Friday Food – Cinco de Mayo


I know that Cinco de Mayo is one of those consumer filled holidays that Americans don’t even know what they’re celebrating, but the food is so good, especially if you can find an authentic Mexican restaurant (which fortunately, we have.)

These are my three favorite Mexican dishes. I do go back and forth with what favorite places I like, but Mexican holds a special place in my heart. My husband and I went on our first date at a Mexican restaurant, and the service was so slow that we were there for at least two hours. Lots of time to talk. I also think we each thought the other one really liked Mexican food, which it turned out that we did, whether we knew it or not.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chimichangas with Mexican Rice and Guacamole Salad
Fried Ice Cream

Mental Health Awareness Month


Celebrate what you want to see more of.

– Tom Peters

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I’m not sure if that’s meant to be that we should be aware of the mental health struggles going on for the people around us and to give some space and grace or if it’s also supposed to be for ourselves to recognize our own struggles and be aware and self-aware of our own mental health and the triggers as well as the coping tools we carry with us on a daily basis.

It is so appropriate that today of all days, the first of May, and the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month that my day got unexpectedly set on its head. It was nothing outlandish or incapacitating, but change is hard, especially for people like me who like their lists and like their day mostly planned out.

Today was my non-day. I was going to sleep in late and then attend to the mess that is my dining room table. That’s where I work and the last two weeks have been filled with so many things the table got away from me. Again. As always. And then I was to tackle the list my daughter and I made last night.

I awoke to a poke in my side and my son standing over me.

Son: Do you want to drive me to school?

Me: Do I want to drive you to school? No. But I will, I laughed. When do you need to be there?

Son: 2 minutes.

Needless to say while his school is not far, it is also not two minutes away.

His regular ride hadn’t come and he couldn’t reach him by phone. These things happen. Of course, growing up a not-popular, bullied kid, my first reaction is to wonder if they’re still friends because his friend can’t have simply overslept or forgot; he must hate my son for some unknown reason and now they’re no longer friends. I did not express any of this out loud. Even in my internal despair for my kids, I know how irrational this is.

I did break the land-speed record for getting dressed and got to the car. He drove. He was a few minutes late, but he drove under the speed limit; he’s a careful driver and he’s still learning. (As an aside, he’s the exact opposite of my daughter who is also learning to drive – she drives a bit faster, stops a bit too slow, and just is more cavalier about the whole thing. Not that she’s unsafe; she’s not, but their personalities really show through on their driving styles.)

Once he was at school, I could go straight home and begin work (and know that I’d get nothing written) or make a different plan.

I made a different plan.

I grabbed breakfast through the drive-thru, and went to the library, where I am currently sitting in the new local history room typing on my Kindle.

I could have let the sudden change defeat me, I could have gone back home, curled up on the sofa, and went back to sleep, and it would have still been okay. Even though I was interrupted, I had planned on sleeping late. I could have gone back to sleep and not even felt an ounce of guilt. I could have started over tomorrow and that also would have been okay. But I made a different choice, and that was because I reevaluated my day, my priorities, and my mental health.

I admit to being hyper self-aware of how I’m feeling and what my triggers are when they happen, but you can recognize the things that set you off down a path of stress and anxiety and readjust. Use your tools. Think about what tools you have in your own mental health toolbox. Some of mine that I used today include:

1. Take a deep breath and reevaluate. In today’s scenario, I wasn’t able to do that until my son was dropped off at school, so I sat in the parking lot for five minutes to regroup (and readjust the mirrors).

2. Did I want to buy breakfast or eat at home? If I ate at home (whether or not I bought breakfast), would I be able to eat and then seamlessly move into my day’s work? I didn’t think so.

3. What were my alternatives?
a. Eat at McDonald’s (or elsewhere)?
b. Eat in the car?
c. Eat somewhere else?
d. I chose to eat in the car and then drive to the library.

4. I found a nice quiet corner in a new room and I’m writing.

5. Before I leave, I’ll make the plan for the rest of the day. Dinner, two kids off to work, put my teaching stuff in storage until the end of summer. It’s not much, but it’s doable, and today that’s the most important part. My list would include a master of everything that needs to be done, and then sort out what is the most important and what can be done easily and quickly.

And of course, all of these coping tools and compromises will depend on how stressed and anxious you are. I have an underlying anxiety about not having a therapist. I think I’ve decided to look for another one because it was helpful, but is that because of seeing a therapist or seeing that therapist for eleven years? I’ll need to figure that out.

Every Monday this month will be a Mental Health Monday on the website, and there will be other posts throughout the month talking about mental health – yours and mine. I am always happy to give voice to the readers so if you have something that works for you, please add it in the comments. While this isn’t a social media, it is a community, and especially where mental health is concerned, we need to support one another for wherever we are in our continuing journeys.

Awareness is half the battle.

Ode to Fast Food


In honor of today’s roll out of the limited edition Big Mac Sauce, I thought I’d share a recent writing I did for my memoir workshop class. Following the ode, there are two links to some news articles about the Big Mac sauce debut. As I understand it, the sauce will be free with chicken nuggets, and there will be a limit on how many one person can get as well as only being able to order it through the app. May the odds be ever in your favor.

I sit at my computer, sipping a large Diet Coke from McDonald’s and I wonder why we love fast food so much. I have no doubt there is something in the composition of fast food that keeps us coming back for more, dare I say, something that makes it addicting, and I think that’s a chemical reason, and not so much a psychological one. There have been times that I’ve gone quite some time without a McDonald’s cheeseburger (or in my case the quarter pound with cheese burger), but once I return, it is like a valve on a water hose that just won’t shut off. I want it morning, noon, and night. Of course, I don’t indulge that much, but the want is there.

I just found out that McDonald’s will be coming out with a limited-edition packet of Big Mac sauce. I found this hilarious. A couple of weeks ago, I stopped in the drive-thru for some free fries and I actually asked for a cup of Big Mac sauce. They put it in a small chicken nugget box. It was great on the fries. I have always wondered why they’d never done this before, but I know where I’ll be in seven days [seven when this was originally written] when they are released. Expect it to be Instagrammed and blogged about.

I told my husband the monumental news, and he said he doesn’t like the Big Mac. Really? Who doesn’t like the Big Mac? He must be a heathen. Or a Communist.

Continue reading

Yom Hashoah


“If we wish to live and to bequeath life to our offspring, if we believe that we are to pave the way to the future, then we must first of all not forget.”

Prof. Ben Zion Dinur, Yad Vashem, 1956

A few links to follow to learn about this day as well as reflect on it. In addtion to Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began at sundown last night, it is also 80 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. I have a well-worn book about the Uprising that I’ve kept since childhood.

Public Domain

Yom Hashoah is specific to commemorating the Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust.

Click photo to be taken to the Twitter thread that explains this.

Information from Yad Vashem about today’s remembrance day.

Mental Health Monday – Overwhelmed?


I don’t know about you, but at the very end of Passover and Easter, I crash mentally. There is still so much to do, but it’s not scheduled between multiple church visits per day and cooking from scratch for Passover most nights, I still have to continue with life. And until this coming Thursday, everyone in the house is working, and we’re trying to save money by not eating out, even cheap fast food, which isn’t so cheap anymore.

I have returned to my lists (especially for today and the rest of this week), and on days like today, I needed a very specific list to make sure I hit every place I needed without too many, if any, U-turns.

The first thing I would recommend is a multi-level list when you’re beginning to get overwhelmed:

Draw a horizontal line across the middle of a piece of any-size paper, and then draw two columns from the top to that middle line.

Like this:

Fig. 1

The left is for the must-do’s, the right is for the would-like-to-do’s, and the bottom is for everything else. I’d also draw a line on the bottom right for a running shopping list.

I’ll give you an example for today and tomorrow.

Continue reading

Inspire. April.


Adventures in Writing

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”

Winston Churchill

Colored pencil sketch with top and bottom borders. There is a green feather quill that has the ink flowing into the lower word.
It says: It's a good day to Write.

Let’s try that again. The entire essay is gone. No recovering it, and we’re off to the races again. It won’t be as witty or a breathtaking example of fine writing, but it is what it is.

I woke up this morning with a ton of stuff on my mind, and in my mind, and my mind would not settle down. I thought of a great story to write about the holidays, but it would also make a great blog post, and it might be a good memoir essay for the prompt of “details, details” that I’ve been struggling with, but it was also a good piece of family history, and it was probably prompted by a conversation I had with a friend about the balancing of Passover and Easter. As an aside, I happened to look at a calendar, and next year Easter is March 31, and Passover is near the end of April, so that should cause less balancing and juggling and stress, but of course, we’ll see how it goes. The best laid plans and all.

The thoughts and memories were coming fast and furious, one thing after the other, and I tried to filter out other unrelated memories that happened in the same space I was writing about. I had twenty minutes before I had to leave, and I could use that time to get it down before it was gone forever. I’ll remember it, I told myself. No, you won’t. You never do. And to make matters worse in my head, I knew that NO ONE in the history of writing remembers when they say they’ll remember and will jot the thought down later. No. One.

You know it’s true.

Continue reading

Friday Food. April.


Passover, Easter, Spring Break, Prom Season. So much to do, including cooking. Holiday cooking plus the regular everyday cooking that we’re expected to do. These last few weeks had me teaching, my daughter working practically every day after school, my son trying to break the world’s record for most movies seen in a month (kidding), my husband’s job is one person short, and no one wants to cook dinner. They also don’t want to pay for take out or fast food, and frankly, I don’t blame them. I thought I would take this Friday Food to share some shortcuts and new things to try.

Everyone knows about cooking two meals on Sunday and then eating leftovers. I try to make one big meal a week, like a roast beef, a pork loin, or a whole chicken. They make a great meal, and then they make great leftovers. All of them can be eaten as sandwiches later in the week with a side of chips and cole slaw. If the first night is mashed potatoes, the next night can be rice. My daughter likes Minute Rice, but regular rice is very easy to make. I got the recipe from The Kitchen Survival Guide by Lora Brody and while I’ve changed some things, the gist of it is the same.

Continue reading