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Beans and Greens – Lazy Herbivore Style

I’ve been working on three different recipes lately – all involving my crockpot and beens and some green vegetable. I thought I’d share them with you. As always – please remember this is NOT a recipe blog. I never do anything the exact same way twice because I’m lazy and that would require writing something down. These are GENERAL recipes and APPROXIMATELY what I do each time but if I’m out of something, or if I don’t have the right time frame, things change constantly. I rarely strain beans, sometimes I sauté onions to add in, sometimes I add garlic. It’s a wonderland over here, people. Don’t come for the recipes.

All of these would be perfect cooked on low for about 4 hours…I think. My crockpot overcooks and I now work all day so I set my crockpot for 6 hours and it keeps it on warm until I get home, but I always feel like things are a bit mushy for my taste. If I were doing this on the weekend? 4 hours on low – max. Also – I eat all of this for lunch all week, so if you’re cooking for just one meal with a 4-person family? You will have leftovers.

Mexican Beans and Greens! Black Beans and Spinach

  • 4 cans of Black Beans
  • 3 cans of Rotel (I use 2 original, 1 hot)
  • 16 oz bag of frozen corn
  • 16 oz bag of cut spinach
  • Enough water to make sure everything is just covered. If you like it more like a soup? Fill the pot to the brim with water.

Dump it all in the crockpot for 4 hours on low. (If you’re gone all day, tell it 6 hours on low and it stays warm until you get home.) The BEST way to eat this is to really strain the fluids and wrap it in tortillas like burritos! But, I’ve also cooked some quick rice to go with it AND I’ve eaten it straight out of a bowl. One other thing I’ve done which may not sound good to ANYONE but me: Slice a green pepper in half. Strip the innards out. Heat sliced pepper in the microwave for 2 minutes if you have a sensitive stomach and can’t handle raw vegetables. (ME! ME! ME!) Scoop some of this stuff (with a slotted spoon to let the fluids drain) into the peppers. Eat it by slicing and then you get some crunch pepper mixed with the Mexican goodness and it’s LOVELY!

OPTIONS! The Lazy Herbivore is all about variety. As long as it’s easy variety.

Cajun Beans and Greens! Black-eyed Peas and Okra

  • 4 cans of black-eyed peas
  • 3 cans of Rotel (I use 2 original, 1 hot)
  • 1 carton of vegetable stock
  • 1 bag of frozen okra
  • 1 Tbsp of Cajun season (if you like it HOT! I forgot the cajun seasoning last week and it was fine. #WhyIAmNotARecipeBlogger)

Dump it all in the crockpot for 4 hours on low. (Since I’m gone all day I tell it 6 hours on low and it stays warm until I get home.) If I’m doing this on the weekend and not in a hurry? I’ll sauté some onions to throw in there too. I like cooking white rice and mixing all of this together to make it really like gumbo. BUT! Rice takes forever so if Donnie doesn’t get home before me to start the rice, I just eat it plain in a bowl.

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Southern Beans and Greens! White beans and Collars

  • 4 cans of white beans (I’ve used Cannelini, Pinto, and Northern…all work great)
  • 1 carton of vegetable stock
  • 1 16 oz bag of cut frozen collards
  • 1 packet of Knorr’s vegetable soup
  • Enough to keep everything covered

Dump it all in the crockpot for 4 hours on low. (Since I’m gone all day I tell it 6 hours on low and it stays warm until I get home.) This is okay with rice too, but this one really is my favorite just to eat it in a bowl OR! OR! OR! If you’re not vegan? Whip up some cornbread to go with it. YUMMY. I miss cornbread. (Don’t bother with vegan cornbread recipes. I miss the standard, blue box cornbread. I don’t like cornbread in general so I probably wouldn’t like the vegan variations.)

Why Share Such Unorganized Recipes, Zoot?

I have no idea why I share with you all these type of “WHAT I AM EATING!” posts since I’m so crappy at keeping recipes. But these three things have all become a staple because they’re easy, they make dinner ready when I get home, and I can serve them in different ways for a variety. But most importantly? LEFTOVERS. I take lunch to work every day and taking leftovers is way easier than anything else.

I love recipes that have beens and some other vegetable mixed in. The more the merrier! Do you have any other combinations I could try?

maslows-hierarchy-of-needs

Maslow and Government Assistance

I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who have SO MANY OPINIONS about how others on government assistance should be spending their money. Not to see movies! Or eat steak! If you need the government’s help to pay your rent or buy your groceries, then you – my friend – should be the most responsible person on the planet when it comes to money.

I remember when I was poor and the government was assisting me in any number of ways – I still always splurged on payday. When I had the check in my hand, I always did something stupid with it. Sometimes I took E to a movie, sometimes we went out to eat at a fancy restaurant…like Ruby Tuesdays. Sometimes we bought a used VHS of our VERY OWN at the Hollywood Video which sold them cheap. Every two weeks, I did at least one thing with my money that I probably shouldn’t have considering I never really had enough money to pay my bills.

I think of it often as it relates to Maslow and his hierarchy of needs.

maslows-hierarchy-of-needs

We weren’t starving or homeless, so our very basic needs were being met, but I did worry about paying for groceries and rent as I inched closer to each payday or to the end of the month. And I definitely lived in places that weren’t very safe. So I don’t look at those bottom two layers of needs and say that we confidently fulfilled those needs on a regular basis.

And to me – if you’re not living a life where your confident that those two bottom levels of needs are going to be fulfilled every day? Then you’re not going to be making “responsible” decisions about your financial future. It sucks not knowing for sure if you’ll have enough money to pay the rent, and that’s so hard – carrying that burden around – that escaping with a trip to the movie theater is a wonderful temporary release.

Remember: I was also a smoker back then. I got plenty of notices about my utilities getting cut off, but I still found money to buy cigarettes. I was basically the person all of those articles regarding mis-spending government assistance are written about.

But until all of your basic needs are met, you’re not likely to be thinking BIG PICTURE about your needs and self actualization. You’re living day to day and your day to day is kinda miserable so if there’s something to lighten that misery, you do it. Who cares if that means you’re eating ramen for 4 weeks. Cigarettes make you feel normal and less pitiful, so they’re a priority.

I knew plenty of people during that time who fell victim to drug addiction for the very same reason.

If you’re not getting your very basic needs fulfilled, then you’ll find any shortcut you can to achieve some sort of joy – even if it’s temporary. If you’re worried your downstairs neighbor is a murder (we were, don’t ask) then you’re not thinking about how – if you saved that cigarette money – you could maybe afford to fix the air-conditioning in your car. If the math shows you can’t afford that Biology Textbook AND pay the utility bill, then you’re going to use the cash in your wallet to go see that movie with your kid because that helps you escape a little bit. And then you can’t afford EITHER the textbook OR the bill. (I assure you I made this exact decision. Several times.)

If you just got paid and the money isn’t enough to cover all of your bills, you’re going to buy NON GENERIC TOILET PAPER just because you’re sick of the cheap stuff.

Not everyone who is poor makes bad financial decisions, but there’s a whole celebrated theory of Hierarchy of Needs that explains it a little bit.

I worked two jobs, was going to school, raising a kid and couldn’t pay my bills. It was a tough life and yet I still sometimes get more depressed NOW which is INSANE to me. But that is because I was trying to just SURVIVE back then. I didn’t have time to analyze how I take criticism or my relationship with food. I was trying to just keep my head above water and if that breathing was a little easier some days because I splurged on dinner at Olive Garden? Then I was going to do it.

And that limited grocery money never EVER went to fresh foods. Could we have eaten healthier? Most definitely. But when you’re struggling paycheck to paycheck…horribly processed macaroni and cheese is one of your treats. You’re not going to put it back on the shelf just because someone told you that whole foods are better for you.

I’m not saying “LEAVE THE POOR PEOPLE ALONE!” Well, maybe I am, I don’t know. I’m just pointing out how I felt and why I sometimes bought steak and went to movies and was a smoker. And hoping that as I share this, that maybe people will be less about the pitchforks waved at people on food stamps and more about finding someone struggling in their community and maybe offering to give them a break once in awhile.

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

An Ode To Friends Who Don’t Mind Getting Muddy

My running buddy, Chelsea, posted this John Muir quote on Facebook and it is basically the motto of our Sunday morning No Runner Left Behind trail group. (Minus the glaciers. We don’t get many of those around here.)

As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
— Quoted from Muir Journals (undated fragment, c. 1871) by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir (1945) page 144.

It’s funny. The two of us started that group last Spring with another friend because it occurred to us that maybe there were other runners like us out there – wanting to run trails but not trying to beat any sort of time or clock. There are some pretty fast/elite trail running groups but if you don’t know the trails, and if you’re slow, you could easily get left behind and not know where you are. So, we posted in a local facebook group that we were training for McKay 25K and offered to provide a sweeper if anyone wanted to join us.

And it took off!

The funny thing is, we get quite a variety of participants. We get some newbies that have never touched a trail before and who never come back again. We get some newbies who love it so much they sign up for races the next week. We get some elites who like the casualness and goofiness of our runs, and often do their “hard” run on Saturday so Sunday gives them some fun time. Sometimes we have 30 people and we get stressed out because we get SO SPREAD OUT, and other times there’s only 6 or 7 of us and we ended up taking 40 million photos along the way.

We don’t do the group during the warm weather for several reason, but the group shrinks so much after our last big trail race in March it always feels like a good time to take our break and this past Sunday was our last group.

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

The storms the night before made waterfalls in places labeled “dry falls” on maps. And because it was warm, something we never get to enjoy on these Sunday runs, we took the opportunity to play in the falls. Or local photographer phenom – Gregg Gelmis – brought his waterproof camera out, hoping for some fun shots. Dry creek beds were like small rivers as we held on to rocks trying not to get swept away. Puddles were calf deep and trails were flooded. It was SO MUCH FUN. A great way to end the season for our fantastic group.

10439399_990553760956711_7876042342987877320_nAnd holy crap, it was good for my soul. Did I wake up every day since and have perfect days with no anxiety or stress? No. But did I wake up remembering that behind all of that sucky stuff there’s a layer of awesome in my life I need to never forget? YES. I HAVE FRIENDS WHO WILL PLAY IN THE MUD WITH ME. This is something every adult (who likes to play in the mud, I guess) needs in their life. Go. Find friends who will stand under waterfalls with you.

Our group ranges in ages from 20’ish to 60’ish on an average weekend. We have guys and girls. Fast and Slow. Newbies and Veterans. Conservatives and Liberals. Parents, Grandparents, and the Childfree. We live in all parts of the area, some of us (me) driving 25+ minutes to get to our precious mountain every Sunday. We are a wonderful mix of people who might not come together in any other circumstance, but we celebrate our camaraderie on Sundays in the woods and go home happy and covered in Mud.

I’m going to miss these guys. I’ll be counting down the Sundays until October.

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

Validictorian of Failing

After my realization about my own inability to handle criticisms, I spent the weekend proving that blog post right. You know, because I take blogging that seriously. I write something about myself and then modify my life to prove what I wrote is correct.

But seriously.

We had a weird soccer scheduling issue this weekend and didn’t know the game was canceled until we made the 40 minute drive to the field. Turned out we had gotten an email that morning about it, but I didn’t check my email and requested maybe a text next time. The managerial person then said that we had been told to check our emails.

What I should have done:
Been okay with that fact that I didn’t check my email since I live a busy life and the skies were blue and there was no time where I recall being told to check my email before the game. I should have been confident that I did nothing wrong and that if I did miss some sort of instruction to make sure we check emails, it was probably because I’ve been busy or stressed and the implication that this was all my fault was something I should have shaken off and gone about my day.

What I did do instead:
Almost cried.
Told Donnie, while trying not to cry.
Sent back an emotional email explaining how they hurt my feelings. (I didn’t use those words but that was the gist.)
Posted a screengrab to instagram.
Told everyone in the world about it.
Tried not to cry more.
Send another email after a response I that missed the point completely.
Looked at the picture on instagram and got angry. And then sad. And then guilty.
Cried.

SEE? Proof that my inability to handle criticism sends me down these horrible shame spirals where I just keep falling lower and lower until I’ve eaten all of the food in the house and cried 1000 tears of shame and embarrassment and inadequacy.

WHAT IN THE HELL, KIM?

Lucky for me, I screw up a lot!

So I had other chances to experience the shame spiral this weekend to really take time to examine how I deal with criticisms and maybe spend time with NOT doing it that way. You know…because it’s horribly unproductive.

The funny thing is that I’m very confident a lot of the time with a lot of my traits and skills. But the second I get criticized, my logical brain that knows I’m a good Mom, a good worker, a good wife…that part goes to sleep and the tiny insecure part wakes up and suddenly the confidence I had moments before is shattered and I’m now the WORST MOM IN THE WORLD. And the WORST WIFE. And the WORST SISTER. And the WORST EMPLOYEE. And the WORST VOLUNTEER.

Whatever I’m doing, I’m a failure because of that ONE criticism.

I voluntarily lead a Sunday trail running group with a friend. VOLUNTARILY. One day we left early and I saw the post on Facebook that we had left and someone was pissed and trying to maybe find us so I freaked out and we wandering around looking for this person and I decided I was the ABSOLUTE WORST and then decided that I needed to stop this nonsense because I suck so bad. Luckily, I didn’t stop because the group is the best in the world and our last run of the season was yesterday and it was EPIC. But still! That day? I was a mess because we left 5 minutes early.

BUT! There’s hope! I see that I do that now. And like I said, I make a lot of mistakes and get a lot of criticisms so I’m already started to recognize these tendencies and I’m working on mantras and stuff to help me stop the spiral downward. I felt like I had screwed something up early yesterday and I told Donnie, “I just feel so bad…” And then I said something magical…

“But that is all on me.”

It was like a realization and I just kept pep-talking myself.

“I mean, maybe he wants me to feel bad and that’s why he said it, but me ACTUALLY FEELING BAD is all on me. I could just NOT feel bad. Recognize that his opinion is not the same as mine and that’s just life and if he feels that way that’s on HIM. Not on ME. I can still be happy with my decision and not worry about his opinion.”

NOW. Was I able to then stop the shame spiral? No. But I slowed it down and didn’t fully collapse under the weight of it all.

Here’s the thing about criticism. First? There’s two paths once you’ve been criticized. Did you do something wrong? YES or NO.

1) Yes, you did something wrong: Then you can figure out how to make amends or how to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.
2) No, you did not do something wrong: LET IT GO.

Neither one of those are easy. With making amends, I tend to get too emotionally involved in my amends because I do one of the following
A) Try to get the person to assure me I did nothing wrong (like with the soccer incident)
B) Essentially beg for a list of all of the things I do RIGHT
C) Take on a million more tasks so that I make up for the one I screwed up

So, my “making amends” turns into “begging for love and validation” which is NOT PRETTY WHEN YOU ARE A GROWN-UP.

And the whole “let it go” thing? Man…I’m so far from being about to do that I have nothing to say about it.

BUT! It is wonderful SEEING all of this stuff in action. If no one ever criticized me no one would probably ever know how crazy I am. Unfortunately, I’m not perfect at all (Reminder to self: NO ONE IS) and because making mistakes is part of being human (Reminder to self: WHICH WE ALL ARE) then we all have to learn how to take criticisms. And with me, I need to learn to be as strong and capable of taking criticisms as I am performing all of the tasks to begin with.

I think I also need to be okay with Worse Case Scenarios.

I get a criticism and I’m like, “OH MY GOD. These soccer parents are now going to think I’m the worst in the world because I didn’t check my email!”

And you know what? That’s okay. If they do think that? I’ll live. If I could be okay with worse-case scenario? My shame spiral wouldn’t be so drastic.

Or, I need to realize that Worse Case Scenario is probably not going to happen. I’ve been a little frazzle with my professional upheaval so part of me is convinced that I shouldn’t relax into this new job and that if I’m not 1 million percent perfect, it will disappear like the last job. And that’s dumb. Logical Kim knows that is dumb but Kim Who Just Was Jobless A Few Weeks Ago And Has Gotten Laid Off Before That Too is a overly sensitive and feels like there is NO SUCH THING AS JOB STABILITY! SO WE MUST EAT ALL THE COOKIES TO COMPENSATE!

(I ate all the cookies. It was ugly.)

(I also ate all the everything else.)

SO! This week I am ready to really try to be a grown-up about criticisms. I need to just look at a criticism as a task to tackle. Put it on my bullet journal. “Make sure to check emails before leaving for soccer games” is now a task! Who cares whether or not I was at fault for not doing that this weekend, right? It doesn’t MATTER if I was at fault or not…what matters is that now I have a step in my workflow to keep the same mistake from happening again. I’m going to try to get to work early today to do a little bit of training on some things I’m not great at yet. AND THAT’S OKAY. Does anyone ever start a new job 100% perfect?

(SHUT UP IF YOU DO.)

I’m going to be confident in myself and my skills and my parenting and I’m not going to wear the WORST MOM IN THE WORLD label just because I missed an email about soccer. I’m not going to expect perfection from myself. I’m going to be gentle. I’m going to take a deep breath and try to not fall down the shame spiral when I’m not perfect because that does NO GOOD for NO PERSON ever.

It’s nice suddenly recognizing habits and trends in a way that they become something you can correct. I’m proud of myself for finally seeing these meltdowns for what they are, now I just have to work on correcting them.

I’M GOING TO BE THE VALIDICTORIAN OF FAILING!

Lightbulbs! In my brain!

I knew absolutely NOTHING about Whitney Cummings before I listened to this podcast yesterday. I mean, a face popped into my head from a sitcom I only knew from commercials, I think named after her? But that’s it. But holy SHIT if that podcast didn’t leave me thinking ALL OF THE THINGS.

Long story, short. She had a strange childhood where her parents abandoned her in very real ways and it led her to a therapeutic/recovery process mainly through al-anon which I’ve had my own experience with but that’s another topic for another day.

She talked about a lot of “realizations” through her journey but one of the ones that hit me the most was her talk about being a martyr. I have always known I have those tendencies, but I’ve had people in my life who are – what I now call – Miserable Martyrs. Those people who whine and complain about what all they do all the time because they want everyone to know how hard they have it.

But the kind of martyr she talked about – what I’m now calling the Caregiver Martyr – hit a little closer to home. The person who does things for people even when they don’t ask and then gets upset when the person doesn’t acknowledge that.

I felt the burn on that one.

My case is a little different from hers, I think. It sounds like she did it seeking approval/love. Mine is a little different, I think. I do a lot of my Caregiving because I adore being cared for. The problem is, I have determined, is that I also long for someone to be proud of me. And I can’t handle if – for one moment – they’re not.

OUCH. That’s so embarrassing, it hurts.

I’ve been thinking about this since the podcast. I think it comes down to the fact that I made my Dad angry – A LOT – growing up. He was a great Man and a great Father but he had some anger issues and while he never laid a hand on me, he did sometimes call me insulting names when he was angry with me. The kind of names that still make me flinch when I hear them used on other people on TV and movies. And those wounds dug deep, I think. So deep that for each one, I think I needed 900 compliments to heal them.

My Dad was not stingy with compliments, I do have vivid memories of him praising me as I do him insulting me. But you know how it is, 100 people tell you you’re smart and then one person calls you a dumbshit and the other 100 never existed.

So. I can go about caring for my family and be mildly okay without compliments or thanks. (MILDLY.) But the second a criticism is thrown out there? AND MY EMOTIONAL TRAIN WRECK BEGINS.

A perfect example:

I’ve been working 40 hours a week with a 90 minute commute every weekday for the past 2 weeks now. Counting my sub 1-hour lunch break I’m gone from the house at least 9 hours every day. All of that and I’m still dealing with all of the after school activities for the kids, making sure we all have dinner, packing lunches, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, moving the grass, all while Donnie uses his non-work time training for his Ironman and playing video games.

And this is fine with me with the periodic praise/thanks…UNTIL THERE IS A CRITICISM.

Then all hell breaks loose.

He walked into the office Thursday night and said, “Do I smell pee?” We are dog sitting, so I think that was his worry, but I freaked out because I work my ass off trying to keep our house smelling good and checking every corner for treasures from any animals. I stormed around mumbling, mopping floors, cleaning, and then I went to the kitchen and stuffed my face.

One subtle, not even directed at me, criticism – and I lost my shit.

I tell Donnie all the time, I would be 100% okay with this balance of responsibility if he gave me 15 compliments/thanks for every ONE criticism. I’ve kinda always known that, it’s less about me wanting the praise than it is me NOT wanting criticism. One negative note and I’m falling down a pit of despair feeling worthless and depressed.

I’ve kinda always known that, but listening to her relate it to her childhood forced me to relate it to mine and I thought: Holy Shit. It was like that with Dad too.

After he would have his fits of anger, and would say horrible, soul-crushing things to me, he would always find a moment to sit me in his lap and offer a very sincere apology followed by praise. Some nights I’d lie in bed just waiting for him to calm down and offer that reassurance. He didn’t get that angry often (as a parent I now know once is too often) but when he did, I just got through it knowing he’d give me my praise and compliments soon. JUST BE PATIENT.

So I think my issues with not handling criticism well is that, in the rest of the world, they’re not followed by mounds of praise and apology. So I don’t know how to handle it.

REVELATIONS!!

I think I need to work on giving myself the praise and apologies. If no one every criticized me about my domestic existence? I’d keep this balance of work no questions asked. I only seem desperate for praise if a criticism has been handed out. So my issues relate less to “WANTING ATTENTION” and more to “NOT BEING ABLE TO HANDLE CRITICISM”.

Isn’t that fascinating?

Okay! Now I’m off to clean toilets so I can hopefully squeeze in a run before Nikki’s soccer game today. If anyone has any recommendations about How To Handle Criticism Gracefully And Without Losing Your Shit, please let me know.