Few things in life are more important than
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how, and with whom we spend our time
For the better part of my adult years, I lived what many would consider a small life. I built a career, raised kids, and didn't venture too terribly far from home. During those years, I could count on one hand the number of people I chose to have in my days, and close to my heart. My parents, always my parents, and my kids.
Certainly, there were many other people who floated in and out, co-workers, neighbors, and acquaintances. Although at the time, the introvert in me felt comfort in keeping everyone else, a short arm's-length away. Which looking back could seem a bit odd, because I admit to more than a twinge of jealousy over the years, as I saw people who could maintain meaningful friendships, those that seemed to stand the tests of time
For those who follow The Veggies, you'll know that somewhere around 40 I decided to change my life. I met my husband, got married, took up a study of holistic nutrition, became nutrition coach and fitness instructor, got a bit healthier, and started a blog
As more people came into my day-to-days, the calendar on our wall quickly became filled with lots of scribbles and colors, parties, get-togethers, and invitations for lunch. Was this it? Had I arrived? From the outside, it certainly appeared that way. I should be happy, right?
Yes, except for one small thing, that little voice in the pit of who I am, that said something felt terribly off.
It all started innocently enough, sneaking up on me over time before I really could identify what was happening.
Can we go to lunch (I need to pick your brain)? Let's meet for coffee (I need someone to talk to). Can you come to the event (I need to create a shareable Facebook moment)? What are your thoughts on (I need someone to tell me instead of researching on my own)? I know it'll take up most of your day (After all, it's for my business, and we're friends, right?). Oh look at the time, gotta run (I'm sure your life is going well. No need really, to ask)
I'd lay on my pillow, in the dark, and wonder where it had gone wrong? The friendships I'd hoped for, these were them, right? Maybe I needed to learn how to navigate them better? Maybe I should do more? Be more? Was there something wrong with me?
Until it occurred to me that I could simply ..
The playbook for a bigger life, maybe one day I'll find it hidden under the sofa. In the meantime, I've decided to flee with reckless abandon. Retreating to the familiar, a place where life is yet again peaceful, and yet again small.
A place where I have time to call my mom or visit my son. A place where my husband and I sleep in on Saturday mornings and go out for breakfast. A place where I have energy to devote to the career that I love. I'm able to write, study, and cook. A place that feels happy. A place that reminds me, oh yes, this is who I am. I'd nearly forgotten
Putting the right words to foreign feelings can take far longer than we ever think they should. I've been several weeks now, trying to find my way, reconciling it in my mind. The incredible pull of the world and all of its expectations, against my steadfast center, and everything I know to be true
When I stand back and look, it's a world of dizzying motion, one where the currents of conformity are powerful. A world where exhaustion is exalted as a status symbol, the contests of popularity on display in adults, often worse than those of their kids in junior high.
I've come to realize that living slowly, saying no, surrendering expectations; all of it can cause tension. It's like the prickle felt when rubbing your finger against the wrong side of a blade of grass. Going against the current, against the norm is offensive to nearly everyone who's following the rules, and toeing the line
There will be wonderings. “But where is she? She should be here. She's selfish. What's wrong with her? Wake up early; get out of the house. Give us your time on your days off. Come to events scheduled in the evening, even though you're working. You can accommodate, right?”
Admittedly, I oscillated back and forth far longer than I ever should have. Part of me thinking it mattered, even though I knew it shouldn't. Another part thinking it didn't matter, even though maybe it should.
This past week I resigned from a couple of commitments that I'd truly come to love, which was followed by a couple of brief back and forths.
The thing was, deep down, I understood. I really understood. All of it. I was taking a pass on things that were terribly important to others and had become a constant energy drain for me. A nod to priorities moving in opposite directions, whose divides, in the end, illuminated our differences better than the noonday sun ever could have
Maybe these are lessons I should have been learning in my 20s and 30s, instead of in my 40s when I really began making efforts toward more meaningful friendships. When the world is in order, when I'm moving within its norms, supporting the cause of the moment at all costs, relationships move quickly from acquaintance to friend.
When the world isn't neatly in order, when you need to change direction, a move on the offense can often bring defense. Relationships can sometimes veer the other way, as your actions create waves. Friends can quickly turn to acquaintances.
Call it my greatest strength, although I've also come to know it as my biggest weakness. I've always been a people pleaser, a giver of everything big or small. For the longest time, believing my life was best lived in the service, sacrifice, and selflessness to others.
Somewhere along the line, I confused service with “Yes.”
I confused sacrifice with, “I'll be there. I'll do it. You can count on me.”
And yet, I've learned. When you've given all you have, and am simply too tired for yet another “Yes” When you quiet your spirit, and slowly change direction, after a while everyone does notice, and really, at that point, the best you'll have to offer will be a forced smile an awkward email encounter
I've learned it's ok to retreat to a space where I can again tell the truth, while still offering kindness. One from which my Yes will be Yes and my No will be No. All the while, re-learning to own them both. The former without resentment, the latter without apology.
I'll get it jumbled, for this I'm certain. I'll be trying my best, none the less
Forever the optimist, I can't help but be thankful for this season. A much-needed reminder of just how powerful the currents of the world are, how disorienting they can be once you're swept away, and how difficult it can be to swim your way back to shore.
I've decided for those who like being in the current, that's more than OK. For me, life feels a bit better sitting on the sandy bank, with a small campfire, and the people I love.
For sure you'll pass me as you go by.
As I wave, smiles and awkward pleasantries will certainly be an option. Though I think it would be far cooler if we'd offer each other a big high-five instead.
A great muffin recipe from our latest 9-week Challenge, making for such a convenient breakfast or snack.
These are fluffy, tender, and not overly heavy. The flavor of coconut blending nicely with the spices, without being overpowering. They're great on their own, or with a bit of warm butter, a drizzle of honey
~ Adapted from Kim Mosiman Wellness
Healthier Oatmeal Coconut Muffins
- 3/4 cup oat flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp fine-grain salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, plus more for topping (if desired)
- ¼ cup almond butter
- ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 egg white (large or XL)
- ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp honey
- ½ cup almond milk (or any nut milk of your choice)
- Preheat your oven to 400° F and prepare the muffin tin
- In a medium bowl, combine the oat flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and coconut flakes. Set aside.
- In a separate, microwave-safe bowl, add the almond butter into a large, and microwave it's begun to soften.
- To it, add in the apple sauce, vanilla and almond extracts, apple cider vinegar, egg white, honey, and vanilla almond milk.
- Stir until well combined.
- Add the oat mix to the almond butter mix, and combine until just moistened.
- Fill the prepared muffins tin and sprinkle with coconut flakes, if desired.
- Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, (~ 17-20 minutes)
- Let the muffins slightly cool in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
What I love about you is that you are no ordinary food blogger, I love how you share stories and it is amazing how things fell into place for you. These muffins look divine x
I am going to have to add these to my must make list. My husband would love them!
Perfect timing. I have a whole thing of oats I was wondering what to do with!
I’ve been looking for similar recipes, so yours ticks all boxes. Gonna try it soon. Do you have a healthy recipe for chocolate muffins?
Hi Paola .. definitely. You might like the chocolate avocado muffins 🙂 Happy Baking!
Fantastic! I can’t have any normal milk so I love how this recipe uses alternatives for people with allergies or intolerances!
I love muffins but hate how unhealthy they are! I’ll definitely have to give these a try!!
I love muffins and will try this recipe. I’m plant-based so the honey will become maple syrup and I’ll replace the egg white with a bit of apple sauce maybe 1/8 cup. Might make a good fast breakfast for the kids in the morning.
I am currently going through what you are going through as far as friends. I never really needed many to begin with and I have major anxiety when it comes to new people, but I started my new career and started making ‘friends,’ but they didn’t feel like friends at all. It’s so hard to go through. I hope you find what you’re looking for.
These muffins look fantastic though! I bet my son would love them.
Due o my life pretty much spent all over, I’ve met so many close friends I thought would be lifelong friends then time passes we move apart and it’s those closest to you are the ones you stay in touch with and family is so important! P.S. loving the look of these, they look delicious!
I need to try this! It looks so good!!
Making friends is never an easy feat. Your words are very touching. And that muffin recipe looks wonderful, I love muffins. I will have to give your oatmeal coconut muffin recipe a try soon, thank you for sharing!
These sound fantastic! What a great way to start the day, or for an afternoon snack, yum!
Very insightful, I think what we all have to realize is that it’s okay to say no to things or events that you don’t feel compelled to go to. We can’t go to all of them, sometimes we just really need the time for us, even if it means doing absolutely nothing at home. Thanks for yet another lovely recipe!
Oatmeal cookies are my fave and I am always looking for healthier versions of food and desserts!
This recipe looks amazing. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
Congratulations on your new life after 40! What a story, really inspiring. I love this recipe too, healthy and yummy. Conscious eating =conscious living.
Such an insightful post! It sometimes is so necessary to say no!
Very insightful post! I agree that it is better to say NO to things that you don’t want to do! Also, I love oatmeal cookies and have saved your recipe. I’ll definitely try it out!
I love the way you write i could your posts for hours. Always something new to learn and not just recipes. The oatmeal muffins look delicious too
Oh Anna .. thank-you so much
first of all, awwww on the giraffes – how awesome is that picture. Oh, and I absolutely love anything coconut, so you really got me with this recipe. I think my husband is getting tired with me making baked goods containing coconut, but he does not have to eat them,lol. Blessings!
I feel you. I have had friends who just exhausted me. When my husband died, I felt like I no longer fit in or people felt weird around me…they probably did. We go through seasons. My season right now is trying to get through everything coming up. My daughter has one more semester of college and my son probably one more year (she…a high school English teacher….he…a GMAC mechanic). Then our thoughts are toward moving to Florida from Ohio. I feel like a new beginning would help me get through. I love your stories, Alison, and am glad you make me reflect through your stories. God brought you into my life for a reason. You always inspire me to be a better writer. Writing was always my first love, but I am so rushed trying to support my family through my blog, that I forget to tell a story. Thank you!
Family, friends and having those around you, who you love the most is most definitely the most amazing thing.
Your muffins sounds absolutely delicious as well – I would love to try them 🙂
I’ve been going through phases where I get expose to a lot of people at also phases I prefer to be an introvert. I guess, family will always be the constant one and they will always be our comfort zone. We get to realize that in time, only a few will matter. Also, it’s important to say no at times or else we’d feel to burdened with responsibilities.
I’m naturally an extrovert, but due to medical issues with my kiddos I have worked from home for the last decade. That has been a tough adjustment for me and I don’t think it will every fully fit to not be out and about more than in, but I think we have amazing abilities to adapt until we can change whatever makes us uncomfortable. I know this won’t be where I’m at forever and I’m grateful I can do it, but someday I’ll find myself less in my own world and out in the greater macrocosm 🙂
You need to go with your gut. Honestly, I’ve found that, by nature, people treat you how you allow them to treat you. The more you give, the more they take. It’s not even malicious, it’s just a habit. There is nothing wrong with you pulling back and taking care of yourself because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. You deserve to be happy, so do what feels right for you. Your friends, the real ones, will understand.
All I can say is that the title of your blog is about something I would like to eat and as I read your post it sounds like a daily journal about relationships and challenges you face. You threw me off lol.
I can relate to what you wrote in this post. I have been a Yes person for as long as I remember. It was only recently that I stepped out of my comfort zone, quit my corporate job and followed my passion. Now I am happy and content. Friends have come and gone but I don’t mind as long as I have the most important people with me – my family.
Incredible post! Friendships can be so hard to navigate. For me, I always find I am not truly myself in fear that people won’t like me. I have met a few along the way that I can be gassy with, laugh uncontrollably with, and wear my pyjamas with all day if I wanted to. They love my kids and I love theirs. These are the relationships I am grateful for, I don’t need parties, a tonne of friends and insane amounts of people. I need those few quality people that we are just happy sitting in a room together quietly. I always so go with your gut and you will find those.
It’s always so easy to fall into the trap of always trying to say yes! And I love that you studied holistic nutrition! we need more people like you
I have been really lucky to have the same best friend for the last 11 years. We were roommates in college and we have talked every day since!
Absolutely wonderful and amazing!! I tried to make it healthier by adding gluten free flour. This is delicious! The coconut is a great touch. Will try to make this on my dad’s birthday. 🙂
Thank you, from across the miles and years. For both the blog and the recipe.