Lean Back Out Just a Minute

You may have heard about the death of the CEO of Survey Monkey, David Goldberg.  He was the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and author of popular book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

In her book, she encourages women to pursue leadership roles in business and life and to not shy away from the inevitable mountain a woman must climb to get ahead in fields dominated by mostly men.  She’s got good points.  She points out that you can’t really end institutional sexism yourself, but you can be someone who refuses to be passed over for the promotion.  She emphasizes hard work, not worrying about being liked, focusing on being polite and quiet when sharing ideas, and encouraging women to go for leadership opportunities.

I wholeheartedly support this idea.  I think it’s amazing that women like Sandberg exist in the boys’ club that is Silicon Valley.  I admire her.  I am grateful that my sons will grow up in a world where they can meet women who have these qualities, fall in love with them, marry them, and have families with them.  That’s a daughter-in-law I’d love to have.  That’s the woman I aspire to be.  One day. Maybe.

But what about right now?  What about the endless amounts of laundry piling up in the basement?  What about the diapers?  What about the sleepless nights of being a mother to a baby who may not sleep through the night and a five year old who doesn’t sleep through the night? What about those moments of hopelessness that I feel when I buy into the lie that I can “have it all.”

Yeah, I flat out called that a lie.  It is a lie.  When you give 100% at work, give 100% at home, and give 100% in all your relationships, the math doesn’t work.  No one has it all.  In fact, I’d guess that most people just kind of do a half-hearted job and try to convince ourselves that it is all we can give because half feels like all we have left.  More like a third, if you go by my math above, but I’m not really a numbers gal.  Words are my gig.

And here is a newsflash that may upset some of my feminist friends and readers:  it’s not just women who struggle with this. Men with a love for their families and a desire to strive for professional excellence have always struggled with this.  The time slips on by, the kids are grown, and the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, etc.

So what in the world am I supposed to do about it, then?  Am I less of a person if I work hard to be there for my family and take on less professional stress? Am I less of a person if I dedicate all my energy to becoming the top of my field and neglect my personal relationships?

According to our culture, yes.  On both counts.  And it’s not fair. And it’s avoidable if we just lean out for a quick minute and think about it.

I started writing this draft about two months ago after licking my wounds from a job that just about killed me with stress.  I was not in my element.  I took the job to pay the bills, and I knew it was necessary, but it was incredibly hard on me.  I put a lot of stock in my own ability to do things well.  I put a lot of stock in my mind and stubbornness.  I put a lot of stock into meeting the demands of my ego.  It wasn’t working, and more often than not, I fell flat on my face. Exhausted.  I was so exhausted by the end of the school year, in fact, that I only began this post and then shelved it until I had a little distance and could chew on my thoughts and emotions for a while.  I think I’m ready to dive in the rest of the way.

It is spectacular timing that our church is doing a series about God at Work, and today’s message was about calling.  I know that without a shadow of a doubt I am called to minister to children and youth.  I have fulfilled this calling in church, and I have fulfilled this calling as a teacher.  I am currently also trying my best to fulfill this calling as a parent.  One thing I’ve come to learn is that when I’m working so hard to fulfill this calling, sometimes I get so intense that when I do a poor job or am just tired, I feel like a failure.  I’m hard on myself.  Grace is not something I’ve ever been good at allowing myself to experience, despite my strong ability to help others learn to accept it.

So with the cultural pressure to have it all, my own imposed pressure to fulfill Christ’s calling, and the pressure I feel to do it all well, I just get worn down sometimes.  I’d blame Pinterest for that, but I stopped looking at that site a while back because it made me feel so terrible about how messy my house was and how un-cute my snacks for my kids were.

That’s when my pride kicks in and whispers nasty little lies in my ear about how I am not good enough, and I am failing at everything.  Then I get caught in the cycle of trying to work my way out of it and wearing myself down again, when the truth is, it’s not even about how hard I’m working to get everything right.  That doesn’t really matter in the long run.

I can’t be alone in this.  I know too many people who are tired all the time, regardless of the supplements they take, caffeine they imbibe, and sleep they try to make up on weekends for it to only be my own issue.

So, while I fully support someone’s choice to “lean in,” I’m going to go counter-cultural for a bit and lean out.

I’m going to take a moment and (with apologies to Luke) try to set a Biblical story in the modern time.

Jesus was visiting with Mary and Martha in their home, and He was sharing his wisdom and teaching.

Martha was pretty type A.  She would have heard she was having guests and stayed up all night to plan a menu, put up little chalk place cards on the table, and served all of her artisinally prepared food in mason jars with chevron ribbons.  Then she would have intermittently checked her iPhone for updates on orders coming in for her cupcake shop and sewing business. Oh, and she definitely wore her heels around the house.


Image: Martha (probably)

Mary, who had just come in with a basket of wildflowers she picked while she was dancing to Iron & Wine in a field nearby, was just hanging out, chilling at the feet of Jesus and soaking in all He had to share.  She would have kept saying things like, “far out,” and “that’s deep.” Then she probably just sat and was in wonder at this amazing incarnation of God who was on her couch.


Image: Mary (probably)

Needless to say, Martha, being very proper in her cute little outfit making snacks and cleaning after her guest, became exasperated with Mary.

So, she walks in and fusses about how Mary is not really helping, and she’s just sitting around like a Millennial or something.

And before Mary can respond, Jesus says, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

And then we don’t get any more of the story.  So what do we do about it? Do we stay frustrated at the fact that some people seem to have this ability to just chill out in the presence of God, or do we put away all of our striving from time to time, and just hang out listening to Jesus?  Who will do the dishes?  What if they never get done?  Where is the guidance? WHAT DID YOU DO, MARTHA?!

Ok, now that I’ve finished hyperventilating, I’ll share what I think.  It’s an extrapolation, but I’m going to guess that  our modern Martha probably put her phone on silent, left the dishes in the sink, and just went to be near Jesus.  She probably had a hard time sitting still for so long, and she likely worried off and on about who was going to take care of things, but she probably also just told her mind to be quiet because this was important.  Being present was important. I’d like to think that after Jesus went to bed, and Martha started to clean up, Mary wondered in quietly and stood beside Martha to help her do the dishes.

So, in my rambling story, what is the point?  How does that relate to leaning out? What does this mean?  How do I do it? (sorry, had to get a paper bag to breathe into again).

It’s simple really. You lean in when you need to, and you lean out when you need to, and you don’t apologize for your imperfections. You try to do things the way they should be done, and you let it go when you can’t or just need to rest. And, you sometimes stop and pick a wildflower or two then sit at the feet of Jesus and just focus on existing as a human being in need of love from a Savior who is right there with you, sharing all the wisdom and love He can with you in that moment.

Then you make your sister do the dishes.

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Updates and Observations

I haven’t written anything in a while because I haven’t had the time.  I recently took a big risk and quit my job to stay home and homeschool my elder son, who is very intelligent and also prone to behavior issues in certain settings.  It turned out that one of those settings was homeschool classes.  Good grief, he was not having it.

With him happily in pre-K and the little one staying with family during the day, I was able to take a job at a local elementary school teaching special education again.  I am loving it.  This comes as a shock to me and many who have known me for a long time because I have a tendency to be cynical and sarcastic with a super-dark sense of humor; I am not exactly the archetypal elementary school teacher.

Interestingly enough, being here has shown me that my preconceived notions about elementary school teachers were somewhat incorrect. I have found some sarcastic kindred spirits and I had completely forgotten about the Ms. Frizzles of the world.  How great are they, right?  Anyway, I decided to compile a list of things I’ve learned since I started my elementary school teaching career:

1.  If it doesn’t move, it should be monogrammed.  This goes for the students, too.  Perhaps this is simply a southern lady thing, but wow. So many embroidery machines, so little time.

2. Everything is colorful.  I LOVE this element of elementary school.  I can’t stand to be in a boring looking space while I’m trying to be creative.  I know that goes for children as well.  I like to see their senses stimulated by the lovely colors on the walls and posters.

3. Matilda Jane is a thing.  It is a thing with ruffles.  It confuses and scares me. I find ruffles… unsettling on anyone over the age of 30. They’re so precious and cutesy that it makes my face hurt and causes me to want to cut myself just so I can feel.  (I am not actually cutting myself, no worries).

4.  For the most part, the majority of my day is spent smiling and calling children, “Sweetheart.”  Seriously.  After my time teaching in middle school and military school, I thought everyone faced an uphill battle every hour of their work day.  Turns out, that’s optional. I’m good with that. And apparently smiling releases happy hormones, so that’s helping me out quite a bit, too.

5. Elementary children are leaky.  From one end or another. Sometimes they eat what comes out of them. Thankfully I am not shaken by this because I  have my own children.

6. Elementary children actually want to be at school every day.  They are excited to see you.  They give you hugs that don’t make you feel uncomfortable. They tell you that they love you. It’s kind of amazing.

7. Elementary children still bring their teacher “gifts.”  Sometimes these are formal gifts, like a box of Valentine’s Day chocolate (I got a few), and other times they’re informal, like a rock or stick they saw and liked.  Fortunately, unlike with cats, I have not (yet) received half an animal.  If I do, I’m calling the counselor.

8.  Most everyone is so damned earnest that it hurts.  It’s like a folk concert or an art show. I’m starting to become like this as well, and it’s making me feel a way I haven’t felt since my teen years.

9. Elementary parents are (frequently but not always) very happy to be of support or help.  I’m not used to this.  It rocks.

10. Elementary classes still have parties for special days!  They even make up days, like the 100th day of school, in order to have these parties. I have been missing out all these years in middle school!

Anyway, all that is to say, I am really loving this new adventure, and who knows, maybe I’ll end up rockin’ the monogrammed hoodie and some Matilda Ruffle pants, wearing my earnest face, and kicking back listening to Radiohead to keep from losing my mind one day.  I gotta keep a little of my edge.  As for now, I’m simply enjoying the ride.

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Let’s Get Real

Our family just returned from a trip to visit family in Florida.  We got to spend a few days with my sister, and while we were there, she was able to take our family photos.  She is an incredibly gifted photographer, and she knows how to wield Photoshop in a way that enhances photos while keeping them realistic looking.

One of my favorite portraits is this one, which she took in front of a gorgeous reflecting pool at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee.

family Picture

(photo credit: Crystal Basford/White Rhino Photography, 2014)

It is a beautiful spot where we were able to get several really great photos, two family portraits in particular.  In each photo, either the boys looked wonderful, or I did.  Unfortunately, both didn’t occur in the same photo.  My sister took my face from the better photo of me and put it over the better photo of the boys.  She also had to add the eyes from my older son to the photo because he was squinting in this photo. Then she did a little nip tuck to make me look skinnier (at my request, of course), and she helped me to make my growing out haircut look better (growing out a pixie cut is hard).

The end result is a stunningly beautiful family portrait.  Sadly, though, it’s not really real.  The reality is that my older son was squinting because he was whining about wanting to eat something and wanting to play in the water.  I looked worse in the picture because I’d just been fussing at my son (yes, I yell sometimes, and I’m not really sorry) to stop whining, so we could get one good picture before the light was gone. My younger son kept looking a different direction, and my husband just kept smiling and squeezing my older son’s arm to try to make him behave.

We live in a fake world.  Reality TV is highly edited to get the desired effect they want. Photographs, even personal snapshots, are often highly edited to show us in our best light. Reality is simply not reality.

I wish it stopped there, but it doesn’t.  We live in the social media era.  We filter our Instagram photos, we only share the parts of ourselves that we want known on Facebook or Twitter, and e mail has no hints of the social cues that are necessary to know exactly what the reader is thinking of the material that the author has included. We carefully guard our image, and we carefully protect ourselves from scrutiny of any hint of imperfection. We see others best moments and compare them to our worst moments.  It’s part of the reason that a University of Michigan study showed evidence that Facebook makes us sadder and more unsatisfied with life.

Am I against social media?  No.  Absolutely not. I love my Facebook account and blog. I enjoy turning all my pictures into hipsteriffic filtered snapshots on Instagram. I tweet occasionally. I re-post memes. I love it because so many of my old friends have scattered across the globe, and this makes them feel closer.

The problem arises when I over-edit and over-sell my own life into a life I think others will envy.  Here’s the truth.  I’m pretty screwed up.  Our family isn’t perfect.  We argue. We spend money we don’t have. We make excuses and bail on social engagements because we are wiped out from work or feeling introverted. My house usually looks like an episode of Hoarders. Sometimes I pick up a piece of clothing, sniff it, and wear it because it looked and smelled okay. I sometimes don’t reply to texts, phone calls, or e mails because my brain gets tired. My kids eat fast food. I make a LOT of canned vegetable meals because I’m lazy. You get the point.

Truth is, most of us are fake.  We are big fat Fakey McFakersons. Every one of us. I’m terrible about it. I realize that, to some degree, it’s necesary.  I didn’t want to wear my personal issues on my sleeve at work, and I don’t always want my kids to know if I’m having a bad day for a grown-up reason that they can’t handle yet. Those situations are not what I’m talking about.

In other ways, this is crippling to my ability to share the intimate parts of my heart and mind with others.  God calls us to fellowship with each other as believers, and we need it.

In the second chapter of Acts, arguably one of the most powerful chapters in the New Testament, we see believers who received power from the Holy Spirit. We see people coming to know Christ.  We see signs and wonders. We also see one of the biggest reasons for the momentum that these people found spiritually in verse 42, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.”

It appears that not only were these believers in communion with God, they were in constant communion with each other.  You don’t share meals and pray in a devoted manner without things having to get real.  Eventually any pretense is going to have to fade or else the whole thing will fizzle because it’s not genuine. It will fade out because of our pride.

Several months ago I shared a blog post about my struggle with intense postpartum depression and chronic depression.  I was overcome with fear about sharing something so personal with the world.  I am very prideful about being able to do it all without help, and admitting that I am weak was terrifying.  Some people told me that I was brave.  In all honesty, what I did may have required some guts, but it wasn’t bravery that made me do it; I was desperate. I wanted to stop pretending to be okay.  I wanted other not-okay people to know that they could stop pretending as well.  It opened up so many conversations, both public and private, and I found myself surrounded with love, support, and people who just got it. I wanted to stop caring so much about perception and just admit reality. I’m screwed up, and it’s okay if you’re screwed up, too.  We are all screwed up. We are supposed to be. Blame Adam, I guess.

Since that time, I’ve had good days and bad, but what I’ve also had is a support network I never imagined was possible.  I have people who check in on me.  I have people I check in on as well.  I found my people.  We found each other.  That all came from deleting the layers upon layers of Photoshop and just being real.

My challenge to anyone who reads this post is this:

1. Identify your Photoshop layers (whatever you are hiding or prettying up for the world).

2. Find someone who is trustworthy and who loves you, and share this with them.  Make sure that he or she is a person who will pray for you and not use the information to hurt you.

3. Work on ways to stop editing your reality into oblivion to the outside world.  It will be painful, and you may lose some people along the way, but you will retain those who love the real you and gain those who need someone to hurt with.

4. Make this your prayer for the process-

Eternal God, in whom we live and move and have our being, whose face is hidden from us by our sins, and whose mercy we forget in the blindness of our hearts: cleanse us from all our offenses, and deliver us from proud thoughts and vain desires, that with reverent and humble hearts we may draw near to you, confessing our faults, confiding in your grace, and finding in you our refuge and strength; through Jesus Christ your Son.

Book of Common Worship,
Louisville: Westminster/John Know Press, 1993

Now, let’s get real.


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Here Are My Wounds, I Hope They Help Heal Yours

I know so many missionaries. I have friends on all continents except Antarctica. If there were people in need of Jesus there, I’m sure they’d be on that one, too. I remember feeling that fire and that call to go to the farthest reaches and try to share my faith with the world when I was younger. I felt like if I didn’t, then I’d just die. Dramatic? Of course. I was in my early twenties.

I felt like there had to be places in plain sight where people were hurting and needed love. I just knew that I would be the one to minister to widows and orphans abroad. And for a little while, I did my best to do just that. Then I came home and realized that sometimes the remotest parts of the earth were within the people right beside me. And in my own heart. To this day, I sometimes feel that my soul is one of the most desolate places that can possibly exist.

Loneliness is a silent killer, and people who are lonely may not even know that loneliness is the source of whatever it is that they are feeling. Some people are emotionally kind of stupid. I am for sure. More often than not I don’t know how to label whatever emotion I am having at any given moment and I kind of describe it with various types of grunts or gestures. I make off-putting jokes and sarcastic quips because it helps me not to really delve too deeply into what I see going on around me because being aware of things other people are able to ignore makes me feel lonely.

The thing is, I am frequently known for my snarky attitude or the jokes that I make. I’m kooky and quirky. I come off to some as strong, opinionated, bossy, organized, and professional. I seem friendly and fun. I seem lighthearted.

People often laugh at things I observe about the world around me. Why? Because, the world is really messed up, and that can be absolutely hilarious
It’s also really dark and tragic and will just about crush you if you think about it too long.

Unfortunately, I’m wired to analyze, perceive, and resolve. It’s in my nature. I’m also wired to have this really intense empathy for people whose pain I can relate to on some level. Carrying all that around all the time is really exhausting. It wears on you.

I think that because of those characteristics, I have struggled with chronic depression and anxiety my whole life. It’s kind of a perfect storm, and no one likes to even face it internally, much less openly talk about it.

So I’m going to openly talk about it. Feel free to squirm, pity me, claim that my faith is not strong enough, judge me for relying on medication, worry about my sanity, ask me questions, openly mock or deride me, or nod vigorously in solidarity and understand that more people struggle with this than are willing to admit it. In any case, I’m not too worried about it. I know that this post will help someone, and that’s the goal.

I just found out tonight that my favorite comedian/actor died as a result of suspected suicide. Robin Williams has always seemed to be so funny and light-hearted. I always kind of thought that if we knew each other, we’d get along. I always wished he had been my drama teacher or professor. I wanted to know if he was really like Mr. Keating.

Several people I know have expressed shock on social media. Someone even asked if I thought he really committed suicide, since he was always funny. Yes. Yes I very much do. He struggled for years with substance abuse. Often people who seem funny and happy are very sad and/or struggle with depression. Depression is such a weird thing, and I think those people who have keen observational skills and can make them into humor require a dark side. People who are genuinely happy and never struggle with mental illness are often not as aware of all the minutiae that make the world so sad. Those who do are often funny because to laugh is to not cry, and to laugh is to release the pressure that comes with carrying all that weight around all the time.

My story of this summer is that aside from my chronic issues, I have been struggling with the most acute attack of depression that I’ve ever experienced. I had a baby in March, and post-partum depression just about did me in.

This is, of course, after a five year crash course in personal stressors and tragedy as well. I won’t get into all that, but when I took the stress inventory to see if I needed to seek help, I scored a 724. If you score above a 300 you need immediate help. So yeah, you could say I was dealing with some stuff.

Anyway, I had begun to withdraw more and more from my family at the end of the school year. I would go up to the bedroom, turn out the lights and either sleep or hold my newborn son and just detach from my husband, elder son, and the rest of the world. I’d watch television to distract myself. I wasn’t exactly sad. I just didn’t feel much of anything.

In December I lost a friend that I have known for sixteen years. He killed himself. He was not a person I’d have ever expected to end his own life. He seemed so together, despite his sometimes very serious personality. It caught me off guard, and I believe that was the beginning of the dark period that ended with this most recent crisis. I knew that if it could happen to him, it could happen to me. I’d thought about it in the past, but I’d never made an attempt or a plan. Now that I’m a wife and mom, it has not ever been a temptation. This changed my feeling of security about that. He mattered to people, and he still had problems that ended in tragedy. I matter to people, and I got scared that I might end in tragedy as well.

I reached a point where I was at maximum capacity for pain and grief, and I just shut down. Sure, I felt joy at my son’s birth, and I could laugh and smile and make jokes; it just required that I completely ignore all deeper feelings and hide myself from everyone who cared about me.

I didn’t see it happening. It crept in slowly. The darkness arrived more like dusk becoming darkness than a light burning out suddenly. I rationalized my behavior by believing that it was just my healing from the c-section, dealing with hormones, and relaxing while I could. I blamed feeling sick or being tired, but what I see now is that I just wanted to escape. If I slept, I’d be away from everything, and it worked until the nightmares started.

By the time summer rolled around, I was sleeping for large parts of the day because I couldn’t get rest at night. I had begun seriously neglecting the house, neglecting my relationships, and neglecting myself. There were days where I’d skip showering or even trying to get dressed because I knew I probably wouldn’t bother to walk out the door anyway. There were days where I wouldn’t speak to anyone and would reject all incoming calls or texts. Of course I’d still keep up appearances by making funny comments on Facebook, but I just quit caring about much of anything at all.

The only break in the numbness came when my elder son would misbehave, and I’d lose my cool with him. I got nervous because I didn’t want to do permanent damage to him with screaming or fighting, so I just started avoiding him and letting my husband handle all discipline while I cared for my younger son.

The breaking point was when I heard the story of the man who was charged with murdering his son by leaving him in a hot car. Any rational mother heard the story and became enraged at the father, felt compassion for the mother, and broke down with sadness for the child. Not me. I thought, “You know what, I don’t know his life. Maybe that kid is just rotten.”

That was when I sought help. I saw a psychiatrist, and I got my meds adjusted. I started noticing the things I’d been too spaced out to notice, and I checked myself in to an in-patient day program at a local psychiatric hospital. I was so so ashamed that I had to do that. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t even ask for prayer from people during that time. I was embarrassed and felt weak. I felt guilty for being too weak to be a good mom or wife. I felt silly about abandoning my family for a week that would probably be group-therapy-kumbaya-hippy-dippy-bullcrap. I held the negative views of mental healthcare as much as anyone else. I dreaded it, but it really helped me. I processed through some things I had been shoving down for five years now. Some even since middle school. I got a lot out of it. I started to heal, and I’m doing OK now. I’m not magically all better, and I probably never will be. It’s part of who I am. I’m growing to love myself anyway.

It’s insane to me that in our culture, we are far more forgiving of a person with terrible morals or ethics than we are of someone with mental illness. That’s telling of our priorities. We value strength and loathe weakness. Mental illness is perceived as weakness. More than just a weakness, it’s perceived as a problem that is all in the mind of the person suffering and something that’s questionably even legitimate.

The stigma of being that person who has depression has kept me from being open and honest about myself for years now. It’s not just made up. It is very real. There is a darkness inside my mind that holds me hostage and keeps me from just being. It wraps its fingers around my throat and chokes away all of the life-giving oxygen until I go black and can’t keep going anymore. There is a part of me that always wants to just wave and be acknowledged, but I cannot be forthcoming about it because of the people it would alienate or upset. There is a part of me that is terrified that if I am open about my struggles, everyone I love will leave me. Everyone I know will think I’m crazy. And everyone I want to know will run away screaming.

The thing is, the Big-Bad I just described is simply a figment created by the darkness inside of me. I’m not alone in this. I believe many people with that darkness feel exactly the same way. It’s just so covered in shame and silence that none of us are willing to take the risk of discussing it. I wish that people with mental illness issues had a secret “tell” and could identify each other silently. Then we’d know who to trust. It may sound silly, but it is just that scary. I feel my pulse speeding up just thinking about it. I think I’ll probably obsess for a while over developing a secret “crazy person” handshake. Then I’ll fall asleep and have weird dreams that keep me up. And I’ll be OK. Really, I will.

The pressure to be happy or normal, the way most everyone else looks to me, is so great, that I am often crippled by the accompanying anxiety and become useless to do what I had originally intended– obeying the call to minister to the orphans, widows, and remotest parts of the earth.

So, to confront this problem, I want to expose my darkness to the light in order to reach others in similar darkness. I want to say to you– here are my wounds. Here are the harmful thoughts I have. Here is the most painful and isolating thing that exists for me. Here is my secret source of shame. It’s all here. None of it is a secret anymore. I went all One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and did NOT (spoiler alert!) get smothered by a large Native American man.

This past Sunday, my pastor spoke about how Christians are supposed to expose the enemy. So here I am, taking up the challenge. I am exposing something very, deeply personal in order to say to anyone reading it– you are not alone in this.

I don’t care if you are a person of faith or not. You are not alone. Look beside you. Look behind you. Those people you see are likely carrying around the remotest parts of the earth inside themselves, and they are terrified to tell anyone. Help them expose their darkness to the light. It just may save their lives, and it will definitely save yours.

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Delicious Free-Ta-Tas!

Tonight I made a frittata. 

In case you are unaware, a frittata is an Italian crustless Quiche.  It’s also referred to as an Italian omelette.  It’s a very delicious and protein packed meal, and it’s a good thing to eat after a strenuous workout because when your muscles are recovering, i.e. sore, they need protein to rebuild.  It’s what will help you walk the next day. 

I did my workout this morning, it’s XTrainFit, which is a little less intense version of a muscle confusion workout, similar to P90X.  It’s a little more beginner friendly, and my hubby is beginning a workout routine, whereas I have been on one much longer.  Since he decided to join me, I decided to shelf P90X until we can survive 90 days of this program together.  To ramp it up a little, I’m still running in the evenings to add more cardio.

Anyway, the recipe turned out delicious, and my husband likes to call frittatas “free ta-tas” because he is basically a twelve-year-old boy.  I laughed at it, so I must be one, too. 

Here is the recipe that I made tonight, and it was inspired by all the veggies I had in the fridge that must have been used by tonight, or they would face the trash tomorrow. 

kale frittata carbonara

Kale Frittata Carbonara (I added the Carbonara because it has bacon, and it sounded fancy!)

6 eggs

1/2 c parmesan or romano cheese, shredded

1/2 c mozzarella, shredded (I used one with pepperoni and marinara flavors incorporated)

1/2 c 2% milk (if you’re not watching fat, you can use heavy cream, and it’s delicious!)

1 c onions, diced

1c sweet red peppers, diced

2 c kale, stems and chewies removed

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp Oregano, dried (or fresh to taste, I just didn’t have any)

1 tbsp butter

10 slices of bacon cooked crispy, crumbled

black pepper to taste


Preheat broiler in oven.

In an oven-safe saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown garlic with oregano.  Add in the onion and peppers.  Cook until almost soft.  Add in kale.  Cook until kale has softened to your liking.  Set aside from heat, but leave the burner on. Toss in the bacon crumbles.

In a separate bowl, blend eggs, milk, and both cheeses. 

Push veggies to the side in the pan and return to medium heat.  Pour the egg and cheese mixture into the open space.  Let cook for just a moment until the egg begins to just stick to the bottom.  Quickly blend in the veggies and bacon from the side.  Do NOT scramble.  If scrambling begins to happen, remove from heat and turn down burner.

You should have a semi-liquid mixture.  Leave on medium heat burner until the bottom begins to set and top starts to turn barely white and bubbly.

Transfer whole pan to oven under broiler.

WATCH. LIKE. A. HAWK. to prevent burning.  Time will depend on oven and rack placement.  I had my rack set down low, and the broiler on high.  Took about three minutes to brown and set fully.

Once golden brown and no longer runny, remove quickly, slice into four servings, and serve immediately.

This would be an amazing brunch option, but we ate it for dinner and had coffee with it to drink.  It was the perfect combination.  I imagine a nice red wine would be nice as well, but we did not have one!

12 Points Plus for Weight Watchers if you use the exact measurements I used.  I put it into the recipe builder to get that measurement. 

I encourage you to try this.  It sounds complicated, but let me tell you, if you are like me and either chop and freeze your veggies or chop and store them ahead, it only takes around a half hour.

Oh, and my bacon tip, and trust me, I make the best bacon, is that I make it in the oven.

If you line a pan with foil, then top with parchment, you can lay out the bacon to cover the pan without overlapping.  You then set your timer to 20 minutes and the oven to 400.  I have never once burned the bacon, and it’s always chewy without being too crispy.  Perfection.  May take a little longer if you use thick bacon. 

You can cook a whole amount ahead and crumble, storing in the fridge, as an add on for extra flavor, if you have the points.  Bacon is ALWAYS worth the points to me.  So is real, grass-fed butter. 

Happy cooking!




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Sweet and Sour Quinoa


Here is a little recipe that I came up with tonight based on what was in my fridge and what I had points left to eat today (Weight Watchers Points Plus). 


I am not affiliated with or paid by WW.  My point values were calculated with the recipe builder and are not verified by WW.


Here is the recipe.  It was SO good.  Even my three-year-old son loved it!

Here is what you will need: 

3 cups prepared quinoa

1/2 rotisserie chicken, shredded (I used just the breast meat, about 8 oz)

1/2 butternut squash, cooked soft and cubed

1 onion, chopped

1 red pepper chopped

3/4 c pecan halves, chopped (after measured)

1/2 c craisins


For the dressing-

juice of one lemon

juice of one lime

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 c fresh cilantro, very very finely chopped

mix in a bowl, set to the side.


Saute the onion and pepper in a pan with some olive oil (I spray mine), add in the shredded chicken and cooked squash and turn pan down to low.  Stir in the dressing. 


Put the cooked quinoa in a bowl.  Top with the chicken mixture.  Throw in the craisins and pecans and stir. 


Zesty, fresh, sour, sweet, and all with a neat nutty texture.  Tip- To reduce bitterness and add flavor to quinoa, make sure you rinse it first and then cook it with half chicken broth and half water. 

Divided into six servings, it’s 11 points plus each.  It’s fewer points if you add components separately, so keep that in mind, trackers! 


Toss it in a bowl.

Receive love and adoration, as you deserve.  You are a whole food goddess. 

You’re welcome.

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Here Comes Sketti Boo Boo

I don’t know if you are as trashy as I am, but I love watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on TLC.

Sure, there are ten million reasons not to watch it, but my inner armchair anthropologist can’t help but observe the Southern family in its natural habitat.  I’m a Southern girl.  I know families just like this.  Heck, I’m friends with families like this.  I’m not like this myself, but I get it, and I’m not very judgmental about it because I know that so much of it is influenced by where they live and their socio-economic status.

The episode that got to my amateur chef side is the episode where mama June is making the old family recipe of “Sketti.”  Seriously, watch the clip.  If you don’t,  you’ll have no clue why this post is so amazing.

Her basic recipe for “Sketti” is that she makes spaghetti noodles and makes a sauce for them using equal parts Country Crock and ketchup.


I kid you not.  She calls this an old family recipe.

Strange, but why not?

I decided to try the recipe and see if it is as gross as it seems that it would be.

Yeah, it totally was.

ImageYeah, my microwave has diabetes now

ImageHad a “tomato soup’s white trash cousin” thing going on, according to my husband

Oh, it was bad indeed. I started to toss it, but then I felt guilty.  I’d be throwing away a legitimate food source that this family regularly eats.

Rather than toss it, I asked myself what I could do to make it taste better.  Tomatoes and butter sound like the beginning of a vodka sauce to me!  I even went the extra authentic step of using dried herbs that most lower socio-economic status homes would have on hand.

Jennifer’s Honey Boo Boo Vodka Sketti-stravaganza

equal parts butter and ketchup, melted

oregano to taste

garlic powder to taste

onion powder to taste

vodka (dunno how much)

basil to taste

grated Parmesan

I put the sauce over medium high heat until it boiled.  I let it reduce by about 25% and then added water because it seemed really gross (lesson here, don’t let it reduce).


I threw in all the ingredients above and let it boil, whisking constantly until it smelled like the spices were incorporated, and then I removed it from the heat, whisking in the grated Parmesan.


Staying true to my Honey Boo Boo inspiration, I had to test to see if the noodles were ready.  How do we do this, Alana?  We throw it at the kitchen cabinet!


The finished product, poured over noodles with additional Parmesan cheese to garnish.


The verdict?  The end product actually tasted sort of decent, like a very low price jar of grocery store sauce.  You definitely wouldn’t know it was made with ketchup.  It was certainly not delicious, but I think I could pass it off as a homemade sauce if I made it in a slow cooker and tweaked the spice amounts. No, I’m not kidding.

Will I make Sketti again?  Nope.  The mental block was too much for my husband, and I am the only one who ate it at dinner.  He popped open a can of Prego.  My Sketti sauce tasted better, but it was just the idea of it.

He’s so uppity.

Would you try Sketti?

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