Friday, April 30, 2010


okay, so we now know what i value, so that brings us to my second question: what do i like to do?

- read
- write
- garden
- photograph
- create art
- craft
- organize information
- teach
- learn
- study
- inspire creativity in others
- help others identify and pursue their dreams
- prepare for emergencies
- design gardens
- decorate interiors
- plan
- belly dance, learn hula
- do yoga
- dream

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

defining values

i have to admit, i've had some trouble writing this post. i've started it over and over and keep coming up confused. but i think i've been making it harder than it needs to be. it's probably the word "values" that's throwing me, so i'm just going to go ahead and make a list of what's important to me instead:
  • education
  • creative expression (including photography, poetry, painting, novel writing, drawing, textile crafts, performance art, dance, landscape design and just about anything with a tangible or recordable outcome that engages the creativity centers of the brain)
  • growing things (this relates to both the point above and the one below)
  • equal access to high-quality, organic, whole, natural foods (i started to say healthy, but given what advertisers tout as healthy these days, that word has pretty much become meaningless)
  • sustainability and environmental health (preservation of natural resources, alternatives to toxic chemicals that make us sick)
  • interpersonal connection
  • making a positive difference in the lives of others
i always come back to julia cameron's the artists way. what i extrapolated from that book is this: creation, in the form of art, writing or any other creative expression (including, for me, the creation of food from plant from seed) is the most powerful antidote to the pain and destruction in our would today. a life for a life just robs us twice. the only lessons taught are negative ones. but a poem for a life, a memorial quilt for a life, a song for a life, that helps preserve and remember what was lost. it gives back something new and meaningful in the void that was left. it can even transform loss into a learning experience. into a community building experience. into rebirth. art is creation. growing food is creation. building community is creation. harvesting power from the air is creation.

the job i do now actually does align with many of the values i have listed above. the problem is the distance. i can reach a million faceless people and hope what we have done helps them in some way, but i cannot look them in the eye or hold their child's hand, helping to guide the shovel as he plants his first seed. there is no connection. and without that, i can only guess at whether i really made a difference or not.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

week five: meaningful work

for the past several years i have noticed an increasing disconnect between my work (job) and my values. not that the companies i have worked for are lacking in any way, just that what i want to do with my life and the way i want to live it are no longer aligned with the reality of an 8:30-5:30 job in technology or ecommerce. that gives me two choices: a) find a way to make it work, or b) find something else. which brings us to week five: meaningful work.

values: define "meaningful"
interests: document the things i am passionate about (both activities and causes)
experience: assess what i already know how to do, what i'm good at and whether it interests me and aligns with my values
options: take a close look at everything listed above and come up with a list of options (keeping in mind that not every goal has to be fulfilled by my job)
plan: outline my goals and the steps i need to take to reach them 

food challenge: cauliflower
declutter challenge: office

related reading:
your heart's desire
the creative entrepreneur
the business startup checklist and planning guide

the power of forgiveness

okay, i know i'm behind on posting this week's plan, but before i do that i really want to give you a quick update on the forgiveness front. you may remember my uncle who i basically haven't spoken to in like 10 years and who during the week of stronger relationships i resolved to find a way to forgive. well, last night he did come to my grandmother's birthday party.

i have to admit, i was pretty stressed out about it. i mean you don't just go from "i never want to see you again" back to buddies in the blink of a 100 year party candle. but i know that carrying around these ill feelings hurts me more than him (and causes stress for the rest of my family), so i was willing to give it a try. maybe i wouldn't forgive him, but at least i could be civil and give him the benefit of the doubt. and you know what? it really helped. i was able to realize that while he may have his issues, he is not intentionally malicious. the things that happened between us were not him trying to hurt me, it was him not having the slightest ability to understand how what he did would make me feel. and realizing that, i was able to completely enjoy myself at the party without  having to avoid him or brace myself against him. it was a huge relief.

and who knows, maybe someday i will forgive him, but for now i'm happy just to not have to worry about it anymore.

Monday, April 26, 2010

week four recap

okay, i'll admit it: i let this week totally get away from me. work was crazy and stressful, life was crazy and stressful and i found it almost impossible to keep fun in mind at all, much less actually focus on it. i didn't complete a single challenge (food or declutter) nor did i do anything even remotely creative. i did however have a few small wins:
  • drove up to petaluma with a friend to see avatar in 3-D and generally get out of town and get a new perspective. it was great (the movie, the change of scenery and spending time with my best friend)
  • worked the hula hoop many mornings. i'm starting to get good. :)
  • put together a camera that my brother sent me as an early birthday gift. it's all fancy and lets you do things manually instead of just point-and-shoot. it will definitely enable a higher level of creativity in at least that one area of my life. plus it works with my existing film camera lenses which is very cool.
  • made lists of possible creative projects and places/activities that inspire (both generic and specific).
  • agreed to set up an art day with my friend to help us both find more creative fulfillment.
these are all great things. and i need to remember that the goal is not to see how much fun i can have in a week, it's to see how much fun i can regularly infuse into my daily life. so in that context, i think i did just fine.

oh, and two big wins left over from the week of stronger relationships: spending time with my best friend and having one of the short-list friends i hadn't reconnected with yet contact me. :)  plus i was so heartened by those, i contacted another one on my list. sometimes these things just take a little time. and speaking of relationships, tonight is my grandmother's 100th birthday party. not only will it be great to celebrate our good fortune at having her with us for so long and still going strong, my uncle will be there giving me the opportunity to practice forgiveness. we'll see how it goes...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


last night i went to my first mindfulness-based stress reduction class (scheduled during week one). during the class we did a breathing exercise which the instructor ended by asking us to "invite in a gentle half-smile." now i did not feel like inviting in a gentle half-smile or a smile of any kind. i was grumpy, hungry, tired and uncomfortable from sitting in a cold room on an uncomfortable chair for too long. but i did it anyway. and you know what? it worked. just the simple act of smiling actually made me feel happier. who knew?

so this morning when i woke up on the wrong side of the bed, instead of putting on the all-brown outfit i'd laid out the night before, i decided to embrace the smile lesson and picked out a turquoise plaid tank top, my bright green tennies and my sunflower necklace. i immediately felt better.

and yes, i did hula hoop this morning and man, is that a workout. but fun! made me feel like a kid again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

week four: joie de vivre

i am so excited that it's finally week four, the week of all things joyful. in the spirit of this week i am actually going to limit myself to a single resolution: have fun. to get more specific, i plan to embrace creativity, seek inspiration, approach my daily activities with a sense of play (like tomorrow when i plan to replace my usual morning exercises with a good long hula hoop session) and seek joy wherever i can find it.

as for my weekly challenges, i've funned them up a bit too:
food: berries!
declutter: let's call it a treasure hunt for creative supplies and inspirations, the culmination of which will be the creation of an art box and inspiration binder

related reading:
the anti-coloring book
the artist's way
building self-esteem through the museum of I

Monday, April 19, 2010

week three recap

 wow... taking a closer look at how i spend my money (and what it says about my values and lifestyle) was definitely an eye-opening experience. just filling out a spending and income history for the last couple of months revealed a lot -- mostly that i need to start paying a lot closer attention to where my money goes. here are a few of the high-level things i learned:
  • i want to save more money. keeping that in mind when i shop makes it much easier to keep spending down, but that's not enough. if i decide i'll pass on a new pair of shoes, that's great, but i have to take the next step and deposit that same amount into my savings account or it will get spent on something else.
  • there are also a lot of possible ways to make incremental income that i could start taking advantage of. i have been known to sell books to local used bookstores, but maybe i could do better with an amazon store. and i could probably amp-up the income opportunities on my blogs. and then there are my creative endeavors... i definitely need to think more about this.
  • i waste a lot of food. this is disturbing to me on a lot of levels. i need to get better at meal planning and only buy perishables when i am sure i can use them. there are plenty of other alternatives.
  • i need to get much better at measuring the value of things i spend on. for example, i haven't gotten my hair cut in probably 8 months. mostly because of time but also because i'd rather not get it done than get a bad cut. on thursday however i bit the bullet and walked into a salon. i walked out an hour later with a brutally expensive but fabulous cut. was it worth it? yes. because i get it done so rarely, it needs to be a good cut that will hold up. and as with shoes and jeans, i'd rather pay for a good one that will last than a cheap one that will make me sad every time i look in the mirror or put them on.
  • prioritization is key. this is most evident in the whole "thinking about home ownership" thing. i want to own a house. i cannot afford a house in my area. i can afford a house in outlying areas, but my job is here. this doesn't mean i can't buy, it just needs i need to get more creative. maybe buy a house up there and rent it until i can find another job. i also want to go back to school which has many of the same issues as the house question. it also competes for the same savings dollars. school or house? local or distant? full-time or part-time? there are many options to consider which is mostly my way of saying that you don't have to rule out having it all. you just have to get creative with how you do it. (in this case it's looking like buying the cheap house renting it out and choosing an affordable part-time school program so i can keep my job, but i'll keep you posted on that.)
declutter challenge: files (including digital) and in-apartment storage
- got nowhere at all with this due to over-scheduling on other things.

food challenge: black beans
- gingered black beans from the self-healing cookbook: awesome and enough for many meals
- black bean chili (ostensibly from green's restaurant but i think it was a lie): bland and yet overly oniony, won't be repeating this one
- didn't manage the third dish due to time

nagging tasks: i was thwarted at pretty much every turn (once again a victim of my own poor planning). suffice it to say, tax day is not the day to try and deal with your 401k rollovers or anything else having to do with money. i will be scheduling meetings and handling those tasks another day. i did, however get online bill-pay and my budget spreadsheets set up so that was a win.

so even though i didn't complete a lot of "tasks" i definitely learned a lot and am glad i added this one to the list.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

a-hunting she will go

you remember that resolution think about home ownership? today is the day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

grocery sticker shock

it is shocking to me how much i spend on groceries. last month i spent nearly $500. and eating out? almost $200. and this isn't food for a family of five. it's one person. who doesn't eat very much. okay, and occasionally my boyfriend who does, but seriously... sure, gluten-free foods are significantly more expensive than regular foods, if you're doing substitutions, but that's craziness. i honestly couldn't tell you where it all goes. so it looks like i'll be adding one more item to my task list for this week: take a much closer look at where my food money goes (and start eating more out of the pantry until i can figure it out).

things i've accomplished so far:
- set up budget spreadsheets
- filled out one month worth of expenses
- identified current income sources
- signed up for online banking
- identified comcast as a cost that needs serious trimming

not bad for only being at day two.

Monday, April 12, 2010

spare some change?

i cannot count the number of times i've found just the perfect city parking spot only to find i had no change for the meter. so today, in honor of financial security week, i pulled a handful of quarters out of my change jar and put them in the car's change holder. going forward, i'm going to start a habit of putting my pocket change there first and save the jar for whatever's left over.

week three: financial security

welcome to week three, the week of financial security. you may have noticed that this is a late addition to my original line-up, but it seemed important enough to slot in early (bumping personal style to week six).

getting your financial ducks in a row can not only help you reach your goals, but it can also reveal a lot about your values and how well your actions align with what you say you value. i am definitely expecting another eye opening week. let's break it down... (note that this week's list is more goal based than resolution based)

- determine where my money is really going
- review all spending including places where i don't spend but should
- note times when i decide to save not spend (passing on a smoothie or a pair of shoes)
- think about home ownership

- identify and review all income sources
- identify additional potential sources
- think about barter

- review savings including 401k
- implement plan to save 30% of income per month
- deposit "saved" or refunded money into dedicated savings account

management / prioritization
- create and implement a realistic budget (current and ideal)
- set up and use online bill-pay
-  identify and implement simple savings opportunities (downgrading cable for example)

declutter challenge: files (including digital) and in-apartment storage

food challenge: black beans

i also wanted to note that i have a number of nagging tasks associated with money management at least a few of which i hope to tackle this week:
- 401k rollovers
- fix sprint data plan
- fix computers (dell and lenovo -- before the warranty runs out and it costs a whole lot more)
- will

related reading
your money or your life
the courage to be rich
personal finance for dummies
suze orman's 2009 action plan
how to survive without a salary
we the savers blog

to quote zyzzyva editor howard junker:* onward!

* howard junker is well known in literary circles for personally reading every submission to the zyzzyva slush pile. his rejection form letter is always the same with the above encouragement scrawled in his own hand across the top.

week two recap

 so week two is over and it's time to move on to week three, but before we go, let's take a look back at how well i did...

this week i spent quality time with my mom. it was so nice to have an afternoon all to ourselves, just the two of us hanging out. i also was conscious to thank her for the time and to thank both of my parents for helping me out with an errand over the weekend. i am also pitching in for a big event scheduled for next monday -- my grandmother's 100th birthday party. it will have a luau theme for which i provided a ton of decorations (because who doesn't have two bins worth of inflatable palm trees, plastic leis and grass table skirts in their storage area?). i am also paying for luau food from L&L BBQ.

this party will give me the opportunity to fulfill all of my resolutions for the month -- seeing grandma and spending time with the kids and my brother. even my uncle will be there. i'm not sure forgiveness will rain down from the heavens, but at least i can test my ability to be cordial and see if i can use some of the things i learned from this past week in other areas to help reduce the stress of this strained relationship.

i emailed and set up tentative plans with 3 of my 6 key people. i also had my mom take a quick first pass through the storage area looking for the box that has christine's last known address while she was in there digging for the decorations. no luck. i will need to plan an excavation.

for some reason, i find myself resistant to contact the three remaining friends. i'm not sure why. i keep coming up with excuses like they are too busy and i don't want to bug them, i don't know their schedules or whether we'll be able to find a good time to get together, maybe i'll be too busy, i don't know what we'll do together... not a valid excuse in the bunch. as i was typing this i just realized that these three have something in common that the others don't. the three i have plans to see are people i have known since childhood, who i know love me back and therefore there is no risk involved. the three i haven't contacted are newer friends who i really want to spend more time with but who i haven't developed strong relationships with yet. i'm guessing the fear of rejection is tempering my will here. i may just need to take it a little slower, work up to the invitation and maybe approach them one at a time, not as part of a batch.

one really great thing that came out of this, one night i was thinking about one of my old friends. i planned to go home and send her an email but instead, i just called her. sometimes i forget that hearing someone's voice is completely different than keystrokes in email and it is definitely worth the effort.

it's amazing how sometimes just a little shift -- in perception, approach, and intention -- can make a world of difference. the good progress i posted about earlier in the week has definitely continued and i hope to keep it rolling.

this really was the most challenging, revealing and probably rewarding part of the puzzle. i had no idea how often i do to myself just what i don't like to have done by others: dismissing my own needs, denigrating my own dreams, trying to make up for ongoing neglect with big gestures that just don't fill the real need. having to pay attention to how i treat myself, especially in the context of how i wanted to treat others was an eye-opener. my on-going goal will be figuring out how to keep my eyes open.

declutter challenge: bedroom
this was actually a bit of a bust in some ways. i did get and keep the room itself clean, but i had hoped to do a good purge of the storage drawers and the random items that lurk under the dressers that just didn't happen. this is pretty much the same thing that happened last week with the kitchen. i think i need to rethink my approach. i have been waiting until i have a big chunk of time to tackle the whole thing instead of trying to do a little here and a little there all week long. small steps add up. i will keep that in mind for this week.

food challenge: tofu

on the tofu challenge i wound up 2 for three. you already saw my great success with tofu scramble and you're about to see how easy it is to swap tofu for beef in a simple taco recipe. unfortunately, i didn't get to the tofu smoothie. i made the mistake of saving it for last and alas, had my best intentions thwarted by a mild bout with food poisoning. i do intend, however, to make it up this week -- probably tuesday after the gym.

i love food that you get to put together at the table and tacos were one of my favorite family dinners growing up. thing is, even though i do eat red meat again, after twenty years as a vegetarian, i just can't do it all the time. lucky for me, replacing the beef with tofu was easier than i ever imagined. just rinse, pat dry and crumble it into the pan, then follow the instructions on the seasoning packet just like you were cooking with meat (brown, stir, serve). it tasted just as good and was way less greasy. the whole experience leaves my eager to try this substitution in other meat-based dishes, including lasagna and chili, now that i know how easy it is.

so long week two. hello week three!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

food challenge: tofu scramble

here it is saturday and i haven't cooked a single tofu dish -- yet. but that's what the weekend is for. and since i woke up very hungry, i figured i'd start with a basic, tofu-based breakfast dish: tofu scramble. to get me started i hunted around on the internet for a while and found this simple, flexible recipe:

i used frozen peas and corn as the veggies and substituted powered onion and garlic salt for the real thing since they are what i had in the house and in less than 10 minutes i had a delicious and protein-rich breakfast. i especially love that you can pretty much use whatever veggies and flavorings that strike your fancy (or need using up in the fridge) and because tofu reheats pretty well, you can make a big batch and eat it for a couple of days (for me, one container of tofu made enough for two servings).

worried about the dangers of gmo foods? try house foods brand tofu which does not use genetically engineered soybeans.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

day of pampering / date with myself

so i know i said yesterday that it wasn't about the pampering of the taking myself on a date, but today i felt like doing both anyway. i had a few hours to kill between appointments so i headed over to the elizabeth gamble garden, a stunning spot (especially at this time of year) hidden in palo alto, just off embarcadero road.

there are few things i love more than spending time in a new garden (especially with my camera), and this one was all i hoped. wisteria in full bloom draped from trellises. purple and white lilacs bloomed, their scent hanging in the air.

there were irises and tulips and poet's daffodils and even a special treat that felt like it was just for me -- my favorite flower, lily of the valley, which is nearly impossible to grow here without the frost. i almost missed the tiny gems.

scattered throughout the garden were elderly couples walking hand in hand, artists capturing colors on canvas, children running along concrete and flagstone paths. in the community portion of the garden, women worked beds of vegetables. cabbage looked ready for harvest.  just 60 minutes felt like a weekend away.
after the visit i stopped at whole foods to pick up some soap and found something i just couldn't resist: gluten-free baking mixes that didn't contain potato. i swear i put five different kinds in my basket but managed to whittle it down to one: the blondie mix. when i got home i whipped up a batch complete with chopped pecans and flaked coconut. and wow. just wow. it was awesome. a little sweeter than i'm used to these days but the flavor and "crumb" were excellent. luckily i was able to stop after three. the rest will go into the freezer for a rainy day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

dancing with myself

i have been thinking a lot about this whole "stronger relationship with myself" thing and i feel like i didn't totally nail the resolutions. you see, this was a topic suggested to me by someone else so i have been having a hard time getting my head around it. but looking back on yesterday's post about my relationship with my partner, this morning i had an epiphany. building a stronger relationship with myself (which i now realize is pretty much the point of this blog) requires basically the same things any relationship needs, they're just directed inward.

a day of pampering is all well and good, but it doesn't really build the relationship. it just makes me feel better in the short term. and writing about it all means nothing without concrete actions. what really counts are pretty much the same things i listed in my partner resolutions:

- be nicer to / gentler with myself
- make the extra effort to take care of myself
- make time for the things that matter to me
- be more available for my own needs (not just those of others)

 yeah, i may still hit the spa for a few hours or take myself out to dinner as a show of good faith, but it's really the little things that make the difference, both with others and for myself.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

good start to the week

sometimes all it takes to make small improvements that can lead to significant change is just to keep them at the top of your mind. for example, the nutritionist i met with a few weeks back asked me to write down everything i eat until our next appointment. of course the point is to help me see where my eating habits can use improvement, but really, just having to pay enough attention to what i put in my mouth to be able to write it down (not to mention the fact that i know she is going to review it all) has completely changed my eating habits for the better. this may invalidate its use as a measurement tool, but it's effectiveness as a learning tool more than compensates for the loss.

which brings me back to the point of this post (yes, i promise there is a point) and it's this: that just making the conscious decision to assume my boyfriend is acting with the best intentions, to be nicer to him, to make the extra effort,  to talk more about the things that matter, and to be more available has already made a difference.  today, a day i know he's completely swamped at work, all it took was a quick IM telling him that i wished we worked closer so i could bring him lunch. it reminded us both of good good memories and hopefully made his day a little lighter (i know it did mine), all of which helps improve both compassion and connection. all good stuff.

Monday, April 5, 2010

week two: stronger relationships

welcome to week two. this week's plan -- to find ways to strengthen the most important relationships in my life. for me, when things get busy, relationships always seem to take a back seat to work. partly because they don't have deadlines, partly because the consequences of missing work deliverables have the potential for dire financial consequences, and partly because the people who love you understand. the thing is, without a good support system, managing the stresses that come up in life is that much harder. in fact, for me, strong relationships are second only to good health when it comes to leading a happy, healthy, balanced life (hence its position in my list). to that end, here's this week's plan.

the good news is, most of my family is nearby and we are all pretty close. but that doesn't mean there aren't things i can do to make our relationships even stronger. the first one should be easy, but it's always the easiest thing to forget.
- be more appreciative of everything they do for and mean to me
- schedule time to see my grandma at least once per month (she turns 100 this month, so must make time)
- spend more time with my nephews and niece when she is in town (they grow up too fast)
- communicate with my brother more (he only lives two states up, but i rarely talk to him because it makes me miss him more)
- (and this will be the hardest of all) find a way to forgive my uncle (honestly, i don't even know what for, but even though just thinking about this stresses me out, i'm tired of carrying it around)

i actually have a good number of friends but i rarely talk to any of them (except one) and see them even less, and while i would like to see more of all of my friends in general, there are probably five or six that i really miss, and keeping up with them on facebook, livejournal and their blogs, just isn't enough. i also have one lost friend who i would really like to reconnect with.
- reach out to the five or six
- make time to see them (already have a day scheduled with one)
- try and track down christine (so far no luck online, but may have more info buried in my storage space which would be a longer-term project)

- assume the best intentions
- be nicer / make the extra effort
- talk more about the things that matter
- be more available

- schedule a day (or at least a few hours) of self-pampering this week
- regularly schedule dates with myself (that involve doing fun things, not vegging in front of the TV)
- stop with the pressure
- journal about this topic in morning pages

declutter challenge: the bedroom, of course
food challenge: tofu (no good reason, just sounds yummy)

interestingly, in the last couple of weeks since i started thinking about this project, i've already started to work on several of these things and others have just happened randomly, like an impromptu chat session initiated by my favorite uncle in new york. but the big goal is for all of this to become second nature. it probably won't happen in a week, but at least i can get the ball rolling.

related reading:
the highly sensitive person in love
getting to commitment
be the person you want to find

Sunday, April 4, 2010

week one recap

so how did i do this week? considering the fact that i was sick for a lot of it, i think i did pretty well.

- stretch every morning -- check
- gym 3x/week -- nope, working out and sick don't mix
- take the stairs -- check
- walk (yes, mall-walking counts) -- yep

- eat breakfast every morning (sitting down) -- all but once and i at it as soon as i got to work
- take vitamins -- check
- eat 5-6 small meals a day; include protein in each -- i definitely averaged five, so yep
- weekly food challenge: cook selected food three new ways -- definitely, see update below

emotional balance
- sleep 7+ hours/night (or at least in bed by 11) -- this one was tough, but i did manage 3 nights out of seven, a big improvement for me
- create and implement daily routines -- done and adhered to every day but one
- write morning pages -- check
- meditate -- every day but one
- begin mindfulness work --

- 15 minute pick-up every day -- all but one

- weekly declutter challenge: kitchen -- i cleaned out the fridge and freezer, reorganized a couple of cabinets and cleared the counters to make room for my kitchenaid mixer; unfortunately i didn't  get to everything i wanted to do (including the top of the fridge) but now that i'm on the mend i will try and make it up this week

and as for the food challenge, here are the results:

spinach pizza
okay, i'll admit it, this was a lazy decision. it was late, it had been a long day at work and i just wanted something yummy with a healthy twist. i used the pizza crust recipe from The Wheat-Free Cook: Gluten-Free Recipes for Everyone, then topped with spaghetti sauce, italian seasoning, mozzerella and frozen spinach with a dusting of garlic salt. yum!

crustless spinach quiche
yes, i picked this one because it didn't require a crust. i also made a few adjustments. i only used half an onion instead of a whole one (which was still a lot) and substituted the 3 cups of muenster cheese for 1.5 cups of feta and 1.5 cups of cheddar. unfortunately i forgot to adjust down (aka omit) the salt to make up for the saltiness for the feta, but i still loved in, and best of all i have three pieces left for breakfasts. i think this is going to become a great staple for me and i can switch it up with different veggies, different cheeses and other fun things like herbs and spices. very excited.

creamed spinach
for this recipe i doubled the medium white sauce recipe on the back of the kingsford cornstarch box with the following variations:

1. sauteed onion in melted butter
2. added cornstarch
3. used half-and-half instead of milk
4. used 1.5 10 ounce boxes of frozen spinach

i thought it turned out a little on the oniony side and yet somehow kind of bland, but the rest of the family loved it.

but more importantly, did i learn anything? yes. taking the time to do some prep work each night and sticking to the routines that help me feel better every morning and remembering to make time for things like reading and gardening that feed my soul is just as important as how often i exercise and what i eat. but really, when it comes down to it, the most important thing is sleep. so i'll keep working on that.

week one update

outside my window, an oregon junco is hopping around looking for seeds, perching occasionally on the spokes of my old schwinn bicycle. not so long ago, i wouldn't have been been obsessing about my to do llists, and feverishing multi-tasking instead of remembering to open the blinds and looking out at the garden as i ate and worked.

so far, despite being under the weather i have been doing very well on my resolutions this week. i have stretched, eaten breakfast, taken my vitamins and done my morning pages every day and generally stuck to my new routines. i meditated and did my 15-minute pick-up every day but one, took the stairs regularly all week and even did some good walking. i also started reading my mindfulness workbook and bought a journal to use to do the exercises. that leaves the two big challenges: cooking with frozen spinach and decluttering the kitchen -- the perfect activities for a rainy, low-energy day and weekend. and the perfect activities for focusing on health at the start of spring.

according to the feng shui shopper email i recieved in my inbox this morning:

"Spring is here. As the season awakens, it is represented by the wood element which is responsible for maintaining a free flow of energy (Chi) throughout the body. It is a time of hope and awakening. You can invite new things into your life simply by creating space for them. The wood element plays a major role in the detoxification process and in Feng Shui food terms is represented by the taste of or bitter. With this in mind it’s a good time to eat lots of fresh, natural, bitter foods such as arugula, dandelion greens and spinach...

This is a great time to clear the clutter and get rid of things that no longer serve you. Your state of health in Feng Shui terms is related to your kitchen so this is a good time to de-clutter the refrigerator/freezer and clean out your cupboards, drawers, and surfaces to create vibrant energy that will flow and nourish your life."

that's the hope.