From Frivolous to Significant

For the past few weeks, I have been feeling embarrassingly glum.  I felt unmotivated, unimportant, and unenthusiastic.  I lost interest in things that typically make my happy, like baking, renovating my house and spending time with family.  After thinking about what could be causing this drastic change in attitude, I realized it was the fact that I had nothing in the immediate future to look forward to.  I thought that writing would help me better organize and articulate my feelings, which it did at first, but then it brought thoughts of rejection and insignificance.  I explored my contacts and even reached out to a magazine editor, but none of my ideas were panning out.  (I understand I just started becoming serious about several weeks ago, but as a person with little, if any, patience, lack of progress is devastating.)  The negative thoughts just kept coming and then I would feel worse about myself for not accomplishing anything because of my lack of energy; normally an active person, an over-achiever at times.

Luckily, thanks to my father, I now have something to look forward to in the near future.  He knew I was struggling to find my career path and that I was unhappy and recommended that I get my real estate license.  It was like he was Geppetto and I was his broken clock.  Although I knew what was wrong with me, I was unable to fix myself; I needed guidance, someone who knew my cogs and dials.  Like my father, I have a great interest in real estate.  He definitely has the edge on me as far as construction and renovations, but I understand the financial aspects of real estate and have work experience to show for it.  With this unique knowledge and the boost of confidence I received from his recommendation, I am ready to pursue a new career path and have a clear understanding of the steps needed to do so.  The morning after his suggestion, I contacted the real estate agent that my parents and I used for the purchase of four different properties in the last few years and asked her for advice.  As if everything was meant to be, she seemed as excited as I was that I was pursuing a career in real estate.  She recommended a realty school to me and even offered to continue assisting me as a new real estate agent.  I can think of no better expression than to say “it turned my frown upside down.”

After deciding to focus on real estate, I was unsure if I should continue pursuing my passion for writing as well.  Since I wasn’t getting anywhere as a professional writer, I initially thought I should just give it up and quit wasting my time.  However, a few days after this, I received an Easter present from my aunt that made me wonder if I should change my opinion on writing.  Her Easter gift to me was a weekend away to New Hampshire for a change of scenery to improve my writing.  For someone who does not typically write to research ways to improve writing skill was incredible to me.  It’s always a good feeling to know that others care about your interests, but to go to that length is truly amazing.  Although I was deeply touched by my aunt’s gesture, I still was not 100% convinced that I should still continue writing.  But once again, Dad comes to the rescue.  He probably had no idea how meaning full his one sentence text message would be to me, but it is the final push I needed to feel motivated to write about my thoughts again.  His text was a recommendation of a website that he saw that had tips on writing a book.  Although it was a simple text, knowing that he is encouraging me to continue writing is better than hearing back from any magazine or newspaper editor.  It reminded me that having the support of family is more important than having professional accolades.

Needless to say, these recent events have definitely pulled me out of my funk.  Though it is difficult to imagine positivity when feeling so gloomy, I hope that I remember to look back on this post if I ever find myself in such a gloomy state again.

Daily Post: Frivolous

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FODMAP Diet: Reintroducing Chocolate

Chocolate is a FODMAP friendly ingredient as long as it is eaten in moderation.  Because the low FODMAP chocolate cake I have been making is just not the same as the regular version I had made alterations to, I decided to test my chocolate intolerance by using the original recipe again.  I ate a piece of this cake this past Friday afternoon and it was amazing – moist, dense and intense dark chocolate flavor- and did not seem to bother me.  The following afternoon my stomach started gurgling as I was eating my lunch: a hamburger on a gluten-free roll and a small serving of coleslaw.  The gurgling turned into a 30 minute bathroom visit followed by stomach pains.  I blamed either the fat content of the hamburger (even though I patted the grease off the burger with a few napkins) or the possibility of the roll not being gluten free as I was at a busy a restaurant.  The next morning, Easter, I was still feeling a bit off, but no bathroom episodes, so I felt positive about eating Easter lunch later in the day.  I ate lunch (roast beef, green beans and onion-free potato salad) and still no problems.  Feeling fine, I decided to eat another piece of the same chocolate cake I had Friday.  BIG MISTAKE!  I felt bloated and uncomfortable the rest of the afternoon; I woke up in the middle of the night feeling extremely nauseous and had another bathroom episode that morning (which is today).  Right now, I think I’m finally starting to feel back to myself, but I had to leave work a few hours early because I felt so uncomfortably bloated and nauseous.  Although I should be saying I’ll never eat chocolate again, that would just be a plain lie.  I suppose I’ll just go back to the drawing board and search for another FODMAP friendly recipe or keep experimenting with alterations to existing recipes I have in my massive rolodex.  Although this weekend was not the greatest of my FODMAP journey, at least I know that chocolate is a problem for me.

Another complication I have been experiencing lately is a feeling of shakiness and jitteriness.  After considering the various diet changes I have made, it is likely a cause of the higher carbohydrates in the gluten free products I am eating.  I haven’t felt this way in a while because I stopped eating foods high in sugar and made sure to eat a balanced meal with more protein and vegetables than carbs.  Also, when baking, I always reduced the sugar that the original recipe called for and opted for lower glycemic sugars like coconut sugar.  I haven’t been using coconut sugar because I’ve seen mixed opinions on including coconut sugar in the FODMAP diet.  I’m also unsure about incorporating coconut flour (a low carb alternative) into my diet.  I have had a lot of success so far with this diet as far as eliminating stomach pain, nausea, bloating and distension, but now that I am noticing this new side effect, I need to do more research to figure out how to make my tummy happy and my blood sugar levels happy at the same time.  Although I do not have diabetes, I have always been very sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels, so I think my plan now is to research FODMAP friendly options for people with diabetes.  It gets frustrating at times, to be so limited in food choices, but I know other people have worse problems than IBS.  So, with that, I will conduct some new research on diet alternatives and hopefully have some better luck in the weeks to come.

Priceless

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I recently decided to write a biography of my grandmother’s (a.k.a. nana’s) life.  Right now, it is in the initial stages, with a few interviews complete.  Although it is early in the process, I think a quote from Rodman Philbrick perfectly explains my enthusiasm for this project.  “The only real treasure is in your head. Memories are better than diamonds and nobody can steal them from you.”  Hearing stories of my nana’s past while watching her expressions is priceless.

My nana has shared with me some of her daring and rebellious moments as well as her scandalous love affairs. (In all honesty, her romantic life was not totally outrageous, but since I know she will be reading this, I’m having a bit of fun).  She has also helped me to understand the great differences in lifestyle then and now.  From her many examples, it is clear that back when she was growing up, nothing was ever wasted and certain things like bread and butter where considered luxuries.

I have yet to convince my nana how fascinating her history is.  She has made comments like “I don’t remember much of anything” or “Another interview, what more is there to tell?”  Yet, as I focus on specific questions, she opens up and fills me with more knowledge than I even anticipated.  Little does she know that the interviews have only begun and there will be many more before I have a strong enough grasp of her history to write a proper biography.  (Again, I know she will be reading this and am sure she will have some words to say about this.)

The main reason I wanted to write this biography was to put my nana’s memories to paper so they are not lost and can be remembered for generations to come.  However, I also selfishly hoped to learn more about my grandfather’s (a.k.a. papa’s) past.  He passed when I was only 10 years old and I feel like I was deprived of stories he may have told me as I grew older.  The fact that I feel I am missing a part of papa’s life makes me crave as much information from my nana’s life as possible to ensure that this feeling of unfinished business does not happen again.

My original intention for this project was for my nana to be the teacher and me to be the student.  Although that is still the goal, I also hope that through this project I can impress upon my nana that although she may not be a celebrity, her story is still one of strength, hardship and at times humor.  In my eyes, she is a hero, albeit a clumsy one, but a hero nonetheless.

 

Daily Prompt: Price

 

The Window and the Mind

The window was opened to breathe the fresh air.

The mind was opened to inspire the new idea.

The scent of mowed lawns and chirping birds flowed through the window.

The plans and thoughts and visions and dreams flowed through the mind.

The hours passed and a storm blew in, causing the closing of the window.

The hours passed and reality hit, causing the wavering of the mind.

The window was strong and held up to the rain.

The mind was strong and held up to the pain.

The window will survive the storm and be opened tomorrow.

The mind will overcome the doubt and defeat the sorrow.

 

Daily Prompt – Window

The Daily Fight

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Everyday feels like a fight to put out the growing embers of self-doubt, negativity and confusion. My career and lifestyle did not turn out the way I had imagined.  Looking back on old high school essays, my aspirations at the age of 18 entailed a marriage, children and ownership of a small bakery business.  None of those dreams have turned into a reality ten years later.  Although, I still hope to start a family at some point in my life, I am proud of my accomplishments and independence as a single home-owner.  However, the fact that I have not successfully achieved independence in my career as a small business owner gnaws at me constantly like hunger pains that cannot be satisfied.

Choosing to purchase a home now seems like both a blessing and a curse. I adore my house and all the comforts that come along with it, such as privacy, quiet time and freedom to invite company.  Yet, homeownership also means a dreaded monthly mortgage payment and unexpected home repairs (furnace death, roof ailments and electrical disorders to name a few).  With such a demanding financial burden, it is quite frankly terrifying to consider taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.  If I lost my house, it would feel as though I had lost a piece of my identity.  My house represents independence, ambition and determination.  Nevertheless, the strong feelings I have toward my house do not compensate for the ache I have for career independence.

I have considered many options including an at-home bakery, an Excel spreadsheet maintenance and creation business and now a freelance writing career. The former two plans always seem to spark and then fizzle out over time.  The bakery would involve adherence to strict health regulations that I have difficulty interpreting while the Excel business was ruled out rather quickly because I want to break away from my current career in finance and accounting.  This field has yet to bring me a sense of fulfillment.  Although I may have a talent for numbers, formulas and financial principles, it does not translate into enthusiasm, excitement or eagerness.  The last and most recent option, freelance writing, has brought back a sense of pleasure that I have not experienced in many years.  I am diving into it head first.  So far, I queried a home improvement magazine pitching a few articles on some of the DIY projects I completed on my home, I applied to an interesting freelance posting involving article writing for local small businesses and their start-up stories and I created this WordPress blog.

The writing world is still very new to me, but I refuse to let that become an excuse to let the writing spark fizzle. I have spent many hours researching the industry, bookmarking helpful sites and reading stories about those who were once in my position.  Nevertheless, I still struggle to overcome a lingering feeling of uncertainty as though I know my destination, but I lack the map to get there.  As a person who prepares lunch for the next work day, lays out exercise clothes for the next morning and writes lists of to-dos for the week, this uncertainty is unnerving to say the least.  I need to constantly remind myself that positive outcomes are possible even without the aid of a specific plan or outline.  Completing this prompt today has served as that daily reminder and now I can see smoking ashes where the embers of flame once were only moments ago.thYD3RNLVTDaily Prompt: Fight

Resting on the Shelf

Resting on a shelf, hiding in a room, craving to be opened lays an assortment of cook books gathering dust. It is disgraceful to subject these culinary companions to this betrayal.  What is the reason for such treachery?  The answer lies in the very next room, the room of renovations.

New ceilings, new windows, new doors stole the spotlight.  They needed attention, they needed compound and prime and paint.  Though those pages of sweet literary nourishment need not worry, the pain they have been suffering is but temporary.  The room of renovations is nearly complete and a festival of baking will ensue to honor the deed.

The dust will be removed, the pages will be freed, the knowledge will be spread.  Rest well on that idle shelf hungry guides, for soon that shelf will become the shelf of activity.

Daily Prompt – Shelf

 

Childhood vs. Adulthood

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I wish I still had the mind-set of a child, where my deepest worry was contemplating what to bring in for show and tell.  Now, every day is full of worries: will my real estate investments pay off in the future, or will my lack of diversification hurt my retirement; will I be able to figure out a meaningful career path, or will I fulfill what feels like a lifelong sentence of monotony and boredom; will I become lonely as I age if I do not start a family or will I continue to enjoy my freedom and independence?  Not to say that every single day revolves around apprehensive thoughts, but some days are more of a struggle than others.  I have learned that certain activities help take my mind off these recurring fears: running, reading and now writing.  Writing is not a new passion of mine, but it is one that I have shunted many years.  Seeing my emotions in the written word makes them feel more manageable.  For any Harry Potter fans, I liken the experience to withdrawing my thoughts with a wand and pouring them into a Pensieve.  It relieves a burden; they are no longer trapped and hidden.

Lately, I have been thinking about how differently our minds work in childhood and adulthood, even simply my thoughts on trees.  As I child, my first thought would be, “I wonder how high I could climb in that tree,” whereas now I think, “I wish my neighbor would cut that tree down so I don’t have to rake all its leaves that fall on my property.”  Continuing on that thought, raking was a fun activity years ago that involved carelessly jumping in piles of leaves, now it is a weekend chore that involves mutant moths attacking me at every chance.  It is strange how our attitudes can do an about face over the years.  I’d like to think someday I’ll revert back to the old way of thinking and now is just a temporary period of petulance.

The words to the new song, “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots also struck me, “I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink, but now I’m insecure and I care what people think.”  I have been told by my mother that when I was a toddler, I brightened a stranger’s day by randomly dancing in the middle of a checkout line.  Although, I would still like to brighten someone’s day if I had the chance, I can’t imagine doing it in the same fashion.  I wish that weren’t the case.  I wish I could be more relaxed and ignorant of other’s judgements, but I struggle to do so.  A high school classmate once told me he knew one day I would break out of my shell of reserved shyness, but it hasn’t happened yet and I feel disappointed in myself that I have not yet fulfilled that goal.  Although, I think I have become slightly less quiet than I was in high school, I still have a long way to go; so far there is just a small crack in that shell.

The biggest difference is my attitude towards getting out of bed.  I vividly remember when I was younger that I would dash out of bed the second my eyes opened.  I didn’t want to miss a second of the day.  After all, I had to get in some decent pogo stick time, practice Chinese jump rope and maybe some hopscotch if there was time.  I even remember asking my mother why she didn’t feel the same way about getting up immediately.  I can’t remember her exact response, but I know the reason now as an adult.  Now, getting out of bed means getting ready for work or doing weekend chores; nothing as exciting as childhood pastimes.  I also remember promising myself I would always get out of bed right when I woke up and I never wanted to understand the reason why anyone would feel differently.  I suppose I didn’t understand the snooze button at that age.

I think it’s important to remember the childhood version of ourselves.  As adults, there are a lot of responsibilities that get in the way of being creative.  Just looking back to some of my memories increases my desire to change up the monotony in my life.  Brushing up my writing skills and finding interesting ways to put writing to use in unique ways will continue to be my goal for the near future.  Who knows, maybe someday I’ll even have the confidence to bust a move for someone feeling glum.