Sunday, February 23, 2014

The truth (and my weekly meal plan)

If you were a reader of my past blogs, you may remember that I have typically strived, in my writing, to describe the simple pleasures that make our days whole and render life so very beautiful. This generally included a positive spin coupled with a tight spotlight on life's sweetest moments. Flowers, yoga, tea, and inspirational quotes were in high supply. This was representative of how I chose to see the world for a long while. My mantra? It's all good. To admit to anything less than total happiness would be ungrateful, messy, dangerous even.

But, things are changing, and I'm changing too. Perhaps I'm getting old. Perhaps I'm getting wise. Maybe it's the simple fact that I've been reading more in both volume and breadth. Whatever it is, I've noticed my worldview shift in some not-so-subtle ways. One of said shifts has been my realization that most effective writers embrace those messy bits, hunt them down even. In fact, the voices I have come to admire most are the ones that show up, day after day, willing to tell the uncensored truth about their realities: to reveal the parts that are cracked and to shine light on the patches of dark. It's not all good, they say, but you know what? It happened and I'm still here. Let's talk about it.

Thinking of this, I am reminded of Hemingway's directive: "Write hard and clear about what hurts." While my feelings toward Hemingway could perhaps be best described as complicated, I have always found a raw sort of inspiration in these instructions. The parts that hurt, after all, are what make us human and, furthermore, what allow us to appreciate the pleasure in contrast. Telling the whole story takes vulnerability. But, in the end, it's the only real chance we have of relating to each other, of looking one another in the eyes and recognizing a piece of ourselves within.

I guess all of this was just a long way of saying that I am trying to inject my writing (and, by extension, my life) with a bit more truth. And the truth is that these past few weeks have felt really hard. Like, really hard. Februaries have always been difficult. Even with plentiful doses of bright Colorado sun, the waning weeks of winter seem to stretch on without end. But, for some reason, this time, the season has felt even darker for me and last week, I finally worked up the courage to admit to myself and a few people around me that I was experiencing more than the usual winter blues.

Amidst this, it seems there's been a disproportionate number of terrible things happening. An acquaintance mourned the sudden death of a best friend. A beloved horse was laid to pasture after complications with colic. A friend's ceiling collapsed, the result of a freak flood. And yesterday, I got word that my dad had fallen on the icy driveway, tearing a tendon and fracturing a fibula. My parents live out in the country, two states and fourteen hours away. My mom will keep things together, but the next two months will be rough for them.

Even if I were in a sunnier state of mind, it would have been a weird and difficult week. It felt like too much, but of course, it wasn't too much. It just was. It happened - is happening - and I'm doing my best.

The ways that I cope with pain are profoundly simple and three-fold. I run. I write. I cook. Run, write, cook. Not even yoga makes the cut. Something about the sheer physical difficulty of running forces me to clear my mind of everything but the need for oxygen. Music pounding, calves throbbing, lungs burning. It's a prayer when I need one. It's hard and clear and it simultaneously hurts and feels good.

So I run, I write, and I cook as if my life depended on it. A word about the cooking; it is not always a pleasure and on the grayest of days it can be a downright chore, but it is always pragmatic to be well-fed and that practicality alone is a kind of quotidian joy. There is meditation in the chopping of vegetables, and sometimes tears (caused by onions or perhaps not). There is satisfaction in choosing just the right herb. There is even rebellion in the very act of nourishing your body with wholesome and home-cooked foods in a world of quick-fix convenience. It's real and good, hard and clear, all at once. I don't do it because I want to; I do it because I have to, because it grounds me and I would feel completely adrift if I didn't.

Monday: Ginger Scallion Pork Meatballs with a side of steamed bok choy
Tuesday: Baked Lemon Chicken over Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano
Wednesday: Rosemary Lemon and Garlic Lamb with Sweet Potato Noodles
Thursday: Leftover Lemon Chicken with Caesar salad
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: I'm going to an evening event in Denver, so no planned meal.
Sunday: Paleo Shrimp & Grits (I'll add some sautéed kale or spinach to it)


  1. I really appreciated this post, Analiese--I love your insights about honesty and bringing to light the fullness of our realities. It takes a lot to be vulnerable but I agree that it makes for the best writing. Thank you!

  2. Thank you Allison! I really appreciate that.

  3. I love this post, but you already know that! I love it times a million.