6 months ago…

On March 6, 2020…my most recent blog post, I spoke about Sun Tea, more simple times, and some political bullshit.

On March 13th, I packed up much of my office into a milk crate and headed home.

On March 17th, my kids packed up their lockers into their backpacks and headed home.

On March 25th, I had a full blown anxiety attack. I quickly saw my doctor. I started medication.

April and May. I worked from home. My husband worked from home. My kids went to school…at home.

Soon…

Morning coffee and chats with my husband on the back porch before walking 35 steps to work.

Lunch breaks as a family.

Dinner every single evening at the dining room table.

Evening bike rides.

Morning walks.

The occasional late night Netflix binge.

On June 1st, my office transitioned from everyone working remotely, to a hybrid plan of staggering in-office days and working remote days.

On August 12, my kids went back to school on a hybrid schedule of in-class days and remote learning days.

For me, 2020 isn’t a dumpster fire.

I’ve found balance…no…no..no…balance found me.

Dare, I say…..

I’m thriving.

Sun Tea…

Did you grow up in a family who made sun tea? Do you still make it? For whatever reason it reminds me of more simple times. It makes me smile.

This election is about remembering why you’re friends with people in the first place and not cutting them out of your life based on the campaign sign in their yard. Invite that friend over for a glass of sun tea.

Different strokes for different folks and we can all still be friends. Not into sun tea? Have coffee with someone who disagrees with you. Find the common ground. It’s there.

Do not blindly share or believe the bullshit you see on the internet. You have a mind of your own. USE IT. Figure out what YOU believe in. Don’t know what to believe? Take time to sit out in the sunshine while your tea brews. You’ll figure it out.

Drink sun tea. Forget the kool-aid.

Grandpa Ray’s Christmas Eve Prime Rib

As far back as I can remember, my Grandpa has made Prime Rib for our Christmas Eve Dinner.

I’m gonna cut to the chase. It’s damn good and today I’m sharing his recipe with the world.

Without further ado….

Grandpa Ray’s Christmas Eve Prime Rib

1. Place roast in a roasting pan with a rack, fat side up.

2. Inject with a can of Campbell’s Beef Broth.

3. In a blender make a thick marinade to coat the outside of the roast. This is honestly something you’re going to have to eyeball. No measurements really because it all depends on the size of your roast how much marinade you will need, but be sure it’s thick and will coat the roast without running off the top. The marinade consists of: Andria’s Steak Sauce, Red Wine, Garlic, Carrots, Celery, and Onion.

4. Cover roast with foil and let it sit on the kitchen counter until it comes to room temperature.

5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place water in the bottom of your roasting pan and cook uncovered until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 120 degrees. About 10-13 minutes per pound. (An internal digital meat thermometer is nice to have here) Check periodically, to be sure the bottom of the roasting pan is not dry. Add water as needed, but not too much water because you will later use the pan drippings to make Au Jus.

6. When the roast reaches 120 degrees, take the roast out of the oven. Using a turkey baster suck out the pan drippings from the bottom of your roasting pan and squeeze into a saucepan through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Cover the roast with foil to let it rest. While resting, the roast’s temperature will rise to about 130-135 degrees (rare).

7. To the saucepan of pan drippings add 1 can of beef broth, 1/2 cup of water, splash or so of red wine (maybe 1/4 cup), and 2-3 tsp of beef bouillon granules depending on taste. Bring this to a boil and cook about 7-8 minutes. Taste the Au Jus and add additional bouillon granules until you reach your desired salt level.

8. To serve, scrape the thick marinade from the top of the roast into the roasting pan. Place roast onto a cutting board and slice. Have a hot cast iron skillet or an electric skillet nearby for anyone who wants their slice less rare. Pop a slice on the skillet for about 30-40 seconds per side, until desired doneness. Pour Au Jus over the top of the slice. Small serving cups are nice to have for additional Au Jus or a Horseradish Cream Sauce. Enjoy!

Grandpa Ray and his famous Prime Rib


We typically get a very large roast so we have leftovers for Christmas Day. Be sure to save the Au Jus and wrap the leftover roast tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. The next day slice and put into a slow cooker with any leftover Au Jus and a can of beef broth. Warm through and serve with crusty bread and Au Jus for dipping!

Leftovers!!!

A few things about selecting a roast. A true Prime Rib will be clearly labeled USDA PRIME. USDA CHOICE will also be called “Prime Rib” but you will not see this label below. The CHOICE grade will be a little less expensive per pound and it will have less marbling. Don’t worry, either cut will be delicious and you’ll save yourself a few bucks by choosing the CHOICE, but if you can…it’s Christmas…grab the PRIME!

On The Fence…

Always.

Family. Friends. Work. Politics. Holidays. Everything. In the middle. Perpetually torn. No peace. Unsettled.

Fleeting moments… Clarity? Happiness? Balance? Nope, nope, nope….you don’t deserve those things.

Rebel.

Over compensate. Over commit. Over spend. Over indulge. I’ll show you!!! I deserve this. I am enough.

Shit. Overwhelmed. Spinning. Drowning. I need air. I quit. Recluse. Step away. Ignore. Recharge.

Feeling guilty.

I want it all. I want nothing. I belong here. I belong nowhere.

The fence. My ground zero. It’s where I feel safe, even though I’m not content. Too scared to step on either side.

Nope, nope, nope….I will not allow this.

Stand the fuck up. Put on my big girl pants. Get my shit together. Stop feeling sorry for myself.

Rebel.

Over compensate. Over commit. Over spend. Over indulge. I’ll show you!!! I am enough.

Shit. Overwhelmed. Spinning. Drowning. I need air. I quit. Recluse. Step away. Ignore. Recharge.

Feeling guilty.

Repeat.

Always.

I will stay on the fence…

Exhausted. Torn.

20/20 Vision…

I love new year resolutions. This year is special. It’s a new decade.

However, I have no intentions of making a longer or harder list.

In fact, I’m making it a bit more simple.

Here we go…

SOMETHING OLD: Mail something to someone. The past couple years I’ve had this on my list. I tried to keep up with mailing something each week, but by half way through the year I’m burnt out. This year I’m keeping the tradition because it makes me feel so good, but I’m switching it up a bit. I’m going to mail something once per month. Once per month is more manageable and I can put more thought into my who and why.

SOMETHING NEW: Stop magnifying situations. This is new territory for me. This will take work.

SOMETHING BORROWED:Gretchen Rubin recently put on her list to have six people over for dinner six times. I love this. Again, I’ve tried something similar in years past (monthly themed dinner parties) and it fizzled out by March. This feels much more manageable and if I want to have two parties in one month, I can. No pressure, no expectations…just dinner and guests.

SOMETHING BLUE: Not blue in the slightest, but whatever…it’s my list and I can do what I want with it. My last resolution for 2020 is to read at least six books. If I get through two books a year that’s a big deal, so adding four more seems like a big bite, but I’m up for the challenge.

Standing Down…

If you ask me to stand down, please know that only makes me stand taller.

That’s something I’ve learned about myself over the past decade. I’ve learned that I have integrity. So much that I often get caught up in the weeds, even though I understand that my integrity is not sacrificed by the actions of others. I do not like injustice.

Early in 2008, I wrote a letter to The President of The United States about an insane amount of overdraft fees I endured because my bank account was 39 cents short when I went to the grocery store to buy goat’s milk for my baby who had been crying for unknown reasons for days. Side note: I was allergic to cow’s milk as an infant. I was tired and desperate. Goats!

A letter to the POTUS, a bit much? Maybe. I know this, but guess what…

Shortly after, I got a letter back from President Bush. I’m pretty sure that George W. did not sit down and type it out, but it felt good having acknowledgement that my voice was heard. In March of 2013, The Overdraft Protection Act was amended and it prohibited depository institutions from engaging in unfair practices regarding overdraft coverage. Clearly my letter in 2008 was not the sole purpose for this change in legislation, but DAMN. IT. FELT. GOOD. to even be a small part of positive change.

It sparked my mission. A purpose. I was no longer a lost teenager girl with a chip on my shoulder and backpack of unresolved abandonment issues. I was now the mother of two children, with a chip on my shoulder and a backpack of unresolved abandonment issues. The world wasn’t just my world to be pissed off about anymore, it was theirs, too. I had to continue to work on how to best use my voice. I got more involved. I wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines and bitch and complain. I was going to be involved…and bitch and complain, all in the name of positive change. PTO, produce coop, Jaycees, a member of this board and a member of that board….now 10 years later I’m still involved. I’m not a yes person. I’m better at compromise.

Over the years, as I learned, I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’ve spoke out of turn. Said hateful things that I didn’t mean, but I’ve also learned how to soften my voice. I don’t always have to be so harsh…although sometimes the boundaries can get fuzzy. Let’s say, I now feel confident being politely confrontational. I also feel really proud of myself when I look back over the last 10 years and think about the good things that I’ve stood up for. The moments when my voice shook, but I spoke anyway. The times my shaky voice resulted in a change for the better. The times I’ve had to learn to accept the blow and move forward. I’ve learned so much…because this voice of mine.

Let’s go back to the moments of shame, because I think we can often get stuck here. Like I said, there have been times and mostly likely will still be times that I’ve used my voice unfairly. Maybe, I didn’t do my full research before speaking. Maybe, my emotions just got the best of me. I’m vulnerable enough to admit it. I know how to apologize, when needed. I don’t confuse the shameful moments as regrets. Sometimes, I walk away with my tail between my legs, but I own it. It’s me.

Saying nothing, solves nothing. This is sometimes extremely overwhelming. It’s a feeling of walking alone into the forest, no pretty path to follow. People will often acknowledge my journey and commend me on my actions, but very few people are willing to walk into the forest with me, especially when the underbrush is heavy.

Fight or flight. While I’m involved in a lot, I’ve learned to pick my battles. Sometimes, I throw in the towel. Remove my expectations of others in an effort to find peace. Seven years ago, I removed the expectations from someone. This was hard. This is still really fucking hard. The peace is fleeting. Therapy helps. Was removing expectations actually the answer? I still don’t know. I feel I’m at the very least better at managing my expectations, but there is always room for improvement.

After a session with my Angel #3 the other day, I almost thought about excluding myself from all future forestry duties. Try something new. Remove ALL expectations, from EVERYONE. Walk down the pristine path enjoying the beautiful flowers. I’m a good person. I deserve peace. I deserve the pretty path, right? Sigh.

While the concept of having such a clear path in front of me is appealing, it just didn’t feel right. Not for me. For the next few days, I thought about how removing expectations actually eliminates accountability. I thought about how my youngest son (the one I bought the goat’s milk for) is so wonderfully able to notice the flowers when he’s inside the forest. I searched for answers and signs from The Universe on how to help me find the middle ground. Accountability. Integrity. Vulnerability. Authenticity. Walking down an easy, pretty path feels like I’m compromising everything that I stand for. I don’t want to be an impostor to a path I don’t belong on, but I’m also tired of trudging through the forest alone.

Then I got a phone call. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was not put on this earth 40 years ago to pleasantly walk down someone else’s cleared path. Removing expectations might work well for others, but for me it feels like I’m jumping in a plane and watching the forest burn below me. I need to stay on the ground, but my steps need to be slower and more thoughtful. I’m a work in progress.

But one thing I will not do…

I will not stand down. I have work to do.

A Decade…

Whoa! We are approaching a new decade. It’s not just a new year…it’s a NEW DECADE. How exciting!!!

It’s so hard not to look back and reminisce, isn’t it? I started out this current decade with a two year old and a soon to be six year old. This decade those boys are going to be twelve and almost SIXTEEN!!! So much has changed.

What about me? So much has changed. To be honest…it’s a blur. That’s okay. You know why? Because I don’t actually want to look back. I certainly appreciate the last ten years. Hell, it safely got me here, right? There was a lot that I loved about it, but it was hard, too. This next decade will also have hard things…that’s life, but for now I would like to focus on moving forward. What GOOD things do I want to manifest over the next ten years?

Don’t get me wrong I love the glimpses back. I like those days, but I don’t want to stay there. I want to move forward. After all, it’s my last decade before I move into the second half of my first century. (Wink Wink) I’ve got to make this one count!!!

I love the new year. I love setting goals. Making lists. Fresh starts. A new decade just seems so EXTRA….and I’m SO here for it.

I can feel it. This decade is going to be one for the record books.

Embrace the whole thing, friends. It’s time.

Busy is Not Better…

For me. Maybe it is for you? That’s cool.

I was recently asked by my personal coach to start designing my “Support Kit” and at first I was really struggling. Everything I was considering was tangible. That’s a problem when you have relatability issues with 95% of the people in your life and “things” just aren’t your things. Hmmm???

Then I realized…the two items I need the very most in my kit ARE NOT TANGIBLE.

Rest. Let me repeat a bit louder for those of you in the back row….REST. I don’t particularly like to be busy. I really hate to have more than one thing on my plate in the same day and when I don’t have completely empty days every now and then I can get quite stressed.

Stress for me leads to junk food and the spiral begins.

Grace. Grace. GRACE!!! The “free and unmerited favor of God” according to The New Oxford Dictionary is the second item I’m throwing in my kit. Because sometimes life just simply doesn’t provide me with opportunities of as much rest as I would like.

So, rest. Rest is not lazy. Rest is self care.

Grace…for the days when I choose the cheese fries and some days cheese fries are also self care.

Peeling Away My Layers…

Image result for peeling away the layers quotes

I’ve recently peeled back a few layers. Yet, I get so tangled up with the layers that still exist and impatient with what’s beneath them. I’m starting to recognize that some of my “issues” aren’t removable layers, they are the permanent flaws in the flesh beneath. They are a part of me. My scars. My cracks. I may be able to alter them, but I can’t erase them.

I’m trying to remind myself that as I continue to work behind each layer, I have two choices.

1) Hide my scars by covering them up with makeup that feels heavy and shameful. At the end of each day, washing off that makeup only to reveal my true self while staring into a mirror of disappointment. Day after day. Exhausted.

OR…

2) Expose each scar for what it is. Apply the proper medicine to repair the open wounds, but stop worrying about completely removing them. The scars are mine. Own them. Share my stories of why they exist and in turn possibly help others feel less ashamed of their scars. We all have them.

So what about those last twenty layers? Well, some may be offering me protection I don’t realize I need right now. Ultimately, each peeled back layer will reveal more scars, right? More repair efforts. I guess I just feel if I hurry up and rip off the band-aids to fully expose myself, I can start mending the cracks and will once and for all feel free.

What if now isn’t the time to feel free? Maybe it is time to sit in these feelings for a bit. Now is the time to research what materials will best repair the gaping holes. Stop using cheap methods of repair. Find the gold.

In the end, does anyone ever truly feel completely free?

The realist in me says, “NO!!!”.

My newfound curiosity says, “Well, maybe?”

Just maybe.

My Past, Present, and Yet to Come…

Most recently my life seems a bit reminiscent of the classic Charles Dickens film, A Christmas Carol. No, I haven’t been visited by ghosts, but I definitely feel like certain angels on earth have been put in my path for good reason. God and The Universe (I personally believe that the two like to work together), but whatever you believe or don’t believe I can assure you that there is most definitely a higher power helping me out and moving my puzzle pieces into perfect alignment, I’m grateful. I’m feeling so at peace lately. I’m feeling balanced. Come meet my angels on earth…

THE ANGEL FOR MY PAST: Earlier this year I was at my worst. Plagued once again with deep rooted feelings of abandonment and disappointment. I was sick and tired of pushing those feelings down. Each time they resurfaced they felt stronger than the time before. An upcoming trip was causing me major anxiety. My years of reading self-help books wasn’t working. I was short with my husband and kids. I was extremely defensive about everything. I was unhappy with just about every single aspect of my life. I was broken.

Enter Angel One: I will lovingly refer to her as Fairy Godmother. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). She was referred to me by a friend. I made an appointment. I was vulnerable. I told my story. I spoke about my past. I cried. I opened up about why I was hurting so badly. I cried. She listened. She validated my feelings. I cried. She suggested solutions. I cried. Slowly, I started gaining confidence. Most recently I had a very emotional session, but my tears weren’t sad this time. When I went from seemingly happy conversation one minute to bursting out into tears the next Fairy Godmother asked me, “Where is this emotion coming from?” I replied, “I just realized that I’m doing much better than I’m giving myself credit for.” Over these past 6 months she has helped me recognize that I don’t give myself enough credit for my accomplishments. I’m so grateful for the clarity I have receive during our visits. I’m so thankful for the help I receive from my Fairy Godmother.

THE ANGELS FOR MY PRESENT: Living in the present has always been so hard for me because my unresolved pain was never allowing me to move forward. My progress with Fairy Godmother catapulted me into wanting to make up for lost time.

Enter Angel Two: This is more of a group effort, but it starts with Whole 30 Certified Coach, Jacob Henriquez. I’m not exactly sure how long, but for at least a year or so, I’d been captivated by Jacob’s famous morning coffee pours on Instagram. I loved his message of inclusiveness. Even when I went through my “I wanna be a brat and hate Whole 30” phase…I kept following Jacob. I was coming off of a HARD CORE Intuitive Eating Rebel Binge and around mid-July I was squirming my way back towards The Whole 30 Community. Jacob announced that he was opening up a September Whole 30 Private Group and I felt an instant vibe that this group was exactly where I was supposed to be. I just knew this was going to be a safe space. It turns out that it wasn’t only a safe space, it was FILLED amazing group members and we instantly connected. Through sharing our struggles, our accomplishments and OF COURSE pictures of our meals…we have bonded. Like all groups, not everyone thrives, but for those of us that have stayed the course this month, our experience has been nothing short of amazing. We are genuinely cheering each other on, even for those who are still struggling. No judgement. Refreshing. Life changing. Shall I say, easy. I’m so grateful for Jacob, along with his partner in crime, newly certified Whole 30 Certified Coach Alexis, and the members within our group. My present life has certainly taken on a new form.

My glass is filling up more and more each day. So much so that I am working towards eventually becoming a Whole 30 Certified Coach myself. It took me FIVE rounds of Whole30 to finally decide to hire a coach. I’m thankful for the inspiration I’ve received that helped me decide I wanted to start working towards helping others find their peace with food, the scale, and/or their body image like I am. I’m slowly feeling unstuck. It’s nice.

THE ANGEL OF YET TO COME: Wow, seems weird to type. I used to NEVER think about my future. If I did and it was positive, it was fleeting. When it was negative, I was stuck. A member in our September Whole30 group shared Seth Godin’s recent blog post about being stuck. In it he says, ” The only way to get out of the spot you’re in is to do something that feels unreasonable…”

Hmmm? Okay, God/Universe. I hear you. I’m listening.

Enter Angel Three: Personal Coach, Tracy Bianco. Several years ago, I was virtually introduced to Tracy through our local Chamber of Commerce. After following her Facebook Page for quite a while, I mustered up the courage to personally introduced myself to her at an EmpowHER Women’s Conference in June of 2019. Shortly after I joined her Facebook Group centered around “Clearing Our Clutter” and I was a semi-active participant. Fast forward to the end of August. Tracy sent me an email. It was a personal email. She remembered me introducing myself and she was launching a new program that she thought I may find interesting. Her instincts were correct. In the short time I’ve been working with Tracy, my life is already starting to change. She’s helped me home in on the risks my brain won’t allow my heart to take. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to working with her more over the next 6 months. For someone that never invests in myself at this level, it feels unreasonable…but I’m excited. I’m slowly pulling myself off of that sticky trap.

THE MORAL OF MY STORY: Once again, EMBRACE the help from others. ASK for help from friends or family. Hire the help, if you have to. You are worth the investment!!! It’s not weak to ask for help. It’s not weak to reach out and have others take some of your burdens away so that you can shine in other areas of your life. When I started cleaning up my mental clutter, the world around me started to look so much different. It can for you, too.

God bless us, every one!”
– Tiny Tim