative. I’m sure there will be detours, life is full of them, but acknowledging the negative and making a choice to focus on the positive has to impact the journey. Doesn’t it?

New Eats

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Okay, so I know this isn’t a very appealing photo. A half-eaten meal isn’t going to thrill anyone, but I started scarfing it down and then realized I might want to share what I made.

I bought beets in Pearl Market today. I cut off the green tops and sauteed them in a little olive oil, garlic, onion powder, red chipotle powder, smoked paprika, toasted onion powder, salt and pepper. I feared that the greens would be too strong or bitter since they looked pretty big and tough. Man, was I wrong – yummo. In another pot, we added the sliced beets and tossed in a can of mandarin orange slices (without added sugar). We simmered until tender. We means I need to give my hubby credit for the beet/orange concoction since he tried it once before. Again, yummo. Coupled with a grilled chicken breast, and it was a bona fide feast.

I will say the men in the house skipped the greens and opted for a chicken sandwich, complete with white bread and bacon, but I didn’t covet their plates or the clogged arteries in the making.

Fall is a perfect time to try some new veggies. What are your favorites?

Massage Mantras

I treated myself to a massage this evening, came home to an empty house and wished the peace and calm to continue when my 16-year-old son walked through the door. I keep my expectations low interacting with a teenager. It’s best that way. Add to that gratitude for every little nugget he tosses my way, and it works into a pretty good mom mantra.

Back to the massage. I was nervous. I’m not fond of looking at my own body and to voluntarily make an appointment to have someone else not only see me in just my grunders, but to touch some of my least favorite parts makes my shoulders knot up just thinking about it.

I’ve had a few massages over the years and have learned to enjoy them; however, I was referred to this dude, and admittedly I was apprehensive since every other time I’ve gone for a massage it was with a woman, unless you count a really creepy experience during a facial a bazillion years ago when I was even less comfortable with my body than I am today. Anyway, I’d seen Tony for some neck issues during the last couple weeks, but this evening was going to be the first experience with only a sheet separating the two of us.

I knew looking around would distract me from why I was really there so I closed my eyes and practiced breathing. Note to self: figure out if something is psychologically wrong with me if I have to practice breathing. Regardless it went well, and I left feeling quite relaxed.

It’s feels good to face body image shit even though it makes me squirm, uncontrollably. I wonder at times if I will die worrying about the bulges on my thighs and dimples on my ass. What a waste. This evening though for an hour, my body was just a body, not good, not bad, but just a body touched by another in a healing way. It felt good.

I laid quietly, mostly at ease, and breathed, pushing away any thoughts of imperfections. I stayed in the moment and gave myself permission to simply be, and I appreciated the grace that blanketed me.

It makes me sad I don’t feel totally comfortable in the physical shell that totes me around so efficiently. It’s done well by me even when I treated it poorly carrying around a hundred extra pounds. It deserves more. Maybe that’s where I need practice – kindness and gratitude for my mere being. Perhaps the mantra I chant to keep my sanity around my son can be embraced by me, for me. I wonder where it might lead.

Haunted Tomato Jungle

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Anyone know what I’m hosting on my tomato plants, and is there an environmentally friendly way to get rid of it without killing the plant? It looks like some kind of egg, which I really don’t want to hatch only to feast on my tomatoes. Most days, I don’t mind sharing, but I prefer to choose the recipients, and I certainly don’t want the little beasts taking over. The tomatoes are coming on fast and furiously and I’m not ready to give in so your suggestions would be appreciated.
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I picked seven pounds of tomatoes this evening, yum! Should I share?
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Lyle created a trellis this year for the tomatoes to climb. It seemed like a good idea until I had to get down on my belly to crawl through the cavern. I felt like a soldier in the muddy jungle trenches of Vietnam. I just kept hoping my neighbors weren’t at their kitchen window watching my ass hiked up in the air waggling back and forth as I tried to scooch in as far as possible.

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You can’t have tomatoes without basil, which is also taking on forest-like qualities.

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Brussel sprouts, anyone? It’s the first year I’ve grown them, and they seem to take up an inordinate amount of space. Hopefully, they’ll be worth it.

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