How To: Enjoy a Long Weekend in Texas

Step 1 – Meet old friend at baggage claim and awkwardly skip-run into each other’s arms. 

Step 2 – Use two different phones and absolutely no knowledge of Dallas to get lost for hours, venturing onto toll roads, back roads and m****rf*****g commerce way, until finally finding and touring Dealy Plaza. 


Step 3 – Stay in a fancy hotel for the night, planning to drink numerous a’Rita’s from the gas station, only to stay up late talking and fall asleep mid sentence. 

Step 4 – Enjoy continental breakfast, steal everything they won’t charge you for from the room. 

Step 5 – Go to friend’s house in Wichita Falls, see improve show, get drunk and talk about politics after being called a yankee and responding “my state wasn’t involved in that war…”

Step 6 – Go to friends hometown, meet her hilarious friends, go to lake to cool off and drink all the drinks. 


Step 7 – Wake up the next morning wondering why you are still wearing a swimsuit, why the words ‘crown royale’ make you nauseous, and where your toothbrush is. 

Step 8 – Go kayaking hungover. For five hours!

Step 9 – Drive a car for the first time in two years but just briefly. Feel 15 again and decide driving is still not for you. 

Step 10 – Go back to Wichita Falls, take a Benadryl because you are insanely allergic to Texas and konk out for the whole ride. 

Step 11 – Go hiking in Oklahoma on this trail, oh wait is that a snake, never mind, this trail nope that’s a snake, no, this trail, no snakes, awesome, wait where’s the trail?


Step 12 – Head back to Dallas for the flight home but magically find extra time and a Buccee’s. Buy tourist-y goods and delicious salsa. 

Step 13 – Say goodbye, promise to come back soon, know you will. 


Best of luck.

Learning to Take Care of My Damn Self

Growing up I watched my very motivated father work his fingers to the damn bone. If there was a retake needed by a football player, he’d stay until 6 to give it to them. If a parent meeting needed to happen at 5 am or 9 pm, he’d make it happen. If he needed to learn Spanish or trombone to get the information across, he’d do it.

Every evening I watched him get home late and fall asleep minutes after sitting down. And every single school break I watched him get horribly sick and spend his time off recovering.

When I started teaching I promised myself I would find a way to work for my kids, to give them every chance I can, without burning myself out.

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I have been blessed with a team of co-workers who are caring and understanding, who always look out for me. My co-teacher tells me often to take care of myself. The beginning of every department meeting is either a self care check-in (where we talk about our specific self care goals and what we are doing to reach them this week) or a self care practice (Tai Chi, guided meditation, etc.) My Assistant Principal meets with me once a week to lesson plan/unit plan/revise curriculum/talk about what’s not working and how to fix it. My in-school mentor meets with me once a week to talk about literally anything I need help with.

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I’m supported, much more so than a lot of teachers. I’m lucky and I know it. But still I got caught with a case of ignoring my own needs.

Last Monday I got up at 4 and laid on my couch sobbing because my head was pounding so hard I couldn’t move. I called in sick but by noon the fever, headache and general ick was so bad I couldn’t stop crying.

I went to the clinic in the afternoon (I’ll be honest I went mostly because I wanted to be at work the following day) and found out I had a high fever, a sinus infection, and an ear infection.

My point is: don’t do this. Don’t let it get this bad. I was sick, really obviously sick and tried to push too hard through it and for what?

Americans especially have this notion that if you are not absolutely killing yourself at work, you’re lazy. I can’t say this enough times: that’s bullsh*t.

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In Peru, we would work from about 7- or am until lunch, go get lunch and take a nap or spend time with family, and then go back to work from 3 until 5 or 6. Yeah, that’s a three hour lunch. We also took 20-30 minutes breaks throughout the day to sit and talk.

At first I was torn apart by the difference and went to the go-to argument so many others have used (or at least thought in their head): well maybe if they worked more, their country would be more advanced. This, my friends, is also bullsh*t.

The reasons that many countries struggle has more to do with internal structure and corruption than with amount of hours worked. Hard work may be important, but worker bees working their buzzers off with no break  will not improve a country or a city or a workplace or a person.

I suppose the moral of the story is: put in the work, do whatever it is you do the best that you possibly can, but remember that half of being your best is treating yourself well. Work hard, self care hard.

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Best of luck.

Learning to Take Care of My Damn Self

3 Awesome Uses for Turmeric

The other day I was riding home from a basketball game with a car-full of teachers and for some reason paprika came up. Clearly we are exceedingly interesting human beings and you should be jealous. After discussing how smoked paprika is amazing and plain paprika is lame, someone said “well, nothing is as bad as turmeric, it doesn’t taste like anything and it turns everything yellow.”

WHAT.

Turmeric is easily one of my favorite spices, for so many reasons. Personally, I’m in love with it’s anti-inflammatory properties that save me from IBS and angry old person joints again and again.

Don’t you worry, I set him straight, by telling him about three of my favorite ways to use turmeric:

1. Calming Golden Milk

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Golden Milk is a fantastic for tummy trouble, joint pain, or just a soothing hot drink. There are many different recipes to make this lovely elixir, but I tend to use the following:

  • 1-2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2-3 cups milk alternative (almond, soy, coconut, cashew, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of black pepper

Warm the milk over the stove and stir in the other ingredients. The black pepper seems a little strange, but don’t leave it out as it helps with absorption (and you really can’t taste it). Feel free to add in any natural sweeteners as well.

2. Face Mask

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I was hesitant at first to put a substance that’s know for staining this yellow on or near my face. This face mask however, did not stain my skin and, even better, it really helps keep it clear. I’ve noticed that the morning after I’ve put this on my skin, any blemishes I have are greatly reduced and my face in general is smooth and glow-y.

Again, there are many variations, but the mask I tend to use contains:

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tsp coconut oil

It’s messy so beware, and wear something black for sure. Rub the mixture on your face lightly until entire area is covered. Leave for 10-20 minutes. I also typically carry a tissue around with me while it’s on, to blot any possible drips.

3. Turmeric Seasoned Rice

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I love me some seasoned rice. I also love me some cauliflower rice because rice is not my stomach’s BFF. No matter what type of rice you’re eating, mixing in turmeric, (smoked) paprika, and salt and pepper make it so tasty. Put a fried egg (or three) on top and I’m in heaven.

Not only is it a solid meal though, the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric work through this dish too. I find myself eating “yellow rice” (or yellowish, reddish rice)  when I’m feeling crumby and feeling better quickly.

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Whole30 Confession #2: I have IBS

I believe I’ve talked about this a few times on the blog, but there’s always room for another IBS post. Right? Right.

A little over a year ago I was feeling pretty crummy on the regular; nauseous and constantly battling stomach cramps. Someone once likened this type of stomach pain to feeling barbed wire run through your intestines and I’ve never found a more spot-on comparison.

One Friday evening my symptoms got worse and worse until I was sitting in bed realizing I could no longer take a full breath because of the pain. By the next day I was really struggling to breathe regularly and couldn’t eat much without increasing pain or nausea. Not eating regularly made my blood sugar crash and I got dizzy and sick. And as often happens when my body is overstressed, my blood pressure crashed to the ground and so did I.

I passed out at least twice, though Boyfriend says three times. I’ll go with his answer because I wasn’t really there. Eventually I went to the clinic* and saw a lovely on-call doctor who poked, prodded, asked questions, ran a few tests and eventually said “I can’t see the cause but you’re obviously in pain.” See wrote me a prescription for Vicodin** and told me to come back and see my doctor.

I went back that Monday and saw my GP who declared that it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I praised, I rejoiced, finally a diagnosis!

Then she explained further – IBS has no cure, treatment, or reliable cause. Basically it’s the diagnosis you get when you have chronic stomach issues and every other possible issue has been ruled out. Cool, a diagnosis…

IBS is a b*tch. It’s what I would image having a teenager would be, except that the child is your digestive system. You can’t control it, it argues with you constantly, but you can’t just get rid of it. IBS is enjoying a cupcake but knowing you’ll be sick later. Maybe. IBS is waking up one random morning, after weeks of healthy eating, in horrible pain for no reason. Like I said, IBS is a b*tch.

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Since then I’ve been through many different diet restrictions and natural methods, though the only thing that’s made a real difference is the Whole30 reset. I’ve learned a lot about my body and what it doesn’t like doing multiple Whole30s and I’ve come to look at food differently.

My body is angry much of the time and I’m by no means perfect when it comes to food habits, but I’m taking a step every day toward food freedom.

Best of luck.

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* I waited until Monday and went to a clinic because my health insurance did not cover ER charges. This absolute hell brought to you buy: bullshit rich people in health policy who don’t f***ing get it.

** My crappy state insurance did, however, cover prescription painkillers. So, I guess if you can’t get emergency healthcare, get drugs.

Whole30 Confession #1: I’m a Binge Eater

I think the first time I really noticed my binging habits was in college. I lived in the dorms but had the cheapest meal plan which meant I still had to prepare about half of my meals. So I bought groceries, only as much as I could carry, and I lugged them home on the bus.

There was always this feeling when I got home, this itching to consume everything. My home was filled with food, fully equipped for another week. But I wanted all of it. There were so many afternoons of stomach pain from simply eating too much at once.

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Binging is like being this other person, watching yourself consume and consume. It’s not even really tasting. It’s wanting another bite even when you haven’t finished the one in your mouth. It’s not satisfaction, it is only temporary euphoria followed by guilt.

This is not some small annoying habit to break, I know that. It’s a compulsion and it’s scary. The idea of eating until your sick, well it sickens me.

My Whole30 is partially about this. Particularly with sugar, but also in general. I want to remember my identity outside of food, I want to stop thinking so much about what I ‘get to’ eat next. Whole

Best of luck.

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Escaping the Food Battle

Food and I have a complicated relationship. And not complicated like we fight, break up and get back together or we don’t want to put a label on it or one of us is married to a plant. Complicated like we’re actually trying to kill each other.

We go way back. Unfortunately, however, my knowledge of proper nutrition only dates back a few years.

I grew up in a pretty classically American household; there was a lot of processed foods and ready-to-eat stuff. I don’t remember noticing my body as anything other than a vessel with which I moved through life until fifth grade. Overnight I went from running around without a care to worrying that I didn’t look the way I was supposed to and that I needed to fix it.

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Body issues bred food issues, food issues bred eating disorders and shame which bred more body issues and so the cycle goes. In college, armed with the ability to buy and eat what I wanted and a crippling depression, I gained sixty pounds. By junior year I was desperate and terrified. I was terrified to work out in public for fear I’d be laughed at, so I tried cutting calories. I tried juice cleanses, and purging and alcohol-only days. I tried sketchy internet diet pills that made me pee all the time.

It was not some conscious moment that changed everything, that part came later. Looking back now, I think it had to. At the end of my junior year of college, I studied abroad in London. My daily commute just to and from school logged a solid two miles, plus the time I spent exploring the city the rest of the day. I walked and I walked a lot. I started noticing how much better I felt, not just because my pants were starting to sag, but because my body was getting the chemicals it had been needing.

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The struggle continued through the following years, but the pant sizes kept going down and my general outlook got better. The conscious moment of change came during Peace Corps years later. I’d had stomach infections, parasites, and a myriad of other ailments through my first six months of service. After a lot of antibiotics, I finally started to heal but found that my stomach was always upset for some reason.

So I started reading and I found the Whole30 community and Paleo and AIP* and everyone claimed the same issues I’d had for years past and in recent times. Everyone found solace in changing their diet.

I’m sharing all of this for two reasons:

First, I’m doing another Whole30 reset through January, because the holidays and the stress have led my eating patterns down a dark road and it’s time to reset. I’ve recently read Melissa Hartwig’s most recent book, Food Freedom Forever, and I’m feeling mighty inspired.

Second, for too long diet changes and exercise and living a healthy life have been connected only to weight loss and that’s not what this is about for most people. I’ve felt that itching inside me to lose weight, to be skinny, to finally be beautiful and that itch wasn’t cured by weight loss, it was cured by learning to love myself and understand myself. If everyone told a story of weight loss instead of health and self love, we’d be…well, nowhere good.

I’ll keep y’all posted on the Whole30. I’d love to hear your questions, comments, and especially if anyone would like to join me on this round of Whole30 fun!

Best of luck

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Let’s Talk About Motherhood

I am a great many things.

Some things I’m proud of: being a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, a graduate fellow, a teacher, a blogger. Some things I’m less proud of: being a tooth grinder, fighting a sometimes epically failing battle with Anxiety and IBS, my propensity to burn food when cooking.

I am a lot of things and I plan to do and learn and become many more things in my lifetime. One thing I’d never really considered an option or a desire in my life was being someone’s mom. Until two days ago.

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I was sitting in a lecture about the connection between the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Lives Matter movement. Surrounded by in the very intellectual, my uterus whispered in my ear yeah ok, I get it, you’re a scholar blah blah blah, but what about…BABIES? 

Ladies and gentlemen, my uterus; causing problems since 1999.

2112013212753I have never wanted kids, in fact I have very adamantly and openly not wanted kids. It’s always been “maybe one day I’ll consider adoption” for me. But in that moment I realized not only a possible, tiny, very very small desire for a child, but the terrifying closeness of my 30th birthday. Yes I know it’s more than two years away but time moves fast, y’all*.

It might have been a hormonal moment. It might have been stress, a desire to be doing anything that is not grad school for a moment. A better conclusion, brought up by a friend, is that I like winning. I’m getting to a winning place in grad school, close to winning the career I’ve wanted for so long, so naturally I now must win family! Maybe it’s all three or just a weird case of whispering uterus.

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Sitting here now, I still don’t know what I want, I’ll need some time to figure that out. The point of this post, if there is one, is that I got a little crazy, got a little emotional, and then decided the best way to deal with the crazy and emotional moment was to talk to Boyfriend about it.

In my experience, sitting on a possibly irrational but definitely emotional moment rather than talking about it, doesn’t work. Early in our relationship when I immediately assumed every un-responded-to text signaled a breakup, I told Boyfriend. When I was certain that New York would squash our shot at happiness, I told Boyfriend. When I was convinced that he was mad at me because I stayed out late with friends, I told Boyfriend.

Talking about that irrational monster in my brain is like turning on the light and checking under the bed. Yeah, there might still be a small fear that the monster can turn invisible, but for the most part it helps.

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So I said the awkward and annoyingly tearful words to him. We talked for a long time about everything that could impact this decision. He was, well, exactly who he always is, rational, kind, loving, and smart. There was no perfect answer that fixed everything because life is riddled with complexities, but I no longer feel alone in this.

Just saying it is important, even if you sound a little crazy and you cry on the street in front of your neighbors because I don’t know why I’m crying I’m just, it’s a lot. Whatever you’re not saying, stop holding on to it; a good talk can work wonders.

Best of luck.

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*I really hope this isn’t a mid-life crisis because I’d like to live to be at least 60…and I just learned to spell Renaissance