Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Managing Stress

It's being a long week. You know the kind I mean...long stressful days and at the end, all you want to sit on the couch and eat ice cream. Yup. A long long week. Busy too.

Why so busy? May 1 is tomorrow. In case you don't know, I work in higher ed and the incoming freshmen have a May 1 deadline to commit to the college of their choice. Admissions folks at colleges nationwide are on the edge of their seats wondering what their new class is going to look like. I'm on the edge of my seat knowing that this is one of my first tests. These days, financial aid plays such a large part in a student's and family's decision that the office's role has become more crucial than ever in recruiting efforts. From there, it can be assumed that if we do not bring in the desired class, that I played some role in not making our goal. Scary thought. No wonder I've been exhausted and moody.

Stress...good in small doses, life-saving even. However, prolonged exposure is not good. Just not good. Symptoms rear their ugly heads in many ways...physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral. It affects everything! It's no wonder that I want to sit at home and eat ice cream.

So, what to do about it? Well, tonight, I need sleep. I will be doing that soon. Exercise, meditation, time with friends and family, breathing deeply, positive self-talk (yeah, sounds corny, I know...), and eating healthy. So am I doing any of it? Sure...but not enough, which is why I'll be going to sleep a bit early tonight. Just like any other aspect of self-care, managing stress is about knowing yourself, recognizing what you need, and then taking positive and healthy action.

So what about when you don't take positive healthy action? First and foremost, don't beat yourself up. You don't have to have an all or nothing kind of day. Have a good enough day. Do what you can, when you can. Some days it will be more, some days it will be less. And that's OK.


BBQ chicken and corn
Yummy Indian nom noms!


turkey sammy & fruit
mandarin orange chicken from Trader Joe's, rice and broccoli


cheese ravioli, cukes & red peppers, and fruit
Mmm, cheeseburger and fries, salad and an Oreo milkshake!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rice leads to gratitude

It's such a rough life I lead. No, really, it is. I was hungry today when I woke up. You know what happened? Waffles and bacon and fresh fruit appeared on my plate as if by magic. Hours later, I was hungry again. And just like earlier in the day, a satisfying meal of cheesy beans, rice, corn, and avocado was soon on my plate waiting for me to eat it.

OK, so maybe it's not such a rough life. I mean, I was hungry, and lo and behold, I had plenty of food to consume, including those delicious fresh berries. As I was making dinner tonight, I jokingly wondered how it was possible that I lived 40 years without a rice maker! Seriously. Yeah, rough time being me. Seriously, worldwide, rice is the most consumed staple food for humans. And let's face it, humans are freaking everywhere, making rice a pretty big deal! It's no wonder that a small kitchen appliance was invented solely to cook it.

How is it then, that I did not have a rice cooker until recently? Well, rice hasn't been a staple of my diet my whole life...still isn't. But, WOW! does rice taste good! Anyhow, when I thought about rice cookers and how rice truly feeds the world, all 7 billion of us...give a take a family or two, and then I thought about how the existence of rice cookers assumes a wealthy society, I realized what a truly difficult life I lead. I had fresh summer fruits all winter long, and some families subsist on rice alone for days on end. They do this without a rice cooker, or the electricity needed to fuel the rice cooker. To them, the rice cooker would only be a pot for water, the electrical cord acting as a string to hang it by.

Ultimately, I'm grateful for the life I lead. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, clean water, heat, nice fact, I have so much clothing that I can afford to use some of it for specific purposes or seasons only. Shoes, well, same thing, some of them are only for specific purposes. On top of all that stuff, I have a job that I enjoy, friends who I love, and a kitty who I adore. I'm a truly lucky individual, I even have a rice cooker that I don't want to live without.


homemade waffles...with a little cardamom kick!
bacon and fresh fruit
cheesy rice and beans with corn, onions and avocado

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Healing Stillness

Well, it's a cold and rainy spring day in Boston. That means I don't have to feel guilty about spending a day mainly on the couch in front of the TV! Sitting on my bum won't be the only thing I'll be doing though. There's always laundry and vacuuming and other cleaning to get caught up on. Exciting day.

Every now and again, I need time to just be still and do next to nothing. At times when I'm struggling to find balance, being still is healing. It rejuvenates me. But it's more than that. It's time for me to remember that my life isn't all about work, running around, or...just plain running. Yeah, I've started running pretty regularly in anticipation of my upcoming races. I'm not pushing it, I'm up to about 4.5 miles and ready to start slowly pushing the distance. As I move on to greater distances (or speed up on the lesser distances), I find that my legs need time to recover. Rest. Stillness.

Actually, a day of being fairly still is mentally and emotionally healing, as well as physically healing. I mean, I'm not new to running, but I'm building back up from last's almost like starting over. And that means that my body needs time to renew itself physically, just like I need renewal mentally after a long week. It's days like these when I need other forms of expression. Something cross-stitch or painting...sometimes reading, sometimes jewelry making. Many possibilities. Many means of expression.

And sometimes, being still all day is exactly the right remedy. The trick is knowing the difference and then doing what is needed.


hot cereal and fruit

Easter dinner - salad, potatoes, curry rice & cauliflower, curry chicken, and roasted peppers


pasta fagioli and veggies

Whole Foods buffet...giant salad, mac and cheese and turkey meatloaf


cheese ravioli, veggies and fruit
Mmmmm, broccoli slaw & pineapple, a little rice and siracha!


mushroom risotto, veggies and fruit
slices and salad


frozen Indian food from Trader Joe's


pasta fagioli, veggies and fruit
pasta with sauce and eggplant and cheese


eggs with veggies and fruit

Mmm, cruciferous veggies, rice, pineapple, mushrooms, and red peppers

Caesar to share

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I've made an executive decision. It's been so long since I've written...too long. And I'm just not going to go back and post all those photos. So. There you have it. It's a bit of a fresh start tonight. And besides, my food isn't usually all that interesting anyway.

In the meantime, I've been trying to find balance in my life. I've had next to none for quite some time now. The new job is still good, but it is taking over my life. Lately, I've had to schedule in time to breathe! So, instead of working non-stop, I'm trying to make an effort to leave at a decent hour and go to the gym and see my friends, and get to sleep at a decent hour. As part of these efforts, I've managed to make a few outdoor runs...culminating with my first race of the year!

I ran the B.A.A. 5K today, the first race of this year's Distance Medley. My runs have been in the 3 mile range and now it's time to work up to 6 miles to prepare for the 10K in June. Last, it will be the half marathon in October.

How will I know when I've found balance? I don't know...well, not exactly. But I do know that my head is generally more quiet, I'm less tired, and I feel less wound up. I guess I'll know I'm getting there by noticing checkpoints...weightloss from exercise, the lack of the desire to eat chocolate, the re-invigoration of my social life. The more checkpoints I reach, the closer I am to having a decent balance in my life. I don't know how many I'll need. I may not even know when I reach one, or when I achieve balance. Does it matter as long as I'm moving in the right direction?

So you see, these upcoming races are planned checkpoints along the path to reclaiming my life and my free time. Not all markers of time are so easily planned, but few are as rewarding as accomplishing the challenge of running a half marathon AND achieving balance in my life.


See, I told you that my food isn't all that interesting...buffalo chicken pizza and salad after the race.

Actually, after the race, I had brunch and gourmet cocoa...this was after my nap but before the movie.