Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The "F-Word"

I'd like to address a trend I've seen on Instagram: using the "f-word" towards things (especially psychiatric disorders) and people. (I'm assuming that I don't need to spell out the word for you and that you know what word I'm talking about.) 

I know that the "f-word" is a cuss word and that people like to use it to describe how they feel. But when they do that, are they remembering what the "f-word" means? To be explicit, yet vague, it's a term used to describe sexual intercourse. Given that, do people really want to "f" depression, eating disorders, OCD, negative opinions, and critical words? Sexual intercourse is an intimate act. Do people really want to get intimate with psychiatric disorders and people who are cruel? I don't think so. I think they want these things to "bug off," to "get lost."

The first time I heard someone use the "f-word" correctly was in a description of a sexual assault the person endured. That wasn't a good thing. So again I ask, do people really want to use the "f-word?" Do they want to speak of the thing that are violent to thm (e.g.the depression that steals people's happiness, eating disorders that strip bodies of nutrients and health, OCD that torments people with obsessions, negative opinions that lead to guilt and shame) using a word associated with violence? I don't think so! 

William Madsen, a narrative therapist, suggests that the language people use is important. In his book Collaborative Therapy with Multi-Stressed Families he writes, “Militaristic metaphors such as beating, kicking, or thrashing a problem fit with patriarchal ways of being in the world and have the potential to replicate those ways of being at the same time that we are seeking alternatives to them” (p. 208). Based on his assertion and the thought I've shared above, I'd like to make a suggestion: If you're really upset about something, use your words. Describe the negative effect that thing has had on your life. Show pictures of the devastation. Ask another person to write a testimony about what they saw you experience. Just don't use the "f-word." It's not descriptive. It will keep some people from reading your post. And most of all, it will further propel the trend of fighting violence with violence.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summer Produce Oatmeal

Have summer produce lying around? If you're rich in zucchini or summer squash, this is the recipe for you!

Yes, it's more chocolate, but chocolate makes for a good breakfast. Don't you think? You'll definitely think so after you try this oatmeal.


1/2 c quick cooking oats
1 -1/2 1/2 c water

1/2-1 c shredded zucchini or summer squash
2 T dark cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger

1/4 t cardamom


1. Bring oats, shredded squash and 1 cup of water to a boil and reduce heat to medium. 
2. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Add more water if needed.
3. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl, and add desired toppings (yogurt, nut butters, chocolate chips, etc).

Monday, July 24, 2017

When You Feel Like Crap

I recently experienced a few days long stretch where I felt like crap. Physically, I felt tired and heavy and lethargic. Mentally, I wasn't on my A-game. I didn't really want to be nice to people or even associate with them. It was like I'd woken up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed too many days in a row. When I woke up that Sunday morning, I really didn't want to do anything, but I felt convicted that I needed to take care of myself and try to keep going. How do I take care of myself when I feel like crap? For me, it often looks like living out my dad's adage, "Do the next right thing."

1) I make sure to read my Bible and get in my devotional time. It's possible that I feel like crap because I'm disconnected from God, or I am experiencing spiritual attack. In either case, I need to make sure I'm filling my mind with TRUTH and connecting to Holy Spirit power.

2) Eat good food. It's really tempting to either eat junk food or not eat when I feel yucky, especially physically. But eating junk or not eating isn't going to make me feel better. So I keep finding things that I can stomach. For me, that often looks like plain oatmeal, protein shakes, eggs, and fresh produce. Simple carbohydrates and proteins help recovery from lots of ailments. Fruits and veggies are full of good vitamins.

3) Rest. Sometimes the last thing I want to do when I feel crappy is rest. I'd rather do a bunch of stuff to distract myself, or try to do something that will make me feel worthwhile and valuable. But that's not really a good plan. So I sit on the floor and read or crochet or nap. A lot of the time, I do both.

4) Maintain perspective. This too shall pass, so I try to focus on getting through the day and not dwelling on the downs of it. Often, I spend a few minutes writing a list in my journal of what's going right.

5) Talk to a few people. Not everybody needs to know I'm struggling, but talking to family and close friends about how I feel helps. It also lets them know that if (or unfortunately when) I snap, it's not about them.

This is how I cope when I feel like crap, but what do you do? Please post your "next right thing" in the comments section below.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Salted Lemon Apple Oats

If you've perused my blog, you know that I'm into oats. It's hot and humid here because of Arizona's monsoon season, however, and lately a warm bowl of porridge hasn't sounded good. These, however, hit the spot.

If you're looking for a nice summer oatmeal recipe, this might be it. Fresh lemon + crisp apple + a nice topping of salt = summer bliss.


1/2 c quick cooking oats
1 1/2 c water
1 apple, diced

1 T lemon juice
A sprinkle of coarse salt (I used red Hawaiian sea salt.)


1. Bring oats, apple, and water to a boil and reduce heat to medium. 
2. Stir in lemon juice.
3. When oats reach desired consistency and apples are tender, transfer oatmeal to a bowl.

4. Top with a sprinkle of coarse salt and dig in.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'm Still Eating Coconut Oil.

You might not be able to tell, but there's coconut oil on my pancake. 

Yes, I'm still eating it.

I've seen a lot of people freaking out over the American Heart Association's advisory against saturated fat (which I might note is about reducing all saturated fat, not just the kind in coconut oil). They're saying we shouldn't eat it, or at least that we should replace it with a "better fat." You know what? Coconut oil is my "better fat." I used to eat margarine and spreads with trans fat. And "they" said that wasn't good for you. I could see the logic, as trans fats are man made, so I decided to make a switch to a more natural, more "whole" food. (This is what I decided to do. You do what works for you.) I started with butter and didn't like the taste. Then somehow, I stumbled upon coconut oil, and the flavor grew on me. So I made the switch to coconut oil as my bread spread and baking oil (though sometimes I use olive oil if its flavor fits better with what I'm making.) And I liked it.

To be honest, I've only skimmed the American Heart Association article and I'm not dwelling on it because I've already made my decision about what I'm going to do. I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing because you know what's worse for me than coconut oil? Stress. If I really believe everything I read about food and health, there will be nothing to eat and more exercise than I could possibly do. I'm choosing to be content with my life and my current way of doing things. If you're convicted differently, great! But I'll take your coconut oil.

*Thanks to Emily Fonnesbeck for her article that inspired this post.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Authentic Living: Creative Expression

I got the urge to paint my toes bright green. I didn't know why. And I didn't even own neon green nail polish. So I bought some. Yes, it was a splurge. Yes, I bought a nail polish that was more expensive than some of the other options available. Yes, I might never use the nail polish again. Yes, I didn't need it in the physical sense.

But in the figurative, non-literal, self-care sense, I needed this. I needed to do something different. I needed to feel wild and crazy. I needed to indulge myself. 

I must admit that I initially felt a little bit guilty about this purchase, but then I realized that I spent a whole whopping $4. If I never use this nail polish again, but it met my intuitive need for authenticity on this day, it was worth it. (And I've rationalized my decision by telling myself that pedicures cost a lost more than $4. Pedicures aren't wrong either, just not what I needed on this day of life.) This is my form of creative expression, who I am in this moment. I'm embracing it. I'm embracing life.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Afghan 52

My dear friend and former roommate gifted me with a book of crochet patterns entitled Sarah's Stitches for Christmas 2011. I didn't use it for a little bit, as I was a creature of habit and always made the same afghans over and over again. But then this same dear friend told me about the importance of changing routines for brain plasticity, memory, and preventing dementia. So I started trying to see how many new afghan patterns I could try.

With my hand issues, I can only crochet about three rows a day, but that's still something. And the hand issues have forced me to accept imperfections and move on. Praise the Lord, this make's the sixth afghan I've completed from the book.

So without further adieu, here's afghan 52, the Antarctic pattern from Berroco, made with all the scrap yarn I could find in my stores, as well as Red Heart's soft navy acrylic yarn:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Eustress vs. Distress

"You're a lot less stressed at this job than the last one." Mom said. And you know what? She's right. I started this job about a month ago and I'm overwhelmed. I'm stressed. But it's a different kind of stress than before.

My old job was a good one. I had talented, driven, passionate coworkers. I had a nice stand-up desk in my office, a window with an outside view, daily time outdoors, good medical and retirement benefits, etc. But the job wasn't me. I found myself constantly striving, trying to fit a mold, longing to be my authentic self in counseling, but not being able to do it.

There are two kids of stress: distress (the bad kind) and eustress (the good kind). Distress results from pressure I'm not able to deal with. It yields overwhelming gloom, helplessness, and in serious cases, hopelessness. There's no way out and the body's response is fight, flight or freeze.

Eustress is the good kind of stress, the stress that makes me aware, helps me learn, pushes me to become a better person. So far, this new job is a fit for me. It allows me to meet with and help people. It puts me out in the community. It provides opportunities to work towards professional counseling licensure. It teaches me about life and people.

Yes, I'm stressed. I'm not sleeping as well as I'd like. I struggle to shut down my mind and rest. But the stress I'm experiencing is good. Therefore, I'm choosing to thank God for the stress, even if what I'd really like is a nice calm life.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Authentic Living: Clothing

I bought new clothes a few Sundays ago. I haven't bought new clothes since, I don't know...last fall? I think I bought a coat and some yoga pants then. That Sunday? I bought three shirts (hello Target 3 for $20 sale) and a pair of long back yoga pants. It was hard for me. 

I don't like clothes shopping for a lot of reasons. First, I have to reconcile spending the money (which the Lord has given me, but which I often feel guilty using for myself). Second, I have to deal with choosing the clothes. Some people think it's easy to be a smaller size, and I know that thin privilege does exist, but I have to confess that I'm not comfortable in my body a lot of the time. Contrary to popular opinion, not all clothes look good on you when you're thin. They sag and gap and hang in all the wrong places. I also feel self-conscious wearing clothes that expose a lot of my long, gangly arms and legs. Finding clothes that cover me is difficult. Third, I recognize that I am "small" for my size, so I always want to buy clothes that are too big for me, arguing that I'll "grow into them." I want to buy for the future so that I won't have to experience the pain of getting rid of clothes that get too small.

But you know what? When I buy clothes that don't fit, I'm not living authentically. I'm not living in the now.  I recognize that I probably "should" gain weight to be a more healthy size, but this is where I am for today. So I'm embracing it and buying clothes that fit. Then I can enjoy wearing them and not leave them hanging in my closet. And if and when these clothes don't fit, I'll have to acknowledge that pain, process it, and purchase more clothes. Maybe Target will have another sale....

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Great Big Burrito Search

Some of you probably saw my recent Instagram post about digging Mexican food. Yeah, I've been craving it lately. But I'm also on a personal mission to find the best burrito in town.

Before you get too excited, I should clarify that I'm pretty picky about my burritos. I want a bean burrito without cheese. (I like cheese, but not with beans.) I don't label myself vegetarian, but I'm not a big fan of meat, or the spices used on meat at Mexican restaurants. So I'm looking for a bean or vegetable burrito. I like avocados, but only in chocolate banana pudding, so hold the avocado and guacamole. (Plain avocado tastes soapy to me.) Enough criteria? Okay, okay. Moving on to the burritos, here I'll review each burrito's ingredients, tortilla, price, and overall flavor. Then I'll give a star rating. I am a BIG fan of salsa, so restaurants with good salsa get extra points!

1 star: Blah. I wouldn't go here for a burrito again.
2 stars: Okay, but not overly flavorful, or having some off-putting element 
3 stars: Getting there, but lacking some of my favorite flavor components.
4 stars: Yum! I'd go here again.
5 stars: The perfect veggie burrito. (I'm not sure this exists.)

Bean burrito (no cheese) at Garcia's (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Refried beans inside the tortilla, topped with red enchilada sauce and a side of lettuce and tomato.

Tortilla: Run-of-the-mill food service.

Price: Don't remember, but I thought it was too much.

Flavor: Lacking. I took most of this home to doctor up. After adding chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and more salsa, it was decent.

Overall: 1 star

Bean burrito (no cheese) at Oliva's Mexican Food (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Refried beans inside the tortilla, with red enchilada sauce on top and a side of lettuce, tomato, and an olive.

Tortilla: Likely traditional food service. Large and soft, but nothing special.

Price: $7.50 for an a la carte burrito

Flavor: Decent when I added salsa.The beans were a bit liquidy, though, and the enchilada sauce was too plentiful.

Overall: 2 stars
Bean burrito (no cheese) at Plaza Bonita (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Refried beans inside the tortilla, with red enchilada sauce on top. I asked Dad for his pico de gallo, too.

Tortilla: On the small side and tough enough to have come from a store-bought package.

Price: I don't know. Dad paid for this burrito as my birthday dinner.

Flavor: Great!

Overall: 3 stars for the burrito, but knocked down to 2 stars because of poor service. If I ordered this again, I'd order to go.

Vegetarian burrito (no avocado or olives) at Cafe 51 (Ahwatukee, Arizona)

Ingredients: Lettuce, tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, and cilantro, with sides of sour cream and salsa

Tortilla: Not homemade, but extra-large, flaky, and soft

Price: $6.39

Flavor: Excellent, given that this burrito contained no beans. The cilantro balanced perfectly with the veggies.

Overall: 3 stars
Vegetable burrito (no guacamole) at Alfonso's Mexican Food (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Rice, beans (refried with a few whole pinto beans), green pepper, onion, and pico de gallo).

Tortilla: Definitely homemade, or at least cooked fresh on the grill! Thick and hearty, but a bit crispy in places.

Price: $4.95

Flavor: A little bland, but authentic. The peppers and onions were crisply sauteed, which I appreciated.

Extras: Salsa bar with red and green enchilada sauce and three types of salsa, plus radishes, limes, and pickled carrots and peppers.

Overall: 4 stars

Veggie burrito at Riliberto's (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, and some kind of sauce (possibly avocado based, but I didn't mind it).

Tortilla: HUGE! (I could only eat half of this burrito). Probably food service.

Price: $5.99

Flavor: Excellent! The sauce added good flavor and the balance of fresh lettuce and tomatoes to beans and rice was excellent.

Extras: Salsa bar with red and green salsa, a green sauce, and a creamy red sauce, plus some pickled vegetables. I went back probably five times for more.

Overall: 4 stars

Veggie wrap (no avocado) at Sweet Potato Cafe Restaurant (Prescott, Arizona)

Ingredients: Black beans, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and chipotle sauce. This isn't technically a burrito, but it had similar ingredients. 

Tortilla: Factory made, but soft

Price: $7.99

Flavor: Not a traditional bean burrito, but great as a wrap

Extras: Served with excellent sweet potato fries!

Overall: 3 stars as a burrito, 4 stars as a wrap

Veggie burrito at Los Taquitos (Ahwatukee, Arizona) 

Ingredients: Super smooth refried beans and rice (mixed together) with tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, cilantro, and pico de gallo.

Tortilla: Possibly homemade. Soft and yummy where wrapped around the burrito, but a bit hard on the edges.

Flavor: Excellent! I didn't even need to add salsa.

Extras: The red and green sauces pictured were spicy and bitter. Luckily, I only tried them on the end of my burrito, and the burrito itself tasted better without them.

Price: $5.00

Overall: 4 stars

Winner so far? Alfonso's!

Arizona friends, what other burritos do you recommend I try?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Authentic Living: Makeup

My parents bought and allowed me to wear makeup after I turned 16. For a while, I was ascetic and didn't use it. Then I really got into the light blue eye shadow and the glitter. As a senior, my friend showed me how to wear liquid foundation and I enjoyed Thursdays, the day I didn't have early bird and could spend more time on my hair and makeup. Next came college, when I wore makeup most of the time and usually only didn't wear it when I felt crappy about myself.

Fast forward to my early work days and then a Mary Kay party that taught me how to better care for my skin, and how to best apply foundation (with a brush, hello!). But somewhere in there, I stopped liking wearing makeup so much. I felt self conscious that makeup would make my face look splotchy, like in this photo:

In grad school, I only wore makeup and dressed up on days that I had clients. I believed they would respect me more if I did. On days I didn't have clients, and on church days, I skipped the makeup. Slowly but sure, I wore less and less. I got to where I didn't want to wear makeup, where I felt inauthentic wearing it. But I wore it anyway.

This past year, I wore makeup to work because I worked with high schoolers and thought I needed it to show that I was older and more mature than them. I really hated it. Towards the end, I started just wearing mascara, cover-up, and a little bronzer, and it felt right.

My mom and I had a discussion that wearing no makeup at all seems very noticeable (since makeup is a societal norm), but that maybe I could wear less. So I've continued on with the foundation as a cover up under my eyes and on red spots, a little bronzer, and my favorite Maybelline mascara. With this heat, less makeup has been a blessing, as foundation isn't dripping off my face or smearing on my phone or getting any other place it shouldn't be.

Might my makeup tastes change? Yes, and they probably will. But that's okay. For the present, this is me, where I am, and the makeup I wear.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summer Festivities

If you don't think about the heat, summer is a pretty awesome time to live in Arizona, especially because we live close to Prescott, which was once the territorial capital. Old cities mean festivities!

Here a few festivities we've enjoyed lately: (Sorry for the poor photos)

The World's Oldest Rodeo! There's debate about whether or not Prescott really has the oldest rodeo, but I don't care because it's an awesome show! Pro riders come from all over the United States and world (one from Australia this year!) to compete, and points count towards the pro rodeo championship. Plus, the half-time (if you can call it that) shows are pretty cool. Wild Child performed the night we attended, and he jumped his motorcycle over a full truck and trailer! That takes skill.

After the rodeo comes the rodeo parade, a full two-hour affair with lots of horses, my favorite. Seriously this is one of the best parades I've ever been to. Someday I might go to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade or the Rose Bowl parade, but this is as good as it gets around here.

Cookout, fireworks, and flag cake! These are Fourth of July traditions in our home.

Cookout foods vary from year to year, but this year, it was hamburgers with sides of baked beans (one of my favorite cookout sides), lettuce, tomatoes, and veggies with homemade ranch dip. Yum!

Our city was the only one of the three cities in our area that had fireworks (due to the Goodwin fire). The show was pretty awesome with multiple mortars shot up at once, various shapes, sizes and colors of fireworks, and an intense grand finale. 

Flag cake is a layer of pound cake topped with a layer of blueberries and strawberries, whipped cream, and another layer of blueberries and strawberries to form a flag. We've made it every year since I was 9 or 10.

And this year, I got a candle in my piece of flag cake to celebrate a year of my adventures here. Here's to many more!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Toward More Authentic Living

I read a lot: blogs, books, signs, cereal boxes, you name it. It's a hobby, I guess? Lately, the topic of intuitive living has crossed my path more times than once. (See "How Eating Intuitively Helped Me Live More Intuitively" by Alexis Joseph"How Intuitive Eating Changed My Life" by Kara Lydon, and "Movement vs. Exercise" by Robyn Nohling.) Then I read this in Present Over Perfect

The fact that numbing becomes a lifestyle hit me. I realized that numbing is the way I've been living my life, not intentionally, maybe not even purposefully. Numbing is a coping tool, a way of surviving, a way of getting through. But it's not a way of thriving.

Some of you might remember my birthday goals post from May and how I wanted to improve my life by eating satisfying foods, sleeping better, and moving in ways that feel good. The purpose of those goals was to learn to love myself and my life better. I'm realizing now that those goals were signs of me wanting to know myself, to really live out and engage in life. Somehow, I've just been going through the motions.

I've had moments of joy and excitement and fun this past year, but it's also been a hard year, one of not knowing myself or where I fit, one of struggle, one of new (and to be honest, scary) opportunities. I've spent a lot of time trying to live up to the expectations of others and of myself.

I've been living completely by myself these past two weeks, staying in a hotel for work training. The first few days of that experience were rough, but then I started asking myself, "What do I need to get through this day?" and I tried to give that thing to myself without judgment. Doing so often meant sacrificing money, or time, or my own ideals about life. But you know what? I did better. I was more present. I felt more like myself. I felt a lot, to be honest: emotions, pain, bodily sensations, etc. But I realized that I wanted to live more of life this way, to embrace the joys and the struggles of life, to be me, and not the ideal self that others or my own self wants me to be.

Have I got this authentic living thing figured out? By all means, no! I'm just on the cusp of the journey. But I want to work this thing out. I want to be myself and let opinions and judgments and obsessions and compulsions go. And I want that for other people, too, to get rid of labels, to live truly and with integrity, to relate to others in real ways. Living authentically is going to be painful, but I'm choosing to embrace that in hopes of more fully embracing the joys in life that are to come.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Afghan 51

 Here's the latest in the afghan train:

This is Joyce Nordstrom's summer lace afghan in Red Heart's gold yarn. (Yes, I used the same color for afghan 47.) I had some leftover yarn and wanted to use it up.

I don't know if my hand is better or worse after the last botox injection, but I've needed to crochet. Moving my hand helps quiet my mind, and with a new job and the fire and life, my mind's been busy. I actually finished this afghan while listening to a Chasing Joy podcast. It's a new favorite because of its focus on joyfully living your own life.

That's all for now from me, but what about you? Do any readers want to share an activity they do to quiet their mind in times of busyness and stress?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Biblical Affirmations

I waffle back and forth on whether positive affirmations are biblical. So when asked to write a letter to myself describing why I'm unique, I decided to make a list of verses that tell me who I uniquely am in Christ:
  1. God created me in His image to showcase aspects of His infinite character (Gen 1:27).
  2. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14).
  3. God has a specific plan for my life (Jer 29:11).
  4. God's love for me is everlasting (Jer 31:3).
  5. God delights in me (Zeph 3:17)
  6. I am not condemned (Rom 8:1). Harmless quirks and preferences aren't sin.
  7. I have roles to fulfill as a member of the body of Christ (Romans 12).
  8. My brokenness allows Christ's glory to shine through (2 Cor 4:7).
  9. In my weakness, Christ exhibits His strength (2 Cor 12:9).
  10. I am a minister of God's grace in its various forms (1 Pet 4:10).
Now to you, readers. What do you think about positive affirmations? What are your favorite scriptures about identity in Christ? Please comment below.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Living in the Shadow of the Fire

For those of you that haven't seen the news, there's a BIG fire near us, the Goodwin Fire. We hear see fire bombers fly overhead constantly. We see water tankers, fire trucks, and cop cars flooding the highways. The air is heavy with smoke. Our community hasn't been evacuated yet, but multiple communities around us have. I vigilantly checking the internet to determine the size of the fire, the progress made on fighting it, and the latest evacuation news. It's nerve-wracking. Everyone is extra edgy and extra quick to snap, show anger, or even explode.

I've gotten to thinking that this might be what it's like to live with a chronic mental illness, to be constantly edgy, to worry about the doom of an impending relapse, to live in the light of a monster. Maybe this is taking things too far, being too metaphorical, but I think it's an important idea to consider. When we see people acting a bit “off,” are we curious about the reasons behind their edginess? Do we have compassion and empathy for what their situation might be, or do we just judge them? Do we show extra patience towards individuals we know who struggle with mental illness or some other looming life issue? Or do we hold them to high, unattainable, unreasonable standards? Do we focus on ourselves and our fears, or look towards others who might be struggling? Do we practice legalism, or practice grace?

Everybody is dealing with something, be it an environmental issue (like a natural disaster), or a mental illness, or a child who is suffering. Practice extra patience. Show grace. Extend love and care. You fight fire with retardant, water, and trailblazing, not with more fire.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Chocolate Mole Oatmeal

After a long hiatus, oatmeal recipes are back! Plus, this post includes the debut of a new dish I've deemed "the oatmeal bowl." (Thanks to my dear friend Joanna for this lovely birthday gift.)

I've been eating oatmeal since the 30 Days series, but I didn't feel like posting about it. After two weeks out of town and the arrival of the bowl, however, I feel it is time. I'd been making my traditional cinnamon chocolate oatmeal (2 T cocoa powder + 1 t cinnamon) bowls topped with dashes of cayenne, chili powder, and sea salt before I left home and I liked it, but wanted to deepen the flavor to go throughout the oatmeal. A quick Google search for chocolate chili oatmeal turned up two chocolate mole recipes (oatmeal chili and easy cheater vegan mole sauce), and I decided to adapt and go with it.

I wouldn't say that the chili and chipotle flavors came through strongly in this oatmeal, but they did add a nice level of heat to the cocoa. This recipe would probably be better in the freezing winter than the steaming summer, but I've gotta show off the oatmeal bowl, so here we go:


1/2 c quick cooking oats
1 1/2 c water
3 t dark cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t chili powder

1/4 t ginger
1/4-1/2 t chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Toppings of choice (I added a chopped red delicious apple, but other fruits, candy, and nut butter would also be appropriate.


1. Bring oats and water to a boil and reduce heat to medium. 
2. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the cocoa, cinnamon, chili powder, ginger, and chopped chipotle peppers. 
3. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl, add desired toppings and enjoy!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Surviving the Arizona Heat

For those of you who live in Arizona, this isn't new information. For those of you who don't live here and want advice for when you visit during the summer, here it is. And for those who are thinking of moving here, or are recent transplants like some of my classmates in training, here's some potentially helpful information:
  • Arizona summer heat is dry (less than 10% humidity).
  • June is one of our hottest months.
  • Temperatures are normally over 100 degrees, especially at lower elevations.
How do we survive? Here are some tips:

  • Store extra tires, wiper blades, and antifreeze in your car. 
  • Buy and use a sunshade. It makes a difference.
  • Never leave electronics, food that can melt, CHILDREN OR PETS in the car without the car running and the air conditioning on.
  • Buy a steering wheel cover that doesn't heat up, or buy hot pads to keep in your car. Seriously, the steering wheel can burn your hands if your car has sat in the sun all day.
  • Turn off your air conditioning when the interstate sign says to. Using air conditioning on that hill really will cause your car to overheat.

  • Always bring extra water.
  • Drink before you're thirsty. With the dry heat, thirst indications a fairly progressed stage of dehydration.
  • Dress in layers if you work inside. Buildings can get very cold with air conditioning and shocking your body when you leave work isn't good.
  • If you don't have central air conditioning or a swamp cooler inside, wear lightweight, moisture-wicking clothes at home. Wear open shoes or sandals if permitted.
  • If you have long hair, arrange it up and off your neck.
  • Avoid peak sunshine times (11 am to 4 pm or so).
  • Hike only early in the morning.
  • If you must walk, walk after the sun goes down and bring a jacket in case of temperature swings. Big temperature drops happen in the desert.

  • Think positively. For example, I'd rather be hot than cold, so I tell that to myself when I'm really warm.
  • Remember that summer is a season. Monsoons will come and temperatures will drop.

Any questions? 
Arizona friends, any advice to add? Feel free to comment below.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eschewing Labels

Last night, on the cusp of completing nearly two weeks of training for my new counseling job, I read this quote from Bob Goff:

This quote really resonated with me, as my new company focuses on calling children and families by their names, rather than addressing them as "clients," or their psychiatric, learning disorder, or behavioral diagnoses. This is a learning curve for me, as my graduate education taught me that people preferred the anonymity of the title"client." But that's just the problem. The term "client" can be dehumanizing, universalist, deterministic. I work with people.

But you know what? Labels extend far beyond counseling. Think about the labels we hear in everyday life: Workaholic. 
Lazy. Perfectionist. Slob. Homosexual. Heterosexual. Stupid. Smart. Goody-two-shoe. Black sheep.  What if we got rid of these? What if we stopped referring to ourselves with singular words and started viewing ourselves as multiply complex PEOPLE? We are friends, siblings, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, counselors, teachers, mentors, engineers, doctors, nurses, doers, resters, crafters, creators, singers, dancers, painters, handymen (and women!) etc. Or what if we got rid of even these conglomerations of labels and tore down the barrier of labels period? How would we relate to people?

What if we let issues be issues and people be people? What if we stopped trying to find words to describe life and just lived? Could we be more present? Could we be more productive? Could those who claim to be Christians love more like Christ loved? Could we begin to acknowledge the complexities of each unique creation of God? I don't think it's possible to completely do away with labels, but perhaps reducing their use can lead to fuller, richer lives and lifestyles.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dad's Day

Due to a family wedding this weekend, we celebrated Dad last Saturday. Still, I wanted to make sure to write a post about my dad in honor of today, Father's Day.

Though my dad isn't perfect, he's a pretty awesome guy. I LOVE, RESPECT, and ADMIRE him.

I LOVE him because he loved me first. I don't always appreciate his gestures of affection, but he really tries. He brought me roses when I was really sick and in the hospital. He's pretty adamant about opening doors for me and treating me like a lady. He purchased several of my meals this weekend, just because he wanted to.

He treats my mom well. He's been married to her for 32 and a half years and still tells her he's beautiful. He likes to purchase her gifts (like her favorite dark chocolate) and really works to resolve disputes with her when he has them. He loves strongly and fiercely and though sometimes a little overprotective, works hard to keep his ladies safe.

Dad is my knight in shining armor. He's rescued me twice this year when I've locked myself out of my car. He changes the oil in my car and preps it for trips. He helps with a variety of household chores and tasks when I ask him to. If it's the Lord's will that I marry, my poor future spouse has a lot to live up to.

I RESPECT Dad. He works so, so hard for our family. (Think sun-up to late afternoon, and on weekends.) As a small businessman, his desire is to provide excellent customer service, and I believe he does. Dad also works hard around the house fixing toilets, doors, cars, etc. He weed eats and rakes and cuts firewood for us. He's super good at diagnosing car issues by phone. He can fix almost anything, and if he can't he'll Google and YouTube the answer. He applies His smarts in practical ways, something I struggle to do.

Over the past ten years, I've watched Dad really grow in his faith. He started reading through the Bible every year, even though reading isn't his thing. He endeavors to study the Scriptures before making decisions. He leads our home and family with integrity.

I ADMIRE Dad. He has such a heart for others. He spent a great deal of last Sunday, his only rest day in the week, helping a family fix their van. He frequently calls and texts family and friends to tell them he cares. He painstakingly types out Bible verses on his flip phone to send as encouragement. He gives away free water to widows. He helps the elderly. He's committed himself to elder training during a season of change at our church and has attended every single class.

Dad and I have had our disagreements, but we've also rebuilt a 1964 Rambler, attended car shows, and gone on dates together. I'm so thankful for this man and the God who gave him to me.

Happy Father's Day!