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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hearty Pumpkin Pasta Bake

You guys,
I made this delicious pasta bake!
And I want to share the "recipe" with you!

Alright, so I made a little tiny serving, so I could eat this twice
So, for you and your potential family, you might have to make way more.
Here's the grocery list:

Italian Sausage (I got mild)
Bow-tie Pasta
Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
Marinated artichoke hearts
Pumpkin Pasta Sauce (I found mine at Costco)

The pumpkin sauce was much sweeter than your normal marinara sauce, so I found some 
ingredients that I thought would balance the sweetness.

First start a pot of water boiling for the pasta.
(you will also use this water to blanch the kale and/or spinach)
While the water is starting to boil start your Italian sausage. I used half of a package.

While the sausage and water are going 
dice up some onion and mushrooms.
Cook these for a minute just until they are browned and a little soft.
Blanch the kale and spinach and then throw it in an ice bath.
Next put in your pasta, boil the pasta until it's almost cooked.
 Don't cook the pasta until it's done because it's going to go into the oven.
(Take it out before it's all the way soft)

Yay! Now you put everything into a baking dish :)
Including the pasta sauce.
Mix in the artichokes and everything that you cooked up.
Mix in the cheese and sprinkle some on top.
Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400. 
I baked mine for about 20 minutes and then took the foil off and put it in for another 5.
You just made a yummy pasta dish :)

(I really didn't measure anything, so that's why I didn't put any measurements) 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I've been on a Brene Brown kick for a couple of months
Okay, it's been like for the past year.
If you haven't read or heard of her work you must Youtube her NOW!

Anyway, she has said and taught me so many life changing things
That I can't possibly write about them all here,
But there is something that REALLY caught my attention
So I thought I'd share it here with you.
I re-worded it so that it was in a different tense,
But it's the same idea, she said,

" Redefine what you believe to be valuable, and make sure you fit in the definition."

Often, what I think of as valuable is just a list of things that I AM NOT!
It's valuable to be: patient, loving, rich, pretty, etc.
And, yes, those things are valuable, BUT I'm valuable even if I'm not pretty or rich or loving, yup, I am. And so are you.

I guess I'm still working on my new definition, because I truly think that I'm valuable without any conditions. I'm valuable and worthy of love and belonging and I don't need to be anyone or anything other than I already am.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Normal

So, I had this wonderful idea while I was laying in bed Facebook stalking myself. I would write a blog post about my REAL life, the one that includes napping most of the day and eating cheeseburgers, not just the life I put up on Facebook, the one where I'm out hiking or doing something fun. I even took a picture of my room and my bed, because literally it's where I spend most of my time, other than work, and maybe the climbing gym. I took a picture of the perfect bacon cheese burger that I ate today for lunch, it was going to be sucha good post! And then I couldn't figure out how to get pictures off of my phone and onto my blog.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Taking Control of Happiness: 10 Ways to Dig Yourself Out of the Anxiety Cycle

It's true guys, I have a little bit of an anxiety problem.
It hasn't always been this way, for most of my life I've been busy and comfortable and excited about the future.
However, after graduating college I found myself with a lot of free time and very few goals for my future.
For the first time in my life I didn't have a plan for what I would be doing for the next four years and I ended up isolating myself from things that I enjoyed. 
Sometimes I would even awake in the middle of the night with a racing heart and a sense of hopelessness.
And when I'm stuck in this funk I don't quite know how to handle life. I start handing out my stress to everyone that passes by, hoping that someone else will be able to give good enough advice that it will change my cyclical thought patterns. 
And most often, whoever I'm in a relationship with gets the brunt of the blame. 
The problem with living in my little sphere of anxiety determinism is that it means my feelings are completely in the hands of others. 
My agency, my ability to choose happiness disappears when I give others the power to guide my emotions.
 Now don't take this the wrong way, I'm  not saying that anxiety or depression, (or any mental illness) can be wished away, or that everyone can simply change. But what I am saying is that when we take control of our emotions and thought patterns then we can at least make a space for change to happen.
 We've all heard that we need to work on the things we can change, accept the things we can't, and to know the difference between the two, however, the "Things we can change" seem few and far between when we're dealing with anxiety. 
So, I came across this list of "Things I can change" in "Beyond Addiction" and thought I could share it, hoping that it might shed light on just how much we can have control over in our lives.

Things I Can Change:

How comfortable I am right now
How generally optimistic I am
What behaviors I personally encourage
How much I argue
How often I smile
How much time I devote to sleeping
How strong I feel
My habitual reactions
My tone of voice
What I pay attention to
My point of view
The atmosphere in my apartment
How isolated I feel
How I deal with stress
How much I worry
My heart rate
How I spend my money
How I express my concern
What substances I use
How I help
How I get help
What kind of help I get
The first thing I do in the morning
Whether anything good happens today
How much I enjoy life

The first time I read this list I was surprised at all of the small aspects of my life that I have control over but that I've been giving up to others to decide for me. Some of these things might take a little work to gain back control. Some might take the rest of my life. It's also empowering to know that I have the ability to smile whenever I want, I have the ability to choose how I react, how much I argue, and how I handle my stress. 

Also, I've wanted to share a few little tid-bits that have helped me deal with anxiety, because maybe they'll work for you too!

1) At night, before you go to bed make a list of all of the things you want to get done the next day. Include simple things like, drink a smoothie for breakfast, walk to the mail box, do the dishes, write a blog post, tell Mom I love her, etc. Then the next day choose the things that you feel like doing that day. I've found that having a list of things that I WANT to do and then checking them off gives me a small sense of accomplishment and reduces the time that I spend worrying or feeling anxious.

2) Become aware of negative self talk. That means starting to listen to how I talk to myself, what stories I tell about the actions of others, and how I generally think about life. 

3) Replace the negative self talk with a simple, positive, mantra. Find a phrase that resonates with you and keeps your mind in a helpful and goal directed place. There's still room for emotions, just don't let them lead you to a place that isn't where you want to go. I like to simply remind myself  "I'm going to be okay, even if it takes some time." 

4) Think back to times when you've been through a negative experience, and find something positive that came out of it. When we are able to find the things we've learned, even from really difficult times it gives us a light at the end of the tunnel. We gain perspective when we are able to remember that although we go through hard things, we can still choose to learn and grow from every experience we have.

5) Make a weekly grateful board (and update it!). For me I just took a normal white board and hung it in front of my bed, that way, when I'm in my bed (and often where I'm most anxious, right before I go to sleep) I'm able to have a quick reminder of what good things I have to be grateful for. Like the to-do list, these things can, and should be simple. Sunsets, dill pickle Pringles, seeing a cute little birdy, or a text from a friend, any thing that will remind you that there are sweet little experiences in life.

6) Take advantage of the moments right after waking up. The time right after waking up is precious and can often spin us into some serious worry, we remember the worries of yesterday and the problems of today. Usually turning on some good upbeat music, or my favorite... brushing my teeth as I walk to the mailbox in the morning, will really kick start my day and get me experiencing the little joys of life.

7) Experience time in the sunshine every day. I was in an Institute of Religion class when I heard this trick and I really liked it. Vitamin D makes me so happy! It's also really easy for me to feel the sun on my face, look at the mountains, hear the birds sing and just experience a little happiness. 

8) Practice yoga or meditation. So, I can't testify for meditation, because I've never tried it, but I have heard a lot of good things about it from people I trust, like my brother. As for yoga, I love the YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene. (Try her 30 day yoga challenge) 

9) Throughout the day focus on small pleasures. I've found that learning to "be in the moment" includes experiencing the five senses more fully. For instance, if it's a blazing hot day and you walk into your nice cool apartment, take time to feel what it's like. If you're driving by a restaurant and smell something yummy take the time to enjoy it. Mainly my small pleasures come from looking at the beautiful mountains around me and enjoying the sunrise as I drive to work. 

10) Praying or talking out loud about stresses. Finding private time to vocally express my feelings has always brought me peace. I believe it's because I have a loving Heavenly Father who is actually listening and willing to help me. But also, if that doesn't resonate with you just taking time (maybe while you're driving to the grocery store) to speak out loud about what it is that frustrates you can really open up some brain space and helps to alleviate some of the stress.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cliff Hanger

I want to tell you a story.
But first, a little background...
I work at a Residential Treatment Center,
which means, the boys who are RESIDING there are also receiving TREATMENT. 
It's basically a 24 hour therapeutic environment where growth and change have the best chance. 
Enough background.

There's this boy where I work, we'll call him Ethan. 
Ethan is a very "difficult" boy.
He doesn't understand that often what is best for him is something he does not like. 
If he doesn't want to do something, he refuses, and whoever gets in his way will receive his wrath.
When at home, this boy refused to go to school. 
He ate what he wanted, and he did what he wanted 
(played video games, read comic books.)

And now... 
It is my task to get this boy to participate in school.
Each day, I tell him that he needs to participate in school,
or there will be consequences.
I enforce these rules in any way that I can.
On this particular day- he was refusing to remove his hands from his ears. 
And in so doing refused to participate, so the next step was having him leave class.
Well, you see the problem, if fingers are in ears, words are not getting to those ears.

after having the entire class move locations, because this boy WOULD NOT, 
I sat with him.
He called me names, accused me of ruining his life and made sure that I knew how unnecessary my actions were.
And I listened.
I explained how I was trying to help him.

One of the administration described the situation like this,

"Ethan, right now you're hanging off of a cliff,
and the staff are reaching down to help you up.
And you're smacking at their hands."

Later we were called up together to the weekly meeting where we

talk to administration and therapists.
After some talking, the question was asked of me, 
should this boy get another chance?

Well at that point I began to cry. 
I looked at Ethan and said that I would give him another chance.
He apologized, promised it would not happen again, thanked me for forgiving him.

And in this small circumstance 
I can not help but think that I got a taste of what Christ must go through with me, every day.
The parallel is obviously small, but let me explain.
I want Ethan to learn and to grow, and when we get down to it, it is literally my job to make that happen. 
Because I want him to learn, I made the situation the best I could so that could happen.
I warned him before class of the consequences, and tried to explain things to him, and yet he refused.
His behavior begat punishment, and yet I sat with him.
He showered words of hatred down on me.
He slapped at the hands that bent down to save him. 
And then when the time came when his fate was in my hands
when he turned to me for forgiveness, 
I showed him mercy.
And I did it knowing that inevitably it would happen again.

Because I know he WILL, someday, learn. 
And I trust him to try.

Is this not a small, less infinite example of my relationship with Christ?
Am I not this young boy?

Christ is my teacher,
giving me perfect experiences, catered to my needs.
He tells me his expectations through commandments and modern day revelation.
He fosters growth in every way.
He sits and stays while I curse his name,
eager to listen and heal.
He pleads my case, he forgives, he shows mercy.
He knows I will inevitable fail again.

Because he knows I WILL someday, learn.
And he trusts me to try. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Little C.S. Lew

After praying for the resurrection of his mother, C.S. Lewis talked about the flaw in his childhood faith.
Unfortunately, my hindsight isn't nearly as clear, and my adult prayers are often uttered in the same way.

"I had approached God, or my idea of God, without love, without awe, even without fear. He was, in my mental picture of this miracle, to appear neither as Savior nor as Judge, but merely as a magician; and when He had done what was required of Him I supposed He would simply—well, go away."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Happy Graduation to Me

I went camping this weekend in Southern Utah
to celebrate graduating from COLLEGE!
And can I just say Wow, it was soooo beautiful!

While I was there I spent some time with some pretty
amazing and fun people, and saw some amazing things!

Most of all though, I realized that being positive changes things.
At one point we were hiking up a mountain in the wind 
and rain and it was just so crazy.

But even crazier, the people that I was with were just having 
a total blast, they were singing and laughing and just being crazy.

Needless to say I thought a lot about this and wrote down some 
of my thoughts.
I guess I'm hoping that one day this poem
will reflect how I live my life:

I knew someone 
who saw the good 
in everything she met. 

The wind blown hair
the sand filled shoes 
her clothes all soaking wet. 

She smiled, and sang
and had a ball 
and loved the world around 

Embraced the breeze
brushed off her knees
nothing could get her down.

And so she saw
all of the good
in everything she met

Pushed out the gray
lived all her days
and tried not to forget

That, quickly, life
the only one
she had might soon be o'er

So skipping through
the dark and dim
she just asked life for more.