Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Brownie Mistake Cake #Recipe

A couple days ago I was in the kitchen preparing what I meant to be a delicious, light, fluffy white cake. I generally have my own recipe for improving on box mixes, but for whatever reason on this day I mismeasured, or misthought, or... I don't even know. I ended up adding way too much milk. I didn't realize this until I was spooning the mix into the cupcake liners. I noticed that the batter was really runny, and then my mistake dawned on me. Oh no! I didn't have another cake mix on hand. I didn't just want to toss out what I had made, but what could I do with a runny cake batter? I began digging through my pantry and came across a box of brownie mix. Could this work,  I wondered. What else could I do? So, I mixed the brownie mix into the cake batter and hoped for the best.

I was not disappointed! Oh man, ya'll, this cake was good. Like, I'm gonna make it again like this, but on purpose good! So, I thought maybe some of you might like to try it, too.

Notes before you get started: I don't know if you can use another flavor of mix and get the same result. The same goes for using the whole egg. I would surmise that doing one, or both, would change the texture, but I am not sure on that. White cake mix is lighter, and has a different texture to it than other kinds, probably due to the whites being used as opposed to the whole egg.

Brownie Mistake Cake

*1 box white cake mix
*2 1/2 cups of milk
*2/3 cup of butter [softened]
*5 egg whites
*1 box of fudge brownie mix

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Managing Negative Self Talk

If you've been reading my blog for very long you might have sensed a theme of self-empowerment, and an undercurrent of acceptance of what is, even if that's not what I'd wish. But, these things are hard. I know that there are a zillion and one article out there on how to accept yourself, how to be kind to yourself, and more. They give a few steps, and speak about how wonderful it will be to achieve this feat. Thing is, for some of us that have deep ingrained issues that stem from childhood, and mental illness this is not a challenge that can be worked on like a to-do list, crossing each item off in order on this neat notepad of emotional life skills. No. This is an ongoing challenge that requires constant dedication. For myself, I have to re-evaluate my inner talk, my outer talk, and my emotional state frequently, and then adjust accordingly.

For example, recently I was having a lot of work done on my house. This meant a trove of workers coming in and out for several days. I began to fret about what I was doing, how I was presenting myself. My anxiety shot up, and I worried what they were thinking of me. Negative phrases were flowing through my mind. I worried I looked lazy

Monday, February 12, 2018

How to Find a Fitness Routine that Works for You

I'm sure that there are many of you that vowed to get in shape this year, or lose x amount of weight by summer. Here it is, the first week of February and I'd bet that a good amount of people who had a fitness related new year's resolution have given up, or at least felt seriously discouraged. I come across a lot of people that genuinely want to exercise more, and want to lose weight, but somehow they always end up feeling defeated at some point during their journey. A feeling of failure and shame always seems to follow. They can't figure out what they're doing wrong, or how come they can't seem to get it together like everyone else. They secretly feel ashamed for what they perceive as a personal shortcoming to stay motivated. They wonder if they really are just lazy.

With the vast majority of people I feel that none of those apply. If you've tried and failed to stick to a new fitness plan don't beat yourself up. There's so much misinformation out there. Fitness is really trendy right now. It seems really difficult to find a down to earth approach that meets the needs of the everyday person who isn't looking to be a fitness model, but just improve health. We're bombarded with a new, exciting diet, and fitness plan that promises extraordinary results at least every 6 months. The thing is, if they all worked there wouldn't need to be more. Yet, there is, because there's always a market for it.

Truth is, there is no one diet plan, one fitness routine that is going to work universally for everyone. We all are starting out at different place, with different bodies, and have different goals. On top of that, there isn't any shortcuts to success when it comes to health. There are, I suppose, but they aren't long term. There are way, way too many people out there talking about fitness, trying to sell you on their method that are not healthy. Skinny, muscular and built does not necessarily mean that a person is healthy.

So, how does one establish a new fitness routine that fits their needs, and that they can stick with?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Dialogue with Prejudice

What does it mean to be a racist?

That's something I have been thinking about a lot lately. The term is tossed around more than ever before, and is used to describe a variety of behaviors in a variety of situations.

The dictionary defines the word racist to mean:
noun: racist; plural noun: racists
  1. 1.
    a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.

    "the comments have led to her being called a racist"

    synonyms:racial bigot, racialist, xenophobe, chauvinist, supremacist

    "he was exposed as a racist"

    (racially) discriminatory, racialist, prejudiced, bigoted

    "a racist society"
noun: racist; plural noun: racists; adjective: racist
  1. 1.
    showing or feeling discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or believing that a particular race is superior to another.

    "we are investigating complaints about racist abuse at the club"
I think it's safe to say that most of us have a good grasp on what the word means. It's a hot button term that is used as an insult, and way of disregarding a person's opinion as not valid, because it's based on faulty morals. It's rare that when the label of being a racist is thrown onto a person that the person on the receiving end doesn't feel rather outraged by the audacity of a person like them being called a racist. In their mind, they simply are not. They know they're a good person. They don't align themselves with with hate. They have friends of different races, and backgrounds. The defensiveness is now about protecting their ego, and it's all about proving how they're not a terrible person.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

How You Can Overcome the Trials of Being a Single Father

How You Can Overcome the Trials of Being a Single Father

Being a single father is not a simple task. There are highs, lows, and everything in between. The way we eat, drink, love and cope with stress, depression, anxiety and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it's necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you're doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing. You may not have asked for this role, but it's yours. Your children need you to do what is best for not only them, but also for yourself.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How's the Tide?

I'm sure if you have been on the internet, or watched the news in the last week you have heard of the Tide Pod challenge. If somehow you haven't, let me break it down for you. It's a new viral video challenge where kids (mostly teens, or there abouts) eat, or least chew a Tide laundry detergent pod. I have heard a lot of people talking about how kids have gotten so stupid anymore. That kids would have never attempted that sort of thing when they were younger.

Let me tell you a story.

This takes place in the before time. Before Internet. BI There aren't any pictures of it, but it happened.

When I was around middle school age there was a group of girls in the grade above me that decided to try a kind of challenge of their own. I didn't sit at their table, so I wasn't privy to their plan, or specifics. All I know is one day one of them proposed that they sniff laundry detergent. They all agreed, and one of them offered to bring the powdered substance to school the next. A plan was born. The next day at lunch the detergent was brought out of one of their lunchboxes, and distributed among the girls participating. I am not sure if they all did it at once, or if they were taking turns, or if several did it at once. All I know is that suddenly there was a commotion.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trying the Macros Approach

I have blogged a little bit here and there about fitness, food, and wellness. These are topics that come into play every day in my personal life. I'm not someone who dabbles into interests. I throw myself into all that I do often with a strong vigor that most don't understand. I am usually totally dedicated to a cause, or not interested. So, while I can certainly say that I know a lot about the topics of fitness and health, I cannot say that I am an expert. I have, however spent a great deal of time researching what many experts say about exercise, food, diets, eating, and overall health. Separating the woo from the science is not easy. I do strive to maintain a very high level of skepticism when gathering information.

With the holidays being over and practically my whole family's birthday season ending I noticed about a week or two ago that I put on a couple of pounds. Not many, but still.... I wanted to work on getting them back off again. I already work out regularly. There wasn't much to be changed, or done with my routine. I already know what works there, and I am already on top of things. All that was left is my diet. I hated to think about it. I hate dieting. I hate being hungry. I hate counting, and worrying. It also triggers my eating disorder thoughts, and I don't need that.

I needed a healthy balance.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy New Year from Level 39 :)

Today was the first day of 2018. I don't really get into the whole 'new year, new me' type of thing, but I do like to take some time in late December and the first days of January every year to reflect on my life. With my always [over]thinking brain my life, and it's direction,  purpose, and meaning is probably something I reflect on about every other day, if I were to be honest. Heh. I probably never fully stop thinking about it. There is just something more appealing, more magical about the concept of evaluating one's place in life at this time of year. Possibly because others are partaking, and it's a good time to share with each other our visions of future goals, and past aches.

As I sit in my quiet, dim lit living room sipping sleepytime tea as the clock approaches midnight I struggle to come up with concrete words to define what I would like to do in this upcoming year. I think the irony hits me that at an age where I am feeling more and more content with me, my physical body is beginning to flail, and gray hair is now the norm, if I dared to skip the dye for more than a few weeks. My youth is quickly fading into the distance, but I have never felt more alive. I don't mean this in the way of not having struggles, or that I began meditating, and now inner peace has beget me. Not at all. It's deeper than that. It's not a skill, or a place. It's more of a state of being that I've acquired, like a level in a game. Ha. It sounds pretty cool to say that I'm level 39, and have collected wisdom points. But, I have, and not everyone will be the same on level 39, but that is where I am.

I don't know what's different. I can't find any one thing to tease out of this tangle of inner concepts of feelings, and well being to definitely say, "This is what changed." I just know that I feel as if no matter what happens I'll be okay. even if I'm not okay, I will be okay again. As a matter of fact, I can bet that there are gonna be times in life that are so hard, that are so arduous that I won't be okay, I won't feel okay, but I will exit out on the other side, eventually. The only for sure thing in life is that there will be challenges, and smooth times, and mostly in between times, but the difference between now and earlier is that I felt like I might not be able to handle them. I didn't enjoy much of the good times, because my anxiety was always preparing me for a bad one, as if a person can ever be prepared for life's extreme challenges, anyway. It doesn't matter how hard we try, or how much we think we can, we can never truly prepare for situations like loss, and catastrophe. Losing people we love, and life shattering events, and even facing our own mortality are pieces of life that we try to predict with worry to give ourselves the illusion of control, but in the end we have none. We try to make sense of the patterns through the chaos of life, because we fear the fragility of it all. One thread might unravel everything. While that's true, I know that I can face it. I can fall into turmoil, and come back out again. I know this because I've done it again and again. Nothing is permanent, least of all not an adaptable human such as we all can be.

This whole different way of filling out my own skin has opened me up to accept more positive experiences. I don't fret with worry as much anymore. I don't find myself as dragged dow

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas for the Black Sheep

A couple days before Thanksgiving I began to wonder about the people that didn't have anywhere to go for dinner. The homeless, the family-less, the ones who couldn't afford to attend dinner with family far away. Even more so I was reminded of my own estrangement from my family. I was all too familiar with the feelings of isolation that holidays can bring for some of us. Even though I do have a wonderful husband, and 3 great kids to spend holidays with I still feel a tinge of sadness to know that it will be just us together celebrating without any other family, even though I do have parents, and a sibling that is alive in the same state.

It's been about 9 or 10 years now that I haven't celebrated any holidays, or birthdays with my side of the family. As time passed it turned from what used to be a festering, painful wound down to what now feels to be a dull ache. There's something about being nominated the black sheep, the unwanted, and wrong by your own parents that causes a deep down sense of self-doubt. It whispers from so far deep inside your psyche that the toxic voice gets indistinguishable from your own. They eventually turn into one in the same. You don't know why, but you feel out of place everywhere. You question your sanity, and worth as a person in everyday small ways that don't seem like criticism. It's just the way you perceive yourself, and your life. Every year this voice becomes closer to the surface, as your defenses fall, until one day you second guess it. "Wait," you say to yourself. "Do I think that? Is that my view about myself, or is that the way I was taught to see myself?" The hurt ego falls away to allow you to begin to get to know the you without all the pain in the way. Our fears get in the way of this process, but dealing with them is just part of the process. Being the scapegoat of the family often lends us a feeling of threat being around every corner. It can truly feel this way when you're a child in this type of environment. What kept us going, and surviving as children hinders us as adults. I know that I learned to identify anything out of place, or threatening in my environment as a way to protect myself. Problem is, is that this way of coping turned me into a negative radar. Always anxious, always preparing for the worst. My defense was my demise.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Resting with Chronic Illness

Today I ran a thousand miles through the heavy autumn air with leaves crunching underfoot as my breath grew deep, and my legs weary.

Well, maybe not a thousand.

Maybe I didn't run, either. But, it felt like it. Let me explain....

As I mentioned before, I have chronic migraines (among a few other illnesses) and yesterday I was struck down with a pretty severe one. Today it seemed to let up some, but the after affect lingered. My body was beyond exhausted. My head was foggy, and not communicating well with my brain. In general my body ached, and moaned reminiscent of the flu, or maybe a horrid hangover.

I felt the fog lifting, and the heaviness begin to ease about 2 hours ago. I'm sure that this isn't what feeling all the way well feels like, but in comparison I feel as if I could climb a mountain at 9:30 PM. I wish I could say this is unusual, but it isn't. My brain seems to come alive in the afternoon, and by evening energy levels soar. My pain is usually by far less in the later part of the day. I want to live by the moonlight, but unfortunately the world is on another schedule.

I wonder what people think when they think about the daily lives of people with chronic illnesses. Do they imagine a frail person taking pills, and laying on the couch all day? Do they think about all the rest we all must be getting? Do they imagine us with energy reserves that we can tap into as the need arises? Much like a bank account, or a camel. Do people suppose that when we stay home for a day that we can feel refreshed later?