The perils of a modern mindset

27 Feb

55C799FB-2F6A-4870-9FAF-3BD4122B02A7

What did people do just one hundred years ago when faced with a seemingly insurmountable fear or woe? Where would you or I have turned to, in an age prior to smart phones, wireless, and sophisticated google search methods?

I have a theory: our ancestors got comfortable with not having all the answers. They had far more to fear: pregnant women were up against a 10% infant death rate, while anyone could be swept away by tuberculosis, pneumonia, or influenza. They had far fewer comforts, too: running water and cars were uncommon luxuries, and canned beer didn’t exist. Maybe they spent unseemly amounts of time feeling sorry for themselves, and maybe they dreamed of troubles being lifted, or at least of being able to buy shampoo. I don’t know. All I know is that they didn’t have the option of mining the internet in hopes of “fixing” inner angst, or to get the best advice for mending a fractured relationship, or to  get the definitive answers to frightful theology questions. They couldn’t call the person who could assuage their anxiety, or flood text messages to friends near and far, or pick a text fight with their boyfriend because maybe something is slightly off and needs probing. Instead, they likely let the terror of not making rent or growing old some day pass through their minds, then went and milked the cow or strung clothes out to dry.

They experienced scarcity of information; we experience an overabundance in which we ofttimes drown. They didn’t know because they didn’t have means to know; today, such naivete is not allowed. There’s no good reason to muse with someone else about, say, where coffee came from when there are countless books, articles, and websites waiting with readily available answers. I’m guessing they, the generation of one hundred years ago, learned much more from simply keeping company with life’s drearier prospects than we do with our anxious quest and fidgety need for solutions.

Yeah, our lives are cake walks in comparison, and I sure don’t want to return to a time when no part of a Friday night bubble bath – streaming Netflix on my iPad, sipping white wine, the bubbles –  would be possible. I do want to be willing, as my working theory argues our ancestors were, to accept the unknown. I want to face an obscured future, the good and the bad, even the most bad, without trying to control outcomes. I want to get comfortable with the uncomfortable realities of our frail existences. Maybe it really is OK to not be OK. Maybe that’s part of God’s provision for us in a fallen word. Just maybe.

Today’s recipe, roasted chicken, would be considered extravagant fare one hundred years ago. Paired with cooked vegetables and a hearty loaf of bread, our ancestors would think this chicken is only proper for Christmas dinner. Yet for us, it’s such a simple meal, with easily attainable ingredients and minimal prep. That’s a paradox I can appreciate.

ROASTED CHICKEN (adapted from Country Side Cravings’ recipe)

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole chicken, giblets and majority of skin removed

1/2 Tbs. iodized salt

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1.5 Tbs. McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken seasoning

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 Tbs. minced garlic

1 Tbs. olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine all spices and garlic. Rub chicken with olive oil, then rub with spice mixture. Place seasoned chicken in a baking dish (any 13×9 pan will do) sprayed with PAM. Bake chicken for 80-90 minutes, or until cooked through.

CALORIES (per 3 oz. serving without skin): ~110

 

B77B5E16-2888-4579-B409-A31936507D4C

Advertisements

When your emotions are running wild and you can’t just be still and know

14 Jan

cinque terre_breaking wave

I’ve read enough Ann Voskamp posts lately for her writing style to seep into my thought processes. If you, too, are a Voskamp lady aficionada, may I lead with noting that imitation is the highest form of flattery…

You know those late nights when you’re all foggy brained and aching for sleep, but your mind is still operating on its last dregs of caffeine? It’s dragging you through your own dirt, that unpleasant catalog of your every mistake, missed opportunity, and insecurity. It’s replaying conversations that happened a year ago, or just today. Did I say the right thing? Too many things? Or did I avoid the important things? It’s pricking you with regret over how you frittered last weekend away, continue to repeat the same sin, or failed at a friendship. It’s trying to solve what can’t be solved: I’m not good enough. How can I make myself good enough? Or how can I justify myself, and decide I’m good enough?

Nothing is well with your soul when anxiety hijacks your brain, sending it fluttering into obsessive self-guilt. Anxiety is nothing less than the devil telling you a half-truth, that you’re not good enough. The devil wants to leave you there, to either throw up your hands in apathy that leads to self-destruction, or to rationalize that through working harder, denying self more, or living more radically you will be good enough.

quote_god plan for lifeThe devil delights in this half-truth because he knows how easily we forget to push past it to the only truth that can combat our deepest self-hatred and grief over spotted pasts and grievous sins: Jesus is more than good enough. He is the only good, the only means by which we become “good enough.” So go on, look inside yourself. Sit with all that making a muck of it and missing the mark and straight-up turning your back on God. Just don’t stop there. Don’t let the anxiety spiral into a god that cannot be pleased. Move past it, to look outside yourself, to the one who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Who says those wounds don’t include self-inflicted ones? Who says they don’t include the kind of backsliding that makes your mind recite a blasphemous mantra: you are hopeless, you are hopeless, until you decide it must be true?

Anxiety is not the be all end all. The debilitating self-questioning does not have the final say, because while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). When you’ve finished surveying your inner rot, survey the cross. Be dazzled by what the prince of glory did for you that you could not do for yourself. Be so drenched in God’s abundant grace that your guilt and inner angst are drowned out. Take hold of the promise that is ever-present and ever-true: neither death nor life, neither angels nor rulers, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Being still and knowing that God, not I, is in control presents an ongoing challenge. I wrestle with leaving unresolved matters in God’s hands, with leaving my messiness in the potter’s hands. In my struggle, I’ve found that habits, good or bad, influence my ability to trust God and be known by Him. It’s a stretch to say that my lunch-eating habits shape my Christian walk, but I’m going for it. The following is a very simple recipe for a Mediterranean-inspired salad, which I do eat four days a week!

QUASI-MEDITERRANEAN SALAD

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 servings):

1 bag baby carrots

2 heads Romaine lettuce

4 cups mixed greens

1/2 red onion, diced

2 Roma tomatoes

1 English cucumber, halved and sliced

1/4 cup Feta cheese

6 oz. grilled chicken breast strips (I buy these ones at ALDI)

2 Tbs. Tzatziki sauce (Costco variety is ideal!)

2 Tbs. light balsamic vinaigrette dressing (like this one from ALDI)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Boil baby carrots until tender. Drain and let cool. Distribute into four small plastic containers.
  2. Meanwhile, combine both lettuce varieties, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, and Feta cheese. Distribute salad mixture into two large plastic containers.
  3. Using kitchen scale, weigh out 3 oz. of chicken strips into two small plastic containers.
  4. Place 1 Tbs. tsatziki sauce and 1 Tbs. balsamic vinaigrette into a small plastic container. Repeat with second container.
  5. Pack 2 lunches with salad, chicken, dressing, and carrots. When ready to eat, first warm the carrots in microwave, then combine all ingredients and enjoy!

CALORIES: 250 (per serving)

Salad Pic 2.jpg

 

 

 

 

The short and long of it: on blogging, book writing, and persevering

10 Mar

Graham Greene

Novelist Graham Greene

Hello there. I’ve been off writing a kids chapter book. I’m back, at least for today. Book writing is a different speed. Whereas a blogger must deliver with every word, a novelist is at liberty to meander and subject the reader to mundane details. A good blog post is like a slice of chocolate mousse pie: rich and satisfying up until the final bite. A book? I’m still figuring that out, but so far I’d say it’s like watching someone drive to the grocery store and back, make purchases, prepare a meal, and host a dinner party. There are moving parts and parts to slough through. I’m learning to make space for the everyday and to resist forced majesty. A book requires more patience and less perfectionism; more consistency and less brilliancy. I must give the story breathing room, letting it develop slowly over time.

In an article titled “How Writers Write,” William Landay quotes Graham Green: “So much of a novelist’s writing…takes place in the unconscious; in those depths the last word is written before the first word appears on paper. We remember the details of our story, we do not invent them.”  Indeed, my book’s characters are but an amalgamation of personalities I’ve known or encountered in my actual life. Everyday, I try to build a different scene based on someone familiar: the mom who cleans obsessively, or the dad who can’t tolerate cereal being slurped at the breakfast table, or the kid whose guilty pleasure is reading with a flashlight under the covers well past bedtime.

My story line, however, is unfamiliar: it’s about an experience that, as a kid, I would have wanted to read about. Here, I am attempting to engage in a form of escapism that children seem to effortlessly partake in with their imaginations. I want kids to experience reading my book as I did Julie Andrew’s “Mandy,” in which the heroine escapes from an orphanage to an abandoned cottage that she then spruces up. I relished each description of Mandy’s cottage renovations, from planting flowers to securing and arranging cutlery, and envisioned how I would fix up a cottage given the opportunity.

It’s the intertwining of the humdrum into something extraordinary that I’m after. It seems like a wholly new thing to be chasing, but when I think about it, I’m always after the remarkable within the ordinary. I want each day to be significant and become unhappy when it turns out boring or same-old. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, strings of routine days turn into pretty significant accomplishments. For me, hours of practicing Kreutzer’s etudes and Barbara Barber’s advanced scales led to a spot as a second violinist in Pennsylvania’s All State Orchestra. I am reminded, too, when I look back on my very first blog post, how my writing has developed just by making a habit of it. Think: isn’t the same true for you in something you’ve slugged through for weeks, months, years, perhaps even decades?

In the same vein, guess which food I’m going to point you to today? Yep, that’s right: oatmeal, my constant work-in-progress.

OVERNIGHT OATS 

 

yogurt 2

INGREDIENTS (makes 1 serving):

1/3 cup quick oats

1/3 cup 1% milk (or other low-fat milk of your choice)

1/4 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

Drizzle honey (~1/2 Tbs.)

Berries: any combination of blueberries, blackberries, sliced strawberries, raspberries

Salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Layer oats, milk, yogurt, and honey in a tight-seal plastic container. Top with berries. Place lid on container and store in fridge overnight. Remove from fridge the following morning, fully mix ingredients together, and salt to taste prior to eating.

CALORIES: ~200

yogurt 1

 

 

 

Why I Aspire to be more like Anne of Green Gables

24 Sep

IMG_0185

The recent Netflix series “Anne with an E” whimsically transports the viewer into a type of dream world. No, not one without heartache or mistreatment or hard times, but one where Anne’s sheer enthusiasm and sense of wonder irresistibly soften each blow.  To Anne, Avonlea is “the most beautiful place on earth.” She reads far too many books, resulting in expressions such as “it is a scrumptious pleasure to make your acquaintance” and “isn’t Saskatchewan just the most delicious name to say?” Matthew Cuthbert, who co-adopts Anne with his sister Marilla, says she “loves trees and flowers and such,” and “she’s got a lot of romantic notions about life.”

Not only is Anne’s character irresistible, but life on Prince Edward Island, too, holds a certain charm. There is only one school house, one church, one main street to shop on. Obviously, the late 19th century was a simpler time than that in which we live today. Indeed, it is refreshingly so. Anne finds great joy in crowding her hat with wildflowers hoping to make a good impression on her first day of school. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world when Matthew buys her a dress with puffed sleeves. In contrast, modern me views the outdoors functionally as a gym option and only wants to fill my online cart with more items once I strike upon a cute dress.

We 21st century Americans seem to have an options problem. We are overstimulated by social media, consumerism, and curating our self-presentation to the point of exhaustion. We are made paralyzingly insecure by our inability to keep up, to keep busy, to keep going. Worse still, we are so wrapped up in what everyone else is doing that we’ve stopped talking to each other. I traveled Labor Day weekend, and on the shuttle from the Pittsburgh airport to parking, I noticed the couple in front of me didn’t exchange a single word. She was on Instagram, he was on Facebook, just scrolling. I, too, was guilty of checking my phone too frequently over that same weekend while in the company of dear friends I rarely get to see.

I don’t actually want to time-travel to the late 19th century. I like hot showers on-demand, not dying of bacterial infections, and box brownies far too much. I do, however, enjoy  44 minute bursts of escape into Anne’s Avonlea. I want to want a kindred spirit the way Anne does more than I want to stare at my phone. I want to generously win over difficult people as Anne does her best friend Diana’s mother. I want but one sliver of Anne’s spunk and grit, because I think it takes bravery to really engage with others, to be a true blue friend.

Whether you find the following recipe irresistibly simple or refreshingly good, I hope it makes you think of Anne…

EGG WHITE VEGETABLE SCRAMBLE

INGREDIENTS (makes 3 servings):

 1.5 cup egg whites

1 bag spinach

1 container button mushrooms, sliced

5-6 red vine tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Wilt the fresh spinach in sauce pan over medium heat. Remove spinach and any residual moisture. Spray pan with PAM, and add mushrooms and tomatoes. Once cooked, remove from pan and add egg whites. Once egg whites are almost cooked, season with salt and pepper and add feta. To assemble for lunch meal prep, distribute egg whites and vegetables evenly across three containers. Serve with a piece of toast.

CALORIES (without toast): 150 (per serving)

76BBA127-E56A-4B05-BF1F-92BF6A93DDE3

Paris for Non-lovers

17 Jun

IMG_2540

Believe it or not, Paris is worth visiting when you’re not romantically involved. You just have to tell the vendor persistently marketing the raspberry red, heart shaped lock that you and your travel buddy are in a ‘no love’ type relationship prior to ascending onto a platonic Seine River boat cruise. It’s effective, eventually.  Kidding aside, a recent four-day stint to the city of lights with my dear friend Kaitlyn was chock full of stunning sights and scrumptious food. Since I don’t have a funny story to rival last summer’s blonde and helpless episode in Dublin, I’d like to instead describe how we successfully navigated the lush Parisian landscape without a single heart flutter:

Day 1: Montmartre – Moulin Rouge =  Friend Zone

After alighting from Icelandair F1540 at 6:20 am with at best four hours of sleep and grumbling stomachs due to the lack of flight service, we somehow managed to first bump into old friends while shuttling to the train station. Well, friends in the sense that your big sister’s co-worker’s brother is your friend. Peter, who I recognized as the brother of a kid I played violin with at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Miss., and his wife, Anne, were visiting Paris for a wedding. And yes, they had done the Icelandair #Stopover, which is apparently a-mah-zing.

IMG_2227Map in hand, Kaitlyn shrewdly steered us to our lodgings in Oberkamp for luggage drop-off, and subsequently towards the Montmartre area, wherein towards the beginning of the 20th century Picasso and other greats made art history while surviving at the Bateau-Lavoir. Is the juxtaposition of eating crêpes nearby a whimsical carousel after the stunning view atop Sacré-Cœur even remotely likely to speed one’s heart palpitations? Psssh, only if you’re a sucker.

Day 2: The Palais Garnier for free is more sleazy than steamy

The morning was marked with accidental failures, specifically redefining its hours IMG_2281by waking up at 12:40 pm and unwittingly not paying the Palais Garnier 10 euro (I think? At least?) access fee by entering via the gift shop. Our honest mistake was admittedly enjoyable; the opera house is real fancy! Next, a stroll through Tuileries Garden transitioned to a spontaneous walk through the Rodin, due to persistent rain. I wasn’t aware appreciating the works of Michelangelo’s modern equivalent would be considered romantic, but according to Marie Claire it’s the 6th most so activity in Paris. The rain having subsided somewhat, we next traipsed along Champs-Élysées, managing to defy its high-end atmosphere by eating chocolate croissants at Brioche Dior. Curiosity did, however, lure us into the flagship Louis Vuitton store, which currently features a winking Mona Lisa and always serves bubbly to paying customers.

And now, I must break with my theme and admit whole-heartedly that the Eiffel Tower is definitely for lovers. You can’t reach the very tip-top without some transferrance of the dreamy backdrop to your state of mind. But it’s also an adventure, especially close to midnight on a chilly and blustery night when you’ve opted to climb the stairs to the first summit.

Day 3: The Louvre’s Nintendo audio tour just makes you feel like a third grader

We woke up at a more acceptable hour, 8 am, with the intention of beating the line IMG_2446to climb Notre Dame Towers. I sidetracked these efforts, by having us stop at Traiteur Saveurs de Pains Viennoiserie for espresso and pattiseries. I can’t say I will crave a second tarte fruit rouge, but the presentation was excellent. We did not beat the lines, arriving at 10 am and waiting a good hour to ascend the Notre Dame Tower’s 327 stairs. No big deal – I used that time to complete a crossword and secure additional hot beverages for myself and Kaitlyn.  The winding ascent is dizzying, yet worth the great view from the top. Of more interest to me concerning the Gothic cathedral is Victor Hugo’s role in preserving it. The Hunchback of Notre Dame,  published in 1831, arguably served as a plea to not demolish or repurpose the church, which was at the time in a sorry state of disrepair.  “Gothic art was then regarded as ugly and offensive,” state Nadeau and Barlow in The Story of French, “so Hugo’s choice of the location was deliberate: it linked the grotesque characters with the ugly art…which he, as a Romantic, found beautiful.”

Being good tourists, we wasted no time getting to the Louvre. As we learned from IMG_2454our tour guide on Day 1’s Seine river cruise, it would take three continuous and sleepless months to view every piece of art housed in the Louvre, given a three second viewing time. We targeted the Renaissance paintings section, using the Nintendo audio tour to learn about select works. The Louvre is noisy, thanks to its overcrowding of people and art. I imagine it’s better enjoyed by the locals in the dead of winter, when less tourists are around.

Day 4: Forget bringing sexy back; Latin Quarter food finds are worth the vacation pudge

Kaitlyn informed me pre-trip that “eating is her hobby.” We had been killing it on the food front days 1-3, but managed to take our gourmand quest to a higher level on IMG_2499day 4. It being Whit Monday, our planned destination, Palace of Versailles, was closed. Instead, we wandered the Latin Quarter and discovered an outdoor food mart, where we sampled macaroons and specialty wines, and a hotbed of fondue restaurants. One of them, Le Marathon, had a hot non-fondue deal, too: a three-course meal for only 10 euros! I enjoyed French onion soup, chicken and french fries, and opted for espresso in place of the third course. We really struck gold in the ladies room, wherein coupons for various attractions were being displayed next to the sink. (I should mention, too, that our waiter wooed Kaitlyn as she exited the restroom, giving her a kiss on the cheek and remarking on her beauty!) I grabbed a coupon for the Musée du Chocolat, and shortly after we found ourselves learning about chocolate’s origins as an unsweetened drink consumed by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. Test tasting, a chocolate sculpture of the Eiffel Tower, and a chocolate-making demonstration were included in the museum as well.

Any attempts at imitating French cuisine will pale in comparison to the real deal. Instead, I recommend a simple yet delicious picnic menu, which we heartily enjoyed on our train from Paris to Barcelona:

PARISIAN PICNIC

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 loaf of French bread from any patisserie (it will cost you less than 1 euro)

– 1 wedge of Brie cheese

– Red globe grapes

– A bottle of Etxe Peio‘s wine (purchased from the aforementioned Latin Quarter food mart)

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare small cheese sandwich bites by folding Brie cheese into pieces of bread. Pair with grapes. Re-use espresso cup as wine cup.

CALORIES: who cares, you’re on vacation

IMG_2564

Why should we keep writing?

4 May

IMG_0182

I’ve set a personal goal to complete Clifton Fadiman’s Lifetime Reading List. My pace is more the slow crawl of a starfish after pigging out on mollusks than the steady trudge of a horse. Even if I read all 176 books, which span across most genres, history, and the world, I’ve only scratched great literature’ surface. There’s still John Steinbeck and Rudyard Kipling, Willa Cather and Sigred Undset, Carson McCullers and W.E.B. Du Bois. Not to mention Trollope’s forty-three other novels, or almost any meaty, historical biography. Talk about FOMO! Sometimes, too, I’d like to dig into a compactly compelling Graham Greene novel or indulge in some Harold McGee-type food nerd reads.

An overwhelming volume of outstanding books, essays, poems, and articles exist already. An unconquerable amount. Yet we continue writing, churning out news pieces and novels and biographies and blog posts. Why do we feel compelled to keep scribbling? Are we actually producing new thoughts and ideas, or just transposing an old song into a new key? History does repeat itself, and nothing we do or write will ever be entirely original. Yet, I believe we feel almost burdened with telling our own stories. We want to represent our own sentence within the broader pen strokes of mankind’s tale. We want to link our time to past and future ones. National Review writer Jonah Goldberg touched upon this idea in a recent newsletter: “Man is a story-telling animal, and stories are what give us meaning, direction, and passion.”

IMG_0183

In a world that is becoming evermore cluttered with words, it’s easy to feel like our own don’t matter much, like we’re just re-mowing the grass in a well-manicured lawn. But I think this mindset undervalues the everyday impact we have on each other. Hearing from someone we love, or admire, is quite different from reading something similar in a George Eliot novel or a Shakespeare sonnet. This applies both to all my fellow bloggers in what we write, and also to everyone who interacts with fellow humans. If what you write matters to one other person, it matters. The same applies to what you do. So while I deeply value and revere the great classics, I also deeply value writers of our time, some better known than others. Ann Voskamp is a constant, beautifully-expressed source of encouragment; Tim Challies keeps me grounded; Jill Carattini outputs informative yet soul-stirring blogs; and Jim Geraghty is my main news source.

We can’t know where we are going without a sense of where we came from. We desperately need, then, to read books that have stood the test of time. We also can’t get to where we are going without probing through and making sense of where we are now, which is why we need to supplement our reading with bloggers and writers of our own time. Risky behavior for a purist, I know. While I plan to prioritize my current Fadiman-list read, Herodotus’ The Histories, I’m also planning to steer away from the ancient Greeks here and there to tap into the here and now. So read on, reader; write on, writer. Every word counts.

If Pinterest counts as a culturally relevant source of the here and now, yours truly has got her finger on the pulse. My most recent recipe find, in the pursuit of any and all slow cooker novelties, is a Vietnamese Bahn Mi Rice bowl, except I made it into a salad. Perfect for low-cal lunchtime feasting!

BANH MI SALAD BOWL

IMG_1978

INGREDIENTS (makes 3 servings):

CHICKEN:

11 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 Tbs. soy sauce

1/2 Tbs. brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1/ tsp. pepper

1 Tbs. minced garlic

1 jalapeño, sliced

PICKLED VEGETABLES:

1 cup shredded carrots

8-10 radishes, sliced

2 Tbs. white granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

6 Tbs. white vinegar

SALAD:

1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Chicken: Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker. Combine garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, and jalapeño. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low setting 5-6 hours or until chicken appears cooked through. Once cooked, shred chicken and reserve sauce.

Pickled Vegetables: Meanwhile, combine sugar, salt, and vinegar. Add in shredded carrots and radish slices. Let sit at least 30 min, then drain or else let remain in juices (I chose the latter option). Keep refrigerated.

Assembly: Before eating (or when packing your lunch), layer 1/3 purple cabbage, 1/3 pickled vegetables, and 1/3 cilantro in bowl or plastic container. Heat and top salad with chicken.

CALORIES (per serving): 200

(Adapated from: skinnytaste)

Salad is better enjoyed with addition of a sesame vinaigrette, such as Kraft’s lite Asian toasted sesame dressing (add 45 calories/2 Tbs.)

On combating our toxic inner thought lives

30 Mar

Oprah Weight Watchers Ad

“How do you show up in your life?” This is the question Oprah Winfrey asks in her new Weight Watcher’s commercial. It’s a Hulu ad I’ve seen dozens of times in the pursuit of trashy reality TV. Kylei, Oprah’s interviewee who has successfully lost 73 pounds, responds: “I feel like I walk into a room just glowing. I feel like me again.” Oprah and Kylei then revel in their mutual love of chips, and I’m left feeling slightly skeptical of Kylei’s response, yet absorbed by Oprah’s query.

I wish I had a response ready for Oprah, but I don’t. You see, being an adult is pretty weird. You have more freedom than you ever did as a kid, but your brain is far more inhibited. You’re more likely to think, based on past experiences, “They won’t pick me for that job” or “He definitely would never ask me out.” Not because only bad things happen to us, but because we tend to remember the bad more. In the 2001 journal article Bad is Stronger than Good, Baumeister, Finkenauer, and Vohs describe various studies showing that humans more thoroughly process bad emotions, feedback, information, and events than they do good ones.

I know one thing for sure: if I can’t tone down the negativity I send my own way, I can’t ‘show unhappy personup’ in my life all aglow as Kylei is doing these days. Karen Ehman’s recent guest-post on Ann Voskamp’s blog touched upon this very issue. She discusses self-directed viciousness in terms of words we have been depositing into our ‘heart closets’ over years and years. Our self-rejection can be debilitating, making us think less kindly of not only ourselves, but of others, too.

My long-term answer to Lady Winfrey is that I ‘show up’ feeling comfortable in my own skin. I don’t spend much time wallowing in self-loathing because I’m over it. I’m over me. I might not be able to get back to her until I’m an 87-year-old proud denture wearer, and she’s cryogenically preserving herself for the next era. But I’ll have an answer, some day, and it will require putting some work in each day prior. Actually, perhaps that’s the secret to getting older, knowing that our older selves will be easier to bear. The toxic stream of comparisons, self-doubts, and out-of-whack perspectives will have been at least semi-sorted out and subdued. Until then, I’ll be daily reminding myself that all the crazy inside is just that.

Looking back on recent posts, I’m also decidedly protein-crazed. Unabashedly so, as this post is perpetuating that trend with a venture into the realm of high-protein dessert.

GREEK YOGURT FRUIT TART

fruit tart_1

INGREDIENTS (Makes four 5″ tarts, each of which is good for sharing)

CRUST:

9 dried dates

8 graham cracker sheets

1.5 Tbs. margarine

pinch of salt (~1/8 tsp.)

FILLING:

1 oz. box instant sugar free vanilla pudding

2 cups 1% milk

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 scoop (15 g) vanilla whey protein powder (I use: Optimum Nutrition ‘Vanilla Ice Cream’ flavor)

dash of vanilla

TOPPING:

sliced strawberries

sliced kiwis

blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Crust: Place graham crackers and dates in food processor until ground into fine crumbs. Transfer graham cracker/date mixture from food processor into bowl. Add salt and margarine and mix until crust sticks together. Pat crust into bottom of four 5″ tart pans. Bake crusts 5-6 min. at 350 F.

Filling: Prepare pudding according to instructions. Add Greek yogurt, protein powder, and vanilla to pudding.

Assembly: Once crusts have cooled, distribute filling across them. Finally, top with sliced fruit in whatever manner you find aesthetically pleasing!

CALORIES (per 1/2 tart): 200 

PROTEIN: 12 g per tart

fruit tart_4.jpg