Saturday, February 18, 2017

This Week (in which the Traveling Mandolin actually Travels)

Last week, instead of blogging, I was hanging out in a place filled with warm weather and lots of flooding— which, surprisingly, wasn’t Missouri. See if you can guess where I was:








If you guessed “California,” you’re correct! Zach and I spent the week at his grandparents’ house in Sacramento, and also popped over to San Francisco for a couple days to visit my sister Mary. I have more pictures and stories to share, which I’ll be posting over the next several days. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the best photo from the trip, in which Mary is a model and I am a mustache model.


~~~

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Recipe: Winter Salad with Chickpeas, Apple, and Blue Cheese


Guess what? I came up with a recipe! This happened last Monday, when I was throwing together some food for a monthly potluck and trying to give myself some good options so I wouldn’t feel deprived with all my grainlessness. I began putting elements together in a way I thought would taste good, and before I knew it, I had assembled the hands-down most delicious salad I’ve ever eaten. I was kind of stunned.

Sure, I’ve kind of come up with recipes before— a basic white sauce with kale, for instance— but this was the first one that was truly creative, not just adapting a technique I’d learned from someone else. The balance of tastes (sour, tangy, sweet, vinegary, pungent) and textures is exquisite.

This salad has a lot of components, but the essential four elements are the chickpeas, green apple, blue cheese, and vinaigrette. Everything else adds texture and taste, but if you’re a minimalist, just use those four.

Here is the recipe:

Winter Salad with Chickpeas, Apple, and Blue Cheese

Ingredients:

Roasted sweet potatoes and beets— Use about twice as many sweet potatoes, by volume, than beets. Cut them into 1/2-inch dice and coat the pieces in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, etc. Bake them on a sheet at 450 degrees for about twenty minutes, then check for softness. You should be able to easily poke a piece with a knife. Bake until tender. These keep for several days in the fridge, so make them ahead of time.

Salad greens— I used romaine and bok choy, cut into small pieces, but pretty much any salad green would be good. I also shredded some carrot into the greens.

Chickpeas— Canned chickpeas will work, but they’re better made from scratch. Try this Crockpot recipe. After they’re cooked, sautee them in a little butter and season with salt, pepper, and a couple shakes of parmesan. 

Green apple, such as Granny Smith, diced

Blue cheese

A few chunks of avocado, seasoned with salt and pepper

Vinaigrette— Make this super-simple homemade vinaigrette: pour a couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar (or apple cider or balsamic vinegar or lemon juice) into a jar, and add a shake of salt and pepper and a couple crushed garlic gloves or some garlic powder. Stir in a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and shake or stir. Then add olive oil— two to three times as much as the vinegar— and shake thoroughly. May be stored at room temperature for several weeks.

To assemble: Put the warm root vegetables at the bottom of your bowl, then top with salad greens, chickpeas, apple, and blue cheese in whatever quantities you like. Pour the dressing over the top and enjoy!


~~~

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How to Donate Blood (a real-life, non-candy-coated guide)

Me after my first successful donation in 2015.
When Zach first urged me to try donating blood, I balked. A lot. First of all, I have a fear of needles. It’s not severe by any means— not like my friends who grow woozy at the mere thought— but noticeable enough that I can’t watch other people get stuck, and I start sweating and my heart races a bit when I know a needle’s going in me. I guess I’d categorize it as a moderate fear. 

Secondly, I was afraid of the process in general. What would the nurses be like? What would they do? How would it feel? I anxiously looked through the Red Cross’s website, looking for information, but I was suspicious of all the cheerful chatter about how caring the nurses are, how very little it hurts, and what an incredible glow you get after donating.

The first time I tried to donate blood, I got as far as the hemoglobin test, where they give you a tiny pinprick in the finger. The nurse didn’t warn me I was getting stuck, and I had a miniature panic attack. I was not able to donate that time.

The next time, trying to gather my courage, I attempted again. I learned that day that I have tiny veins (as has been confirmed by several nurses and one anesthesiologist), and it took forever to draw a pint. I had a huge bruise and a really sore arm, but honestly, it wasn’t that painful.

My second donation went swimmingly, with virtually no pain, a quick draw, and a removal of the needle so subtle that I didn’t even feel it. 

On my third donation, yesterday, my blood vessels were just not having it. The nurse couldn’t even find a vein on my left arm, and barely managed to tease out one on my right. The needle going in hurt a lot for a second. Things were going okay until a few minutes in, when my carb-deprivation caught up with me and I nearly blacked out. They leaned my chair back and my vision cleared, and I was able to successfully finish the donation. I felt shaky, upset, and pretty darn exhausted afterward, and cried in the car. Nevertheless, I’m determined to go and donate again once my blood iron recovers.

So what am I saying here? This: if you, like me, are a healthy heterosexual with a moderate fear of needles, you should try to give blood at least once.

The reasons are numerous. You know the obvious ones: that whole saving people’s lives thing. Blood has a short shelf life, so it’s constantly in demand. Also, the more people who donate, the cheaper blood is for patients to buy at hospitals. 

I have personal reasons for donating blood. Whenever I waffle in my commitment, I think about my mom a few years ago: lying in the hospital bed, her skin the color of ash, as someone else’s blood dripped through an IV in her arm. I’m sure you know someone who has required blood at some point. My mom, after a month of being constantly stuck with needles, is traumatized and could never donate. Because she can’t, I will. Someone has to. I encourage you to make that someone you.

So, here is my completely honest explanation of how to donate blood. Again, if you have normal-sized veins, you’ll probably have much less trouble donating than I do, so keep that in mind.

Find a donation buddy. I’ll be honest: if Zach hadn’t dragged me to the Red Cross center, I never would’ve donated blood. You need someone to hold you accountable, to provide moral support, and to be a person you can encourage as well. (Zach is a blood-giving champion! He donates platelets, which is a two- to three-hour process involving two needles and often a significant amount of pain. He has saved so many lives.)

Go to the Red Cross website and see if you’re eligible to donate. If you are, take a moment to find a donation center and set up an appointment. If you can donate mid-week, that’s better, since a lot of people donate on weekends.

Prepare for the appointment. Make sure you get enough iron in the days leading up to your appointment, and see these guidelines for more details.

On the day of the appointment, drink a ton of water and get some exercise. A bit of weight-lifting wouldn’t hurt either, if you’re into that. My dad also suggested to me putting a heating pad on my arm while I’m in the waiting room, to allow my veins to bulge more. I’m hoping to try this next time.

Understand what you need for the best experience. For me, being stuck without warning is my biggest fear, so I ask the nurses to give me a countdown before inserting the needle (even the tiny needle for the hemoglobin test). Although the Red Cross website assures you that all the nurses are compassionate and understanding, you’ll sometimes run into the “you volunteered to do this so suck it up” type, so be prepared to stand up for yourself and ask for exactly what you need, whether that’s a countdown, a pause to center yourself before donating, etc. (I’m not dissing these nurses— if I worked with needles as often as they do, I’m sure I’d be desensitized, too. They don’t want to spend their time coddling— they want to get the life-saving blood as quickly as possible.)

Show up on time and sign in. When you’re called, the nurse will take you to a private room and have you answer a series of questions on the computer, mostly asking about your virus history, trips to Europe, and sexual contact. After you’ve completed these, the nurse will take your vitals. They will also test your hemoglobin by zapping you with a tiny needle in the finger and scraping the blood off. (Kinda freaky, but only as painful as pricking your finger on a rose thorn.)

Now it’s time to donate. They’ll get you set up on a comfy chair, wrap up your arm to create pressure, draw a line on the inside of your elbow where the most promising vein is, then scrub and sterilize that patch of skin. Then comes the needle insert. Again, my experiences with this moment have been varied: the first two times it didn’t really hurt, just kind of felt weird and uncomfortable (“Ouch, that was a needle. Wait, why is there a thing inside my arm now?... That’s weird”), but yesterday’s was more of a “Holy cow I just got stabbed in the arm!” and I yelped quite loudly. (Fortunately my nurse was sympathetic.) As upsetting as that was, though, it only lasted for two seconds. I hate pain, and I suck at dealing with it, but once the needle’s actually in, it’s not active pain. Again, just that uncomfortable pressure and feeling of something being in your body where it’s not supposed to be.

Bring something to distract you. I usually scroll through tumblr or something to keep my mind off it. If your blood flow is good, the actual blood-drawing process only takes about ten minutes. Be sure to let the nurses know if it starts to hurt, because it’s not supposed to.

Take some time to recover. Usually the needle being pulled out doesn’t hurt, although that may vary, but again, you’re only looking at a split second of pain. If you’re not feeling dizzy, walk over to the snack table for some Cheez-its and cranberry juice. Yay! You did it!

Encourage other people to donate. If everyone eligible person gave blood just once a year, it would make a huge difference. 

To some, this article may seem like it’s discouraging donation rather than encouraging it. However, I would much rather come in expecting the correct level of pain rather than thinking things are going to be better than they are. And here’s another way of thinking about it: can you endure literally three seconds of pain and ten minutes of discomfort if it meant saving three people’s lives? I can. And I believe you can, too. 


~~~

Saturday, January 28, 2017

This Week (Birdwatching, Veggie Cooking, and Being)

My brothers-in-law, hitting the water with sticks, because this is the best thing ever. See the flock of swans in the distance?

Last week was full. Not busy, but full. I am reminded again of why I’m so stingy with my commitments, why I always leave huge chunks of blank space on my calendar: I get overwhelmed easily, and I like to create space. This week has felt kind of breathless, even though I haven’t been doing that much.

Last Saturday we spent an afternoon at the Riverlands Audubon Center with Zach’s two youngest brothers, Calvin and Preston, where we admired a rescued great horned owl, hiked around through the grasslands, picked our way through piles of dead fish on the lake shore, and looked for bald eagles (we didn’t see any, but we did watch a flock of trumpeter swans, which I had never seen in the wild before). Climbing a dead log was the highlight for Calvin and Preston. Rediscovering my love of birdwatching was mine. The next day as I took a walk in the nearby park, I spotted all sorts of birds— downy woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, even a huge pileated woodpecker— and resolved to start carrying my binoculars with me from now on.

A big chunk of this week has been taken up with cooking: Zach and I have decided to do a two-week sugar detox, avoiding sweeteners, fruit, and (alas!) grain. It’s alarming how many vegetables you blade through when you don’t have tortillas or bread or pasta to give them substance; we can hardly keep up. I know that eating a more nutrient-dense diet is good for a while, but I’m happy to announce that I’m not going permanently low-carb any time soon. I love my grains!

In the meantime, I’ve been working on student papers, as well as draft three of my PCT memoir (I’m calling it “the hack n’ slash version”), and I’m probably going to start work on writing some grants for the Historic Frenchtown Association, a skill I’m eager to learn. 

Shredded carrots and beet greens with eggs and curry powder.
Actually delicious.
Right now there’s a bit more on my plate than I would like, but I’m trying to be intentional about slowing down and creating breathing space. I’ve mostly stayed off Facebook, and have been taking time to read, notably a reread of Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway. (I love love love this book— it’s the first book that made permaculture make sense to me, and I’m getting so much more out of it this time through). I’ll post a proper review when I’m done with it.

May we all continue to weather the winter gracefully! I hope today that you’ll fix yourself some tea and create space to just be.


~~~

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mix n' Match Meatless Mexican-Inspired Meals

(A bit too much alliteration in the title?)

At our house, we eat a lot of burritos. A lot. We consider them the perfect food: cheap, quick, easily vegetarian, and made with items we almost always have on hand. I set out to make a list of the versions of Mexican-inspired meals we usually eat (burritos, quesadillas, tacos, nachos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc.), but the list soon became unwieldy. So instead, here is a mix-and-match recipe generator, based on some of my favorite combinations. It’s like going to Qdoba or Chipotle, except cheap. (These are all vegetarian or pescatarian, so if you add meat the options get even more diverse.)

Lettuce, refried beans, chili, cheddar, guac, sour cream, Cholula
Choose a base:
Flour or corn tortillas
Taco shells
Tortilla chips
Brown or white rice
Quinoa
Shredded lettuce
Cabbage or other hardy green, steamed

Choose a filling:
Refried beans, cheddar cheese, chopped jalapenos
Refried beans, avocado mashed with lime juice, salt, pepper, and chile powder
Cheese and chile powder
Beans, sauteed greens, diced tomato or salsa and a fried egg
Beans, cheese, peppers, and mole sauce
Beans, cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream
Beans with sauteed slices of onion and pepper
Sauteed kale or chard with garlic, black beans, and tomatoes
Chili, slightly drained
Black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, and avocado
Black-eyed peas, roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed greens, lime juice, hot sauce
Tuna, salsa (drained), and cheddar
Shredded fish, shredded cabbage, hot sauce

Refried beans, cheddar, pickled jalapenos, habanero sauce
Choose toppings:
Sour cream
More cheese
Peppers
Jalapenos
Hot sauce
Chile powder, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder
Chopped onions
Avocado
Salsa
Chopped tomatoes
Cilantro 
Lime

I like to cook burritos and quesadillas on my panini maker. Toaster ovens work well for most everything else (or a regular oven). If you can only heat up something in the microwave (or the stove), only heat the filling, and warm up the tortillas on a dry pan for several seconds.

What are your favorite combinations?

~~~

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What I've Been Reading: "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan

After years of hearing real foodies revere Michael Pollan’s name, I finally decided to pick up one of his books. I had resisted for a long time; maybe it’s the hipster in me that doesn’t want to jump on popular bandwagons, or maybe it’s the fact that so many real foodies use CAPITAL LETTERS in conjunction with discussing Pollan’s books, during which they warn me about all those ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS that Michael Pollan says are so bad for you and by the way the “cellulose” in parmesan is actually SAWDUST AND I AM USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS TO TRY TO SCARE YOU INTO THINKING THAT THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER.

So I must admit, I expected Michael Pollan to be a bit like the capital-letter-using bloggers: inflammatory, overly nostalgic, and not particularly scientific. I was wrong.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: a Natural History of Four Meals is one of the most fascinating and challenging books I’ve ever read. Pollan’s writing is vivid, thoroughly researched, full of breadth and depth, and quite entertaining. Also, he doesn’t use caps lock at all.

The phrase “the omnivore’s dilemma” refers to a struggle unique to animals that can eat a wide variety of foods: on one hand, they are resilient and can survive in many different situations. On the other, they have to expend an enormous amount of brain space to figure out what to eat and whether or not it will poison them. Pollan argues that throughout most of history, humans have had established cultures of food to help them avoid the omnivore’s dilemma. But with the modern-day jumble of new foods and food substances and a lack of food culture (especially in the US), the omnivore’s dilemma is back, stronger than ever.

So, how do we decide what to eat? The book sets out to answer the question by delving into the structure of three distinct food systems: conventional processed food, organic and alternative food, and wild foods. 

The first several chapters are about corn, the basis of all modern convenience food. It discusses such questions as, “Why on earth do we grow so much corn? Why is corn in absolutely everything? Why can conventional farmers only make money by growing increasingly large amounts of corn?” It shows the how and why of industrial agriculture in a vivid way. 

This section— discussing food politics, government policy, and animal cruelty, can be hard to read at times because it’s exposing a part of the food chain that I have been consciously ignoring for many years. I can’t look at a McDonald’s hamburger the same way again. I don’t see a cheap beef patty, I see a water-guzzling cow raised in California during a water crisis, shipped to a feedlot where it’s fed an unnatural diet simply because there’s a surplus of corn, slaughtered with a ramrod in its forehead and pulverized by machines that are impossible to keep clean. It’s difficult to keep looking at these threads that wind through so many deeply broken systems— much less understand what my place is in reforming them— but if I want what’s on my plate to align with my values, I can’t look away.

The second section is structured around Pollan’s experience volunteering for a week at Polyface Farms, run by local-foods farmer Joel Salatin. Pollan describes the science of rotated grazing, symbiotic pasturing, and local food systems, as well as narrating the experience of slaughtering/butchering chickens. He also discusses the recent wave of industrial organic agriculture— an oxymoron at heart— and its complexities, vs. a local, small-scale system. He doesn’t present easy answers, encouraging the readers to ask questions of their own.

The third section talks about his adventures in trying to make a meal entirely from food that he hunted, gathered, or grew himself. His description of hunting wild pig, searching for mushrooms, and trying (unsuccessfully) to distill salt are all fascinating. He discusses humans’ original diet, the paleolithic origins of most of our food cravings for sugar and fat. (And no, he doesn’t advocate the paleo diet— he wisely points out that there is no way to sustain a population of any size on hunting and gathering.)

Although the dust jacket would lead you to believe that he finishes the book with clear answers about how and what we should eat, that’s not the case. He presents evidence and editorial, tells stories and discusses his own struggles, but he ultimately shows that the omnivore’s dilemma is just that— a dilemma. But for anyone trying to work through this tangle of questions for themselves, Pollan’s book is a great place to start.

~~~

Monday, January 16, 2017

Big-Screen TVs and My Fantasy Self

In the middle of December, Zach, Francis and I pooled our money to buy a big-screen TV. It currently sits in our living room, dominating a wall, propped atop two plastic storage bins. 

For a while, I hated it.

I resisted buying it in the first place, allegedly due to concerns about money. Zach pointed out that his Walmart holiday discount coupled with Francis’s offer to pay half made it very affordable (both in general and for us specifically). We watch TV shows pretty frequently, Francis loves Netflix, and Zach wanted to play the video games he loved as a teen. Inasmuch as an entertainment object can be practical, it definitely was.

Still I resisted. When we bought it, I felt self-conscious having a huge TV in our shopping cart. When we set it up, I retreated to my room to pretend that it didn’t exist. When we watched our first show on it, I felt tense the whole time.

Why on earth would I react to an inanimate object with such revulsion?

The answer, in short, is pride.

I didn’t want a big-screen TV because in my mind, only materialistic people buy a big-screen TV, and I am most definitely not materialistic, darn it! Yes, this means that in my life I have been automatically judging anyone who owns a big-ticket item like this, and was afraid of other people applying this judgement to me. Talk about one of those “greater self awareness” moments. It’s part of my constant struggle to avoid finding my identity in the act of not having things.

There are countless big-ticket purchases that don’t seem materialistic to me— our canoe, Zach’s bike, a trip to Pennsylvania— even though they are more expensive by orders of magnitude. But I had trouble with this purchase because it bumped up against my fantasy self, a strange version of how I want reality to be: and in that reality, Lisa and Zach do not own a TV because they are too busy taking walks and playing piano and doing meaningful things with their time, every night, always.

One night I sat for a while and watched Zach play Call of Duty: Black Ops with his two brothers, the three of them rapt as they guided their avatars around the map, alternately yelling at each other and laughing maniacally.

The next night, Zach and Francis and I squished together on the couch, munching on snacks, and watched Frasier together on Netflix. I love the sound of Zach’s laughter.

One night Zach and I spent hours playing Beatles Rock Band, singing into the microphones and trying to get the notes perfect so we could win a “Double Fab” score.

Gradually, I began to let go of the fantasy, and embrace the reality.

Yes, some nights Zach bakes a loaf of artisan bread while I compose songs on the piano, and afterward we take a walk and stop by to chat with my family.

Other nights we sit and veg out in front of the TV.

This is our reality. This is okay. This is nothing to judge myself for, and certainly nothing to judge other people for.

As is the case with so many life lessons over the past few months, the goal is the same: let go. Let go of the pride, the judgement, the fantasy world. 

And belt out those notes. I have a lot of Double Fabs left to catch.


~~~

Sunday, January 15, 2017

This Week (The Four-Season Week)


It’s been a typical St. Louis week, weather-wise: a 70-degree day with winds so strong the cottonwoods bowed, followed by a winter storm that left a thick glaze of ice over everything. It happens. As much as I like to complain about the weather here, there’s a reason that I get antsy wherever I’m in a place that has consistent weather for more than three days in a row— it makes me bored. Granted, in St. Louis you’re guaranteed suffocating heat and humidity for about five months straight, but at least there are lightning storms and tornadoes to shake things up!

The ice storm was certainly pretty; I enjoyed walking through the park near my house and gazing at the frosted trees as slivers of ice melted from their branches. That’s the magic of winter.





On Thursday I attended the first “Round Table Meeting” for the Historic Frenchtown Association. We snacked on chips and salsa and discussed ideas for the neighborhood. I left with my head spinning— there are so many things we want to do, but making them actually happen involves a lot of nitty-gritty permit applications, committee organizing, and grant-proposal writing. I had to remind myself that change is gradual, and that everything happens one tiny step at a time.

Overall, this week has been fairly quiet. The semester has started again so now I spend most of the day sitting at the computer, typing comments with a space heater on my left and a steaming mug of peppermint tea on my right. Ah, winter.

~~~

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What I've Been Reading: "Gaining Ground" by Forrest Pritchard

A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm, intrigued by the title and the foreword by Joel Salatin (a farmer and author well known in local/sustainable/permaculture circles). Forrest Pritchard tells the story of his journey to becoming a self-sufficient sustainable livestock farmer in a time when precious few farmers can actually make a living at it. It’s a memoir that shows one example of what a self-sufficient model looks like, and the bumpy road it took for Pritchard to get there.

Pritchard’s writing is friendly and personal, using lots of dialogue to make you feel like you’re overhearing the scenes. In the book he faces all sorts of obstacles: naysayers in his family, government regulations, a lack of local butchers, and quirky farmhands who make life more interesting. I felt myself getting frustrated along with him as he described his first few marketing experiences in which nobody bought anything. (“Come to the St. Charles Farmers Market! I’ll buy your stuff!” I yelled to the pages.) But of course this is a story about progress, and it slowly builds to a happy conclusion as he heals the land, finds people to help, tries new animals and techniques, and learns what is most important to him.

The story dragged a bit in the middle, settling into amusing stories and anecdotes that lacked the forward motion of the first half. However, it ended on a strong note, emphasizing that sustainable farming isn’t a destination but an ongoing journey.

The book was an entertaining and informative read for someone who’s interested in what a smaller, more family-oriented future of farming might look like. The book made me extra excited to hit up the farmers’ market again in the spring!


~~~

Monday, January 9, 2017

Five Phrases to Rephrase this Year


Words matter. Especially for a verbal person like me, the words I choose to describe things shape my perspective of them, for better or worse. In the past few months I’ve started paying more attention to my phrasing, and tweaking it to reflect a more accurate vision of the world. Here are the phrases I’m committing to say more this year:

1. “I want” instead of “I need.” Whenever I talk about a nonessential item with the phrase “I need,” it subconsciously makes me feel like it is essential. (I’ve talked about this before.) The effect on my contentment level after changing this phrase has been powerful. Every time I correct myself— which I often do— it draws attention to the fact that I already have everything I need. Obviously I still buy things that I want but don’t need, but it’s important that I understand which category they fall into.

2. “We’re low-income” instead of “We’re poor.” I’ve noticed myself uttering the latter phrase lately, usually when I’ve been envious about what other people have. This is a habit I want to stop cold: we are not poor, not by any stretch of the imagination, not even by America’s high standards. We fall onto the lower side of the income scale, but that is a static measure of money; it doesn’t take into account our abundant resources, our low living expenses, or a host of other factors. Calling myself “poor” is a sign of dangerous ingratitude and twisted reality, and I’m going to stop it.

3. “I’m upset that xyz happened this way” instead of “I should’ve...” The phrase “I should’ve” is a futile attempt to control the past and put off responsibility for the present. It’s okay to acknowledge that things aren’t turning out the way I want, but should’ve is a destructive word, and I’m trying to ban it from my vocabulary except in cases of true analysis (“What can I do next time to avoid that?”).

4. “Thank you” instead of “Sorry.” As in, “Thank you for waiting so patiently” instead of “Sorry I was late.” Obviously I should apologize when I’m at fault, and I’ll still be saying sorry a lot, but for minor infractions, I like this turn of phrase because is acknowledges both what you have to be sorry about and the other person’s graciousness in dealing with it.

5. “I’m not making that a priority right now” instead of “I’ve been too busy.” This is a matter of self-honesty more than anything else. No one is too busy to do basically anything— we can squeeze minutes out of the day if we really want to. So instead of shuffling off responsibility by pretending that an outside force— busyness— has kept me from something, I should be honest about my priorities and choices. And if it sounds really wrong to make that swap (“I haven’t taken care of my health lately because I’m not making that a priority right now”), then that’s a sign I need to reexamine my priorities.

Small changes in phrasing can make a big difference. Are there any phrases you’re giving up or changing this year?


~~~