Classics Never Die

Today is my little sister’s 23rd birthday (which makes me feel super old since I’m five and a half years older than she is and I can remember the day she was born). She and my mom are coming over tomorrow to celebrate, and I’ve put myself in charge of dinner. Of course, this includes a cake. A vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, her favorite.

I love baking birthday cakes. I often bake my own. I used to have to compromise with my family by allowing them to decorate it because I was so adamant about baking it. (The result is that I cannot decorate a cake to save my life, but I can bake them pretty well.)

Now, for this particular cake, I could have gone and bought one of those box mixes (I remember my sister enjoying the “Funfetti” cakes as a child), but I’ve turned up my nose at pretty much all box mixes since my brief time in culinary school (don’t ask). I could have googled a recipe. There are probably many food and baking blogs with excellent recipes.

I couldn’t bring myself to do that, though. To me, birthday cakes are classics, and classic dishes require classic recipes. Therefore, I turned to one of the classic cookbooks of my grandmother and mother’s generations: Joy of Cooking.

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My beautiful second hand copy of Joy of Cooking.

Again, I know there are newer cookbooks. There are even newer versions of Joy of Cooking than the one I own, but I just can’t get over this 1975 version I found at a library book sale. It’s either the same edition as my mother’s or slightly newer, so it brings back memories of flipping through it as a teenager (not to mention the “fancy” Turkey Divine I asked Mom to make for my 16th birthday, which caught on fire and filled the house with smoke, something we laugh about now). I just love it, and I can’t see myself ever getting rid of it.

So this is what I used tonight. I can’t say whether the cake has turned out any good. I won’t know until tomorrow. I do know that I am very proud of this birthday cake (even if I ruin it by tomorrow evening), and I was much more confident using Joy of Cooking‘s recipe than I would have been using something else. Sometimes it’s okay to hang on to the classics–especially if they work for you.

Days Off

motivation

Does anyone else feel super productive on their days off? I mean, all week I feel tired and drained, which I suppose is understandable since I work on my feet all day, and I don’t have the energy to do a single dish, let alone all the other things that need to be done. But the minute a day off rolls around, I have energy, motivation, and tenacity. Here are some of the things I did today:

Today is Monday, and every naturally procrastinating University of Phoenix student knows what that means … It’s time to do a week’s worth of schoolwork in one day. Theoretically, we’re supposed to spend twenty hours a week on our schoolwork, something I’ve never managed to work into my schedule no matter how hard I tried (also, it takes me a lot less than twenty hours to complete all my required assignments, including participation posts). So today, I’m utilizing the Pomodoro Technique to crank out a worksheet, a time line, and a few participation posts after having not read the 126 pages of assigned textbook all week. (#confessionsofashittystudent?)

However, between schooling pomodoros, I have been doing laundry. Lots and lots of laundry. Once upon a time, this laundry was clean. It sat in a laundry basket in an inaccessible place for so long, it developed a musty smell. I’ve been meaning to wash and sort through it for weeks (okay, months) now, and I decided today, a day when a billion assignments (and my own personal goal of writing a blog post) are due, was the best day to do it.

Before any of that, though, I also did my Miracle Morning routine (which took about two hours), went for a walk with my boyfriend, poked around at Goodwill for a while, went to Grocery Outlet, and cleaned off my desk and the surrounding area in order to use my desk to do schoolwork.

Wasn’t it just last Thursday I was calling in sick because I felt like absolute shit? Where did all this motivation and energy come from? There must be something about having nowhere to be that automatically makes me want to do things … or something. 🤔

I’m Weird and That’s Okay

You know how epileptic people have tremors before they have a seizure? After it’s happened a few times, these people learn to recognize the feeling and can warn the people around them they are about to have a seizure. (How do I know this? A pregnant coworker told me one day she was having tremors, and because I was the shift leader on at the time, I got to call 911 when she had the seizure. As terrifying as it was for me, I can only imagine what she went through.) At any rate, I’ve found I have similar warning signs when I’m about to have a breakdown and/or panic attack.

I can’t exactly explain to you what these symptoms are. I just know that yesterday morning, I knew that if I tried to deal with anything that day I was not going to be able to handle it. It’s not the vague threat you tell your kids or your significant other when they’re pushing your buttons. It’s not the feeling of overwhelm you get when your boss dumps another project on your already overloaded plate. It’s a deep sense of knowing that says, “I’ve been here before. If I don’t change directions right now, I’m going to wind up in a very bad place.”

So yesterday, I called in to work. Did I feel guilty about it? Hell, yes. I didn’t give a lot of notice, so there probably wasn’t enough time to find a replacement. That means someone else had to stay late to close, despite being scheduled earlier. I felt bad about that.

I don’t know what the trade off would have been, though. If I had gone into work, the first table to give me trouble could very well have triggered a panic attack. No one wants to see that (believe me). Was it worth the risk? Not to me.

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Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Elizabeth Cooper

I stayed home. I got some more sleep. My boyfriend made me pizza. I watched Netflix, poked around on the internet, and played video games. I mostly stayed in bed, which is in a protected little alcove in our room that makes it feel like a cave. I felt safe and cool (it is summer), and I had the time and space to heal from whatever had gotten me to that point.

I didn’t realize until this morning that not everyone has to deal with this. Some people never call in sick to work. Some people very rarely get to such a raw emotional state that they have to seclude themselves from the rest of the world. Some people find two days a week off from work to be more than enough time to recharge and recover from the week. I can’t even imagine what that would be like.

Just when I feel like a normal person, I come to realizations like that. I recently bought health insurance for the first time and found I can’t get the cheapest plan because of the amount of medications I take and follow ups I need. Does that make me weird? Because I take two medications every day and need to see a doctor every few months just for my mental illness?

And then I see the phrase “mental illness,” and it’s just sitting there staring at me like, “Um … yes. You are weird. You have a mental illness.”

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Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of John Connor

That doesn’t matter, though. It doesn’t mean there’s something inherently wrong with me. It doesn’t mean I have to explain myself to anyone. What matters is that after thirteen years of dealing with depression and anxiety, I know myself pretty well, and if I say I need a break or I’m going to lose it, I need a fucking break right now. It’s okay to take care of my weird self. It’s okay that I take more sick days than most (sorry, employers/health insurance). Dealing with these issues helps me work my ass off on the days I do go to work. I refuse to feel guilty for that.

 

Six Days of Camp NaNoWriMo Left

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Here is a random picture of me to add some sort of visual stimulation to this post. Ain’t I cute?

There are six days of Camp NaNoWriMo left (in case you didn’t glean that from the title of this blog post). I have not started rewriting my novel yet, but I have made some good progress on marking up the printed version I wrote. My goal is to finish marking it up by the 31st.

I have a lot of things going on in the next five days (helping someone move and preparing for a camping trip, plus the usuals like school and work), but I am committed to doing this. Even with a migraine that’s lasted for more than 24 hours (ugh), I felt compelled to stay up and write this blog post, since I haven’t written any other updates on how this month has been going. If I can do that, I can finish marking up those pages this week.

That said, I’m a little overwhelmed. It seems the only time I can get anything done has been early in the morning, and I’ve been sleeping in a lot because I’m just too tired. Plus, the whole migraine thing hasn’t been helping.

#thestruggleisreal #justsaying #writersarepeopletoo #thisisablogstophashtagging

Simple Abundance: A Devotional for Everyone

A Devotional

About six years ago, I converted from (Reformed Baptist) Christianity to Wicca. I won’t get into all the details about that process here, but later I found that by distancing myself from Christianity, as so many new Wiccans do, I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

There were many things I missed about Christianity that had nothing to do with its theology or doctrines, including going to church (yay for Unitarian Universalist churches!) and my daily “devotions.” As a Christian, I read my Bible every day, sometimes twice a day, as well as my favorite devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. It kept me sane and at peace on days when that was a most difficult task. It focused my intentions in the morning and helped settle my thoughts in the evening.

Continue reading Simple Abundance: A Devotional for Everyone

3 Steps for Revising My Novel This Camp NaNoWriMo

3 steps for

 

During Camp NaNoWriMo this July, I “enter the dark and terrifying forest” as I revise a novel for the first time. That quote is pulled from Rachel Aaron’s ebook, 2k to 10k. It is one of the books I have been referring to as I plan to revise Nazrat of the Kora, the novel I wrote during last November’s NaNoWriMo. Other books on my list include Stephen King’s On WritingJanet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing (3rd ed., though I should have the 4th ed. soon), and even The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel, by Tom Monteleone.

As I’m delving into strange territory, I find it necessary to look at the maps created by the explorers and travelers who have been through the forest many times before me. Looking at these maps has helped me develop my own plan for the upcoming month, along with my own goals. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned and some steps I plan to put into action.

Continue reading 3 Steps for Revising My Novel This Camp NaNoWriMo

I’m Not Alone

“Gardeners who creatively toil in the rich soil of imagination, like myself, often end up surrounded by plants that look as if they had been tended by Morticia Addams. We are not known so much for our horticultural skills as for the triumph of our enthusiasm over our prior experience.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance