A 5 Minute Meal

I let the ‘green’ take over lately. It’s certainly gotten me to be far less lazy….and yet lazier.

I decided in December to start watching my diet more. I cut out a lot of processed foods (quite expensive when you think about it). To keep me going, I got a few healthy eating books from the library (broke = get free things).

I decided to start incorporating green juices into my diet. I’m not buying a juicer; they are expensive, they take up a bunch of counter space, and are a pain to clean. Pass. So what can a newly minted juicer wannabe to do? Smoothies.

Now I can have a filling meal and not cook. I don’t plan on taking this very far. I certainly won’t be documenting my green smoothie fasts or tell you that spirulina takes delicious. I will tell you that I already own a blender and having dinner ready in 5 minutes is super exciting.

Blending the veggies means that you get to have all the fiber, thus the full feeling. I warn you: If you decide you feel deprived by drinking a meal, you will be unsatisfied and find solid foods to eat. Just like it is vital to victory for any goal or task to push through and believe you can make it, any doubt you are satisfied will kill that fullness. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you are totally right. You can’t. Not with that attitude.

Now that you have decided to give green smoothies a try, you accept that it is weird to drink a meal but it won’t kill you, and you have your blender in hand I can help you make this even easier.

(There’s the laziness kicking in!)

Your Perfect Smoothie recipe: 

1. Start with the liquid. Add 1 cup of water/nut milk/coffee/tea/fresh fruit juice <–don’t buy juice, like, ever again. That’s just sugar. Use this only if you do not have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or any other liquid option really.

2. Add veggies, at least 1 cup. A few sources I’ve read suggest 3 veggies to 1 fruit. It balances the flavor, keeps the sugar and calories down, and keeps flavors from getting too weird. Some of my faves include 1/2 an avocado to make it creamy, 1/2 a cucumber for a refreshing lightness, a big handful of leafy greens – you can’t taste ’em unless you focus really hard, a few stalks of celery…Really put what you have in. Don’t do broccoli because that would be a weird texture, but try the stems. Mix and match. Try organic if possible, wash them well if not.

3. Add fruit, at least a serving. Frozen berries are real winners, as are frozen bananas, green apples, and any in season fruit. If you use citrus, don’t toss it in rind and all. That will be too bitter. Just juice it.

4. Fancy stuff: 1-2 Tbsp. Want it thick and creamy, more like a milkshake? Add almond butter. Want it just a little thicker? Put 1tsp of chia seeds in 1/4c water and it will turn into a superfood gel. Need it sweeter? Hold back and use just a little cinnamon, local honey, cacao/carob, agave, vanilla, or even cut up seedless dates.

Blend, baby, blend. Play with what you use, find more recipes on the internet, get excited! Now you have a healthy 5 minute meal option when cooking seems impossible. While this is a great way to get tons more veggies in your diet, don’t try to live off these. You need a varied diet and enough calories.

It’s Just A Calendar

As 2014 winds down, the stress to end the year with a bang builds. Which party to go to? What will I wear? Will my crush be there? What am I going to drink?

As I’ve mentioned throughout this year, one of the easiest and most elegant solutions for our problems is to simply opt out. I decided this morning that I am staying in, alone, for tonight. And I’m surprisingly happy about this decision.

What better way to save money, trumpet my laziness, and refuse to buy into the wastefulness of this annual celebration?

I am letting go of the idea that I need to celebrate things just because a calendar or tradition says so. Traditionally speaking, I ought to be married by now and tending to my husband, 2.5 children, and our picket fenced house. Depending on what and whose tradition that is.

We buck so many traditions with each new generation, yet some slip through the cracks. I’m not going to blow $100 to get trashed in 6 inch heels and spend tomorrow miserable and making unrealistic promises to myself. That would be setting myself up for failure.

Now, before you dismiss this option because you are young, hot, lonely, or just want to party, know that I am not simply watching TV until I fall asleep.

I refuse to treat today like an extraordinary day. But how am I celebrating? I am hopping into my pjs and reflecting, organizing, planning. I have many things to work on and I will no longer be limited by the calendar for when I can do that. The fact that I view today as just a Wednesday is important. I’m not starting a new year/life/me with fanfare. I’m just gonna do. And when I feel like I’m not going in the right direction, I’ll sit down on another ordinary day and reflect, organize, plan again.

This is how I’m changing. My choice to improve myself will not start with a gun shot. Life is not a race, it should not be timed.

So after I spend an evening eating my favorite food (pizza) in my favorite sweatpants drinking my favorite tea I’m going to wake up prepared for each new day ahead of me. I’m going to have goals, steps for those goals, motivation points. I’m going to tell some friends and ask for encouragement. And I’m not doing it just today. If I find I’ve failed at what I set up for myself I’ll just sit down some other Wednesday and get back on track.

By removing the external push and making it a personal, internal effort I know I’m showing myself that it’s not tradition that is pushing me to do this, but my personal choice and reflections.

This year I’m starting the year exactly how I want the whole year to be: focused on my well being. And I can do it by living up to my broke, lazy, and green standard I hold myself to.

Thank you for living this year with me, I look forward to life with you next year! Happy New Year!

The Holidays, Unplugged

I’m sure you are torn between all the sweet deals going on in stores and online to make all that Christmas/Hanukkah loot seem a bit cheaper and the whole buy-nothing-make-something movement.

I get it. Really, I do.

I’m tempted to simply jump on the give experiences not material goods wagon, but I also really want the nice backpack I asked my mom and brother to get me. So I have a solution that will be perfect for whoever reads this:

Do what makes you Happy.

If shopping for everyone on your list makes you and your wallet sob in fear, don’t. Buy cheaper things, buy group gifts for families, or hop on the buy-nothing train. If you feel stupid giving the dry ingredients for brownies in a cute mason jar or candle holders made of tuna cans and clothes pins or coupons for you babysit or wash their car for free, don’t.

As your broke and green lady, I don’t want to buy stuff. As your lazy pal, I don’t wanna make stuff.

So when I found a pricey dress my mom loved, my brother and I split it. For my extended family? They know it is expensive to fly home and are glad to see me once a year. I emphasize that I am the gift. [Insert winning smile]

My friends and I don’t do Christmas gifts unless something really catches an eye and screams your name. Then it’s cheap and it’s clear there is no expected gift in return. We treat each other by taking each other out when it’s out birthday, when we celebrate life events, when we’re a little flush with cash and buy an extra round.  That is what makes us all happy without any pressure.

If it makes you happy to one up your uncle in giving your grandma a cool gift, fine. If that January credit card bill stings through April and you’ve forgotten why by Valentine’s Day…are you really happy?

Joy to the world. Peace on Earth. You are part of this world, you are a citizen of this earth. You deserve joy and peace as well. The first year you let your consumer facade crumble a little may be scary and you may be tempted to feel disappointed in yourself. Don’t. Once you’ve lowered that artificial bar (that no one but you set up in the first place) next year will be easier. Maybe even happier.

You deserve a gift too. Why not just make yourself happy?

Let’s KISS

President Clinton ran his presidential campaign focusing on the economy using the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid.”, a take on the phrase “Keep it simple, stupid”. I’m nice. I say, “Keep it simple, sweetie.”

What do I mean by ‘it”?

I mean your life and any part of it that seems to be out of control, overwhelming, or simply too much.

When people search for ‘simplicity’ the first couple results may encourage you to pitch out all your old magazines and ill-fitting clothes and inspire you to run to the nearest container store for some adorable organizing. Pinterest may become your new homepage.

But once you have the picture perfect house, what do you do when those feelings persist?

The idea that organizing your house will cause your life to setting from chaos to zen is appealing because you see instant and tangible results. And having a calm sanctuary really will help calm your mind. So, what is missing?

It’s not that something is missing. It’s a common mistake to focus on ‘fixing’ yourself in the most dramatic way, hoping to see results that will motivate you to continue. The issue is that it is easy to take an idea, like simplifying your life, and apply it in a dramatic fashion to an easily changed situation and expect it to manifest itself in other, more difficult areas.

To get to the brass tacks of simplifying your life it is important to remember that you are trying to simplify your life. It’s not simply your house and it’s not just for today.

Change takes a long time and can be daunting when you don’t see results to help motivate you to keep going. Personally, I start off strong and when I get close to finishing a task I’m all about it. It’s in my mid-game that I struggle the most.

So how can you simplify your life in a simple way?

I daresay that there is no one simple way. Some people may benefit from a few meditation sessions. Once they step back and look at themselves objectively they can begin effectively planning. Others may get the biggest boost from writing out a list of things they are happy about and once they focus on the positive it puts that out of balance feeling into perspective. Still others might prefer to systemically list out parts of their lives in categories, determine what is a problem in each, create steps to resolve these problems, and draft short-, medium-, and long-term goals to patch their lives up.

I suggest that you try whatever you think will help you: go for a run, write it out, create a system. I suggest you try more than one.

As far as I can see, the secret to simplicity is simply this: One step at a time.

Your life didn’t get complicated overnight and you can’t fix it in a day. Do what it takes to remind yourself that simplifying your life is a life long goal.

Gratitude

I’ve been absolutely stressing out about anything under the sun that has come my way the last couple weeks. This stress has thrown my three basic tenets – broke, lazy, and green – out the window.

How can I fix my mental state?

After eating fast food, junk food, a few impulse purchases, and a fair number of anxious tears I decided this isn’t okay.

Sound like something you’ve gone through? Whether it’s an unexpected bill pops up at the worst possible time, a love interest rejects you, or you get passed up for a promotion, when difficult and negative emotions pop up they take over.

I often let anxieties live in my head. Rent-free as they say. I can’t say I’m done with them forever. It may just take one more upsetting event to set me off, but today I feel so much better.

I have meditated and done gratitude lists and the like before. Each time I feel a bit better, then these new efforts eventually fall to the wayside. I’m no expert at developing habits. I often take my habit cues from zenhabits.net. As for dealing with the anxieties, I’m often overwhelmed by all the information out there.

The point of this post is to remind myself and anyone who needs reminding that this stuff is working. And it will take work for it to keep working. That’s not stressful work, it is positive and helpful work.

I’ve done two things in the last two days that have made a huge difference.

First, I was told to make a list of all events of my day and assigned a value to them. I CANNOT include stuff that goes on in my head. When you try this it can be as basic as I brushed my teeth (+1), my best friend called (+2), or I completed a big work project (+3). I dropped my phone and the screen cracked (-1), my lunch had spoiled so I had to skip it (-2), to my beloved pet died (-10).

In doing this I’ve noticed that when I look back on the day and am reminded of all the little good things, the positives outweigh the negatives. We are wired to remember the negative, but for the anxious and depressed that is detrimental. Sometimes, we need simple reminders that life will be alright.

Secondly, I meditated. No ‘om’ chants, no incense, no bad tries at perfectly emptying my brain. I used a guided youtube video, there are many to try. I simply focused on my breathing, then my body, sounds I could hear, and so on. It was focusing on the present that really made me breathe easier.

Yes, I may get fired tomorrow. I might also win a million dollars. Both are equally unlikely and should have no bearing on my today. All the baggage from yesterday? Can’t change the past.

I will need constant reminding of all this, day in and day out. But for now I’m adding to my list that I wrote a blog post (+2). Make an effort to remember the positives, the negatives and naysayers will handle the bad stuff without you. 🙂

In Defense of Lazy

Lazy is a word with a very negative connotation.

However, I believe there are two kinds of laziness: procrastination and positive. I would like to write this post in defense of positive laziness.

First, what I mean by procrastinative (it’s a word now) laziness. This is what happens when someone asks you when a project or task will be done and you’ve been ‘doing nothing’. This kind of laziness achieves nothing, not even relaxation and usually makes life worse because it is pure mindless procrastination. In this day and age, the internet, often in the form of Buzzfeed and Netflix, is the most common ‘nothing’ that you find yourself doing all day.

You don’t feel productive, relaxed, calm. Instead you may have inflated your stress and anxiety through this laziness. (I just coughed. Is it Ebola?!)

I, instead, would like to defend and encourage positive laziness. This past weekend is a marvelous example. I got rid of some stuff, made my costume, had lunch with some girlfriends, finished a book, and took a few walks. I did it all without a to do list and only when I felt like it

I didn’t do any ‘work’, I didn’t make money, my professional life and finances got nowhere this weekend. I didn’t schedule or plan anything. I didn’t even set an alarm.

It was the best weekend in ages.

The most important part of this weekend to me is that I forgot about my phone quite frequently. I only meant to run in and grab a cup of coffee Sunday morning, but managed to end up reading on the patio for three hours. I totally lost track of time. And I feel so relaxed for it.

Go ahead – be lazy. Unplug a bit. Clear your schedule. Or if you are the kind of person who can’t freestyle a day, schedule in some free time.

Throwing out your to do list, absolving yourself of any guilt, and living 100% in the moment for one day – doing whatever nothing you want to do – will be better than an expensive, exotic vacation.

Daydream. Read. Create. This is your life, you can do what you want. Once you step back and realize how many of your actions are made purely for the benefit of social requirements, you can start taking control of your own life….tomorrow. Today, there’s a nice walk with no destination with your name on it.

In Your Head

Every time you panic, feel afraid, become overwhelmingly sad…try this: step back, away from yourself.

I’ve been worrying a lot lately and it has been affecting all parts of my life.

The application and visa paperwork, subsequent interviews, and ultimately moving around the world is nerve-wracking. The fact that I may not get to do all this is crushing.

I’m moving out of my house to save money, so I’m donating/selling so much of my stuff and living on a friend’s couch for 1.5 months. I don’t care for stuff itself, but the illusion of security, establishment, ‘home’ is gone.

My job will definitely be over by the end of the calendar year. Teaching is the next plan, but if it doesn’t pan out…..I don’t know. I don’t have a career, I don’t know how to adult.

These are just the surface tensions I’m quickly spilling out onto my keyboard. There are so many more worries. Will I be single forever? Where should get my next haircut? I need to fix my posture. My Halloween costume may not be ready in time.

Big and small, these worries are crowding my head and kicking out useful thoughts.

What we all manage to forget in the heat of the moment is that these feelings – love, hate, fear, sadness, anxiety – are not real. (Quick note: Mental illness is very real. I’m discussing feelings, not the see-the-doctor mental state stuff.)

There is no tangible ‘hate’ for me to touch. I don’t hate anymore because the moment I stepped back from my hateful thoughts and realized I had the power to stop those feelings, they began to dissipate. It’s not worth my time, heart, or brain.

Similarly, succumbing to fear has robbed me of my power over me.

I have been letting fear run circles in my head, be an excuse to eat poorly, and distract me from my life.

The first step to real change needs to be small for it to stick. So I’m going to take one small step back. I see all my fears. They are in my head. I am in charge of what’s in my own head.

I’ve decided, right now, to step back and simply applaud myself for taking on the world. It has led to a lot or worry, but even if I fail I still lived.

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston Churchill

“You have fears? Good. That means you’ve gone out on a limb and lived your life.” -Me

Feel free to quote me. 😛

Times Flies And So Will I Soon

I haven’t had much time to myself lately. Now that the weather is finally turning in the direction of fall, electricity bills will naturally start going down. I’m eating with friends at home more, mostly because these wonderful dinners happen on porches.

I’m at a point in my life where my money saving skills are starting to get extreme. I don’t think I can really write relateable material about becoming a homeless couch surfer for 1-1.5 months while I save rent money with the intent of moving around the world. I’m selling my stuff, living out of bags – as of November 1st.

Why the extreme life change? Well, I may be saving money, but it will all be spent on student loans, bills, travel, and moving. My life is heading for a massive change and I must adapt if I want it to be a successful change.

I plan to become an ESL teacher in Korea. That’s the life plan now. With no teaching experience I can only hope that I come across as intelligent, capable, and worthy of the challenge.

I’ve always wanted to travel more, experience more cultures, meet new people, see how I handle language barriers and exotic cultures. I think doing this will make it easier to relate to people so different from me. I’m looking forward to a job that also allows me to actually connect to people, to make a difference.

In my far off dreams, after EPIK, I’d love to do JET (Japan), Open Doors (Chile), and maybe see if China or Vietnam has a national program. Maybe end up in Spain one day.

This isn’t very broke (though it is helping keep me there), lazy (these applications are killer), nor green (I will be flying around the globe after all), but I wanted to share since it is currently taking up most of my time and thoughts. Back to the basic tenants of this site next week, y’all. Promise.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather while we have it!

 

P.S. One quick update, I am back to using only diluted baking soda and diluted apple cider vinegar on my hair. I had to adjust the amount. I use roughly 2-3Tbsp of each in a quart of water. Add more by the teaspoon if it doesn’t seem very effective. I’m glad I tried again; I can go 3 days before my hair looks a bit unwashed so I only need to wash it 2 times a week. It has lightening in color and has better volume now!

I love My Mom

My mom will be in town this week, so I am struggling to think of anything but what we’ll be doing. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Therefore, this weekend I will not be living cheaply, nor will I be lazing about, though I can still make this a green-ish visit.

We will have no car, relying on public transit. I’ll still be choosing vegetarian meals. And I think it is rather green to be taking advantage of all our community offers: our City Park, a few museums, paddle boats on the lake, people watching through downtown.

I’m looking forward to eating all I want, too. I will certainly be hella broke after this whole weekend. It will be worth it. Living far from my family means I rarely get to see them and it is usually an all day travel nightmare (let’s not even mention airplane pollution).

I’m equally excited for a few days off of work. It’s been one of those weeks and is looking like it will be one of those quarters around here. You know what I’m talking about – when you are so tightly wound you feel like snapping, nothing you do seems good enough, you are eventually so worried and anxious and paralyzed that you start doing worse at work. I need a way to unwind.

Some people unwind by shopping, drinking, eating poorly, among many other vices. I often sleep. I am prone to depression and have been battling a recent bout. When I’m depressed, stressed, anxious, or generally upset I often overeat then sleep. I sleep often and too long, I shut down.

I’m grateful that my mom’s visit is timed to give me a more positive way to unwind. I love my family and am excited to share these experiences. Family will be my anti-depressant this weekend and all the fun stuff I’d let pass otherwise will be exciting to experience.

I’m committed to making lifestyle changes to benefit the earth and its inhabitants. It’s easy to forget to make small changes that benefit me first and foremost. Becoming aware of my feelings and making proactive efforts to work through them is the nicest thing I can do for myself. Lately I’ve been uptight, short, and letting it all slide. My mom’s impending visit and my increased awareness (and support of a few chosen friends) will help me make it through this.

Thank you for reading through this post. It means a lot to me and I hope you remember to put yourself first once in a while too. We both deserve it.

Credit Cards and My New Favorite Book

I went over my budget recently and realized that food is my weakness.

I’m not exactly buying fancy, Whole Foods groceries here. It’s the little, insidious things that really start to add up. I’ll tell my friends no when they ask about dinner or drinks…then I usually cave about half the time. And spend what my mind has already decided I won’t spend.

Why is it so easy? Plastics make it possible.

I keep my credit card purchases within a payable range, I pay mine off every month. I know I’m very lucky that I can do that, but I realize I’m also borrowing against the freedom of my future for instant gratification.

So I cut up my credit card.

Well, I stuck it through the shredder at work. And I’m not calling for a replacement until I need to buy a plane ticket home for Christmas.

I really thought it would be freeing. It is. It is also scary as hell. Credit cards are a great security blanket. “Just in case things are a bit more expensive.” “Just in case we go a little wild.” “Just in case I find something I like.” That ‘Just In Case’ security blanket is slowly draining my wallet….and perversely I’m often thankful for that!

I’m tired of making a budget and not sticking to it. I’m tired of living in fear of going out. When I go out, I have what is in my bank account or cash. This works for me because the day my paycheck arrives in my account I pay any bill that will be due before the next paycheck. I do this IMMEDIATELY.

So how am I enjoying my frightening financial freedom? I’m walking more, playing Ingress. I’m reading many free library books.

I wait to pronounce judgement on a book until after I’ve read it. Then I am offering a fully informed position. Not this book!

I’m currently reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I am inspired. I have actually laughed out loud several times. Each time I pick up this book I can’t decide if I want to homestead or just make one of her incredible recipes (if it’s in season).

I love gardening even though I’m not good at it yet. I love being outdoors more than the bugs who feast upon me. I may ask for this for Christmas so I can stay inspired year round.