Friday, November 28, 2014

Blog #176: I'm not a food blogger I just play one on TV.

That's a lie no one lets me on TV. I've got a face for radio. Well, in high school I was on KHS TV quite regularly as an anchor for our school news program but that just aired within the school. I took part in a segment or 2 of the news magazine our school did that was on an actual cable access channel several times - one of which involved me doing a snow day dance in pajama pants in an episode that aired a few times even after I was in college. Yes, I am the most embarrassing person I know. Thank you.

 But that's not the point. I wanted to share with the internet a thing I did. It might not really be all that original. I didn't bother to do a search to see if anyone else already thought of it. In fact, the very thing itself is really derivative of another thing so by definition it's not original. But I still feel good about it. I sort of made my own recipe for Apple Cake.

 It all started with a recipe in a giant Taste of Home cookbook for carrot cake from scratch that I make every year for Easter. It's always such a hit because it also includes homemade cream cheese frosting so I wanted to find a way to make it work for Thanksgiving, too. But carrot cake is such a spring thing that I knew it would be out of place at a Thanksgiving dinner. So, what did I do? I decided to replace shredded carrots with peeled shredded apples. That makes it a super moist ridiculously awesome APPLE CAKE.

 Here's the original carrot cake recipe:
Yes, it's filthy. A good baker makes a good mess.

And seriously it did not take many tweaks. Replace carrots with apples. Throw in a teaspoon of apple pie spice along with the already called for spices (which is really just more of each spice already called for because that's how spice blends work). I also put a teaspoon of cinnamon in the frosting because it sounded like the right thing to do. I wanted to top it off with drizzles of Pioneer Woman's Caramel Sauce recipe because I'm a bad, bad girl but at the last minute I realized I didn't have enough brown sugar. Yeah, the stores were still open but you better believe I'm not going to the store Thanksgiving morning.
Don't be jealous of my chic baking wear.


Peeling is my least favorite part

Shredded apples!

yeah, I licked the spoon clean. AFTER I was done using it.

The frosting will make it all better

I licked this spoon when I was done too.


One good thing to do is to make the cake while wearing your pajamas and then while it is cooking and cooling you spend time getting into the Thanksgiving uniform of stretchy pants and a loose fitting forgiving sweater.


 Voila!!
Cake got RAVE reviews. So did my hair.

You, too, can be domestic genius. I made this cake while watching the Thanksgiving day parade and dancing in my kitchen to every musical performance. You don't HAVE to do it that way but I don't know why you wouldn't. (Still the most embarrassing person I know. Thank you.)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Blog #175: EVERYONE RELAX


Here's the thing. Nobody cares how "busy" you are. Your stressful lifestyle is not a badge of honor. Having a terrible work life balance is not synonymous with being a "hard worker".

Everyone is busy. I'm pretty sure that's just called life but we're also pretty much just as busy as we choose to be. And some of us like a full calendar and thrive like that while others of us feel maxed out if our whole week is spoken for. I like to be busy but I prefer my busy to involve much more relationally based activities than work activities - at least on nights and weekends.

 True, some jobs have higher demands than others and many of us have passions that put us regularly in high stress situations. True many individuals unfortunately must over extend themselves to feed their families - though they are rarely the ones I've ever heard voicing how busy they are. I'm not against a busy lifestyle per se, but I do take umbrage with the tendency to equivocate being busy with being important. One does not necessitate the other.

This happens a SURPRISING amount in the caregiving and mental health field, where we preach and preach self care but fall into the trap of martyrdom because we think that we must suffer for the cause in order to be legitimate. We tell one another "Take a break! Take time off" while thinking to ourselves quietly "but I don't need to because I'm stronger/smarter/more disciplined"

We should really stop that. You are not important because you are busy. You are important because you are you. Yes, we do important work but we won't continue to be effective in said work if we keep these thin and/or nonexistent boundaries between what we do and who we are. No one is stronger or better for not taking breaks. No one is a harder worker because they answer their work emails from home and take calls in their off time.

 Today I overheard a conversation about someone who was out sick. "What happened before they had back up?" Someone asked. "They never called in sick" was the reply. Followed immediately by "So and so is a hard worker." That doesn't sound like a hard worker to me. Maybe this person is a hard worker but to me it sounds like either someone who was incredibly lucky and healthy or someone who had very poor work/life boundaries.

 I would wager that the vast majority of people who broadcast their stress and busy lifestyles are fully capable of making a choice to simplify and be less busy whether that means engaging in one less sport with their kids or finding an area to delegate. It is not always obvious but it is there, and to ignore the choice is actually an insult to those who really are trapped in a cycle of stress just to survive.

I'm not advocating for laziness or just doing the bare minimum and never going above and beyond at work. Sometimes a job might require a weekend day here and there but there should always be a way to balance it out whether through pay or flex scheduling. And maybe every now and then it doesn't quite balance - because life isn't fair and all that. But can't we all agree to make a concentrated effort to aim for a semblance of balance most of the time?

 There's something wrong when our family life, health, self esteem, and relationships become the collateral damage so that we can provide support to others in their family life, health, self esteem, and relationships. /soapbox

Let's just take a dance break to this song and call it good:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog #174: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

Well, likely not my final countdown ever but I really like lists and I really like counting so...And here is a recent photo of me:

GET IT????

Whatever. That wasn't dumb. You're dumb.

Here are some countdowns!

0: The number of days until my next fun meet up event. I joined a couple weeks ago because while I am certainly not afraid to do things alone, I'm still an extrovert and this way I can be entertained without commanding my friends to bow their schedules to my every exploring Kansas City whim. And I've met really interesting people and enjoyed KC more than ever. So it's a good deal.

5: The number of days until I get to move out of my crappy apartment and into one with actual air conditioning with a very great and like minded roommate. I wish instead of packing I could just burn this building down. *

* this is a joke. In the unlikely and tragic event that the building does burn down I'm going to need someone to help me prove to the authorities how I'm so afraid of fire I won't even hold a sparkler or lit match.

9: days until I have "games with grandma" day in Topeka. Basically starting a new tradition. Polishing my Yahtzee skills.

Between 0-30: number of days before I GET TO MEET MY NIECE OMG IM GETTING A NIECE IM FREAKING OUT
(Will be buying variations of this outfit in every size)

41: number of days before I get to travel to Billings, MT for training and certification in the Grief Recovery Method for my job and stay there for 5 nights.
AND number of days before first regular season NFL game AND Bearcat season. (And 45 until the first regular season chiefs game)

66: number of days before my brother and I get to attend MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL AT ARROWHEAD against the fighting Tom Bradies.

68: Number of days until I turn 30 - and I'm not dreading it! I'm excited! Embrace life man. 

83: Number of days until I travel to Portland, OR to visit my BFF to celebrate said 30th birthday. #BFFGNOOMGPDX 

129: number of days before the bro and I attend SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL AT ARROWHEAD against Manning and The Pips.

153: days until Christmas, which means probably 160 ish days until I attempt to make another Austin trek for NYE. Cheers!

Littered in among those countdowns are just a number of other fun things to file under "life" because I've decided that it's just always fun to have something to look forward to and I'm the only one responsible for making that happen for myself.

Thanks for humoring me. Happy Counting!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Blog #173: this magic moment

It's occurred to me that I am in a really special life stage. There are definitely some deficits (I can think of 2 big areas of my life where there's nowhere to go but up) and struggles but they don't feel overwhelming or insurmountable. I have this feeling right now that I'm on the uptick. I feel proud of the work I do, confident in my capacity to do it well, secure in my ability to navigate my social life, happy with my appearance (most of the time), and just feel fairly content overall. 


I'm documenting this now because it's such a nice moment and maybe tomorrow I'll have messed something up and need to remind myself that these moments exist.

In other news, this is technically a playlist but my intention is that it operates as a mix CD. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blog #172: on doing what you want

I had the BEST date Friday night. My date knew exactly what I liked and wanted me to enjoy the night as much as possible. My date took me to a concert by one of my favorite bands, bought me some delicious beer, and introduced me to some really cool new people. It was such a wonderful date that it might even be love.

So, who was this date, you ask?


Me. Myself. I.

So I went to a concert by myself. Look, I have friends. Plenty! And I had done some lobbying throughout the week for said friends to join me in my concert attendance. However, they all had other plans or weren't interested in spending the money or any number of reasons not about me (or maybe they didn't feel like hanging out with me that night - who cares!?) Rather than take all of this personally and spend the evening sulking about how I wanted to go to the show but couldn't because I didn't have a partner... I just went to the show. I'm a grown woman who wanted to see a concert and had the means to do so, so I went. 

And it was wonderful. First of all, The Avett Brothers' fan base is a group of pretty cool individuals, so there wasn't a shortage of people to talk to about the music. I met people before the show, during, and after - all friendly and happy to share the moment with me. Second of all, my ability to enjoy something is not dependent on whether I have someone to go with or not. 


It's kind of silly, but I'm pretty proud of myself for going alone. I know that Marissa even 2-3 years ago would never have considered it. And that's too bad because she would have missed out on a really great show. The Avett Brothers simply do not do bad shows. They are top 3 in my faves for live performances and among an elite group for me in bands I've seen live more than once (and plan to see again live whenever I can). So, wouldn't it have been a shame if I had let something as small as being the only one in my social circle who felt like going get in the way of seeing a band I love sing songs I love? 


This post is not about getting you to see me as some bad ass lone wolf (I still much prefer the company of others) or elicit any kind of sympathy for "having to go alone" (I told you, I have friends! I just made a fairly last minute decision to attend a time consuming and fairly expensive event). I'm secure in my social life and my choices as of late. The point of this post is that it is totally okay to do things by yourself sometimes. And not just things like going shopping or grabbing lunch while using your smart phone as a buffer. It's okay to do big, intimidating things by yourself. It's okay to go to a concert solo, drink a shock top or 2 in the parking lot before you go in and start conversations with strangers over the shared interest that brought you all there. To plant yourself in a great GA seat and welcome the people who sit near you. To enjoy the things you enjoy because YOU enjoy them and not just because you found someone to go with. All of that is okay. Awesome even. I had a really wonderful night. Avett opened with my favorite song, and made sure all my other faves (to be fair- most of their songs are my faves in one way or another). And I just kept thinking about how much I would have missed out on if I had just given up on going when I couldn't get a gang together for it. 
So, basically the moral of this story? Do what you want. Or, as the Avett brothers put it in my favorite of their songs and their opener - "decide what to be, and go be it." Only you get to decide what you're gonna do and how you're gonna be. I decided that I was going to see a band I loved and enjoy it regardless of anyone else's plans, and that's what I did. Go do what you want to do. 

Seth Avett wants to wear his hair in pigtail braids, so he does. Let's all take a page from that book. (Please don't think I'm making fun of Seth's pigtails. I love everything about Seth Avett and would never consider mocking him.) 

Disclaimer - in saying "do what you want" I'm not advocating selfish decisions that hurt others. I'm simply making the point that a lack of an entourage should not keep you from experiences you want to have. 

Now, go and have fun and get down with your bad self! You might discover that you are pretty good company.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Blog #171: a love letter

"Kansas City is cooler than you think blog post"

I wrote that note idea down in my notes section of my iphone in August of last year after watching some really great live music at Knuckleheads. Now, my life has changed in significant ways since then in the professional and romantic areas but the sentiment is still 100% true.

You guys. Kansas City is awesome and I love it here. It's something that I never fully experienced until I moved downtown but it is true.

This city has everything.


So without further ado, I present to you a list, because I know how to Internet.

Reasons Kansas City is actually way more awesome then you think:
1. Everybody says the BBQ. BUT THE BBQ.
I'm not kidding. No one is kidding. The BBQ. (I know several people who would require I say "except for Arthur Bryant's" here. Just hit OK Joes, BB's, Smokehouse, Gates, and any others a Kansas citian tells you to, ok?)


2. While not a lot of people talk about Kansas City as a premier live music spot, we have some great venues! For me, enjoying live music in KC has always been more about chilling on a patio or in a bar rather than being shoved up against the front of a stage but we've got that too. And we host great concerts at all sorts of venues... Whether that's small shows/crowds at places like Knuckleheads or Riot Room or major acts at arrowhead or the Sprint Center. And you can always grab a fairly reasonably priced beverage while you listen.

3. It's pretty.
If my Instagram hashtag #prettycity tells you anything, it's that Kansas City looks good. Hey everyone, come see how good we look.



4. It's safe.
I just saw on the news yesterday that our murder rate is down, so we have that going for us. And, as someone who lives downtown and utilizes street parking, I can vouch for how well lit and clean our streets are.
(Mark Twain guards our streets)

5. It's cheap. I mentioned the reasonably priced beverages earlier. And I meant it. You can live and experience downtown and still be able to travel and explore because it's the Midwest. I can't vouch for your ability to afford the places you travel to. That's on you, man. I don't know your life.

6. I want to talk about Kansas City sports but I don't want you to laugh at me so I'm going to start with Sporting. US champions 2013 which is wonderful and they continue to do well and be major players in US soccer making Kansas City legitimately a soccer town, Kansas City also hosts all kinds of NCAA championship games and tournaments and Sporting Park is going to be the location of the D2 national football championship this year and I really hope to be able to cheer the bearcats to another title in what would basically be a home game.
And the Chiefs had a playoff game last year that... Forget it, I can't go there. It's still too soon. Royals games are fun though! And there's the T-bones and a speedway if you're into that sort of thing. And other league sports like hockey and indoor soccer that I still need to get out and see.




7. There is so much room for activities!

For real - go on pub crawls, join a kickball league, I know a cool gal that does pickup soccer every week I still need to join. I've been on wine walks, done silly 5k's, gone to farmers markets, enjoyed the artsy First Fridays... There is seriously zero excuse to be bored here.
(In my proud and purple kickball uniform!)
(Scenes from a first Friday!)


8. We're getting things! KC has Trader Joes and Raygun and all kinds of good shopping. We've got an ikea going in which I guess is a big deal. Our local food is delightful (for ideas watch the local access show "Check Please".


So sure - you other cities are great. Really. And we can hang. But if I'm going to write a gushy love letter and buy a ring... It will be for KC. 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blog #170: When Opportunity Knocks

Sometimes you find opportunity when you are looking for it - scouring indeed.com for potential jobs, sending resumes to one potential employer after another, and writing cover letters like a pro.

Sometimes, though, opportunity finds you when you're occupied with something else - and maybe not even looking or paying attention. Sometimes when you're looking for one kind of opportunity (perhaps one on a social media based dating app not to be mentioned here but rhymes with cinder) you stumble upon an entirely different opportunity (like the kind that are career oriented rather than socially oriented).

I have plenty of experience with the first kind of opportunity. In fact, through tireless searching I found a good fit at my current position. It was a great introduction to the mental health field and the perfect way for me to hone and develop some clinical skills. I'm very grateful that I found this opportunity and had the chance to learn and grow in such a clinical capacity.

And now, I can say, I have experience with the second kind of opportunity as well. While I wasn't even looking, a great opportunity snuck up and surprised me, and before I knew it I was swept up and on my way to flat out changing my life.

Grief work has been very near and dear to my heart ever since I first encountered it as an intern at Solace House and since that time I have always known that my life's calling would eventually be helping people cope with difficult life transitions. There is something beautiful and amazing about being allowed into someone's life when they're so broken and vulnerable and being there to support their rebuilding process. However, I did not see this as a direction I would be going for a few years for all kinds of reasons (availability of positions, getting licensed, etc) Then, all of the sudden, here I am out of nowhere it seems, accepting a new position in bereavement for a hospice. Not only is it the direction in the field I've always known I'd eventually take, but it's right here, closer to home.

This opportunity came to me when I wasn't even looking. However, you shouldn't disregard an opportunity just because you weren't looking for it at the time. In fact, I might argue that those are the opportunities to which one should pay special attention. It's true that you can't plan for everything - even the things you think you are planning extensively, like your career. And isn't that what makes life fun?

So, to make a long story short - I've got a new job! I'm excited to be a bereavement coordinator at Crossroads Hospice and can't wait for all the ways I'll continue to grow in my clinical and professional skills in this new environment! I start May 27 and my last day at my current job is May 19.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Blog #169: On Celebrating

Hi.

This week has a rather fun holiday at the end. Aside from Friday, which, of course, is always my own personal national holiday.


You have read my Valentine's manifestos before. (If you haven't, just click in the February blogs over to the right side of the screen --->)

And maybe you thought that given recent events things would be different this year. And they are a little, but not in a bad way. Because, as it turns out, I still really love to celebrate things and I still really love LOOOOVE. And I still love love songs and I love love stories and I love friendship and family love and you know what? I still really dislike bitterness and negativity and whining. (Sometimes I do like to let myself whine a little, but typically only as it leads to WINING a lot. Not a typo). And I love being silly and over the top and so I'll just continue to be.


So? If you were looking for a major change of heart, and darkened outlook on this silly day, you won't find it here. I'll always see Valentine's day as a tremendously fun and silly way to enjoy all the love in my life. I've got an abundance of it to appreciate and plenty of reasons to celebrate! 


Can't wait to eat candy and cookies, wear red high heels, and take my nephews out on a date tomorrow!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blog #168: A Dear John Letter

I am sending this exact text to Aspen Athletic as soon as I have time to get to a post office.

Dear Aspen Athletic Corporate Headquarters In Charge Person,
It is the year 2014, and even though you appear to happily embrace the future by having a website, a web portal for making payments and scheduling trainers, and a seemingly competent web design person, I am required to send you this letter via certified mail to tell you to please stop taking $75 per month out of my account now that my contract is over. I have employed carrier pigeons, the pony express, smoke signals, and a singing telegram on the off chance this letter will not suffice. Sorry, but the midget stripper was out of my price range.

Did you know that Time Magazine, Spotify, and McAffee Antivirus have all been sued due to deceptive auto renewal policies? In fact, most companies these days play the safe and way less shady side of giving their consumer a ridiculous amount of fair warning that their subscription will expire followed by near pleading to renew. At the very least, even big wigs like Amazon let you cancel renewal to their premium membership through their website. It's almost as if they respect their consumers' right to decide what they want to spend their money on. Not you though, Aspen. You are the renegade, the cowboy, with your devil may care ways. "of course they still want me!" you exclaim, "they would be fools to not!" 

I respect that. Really I do. Everyone's gotta make their money somehow. It's hard out there for a pimp. And had my experience with your training program been positive I MIGHT have even let it slide. We'd have laughed about it together you and I. "Oh that Aspen Fitness and it's obsession with certified mail! Sometimes I think it just likes to feel special. Lolololol!"

Unfortunately for all of us though, my experience with your training program was MUCH less than positive. I joined the gym in January of 2013. I know what you're thinking but it had NOTHING to do with a New Year's resolution. I had already lost the10lb I wanted to and was looking to take advantage of your grand opening special at the club near my place.  Your actual gym program is fine. Reasonable price no contract etc. However, you really sell that personal training thing. That free health consultation/fitness assessment whatever is genius! Quick, tell me everything you think is still wrong with me and then that you can fix it at the low price of $70/hour!  And of course I am unfortunately like a great deal of women who heard the "not toned enough not fit enough not  enough" message and sought to throw money at you to fix me and make me "enough." Rookie mistake.

The free fitness consultation included scales and measurements and fat percentages and results you promised could be passed on to the other Aspen with trainers nearby (I was Boardwalk in KC but went to Liberty until it opened). So I was in. My first session with my trainer in Liberty? He had no such information. We spent the entire session redoing those measurements which was great for my self image again to hear how "not enough" I was so thank you. Free consultation now a waste of my time as you managed to use paid time for the same thing.

After a few weeks, the Aspen near my home opened so I switched back there, again after being assured that my information would follow me. Did it? You guessed it! No! So what happened? Yet another session of starting all over. No tracking of progress from my Liberty sessions so those were essentially lost time. I liked my new trainer though and was enjoying working with her. Then, one day, I went to schedule a session with her in your very innovative web scheduling software, and she was no where to be found. I only found out by sending an email to her personal account that she had left Aspen and that my account had been given to yet another new trainer over a week before and no one bothered to call me. So, another new trainer. At least it was the same building so she would have my chart and we could track my progress, right? Well, that was partially true. The only thing we could really track was weight, because as it turned out my old trainer had done all the tape measurer measures incorrectly. Meaning now that progress was meaningless. 

And as an insult to injury... part of the agreement was that my trainer would take an interest in my nutrition and check my food log... And the only person who gave me any sort of feedback regarding my eating was my first trainer who would implore me to eat more protein.

In April 2013 my job situation changed and I realized by July that I had neither time nor additional financial resources to find this little excercise in futility. I was able to cancel my gym membership effectively but not the training. No, apparently that contract was tighter than the one Ursula put on Ariel. Not even true love's kiss could get me out of the $75/month without paying an astronomical cancellation fee, EVEN THOUGH I had received terrible service and your team didn't hold up their end. And, in trying to explain my plight to your customer service reps, I got no empathy. Just another matter of fact "you're just a dollar sign to us" attitude.
But you know what? I sucked it up. I took it like a man. And when December 2013 came I had about $400 in unused sessions that I counted as a loss because I no longer had any desire to continue on the roller coaster ride that is Aspen Training. I celebrated my last deduction. "I'M FREE!!" I exclaimed.

But I spoke too soon. Because this January, despite my contract ending, you struck again. And when I called AGAIN to seek understanding and help, I was again treated like a dollar sign. "Oh you didn't know you had to send a certified letter? Sucks to be you!" While that wasn't the actual terminology used, that was the tone implied.
So now you have made it to the end of my tragic tale. Ideally you would just give me back the money for the sessions I didn't use because of your company's shoddy way of running things. At the very least, refunding this January payment would be an okay gesture. 
Since you are so reluctant to welcome the future I imagine you won't know what I mean when I say I'm posting this letter on my blog. But maybe one of the carrier pigeons can explain it to you.

To anyone else who made it this far... Thank you. And buyer beware.

Sincerely,
Marissa 

PS: seriously. Stop taking my money.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Blog #167: Things I can do

I've said before that I'm not much one for New Year's Resolutions but I do like to take some time at the beginning of each year to think of things I'd like to do in the year. However, as you'll find in post #166 that I'm a little nervous about this year. So, instead of goals or definite ideas of things I want to happen, I'm taking a softer approach.

So, without further ado - here are some things that would be cool if they happened in 2014 (but if not, don't beat yourself up over it- it's whatever.)

1. Get good at knitting for fun gifts and stress relief
2. Be intentional about maintaining relationships with those I care about.
3. Start working on my supervision hours for licensure.
4. Be open to any new adventures that present themselves.
5. Blog once a week

So, those are some things that have been on my mind for this year. Bottom's up 2014!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blog #166: An Open Letter to the New Year

Dear 2014,

Please, be gentle. 

There are those of us to whom 2013 was unkind, and we are a little gun shy about being excited for you. It's nothing personal - it will just take some cautious care to engage us in the hoping and wishing a new year typically brings. We are like puppies who have been kicked around and are hesitant to trust new humans. 

So I ask you, New Year, to handle us with care. Give us time to warm up to you. Of course you will have some difficult times. No year is without them. But could you maybe ease us into them? Just give us some time to mend the wounds from the stress, loss, frustrations, and disappointments in 2013 before you test us with your own trials. 

Don't worry, 2014. We'll come around eventually and think about all the possibilities you bring and begin to think of the good things that could come with you. But for now, we're treading lightly, looking over our shoulders and making sure you aren't holding a weapon. Once we feel safe, we're all yours.

Sincerely,
Me