Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Look at Hunger

This was an attempt I made at more lyrical, poetic writing. It is a look at hunger--mostly physical but certainly applies to spiritual, emotional hunger. Really, I had about three weeks where I was hungry all the time and I wasn't cooking great food and I was just kind of existing. Since I now have to make nearly everything I eat from scratch--no convenience foods--I sometimes just get exhausted from cooking and it is easier not to cook sometimes and just go hungry. This is something that came out of that struggle.

My hunger is a sharp thing. It sits in the pit of my stomach, at the back of my mind, in the tense light of each of my waking hours. Relentless, unbidden, persisting. Ever present.

I try to assuage its pangs with food. I feed the sharpness, I cool the hot thirst, I stop and acknowledge its presence.

My hunger does not leave.

It rakes my belly most days through the ticking of the clock and the white heat of a shining day. It accompanies me into the dark hours of night and snakes its way from the soft folds of my center up through my chest, behind my eyes, throughout my brain.




My muscles tense, my head aches, I seek comfort and solace away from this growling burden, this constant pull inside of me. I push it away hoping it will disappear.

It does not.

It slices neatly through my meager defenses, assaulting me through the thrum of my heart with words that batter me.

I am so hungry.

I am so hungry.

I am so hungry.

I must spend time, hours, days attending to its pressing need, its near-stifling presence, its overwhelming load.

Feed me. I am so hungry.

In morning, its sharpness is muted, softer in its approach. Exhausted from its pursuit, I unwisely ignore its gentle reminders and benign probings, glad for a break as I throw it a morsel here or a drink there. It roars to life again within hours rearing its tyrannical head as my day progresses, beating every other thought out of my consciousness.

I succumb to its violence, its heat, its oppression. I seek to soothe, to calm, to comfort through taste, texture, smells and colors. Sometimes it abates allowing these things to sate its appetite. Allowing me some peace and solace from its clawing, voracious need.

Those are the days I breathe with joy.

Other days I cannot contain it, approach it or help it.

Those are the days it seems my hunger may end up eating me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Song Pick: Crazy Love

I came across this song the other day and I can't seem to stop listening. It is by an artist named Jason Manns that I haven't heard of before but I liked the laid back style of the song. It just felt a bit like summer to me. 

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

What do you think?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hidden Food Allergies

"Now we know that chronic inflammation, caused primarily by exposure to incompatible foods, is at the root of metabolic problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. The immune system chemicals block insulin receptors; so, guess what happens to the sugars we eat? They get stored as fat. Cut the inflammation, cut the fat storage," said Roger Deutsch, co-author of the excellent book, "Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat."

Friday, June 12, 2009

This is My Kind of Ice Cream

I found an ice cream to love.

I have never been an ice cream fanatic. This I have admitted and shared before. Yet, many of you are big fans of this dairy wonderland. A coworker and I were discussing ice cream the other day and he mentioned that growing up his mom always had ice cream in the freezer. They didn't have a lot of other treats in the house but they always had ice cream. And every night she would pull out the ice cream and bowls and spoons and everyone would gather around and eat ice cream together as they laughed and talked. His mom died when he was in high school but he says he still loves to have a bowl of ice cream each night.

That definitely tugged the old heart strings a little.

I think part of the reason that ice cream didn't appeal to me was I had an inkling pretty early on that I might have some food issues with dairy. I just didn't seem to respond to it well. I was never a big milk drinker and I had pretty much cut it out of my life by high school and I think ice cream just went down the same road. That doesn't mean I don't like it or it doesn't taste amazing. I just didn't want to hassle with it especially when things like brownies or cake or cookies could satiate my sweet tooth very well. 

In college, I lived with two like-minded friends who couldn't or didn't do dairy either. Our fridge was a wonderland of soy milk and rice milk and we had many a late night raid of a local grocery store that carried our favorite So Delicious soy ice cream. This got us through the minute dissection of every cute boy, potential prospect and dating relationship that crossed our threshold. It even helped us wade through the a broken engagement or two. So, yes I get the appeal. 

Yet, I found that with some of my food sensitivities that soy milk and rice milk were not really options so that ice cream fell by the wayside as well. 

And then I happened across a recommendation on Elana's site for coconut milk ice cream. 

When I was out visiting Amy a couple of months ago we experimented and made a fruit smoothie with coconut milk and pineapple. It was tropical and yummy and we made it every day after that. Then I came home and spread the love of coconut milk smoothies and I've had at least a couple a week since then. So, my love of all things coconut has really moved up the roster. 
Ingredients: organic coconut milk, organic agave syrup, chicory root extract, organic dried coconut, carob bean gum, guar gum, natural flavors

I just had no idea that coconut milk ice cream existed. When I heard about it, I went out that night and bought my first little pint of Purely Decadent's Coconut flavor. Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy. 

Ingredients: organic coconut milk (organic coconut, water, guar gum), organic agave syrup, organic fair trade cocoa, organic hazelnuts, organic chocolate fudge (organic agave syrup, water, organic fair trade cocoa, organic fair trade vanilla extract), organic fair trade vanilla extract

Then I went out the next night I tried another brand called Coconut Bliss. They had a flavor called Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge. Ummm, I became an immediate convert. Immediate. 

I think one of the things I like about coconut milk ice cream compared to soy milk ice cream or rice milk ice cream is that it is thick and creamy and full of texture. It isn't ice-y like a sorbet. It is full of fat which only makes it super good and thus super good for you. 

So, for all of my ice cream friends out there, give it a whirl. I'll even come share it with you, if you give me a call.

That's just the kind of friend I am. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Just a Little Fun

I needed something to make me laugh this week and this did it. 

The song "Eye of the Tiger" makes me think of big-hair bands, Idaho and the eighties. Really it embodies for me my early childhood and my older brothers. I always think of them when this song comes on. I saw this clip the other day and it all came rushing back.

In this clip is an actor from the show Supernatural lip-syncing to "Eye of the Tiger." That show is about two brothers who road trip across the country in a classic car listening to big-hair band music and fight ghosts for a living. (Seriously, why do I know this? Because this little video made me interested in the show. I have a sickness.)

In this particular clip the other brother/actor on the show was supposed to enter the scene and missed his cue purposely (you can hear him laughing during the performance because he was miked for the scene). He just wanted to see what the other actor, Jensen Ackles, would do with this huge song blasting and this is the performance that happened, all caught on tape for the whole world to see.

The video (links to youtube)

The leg guitar had to be my favorite moment.  

Hope it gave you all a giggle today too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

18 Things I Wish I'd Known before I Went to College

For Cassie's 18th birthday, I wrote a list of things I wish I had known before I went to college. Cassie actually starts college this summer so I thought I could share a few points of insight with her. Good or bad these are things I learned through trial and error and offered to share with her. I'm sure I've missed some great insights, so what would you add to this list? What would have made a difference for you when you first left home and started college? What do you wish you had taken advantage of as a freshman? Or what habit made a great difference for you in college? 

I'd love for you to add to my list and give Cassie a smattering of our collected wisdom. 

1.     Never, never, never take a 7AM class. You will never wake up for it and you will hate yourself all semester long for signing up for it. For that matter, I wouldn’t even take an 8AM class but some people are just gluttons for punishment. Just don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

2.     Watch the class load your first semester. Don’t exceed more than 12 hours your first semester. It takes a while to adjust to the demands and rigors of college and you will only do yourself a favor if you keep the class load manageable your first year. Juggling school, work, social life, homework, church responsibilities, life skills, and family time takes a gigantic learning curve so cut yourself a bit of slack in the education department your first time around.

3.     Life skills matter. Things like cooking meals, doing your laundry, cleaning your house, maintaining a car and tracking your finances. They are the kind of things that have to be done every day and make your life painful and unhappy if they aren’t done. Just succumb to their reality and do them every day and you will save yourself a lot of angst and worry later because you’ve already mastered the essentials.

4.     Actually learn how to make your bed—every day. This sounds insane but at some point you will leave college, enter the real world and hopefully get married and have kids. Learning to make your bed now will just lighten the load. If you learn to make your bed every day then you grow accustomed to having a neat bed. If your bed is neat, you will pick up your clothes too. If your clothes are picked up then your bedroom will be clean. And then you won’t want the bathroom to look like trash, so you will keep it picked up. Bed-making and dishwashing are two habits that begin to breed cleanliness in your life. And when you suddenly don’t have Mom the-most-amazingly-clean-woman-in-America around anymore to clean up after you, you will wish you could invent her robotic double to come and live with you permanently because cleanliness is never so easy as it is when you live within the walls of her home. And it never will be again. TRUST ME. So, do yourself a favor and start picking up the cleanliness habit.

5.     You have to earn money in order to spend it.  This was a concept I understood in theory but it took a long time to put into practice. You have to buy things like your own laundry detergent and your own toilet paper and your own ketchup. That takes some getting used to. No more is your money just spent on clothes or entertainment or fun. Now you have to buy things to make your little household run and pay tuition and buy really expensive books that you will cart around for the next ten years before you marshal the guts to toss them. It is so hard to adjust to the realities of living on your own and paying your own way and then to find that you have to buy superfluous things like milk and bread with the very little funds you have at your disposal which will make you want to weep sometimes. So, get a job. Yes, even get a job on campus. And really, really pray that this education thing will pay off because you don’t ever want to work for so little money ever again.

6.     Sleeping is not optional. The fun will be almost nonstop. Plus there will always be a big test to study for, a huge paper to write or a really deep conversation that needs to take place with someone. That is all in addition to the one million other things that need to take place each day. Sleep is almost always the first thing to go with a packed schedule. Don’t succumb though. Don’t believe that cutting yourself out of a few hours of sleep is not a big deal. It is. Sleep will make a major difference in your mood, your outlook, your intellect and your energy level. Sleep is the easiest thing to chuck when your stress level rises and your schedule is overflowing. If you hold on to sleep now, you will learn how to do stress and do a busy life while still getting enough sleep. Plus you will be perkier and happier and much more pleasant to be around. Sleep is not overrated.

7.     Learn how to pack your own lunch. It will save you money, it will save you time and it will save your health. I would have saved so much more money in college if I learned this skill earlier. Plus, I would have been healthier. If you anticipate your need for food, you will prepare healthier and better food than you can grab when you are on the go and starving. Plus, you will learn how to feed yourself and not depend on vending machines or fast food to fuel your body. They both do a terrible job at it. Learning, studying and playing take energy and with little money at your disposal packing your lunch just makes sense all around.

8.     Saying “no” is often the nicest thing you can do. The boys will be plentiful and good-looking. The big change with college is that most of them will be strangers to you. And just because they are at BYU and LDS doesn’t mean that they are great people. You will come across some stellar duds on the social scene. You may even come across some scary ones. Never say “yes” just to be nice or because someone keeps asking you out. This is where your gut and the Spirit really matter. Learn to trust how you feel. If some guy makes you feel funny—even the slightest bit—tell him “No.” The sooner he leaves the better. Learning to say “No” is really the nicest thing you can do for yourself and him.

9.     Do all the crazy freshman activities that are offered. Go tunnel singing. Hike the Y. Participate in Freshman Academy. Play an intramural sport. Go ice blocking. You will make amazing friends in college and sometimes the way you will meet them is through doing all the crazy stuff that is offered. If you start taking advantage of every opportunity as a freshman you will get in the mode of doing whatever fun things that cross your path and you will meet great people along the way. Plus, you will pick up a habit that will help you meet new people throughout the rest of your college career. Don’t hold back. Just go for it.

10.  Smile at everyone, just don’t talk about it in testimony meeting. A smile helps you feel warm, friendly and approachable and it helps you open your eyes to potential friends around you. Smiling will help you look up and look on the bright side too. Just don’t talk about how smiling changed your life or someone else’s in testimony meeting. Let every other freshman in your ward do that for you.

11.  Talk to your professors. They are in the business of learning and they will help guide you through the labyrinth of academic life with great insight. Learn how to make friends with your professors and visit them during office hours. They will be some of the greatest people in your corner.

12.  Do the honors program if you have the guts. The Great Works list alone in the Honors program will elevate your mind. Honors requires extra reading and research with a professor but it will put in some of the top classes on campus with some of the best and brightest minds available. This will hone your skills and your mind as you prepare for the future. It will take some work too. At least take some time to consider it. You won’t be sorry.

13.  Grades do matter. You don’t know what the future holds for you. You may be perfectly happy with your major and the direction you choose now but ten years down the road you may decide to go to graduate school and suddenly that transcript from college is going to look awfully important.

14.  Invest in a really good backpack. You will be carrying a lot of heavy books around campus for the next few years. A good backpack will save you as you walk hundreds of miles each week across campus. Then wear both straps on your shoulders. It will save you many a backache.

15.  Ask questions. Remember there is no such thing as a stupid question (although I can’t promise that you won’t feel stupid asking some questions). Just get over it now. The only way to get anywhere in life is to learn how to ask great questions and the only way to do that is to learn how to ask some really bad questions in the process. Questions open up your mind and heart to truth. Are you ready for it?

16.  Expand your cultural horizons. Spend a night at the BYU Planetarium. Go to every free exhibit at the Museum of Art. Attend free recitals and concerts. Go to International Cinema. Go on study abroad. Learn another language. You will never have so many free and discounted cultural activities right at your fingertips as you do in college. Take advantage. Listen the Men’s Chorus in person. Watch a ballroom dance competition. Soak up any horizon-expanding experience you can. 

17.  Call your parents. They love you and want to know what is happening in your life. They are also a wealth of information, common sense and life experience. You will start to see how truly wise they really are as they help you navigate these first years of adulthood. Just remember to say “I love you” every time and don’t forget to thank them often. They won’t ever tire of hearing it.

18.  Write it down. These experiences will never come again and you will be able to relive them if you write it down. Even if it is one sentence a day, it will help. A journal can hold your secrets, listen to your heart and help you find your voice. Write it all down. You will be amazed at the life you lived when you look back over it one day. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

She's Growing Up

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that these are Cassie's senior photos that Megan took. She's quite the photographer.

My baby sister graduated from high school last week. I can barely believe it. She was born when I was a teenager and she was a baby that was wanted and hoped for and prayed for in our family. 

My dad went to law school when he was forty years old and when I was just starting junior high. My parents had seven children when they went back to school and they had very busy lives. I remember though begging my mom to have another baby. I had one sister but I wanted another and in my naivete, I just assumed that all mom and dad had to do was decide to have another baby. I didn't understand how much another child adds loads of responsibility and time and care to their lives. 

Shortly after Dad graduated from law school, I had a birthday. A couple of weeks before my birthday, my mom started laying hints for me about what an incredible birthday present she had for me. As a teenager, my mind went a bit wild. What was I getting? A car? Some furniture? A bunch of new clothes? I was so convinced that this present was really big that I wouldn't go out to the garage for a couple of weeks just in case I stumbled upon my fabulous little red convertible that Mom and Dad were stashing away for me in there. 

A few days before my birthday I was home sick from school. Some time that day my mom came in to my room and told me she couldn't take it any longer and she was going to give me my birthday present early. Then she told me she was six weeks pregnant. 

I burst into tears I was so happy. 

The following June, Cassie joined our family. She was the eighth child, the third girl and so, so wanted. We were all so thrilled with her arrival. She's been a joy and a pleasure since then. I know she gets a hard time because she is the youngest and she didn't grow up on the farm or suffer through the hard years of law school and Dad's early years as an attorney. But I think she is only teased about that because they can't find anything else to tease her about. What would we do without Cassie? Mom says she has kept them young and full of life and vigor. I say aren't we lucky?

Happy Birthday, baby sister. 


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