Monday, August 31, 2009

Welcome to OA, Welcome Home

OA in San Diego is cool. They have meetings here every day, multiple times a day. It's not like home where it was one day a week. Help here is literally just a meeting away. Plus they have multiple meeting formats like Women's meeting, a Steps meeting where you go through and discuss each step, and on and on. Tonight was a format like I have never been a part of before. There was a podium up front and the entire room was filled with chairs lined in rows like a classroom. I couldn't believe how many people were there. I got a warm welcome since I'm a newcomer from Indiana--the new people in OA are the most important.

Anyway, what really got me thinking was the passage from OA For Today that a young woman read. It was the topic of discussion at the meeting.

I have never seen a person grow or change in a constructive direction when motivated by guilt, shame, and/or hate. -William Goldberg

For today: I let no one--including myself--try to shame me into changing something about myself I wish were different. I pray to be relieved of guilt and self-hate, and to accept and like myself exactly as I am. That is where I can begin to change.


What would it be like to accept myself the way I am right now? Honestly? Too scary. Why would I want to accept myself? I could no longer obsess about all the things I want to change or think up ways I could be better. I would no longer be able to berate myself for not having the job I want, not having more friends, not being skinny, not dressing fashionably, not having perfect white teeth or straight teeth, not having long enough or straight enough hair, not having better social skills, not being able to be the life of the party, never knowing the right thing to say, not being able to get the guy I want, not being able to make decisions on my own, never knowing what to do, and always thinking someone else is better.

If I weren't doing all of that, what would I do? Would I just enjoy life? I mean, how though? I make up the rules about what I need to be happy. If I accept myself, it means accepting mediocrity. I'm not even sure what makes me happy right now. Moving away from everything I know and not having a job puts me in an awkward position where I have to find my place again. I'm not even sure that I am homesick because I'm still me in this body--only 2000 miles away from where I was before. Changing location doesn't change attitudes. I am no happier or sadder than where I came from. If I'm not happy, it's a reflection of who I am on the inside. That's the thing about OA, you realize it's not about the food.

So anyway, the realization I came up with today is that the thing that makes me feel the most happy ever is being accepted. LOL! It's so funny because I don't accept myself. That being the case, my happiness hinges on other's acceptance of me. Sometimes I like myself, but it's so much easier to be critical--it's familiar. When someone else recognizes and brings something positive about me to my attention, it's like the gates of heaven open up. I want so much to be liked but I still don't believe there is much there worth liking. That's why I'm in OA--it's not about food, it's about self-worth and how that relates back to your eating.

So whatever, I am just rambling now but I'm no longer in therapy and this is therapeutic for me. I haven't even blogged for weeks because it wasn't until now that I felt like I even had anything important to talk about. I guess one last thing I'll mention about tonight was how OA is great because people there accept you. It's such a great feeling to the point that you almost wish the entire world (or dad, or ex bf, or whoever troubles you) would accept you with open arms.

I was so surprised tonight when a newcomer (literally, it was her first meeting) came up and said to me that she didn't understand why I was here. I assume she was referring to my body weight and appearance. I guess to someone who is obese, I don't seem too bad, but it did shock me. I seriously look in the mirror and see an oompa loompa, like from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Short, fat, and round. Or Shrek with broad shoulders, a kind of mannish build. I don't feel womanly and I certainly don't dress womanly. I pray for the day when I look in the mirror and can accept the person looking back at me. When I finally accept myself, I think I may finally be happy. Besides, it's my acceptance that matters most.

Thanks for listening to me, cyberspace. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Appreciate the Journey

This poem sums up my feelings today as I pack and prepare for my journey and the next chapter in my life. In every sense of the meaning, I'm taking a "leap of faith" bigger than any I have taken before. I have a feeling Robert Frost was right, but in the meantime I'll just have to wait and see. For now, I just need to sit back and appreciate the journey, let go of control, and see where it takes me.

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Home Sweet Home, No More...



As my time here in Bloomington dwindles down, I am getting sad about leaving my hometown and home for the last 26 years of my life. Don't get me wrong, I am excited to begin a new chapter in my life, but Bloomington will always hold a special place in my heart.

I found something today that I wrote about Bloomington, but I'm not even sure what I was writing for. Anyway I didn't want to just delete it, obviously there was some purpose behind it. Maybe it's no "coincidence" that I ran across it as I am preparing for my big move.


I live in Bloomington, IN which is the home of Indiana University. Many of the activities in Bloomington are built around the campus (football games, basketball games, shows put on at the IU Auditorium such as Riverdance and Rent). Check out 4th street which is famous for all our different foreign food restaurants (Indian, Moroccan, Italian, and Turkish cuisine just to name a few). Also you can eat at the Dalai Lama's brother's restaurant "The Snow Lion". Half an hour away is Brown County Indiana, where there are hundreds of little shops selling everything from homemade fudge to blown glass to jewelery. My favorite time of season is the fall when they have all their fall decorations out. It's like walking around a cute little historical village from the past. Also there are tons of wineries around Bloomington. The closest is Oliver Winery which is absolutely beautiful -- tons of picnic tables and a small pond outside. An hour from Bloomington is Indiana's capital, Indianapolis. If you enjoy shopping in many high-end shops such as Coach and Banana Republic, definitely check out the Circle Center Mall or the Fashion Mall. French Lick Indiana is another main attraction. Only about 1 1/2 away you can gamble on their Riverboat casino and walk around the beautiful West Baden hotel which was just recently restored. Figures such as Al Capone once stayed there when French Lick was a booming town known for it's purifying Pluto Water.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cake Class Finale

I've been horrible about updating lately. My apologies! I have been busy moving from my apartment into my temporary living situation at my mom's house. Also my birthday was yesterday and the entire last week was spent in preparation for my party last weekend. YES, I made my own birthday cake (surprised?) and I cannot WAIT to get pictures up! But first I need to go a few weeks back and post pictures from my last cake class.

However, before I do that, I need to share some bad news. Over the 4th of July weekend, my cake instructor unexpectedly passed away. They believe it was a heart attack. I am still in shock over the news, especially considering I had just seen Linda the week before she passed away looking happy and well. Cake class was always something I looked forward to each week and Linda was 100% responsible for creating such a fun and friendly atmosphere.

I am so thankful that I was able to meet Linda and have her be a part of my life, even if it was only for a short time. I will always remember Linda's infectious smile and wonderful spirit. She was so very talented when it came to cake decorating and I am thankful I was able to learn under her. I send my greatest condolences to her family and close friends, as I'm sure they are all feeling the impact of this terrible loss. I especially feel for her daughter, who Linda always spoke fondly of. I know we are close in age and I can only imagine how she feels. God Bless.


My last cake was from Course 3 where we learned about fondant and tiered cakes. I included a post earlier about making fondant roses for my cake. I had to make 40, but thankfully these can be made weeks in advance. For my cake, I used 10" cake rounds for the bottom tier of the cake and 6" cake rounds for the top tier, covered both in butter cream, and then rolled fondant over top. I smoothed out the fondant so that it hugged the sides of the cake and trimmed off the excess around the edges. MUCH harder than it looks!

It's important to use buttercream icing under the fondant because it helps a) keep the fondant in place and b) helps the taste! Not everyone likes the taste of fondant, but I think the combination (fondant + buttercream) is yummy! I also used buttercream icing to make my borders around the bottom of the cakes. The next step was placing my fondant roses and leaves on the cake. After this was done, I finally was able to stack the top tier onto the bottom and presto finito--done! See pictures below.





Friday, July 10, 2009

See the World through Rose Colored Lenses


"I know it is not the goodness or badness of the world, but my mind which tints the lenses through which I see."

I love today's OA meditation and just thought I would share because it goes along with what I have been talking about in previous blogs and thinking about on my own. I have finally come to accept that I cannot control anything outside of myself. I know that I cannot change others even though God-willing, sometimes I would like to! My care and concern, and admittedly my selfishness, often gets me overly involved in people's problems. However, I think there is some merit in the idea that sometimes other people can see in us what we cannot see with our own eyes. That's why I often ask for others opinions, but I am slowly beginning to trust my own inner guidance.

Before you go about trying to change others, ask yourself first--what do I need to change? Do you want to become a better version of yourself? Ask those around you for their honest opinion of you and what they think you could work on. Ask your friends, significant other, and co-workers how they would rate you on a scale of 1 through 10. Ask them how you can be a better partner, friend, or co-worker. Don't immediately become defensive. Just hear them out.

Simply because you cannot change the people you would like to change doesn't mean that you can't be an inspiration to others. Keep smiling--it'll make people wonder what you're up to! When you have what others want, they will come forward to ask for your opinion, your advice, or how to go about achieving the same successes.

"For Today: I am letting go of my urge to change people and situations to fit my expectations. It is not the world that needs changing; it is I."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons... make a Lemon Drop Martini!

I know this isn't how the old adage goes, but I'm a modern gal and if I have a choice between lemonade and a lemon drop martini--do you really have to ask? The point is not whether you prefer electric versus non-electric lemonade. The point is that you shouldn't let those lemons go to waste!

Every person, situation, or event in your life brings with it an opportunity to learn and grow.

However, it is my belief that in order to grow we must do two things. First, you need to be completely honest with yourself. You must honestly assess the situation you're in, how you got there, and what you would prefer instead. Based on that information, you can then set a new goal, write out the steps you must take in order to achieve that goal, and make it happen.

The second thing you need in order to grow is to be willing to take risks. Growth is not easy. If it were, you'd probably be there already. Nobody ever got rich sitting around in their parents' basement--so get out there and start taking chances!

Figure out what it is you have to risk in order to achieve your goal--it may require relocating to a new city where you don't know anyone, taking the time and spending the money to go back to school, quitting your current job and giving up financial security, re-writing your resume or hiring someone to re-write it for you, or talking to others who have achieved your goals already and finding out how they did it.

All of these things require risks--risk of rejection, money, time, etc. You may not always be successful, but rather than dwell on your failures (which there's bound to be) you must celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Remember, progress over perfection!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oh Sweet Serenity

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I had therapy and OA today and both helped return me to sanity. Sometimes my thoughts and feelings become so overwhelming. A negative thought has ten times more power than a positive thought for me. Does this tend to be true for most people?

Every week in OA we recite the serenity prayer. It's something I am beginning to take to heart. The idea that I can't control anything but myself gives me permission to let go, which is harder than it sounds. Tonight someone said something about how things don't always go the way she wants and that she just had to learn to accept that. I can definitely relate. How many times were there things that I wanted that never came to fruition? It's difficult because I get so attached to an image of what I want that when I don't get it, I get extremely disappointed. It was nice hearing that I wasn't the only one that happened to and knowing that we all have to accept whatever life decides to throw at us.

Today I learned that life and all of our endeavors are about progress not perfection. As long as we are progressing, we're being successful. One day at a time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Insomnia Word Vomit

In life, in general we aren't aware when we are hurting others. I know it's not always intentional, but it's interesting that people are either not aware, or even when you bring it to their awareness they still may never get it. This is my way of letting go what I cannot control. This is directed at no one in particular--just a random collection of feelings and thoughts I am experiencing all jumbled into one. Also, I'm extremely tired and can't get to sleep, so if this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, that is why.

Ok, I will admit only that some of this is aimed at my father but that's all you get! ;)

I don't need a spokesperson.
I don't need a back massager,
Or ego stroker.

I don't need a narcissist,
I don't need a nemesis,
Or pacifist.

I don't need a lecturer,
I don't need a pick-me-down,
Or all around bully.

I need a friend,
I need a supporter,
and a believer in me.

I need upfront,
I need care and concern,
and I need it to be real.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Today's OA quote

If an ass goes traveling, he'll not come home a horse. -Thomas Fuller

"'Going somewhere else has great appeal for many who are addicted to too much of a good thing.' This is known as 'geographic cure,' although those who use this term are well aware that a 'geographic' cures nothing; it is just another escape. Escapes simply compound addiction.

For today: God grant me the wisdom to understand my longings and the willingness to act in my own best interest." -For Today, OA

Today's quote leaves me baffled. I don't think I am trying to run away from anything. I don't think my life will magically become better if I leave Bloomington. I'm happy here and I could remain happy here. I have great friends, family, my dog, and I genuinely love my life. I guess what I don't love is my job and for some reason I have always had a yearning to leave Bloomington and Indiana. I just want to know what's out there.

I think at first when I was considering school in Chicago I did want to run away. I kept thinking, "what is there for me here?" I didn't have a boyfriend, I didn't like my job, and I wasn't involved in anything I was really passionate about. Now I still don't have the bf or the job I love, but I have goals and something I am passionate about working towards. I guess I could stay here in Indiana and try to make my career goals come true, go to school here, etc. But when else am I going to have this chance to do something completely different? If I stay here, I may find a job, meet a guy, settle down and never get the chance to do this. If I go, then I always have the option of coming back, which I hope to do. I ultimately would like to get married and raise a family close to home.

So, I'm not sure if this quote applies to me. I definitely agree with the prayer at the end though. I really do hope that God can help me understand my longings and help me act in my own best interest.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fondant Roses

Well, last night was my last cake class. Yes, I know, sadness! However, in a way I'm a little happy too. I love doing cakes, but my schedule has been so hectic lately. I need to begin packing my apartment up this week/weekend because my lease ends next Wednesday. I also want more free time to be able to spend with my friends and family, especially before I make the big move to San Diego.

Luckily, I'll be taking tomorrow off from work in order to begin packing and also wrap up on my final cake. I'm taking my cake with me to French Lick to celebrate my friend Randy's daughter's birthday. I hope Jill likes the cake! That also means you'll have to stay tuned to see pictures of the final product.

At this point, all I need to do is stack the top tier onto the bottom one and put on the fondant roses. Below I included some pictures of the work that goes into making fondant roses. Fondant is similar to working with PlayDough except that it's sweet (not salty) if you decide you want to eat it. A lot of people don't like the taste of fondant, but it doesn't bother me. Then again I'll eat anything w/ sugar in it :)

The English actually were the first ones to use fondant because they would put so much liquor in their cakes, they needed something to hold it all together with. They, however, were smart enough to know it was just for looks and peeled the fondant off to the side when it was time to eat the cake. Americans, well... we'll eat anything! We're firm believers of never leaving anything to waste.

In the most basic description, you roll out the fondant and use cookie cutters to carve out your shapes. I won't get into all the details of how to make a flower because there's so many steps. I will say, however, that I much prefer the look of the fondant rose to the buttercream rose. It's just so much easier to work with and in my opinion looks so much better too, but I'll let you be the judge.

I hope you all have a fantastic 4th of July! I know I will!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dining Out with the Fitness Fashionista

Last week I went out to eat with my real life friend and fellow blogger Char from The Fitness Fashionista. We hit up a local favorite, Gratzie Italian Eatery, to talk and catch up on life. Ours are both extremely busy, so it's not often we get a chance to actually see each other in person! Char brought along the camera to document our trip for her blog and wrote a great article about it called "Eating Out Tips: Dining Out Without Ditching Your Diet". Catchy title, isn't it? :)

Char from TheFitnessFashionista.blogspot.com and myself. (Ok, not my best photo, but forgive me!)

It was great fun and I think we might do it again soon, so stay tuned there may be more dining out tips in the future!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Adventures in Cooking: White Beans and Greens Chicken Skillet


Yesterday I did something I never do--I cooked! I was so proud of myself that I had to document the experience. Now first off, I have to mention that I absolutely hate cooking. While I was in San Diego visiting my friend and fellow blogger, Mrs. Myers from Eat Move Write, I was given the five star treatment. She cooked every single night and I was absolutely blown away by not only the aesthetically pleasing presentation of her food, but also the taste.

The recipe I made yesterday was my favorite of all the meals she cooked. However, being the unprepared person that I am, I had to make a few adjustments to the recipe. First off, I only had one chicken breast so I cut up the chicken breast into little pieces and cooked that first. I had to scale down the recipe, so I added only half a cup of the chicken broth and half a can of the white beans. Since there wasn't a lot of chicken the white beans definitely made up for it. After letting that cook for 10 minutes as the recipe suggests, I still had a lot of broth in the pan so I added approximately a cup of pre-cooked brown rice. I let this simmer for a few more minutes. The brown rice did exactly what I wanted and soaked up the remaining broth! This amazed me because as I mentioned before, I'm SO NOT a cook. :)


I also made a side salad, like Mrs. Myers suggests, to pair with the meal. I used romaine lettuce, strawberries, mandarin oranges, and chopped up one of my leftover apricots and tossed that in there as well. Then I topped the salad with a few walnut pieces and Consorzio's Mango Fat-Free Dressing (10 cals per tbsp). The end result was a delicious and healthy meal that was not that time consuming or difficult to make! If anything, next time I might add some herbs to the chicken or mix a little soy sauce into the chicken and rice to add a bit more flavor but that's just personal preference. I also want to add that even with one chicken breast it made about 3 servings, meaning there was plenty leftover! I will definitely be making this recipe again. :)


White Beans and Greens Chicken Skillet:

Ingredients:

2 Whole Chicken Breasts, sliced into large bite-sized pieces
1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1.5 -2 cups Chicken Broth (I use low sodium)
3 cups fresh Spinach, rinsed and washed
1 small tomato, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation:

In a large skillet, heat oil and minced garlic. Brown chicken slices until almost cooked through. Add 1 cup of your chicken broth (reserve the rest) and the Great Northern Beans. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Watch carefully and add water or more broth if the pan becomes dry. Add Spinach and the remaining chicken broth. Cover and simmer again until spinach is wilted, adding water if necessary. When spinach is wilted, add tomatoes and serve. Serves 4. Excellent with a garden or fruit salad on the side.

Source: Mrs. Myers @ Eat Move Write

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Key Lime Pie

For my work's summer pitch-in, I wanted to make the perfect summer dessert--one that was both fruity and light on the stomach. While perusing through one of my favorite recipe sites, MyRecipes.com, I came across a light version of key lime pie from Southern Living Magazine. I instantly knew I had to try it! While making desserts is certainly a passion of mine, finding a healthier version of my favorites is equally exciting. It just proves that you can cut a lot of the fat and sugar and still end up with a dessert that is just as delicious.

Key lime pie is a favorite of mine, but I honestly can't remember the first time I had it or even recall anyone in my family making it when I was a child. I remember ordering it once from Red Lobster and being sorely dissapointed. It was most likely the pre-frozen kind, no better than what you get in the freezer section at your local grocer. I made sure to garnish my pie with key lime wedges and rind so that everyone would know it was NOT a frozen pie :) I also used one of my decorating tips and a border technique I learned in cake class for the whipped topping.

This recipe is pretty simple and self-explanatory. It takes very few ingredients which is both a time and money saver. I will note that it calls for 1/2 cup of lime juice but is not specific. I assumed fresh, so I went out and bought a bag of key limes. Having never made a key lime pie, I had to return back to the store in order to buy a lime squeezer seeing as my fingers were not a very effective tool! Squeezing the juice out of the key limes does take quite a bit of time, so if you are looking to save even more time you might want to opt for a bottle of Nellie & Joe's Famous Lime Juice. Their website includes a list of retail locations.

Key Lime Pie:

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-oz.) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime rind (about 2 limes)
  • 1 (6-oz.) reduced-fat ready-made graham cracker crust
  • 1 (8-oz.) container fat-free whipped topping, thawed
  • Garnishes: lime wedges, lime curls

Preparation

1. Process first 4 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture into piecrust.

2. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Let pie cool completely, and top with whipped topping. Garnish, if desired.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per slice.

Yield

Makes 8 servings

Nutritional Information

Calories: 290 (12% from fat)
Fat: 3.7g (sat 0.5g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.0g)
Protein: 7.4g
Carbohydrate: 55.1g
Fiber: 0.1g
Cholesterol: 3mg
Iron: 0.4mg
Sodium: 185mg
Calcium: 143mg

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Food Finds!

Yesterday I dropped another insane amount of money on groceries! Every week I swear I'll spend less, but I think healthy eating ends up costing me a LOT. I guess that's better than the alternative! I bought the usual, a ton of fresh fruit (apples, bananas, plums, strawberries, nectarines, cherries, and apricots), canned fruit (pears and mandarin oranges), and frozen fruit (raspberries for smoothies). Ok, so call me crazy, but I'll seriously get through all of that fruit in a week.

I also picked up a couple new items to try! For my morning snack I had a nectarine, cherries, and I finally got to try Kashi's new Dark Chocolate Coconut Fruit & Grain bar. I'm not going to lie, it was super delicious! Dare I say, better than their Pumpkie Pie bar.

I also picked up a new flavor of Peanut Butter & Co.'s The Bee's Knees. My friend Char, the author of Health and Fitness with Char turned me onto this brand of PB last year, and I've never ate anything else since! I always get the White Chocolate Wonderful and it is seriously to die for! Last fall, I tried their Mighty Maple but was left disappointed. It may have been good had I never tried the white chocolate, but it didn't so much as compare. I still haven't had a chance to try the honey flavor but I cannot wait! I think I see a peanut butter and apple sandwich in my future...

All this good food and somehow I still managed to avoid a binge last night! It's weird because I rushed through my dinner and felt guilty and unsatisfied afterward. Normally that would cause me to binge, but I didn't. I kept thinking about OA and how they use a plan for meals. I already ate dinner, so that was my last planned meal for the day. I didn't need to eat anything else and I especially shouldn't binge because it wasn't physical hunger I was feeling, just emotional hunger. I wanted to punish and numb myself with more food for eating the dinner too quickly and not taking the time to enjoy what I was eating instead of just shoving food into my face.

The only thing that stopped me from binging is my commitment to working the program. It's funny because if I were on a "diet" I most definitely would have rebelled, but having a food plan while essentially the same thing, feels like something I could allow myself to follow. Anyway, just an after thought.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My First Fondant Cake and Randy's Birthday Cake!

I'm finally getting around to getting some pictures up of last week's cake lesson. We made our first cake using fondant and I'll be the first to say--it's not as difficult as it looks! I really enjoyed working with fondant. If you like making cut-out cookies, then you might like it too. Essentially you are just rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes and strips to put onto the cake. Even the bow, which looks extremely difficult, was actually quite simple. I suppose the only downside is time because it is rather time consuming, but when I think about it--what cake doesn't take a lot of time?

As my friend Darcy quickly found out this weekend (when I came to help her make a cake for her boyfriend's birthday) cake decorating is 70% prep work and 30% actual decorating. Before I even came over, I had Darcy bake the cake and buy the ingredients to make the buttercream icing the night before to save on time. Making the cake on the day-of would be way too stressful and your cake would suffer as a result of having to rush through everything!

At the earliest, I recommend baking a cake three days prior to the event and icing and paper-towel smoothing it the night before. You could decorate the cake that night or put the finishing touches on the following morning as long as you make sure to give yourself plenty of time to play around with ideas and get creative!

I showed Darcy how to make homemade buttercream icing, how to ice the cake, paper-towel smooth it, and use the various decorating tips. She chose a cake out of one of the Wilton cake books my mom bought. She wanted something to tie in with her Hawaiian/Tropical theme and with the tropical looking flowers on the cake, I think it was the perfect choice. We had a few issues with the cake--it came out lopsided and at one point Darcy nearly dropped it, but luckily with my mom's cake leveler and Darcy's catlike reflexes, the cake managed to pull through in the end. And apparently it tasted good too because the entire thing mysteriously vanished by the end of the night!

Next week will be the end of Course 3 in cake class and I'll have pictures of my graduation cake--my first tiered cake made out of fondant and covered in fondant roses. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cherry Triffle with Amaretto!

I've been meaning to post a picture of the Cherry Triffle with Amaretto I made for a cookout a few weeks ago when my friend Garrett was visiting from San Francisco. I found the recipe on MyRecipes.com, a new favorite website of mine, which carries recipes from various magazines. This one in particular happened to be from a 1999 issue of Cooking Light.

The dessert was a hit! I received several compliments on it and nobody seemed to notice it was a "light" recipe. The boys, myself, and Nicole nearly finished it off completely, but enough was left over for me to enjoy as part of my lunch the following day :) The recipe itself was a bit time consuming because you had to make the custard yourself. You definitely want to make this at least a day in advance because the custard seems runny at first and you'll need to chill it awhile for it to thicken up. Also, it's a little on the pricey side because it calls for Amaretto liquore. As long as you don't go for the uber-expensive Disaronno brand you should be able to buy a 5th for ~$10.

Me & G at the cookout.

Cherry Triffle with Amaretto:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
  • 15 ladyfingers
  • 1 (20-ounce) can light cherry pie filling

Preparation

Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Set aside.

Heat milk over medium-high heat in a medium, heavy saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat. Gradually add hot milk to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan, and cook over medium-low heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 25 minutes or until egg mixture comes to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in sour cream and vanilla.

Combine orange juice and amaretto. Split the ladyfingers in half lengthwise. Arrange 10 ladyfinger halves, flat sides up, in a single layer in the bottom of a 2-quart soufflé dish. Brush 2 tablespoons orange juice mixture over ladyfingers in the dish. Spread about 1 cup pie filling evenly over ladyfingers. Spread about 1 cup custard mixture over pie filling. Brush 10 ladyfinger halves with 2 tablespoons orange juice mixture, and line dish with ladyfinger halves standing upright. Arrange 10 ladyfinger halves over custard mixture, and brush with the remaining orange juice mixture. Spread remaining pie filling over ladyfingers. Spread remaining custard mixture over pie filling. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours.

Yield

6 servings

Nutritional Information

Calories: 269 (29% from fat)
Fat: 8.6g (sat 3.9g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.7g)
Protein: 6.5g
Carbohydrate: 44.9g
Fiber: 0.0g
Cholesterol: 185mg
Iron: 0.8mg
Sodium: 177mg
Calcium: 130mg
Source: Cooking Light, JUNE 1999

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

VitaTop Muffin Parfait, Finally!

So this morning, I made a DELISH VitaTop Muffin Parfait! One of my favorite Bloggers, Danica from Danica's Daily included this lovely concoction on this blog post. I'd been dying to try it ever since, and just happened to see VitaTop Muffins at Kroger's when I was doing my grocery shopping last night. I knew I had to have myself a parfait this morning!

Ok, so my picture, obviously not as beautiful as Miss Danica's (I gave all my margarita glasses away to Darcy) and I didn't have almond butter so I put a teeny tiny bit of natural peanut butter on top. But I have to tell you, it was absolutely YUMMY! Those darn little things are expensive, but quite good. About $5 at Kroger's and I think it only comes w/ 4 in a pack. I had the CranBran VitaTop, but they have a ton of different flavors on their website.

Trying to follow Danica's Recipe, I used:

1 CranBran Vitatop (ONLY 100 cals)
1 Oikos Organic Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1 tsp of White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter
A handful of chopped strawberries and blueberries
A sprinkle of Bear Naked Granola

Yummy! (Just me being silly... Pay no attention to the bed head.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

In Unity There is Strength

"It does not matter how deep you fall, what matters is how high you bounce back." -Unknown

Yesterday I mentioned how I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting. After a lot of thought, I decided this would be the best way for me to go about tackling my issues surrounding food. I have to say, it was a great decision. A few years back I had considered going after a brief relapse, but I was able to sort through my issues in individual therapy.

For newcomers, it may feel a bit awkward, but I'm no stranger to group therapy. For two semesters in college, I was a part of an "eating disorders" group offered through the student health center. I found it extremely useful. By the 2nd semester, after abstaining from binging and purging for a considerable amount of time, I was able to leave the group early. This fact alone gives me a lot of hope, both in my ability to overcome my issues surrounding food and in the "group process".

As for the meeting, it went really well. It was comforting to know there were others out there feeling the same feelings, thinking the same thoughts, and acting out on the same actions. I no longer felt shame and guilt because I wasn't alone. The best part was, I could take away at least one thing from what each person had to say and relate it back to myself. Also, they did a great job of making me feel welcome even though it was only my first time there. As I was leaving, one woman hugged me! Normally, I'm all about being contained in my little "personal space" bubble, but it was actually very sweet. A few of them thanked me for coming and said they hoped to see me again. There was a definite sense of warmth and unity in the group, and some of that feeling rubbed off on me as I left. The drive home was great--I felt very uplifted.

So, I'm going to continue with this and see where it takes me. The best part is that when I move, I'll be able to find meetings no matter where I go.

Well, I gotta leave work soon and finish up packing. I'll be in San Diego for the next week taking 2 of my summer intensive courses for the Events Management program and also looking for housing! Wish me luck!

*Side note: After being frustrated last night w/ packing, I resisted the strong urge to binge! Instead I had a hot glass of tea. Also, I threw out all my diet books filled w/ hopes & false promises. GO me!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First step towards "recovery"

Every day is a new opportunity. A new opportunity to right the wrongs, forgive yourself for the mistakes of yesterday, and start over again.

Sometimes if we play close attention "God" (as you've come to understand it) or Life is sending us signals. Last week at work, when I was searching through the candy dish up at the front desk, I noticed our administrative assistant reading a book. I asked him what he was reading, to which he held up the complete text of Alcoholics Anonymous also known as The Big Book and assured me it was something I wouldn't be interested in. Then when I asked him what happened to all the "good candy", he instructed me to go to his desk and open the bottom drawer where I found a huge bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Jackpot! If you recall, I referred to this binge in yesterday's blog.

Well, what I did not mention in yesterday's blog was that the binge didn't end there. When I got home, I binged on whatever I could get my hands on. I think when I tell others I am an emotional eater, anyone can relate because who doesn't want to eat a big bowl of ice cream when things are going wrong? But, I don't just eat the ice cream. I eat whatever's in sight or within hands-reach. I've eaten english muffins w/ buttercream icing on top and food out of my own garbage after attempting to get rid of it. How appealing does that sound?! I've eaten when I'm upset, bored, lonely, because I felt guilty, or simply to punish myself. When I say that I have an emotional eating problem, that's a simple way of putting it because it's sooooooooo much more than that.

That night, I ate several bowls of cereal until my stomach was so full that I wanted to puke, and then I did. Words cannot explain the loss of control one feels on top of the guilt, shame, and complete disguist. I felt so lost in that moment and in the moments leading up to it. I realize that this problem is no longer in my control at this point. I need to do something about it and quick because I can't keep doing this to myself. I've tried reading my books on intuitive eating, binge eating, and eating disorders. I've tried talking about it in therapy. I've tried asking others for advice and writing about it in my blog--but nothing I've tried has worked.

So, inspired by my co-worker, I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting last night. Had I not seen the AA book in his hands that day, I don't know that I would have spent the entire next day on the OA website researching the program and looking up meetings. For the first time, I made a decision on my own without asking someone else what they think I should do (not even my therapist!) and for that I am proud. Sure, I could talk about this more with my therapist, but honestly he doesn't have experience in helping people with eating disorders. On top of that, I'm getting ready to move soon and OA is free, which will give me some time before I leave to pay off my therapy debt.

I look back at last week when my co-worker held up the AA book and said it was something that I wouldn't be interested in and think, "Wow, how wrong was he!" It's exactly what I needed. The meeting went great, but I will give up the details tomorrow in a new post. xoxo!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Is food the enemy?


Last week started out fine, but somewhere in between the days I lost my marbles. Continual problems w/ a co-worker made me justify my right to a slice of chocolate cake. A piece of Dove dark chocolate and two homemade chocolate chip cookies later, I was drowning in a chocolaty pool of self-pity. The thing about using food for emotional comfort is that it never works--the problem doesn't go away and you actually feel worse about yourself in the end because not only is the problem still there, but you created a new one.

At that point, I began to beat myself up mentally and was feeling down in the dumps for the next couple of days. The funny thing is, I know this is what's holding me back from losing the weight and I also know that coping through food is partially why I put on as much weight as I did to begin with (about 15 lbs higher than my normal weight). So anyway, I took some time out to collect my thoughts and figure out how I wanted to tackle this issue. More on that in a bit...

Fast forward to the weekend. My friend called me to join her at the Y to work out. I hadn't worked out in several days, so I went begrudgingly. She left before I got there, but I decided to work out anyway since I had already made the effort to get over there. By the end of the workout, I felt great. I felt like I was able to "sweat out" a lot of the stress in my life. Looking back, I'm actually glad I took those few days away from the gym because honestly the guilt inside was killing me and I was in no mental state to work out. Also, I don't want to force myself to work out when I'm not in the mood. Then it begins to feel like an obligation and I don't want to attach any negative feelings towards exercise.

Yesterday when I went to the gym, I tried to take it easy because of my foot problem. I started on the StepMill, then walked on incline on the treadmill for half an hour. I could have been done after that, but I never did break a good sweat and my body was craving it. So I decided to hop on the Elliptical for 15 minutes and did my HIIT routine--2 minutes normal, 2 minutes at high intensity, high resistance. That brought my workout up to a full hour of cardio! GO ME! I actually didn't want to leave the gym and could have stayed a lot longer, but I had other things to do.

I immediately felt much better and all because my body was trying to tell me something--it likes to sweat. It made me think that maybe there is more to working out than just trying to lose weight. I'm starting to notice other benefits as well. Working out is a stress releaser. Also, my body craves working out. When I work out, not only do I feel good, but my body feels good too.

So anyway, I've had my highs and my lows, and I accept that there are going to be challenges in my life that may occasionally slow me down. The important thing is that I recognize and do something about it now, instead of letting it get the best of me. Later this week, I will post more about my little "solution" for how to go about addressing my food issues, so stay tuned!

Wilton Course 2 Completed!

I completed Course 2 of my cake decorating classes last week! In Course 2 we learned how to make seven different kinds of flowers out of royal icing. For those who don't know, royal icing is a lot thicker consistency than the regular buttercream icing I used to ice and decorate my cakes in Course 1. I still iced my cake and did borders w/ the buttercream, but after making a batch of royal that turned out too thin, I quickly learned how important the consistency of the icing you use for flower making is. I had to re-do all my flowers from that class since my flowers turned out to be one globby mess.

The flowers we learned in this course included violets, daisies, pansies, primroses, victorian roses, daffodills, and crisanthamums.

We also learned a new border and how to create a basket weave around the cake. I especially like how the cake pans we bought w/ Course 2 were oval because it definitely added to the basket look.

Close-up view of the flowers.

The birds are 100% edible. The markers used to color in the eyes and beaks are even special edible markers. These were made out of color flow icing. Similar to royal icing, it's just powdered sugar and water, however I think you use a bit more meringue powder than what's required for the royal icing. Basically you create an outline for your pattern, in this case a bird, and fill it in with the already colored icing. We let them dry for a couple weeks before using them. It's totally safe though! These will never go bad unlike the buttercream which will go bad after 2 weeks due to the shortening that is used to make it.

Today after work I'll start Course 3! I'm excited, I finally get to learn how to work w/ fondant which I am a HUGE fan of! Can't wait!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

GorJess Cakes

I've had a very busy weekend, and only now am I getting around to post last Monday's cake pictures after a bout of insomnia. I was up until 5:30am last night and only got roughly 5 hours of sleep, yet now cannot sleep even though I was beyond exhaustion all day. I didn't think I'd have the energy to get my cake done and my flowers made for class on Tuesday. Luckily, my mom was sweet enough to bake the cake for me ahead of time and whip up the icing, which made things go by much more smoothly. Still, it wasn't until 5 hours later when I was finally done.

In course two, we have learned seven different kinds of flowers and let me tell you, they are no cake walk in the park (pun intended)! I don't think people realize the time & energy that go into regular cakes, which makes me think you've got to be crazy to do wedding cakes! The whole process actually frustrates me to the core, which is why I don't think this would ever be a career move for me. I literally am cursing the entire time I'm making flowers and icing my cake.

I think my mom was right today when she said that I take after her perfectionist attitude, but even she is quick to point out I am an even worse perfectionist than she is! The funny thing is, once it is said and done, all the hard work, sweat, tears, and cursing is worth it because you've got a GorJess cake at the end. But don't take it from me, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.





I made this cake for my friend Megan's going away party and from the looks of it I'd say she really liked it! I used a stencil for the writing since I haven't mastered writing freehand on cakes yet. It looks much nicer than my graduation cake where I wrote best wishes freehand. I also chose to do yellow roses this time around. I cheated and used my mom's violets that she made for class because they looked much nicer than the drop flowers we had leftover from our Mother's Day Cake. I also used a new border technique around the bottom that we learned in Course 2 called rosettes. It's quickly become a new favorite!

Well, I hope everyone is having a relaxing Memorial Day weekend! Tuesday's class will bring the finale of Course 2. I'm inviting my friends over Wednesday to share my Course 2 "graduation cake" with, so pictures of that are soon to come!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Give Up, Give In?

The hardest part of trying to get healthy is not the exercise, but the food. I am powerless to sweets, an admitted Chocoholic, a beater and spatula licker, and an emotional eater.

Most recently, I have had several episodes where I get this ache that starts out as hunger, but turns into something that I cannot seem to satisfy. When that happens, I feel completely out of control, which makes my eating out of control. Sitting with the "empty" feeling is also difficult for me, so instead I mostly just try to get rid of it by eating--however only massive amounts of food tends to work, if you can call that "working". It's really not working for me, but I'm not sure what to do.

The worst thing about it is that it makes you feel very alone. Like, what's wrong w/ me? Why can't I just eat normal like everyone else? But truthfully I know I'm not alone and a lot of people have trouble w/ emotional eating. I haven't been able to figure out where this insatiable appetite comes from, or what to do about it. I think the key is distraction or finding out what it is that's actually bothering me. I think there will be lots of trial and error involved!

My biggest concern is I don't want my negative feelings about how I've been eating lately to effect my motivation to work out. Many times it feels pointless, but I guess I have to remember that this is a process, and I'm going to continue to fail until I figure out what works for me.

“Like success, failure is many things to many people. With Positive Mental Attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again.” -W. Clement Stone

So, on that note I am sticking w/ my planned workout tonight at the gym even though I feel like complete crap about myself. I'm going to try to work on turning those negative thoughts around because I have a great weekend ahead of me! I'm working a wedding this Saturday and then heading with the girls to Indy for a night out on the town!

Last night I did Workout 2 of the 30 Day Shred. It started out fine, but towards the end it got much harder! I do have to say, what I like about Jillian's workouts are that they incorporate everything from cardio to strength to abs. It's an all around workout that targets every zone. Also, to her critics, I find her tough love attitude refreshing. I don't need a cheerleader, I need someone to kick my ass in the gym! Sure, at the time I might hate you for it, but I am more likely to want to punch the bubbly cheerleader in the face rather than the Army Sergent. But that's just part of what works for me.

This weekend will be busy, so everyone take care and have an awesome three day weekend! I'll have some more pictures of cakes to post soon!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mind Over Matter

"You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do except the limitations of your own mind." - Darwin P. Kingsley

This is so true. When I read this quote, I immediately thought about a friend and how her thoughts limit her. When she applied to a nursing program and the school counselor told her it was a competitive program and that she would have to take an entrance exam, she began to rethink her decision because she felt that she wasn't smart enough for the program. When she discovered that her boyfriend lied to her repeatedly and she wanted to end things, she questioned whether or not she should because she thought she could not support herself and their child on her own. She cannot and will not ever move forward if her thoughts continue to act as a handicap to her true wants and desires. If only she believed that she was smart enough to make her career goals happen, or resourceful enough to make ends meet on her own, or that she was even worth the extra effort to make her happiness her #1 priority, then surely she could achieve all that she wants to achieve.

But hey, we are all guilty of this behavior. Only a couple years ago, I was in an unhealthy relationship that I was too afraid to get out of. Fear blinds us to the realities of what we're truly capable of. While I believed that I deserved better and that ultimately this person was not at all what I was looking for in terms of a partner, my fear held me back. When I finally got out of the relationship, I finally realized I could be on my own and I didn't need someone else, but I never would have believed that until it actually happened.


I guess my point is that sometimes we have to have faith that things will work out. Sometimes bad things in life happen in order to teach us a lesson, but we have to brush ourselves off and try again until we find something that works. Enjoy this life--it's the only one you have. Don't have any regrets. Follow your dreams and take chances. Believe in yourself and realize that you are the creator of your destiny. Thoughts manifest into actions and actions produce results! Don't wait for an opportunity to come along, create your own opportunities and ACT today! Life is too short to wait for tomorrow...


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mother's Day Cake

I just successfully uploaded my first cell phone picture via text message! How cool is that? Now if my Blackberry only took better photos. BTW, this is a picture of the Mother's Day cake my mom baked and I helped decorate. She placed all the drop flowers onto the cake, but I helped by making the leaves on the flowers and the border around the top and bottom of the cake. It was delicious!

Anyway, I hope you all are having a fantastic Mother's Day! Did I mention, my mom is the bestest?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cakes 'n Things

The thought of a mozzarella cheese stick as a snack doesn't sound appetizing to me at all. But heat that same cheese stick in the microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds (just enough to get it gooey but not melted into a pile of goop)--heaven. I realize I need to cut back on--not eliminate--carbs if I want to see some results. I don't want to overthink things but just take a more balanced approach to how I eat.

On the completely different (and somewhat hypocritical) note, here's some pictures of sinfully delicious cakes I decorated from my cake decorating class! I know, my weight loss goals don't exactly go hand-in-hand with my hobby for cake decorating. I don't want to feel like even though I am trying to lose weight that I'll have to give up cake decorating all together. Right now, I'm just seeing how things go. If I concentrate on the decorating part and how much I enjoy making cakes for friends and family, then hopefully I will be able to keep the part of me that invariably wants to self-sabotage under control.

So without further adieu, here are my cakes from Course 1.

Lesson 2: Cake using "star" tip

Lesson 3: Clown Cake

Lesson 4: Rose Cake

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Weekend Update

I finally updated my book and music info. I try to keep things up to date, but I find that I have less and less time to dedicate to a blog. I would love to write a real blog that people would actually come to read, but I'm not sure I have any wisdom of interest to impart onto the world. Really I am just someone who is living life day to day, trying to figure herself out and find the key to true happiness.

Unfortunately my negativity really holds me back. I don't know what it is about this week, but I've felt completely off kilter both mentally and physically. Last week I did so well with my eating and working out. This week I ended up binging on icing leftover from my cake decorating class. I HIGHLY do not recommend this! I never knew what a sugar crash felt like until this week. It's like the worst hangover (x) a million! The funny thing is, it wasn't even one of those pre-meditated binges. It was like, "Hey-o I've got some icing leftover. I could put a little on this animal cracker and it wouldn't kill me..." Then, complete loss of control. It wasn't even a guilt-induced binge. Literally it sprang out of no where.

Fortunately I kept up on my workouts. It's just really discouraging because I feel like no matter how much I work out, as long as I'm struggling w/ my food issues, working out is not going to make any difference. I cannot stress enough how much I just want to drop 10 lbs, especially before I move to San Diego. It would help my self-confidence so much. I want to start dating and be in the same "playing field" as the caliber of men I find attractive. You'd be surprised how many guys on Match.com want to find a girl that is "active". That is code for: fatties need not apply. So if anyone has any ideas on how to get there, please enlighten me!

Also, if you want to critique my workout routine that'd be great!

Monday: 30 mins cardio, 30 mins strength training (upper body)
Thursday: 55 mins cardio (15 walking on incline, 20 elliptical, 20 stair climber)
Friday: 30 mins Shred video
Sat: 15 mins intense cardio (ellptical), 25 mins strength training (lower body)

I have a huge gap on Tues and Weds because I've got my cake decorating class on Tues nights, and therapy on Weds nights.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

San Diego Here I Come!


I just registered for my Summer Intensive classes at the University of San Diego! Last night I booked my plane tix. Also, I told my boss yesterday that I would be leaving the company at the end of July to go back to school. All of this goes to prove that this is really becoming REAL. It's official, I am actually going to do this.

On a side note, this morning I was reading Become Your Own Matchmaker by Patti Stanger, the star of the hit reality show The Millionaire Matchmaker. In the chapter titled, "First Days of Infatuation" she discusses the danger signs to look out for during the first 90 days of dating. One in particular really hit home for me because it perfectly describes the last guy I was seeing.

"If your main form of communication when you're not together is texting, it's a sign of immaturity, and he might not be ready for an adult relationship. Real men use the phone. You may think texting is a quicker, more efficient way to communicate, but in reality, it takes less time to dial and number and say a few words than it does to type a message, no matter how good you are with your thumbs. The man who texts doesn't want to actually speak to you--he's like the kid who just wants to poke you to let you know he's there."

When I would complain to my therapist about this guy, he said the same thing--that he was immature. He couldn't be any more right! I'm just glad I've cut off communication. I feel more sane and able to concentrait on what really matters--investing in myself and my future. That's all!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ultra Low-Fat Gourmet Donuts

One of my favorite blogger's, PriorFatGirl, is hosting a contest to win a sample of the Holey Donuts! special arrangement. These donuts are not fried and only contain as little as 3-4 grams of fat compared to the 15-20 grams of fat in a regular donut. Also they are only 150-250 calories! I am DYING to try some!


Click here to visit PriorFatGirl's blog and enter to win!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Difficult Decisions

"In hindsight, what I needed to do was forgive myself for disappointing my parents, and let go of the guilt. I needed to just accept that they would be unhappy for awhile, and that once I did well in my career, they would come around. I just needed to trust that I made the right decision for myself, and that all would be good. Years later, I finally learned that lesson." --Stephanie Qualio, Back In Skinny Jeans

I love reading Stephanie's blog because it always manages to touch on a subject that I can relate back to my life. In ways, it is strange how this person and myself are so similar but perhaps we are all more similar than we realize. Maybe it is when we take a chance to open ourselves up to the world and admit to our vulnerabilities, that we realize we all are more similar than we are different. We all have one thing in common, and that is life. We're not sure why we're here, or what happens after life, but we try out best to live our lives well and learn from our mistakes along the way. We are all here to help each other along the way and ultimately our survival depends on one another.

So, when I read stuff like this, I don't take it with a grain of salt. I am a constant learner. While I tend to focus on my problems a lot (and I do), it's not actually about focusing on the negative for me. It's really just more of a curiosity. I am always trying to understand things and why things are the way they are. Sometimes I find an answer, and sometimes there is not a definite answer or the one I was hoping to find. Either way, I constantly am seeking enlightenment as a person. I am always trying to grow, learn, evolve. I think for me that will always be a theme in my life.

This quote is nice at a time like now. I've got the decision to make about moving to San Diego to pursue my continuing education without a lot of support from my parents. I know my mom doesn't want me to go, but she says she can't stop me (after all, her parents let her go to Mexico and Peru). My dad on the other hand is less passive. He's trying to convince me to go to Chicago where I'll be closer to home and is attempting to bribe me by offering to pay for my housing and school. He's also got my aunt trying to convince me to go to school in Florida where the other half of my family lives because at least that's closer than Cali.

My therapist assures me this is just their way of showing that they really love and care about me. I know this is true, but it's still a little frustrating. I don't like that my dad can't trust me to make the best decision for myself. Also, he undermines my ability to chose a good program and acts like he knows more about it than me when I am the one who's spoken to professionals in the field. I don't think he'll ever take me seriously as an adult unless I just do what I need to do and prove to him that I don't need his help financially. He tells me straight out that I will fail. The only way to prove him wrong is just that, PROVE him wrong.

Why Cali? I'm not really sure. I was having second thoughts about Chicago because it's too cold there. Also, I didn't feel like the program was that great. Plus, the idea of investing 40K and going into debt just did not settle well w/ me. Then while in San Francisco, I was doing some research and stumbled upon the USD program. I wasn't looking for schools in Cali, it just sort of happened. I was looking up an industry professional and discovered she did a certificate program before her Masters. I emailed her and a few weeks later we spoke over the phone. She assured me that a certificate program was the way to go.

So, again: why Cali? Well, for starters, nice weather, I always wanted to live in Cali, I've got a couple of friends in SD (and more throughout the state), and now I have a mentor there. But overall, it's just a gut feeling. I have no idea what the future will hold, but like Steph says I just need to trust that I am making the right decision for myself. After that, everything else will just have to fall into place...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quotes

Quotes help me live my life. Lyrics from songs, quotes from books, magazines, blog entries, or even email conversations with friends help set the foundation of who I am and where I want to be. I don't take anything anyone says with a grain of salt, and I myself am very choosy and intentional with my own words. This last week has been no exception. In an effort to remember the quotes and the lessons I am learning, I thought I'd blog about some of them here.

Find thoughts that feel good, because it is inevitable that you are going to always be moving toward something. So why not be moving toward something that is pleasing? You can't cease to vibrate, and Law of Attraction will not stop responding to the vibration that you are offering. So, expansion is inevitable. You provide it, whether you know you do, or not. The only question is, what is the standard of joy that you are demanding for yourself? From your Nonphysical perspective, it's a high, high standard.

This is a quote Jazz sent me last week. What is the standard of joy I am demanding for myself? Well, before last week, not a high standard. At least not relationship-wise. I was settling for any kind of relationship I could have with a person I had feelings for even though it wasn't my preference. I wanted to date, but he wanted to be friends that acted like we were dating. I wasn't moving towards something at all and instead I actually felt very stuck. I didn't know if he would change his mind after spending more time with me and getting to know me, or if things would stay the same. The whole thing was making me an emotional roller coaster and I was beginning to second-guess my plans for San Diego.

Luckily, I finally got the chance last week to address the situation in person and basically got what I needed out of the night/conversation. I needed to know that there was no chance. Also, I needed to establish some boundaries and cut off communication for my own good. Now I feel like I am moving in a positive direction again. I'm able to concentrate again on the things I can control, such as my career goals, how I'm going to achieve them, and what I am willing to do to get there.

But how did I get there? How was I able to embrace an attitude of acceptance? My friend Emma sent me an email last week of a testimonial she had written for her church two days later. Her timing was impeccable! Some of the things she said really hit home especially given what I was dealing with.

Jerry has been going to church all his life (and has lead me to God, which is a whole other story) but I knew that he would have some answers. He said that the reasons [tragedies happen] are beyond us and our understanding. They are for God to know, and maybe one day we will see the purpose in it or maybe we will never know. He told me that God has a plan for all of us and that we need to accept those things which we can't always find reason for, but to just have faith that they do have purpose and meaning.

This quote had a very humbling effect on me. It was as though for once in my life I was just given permission to accept. Maybe that sounds silly, but for me that is nearly impossible. I want to know the reasons behind everything. I couldn't understand why God would have me meet the "perfect guy" and yet keep me from being with him because of circumstances. To me it seemed like a very cruel joke.

This quote also made me think. Maybe there is a good reason behind why things cannot work out. Maybe God doesn't want to give me a reason to stay behind in Bloomington; maybe I truly am meant to go to San Diego.

Many, many other small things have added up to signal to me that this was the right decision. Bottom line: I wasn't getting the things I needed out of the "relationship" and if things were meant to work out presently, then they would have. I can't control the situation but I can control what I do for myself, and right now the best thing for me is to move on with my life and my plans.

I guess I'll end with another useful quote I found to help me accept my situation. Even though I wasn't having sex, it was still a "no strings attached" type relationship. Whether or not this person was genuinely a good person, I still felt at times like I was being taken advantage of. That is just as much my fault as his because I stuck around.

Men love having sex with no strings or commitment attached. It's even better if it's someone they know and trust not to sleep around. You should end it and move on. Save your love for someone who will appreciate and love you all the more for it.

Basically, I'm tired of giving up my love for free.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hope, Future, Expectations

A favorite blog of mine approaches a subject that I often struggle with. Using some of her words, the blog forces me to ask:

Why do we keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping to produce different results or hoping that the people we're involved with will somehow get on the bandwagon and change to what we need?

Hope is strong. We all have hope about one thing or another. But hope is also an illusion that can leave you feeling gravely disappointed if you don't get what you want in the end.

Why do I keep trying? Because the thing that I want is so big, and the perceived payoff is so large, that I would do anything to get it. I see myself being 100% satisfied if I only got what I wanted. If this person gave me the love that I wanted, I wouldn't need anything else. If this person gave me the love that I wanted, I would be able to fulfill my dreams for the kind of future I want. If this person gave me the love that I wanted, I would be happier than I've ever been. If this person gave me the loved that I wanted, I would finally feel complete.

Or maybe it is fear that there is nothing better out there. Fear that this is the best that I can get, so I had better cling on because there couldn't possibly be someone out there who has all the qualities I want and actually wants to be with me.

For me, I have to have challenges. Being single for an entire year was one of those challenges. I can mark that goal off my list and feel proud that I did it. Being single for a year made me realize that I don't need to be in a relationship and that I can exist on my own, and I am so thankful for having the opportunity to grow and realize that about myself. Ultimately, however, I realize right now that I want to be in a relationship, which is entirely different.

Being single has hardly been a fun thing for me here in Bloomington. I didn't get a chance to date around a lot, seeing as there are not many singles in my age bracket. Most of the male population here are either undergrad students, married, or in serious relationships already. Of the handful of men I have met, none have met my criteria and those who have are unavailable.

My next challenge will be moving to San Diego and being in a literal sense completely on my own. Going somewhere new where I know all of 2 people is intimidating and will definitely challenge me in new ways I hope to grow and learn from. Overall, though, I hope I have the chance to date and actually have fun with it. I have no idea what it's like to be single and date around in a mature and responsible way, or better yet be single and have single friends.

So what's the solution to the question? Well, I guess you have to let go of hope at some point if what you're doing isn't yielding the results you wanted. You have to try something different. Maybe I won't get the guy I wanted, but that doesn't mean I should lose hope complelely, it just means I should let go of him. Maybe I'll meet someone like him or better. Maybe I have a different destiny.