random thoughts on a sunday afternoon

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving weekend. Mine was peaceful and that was good. The last few years, my goal for the holidays has just been to survive. I miss having my family around but I have spent many Thanksgivings alone over the years. I’ve gone to friends’ houses a few times but that always feels weird to me. There was a lot less stress here this year.

I burned out on turkey really early this year. Perhaps I should have made something different with it but I’ve packaged up two more meals and frozen them. I have two divided plastic covered plate things that I originally bought for making Dad dinner. I froze my turkey, sweet potatoes and stuffing – the turkey covered in gravy because that’s the only way I think it freezes well, covered them with plastic wrap then put the lid on them, then put them in a zip top bag. I have hopes that they won’t get freezer burned. One of them may be Christmas Eve dinner. I’m thinking of a standing rib roast again for Christmas. I really should have bought one of the little ones that local grocery had last week. They looked like they’d make 2 or 3 servings.

At any rate, the turkey burn out has led me to make Chicken Corn Chowder today. I made pizza last night. With the goal of not over-eating the pizza, I divided my dough into 3, par-baked two and then dressed and froze them and baked off one for dinner. It was pretty much just the right amount. I put just a bit of jalapeno in my chowder today. My throat feels like it wants some heat.

Do you ever narrate while you’re cooking? Please tell me it’s not only me. 🙂 I sometimes pretend that I have my own cooking show, particularly when I’m chopping vegetables. I explain to my audience that chefs have chopped hundreds, if not thousands, of onions before they get good at that staccato chop chop chop they are constantly showing off with on television. Curl your fingers back, they say, and chop chop chop the onion is completely done in a few seconds. As a home cook, I say, I have two goals when it comes to chopping vegetables: 1) I get the vegetables chopped and 2) my fingers remain attached to my hand. I curl my fingers back but I am much, much slower. And does it really make a difference when I’m chopping a couple onions for dinner and not a hundred onions for restaurant service? My audience loves me. I am not Martin Yan and I cannot break down a chicken in 20 seconds either.

My throat hurts. The antibiotic and inhaler seem to have broken up my chest congestion so I’m coughing my fool head off. I wonder if the Chantix causes a sore throat? Tomorrow is quit day. Mostly I think I’m ready but I will miss the occasional cigarette. When I quit the last time, I could bum the occasional cigarette off my secretary, which kept me from buying a pack. But it’s time.

I keep seeing this commercial (on Hulu) for “the Gifter” who out-gifts everyone. Seriously? Is that your goal for Christmas? To out-gift your friends and family? I find the idea offensive. Saving money, sure, and I think that’s the main goal of the commercial, but the idea that you can somehow “win” by giving better gifts is just ugly to me. I don’t shop at the stores they’re advertising, I don’t think there are any near me, but I’d be boycotting them if I did. Perhaps I’m just easily annoyed.

I am suddenly in the mood for decorating for the holidays. What I want most, I think, is light. That will require a trip to Walmart which I am adamantly opposed to this time of year, but it’s early enough that it shouldn’t be that bad. Besides, I need toothpaste. I think I’ll get out my simple tree as well. All of it will wait until after Wednesday as the washer and dryer I finally decided on are supposed to be delivered then. I’m glad I procrastinated. I had decided I would get the less expensive pair and then when I went to order them, the pair I wanted was discounted by $400 – bringing it down to the price of the less expensive pair. So yay.

It’s very gray out today. Rain is not predicted until Wednesday. Sigh. I hope that the guys who are supposed to take care of the leaves get here before then. It’s an opportunity to practice patience.

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year end

Traditionally, I spend the week between Christmas and New Years depressed about all my many failures in the last year — What? I’m still not 20 30 years younger and a size 0? I have always thought that it has a lot to do with being born on January 1st so I’m not just looking at the end of another year, I’m angsting about being another year older and not having accomplished my goals.

This year, I’ve been way too sick to bother being depressed about anything so esoteric as where I am in life. Besides, 50 seems a little weird but not that big of a deal. 47 was a big deal. It was when I realized that I was almost 50. Heh. I seem to have a thing about the 7s. At 37 I was stressed about turning 40. In fact, I spent the next several years being in denial. I was 37, 38, 39, 30-10, 30-11, 30-12… and finally 30-13 seemed to be pushing it a little. When I turned 27 I realized I wasn’t a teenager anymore. Seriously.

Actually, the funniest age-related thing was a couple years ago when I turned “49.” Yeah, a couple years ago. I went straight from 47 to 49 and didn’t realize I had skipped 48 until about half way through the year. I can’t remember what triggered my awareness but I remember thinking — wait a minute, 2011 minus 1963 does not equal 49… As far as I was concerned, that gave me the right to claim to be 48 for half this year.

So, on to 50. I don’t make resolutions. I think they set you up for failure because, at least for me, there’s such a lot of perfectionism involved. But I have goals. I postponed goals that I probably should have been working on because the holidays are such a hard time to eat healthier. I really want to get my blood sugar under better control. It’s better than it was but still too high. And I want to start losing weight again. Both of those goals are really about eating better. And how am I going to do that? What I really want to do is to cook more. I haven’t been cooking much in months… or longer. I definitely eat better if I cook rather than heating up a pizza or microwaving macaroni and cheese. I’d like to make some new and interesting things and post them on Chickens and Eggs.

So what are your goals for the coming year?

how did a mountain get into the middle of my swamp?

This has been one of those weeks – and it’s only Wednesday – where I struggle to figure out what day it is. I was already confused Sunday, which I was pretty sure was Saturday and then Dad’s home worker came on Tuesday when she normally comes on Thursday. And it wasn’t helped by my falling asleep when I laid down for a while after dinner because my back was hurting and woke up two hours later. 8:00? That’s too early to get up, I want to sleep a while longer. Why am I still dressed?

So I bring you Sunday Thoughts on Wednesday.

I ran across a Canadian show on Netflix a while ago called Being Erica which is kind of a strange show where Erica meets Dr. Tom who sends her back in time to learn from her regrets. It has some interesting ideas but also tends to be a little too fatalistic at times. But sometimes she learns that something she blamed herself for was not really her fault – or at least nothing she could have done differently would have changed the outcome. In season three, things change up a little and she starts group therapy. Now other patients are time traveling to their regrets and the group helps each other learn from their experiences.

Which brings us to season 3, episode 8 where Dr. Tom says this to Adam:

You keep seeing the mountain. All the reasons, all the excuses, all the obstacles that are telling you that you can’t do it. You just keep piling them on, making the mountain bigger and bigger when perhaps what you really need to do is just climb it.

And that is so me. That’s what I do, isn’t it? I see the mountain and it’s really big and scary and just too hard. So I stand there piling more rocks on the mountain. It gets bigger and scarier, at least in my mind. It isn’t just that I don’t take the first step in that thousand mile journey, it’s like I’m walking backwards and getting further away because going forward is too hard. Or the flood waters keep getting deeper while I wait for them to recede.

Do we need any more metaphors?

Starting is always the hardest part. There will always be reasons to postpone. Tomorrow, after all, the mountain may fall down by itself. I’ve waited so long maybe it’s too late. I’m too tired. And sometimes I wish I could be comfortable just living on this side of the mountain. Who knows what is on the other side of the mountain? I’ve been disappointed before, there is not always better than here.

But I’ll never know unless I start.

being gentle

“The painful thing is that when we buy into disapproval, we are practicing disapproval. When we buy into harshness, we are practicing harshness. The more we do it, the stronger these qualities become. How sad it is that we become so expert at causing harm to ourselves and others. The trick then is to practice gentleness and letting go. We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity and not make it such a big deal.”
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

I ran across this the other day. The part that hits me is “We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity and not make it such a big deal.” I really believe in not stressing over the small stuff, letting go of thing, and not making everything into a crisis, but I don’t do it. I am the queen of stressing out. Everything stresses me out. I hate making phone calls, especially to businesses or people I don’t know. I hate the lawn going crazy and I need to find a new lawn person. So, I’m stuck either making cold calls to lawn people or having an insane lawn, both of which stress me out. Is this a big deal? Of course not! It’s stupid to stress about this stuff, but I do.

But then, I started thinking about the first bit of this. I’ve written, probably too often, about putting myself down. I don’t feel good about myself. As Pema there says, I practice disapproval and harshness. “The more we do it, the stronger these qualities become.” It is sad and I wonder if the harshness I direct at myself gets directed at other people despite my intentions. While I try to be gentle with Dad, I get frustrated and harsh. I’m lucky in my online life that I can curse at people without them knowing it. I’d never say to these things (particularly to gaming friends) to their face. But is it necessary to get so frustrated to begin with? The biggest conflict I have with Dad is that he won’t change his dirty clothes. He never goes anywhere so how much of a big deal is it? Why do I get so aggravated and stressed?

No easy answers, I guess. Just trying to be more aware of being gentle with myself and other.

i know this

“My beloved child, break your heart no longer. Every time you judge yourself you break your own heart.”
~Swami Kripalvananda

I’ve been thinking about what everyone said on my “fat and ugly” post last week. I can’t say that I’ve never heard most of it, I’ve even said some of it – to others. But why don’t I ever apply it to my self?

The voices in my head? Oh sure, they say, you shouldn’t judge other people. But you, you Zazzy really are just as horrible and ugly and stupid etc., as you think. Stupid voices. Don’t you wonder where they come from? Conventional wisdom says they mostly come from our parents, teachers, peers, and the media. And it is true that I was never good enough for my parents, that teachers were more inclined to talk about what you did wrong rather than what you did right, that I was teased by peers and come on, the media photoshops already beautiful models to make them even more perfect. But not everyone tortures themselves like this even though most of us are subjected to similar criticisms and pressures.

Don’t you like what I did there? Found another way to blame myself? Must be something wrong with me because, after all, there are some people who don’t carry these stupid messages in their heads despite childhood criticisms etc. I wouldn’t do that to other people, either.

Once upon a time, I specialized in the treatment of women who had been victims of childhood sexual trauma. Nearly all of them judged the small child who was abused as having been capable of fending off their abuser. As adults, all we need to do it talk to a child to see that this isn’t true. But most of these women saw that child as flawed or bad for not saving themselves. And there are all kinds of reasons. If you get past the physical limitations of a child fighting off an attacker, eventually someone says, “Well, I should have told someone.” Even that superficially logical argument isn’t true. Child victims are told that this is normal – and they don’t know better – they’re threatened, people they love are threatened, they’re told it’s their fault or that they’ll get in trouble and they just don’t know that those things aren’t true. Some of them are even in situations where it really would be dangerous to tell. It takes a lot of time and tears to forgive that child and place the blame where it really belongs.

So what am I getting at? We judge ourselves so harshly. We say things to ourselves that we would never say to someone we loved – or usually even to a stranger. Can you imagine telling a friend or your child that he or she is too fat and ugly to be loved? Would you judge someone you care about by the way they look? Do you love someone because they’re pretty outside or because they are kind or smart or funny inside?

I know this, I do. But I keep doing it to myself. And I don’t think I’m alone. I think there are far too many people who are unkind to themselves, who don’t treat themselves with respect, who listen to those voices that tell them that they’re not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. If we stop and think, we know it’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s plain not nice. But we do it anyway. I do it anyway. And the voices have voices to justify themselves.

It really is important, I think, to stop this self loathing. I’m not sure how, except to remember that I wouldn’t treat a friend this way.