April 23, 2018

Spring Pea and Quinoa Salad with Honey-Lemon Vinegrette

photo from pinchofyum.com
It's been a while since I shared a recipe and this one was so good, I knew that it would be my next post. Sadly, I did not realize this until after we'd devoured the entire batch...so I have no pics! I'll likely make it again next week, so I'll come back and add some pics then.

So, this quinoa salad is pretty simple; it's nice and light, making it perfect for spring/summer; it's healthy, so you can feel good about eating; and, of course, it's delicious!

Let's get to the recipe!

Spring Pea and Quinoa Salad with Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette*

For the salad:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
3 cups frozen, organic peas
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 slices turkey-bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup raw almonds, pulsed in a food processor until crushed (or super finely chopped)

For the dressing:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 tbsp raw honey (or to taste)
2-3 tbsp basil paste (or to taste) or 1/2 cup fresh basil minced or pureed
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

Rinse and cook the quinoa according to package directions. (I like to soak my quinoa in water for at least a half hour before I cook it.) You can make the quinoa as you make the salad, or you can make it up in advance and keep it in the fridge for when you're ready to use it.

While the quinoa is cooking, cook the turkey bacon in a pan over medium heat until cooked and crispy. Let cool, then chop or crumble. (You can cook the bacon up in advance as well.)

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until crushed.

Bring a pot of water to a boil then remove it from the heat. Add the peas and cover. Let cook for a few minutes, until bright green. Drain.

Puree all of the dressing ingredients in a food processor or whisk briskly/shake in a shaker or jar with tight-fitting lid. (Just get 'em good and mixed, and emulsified however you can!) Note: I use the Gourmet Garden basil paste shown here and it works great. You can find it near the fresh herbs at the grocery.

Toss the peas with the cooked quinoa, then add the feta, and crushed almonds. Toss the dressing with the salad ingredients; salt and pepper as needed; and top with chopped bacon.

Enjoy!


Until next time, eat more good, whole, healthy foods and you're body will thank you for it!


*Recipe adapted from pinchofyum.com. Check her out. I plan to try other recipes from her site.


April 13, 2018

Fear

Fear is a funny thing. It can invade our subconscious with ninja-like stealth and get us to do things we don't really want to do without our even realizing it. Fear is the creepy puppet master behind so many of our bad decisions.

After lots of hard work, I am staring at the near-end of my work on one of my books. I am so excited to get it done and I want nothing more than to share this story with the world.

Until fear enters the picture.

The next step in the process is to have a few people beta read the book before I ready it for agent pitches and queries. While this is something you can pay someone to do, my plan is to ask people I know to read it and share their thoughts. It's not line by line edits, but bigger picture feedback, like: "It gets a little slow in the middle;" or "I didn't really like this character;" or "This chapter made no sense at all;" or "This totally sucks."

As a writer, you hope for mostly glowing responses, mixed with some great insight that helps you make the story even better. But there is a big risk in letting people-- especially people you know, in my opinion--  read your writing.

And risk breeds fear. And fear breeds anxiety. And fear and anxiety breed the fight, flight, or freeze response.

So I start what-if-ing.

What if it sucks? What if people read it and think I'm a terrible writer? What if they read it and wonder how I could possibly devote this much time to something I'm so bad at? What if they think it'll never get published? What if they think I should stop writing? What if I embarrass myself? What if I look like a complete ass?

What if, what if, what if???

I'm not much for fighting, but it's easy to consider running away...in this case, that might look like letting everything else in my life take over my time, suddenly making myself too busy to finish the work; or freezing up...ever heard of writer's block?

As I get closer and closer to the point of no return (sending the book out to people), I find my psyche doing a dance between pushing toward the finish line and taking side street detours. I burn through another chapter of revisions, then schedule a bunch of activities that take away my time to work. I refocus, push through another chapter, then freeze, and spend an entire day just staring at the words on one page, making zero progress.

Why is this not done already? I ask myself. What is taking me so long?

It's the dance.

Which is to say: It's the fear.

So I force myself to take small but bold actions-- things that can be done quickly and force accountability-- to try and outsmart the fear. I post on Facebook or Instagram something about my writing, my deadline, or my goals. I tell friends and family about what I'm up to. I write blog posts about it. ;-) In hopes that making it public, will make me accountable.

But it doesn't lessen the fear or what ifs. It just makes me bulldoze over them, full-throttle: "Watch out suckers, I'm coming through!"

And in the quiet moments, I challenge the what ifs.

What if it sucks? Then I'll rewrite it and make it better; or I'll learn from it, like I did the last one, and the next one will be better. And, by the way, what if it doesn't suck?

What if they think it'll never get published? Then either they'll be right, and I'll move on; or they'll be wrong...

What if I embarrass myself and look like a complete ass? Would I rather embarrass myself now with bad writing, or embarrass myself later by never having pursued my dreams and having lived a wasted life?

And that's really what it all comes down to, isn't it?

"We tiptoe through life hoping to safely make it to death." --Anonymous

Fear is never going to go away. So here's to bulldozing right on over the top of that shit!

Until next time, challenge one of your fears. Don't wait for it to go away. Just push on past it and get on with your bad self.

xo



April 5, 2018

Anxiety Confessions


Confession: I don't know what to write. I'm here. I showed up. I'm ready to write. But...about what? I have lots of thoughts: jumbled thoughts, tangled thoughts, fast running thoughts, lazy river thoughts. But, fast or slow, I can't seem to catch any of them. They slip through my fingers like dandelion fuzz on the wind. I feel jittery and scatterbrained and, at the same time, heavy...like one of those over-loaded old pick-up trucks carting a house-full of belongings strapped on with bungee cord and riding low to the ground. It's a weird dichotomy of physical and mental sensations. Hence the jumbliness of it all.

Confession: Things have been weird on the inside lately. My inner world is the manifestation of a tired, old, wooden roller coaster. Ups, downs, and some extra fear thrown in because you're never quite certain if the whole thing might not just come down right in the middle of the ride. And there's buzziness. I'm pretty sure that the buzziness I'm feeling is a sign that I should call the doctor and try a small increase in dosage. But the buzziness is so unreliable. Every time I think, Okay, I'm gonna call tomorrow and just do it, tomorrow comes and I feel better and I think, Nope, I'm fine. It was just an off day.

Because I am totally fine. You guys, I look and behave like a totally normal person. And so often I feel like a totally normal person. But sometimes I don't. Sometimes the weight of everyone else's stuff makes me feel like I'm going to jump out of my skin because I want so badly to fix it all. I want to make everything okay for everyone. Rationally I know that I can't do that. Logically I know that this is how things are supposed to be. We're all supposed to have tough times. We're all supposed to face challenges. This is life as a human on earth. But rational, logical thought is not what's at play in my brain when I'm doing this.

Confession: It's anxiety.

That bitch.

Because of her, one minute I can be singing I'm Ready by AJR at the top of my lungs in the car, and the next I can be, mentally, mumbling and running my hand through my hair like crazy Jim from Taxi. One day I can be focused on goals and manifesting my dreams and doing yoga and meditation, and the next I can be bouncing like a pinball between those little flicker things that knock the ball around: revisions, blog, random thought, Facebook, Instagram, random thought, email, text, random thought, Google search, to-do list...Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing!

You might think that I'm sitting here worrying about things, like people with anxiety might do. But I'm not consciously worrying. I'm not sitting here twisting a hankie in my hands focusing on bad stuff. I'm not. But in the background, like malware running behind the scenes on your laptop, that shit is going down.

Confession: As I focus in on the anxiety, as I sit here at my coffeeshop table and write about this, the thrumming in my body is increasing to the point that it fills my ears; my body's vibrating with it; I'm getting lightheaded and a bit spacey; my hands are a little shaky. It feels a lot like I've had boat-loads of caffeine on an empty stomach...and I mean BOAT-LOADS. Like, a really big boat...like a Disney cruise ship full of espresso.

But I bet none of the people around me in this coffeeshop have any idea. I've got ear buds in and I'm listening to Daily Calm sounds of water and birds. I look like a regular working person.

Confession: I AM a regular working person. Though it may not be fair to say that everyone experiences exactly what I'm experiencing, I think it is safe to say that everyone experiences their own version of craziness on the inside. We just don't all talk about it (or write about it)...or recognize it; or focus on it; or admit to it, even to ourselves. We all are riding some kind of roller coaster. We all have ups and downs. I just see fit to share it with all of you.

Why?

Because it aligns with my purpose. That sounds weird, but it's true. If my writing about this does anything to make anyone else feel better about their own inner experience; to feel a little less alone in it all; then it's totally worth it. It's the reason I blog. It's the reason I write books. (Or, at least, it's one of the reasons.) Plus it's therapeutic, this journal-writing type thing. It's good for the soul. Try it.

Confession: It's possible that the Americano I drank might be making this worse. (I did eat yogurt with fruit and granola, though, so I didn't have it on an empty stomach, I swear.) So I'm gonna go get a peppermint tea and eat a Larabar and see if I can get some novel revisions done...cuz I got goals, people. And I'm not gonna let a little anxiety get in my way. Anxiety can go fuck herself.

Confession: You can tell anxiety has me amped up because I've cursed three times in this post. I tend to get extra feisty when I"m like this. But seriously, anxiety is a bitch and she can go fuck herself, because I do have bigger fish to fry.

Confession: I don't fry fish. I don't eat fried fish. It kinda grosses me out. But it's a saying. I do, however, sometimes bring home the bacon. Literally. Uncured, turkey bacon, but still.

Ugh. I'm getting off track. Damn crazy brain. I should go.

Until next time, share your own confessions. Get a journal. Open a word doc that'll never see the light of day. Talk it out with a therapist. Whatever your jam is. But get it down. Get it out. Express your thoughts and feelings. And maybe, possibly, lay off the espresso...