Archive | February, 2015

Cry Me a River…then Shake, Shake, Shake it Off

13 Feb

funny singles day

If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, take a moment to indulge in self-pity. Yes, you are attractive! Yes, you are smart! Yes, you are funny! But you are still single, and it’s a little sad. I place a high emphasis on self-worth and being content regardless of relationship status. But when V Day hits, especially when it hits on a Saturday, it’s OK to let down the Katniss Everdeen meets Margaret Thatcher exterior and be vulnerable. Critical to having an enjoyable Singles Awareness Day is first getting out the angst, the inner rage and frustration. I mean it. Literally scream it out, cry it out, blow it out. Then, we can focus on the benefits of being exactly where we are. After all, it won’t last forever.

Step 1. Identify the source of your irritation. What bothers you the most about being single? Do you feel undesirable? Do you think everyone who is dating someone pities you? Is it a fear of being alone for good? Do you have residual feelings for your ex, including but not limited to resentment, sadness, or lust? Or are you generally lonely, and begrudge the commercial world for putting a holiday up for sale which you have no part in? Right now, the source of my irritation is a feeling of being left behind. The couples canoodling tonight  are eons ahead of me. I have a tendency to mark ‘meeting the right person’ as a goal which concrete steps should be taken towards. From this perspective, ‘coupling’ is equivalent to earning an academic degree. Couples are already at their university of choice, and I haven’t even decided where to apply.  Have you ever read the comic strip Cathy, in which a single, slightly overweight woman nearly foams at the mouth in frustration over just about everything and anything? Now that my greatest difficulty with being single has been exposed, we look like twins:

panicky cathy

Step 2. Like I said before, let it out. After today, you must return to pretending like being single is ever-glamorous and alluring. Take time to release that tense ball of ‘still single’ anxiety. It needs a break from the cramped quarters your rib cage offers. Do something not at home that you really enjoy, be it shopping, getting a massage, a yoga class, or even a trip to the bookstore.

Step 3. Decide how you will cope. I’ve adopted Lucille Ball’s mantra: “One of the things I’ve learned the hard way is that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a waythis american life
of life can restore your faith in yourself.” I’ve also recently discovered This American Life, one of the most popular pod casts in the country . If you, too, are late to the party, the podcast is a journalistic exploration of a weekly ‘theme,’ articulated via a variety of stories. The beauty of This American Life  is in its ability to probe a vast spectrum of ideas and events. Stories range from trivial yet hilarious, such as Mayor Giuliani’s tirade against David Guthartz, executive president of New York Ferret’s Rights Advocacy, for his ‘excessive concern with little weasels’ (listen here), to sober and emotionally piercing, such as the story of Afghani women’s rights advocate Hamida Gulistani and the negative effect losing U.S. troops’ presence has had on her work. Ever since I started listening to This American Life, I’ve felt less sorry for myself, and more intrigued and distracted by what’s going on around me. I’m not saying that listening to the show will have the same effect on you. My point is, when something fully absorbs you, the thought ‘woe is me’ becomes less frequent.

Step 4. Gain some perspective:

  • Liz Taylor was divorced seven times, Marilyn Monroe three.
  • Sophia Loren married this dude:

sophia and carlo

  • Female leads in TV dramas commonly have tragic love lives: Ellen Parsons’ gorgeous fiance is brutally murdered in Season 1 of Damages. Elizabeth Keen’s adorable, 4th grade teacher husband turns out to be a spy who only married her because she is his ‘target’ in Season 1 of  Blacklist.

    David Connor, in hit show Damages, is much cuter alive

    David Connor, in hit show Damages, is much cuter alive

  • Forced romantic gestures are awkward. Whether dating a month or married twenty years, couples America-wide must somehow convince one another that generic Hallmark cards, CVS chocolates, and red roses are particularly unique to their relationship. Phew, we dodged that bullet this year!
  •  You can shamelessly buy Valentine’s Day candy the day after, when it’s half-off!

Congratulations, your pilgrimage to making peace with Singles Awareness Day is complete! I have two recipes today, one from me and one compliments of the Brown Eyed Baker. The first, a roasted veggies recipe, complements getting out the ‘I’m single’ funk, since vegetables make you feel cleaned out. The second, a brownies recipe, is to help you celebrate being single and fabulous in the most delicious way. Truly, I’m the on-the-DL brownie queen, and this recipe is tops.

ROASTED VEGETABLES

(Servings: 3)

INGREDIENTS:roasted veggies

-1 Tbs. olive oil

-2 carrots

-1 red onion

-2 small potatoes

-1 large broccoli crown

-1 Tbs. minced garlic

-Seasoning: salt, pepper, chili powder, vegetable seasoning (i.e. McCormick)

-3 Tbs. Low Moisture, Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 425 F. While it is warming up, peel and chop carrots. Chop onion into larger wedges. Slice potatoes. Remove stems from broccoli and chop crown into smaller pieces. Line a 13 x 9 dish with aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt. Arrange chopped vegetables on sheet. Season with more salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and vegetable seasoning. Sprinkle veggies with 1 Tbs. olive oil. Place dish in oven for 20 minutes. Remove dish from oven and stir vegetables. Place back in oven for another 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Per serving, add 1 Tbs. cheese and melt in microwave. Enjoy!

CALORIES per serving: 190

Now for the treat! Kudos to Michelle for posting the ‘Baked Brownie’ recipe on her blog: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/the-baked-brownie/

Advertisements

Upgrade U

5 Feb

fierce beyonceFashionably late as always, I am just now declaring my New Year’s resolution. I don’t want to merely form a new habit or shake off a bad one. I want, or rather need, a permanent alteration. Specifically, I need to be confident in who I am.

2015 marks the beginning of my 23rd year as a middle child. I have an older sister, Katie, and a younger brother, Ian. There are many benefits to being in the middle. Not having the large age gap that my brother and sister do, I am more able to be close to both siblings. Growing up, I wasn’t expected to be as responsible as Katie was. Her waking me up was the only reason I made it off the bus in  1st grade. It’s even possible my parents feared I would feel neglected as the middle child, because they certainly spent a ton of money on violin lessons. The biggest struggle I had was being the only person in my family who was not strong-willed. My parents and Katie are all first children, and have Type A personalities. Ian, perhaps because he is the only boy, was not easily influenced by me or my sister. He used to confidently tell us that he was the oldest, delighting in how angry his spurious proclamation made us. I am the least decisive one, and the least confident. I think this inability to stand my ground has crept into my adult life, too. I never think to myself “I want to do this, and I’m going to do it.” Instead I think “T want to do this, but I don’t have the stamina, or the ability, or the support, or the guts to do it.” I hate my waffling. I hate that I can’t muster up the cojones to just do it. This indecision is ultimately, I think, a fear of losing something. Anything. I don’t like losing anything.

I am nearly finished with the Christian self-help book Boundaries, by Dr.s Henry Cloud and John Townsend. There’s no twist here. The book is all about setting boundaries – with friends, family, yourself, even God. I was initially reluctant to read it, assuming the content would trigger ‘bad Christian’ guilt, as many Christian books seem to have that effect on me. I was very wrong. The book gives practical advice about, essentially, keepin’ it real. Unhealthy relationships stem from boundary issues. Sloppy boundaries are rooted in dishonesty. If you always say ‘yes’ to someone for fear of losing them, you’re being dishonest in not saying ‘no’ when you should. If you let someone walk all over you, coming and going as they please, you’re lying by acting like that’s an acceptable way to be treated. If you think you can manipulate someone else into doing what you want, you’re lying to yourself. Maybe the above points sound glaringly obvious to you. But for me, it’s been a bit of a revelation that I can neither change people nor bend myself to fit what they want. I have a tendency to be compliant then resentful, because I don’t want others to be angry with me. I either hold a grudge or stuff my anger; in the first case, I let the friendship sour, and in the second, I unload at the wrong time, and sometimes on the wrong person. Again, this links back to not being able to stand my ground. As I work to be more assertive, I can better confront people about issues when they happen, and say ‘no thanks’ when I’m not down for a particular activity or get-together. Maybe I’ll lose some friends. But maybe we were never good friends anyway, or not even meant to be friends. I prefer these prospects over pretending like I’m okay with everyone all the time while an anger monsoon grows in the pit of my stomach.

Being your own person is hard work. It can be heart-breaking, lonely, unstable, and exhausting. However, it’s necessary. My sister once said to me “You are the only person who lives your entire life.” There will be many times when we share experiences with others, and our lives spill into theirs. But even those overlaps are spread across a number of people, and so you end up with quite a different assortment of experiences then, say, your best friend has. No one (besides God) is always by your side. One friend may get married and detach; another may move across the country to take a new job; your spouse may get cancer; your kids will grow up; your dog will die; and no one will die at the exact moment that you do. So how do you, and I, deal with the ineluctable loneliness being human presents? If we haven’t made peace with who we are as individuals, I’m afraid we won’t be able to handle said-loneliness.

My bang inspiration, Rose Byrne

My bang inspiration, Rose Byrne

If you are even one iota as un-self-assured as I am, then I encourage you to join in my ‘self-confidence’ resolution for 2015. Thus far, I realized I’m OK with spending Friday night by myself every once in a while. It’s not my favorite, but craft projects, Project Runway, and brownie baking make it tolerable. I bravely got Taylor Swift bangs (actually inspired by Rose Byrne’s look in Season 4 of Damages, but I look more like Taylor!) because I wanted an edgier look. I signed up for a creative non-fiction writing class. I became captain of my USTA 3.0 Women’s Doubles tennis team. These are baby steps, I know, but that’s the best I can do, and I’m proud of myself.

Me with bangs!

Me with bangs!

To match with my theme, I wish my recipe for this week was a bit more Beyoncé fierce. Instead, it is merely a humble hummus recipe. The lemon and garlic do give it some pozzaz, just not as much as B had in the 47th super bowl halftime show. I adapted this recipe from ‘Cooking Light’ and used my new Ninja food processor (it’s wonderful! I highly recommend it) to combine the ingredients. I boosted the garlic and lemon juice content. Enjoy!

GARLIC HUMMUS

(Servings: ~10)

INGREDIENTS:

-1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

-1 Tbs. minced garlic

-1/4 cup water

-2 Tbs. tahini paste

-3 Tbs. lemon juice

-1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

-1/2 tsp. salt

-1/8 tsp. black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Drain chickpeas. Combine with other ingredients in food processor and blend. Taste. Add garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, as you see fit. That’s right; be confident in the kitchen. 🙂

CALORIES per 2 Tbs. serving: 60

hummus