Well, it happened
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My husband is traveling. The puppies gently nudge me awake. I start the water for tea, give the kitties their treats, and turn on NPR for some background noise
While I usually know better, while I usually would use this sun-streamed hour wisely, while I usually reach for my notepad to jot down my thoughts while frying the eggs, while I usually greet the day with my own direction, my own path, my own sense of quiet; I did something else instead
I lost myself in the Internet
I lost myself
— — —
There is a woman on the screen.
She lives in a sunny apartment in The Keys that is close to the beach. She's filled with ingenious wit and wisdom to share on healthy eating, living minimally, fitness, and living a soulful life while having a full-time career and a million hobbies
She makes superfood smoothies for breakfast and beautiful Buddha bowls for lunch and has mastered the secrets of jeans that always fit.
She is perfect
Her life is perfect
Do you want to know what I did after staring at her Instagram feed for 45 minutes?
I went to the Co-op and over-spent on pretty much everything in produce. I contemplated kitchen curtains, linen, of course. I secretly cursed my husband for not striving to be a minimalist and lamented the fact that we live in Iowa in January, with all of its cold and grey
I shamed myself for the pizza crust craving, for ordering Blue Apron instead of mobilizing to go to the grocery, for not enough walks during the past few days (ps: Do you know of a good gluten-free recipe for pizza crust?)
Do you want to know what I didn't do?
I didn't think
— — —
I didn't sit with my feelings of inadequacy long enough to realize they weren't feelings of inadequacy at all.
Instead, a nod to the success, triumph, and adequacy of someone else. Look at her go. She's killing it at life. She's happy. Good for her!
In my small-mindedness, I'd twisted someone else's happiness to mean there wouldn't be any left for me
A simple scenario
Last week, a girlfriend and I were sitting in the sauna. We’ve spent the past two weeks playing Schedule Tetris to pull off a few hours together. As the sweat begins in earnest, our conversation (naturally) turns to weight
“How's it going at the gym?”
“Not too bad, it's been a couple of weeks, and I'm feeling a million times better.”
(we fall silent)
“Do you ever think about what it would take to be truly happy with your body? What I mean is: I don't weigh myself, and I really feel comfortable in my own skin. I used to weigh twenty pounds less, but my obsession with counting calories wasn't something I could keep up long-term. I've been thinking about how I can still be mindful of my health without obsessing, counting, and judging myself. I mean, do we really need to see a lower number on the scale?”
Translated: Girl on the screen is thin and beautiful. I think the girl on the screen is pretty cool. I like the way she lives. Do I need to be thin to be happy with the way I live too?
A simple truth?
— — —
You don’t either. You don't need the beautiful Buddha bowls for dinner, the linen curtains, the magical number on the scale, the smoothies (ok, you might). But you needn’t shame yourself when you think you do
(It happens to the best of us)
As I went through the rest of my day, my mind kept drifting back to the beach girl. So I did something I've never done before and sent her a message
This is so random, but I’m feeling compelled tonight to send you a fan letter. Please don't think of me as strange, and I'm certain applause isn't what you're going for, but hey, we can all use a blue ribbon moment every now and again. Yes?
I know the life you lead has its own set of challenges, but I'm impressed by your self-control and grace. Thank you for sharing snippets of your days. You might not realize it, but there are some of us out here learning from and growing with you. And, my dear, that's no small thing
( to be continued; next time, a few thoughts on the question: “How do I know if I need to lose weight?” )
Today, one of my favorite recipes from Michelle Tam's Nom Nom Paleo cookbook, “Ready or Not!” It's like eating pot stickers, but without the wrapper.
It's a snappy little stir-fry, and it comes together in a flash. The most time-consuming part is the prep. You get freshness from the veggies, substance from the pork, and lots of flavor from the ginger, garlic, and sauces. It's lovely to make on a Sunday afternoon to have in the fridge for the week ahead.
I often use the leftovers as spring roll filling (perfect for on-the-go lunches). Rice paper or lettuce wraps do the job
The beautiful thing about stir-fries is they're infinitely variable. Beef, chicken, or turkey can stand in for the pork. Any other green veggies (asparagus, broccoli, mustard greens, spinach, or thinly sliced green beans) substitute nicely for the cabbage. Make a version of this recipe once or twice, and you'll have it down
Faster than takeout and far more delicious
~ Adapted (barely) from Nom Nom Paleo
Pot Sticker Stir-Fry
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (or another high temp oil)
- 2 -3 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
- ½ onion, chopped
- 6-8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
- fine grain sea salt + black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
- 2 lbs ground pork
- 1 small Napa cabbage, cut in half and thinly sliced crosswise
- 3 Tbsp coconut aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 3-4 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
- In a 12-inch (or larger) skillet over medium heat, warm the oil (I used my wok)
- Add the carrots, onion, mushrooms, and pinch of sea salt. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are pliable
- Add the ginger and garlic, and stir for ~ 30 seconds or until fragrant
- Add the pork, along with another pinch of salt and a grind or two of black pepper, breaking up the meat as it cooks
- Increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for ~ 5 minutes, or until the pork is no longer pink
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to another platter, leaving the liquid in the pan
- Add the cabbage to the pan, along with another pinch of salt, and sauté for 3 - 5 minutes or until the cabbage has wilted.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the ground pork back. Stir to combine
- Stir in the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and fish sauce.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings
- Finish with a drizzle of sesame oil and a generous sprinkle of scallions