Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Review
 and a little state of the blog

Craaaaap. First of all, a little foray into perception versus reality: I told a couple people—der schweetums, Maul maybe, and Nina definitely—that shit, I was fine in February, I was firing on all cylinders in February, so WTF March?? Because March has not been fine, see below. But I just now pulled up my February review and it literally starts:

Ughghghgh I mean, it's been a fine month.

And if you read through the review, what really was happening in February was that I was shutting down cylinders one after another. So the game was already afoot in February, this depression didn't just come out of the blue. Out of the blue, haha.

March picks:

HOME: Cleaning and decorating

1. DO ONE THING for front room big clean :|

I did not do even one thing for this.

But, I'll tell you what I did do: I've been nursing along this pothos plant at work since like 2010, I'm pretty much a black thumb and had to bring it back from the brink of death more than several times, and last summer I was like Oh you have to repot plants. So I did that and that sucker TOOK OFF, six years hanging out at about the same size and then it was like the time-lapse photography in the Plants episode of Life, you could just about SEE it growing o.O. I raised it up on a Garrett's popcorn tin, but still the vines were dragging and crawling onto the kitchen floor. Sujana took a cutting, and I took three cuttings, and all of those are doing great, and then Fran took a cutting, and then I gave him a serious haircut (Porthos the pothos, not Fran) and rooted all of those cuttings. So then I had to pot all of them. Which, I did. The end.

Haha I know, I'm an amazing storyteller. I'm just saying, it's one thing to say "I'm going to make a bunch of little plants from this big plant" and it's another thing to actually make a bunch of little plants from this big plant. You have to:

1. Order moss sticks, and a lot of them, at last count I think there are fourteen baby pothos in circulation at work.

2. Buy pots and potting soil.

2a. Get stranded at Home Depot because there's no way you can carry home all these pots and soil by yourself.

in case you were wondering what optimism looks like, i have called my lifeline

A photo posted by Pauline Pang (@allapoppy) on

2b. Get rescued!

here comes my man

A photo posted by Pauline Pang (@allapoppy) on

3. Bring pots and soil to work in three separate trips over a week.

4. Actually take time out of your work day (three separate sessions) to soak the moss sticks, cut coffee filters for the bottom of the pots, fill the pots with dirt, stand the moss sticks in the dirt, plant the cuttings in the dirt and secure them to the moss sticks, and then there's another week of followup anxiously probably overwatering the new cuttings. Two of them are in intensive care on my desk, and the rest have been adopted.

All in all, a supposedly fun thing that that I'll never do again. Or at least I'll never do fourteen of them at a time again.

Anyway, front room big clean didn't start this month because I burned the first Saturday getting the pots, I did tinily tidy up a bit the next Saturday, I was too depressed to get out of bed the next two Saturdays, and the last Saturday of the month I always bump cleaning for paying bills.

And double anyway, I say all this partly 1) to highlight that anything you do takes time and energy—usually more than you think—and hopefully demystify why it seems like I never have enough time or energy to do what I want: I have enough time and I have the amount of energy that I have, I just have too much what I want. Idk, did I really want to repot the plants is a question. And also 2) to highlight that I did get something pretty epic done.

Now might be a good time for my Frustration and Disappointment form.

ETA: Man, this form is great. It needs to be something other than a form, something that I could go back and read over. Like a template, I've had that idea before.

BODY: Healing my body

2a. Continue bodywork, and also reschedule your dentist appointment.

Bodywork is continuing, and I also had a little epiphany about dentist appointments and the like. To wit, I had been scheduling dentist appointments on Saturday because Thursday I have bodywork, and ended up canceling the dentist twice because Saturday, dentist, ugh. And also I haven't been seeing Biggie very much because she's a hairstylist and Saturday is her busy day. I forget why Tuesday wasn't an option for me, I think because I was saving those for taxes. In any case, argh! I want to be studying Tuesday! So then it occurs to me that Thursday isn't reserved for bodywork per se, Thursday is reserved for self care. Dentist is self care. Pink lipstick date with Biggie is self care. So I'm going to take one or two Thursdays a month from bodywork to take care of other stuff that needs taking care of.

Dentist has been rescheduled. Hair appointment with Biggie has been scheduled, I'm growing my hair out and only getting it cut every three months for now.

and a little bit of SYSTEMS

2b. Prep taxes to finish, for cereal. Obviously cereal, they're DUE.

OMGGG FEENEEESHED. I have already gotten my refund!

PLAY: Studying muscles

3. Start studying muscles.

Still not done, but I'll tell you what I did do—finally wrapped my head around target heart rates. I mean, that took like fifteen minutes of actually applying myself to understanding the math. So, now offering this service...

PASTIME: Writing for my two blogs

4. Start writing up Nom.

I thought I didn't do anything for this, but here's why it's a good thing to write things down. Because I did: 1) reset the template, which I had messed up futzing around with fonts, and also 2) set up an editorial schedule.

State of the Blog

But I also decided, Shark Week on alla Poppy every month is too hot for me to handle. It drops on the 15th, right? And it's like six or seven posts, usually over two weeks because I don't publish on the weekend—so basically two weeks of posts where I'm still tweaking and taking photos at the last minute, it's not over until it's over. Which is basically the end of the month, when I write this monthly review. And then it's the first of the month again, and I only have two weeks to brainstorm and draft the next Shark Week. So it's basically continual writing with no breaks, and I... do not do well without breaks. I mean, I'm not doing particularly well right now. So next month there is no Shark Week, there is only Nom.

Though if you ask me, alternating one month Nom and one month alla Poppy is ...still continual writing. I don't think I have this problem solved.

Going out, seeing people

Another good month for seeing people: Biggie and I had our aforementioned pink lipstick date, we're getting all the basic shades of lipstick that every woman must own! Maybe I will write about that coming up. Other things: me and der schweetums went to the girl's concert at Mount Carmel Church, TS was in town and we had furious bowls at Furious Spoon, Third Sunday Supper Club did brunch at Fat Rice...

fat rice

Photo by Machel Grizwold.

...followed by Easter Feaster at the Aloha Palace i.e., chez Box and Brawla.

easter feaster

Photo by Machel Grizwold.

Staying in, Netflix and chill

Sleeping TV

Yes yes, I know there's a fundamental problem with the concept of sleeping TV and that me weighing the finer points of what works for sleeping TV and what doesn't is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. But, I'm at the part with nature shows like when I finished devouring Harry Potter and desperately grabbed at the next thing, which happened to be Artemis Fowl... and weird, I didn't realize that books about wizards wouldn't all be good. So like I was pretty happily snoozing to the David Attenborough series and finally ran out of those, and then subbed in Wildest Islands, and weird, not all nature shows are good. Idk if it bears analysis, it's a little bit interesting. Why does it matter, the idea is to sleep through them. But it does weirdly matter, I don't know what I'm going to do for April :/

Working TV

Let's see I finished what Netflix has of Person of Interest, and after that I had something else playing in the background... but I don't remember what... that tells you something, doesn't it? Oh right right, Crossing Lines. It's actually all right, I love that Jem'Hadar guy (I know that's not his name). I finished that and now I've gone back to Midsomer Murders.

Watching TV

Me and der schweetums still watch DC Legends of Tomorrow when we can get it, and now Daredevil is on Netflix, and we finished that. You want to know what I think about Daredevil? So I watched this BBC special on sex, and there was this lady giving tips on blowjobs. This season of Daredevil was like all the things that you're not supposed to do for blowjobs. Matt Murdoch, PICK SOMETHING AND STICK WITH IT. Actually that goes for me, too. I mean, it's not like Matt Murdoch doesn't have perseverance. It's more that he's trying to persevere at too many things at the same time. Hm.

Also one afternoon when I was super depressed and not getting out of bed, der schweetums climbed into bed with me and we watched Tucker and Dale Vs Evil. Which I think maybe I shouldn't have watched this election year, and the ending, wow, super problematic. Or actually I think problematic means a problem that's hard to figure out, and that wasn't. So just... a problem.

April picks:

1. DO ONE THING for front room big clean >:|
2a. Continue bodywork, see dentist, see Biggie for hair, and also schedule doctor.
2b. Draft a plan for doing taxes better.
3. Start studying muscles.
4. HERE'S THE PLAN: April OFF, minimal writing only; May, return to Shark Week; June, start Nom :|

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


gratitude form

Last but not least, after I stretch, I fire up my current gratitude form and fill it out. I've been using this form I think since Winterval; it's my simplest form yet, which I pretty much lifted from Ignatian examen: a practice of daily reflection, and it works for me pretty much the way she says it works.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Bedtime Stretches

After I brush my teeth and fill my water jar, I get into bed and run through a simple series of stretches:

bedtime stretches

In order:

  1. hamstring stretch
  2. adductor stretch
  3. IT band stretch
  4. glute stretch
  5. spinal twist
  6. quad stretch
I do 4–12 breaths each, depending on what I can even on any given night. The towel is to give my foot something to engage with and keep it flexed; that gives me something to stretch against. The little bobble with my hand at my hip for that IT band stretch is me trying to keep my hip on the ground and not bring it along with the stretch. This kayfabe video is thirty seconds long, I'm doing two breaths here to try to get under the 15-second limit for Instagram. Which nevermind, but anyway four breaths per position would be one minute and then obviously repeat on the other side, so two minutes total. On the one hand, so little and doable! On the other hand, adds up! On the third hand, another signal to brain that it's sleepytime...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tart Cherry ACV Water

tart cherry apple cider vinegar water

Man I got this bottle of Bragg's apple cider vinegar two years ago and could not get down with it, I really didn't get into a good bedtime hydration habit until I tried it with just plain water. So I didn't really want to mess with that when Marcus Martinez said about the apple cider vinegar again. I love Marcus Martinez, though. I mean, not enough to be messing around with squeezing no lemons. So that turned into 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar + a splash of tart cherry juice in my water jar and, first of all, that's a much lower concentration of ACV than I tried before and more doable for my stomach, and secondly the tart cherry smoothes it all out tastewise. I also add a couple pinches of this himalayan salt that I'm trying to use up. Which I bought because it was pretty, but the taste compared to kosher salt is just meh to me. It's suppposed to be good for minerals—do you want to hear a weird story? So way back when my sister was sick and I was on leave from work and freelance writing a bit for Pioneer Press, I got assigned a piece on National Nutrition Week, found some nutritionists on the ADA website, picked one from Western Springs, which was the paper I was writing for, and she also happened to be the nutritionist for the Chicago Blackhawks. Anyway fast forward to this year, Fran brings his wife's Stanley Cup ring into work so we can, you know, touch it. How does Fran's wife have a Stanley Cup ring? Well, she's the nutritionist for the Chicago Blackhawks. Anyway. She's the one who told me about the himalayan salt.

16 oz water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
splash of tart cherry juice
couple pinches of himalayan salt,

I mean, this whole recipe is optional. If this seems like too much work or, you know, gross, you can't go wrong with plain old water. I have been managing to do this all right, and I like the taste down to the lightly salty finish.

Do you need instructions? Fill your water jar and add the vinegar, juice, and salt, close the jar and put it on your bedside table to drink when you wake up.

Friday, March 18, 2016

My Bedtime Skincare Routine

I was preferring to have just one skincare routine twice a day, morning and bedtime, the only difference being moisturizer with sunscreen in the morning and moisturizer without sunscreen a.k.a. night cream at bedtime, but either once I got that down I thought I could level up, or it's been SO DRY this winter I thought my skin could use some intensive care, or I guess both.

1. Floss and brush teeth.

Floss and brush my teeth before I wash my face so I can wash off any toothpaste that gets my face.

2. Take out contacts.

My hands are pretty clean after I've brushed my teeth, or at least I've run them under water because I just scoop the water from the faucet with my hands to rinse my teeth.

Okay, now the fun stuff:

my bedtime skincare products

3. Oil clean face.

So I've been oil cleaning my face with coconut oil, just the tip of a spoon of coconut oil massaged to melt all over my face. So, I'm getting a little lymphatic massage in, uh, whatever that is. Then I soak a washcloth or handtowel, squeeze it out, heat it in the microwave for 45 seconds, and very carefully hold it to my face. As the towel cools, I can press it to my face.

I bought a bottle of rose hip oil that I'm excited to try here, too. Eeee.

5. Mist with toner.

The second part of this is I spray my face with a DIY toner that I made with Tazo Zen tea and apple cider vinegar and put into a spray bottle that I keep in the fridge. I heat the towel again and steam my face again.

And that's it! I'm left with just a little protective layer of coconut oil on my skin that I sleep in.


Apply serum, if I were applying serum.

Okay, I tried the Good Genes! Nora found me a trial-size on Amazon that's "only" $40. It was okay. Not $105 okay, but I'm not sorry I tried it. I was having some trouble with blemishes, and it smoothed those out. But, it's used up now ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

6. Apply moisturizer.

I tried the Aveeno Ultra-Calming Intensive Night Cream, and I didn't like the texture compared to the Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream. So now I have switched to everything radiant (but I don't like the radiant day moisturizer as much as the ultra-calming day moisturizer. I mean, I don't dislike it enough to not finish it; but I'm going to switch back. That means I'm going to be radiant at night and ultra-calm during the day, why am I so backward.)

7. Turn on humidifier.

Last but not least, I turn on my bedside humidifier, and I put in a few drops of some lavender essential oil that Biggie got me as a present.

So this is as much a hygiene routine as it is a sleep routine. I mean, right? 1) It gets me clean. But then 2) the best routines become rituals, and rituals are what? Carriers of meaning, communicators. It sends signals to my brain that time to sleep is approaching. Like I said, I was sleeping like a champ in February—and actually my hygiene routine fell apart a little along with my sleep last week, methinks some other rough beast is moving its slow thighs in the vicinity, don't you. But what I really like is if I get depressed and ungroomed these days, my teeth. always. get brushed. And flossed actually, truly this is a golden age.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hot Chocolate with Turmeric and Black Pepper

Well I'll tell you, idk if I believe that I should stop eating three hours before bedtime. I certainly don't believe that not a morsel should pass my lips after 9:00 PM. I mean, define eat. Define exercise for that matter, I stretch every night at bedtime. But like, I'm not doing HIIT late at night. Or well, hardly ever, but that's another story altogether. Anyway, I'm not eating huge late night dinners either. Light stretches, absolutely fine. Light nibbles, sure, fine as needed. Vive la différence, I'm not trying to make bedtime snacking a habit like I am stretching. But if I'm hungry, I eat. Because if I'm hungry, sleeping is sure not going to happen.

What's becoming a little bit of a habit is hot chocolate after dinner, I've been making Smitten Kitchen's decadent hot chocolate mix and adding turmeric and black pepper.

hot chocolate with turmeric and black pepper

Turmeric is supposed to be good against inflammation, black pepper is supposed to help activate the turmeric, and a cup of hot chocolate is a really good vehicle for them. Because disguising turmeric in a spoonful of honey is basically exactly like taking medicine with a spoonful of sugar. Whereas turmeric-black pepper hot chocolate is a taste sensation, a la Vosges chocolate, and having it every night is WINNING because that's you getting your turmeric in every day AND because you get hot chocolate every night.

For the mix:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 ounces (9 squares) Lindt 90% Supreme Dark chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a powder. I put the mix in an old Hershey's cocoa container that I emptied from drinking so much hot chocolate.

Per cup:
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon turmeric
several grinds of black pepper
a good pinch of salt
3 tablespoons hot chocolate mix

Heat milk, turmeric, pepper, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming. Add 3 tablespoons hot cocoa mix and whisk over heat for another minute or two, until simmering and completely dissolved. The pepper is a little too coarse for my liking, so I strain it into a mug.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sleeping Giants

I feel like I said everything about sleep last month, which is the kind of thing I say before I horrifyingly drill down into A LOT MORE that I have to say. One thing that I've been threatening to do for years is write a series about how each of the giants... or sharks... or giant sharks... support each other, maybe this month is going to be about how all the other giant sharks support the sleep shark. No seriously, I need a word. For all this ::waves hands:: infrastructure. But not infrastructure or giant or shark. Or button, which I have tried out before. Because I have this sleep routine, right? And like 4/6ths of the routine involve other [giants]; the only ones not represented are sleep itself and nutrition, the former because remember how you can only grab the sleep end of the stick with a stick [sticks? Is the word stick?] And the latter of course is hella involved with sleep, but throughout the day: you generally sleep better when you're well-fed and well-exercised, you get that right? But also nutrition has been part of my bedtime routine by exclusion, i.e., stop eating three hours before bedtime, and then there was an exclusion to the exclusion, because late practices definitely meant exercising and eating well past 11:00 PM so I consciously uncoupled myself from that part of the routine until such time as I was ready to choose otherwise; and that time is now, so I shall pay a little mind to that this week.

Okay so, that's going to be the theme of this month's [Shark] Week. [HELP MEEE!]

OKAY BUT, do you want to see my sleep scale? You do, right? You want to see it and then back away slowly, okay yay. Because science! Way back in the day when I produced theater, I introduced this concept of "counting" to these artists. Like butts in seats, not so much how much you feel loved. Listen, I do think feelings are awesome. And actually I'm horrible at counting, it's hilarious that two major parts of my job as a trainer are a) providing a musical soundtrack, and b) counting, I pretty regularly wonder if my clients notice the long pause after 5 as I struggle to internally confirm whether 6 (?) is what comes next. Sometimes it just doesn't sound right! Oh also, c) I also have L-R confusion. Somebody make a movie about me, I'm like the Eddie the Eagle of personal trainers. You don't have to be anti-feelings and pro-counting, or pro-feelings and anti-counting! You can feel and count AT THE SAME TIME, or you could if you could count in the first place. Man, I can count. I just have to think about it. Anyway, I like my feelings with a good underpinning of counting. Feelings tend to fly away otherwise, and then that becomes a thing itself. Trust me, you don't want to get carried away just thinking, ah, I sleep for shit. You gotta wade in there and sort your shit out. I mean, *you* don't gotta do anything you don't want. Can we agree that when I say you, I'm talking to myself? Except sometimes I'm talking to you? But I'm mostly talking about myself, to myself, in my glass bathroom. Anyway, counting. Counting sleep. So first, I'm counting the quantity of sleep that I get, eight hours is good but nine is better. I usually eyeball the clock before I settle into Planet Earth, and then estimate based on how much more I know about the spectacled caiman. I mean, I did finally get past the spectacled caiman. Sometimes der schweetums quizzes me, "did you get to the chimps?" and usually the answer is What chimps. So, I am falling asleep in 10 minutes or less. This is great, during the dark time this was measured in EPISODES, how many episodes was I awake for before finally passing out from utter exhaustion. So, that's great. So then, time when I wake up minus estimated time when I fell asleep = sleep quantity.

But second, how fast I fall asleep is one of the two metrics I use to measure the quality of sleep I get, which is just as important: there's delay, and there's interruption. Obviously what I'm going for is undelayed, uninterrupted sleep. Now, I've read enough articles that interrupted sleep is not necessarily a bad thing, and I am kid gloves about sleep and I don't want to plant an inception seed that if I wake up in the middle of the night it's BAD, and I especially don't want to plant that seed in the middle of the night o.O I repeat to myself that's it's fine to wake up in the night as long as I can get back to sleep without delay, or I did when I was pretty regularly waking up in the middle of the night. I think what helped with getting back to sleep without delay, actually, was not being filled with despair that I was awake AGAIN at four in the morning and morosely launching Netflix, but having prepared a little calm story like you're okay, you can get up and pee half asleep (man I talk about peeing a lot in this blog) and get right back into nice warm bed next to nice warm schweetums, close your eyes, snuggle... zzz. I mean, that works so much better than Criminal Minds.

So my sleep scale isn't for judging, it's just structure, which incidentally how I feel about the J in Myers-Briggs (but that is a topic for another time, perhaps):

5 - good - undelayed, uninterrupted sleep
4 - not bad - undelayed, interrupted undelayed sleep
3 - not half bad - delayed, uninterrupted sleep
2 - not half good - undelayed, interrupted delayed sleep
1 - not good - delayed, interrupted undelayed sleep
0 - bad - delayed, interrupted delayed sleep

Now, who decided what order to put these combinations in? I did. By waking up in the middle of the night and feeling out whether this felt not half good or not good, and that is all the authority I need for myself. Which ideally is somewhat less than the authority you need, now I really do mean you. I'm not the authority on you, much less over you. My idea of heaven is that you're the authority on you, but that's not up to me either.

But enough about you, let's talk about meee. Do you know why I write this blog? So that if I do see you in person, all this is out of my system and you can have my undivided attention. Or you could if I were sleeping better, I suppose the silver lining this past week has been that I've been able to sort out the bottom end of this scale. February was like all 5s with only the occasional 4, where not bad is still an okay thing to murmur yourself back to sleep with. Still though, weighing the finer points of not half good versus not good is a better narrative than snowballing straight to hell and certain snowball death. I've been reading Peanut Butter Fingers about how she's sleep training her baby and how she waited until he could self-soothe, I think this also applies to adults. I think that's really what I'm working on here; maybe self-soothing is like squats—a thing we learned how to do when we were babies, but forgot we could do. But now I remember, what do you do when you feel lost? Well, call a friend. What if your friend is sleeping though, then what. Draw a map maybe, is what this is.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

State of the Blog
 my writing system

Aand that brings us back to Shark Week! Which this month I'm trying out starting with a lil state of the blog address, just because I have lil something to say this month. Which is, I have a good writing system now! I mean, it has worked for one month; it might be a little early to unfurl the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner just yet. But speaking of banners, you should see my 750 Words banner for last month, wait, I can show it to you:

february words

Tch, have these screenshots always been this grainy?

I do love a tidy pattern: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday like clockwork. One of my minor bosses at work just said that about my work, like clockwork, I was like ::deadpan:: how else does it work? But also, pleased. Clockwork is the best. But anyway, this is working for me for writing! Which means, for blogging. But then again, blogging is what works for me for writing. Like there is no writing, only Blog. And facebook statuses. Do you know what I'm saying? Like if I were to sit down to write a novel, or a story, or a poem, well I could do the sit down part. The words only come out if I'm talking to somebody, that's how it works. Well back it up, that's how facebook statuses work. For me. Those are the little thoughts that pop up in my head that I would tell you if you were walking to work with me or sitting in the cube next to mine. Though if you were actually walking with me, we would be having an awkward silence while I struggle to think of anything to say. Unless you're the kind of person who can always think of something to say, which is my favorite kind of person to walk with. Unless you're der schweetums whom I can walk with without saying anything, making him my #1 favorite person to walk with. Though truthfully I usually talk his ear off; but if I ever ran out, I COULD walk with him without saying anything. Is all I'm saying. Though I think what I'm saying is, I think of things to talk to people about when I'm by myself, except for when I'm with der schweetums, which is like being by myself, which is sort of a form of love. WHICH IS HOW THIS SYSTEM WORKS, the point for the love of god: I basically trick myself into writing by tricking myself into blogging by telling myself that I'm just talking to myself.

And, certain tools help with this:

750 Words

750 Words is my shitty first draft space. Half of it is the app itself—the big white page, the big font, the wackadoodle retroformatting even—totally encourages word vomit, which is essential if you ask me. More than half the time I have no idea what's going to come out, and then BARF. The other half is the system that I built around the app, on the days that I don't work: I wake up, drink my water, and then fire up 750 Words. I do a little bit of walking myself through the day, and then I have a list of subjects that I'm supposed to write about for my blog—whatever list I'm on, my shark posse, my monthly review— and I just work on whatever's up on the list, but like, in Blogger, I work on it a bit in Blogger and then copy and ::splat:: paste it back into 750 Words for counting. Four days a week, like clockwork; the only iffy part is that I could be in bed all day like this, so lately I'm trying to call TIME GENTLEMEN PLEASE at 10:00 and be satisfied with how much I've written, as long as it's more than 750 words, which it always is, and more like 2,000 words.

Power 30

Power 30 was my muse, maybe my guru. Power 30 focused me on self-care, maybe by caring about me? Self-care is turning into what this blog is about this year, I'd actually been wanting to write about these self-care topics for some time, but I think I was stuck because I didn't know who I would be talking to about these topics, hellooo, it's self care, you're talking to yourself! But I got started by talking to my Power 30 group, forever grateful. You know what I think I got out of Power 30 last year was, you're looking for a good person to talk you... what's wrong with yourself? You're a good person, people like to talk to you. Why don't you talk to yourself? Why don't you talk to yourself like you talk to other people—you know, nicely. And I don't mean nod and say, yeah, I get it, I'm nicer to other people than I am to myself. I mean, say something to yourself RIGHT NOW. SAY SOMETHING. NOW. SOMETHING NICE. It's like the thing with the yoga, omggggg why will you not just try the thing.

That said, I don't present this to bemoan that my process would be so much faster if I could get unblocked sooner. Being blocked is part of the process, you don't get the lovely feeling being unblocked unless you've been blocked in the first place. Which is the same reason I don't change my sheets every week, life is contrasts! I mean, maybe next time I could be convinced to come up off my heel in a little less than eight weeks. Maybe change my sheets a leetle more often.


It seems uncool to talk about Facebook like it's a force for good, but it is good for me. I mean, see above. Facebook is where I practice both self-expression and connection, I guess the social equivalent of assisted pushups. I don't want to overemphasize that the idea is to progress to real pushups, because if you ask me the problem is that idea gets too much emphasis and people don't think to do the assisted pushups. And the assisted pushups is where the magic happens, that's where it happened for me. Maybe there's some trick to how you think about practice, with enjoyment and awareness, like they say about deliberate practice. Maybe all I'm saying is mindfulness, maybe that's the force for good underneath it all.


Last but not least and maybe not last even, I think Blogger or blogs in general are thought to be where you make yourself visible to others, but it's where I make myself visible to me. Like I have this very simple design that I hope to never change, right? The words go into the machine and the machine rolls them out in this very simple design, which gives them a finished look to me. Well, finished in the sense that cloth is finished thread but not yet finished clothing. "Finished" is what triggers the brain cookie. I definitely mean with the scare quotes, it doesn't have to be all the way finished. The game in a sense is to identify the points along that way that give you a feeling of "finished," thus triggering the cookie and then fueled by the cookie you can go a little farther. Blogger is one of these points for me. There may or may not be a point beyond Blogger, I haven't explored that. Filling up my pockets with cookies! Though my pockets are getting full, it might be time to plot a course and trek to the next cookie station.

Monday, March 7, 2016

List #1: List Your Goals And Dreams

Okay so if you're following along... why are you following along? Okay but if you are, this is my stab at my goals and dreams for the next thirteen years.

1. Well, I would like to have continued to age okay, and presuming that I am indeed going to age, to be okay with however that goes. So, whatever I have to do for that, all the sleeping and hygiening and hydrating and nutrifying and moving and meditating and all that.

2. Here's some food for thought: do I still want to be working for who I'm working for. I mean, I don't want to work for anybody worse, and here's the thing, everybody is worse. My boss is really great. But is this a total lack of imagination, though listen, I have had a lot of horrifying experiences in this regard. But, should I be thinking about being more, in thirteen years, than a part-time administrator? Like do I want to be a full-time trainer? Do I want to own my own gym?

3. Too hard! Let's skip that and talk about my DREAM APARTMENT. Haha when the powerball was up to a billionty dollars we were talking at work about what we would do with the money and I was like, well I think I'd like a bigger apartment? (Just for the record, I would actually give up being a part-time administrator if I won a billionty dollars.) Dad always said, DREAM SMALL. (Jk he never said that.) I want a bigger apartment! I want a bedroom big enough so that I can make the bed on both sides! I want three bedrooms, one for der schweetums, one for me, and one for us. I would like at least an extra half-bathroom. I WANT AN IN-UNIT WASHER AND DRYER. I want a big room that I can make into a gym to train clients in, idk if that's separate from the room of my own.

Just in case you were worried that I don't know how to want things, well, I do.

4. This point last month started to be about smartphones but ended up being actually about self-esteem, sort of? I mean, I think my self-esteem is fine. I just don't love pictures of myself. I will tell you a thing that I have always wanted, you know those Vanity Fair covers with the Hollywood starlets? I want to do a photo shoot like that, but with my friends. Like, with cool outfits. I guess I already have done one of those, but in my underwear. And kind of a lot of them in uniform, now that I'm thinking. What am I, like some flying dutchman of group photo shoots? I guess what I'm really getting at is, I hope I figure out how to be comfortable being visible and maybe this is when it gets interesting along with the being okay with aging.

5. Dang it, do you think I will be able to do a pullup in thirteen years? Idk Munt, not if you just keep walking under that pullup bar between the kitchen and the front room thinking I wish I could do a pullup. I generally hope that I have incorporated something physically new into my life, like yoga or climbing, but I am also not climbing right now. But thirteen years ago, derby wasn't even a twinkle in my eye! But, the little inception seeds of derby were there. Sooo which of you are little inception seeds, my pretties...

6. I guess back to question 1: do I want to be a full-time trainer? I don't think I will have this question answered until I get there. I don't actually believe in begin with the end in mind, I believe in begin with right here right now. Like right now, I have six clients and seven slots, so maybe one more client? And then Nina's going into the wild pretty soon, so maybe two more clients? Actually that reminds me of a great Chris Guillebeau post I just read, brb...

You think a lot about “leveling up,” but you’re missing an important point. You will not level up unless you’re able to manage the pressure. If you’re constantly stressed, you’re not ready for the next big thing.

So in the same way as you [insert your choice of previous success or experience], you have a chance to deeply impact people… but what that requires of you is that you are first deeply impacted.

That’s your task and next step. Not crushing it or working 80 hours a week all the time but learning to be impacted. Preparing to be changed.

Ermahgerd, this is so true. Like I made this big jump last year from four to six clients (and for one hairy minute, I had seven), and it's like for every client you add, you need plus one nap. I had to figure out some new systems, it's sort of interesting. This is what I have to keep in mind, more than anything. Maybe I will write about it.

7. Aaand that brings us to I think I would like to write a book, I don't even know what about. Or how that fits in with being a full-time trainer. Or if that's ...not going to fit. I'm going to need a bigger nap.

8. So listen, I would trade being a full-time trainer and author for finally being comfortable with being a friend, which I have historically struggled with.

Curated by der schweetums.

I mean, I have friends. I hope I still have them. I started this friend business pretty late in life, so in thirteen years I might have friends that I've had for, like, a long time.

9. Man, I read about this woman who basically opened a restaurant IN HER HOUSE. Not that I want to open a restaurant at all. I just want to invite people over to my house! Which I don't do because my apartment is really small, but supposedly this woman just invited people right into her tiny kitchen. I think her personal space needs are not like mine? This one for me is bundled with the bigger apartment, though I could get a start on this if I could get a start on my front room big clean. Argh I will, as soon as I finish this tax prep.

10. I miss dancing, though! Listen to my great idea, actually Design Crush already did this auggh somebody do this in Chicago. Haha, not me though, is where I ended up with this. I do not want to plan a dance party, I just want to go to a dance party every month where you are in bed by ten. MAN though, you know what I want. I want to go to Hawaii for my fiftieth birthday. Because Hawaii Five-0! It will be der schweetum's fiftieth too, I mean not on the same day. Same year! I have mostly forgotten how to travel, though. Also, this is not in thirteen years. This is... next year o.O

That's it! That's my list.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Slow-Baked Sweet Potatoes

baked sweet potatoes

Hey I learned this thing about sweet potatoes: the lower and slower you cook them, the sweeter they turn out. These are my simplified instructions, since I don't have a sous-vide and don't even want to mess with aluminium foil. Though I might play around with baking them in a covered dish.

I bake four sweet potatoes at a time, cut them in half, and keep them in a container in the fridge. Half a sweet potato per dinner bowl, unless they're small or I'm hungry.

four sweet potatoes

Heat oven to 275 degrees. Scrub the sweet potatoes and put them in the oven in a baking pan. Bake until tender when poked with a fork or knife, at least an hour and maybe longer.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Braised Collard Greens

braised collard greens

I always end up reading about dark leafy greens whenever I read about nutrition, so I try to eat dark leafy greens year round and change up my cooking technique for the season. Braising is a nice winter technique, so braised collard greens are my winter greens.

1 lb collard greens
1 smoked ham hock

Trim and slice collard greens. Put the greens and ham hock in a small saucepan with enough water to cover when you squish down the greens pretty firmly. Bring to a strong simmer over medium-high heat, then turn the heat to low and simmer until greens are tender, about an hour. Fish the greens out of the pot liquor with tongs or a spaghetti server, Elle told me to save the pot liquor for soup and that was very good advice.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Slow Citrus Pork

slow carnitas

Second verse, pretty much the same as the first! Except instead of beef and peppers and chili spices, this is pork and citrus and sweet spices. You get that's how I do, right? If you're thinking is this blog really the same basic recipe over and over, one, what did you expect from the girl whose favorite comic is Dinosaur Comics, and also yes, that is my secret to LIFE.

an onion
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
an orange
a lime
2 lb pork shoulder

Roughly chop the onion and mix together with all the spices in the slow cooker. Quarter the orange and lime and squeeze their juices over the onion and spices. Cut the meat roughly into two-inch wide chunks. Layer the meat in the onion and spices in the slow cooker and cook on low until falling apart, about four hours but maybe longer. Fish the meat out of the vegetables, pull it apart into bite-size pieces, and put it into a container to put in the fridge.

You can strain the onion from the meat juices, or puree the onion into the meat juices, to pour over the meat in the container.

The nicest way to serve this is to scoop however much meat you want to eat in a singleish layer on a baking sheet and broil for ten minutes to char, then stir it up and serve.

The easiest way is to just scoop it right into your bowl and reheat in the microwave, it's still good.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Slow Chili Beef

slow carne asada

I've developed this over the years from some slow cooker carne asada recipe; but this is not carne asada, so I have renamed it for what it is: slow-cooked beef in chili spices. Also I will tell you what I have learned from years of trying to make everything in a slow cooker: 1) Don't try to cook meat and vegetables together in a slow cooker, not to eat together; vegetables that you cook with meat in a slow cooker are for seasoning, not eating. 2) Don't slow cook meat in liquid (e.g., broth), it just makes the meat watery-tasting and weirdly also dry-tasting. Just vegetables for seasoning will exude enough (sometimes too much) liquid for cooking meat in.

an onion
a red bell pepper
a jalapeno pepper
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 lb flank steak

Roughly chop the onion and peppers and mix together with all the spices in the slow cooker. Cut the meat crosswise into roughly two-inch strips. Layer the meat in the aromatics and spices in the slow cooker and cook on low until falling apart, about four hours but maybe longer. Fish the meat out of the vegetables, pull it apart into bite-size pieces, and put it into a container to put in the fridge.

You can strain the vegetables from the meat juices, or puree the vegetables into the meat juices, to pour over the meat in the container.

The nicest way to serve this is to scoop however much meat you want to eat in a singleish layer on a baking sheet and broil for ten minutes to char, then stir it up and serve.

The easiest way is to just scoop it right into your bowl and reheat in the microwave, it's still good.