the company you keep…

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spring. a time of renewal and growth. and like nature, i’ve been through both…big time. where to begin? i got a job. left a job. got a job. all in the course of less than 2 months. on the surface, the job i got was the perfect job. doing something i’m completely passionate about. working from home 2 days a week. easy commute. big bump in pay. because i was leaving a company i loved, i was very clear in the (count ‘em) 4 interviews that the culture of the company (despite their noble mission) was very important to me. throughout the process, they assured me that they totally “got me” – that what i had was what they needed. that they were excited to let me do what i do. and so i jumped. i took the weekend off between gigs (i couldn’t wait to get started) and almost from the beginning, i knew i made a huge mistake.

why?

because words and people matter.

i won’t go into the gory details, but this place was the worst place i’ve ever worked (and i’ve worked at some doozies!). the environment they created was one of anxiety, paranoia, mistrust. their treatment of my coworkers (and eventually me) was unlike anything i’ve ever seen. part of me started looking for a job a week after i started. the other kept hoping i could make it work. i put my head down and tried to do what they hired me to do. i figured, the proof would be in the pudding, right?

wrong.

new ideas were discouraged. it was exhausting. and heartbreaking. i tried for awhile. tried to make change. tried to steer things in a different (and much needed) direction, but i was told to keep doing what they’d been doing.

and so, i left.

sometimes, you can’t fight the good fight. sometimes, you need to look around and realize that the odds are so against change that all you can do is surrender. sometimes, all you can do is help those around you and try to hold the door open as you all leave. sometimes, the beast is just too big to slay. sometimes, you just have to save yourself.

and so, i went back to a place where creativity, transparency and integrity mean something. and my return feels like a warm embrace.

i am ready to blossom.

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life, death and…a cookbook?

wow. it’s been a long time. a few things brought me to back to the blog:  david rakoff,  my friend kelli’s new job and my friend marie’s book. and because it’s monday, meatless monday news from sprouted kitchen…

first, the sad news. the passing of one of my favorite modern writers, david rakoff. even that phrase, “the passing of” gives me pause. the passing to where? i’ve been thinking a lot about that lately…life. and how i’m living it. wondering if all my efforts of eating organically, supporting local farms, recycling, composting, having a garden, trying to do good in the world…all the things i do and try to do…do they really matter in the face of drought, population growth and the millions of other people who don’t give a sh*t? are we making a difference? or are we just making ourselves feel better? the death of someone so talented and so young (only 47!) always makes me reflect on my own life and how i spend my waking hours. the irishman and i were finally able to get away for a few days off. we went to big bear, pretty, but not spectacular, and a short drive from l.a. we stayed in a little cabin, cooked most of our meals, hiked and tried to stay away from people – which, even during the summer at a ski resort, was difficult. we came away with a couple decisions:  one, we need to get out of the heat and two, we need to get out of l.a.

which brings me to kelli. recently, she got the perfect job. and by perfect, i mean PERFECT. perfect for who she is and what she cares about and why she got her degree. the perfect job in the perfect city. she had been searching (like so many of us) for a long time and in a moment, her whole life changed. all the struggle suddenly made sense. and she realized that a seemingly random series of events lead her to exactly where she needed to be. a contact she had made 6 years ago in new york lead to a project in l.a. which was the exact kind of work she was applying for in san francisco. so against all odds and hundreds of applicants, she ended up getting not only a job, but a real future with a group of equally passionate and intelligent people.

next up is my friend marie. she has been writing a book. not just a book. but an idea that will change how people think about life and how they live it. she’s very close to finishing. but in the meantime, she and her husband have been fighting an emotionally draining legal battle and health issues and all the stress that comes with running your own business.

so many people struggling. and yet, so many people still trying to live right. so many people trying to make sense of how their lives have changed. of how that plan they had or that path they felt they were on, took a wrong turn and now they are just trying to get back to where they were before it all went to hell.

but before this post becomes a complete downer, let’s have some happy meatless monday news from sprouted kitchen. i’ve shared quite a few of sara & hugh’s recipes and i think i’ve written about how excited i am about their new book (coming out on august 28th!). but because it’s been so bloody hot in l.a. and i haven’t really been cooking (loads of salads and fruit…thank you, c.s.a.!), instead of a meatless monday recipe,  i thought it would be nice to share how excited they are about the fact that their dream, started two years ago, is finally a tangible, touchable thing…

in an interview with npr “there is no answer as to why me?“, david rakoff addressed the cancer treatment that caused the loss of his arm:

” … I’m fortunate in that I am 46 years old, and I do have a nifty little career so that the comma, noun after my name is David Rakoff comma writer. I’m very fortunate in that that’s kind of established, so even if I do lose my arm … I have managed to establish an identity that is based on my internal self, and for that I feel tremendously lucky.”

and maybe that’s all we can do. try to live our lives as best we can, as authentically as we can and one day, like kelli, a series of random events suddenly make sense of the chaos and confusion of what we’ve been living through. maybe like marie and sara and hugh, we express something or create something or do something, no matter how big or how small it may seem, that helps others or helps the planet. most of all, i think we must find a place that brings us calm. for the irishman and me, i’m thinking it’s northern california. i still haven’t figured out my “comma, noun”, but i know the things that matter to me and i have to believe that what i believe will one day, lead me to that comma…

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meatless monday recipes for memorial day…

image from pink parsley

happy memorial day! as you (more than likely) gather around the grill today, i thought it would be helpful to round up a few meatless monday recipes. thanks to delish’s 13 recipes for a vegetarian bbq, i found these mouthwatering chipotle portobello mushroom burgers from pink parsley. i’ve grilled portobellos a million times (well, actually the irishman has), but i do like the addition of chipotle in adobo to give it an extra somethin’ somethin’.

i’ll be taking the chipotle theme a step further with these grilled corn with chipotle lime butter as my side…

image from delish

add some chips, salad and watermelon for dessert and voila! my meatless-monday-memorial-day-meal is complete!

meatless monday has their top 10 tips for grilling, mother nature network has 10 veggie burger recipes, msnbc gathered 7 vegan memorial day recipes and rodale has 5 meatless grilling recipes…so fire up the grill and enjoy the last day of your long weekend!

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a wee voice makes big change: neverseconds…

maybe you already know about young scottish VEG (Veritas Ex Gustu, “truth from tasting” in Latin), the brilliant 9 year old whose blog neverseconds has, in less than 20 posts, revolutionized her school lunch program (with a little help from jamie oliver).  basically, little martha payne blogged (complete with ratings – including “pieces of hair”) about her school lunches, with unappetizing photos like this one:

brown lunch with 3(!) cucumbers via neverseconds

and now, look like this:

not perfect, but a definite improvement | via neverseconds

the other completely charming thing about this blog is that other school children send photos of their lunches to martha. this one from japan is my favorite:

so, in a very short time and all thanks to martha, kids at her school are now able to have as much bread, fruit and veggies as they want…way to go, VEG!

UPDATE little martha has been shut down by politicians!

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#meatlessmonday recipe: watermelon and arugula salad…

image from whole foods market

it may be may, but it’s hot in the valley. like in the 90s hot. who wants to cook (unless it’s outdoors)? not me. so this refreshing watermelon & arugula salad recipe from whole foods will do the trick just fine! i still am getting arugula, mizuna and other dark greens in my c.s.a. box, so i figure i can pick up a watermelon and our yummy health starts here balsamic dressing at work and whip this simple salad up in a snap!

on the personal front, it feels like things are shaking loose – not only for myself, but for my friends as well.  i didn’t end up doing the 10 day challenge per se, but i have been watching what i eat and (except for a big, slurpy bowl of orochon ramen and an ooey, gooey cheese panini sandwich at work) i’ve been doing really well. i do have more energy (plus, the tv is no longer my best friend). my days are still busy, but i’m carving out down time. the irishman and i are taking evening walks (the heat in the day is brutal, but the nights are gorgeous). and the biggest deal of all is i have applied for a big job. i don’t want to jinx it, but just let me say, it’s a perfect job and would give us the big change we’ve been longing for…

…so things are looking up. sometimes, the smallest change can lead to big change. sometimes, you have to believe in yourself and take a chance. sometimes, the ripple effect of just the thought of that change can change your outlook on what’s going on (or not going on) in your life.

ugh. i hope that last paragraph didn’t feel like a bunch of self help clichés!

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you gotta work with what you got…

i’ve thought a lot about my last post and wondered how i ended up here. my best friend told me that few people could decide to {poof!} make all those changes at once and that i should, instead, pick one and then the rest would follow. so. i’ve decided to change my eating habits with a 10 day challenge from the self health revolution.

i know, i know…is this just another empty promise? who knows! but i’m going to try my darndest – i mean, 10 days should fly by, right? and given the fact that i work at whole foods, how hard can it be? that was really the sprout (haha) of this solution – i can’t change everything at once, so the best i can do is change what is within my reach. instead of longing for faraway goals, like the farm; i need to focus closer: my health, trying to find some balance, making time for joy…oh wait, the list is already getting long!

the way i figure it, if i’m eating better, i will have more energy. if i have more energy, i will get back to my punch bag. if i get back to my punch bag, i won’t be so stressed out. if i’m not so stressed out, i will have more mental space to be creative. makes total sense, no?

you would already be proud of me…we do something at whole foods that we call “team member appreciation”. the week is full of yummy free food and activities – yesterday was pizza day – but i was quite content with my organic salad (with sprouts, edamame and flax seeds)…go me!

i do have to say that just this shift in starting something doable completely changed my energy level. i walked a little straighter and with more purpose. my mind raced with dishes i could prepare to stay on track. sorry i missed my meatless monday post, but the next 10 days will probably be filled with salads and smoothies! makes for healthy eating, but maybe not the most engaging reading.

maybe i’ll just start a food journal to document my 10 day challenge…

monday:

  • bragg’s apple cider vinegar & honey water
  • matcha tea
  • banana & greek yogurt
  • wasa multigrain crackers for snacking
  • giant organic salad
  • bragg’s apple cider vinegar & honey water
  • brussel sprouts, tomato & garbanzo bean salad for dinner
  • probiotic & enzyme supplements
  • 3 joe-joes < okay, okay, i know, i know!

today:

  • bragg’s apple cider & honey water
  • matcha tea
  • kale, strawberry, blueberry & vegan protein smoothie
  • giant salad for lunch
  • wasa cracker snacks
  • today, we get our CSA box, so i’ll juice some of the veggies and see what surprises/inspirations are inside
  • no more joe-joes left, so i don’t need to worry about that temptation…i heard frozen fruits make a yummy snack!

wish me luck!

 

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vision boards, intentions and walking on fire…

this is going to be a long post…so pick up your coffee, your tea or your cocktail and enjoy the ramblings of my mind!

no matter how many promises i make to myself (lose weight, blog regularly, reduce stress, go vegan), i always seem to slide back down the cheese-filled slope of disappointment. why is this? how can i look in my closet and see all the cute clothes that no longer fit and still stuff my face with salty snacks and ice cream? how can i buy all the gear for my punching bag and only do it for 3 days? why is it so hard to change my bad habits?

part of it is time management and work/life balance…i work a lot…i think about work a lot…part of it is cyclical…i work a lot and then i’m tired and by the time i get home, it’s all i can do to walk the dogs and make some food and then i just sit in front of the tv until i fall asleep (i’ve got a stack of unfinished books on my nightstand). because i’m not eating well (and i KNOW what foods i should be eating AND i work at whole foods – hello?), i don’t have the energy to get through the week. because i’m dragging my ass, i don’t have the inclination to go and hit the punching bag (although i must say, those 3 days were an amazing stress reliever).

i know all these things and yet, i can’t seem to shift my behavior. a good girlfriend of mine sent me an email (oh, that’s another one – not returning phone calls) about GNH (gross national happiness) vs. GNP (gross national product). you can watch videos here. i had heard a story ages ago about bhutan or another like-minded country whose government measured its success by GNH and i do think part of my malaise is cultural. we are a country of workaholics. this doesn’t mean we are more productive, just that we work too much and buy too much and have somewhat screwed up priorities. and now with the new economy, it’s even more intense – my friend who made a drastic career change was recently fired after spending the last year and a half training because he missed his state board exam by 1 point. 1 point! and did i mention? he’s in his 5os. i know a lot of my bad habits are rooted in this constant work work work and are paired with the american dream of owning my own business or breaking free of the grind…don’t even ask me about the farm fund…it’s become the emergency fund for paying unforeseen bills…yes, i’m talking about you, IRS!

so what to do? although things have started looking up for the irishman in terms of design gigs, we still don’t have the time or energy to spend real time together. i can’t even remember the last time we took a holiday. we don’t even think about getting away on a plane, now it’s just about finding the same days off to go to a museum or the beach. or recently, just asking for the same day off so we could go to a free baseball game where, of course, i spent the entire time eating cheese, crostini and olives…what is happening to me?

i remember when i started modernest. so filled with creative energy and vision and efficiency. of course, at the time i didn’t have a real job. my days were filled with what i wanted to do, when and how i wanted to do it. i was oh-so-productive! the weird thing is, i actually like my day job and i love the company i work for; but i’m unable to figure out how to get back to that free-wheeling creative girl i once was. i was talking to a friend of mine who is about to make a huge life change. she was talking about telling her friends to send good intentions to the universe for her to find a house, a job – all the things she will need. i have a lot of friends who are still on the vision board|everything happens for a reason|the law of attraction|the power of the universe life path. i must admit, i spent a lot of my adulthood in that oprah “follow your passion” neighborhood. she now says that “you become what you believe” and is working with tony robbins and other “lifemasters” to eliminate our fears and whatever other crap that’s holding us back from living our “best” life in her “lifeclass tour” (it’s free! and it’s online!). maybe i’m just not brave enough to live my life…maybe i just need to change my “lifestory” so i can live the life of my dreams…maybe i just need to buy more books (and not read them!)…

i still believe in collective energy (hell, look what happened when people got pissed off about pink slime – one of the major companies declared bankruptcy!), i think it’s more about doing rather than wishing it to be. but then i think, despite what has happened to this particular girlfriend (and it’s been a lot), she always manages to stay positive. to decide upon something and follow through with it – whether building a business or upending her life. so maybe the power of intention only works if you truly believe…or you invent “spanx”…or you walk through fire with tony robbins…or you win the lotto…who knows?

all i know is i want to change. i can see my life (land, dogs, farm, quiet…with access to a major city) and i know what i have to do (eat better, exercise, enjoy my friends). i just need to figure out how to get there and get those things done. so, in trying to get back on track, here’s your meatless monday recipe from sprouted kitchen. sara had posted a gooey and delicious grilled gruyère sandwich with sauteed chard, but the “new” me must avoid the seduction of cheese…and i have to admit, this garnet pilaf looks pretty tasty!

if you have any tips for me, i’d love it if you would share with the rest of the class!

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