Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Miso-Ramen with Roasted Veggies

Lately, I have been craving Ramen! There is just something about those tasty rice noodles in a broth, that is satisfyingly delicious -- especially during high stress periods in your life. When I came across this super tasty looking Miso-Ramen recipe by The Bojon Gourmet, I had to try it. I followed this recipe to the letter and was not disappointed in the slightest! Holy cow, it had lots of good flavor and a variety of texture, I couldn't stop eating it! You had the saltiness from the Miso broth that was enhanced with boiled seaweed and shiitake mushrooms; the sweet soft texture of the roasted sweet potatoes; the crunch and a slight bitterness from the broccolini; topped off with the soft chew from the noodles, tofu, and boiled egg... Talk about delicious (in a sing-song voice). I devoured this and instantly regretted having to save some for tomorrow's lunch.

A good heads up, this recipe does take some time. I think I clocked it to one and a half hours, maybe almost two. There is lots of boiling water to consider along with some oven activity, so be sure to read through the recipe to get the timing right. I sure didn't and found myself having to reheat different components. Regardless, you will be satisfied with the finished product! I will certainly make this again! 

Thank you, The Bojon Gourmet! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Burgers

This last week has been quite hectic! Having taken a six-month break from work and trying to get back in the game has left me emotionally and physically exhausted. In the end, dinner certainly suffered. I only cooked two dinners out of the whole week! Man, but was I craving something fresh and also tasty by the end of the week. So, I put together a Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato burger, adapted from America's Test Kitchen, Sunday night. Boy did that help end the week right!

The best part about it is, I used fresh basil from my own indoor garden! I just bought the cute little basil plant last week at my local grocery store. The basil comes from a local nursery that has organic plants! I was so excited when I found it and even more so when I added them as a topping for these tasty burgers.

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Burgers


  • 5 hamburger buns
  • 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, plus 1 tablespoon packing oil
  • 1/4 of a red onion, minced
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cub (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
  • Large basil leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced thin
  • Red onion, sliced thin
  • Artichoke hearts, drained and quartered 
  • 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  •  2 tablespoons of olive oil


  1. Tear 1 hamburger bun into pieces. In a large, mash bread and 2 tablespoons water into a paste using fork. Chop sun-dried tomatoes coarsely and add to bowl, along with the minced red onion. 
  2. Add chicken, goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper to bowl. Knead mixture with your hands until ingredients are uniformly distributed. Divide mixture into 4 portions. Form each portion into a loose ball and lightly pat ball into a patty. 
  3. Heat the packing oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until oil shimmers. Place patties into skillet and cook until lightly browned. Flip patty and continue cooking until second side is lightly browned. 
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of kosher salt together to make a light balsamic vinaigrette. 
  5. Cut hamburger buns in half. Brush on the balsamic vinaigrette on one side of each bun set. 
  6. Place chicken patty on balsamic vinaigrette side, top with fresh basil, slices of red onion, tomato, and artichoke hearts. Enjoy! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Meatballs in a French Sauce

Food and exercise go together for me. Some people exercise to eat whatever they want. Some exercise to look good, so their diet also goes with whatever helps them achieve their goals. Me, I typically let my body dictate what I'm going to eat and how much I'll eat. The large catalyst to this body-listening habit is determined by how much I exercise and what exercises I do. If I focus a lot of my attention on yoga, I typically crave more fresh fruits and veggies with light meat (e.g. fish and chicken). If I'm focusing on strength training and cardio, I find myself looking at more starchy foods and a lot of heavier meat (e.g. pork and beef). If I don't exercise at all, I typically go for lots and lots of sweet foods -- which has now become a sign that I should get off the couch and walk around the block.

Feel the burn! Love the burn! Be one with the burn! 
So this week was super exciting in the exercise department! I finally got a rowing machine centrally located in my garage! Woop woop! SUPER excited. I love rowing! I feel like rowing is the ultimate strength and cardio training in one exercise. This baby was my pleasure and pain all through my senior year of high school, as I was part of the rowing team. And to boot, my awesome younger sister threw in some kettle bells to keep the rowing machine company. My sister was able to get a good deal on this gently used rower. We split the cost and now we have our own little gym revving to go.

And once that burn has settled in, add a little pain with it.
So, how did we celebrate this new addition to our lives, you ask? Well, we did the only thing that made sense, we built a workout centered around the rower and the KBs. Since this is a food blog, I won't go into great detail over out workout, BUT I will mention that we totally kicked our own butts.

Meatballs and pasta with a simple green salad
After our ass-kicking workout, we made a delicious meatballs and pasta dish, from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. I modified it a little bit to accommodate for flavor and more veg and paired it with just a simple greens salad, as there was lots of flavor going on with the meatballs. I think next time I might skip the pasta portion of the dish and just put the meatballs on the bed of greens. I'm not a huge fan of pasta. I think it is because if grew up on rice being a staple in every meal, but that's just crazy ol' me. So, I guess that's up to you.
I was re-named Pertrisha. I guess the girl taking my order heared more R's in my name.
Of course to top of a great meal we had to get dessert. So we went to a food truck rally not far from my house and got some amazing french toast from the Matterhorn. My sister and I split the Northface, which consisted of french toast, sliced strawberries and bananas, and topped with a large ice cream scoop of whipped cream and coconut syrup. Oh my god! That coconut syrup was so tasty! what can't coconut make better? And of course, vanilla custard and strawberry-colata Italian ice was just a gimme. Meals just end well with ice cream.

Meals just end better with ice cream. Nom nom nom!
Meatballs in a French Sauce

For the sauce: 
  • 1 sweet onion , finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 oz smoked bacon, cubed
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cups red wine (I found Pinot Noir works best for cooking)
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  •  2 tbsp cornichons, finely chopped 
  • 2 tbsp capers, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper 
For the meatballs:
  • 1/2 pound of ground sausage
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Fry the onion, carrot, celery and bacon in a 12-inch non-stick skillet on medium heat until onions are golden. Remove the vegetables and bacon from the pan and set aside in a bowl. 
  2. Add the butter to the now empty skillet. Melt the butter, then sprinkle in the flour, stirring until flour is incorporated with butter. Continue stirring occasionally until the flour-butter mixture turns almost a Coca-Cola brown. 
  3. Turn the heat down to low and slowly pour in the beef stock, whisking continually to incorporate the butter at the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and the wine, whisk until tomato past is fully incorporated. 
  4. Add the fried vegetables and bacon back into the skillet, along with the thyme, bay leaves, cornichons, and capers. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and allow to warm for 15 minutes.
  5. In the mean time, heat olive oil on a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Fry the meatballs for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. 
  6. Add the meatballs into sauce. Continue cooking until the meatballs are heated through. 
  7. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. 
  8. Arrange a nice bed of salad greens onto a plate. Top with the meatballs and some sauce. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tasty Fried Rice

I really like rice! I mean, I grew up on it. Every dinner was accompanied with rice. White rice with a some meat in a tasty sauce and veggies. The rice would soak up some of the sauce from the meat and the veggies added the right crisp, bitter to round out the flavors.

Of course there was the occasional Friday night pasta nice. Or if it was soccer season, spaghetti every Tuesday and Thursday. (I'm still burnt out on spaghetti to this day.) But every other dinner with rice, meat and veggies was always a welcomed meal! Holy cow!

My mom always fried up the rice with some canola oil and chopped onions. Oh man! The flavor! But for some reason, when I moved out on my own I stopped eating so much rice. I may eat rice once a month. Maybe. Maybe...

So this fried rice recipe was a real treat. Oh man, the combination of bitter (ginger, garlic, scallion whites), sweet (hoisin sauce, shiitake mushrooms) and a pinch of spice just really hit the spot. It all comes together nice and neat in one 12-inch skillet. Pair it off with a nice Riesling white wine and a bowl of your favorite melon. Booyah! Dinner is served!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 5 teaspoons ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 scallions, whites minced and greens thinly sliced - separated
  • 2 small shallots sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups shredded pork, chicken or beef
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable oil


Combine Hoisin sauce, soy sauce and Sriracha sauce in a small bowl. Set aside. 

Heat 1-teaspoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet until shimmer on medium heat. Add beaten egg to skillet and let it sit until beginning to set, roughly 15 seconds. Scrabble the eggs until cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove eggs from skillet and set aside. Wipe down the skillet and return to heat.

Heat 2-teaspoons of oil in now clean skillet. Add shiitake mushrooms to skillet, Cook mushrooms until lightly brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, scallion whites, and sugar to skillet. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Add cooked rice and cook until heated through, stirring to mix all ingredients and heat until rice is warmed. Add shredded meat and Hoisin sauce mixture. Stir ingredients until all ingredients are coated in sauce. Continue cooking until meat is heated through. 

Remove skillet off the heat. Stir in scrabbled eggs and and scallion greens. Serve immediately and enjoy! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Update On Indoor Garden

There has been a great addition to my little indoor garden. I now introduce to you, Peace Lily. She's so pretty! My mom was contemplating giving up on her, since her leaves were all limp. I was able to convince my mom she was doing just fine, that her leaves were green and healthy -- she just needed her own space, along with a nice drink of water. I got her home and gave her a big drink of water. The next day, she was all perky without missing a step.

She's adapting well to her new environment and family. I have spotted small buds, so I'm hoping to see some flowers soon!

I also wanted to give a quick update on Jade. Jade was also a rescue plant that was suffering from over watering. Once I saved the plants that hadn't wilted away she started growing very fast and creating tons and tons of new buds! This one I do have a before picture, just to refresh your memory.

I'm sad to say that the little red pot I planted Jade in did not last very long. As I was bragging before, I found some great biodegradable bamboo pots on sale at my local supermarket. They said they would last well up to 3 years, 5 years depending on the plant, but this one didn't last six months before it developed deep cracks and water was spilling out every time I watered Jade. So, I replaced the bamboo with a clay pot, something a bit more sturdy and will hold in the moisture so I don't have to water Jade so much. Here she is all bushy and in her new pot. 

I'm planning on bringing home some more plants once I find space for them all. I'm thinking to buy either a large metal case with adjustable shelves, like this one here, or one from IKEA designed for plants. Either way, I want something that will accommodate lights. Living in Utah does leave you with longer stretches of night during the winter that I need to start prepping for. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Shampoo and Scalp Treatment for Psoriasis Scalps

Psoriasis can be really painful, especially when in sensitive areas like your scalp. When my sister was telling me about her itchy scalp and the discomfort and pain it caused her, I started to investigate what is psoriasis and if there were any herbal/natural treatments. I found out psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, where the body begins over producing skin cells in an attempt to fight off infection. These cells begin building up, producing white scaly patches (called plaques) that can be embarrassing and painful, especially if they crack. Depending on the severity, a person's psoriasis can be managed with natural/herbal remedies, but there are cases where a medical physician needs to prescribe some heavier treatment to improve quality of life. It turns out, my sister's scalp psoriasis could be managed using natural/herbal remedies.

Understanding that the body is in overactive state, I tried to find some plant oils that would help fight off any infection that body detects, then help the body relax and heal. So, a scalp treatment would help with the initial cleaning/soothing, followed by a regular shampoo to maintain the scalp. For both the scalp treatment and shampoo, I gathered my tea tree oil and lavender oil, both have anti-bacterial agents. While tea tree oil will help dry out the scalp and let the dead skin just fall off, the lavender oil will begin soothing the exposed sensitive skin. When it came to the shampoo I needed something that would clean the hair and scalp, but not over dry it, leaving it exposed to potential infections. I found a great suggestion by Wellness Mama to use coconut oil to help maintain moisture in your hair along with mild Castille soap as the cleaning agent.

I presented the scalp treatment and shampoo to my sister and saw dramatic results! Just in the first use, my sister's scalp stopped hurting and cleared up within a week. She now uses regular shampoo once a week and the nature shampoo twice a week. She claims her hair feels softer and healthier than before!

Scalp Treatment


  • 1 8-oz bottle (I used these one here)
  • 15 drops Tea tree oil
  • 15 drops Lavender oil
  • 1 cup jojoba oil (highly recommended) or olive oil (recommended) 
  • Funnel (optional - just makes it easier to pour ingredients into the bottle)


  1. Place your carrier oil in a double boiler or in a bowl over boiling water and heat until the oil is warm to the touch (be careful not to overheat) 
  2. Add 15 drops of tea tree oil 
  3. Add 15 drops of lavender oil 
  4. Top the bottle with the funnel and pour your oil mixture into the bottle and close with lid
  5. Test the treatment on a small part of your scalp and allow the treatment to 5 minutes to work. Tingling in normal, but if you experience any itching or burning, discontinue use immediately. 
  6. If all is well, apply your mixture to your scalp, especially in trouble areas
  7. Massage gently with your fingertips
  8. Cover head with a shower cap, plastic wrap, or a plastic bag (this is to build up heat and allow the treatment to penetrate the skin) 
  9. Remove wrapping after an hour and wash hair  


  • 1  shampoo bottle (used or new) 
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil 
  • 1/2 Castille soap
  • 15 drops tea tree oil
  • 15 lavender oil
  • 15 peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil (highly recommended) or olive oil (recommended)
  • Funnel (optional - just makes it easier to pour ingredients into the bottle) 
  1. Combine all ingredients into an old shampoo bottle or pump bottle
  2. Shake well before each use
  3. Use within a month

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Day with My Anxiety (and a Glimpse of Depression)

"You don't deserve this life."

These are the days I feel unlovable, unnoticed, unwanted, un-being. I spend these days in my head, just lying in bed trying to convince myself to get up to use the bathroom, but the demons have me pinned down. They whisper stories of unworthiness and traumas. They convince me the safest place I have is my bed, where no one, no thing, can hurt me. But my body drives me to the bathroom and the shame begins yelling at me. "Where you really not going to go? What is wrong with you? You're driving Matt away and that will be the last straw. He'll leave you in your own filth. No one wants to be with someone so pathetic."

Filth => dirty. (How pathetic.)

Dirty => unclean. (You should shower.)

Unclean => dark heart. (Remember the last time in the shower with the razor?!?! Maybe not.)

Dark heart => fear. (I can't trust you or the world today.)

Fear => run. (Let's go back to bed.)

I crawl back into bed, put on a cartoon I've seen before, and wait for sleep to come. Just going to the bathroom is exhausting. At least in my dreams nothing can hurt me, but the whispers start and sleep is impossible. "What if there's a fire? What if someone breaks into the house and kills you in your sleep?" The world is untrustworthy today. So, I stay awake and watch my cartoons, quietly and with as little movement as possible. I can't let anyone know where I am! "You are such a coward!"

Coward => fear (How pathetic.)

Fear => control (How can we make sure you're safe?)

Control => doubt (You can't control everything.)

Doubt => bravery (But you can control your response.)

Bravery => awake (Let's take a shower.)

I jump in the shower and my inner voice starts whispering to you. "Wow! You mustered up the bravery (Ha! Not the band!) to face your world. You soothed those demons. Even if you didn't get out of bed, you deserve today. You deserve life!"

It's that splinter of hope that gets me through the day. Even if it means I just crawled back into bed, at least I know I'm clean.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Healing the Wounded Child Within

It has certainly been an interesting month. Working with depression has been quite the journey. Depending on the therapist I speak with, I either have a depressive mood disorder or full on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Either way, anxiety and depression play a major roll in my mental health. I've been on medications to help regulate my moods, as I can seem fine one moment and then next I'll be in a fit of tears not wanting to live anymore. I have bouts of insomnia where I am lucky I can get an hour of sleep in a night. I've blacked out and found myself on the floor of my kitchen not really knowing how I got there. This has certainly inspired me to take an introspective journey to see what I can find to heal myself. This has resulted in my quitting my job, moving away from the city, and learning to live a less rushed life. I honestly feel like the most selfish person in the whole world at the moment, but I was told by a hospital therapist that being consciously selfish and self-centered is good when we know it is to help ourselves heal and be whole again. This therapist also gave me great insight into myself, into a source of distress and anxiety.

At the time, it was labeled abuse. I had endured verbal, emotional, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse from those closest and not so close to me. This came to me as a great shock at the time because as most abuse-takers, I felt I deserved everything I had received. It has been a year since that revelation and I have made some good insight into my source of depression and anxiety. (Actually, more like my anxiety followed by depression.) A lot of it comes from the wounded child within me.

I have read a lot of self-help books that speak on the wounded child. I just know for certain there is a wounded child in me. I began realizing this child through meditation and mindfulness. Through meditation, I could consciously make space and call upon my wounded child to talk. I'll admit, it felt pretty silly in the beginning because it felt like I was just making stuff up and pretending. But after some time, I began recognizing this child, not only through the emotions it carried but its self-image. When I would speak to the teenager, I could see she felt herself physically grown (I mean I had boobs by then!) but still not emotionally strong enough to stand up for herself. When I would speak with the nine year-old, I could see she thought herself physically small and unable to defend herself. One time, I could recall what it was like being two or younger and feeling my vulnerability to the adults who handled me. I could recall the pressure on my rib cage as they picked me up and how a hard squeeze could crush them. Here I found my distrust of my caretakers and the world beginning. In these meditation journeys, I would listen to them and hear their stories.

Sometimes they would call out to me and I had to bring my mindfulness to the situation to decipher between their voice and my current voice. A flashing memory from my childhood would pop into my mind and I would just burst into tears, or I would wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling a gasping for breath with an unbearable dread of everything. In these moments I had to first sooth myself, saying things like "It's ok. You're ok. It's 2015 and I'm [age]. You're not alone, I'm here." Then with time I can either get a clear picture of the memory that flashed so quickly before my eyes, or begin understanding where the emotion came from. This acknowledgment helped sooth fears and has made sleeping at night a bit more restful, but I had to go one step further and honor the feelings they sent me. For instance, I had to acknowledge and honor the anxiety I felt at the thought of spending time alone with someone who had abused me in the past -- and would have to consciously make the decision not to hangout with them alone, regardless of their insistence or feelings. I have to remind myself that their reactions are their own and I am not responsible for their choice to feel the emotions they take on.

This is never easy, especially for me, as guilt and withholding love has always been a source of manipulation growing up. So, by not agreeing to do what the other person wanted me to do they would begin withholding their attention and affection from me. Or they would make a large dramatic show of how bad they felt because of me and my selfish, asshole behavior. This caused me to have such weak boundaries, I would find myself repeatedly hanging out with people I didn't much care for or pretending to like something I didn't want to do from the beginning. I didn't really acknowledge its impact until I heard a voice cry out "Why can't you just love me?" when confronted with these situations. Of course I had to ask who because I don't think I was talking about my co-worker who was trying to get me to do an extra set of planks. A conversation with my siblings helped me recall who I was talking about and of course it was my mother. Bum bum bum! Mommy issues! Who didn't see that one coming? Anyone? No one? Well, dang! It blindsided me as I thought I was always well loved by my mom, but there was always that withdrawal I feared of and would do anything to make her continue loving me. I guess you could say I grew up with the notion that there was only conditional love, that as long as you gave the other person what they wanted they will love you.

I can't honestly say if this is a true statement, at least not a universally true statement. But the wounded child within me was aching for this unconditional love. I found with this conditional love belief, I applied it to myself. I would be mean to myself when I wouldn't achieve my goals and stop loving myself despite my mistakes or shortcomings. So I posed the question unto myself, "Why can't I love myself unconditionally?" Let everyone else put conditions on how and when and why they love me, but I will be my own source of unconditional love. So I turned to my wounded child within and said, "I will love you unconditionally." She was pleased to hear that. Like all children, she then settled down and began playing again. Perhaps that is all the wounded children of the world are looking for, a source of unconditional love, at least that is what my wounded child was looking for. I'm not perfect, I'm still practicing this idea on a daily basis. There are days my old habits take over and I begin abusing myself and withholding affection, but through mindfulness and meditation I can return back to that loving kindness that everyone deserves.

So, I have found a way to help heal my wounded child and learn to love everyone unconditionally, even those who have abused me in the past. This does not make me a doormat, as I will still honor my feelings and boundaries -- and not intintially put myself in harms way for the sake of pleasing someone else.  As Elizabeth Gilbert said quoting a monk she studied with,
"We are obligated to love everybody in the world. But some people we must love from a safe distance."  

Monday, April 13, 2015

New Family Members

SPRING TIME!!! Which means it is time to start blogging!!! Just kidding, it means I can start growing some new plants. This year, I don't have the courage to try growing things from seed. I keep using the excuse, "I'm going to move soon, I wouldn't want to transport them in such a delicate condition." Which is true. I am moving soon out, hopefully into a house with a good backyard or at least a nice spacious deck where I can put all my potted plants. So, it is kind-of, sort-of not an excuse. Then there is the classic, "I'm just going to kill them before they have a chance to live!" Rather than beating myself up about it, I just purchased a new healing herb and rescued a dying Jade from work. But before I get talking about my new plants, I wanted to talk about a new pot I discovered. These pots are made of bamboo, which makes them biodegradable and eco-friendly. They last about 3 to 5 years, I guess depending on what you plant in them and their moisture content. They come in various sizes and styles. I was lucky to find these on sale at my local grocery store, but even not on-sale they are priced the same as any other plant pot. I conducted highway robbery with these new pots and might get some more for future plants.

Now, allow me to introduce you to Lavendula Lady, She is a healthy little lady who loves the sun and dry feet, or so I've learned from and about her. She currently lives between outside and inside. Being April in Utah, the weather is pretty unpredictable. I mean, just last week we had a good snow storm that would have easily killed her. So, I take her out on sunny days to sit in the sun, and on colder overcast days, she hangs out inside with the other plants.

So far, what I've learned she makes a great relaxant and antiseptic. All the healing is in the buds right before they really bloom. Right now, I have a lot of buds about to bloom and I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. I could easily drop them in a bath with some epsom salts and have a nice relaxing bath. Or I could dehydrate them and store them away until I have enough to make a tea. I haven't ever had lavender tea, but I certainly love lavender kombucha! It is so tasty! I guess I don't have enough to really make it into an oil or an eye pillow. I guess we'll see how this progresses with time. Right now, I'm just focusing on keeping her alive and healthy. What more of a task does a ameture gardener have?

Next is a rescue story. This little jade plant belonged to one of my co-workers. It originally started out in one of those large 12-inch diameter clay pots. It was beautiful when she brought it into the office. Over time, though, it started not looking so good. The leaves started dropping rapidly and the shoots began to wither away. My co-worker asked me if I would like to take it home and try to rescue it like I did with my mom's bamboo plant. So, I did to Jade what I did to the little bamboo, I cleaned the leaves and stocks of any dust and mites it might have collected. While doing that I started hearing it complain that it felt really wet. I took the plant outside and started digging. I was amazed at what I found. The first thing is, the root ball hadn't even broke apart the tiniest bit. It looked as though who ever transplanted it into the larger pot just plopped it in with some dirt and left it at that. This wasn't a good move for the Jade, as it needed well draining soil and this root ball was so dense, it was not draining any water -- leaving the soil damp. Worried there may be root rot in the core, hence the withering stocks, I began massaging the soil loose to expose the roots. As the damp soil started falling away, I found a ball of healthy roots! The thickest roots were connected to the stocks that had withered away and were soaking wet, but still alive. The smaller ones that had survived had the smallest roots and didn't go very deep into the root ball. So, I took the healthy ones and transplanted them into this tiny new pot and left the dying ones out for the birds and the bugs to eat.

It always surprises me how poorly treated plants are before they even leave the store. I know my co-worker was upset at the idea she had killed her Jade plant, but it looks as though the root ball would have caused issues for anyone who took it home. I suppose that is why there are people who are willing to pay premium dollar to buy plants from a reputable nursery.

My experience with both the bamboo and the jade has made me consider opening a rescue nursery, or at least my own plant nursery where you can trade in one of your dying plants for a new one. I just get so sad when I see a plant thrown out with the trash, when it has the possibility of a second life and home. I feel plants are just as alive and sacred as any other living being on our plant, and they should be treated with respect, love, and kindness. It has been a nice experience being able to save these two plants and others in the past. Perhaps this will turn into something. Yay for possibilities!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Power of Meditation

This last year held some devastating events that really forced me to stop and give meditation a second chance. I was hospitalized for clinical depression. It was a scary but enlightening event in my life. I saw people of different walks of life going through things similar to myself and others who's circumstances were beyond my understanding. In the end, we all suffered from demons that swelled deep within us and that we wanted to be rid of. One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I received was from a technician. I was describing to him my day and how horrible I felt. I told him how I thought my psychologist was pretty much telling me to suck it up and act better. I felt like a failure because I couldn't get my act together like everyone expected. He patiently listened to me and when I was done talking he said, "[something supporting what my psychologist said]..., but it also means being kind to yourself."

I had not really considered being kind to myself until he said that. I always thought life was a struggle and I just had to muscle through unpleasantness to reap the rewards. In the end, the rewards were bitter, unsatisfying at best, leaving me resentful at the world that cheated me. I didn't realize it at the time, but those words set me off on a journey. I think at a subconscious level I needed to learn to cultivate this idea in my life. I needed to learn to be kind to myself. So, I began exploring different avenues that could support this goal.

I did what was natural to me at the time. I began intellectualizing this goal. I turned it into a problem that just needed to be solved. I mean, years of software development and business analysis kind of lends my mind to problem solving. I just needed to fix myself. I so desperately wanted to be happy. I wanted to be "normal". I wanted to erase the effects of being in the hospital, of feeling broken or being a mess. I read books upon books. So many acronyms! DBT, CBT, ACT, PTSD. I was reading if you could master these skills you would finally break through that cloud of depression. Yet, each new acronym left me more frustrated and broken -- until I learned about smart mind. My psychiatrist was recommending learning to just learn to acknowledge how I feel, which at the time felt stupid. I could tell him, "I'm depressed! What more can I say?" But this idea started marinating and my brain, my brilliantly analytical brain, started rummaging around to find something I could relate his words to. I had come across this idea before.

Then one day it clicked, silently in the back of my mind. I remembered how much yoga promised at least calm, which would be a relief for my overly anxious and depressed brain. I did yoga when I was younger, but only for the physical health benefits and to feed my vanity of keeping a "dancer" body. (I have never been a dancer, just to be clear. But I thought they were beautiful, graceful people -- which I never felt I was. So, it was always faltering to be compared to them.) I wanted to flexible and beautiful and healthy. I totally ignored the meditation portion of yoga thinking that was for old farts who had life all figured out and had time to sit around for hours at a time. This time around, my yoga teacher recommended doing a 30 day affirmation program, where I would get a new affirmation every morning to take around with me for the day. Of course she had to explain to that meditation wasn't about sitting around thinking about one thing all day. She said meditation was learning to sit and be, either with an idea, with your environment or simply with yourself. She recommended, when I felt like I was slipping into old thought patterns, pull out the affirmation (either literally or figuratively) and sit with it.

The first affirmation sent me on a trip that broke the cycles of my depression and allowed my mind to finally acknowledge my feelings. It was, "Self-compassion: Stepping back into warmth and kindness." She recommended allowing ourselves to step back int warmth and kindness for ourselves, especially at time when we felt sad and angry. It was in these moments where one needs warmth and kindness the most. Upon reading this, I figured "Psh, piece of cake!" Then just hours after receiving the first affirmation, I found myself beating myself up for screwing up on a work assignment. I tried reaching for warmth and kindness, but my mind stopped short telling me I didn't deserve this warmth and kindness. "Only after you fix your mistake can you have this warmth and kindness." Whoa! This internal dialogue really made me conscious of how I felt. I felt the familiar chill of depression creeping over me. My brain was going to explode attempting to hold all these emotions in, fixing my mistake, and trying to practice my affirmation. Hour 6 and I was ready to quit. I was ready to quit. I didn't have what it takes to make these kind of internal paradigm shifts. But a quick revisit to the affirmation and my teachers description of what this affirmation meant, I realized that I needed to acknowledge my feelings to withhold warmth and kindness from myself and the effects those feelings had on my emotional state. My psychiatrists words finally made sense! I could find that within my depression I was not only sad, but I was frustrated that I couldn't be loved when I needed it most, I felt unworthy of affection in general, belittled and ashamed. So, I coaxed the part of my mind that felt I needed to withhold to give just a little affection. When I did, I found my mind eased up and I was able to fix my mistakes at work with a feeling of accomplishment when I was done! It was amazing!

Moving forward from that first day, I have been able to sit with some very difficult emotions and memories that I never thought I could revisit, as well as redefine relationships with other people, myself and reality to suit my needs and desires. With warmth and kindness, I can accept the things I cannot change -- whether it is my internal or external reality. There are things from my past that have haunted me for years, but at least now I can look at them and give myself the support I need to heal. I may not currently be in a position to forgive those who have wronged me, but I know eventually it will happen as long as I can forgive myself.