Yearly Archives: 2007

Remembering Oneself After the Great Forgetting

I don’t know when the actual forgetting of myself began. I think I consciously knew I was sort of neglecting myself for a long time, but a lot of that began with what had to become a “new” normal after major changes in my life. My life different, I found myself doing different things under the guise of “me” time.

Once upon a world, though, the best kind of “me” day I could have would have included a hike, bike ride, or gym visit, followed by a cafe for some writing, possibly haunting a couple bookshops, and ending the day with groceries before presumably cooking myself a pretty good meal.

These days, those days are few and far between. Today, though, I’ve put the brakes on and that’s precisely the day I’m having.

I honestly can’t tell you the last time I regularly went to coffee shops to write. I just don’t know. Years, probably. Years. That’s likely the biggest change for the negative my life’s taken these past few years. I’ve gotten away from the act of coffee shop writing. I’m the kind of person that once sat down with a coffee and a 400-page book. I started and finished the whole book in one day at a coffee shop. That was a pretty good day, too.

I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I’ve decided to write a book. About what, well, trust me when I say it’s going to be a huge journey for me. Today’s coffee shop visit is for writing the bones of the book, as Anne Lamott would say. Realistically, I see this book consuming the next year to 18 months of my life.

To tell the truth, it scares the living hell out of me.

To write this book means I have to finally come to terms with a lot of the areas I’ve been trying to pretend don’t afflict my life… like living out loud, embracing the inner vixen, saying what you think. Truth is, I’ve been trying to be all the things I’ve wanted to be, but it’s been obvious I’ve been trying. Meaning, it’s an effort, an act, a show. It’s not really me because I don’t believe it. I don’t buy it, and to the more astute observer in my life, right now, I don’t think I can sell it.

But that’s what 2008’s for. It’s one thing to sit around quietly suspecting something about yourself, but it’s another thing entirely to turn the lights on, point, and shout at it. Everything about myself has felt like a bad-fitting pair of jeans for a few years now. On the right person, it might do wonders, but on me it’s needing a lot of work and just doesn’t cut it.

And instead of sitting around thinking about it and letting it eat me up, I’m getting out there and doing something about it. I’m trying to change every area of my life in the next 12 months. From finance and fitness to sex and shopping, everything is getting an overhaul, and it starts today.

I’ve been sitting here taking deep breaths and feeling a little emotionally overwhelmed after just having a moment of realizing just how true the statement about my life feeling like bad jeans really happens to be, because I asked myself “Why does that bother you so much?” as I was writing, and then I actually heard myself answering “Because I know how good I can be.” Having that moment, just realizing that that’s the answer is a pretty beautiful and powerful moment.

I know how good I can be. And it’s not about being good for you or her or him or them, it’s about being that good for the person I plan to have a lifelong romance with. Myself.

It’s about letting go of all the bullshit that’s come my way in the last few years, the negative people, the misfortune, the bad timing, and realizing that life is infinitely bigger than this stupid soap operaesque corner of it I inhabit, and all I need to do is knock down a couple walls and I’ll be right back in the beautiful swirl of it all:

Life. That mystery of all mysteries, the original all-you-can-eat buffet. Life. Fill me up and watch me burst with life.

It’s like this nightmare I had once. You’ll love my version of the nightmare, it’s like Einstein and Dali getting together over beers, but I can’t convey the Fincher-esque editing in my head that gives my dreams some crazy visuals. There I am, a sunny, beautiful day, walking along tall oceanside cliffs in PEI or Dover. There’s a long fenceline over the top of the cliff, as far as the eye can see, and right behind me’s a large sign reading “Point A”. Off in the distance is a beautiful summit and spotting scope, and a sign that reads “Point B”. Somehow I understand that my only goal is to get to Point B from Point A. I set off on my merry way. A few moments later, some old guy stops and asks me directions. I cheerily tell him how to get wherever, and then mosey on only to look up and see that Point B now seems a little farther away. Almost right away, someone else stops me to ask me to break a five. Grudgingly, I do. I continue walking. Point B is now twice as far away. The cycle continues. I start, someone stops me, and then I’m further and further away from what I really want until it seems I’m completely out of sight of Point B with a lineup of people wanting me, literally.

That’s when, in real life, I woke up and wrote on a page next to bed. “Fuck off! It’s my life! Let me live it. Solve your own problems!” I went back to sleep, and the next person that stopped me, I simply said no. Then I almost immediately reached Point B around a previously unseen bend.

The point is, life distracts us and takes us away from what it is we know deep down inside makes us happy. For whatever reason, we tell ourselves our unhappiness is part of what comes from being a good citizen and doing what needs doing. Life’s not bad, it’s not great, but it’s not bad, right? Until one day “not bad” changes definitions and the realization hits that it’s just not good enough any more.

So that’s where I am. I’m there, realizing that all my fears about Point B being so far off in the distance just aren’t true. It’s right there for the taking, and deciding I want it? The biggest step I need to take. Now it’s about enjoying what journey is ahead of me as I start getting where I want to be.

Anyhow. I thought I might share a little on that since it’s the weekend afore New Year’s eve and I’m betting I’m not the only person who’ll be doing a little reflecting on where they’re at today versus where they might be a year from now. 365 days of opportunities. How lucky are we?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone. :)

The tree’s up, the lights and wooden garland and lace strung nicely around it. We’ll put the ornaments on tonight. The turkey’s misbehaving in the fridge, laundry’s getting finished, and I’m about to enjoy some breakfast.. which I of course have to make, first. I should hang back and have granola, but it’s Christmas eve and I’d kill for eggs. So I’m having eggs.

So… have a wonderful night tonight. And, if you’re alone, I hope you find some meaning and solace in your day. Here’s my Christmas card I made last year. (My picture, too, in my neighbourhood. :)

Snippets: Quickie Bitsies for the ADHD Crowd

I framed a photo of mine tonight in a very, very nice frame for someone, and had a bit of a “wow” moment. The photo does not look out of place. I’ve always bought the cheapie frames for my work, but I think I’ve crossed that threshold where I think it really does deserve better than that.

It’s nice to feel that way about my work, and I’m feeling that way about myself these days, too. We’re getting there, me and my photos.

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Someone, in their rather blunt manner, asked in a comment “Didn’t you used to write about sex?” Yeah, and I used to have it, too. Funny how these things run together, isn’t it?

I’ve been in all the wrong headspaces of late and I’ve not been ready to jump back into the dating world, and for whatever reason, I’ve not wanted to hazard too many pokes at why that is. And I’ve had very little libido of late, probably because I’ve not wanted it. (But it’s been rearing its head of late.)

I promised myself that I’d give myself to Christmas to kind of just get things in order, and then starting January the plan was to start actively pursuing things again. I don’t know if I want to date someone steadily, but I bet if the right fella came wandering past, I’d be able to take that gamble.

So, soon. I’m going to take some chances and meet new people come January. It’ll happen pretty quick. Always does. :)

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Riding home on the bus yesterday I sat facing head-on to a guy seated with his side facing my front. Across the aisle was a girl he locked onto with a vengeance. With his eyes, that is. Just a hungry, hungry, hungry stare.

I guess she noticed, because all of a sudden it was like the air hissed right out of him. Soft, sad, lonely, and rejected yet again… in the blink of an eye.

His eyes became sunken and morose and his lips pursed into a frown. He was in his late 50s, maybe his 60s, plump and haggard, wearing way-worn hightops, cruddy old misshapen sweatpants, and a dull, crumpled old winter coat. His brows were overgrown like Mark Twain’s, and he was missing a canine tooth. His cheeks sagged and bounced with the bus’s bumps.

And without a beat I found myself imagining what a sad and lonely, repetitive life this guy probably has, and I felt overwhelmed with sympathy for him. He just oozed loneliness. It was palpable. He got off at the next stop and I found myself thinking and wondering about him.

I guess it’s just a reminder to be nice to people these days… we never know how much others might miss contact with the world, and if being nice to them for thirty seconds of your life makes their day somehow mean more, I think it’s a pretty small price to pay for literally, actually making the world a better place. One lonely soul at a time. Sometimes a “how are you” means more than you’ll ever know.

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I read an interesting study in the Washington Post the other day about self-esteem. People with negative self-esteem apparently responded better to spouses or partners when confronted with negative criticism than they would if given positive feedback.

Of course, it’s infinitely more complex than that and is a little too much for me to bite off here, so I’m just going to share the link with you. But it goes to show you that if you think you’re fuct because you can’t accept a compliments, you’re actually in the majority. Here ya go. Feed your brain with this tasy article right here.

Dilemmas, Dilemmas

Wow, am I ever in a shitty mood.

I actually got up feeling pretty good today. I got this rather toxic email from someone this morning, and it took me a bit to shake that off, but the person means nothing to me so I was able to do it. Something happened with someone else later that I’ve been strongly considering eliminating from my life. There’s something else involved, though, and that always complicates matters. It, however, has definitely contributed to my being pretty flapped this evening.

The more I think about it, the more I’m thinking that the grief isn’t worth it.

Some people, whatever you think they might be contributing to your life, how you feel every time you see them, how you feel when you speak to them or even just hear of them… that’s what’s important, and if the answer is “shitty”, then perhaps they’re just not contributing what you think.

I guess. And I guess that’s my answer, and what I need to do.

I can’t give you anything remotely like a hint what I’m talking about in real terms. A lot of people I know read my blogs… employers, friends, family.

But the scenario in question just fills me with dread every time I think I need to see this person or deal with them. If it wasn’t for the complication I mentioned earlier, I’d have ripped the fucking bandage off long ago. I lose something by ending this, something with a lot of potential, and if I end it, then I need to really, really believe in myself, that this loss won’t have the negative impact my fear-mongering inner-voice seems to think it’ll bring.

Sigh. The only thing I know is, I’m dreading my dread. I’m dreading even the dread I’ll feel when I see this person — never mind the act of dreading them.

These are the days when I really miss being 11 and the biggest conundrum was whether or not I felt girly enough to play with dolls that day, and if I got my homework done. Ooh, the bliss of youth.

Whatever. I’m nearing the decision that I know is truly the right thing to do… just fucking walk away. There are times when braving the horrible means you’re brave. And there are times when it’s really fucking stupid. You know, the times you want to shout at the actor on the screen and go “What the fuck are you doing?”

Come on, readers. Do it. Shout “What the fuck are you doing!” at your screen, even if you’re tucked away in a cubicle. Maybe it’ll spur our heroine (ie moi) into the kind of fuck-it-all action that needs to be taken, hmm?

OH, AND: If you’ve emailed me in the last two weeks? Sorry, been busy. I’ll be getting back to you soonish. Bear with me.

My Granola Recipe!

Well, one request is hardly the tide of popular demand, but since I aim to please, and because Lara asked me so nicely in my earlier post today, I’m posting “my” homemade granola recipe.

Now, this is a recipe I’ve modified quite a bit off a very popular AllRecipes.com recipe, but because I’ve reduced the fat content so much and added more spice, plus monkeyed with the nuts listed, I think I can go out on a limb and call it “my” recipe. :)

OH! It’s an hour later and I just realized I didn’t say how many servings it makes. Allrecipes says it’s about 30 servings, but I’m thinking those are 1/2 cup or less. Also, I can’t tell ya how many calories or fat it has, since I’ve modified the recipe. It’s a good source of Omega 3s with all the flax and walnuts. I’d even increase the flax to 3/4 or 1 cup, myself, next time around.

Steff’s Homemade “Cran-crazy” Granola

8 cups of large-flake oatmeal (not the quick-cooking kind)
1.5 cups wheat germ
1.5 cups oat or wheat bran
1/2 cup flax seeds
1.5 cups chopped almonds
1.5 cups chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup dark brown or demerara sugar
(richer-tasting than regular brown, and my preference)

Put all of the above in one huge, honking bowl. Mix it up real good. And preheat your oven to about 275 degrees F. (The original recipe calls for 325, but I found it dried too quickly and cooked unevenly, and I made three batches yesterday. 275 worked the best.)

Hang onto that bad boy for a few minutes while you get the liquids ready:

1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup unfiltered apple juice
1/4 cup safflower oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix everything but the vanilla in a saucepan and heat it over medium to medium-high heat until it boils. Take it off the heat, mix again, add your vanilla, mix again, and then pour over your oats-filled bowl.

Mix it up really good until there’s no wheat germ or oat brain lingering at the bottom of the bowl. Try to avoid large chunks because the middle won’t dry and get properly crunchy during the baking.

Foil-line two cookie sheets and then divide the bowl between both sheets. Layer it out evenly, making sure the entire sheet’s covered and level.

Make sure your oven racks are set in the two central slots, and slide your trays in. You want to bake it for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove your trays, mix the granola thoroughly on the tray to get all the cookied bitsies in from the outer edges, and then put ’em back in the oven — rotating each tray 180 degrees and putting it on the opposite shelf that it was on last time.

Rinse and repeat.

No, seriously, cook ’em another 20 minutes, check for moisture, and decide if you need to cook it longer. You don’t want it 100% dried and crunchy — maybe 85%, because the cooling process will evaporate some moisture. If it’s not fully cooked, use your judgment and cook it in short burts of 5-7 minutes, checking at least that often and mixing it each time.

2 cups cranberries

Once you’re satisfied it’s cooked– and be careful! it burns quickly– then pull ’em out and let ’em cool. When cooled, mix in your cranberries. When it’s 100% cool (if it’s at all warm, it’ll steam and invite the early onslaught of mold), put in an airtight container, and get happy. Should keep a minimum of three weeks.

Lemme know whatcha think!!! :)

OMFG! One Week to Christmas! GAH! HAAAAAAAALP!

There’s ONE week until Christmas! ONE WEEK. Motherfucker! I don’t even have my TREE up yet, for god’s sake! My home? A disaster! My gifts? Not taken care of. AND I’m supposed to take a business meeting this week, etcetcetc.

I feel so pressured. Christmas, the time for giving? No, the time for mental breakdowns, dude!

Okay. I’m going to do yoga for the first time since last Tuesday or Wednesday, when the wheels came off my life there. It’s day two after the party and no trace of the hangover remains. Yay! Yesterday… oh, my god. I did finally toss my cookies last night, though. I was that ill. Someone gave me a gift bottle of wine yesterday and I looked at it for five minutes thinking, “Hmm… maybe a glass of wine will help.” Then I got violently ill and decided to stick to water.

Despite all that, I spent the whole day making homemade granola for Christmas gifts. Aww. The cutest little Christmas “bucket” tins, too! :)

(Granola with cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon, and lots of goodness (ie: flax seed… very good omega-3 source, my granola!). In fact, I replaced most of the oil with apple juice, and it’s still crunchy and delicious… but lowfat! If anyone wants the recipe, I can post it. I’m so excited. Should be a popular gift, I hope!)