contentment

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

This Lao Tzu quote is hitting home for me.

Why I’m always feeling behind

I hate this feeling that I need to punish myself by refraining from recreational or fun or relaxing things when there are things (work and school) that I need to do. I think it goes back to my childhood, where I can still hear my parents’ voices “You can watch TV after you finish your homework”. Of course, that makes perfect sense; homework is a priority over whatever garbage is on the TV.

As an adult, with much more on my plate than homework, I think it’s different. My brain works differently. Certainly, my physical body works differently. I need those mental and physical breaks. I am very much starting to realize that I get increasingly ineffective the longer I go without a break.

I don’t think my mentality (my psyche?) has caught up to accepting that yet. I still feel like I shouldn’t read my book until I have crossed all of the items off of my list, for both work and school. Even the “honey do” list for around the house haunts me.

I also realize that my to-do lists are week-long (sometimes multiple weeks long). So even when I feel I’m at a stopping point for the day, I still feel “behind” in my to-do list. This isn’t good. It certainly isn’t healthy. I’m clearly out of sync.

I’m not distracted rather, I think I seek distraction because I am overwhelmed. Minimizing distractions has the opposite effect because of this. When I seek distraction, I will actively find and procrastinate (I’m super effective at this).

So, this is where I am and, these are things I know will help me:

  • Work in 90 minute increments. The Pomodoro method… almost. If I break out my tasks and schedule them for 90 minute spurts, I am suprisingly effective and productive.
  • Stop punishing myself for taking breaks and vegging out.
  • Write. Write. Write. Journaling (pen in notebook) and blogging (pounding the keybaord) are both therapeutic and help me get my thoughts in order. Write. Write. And then, write some more.

Not a comprehensive nor complete list of things but, they are what I have learned so far. It’s a process.

 

Sunday’s stuffed pasta shells

cheesy stuff shells

I made cheesy stuffed pasta shells for Sunday dinner. I first saw the recipe (link has paywall) in Cook’s Country magazine, a gifted subscription by my parents. Stuffed pasta shells has always been one of my favorites; I have a classic recipe that is always my go to. The appealing thing about this recipe was that I didn’t have to precook the pasta shells before filling them. I could simply stuff and bake them straightaway. Convenience usually wins out with my cooking.

cheesy stuff shells

I served it with some nice, thick, roasted asparagus spears. They were a good compliment; a savory vegetable with some bite in contrast to the smooth, creaminess of the pasta and cheese.

(I took a picture of the plated dish but it’s embarrassingly out of focus. I was so in a rush to sit down and eat that I totally rushed through taking the picture. Ha!)

Overall, I’m happy with the way they turned out, I might add this into a regular (monthly) rotation. It’s actually more like a lasagne than traditional stuffed shells. One huge difference in recipes like this is when you make the sauce from scratch (versus using a premade jarred/canned).

Five things for the week

Not fog

  1. It has been a tough week for family and friends in Ventura County. I spent some time checking in with everyone to be sure they were okay. It was a strong reminder that 1) I need to check in more often, and 2) I need to make some effort to get some face tie with them all.
  2. The Camp Fire, here in Northern California, is really deadly. It has covered our who city in smoke (pic above) for the past few days. It ruined some weekend plans as well, as we couldn’t be outside for too long without starting to cough, feel weak, and just overall couldn’t handle the smell.
  3. Slowly but surely (don’t call me Shirley) we’re getting more settled into this house. I think the next step is to hang more things on the walls. That seems to go far in making us feel home.
  4. I have a full plate so, paying for (and using) grocery delivery service is worth it for me. Paying a small delivery fee over spending time do go to and shop for groceries, something I don’t like doing, takes a chore off of my list.
  5. I still need to work on reducing distractions, especially during the week. My mind still feels cluttered, and I still feel like I’m trying to do too much without taking breaks.

Heading into the weekend like

Heading into the weekend like

Thousand Oaks. The shooting and then the fire. And then another fire. And then another.

And a fire in Northern California as well.

I spent the past few days reaching out to family and friends, checking in.

My heart is with Ventura County, forever and always. It will always be home.

Recently read, watched, and listened

Read

My mom has a knack for finding good book/author series. These are usually mysteries (her favorite genre) which aren’t necessarily my favorite. But on occasion, she finds and recommends something that I like. The Walt Longmire* series is one of those, mostly because it’s also quasi-western, and I love the western genre, especially reading it as I was growing up.

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Craig Johnson’s Depth of Winter is a turn from mystery to thriller. I suppose one could read this book without reading the series but, I wouldn’t recommend it. This one gets very personal, for the main character, and has been built towards for a little while now. My plan was to read a quarter of the book each night, as it is a very easy read. The first night I knocked out 25%. The second, I knocked out 75%. The momentum and build up was too strong for me to put it down.

*Don’t get me started on the TV Series “Longmire”. The only good thing that did for me was nailed the casting for the characters (except for Vic), which I envision while reading the books. I absolutely did not like the storyline and character arcs that the TV series took.


 

Watched

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On Monday night I made Instant Pot beef stew and my wife and I watched Incredibles 2. It was a little longer than it needed to be but overall a good and fun watch. The Holly Hunter and Catherine Keener interactions were more… “adult” than I would think for a kids movie but, could just be my take.

 


 

Listened

Dave Chang’s interview of Evan Kleiman, on The Dave Chang Show podcast. They’re two of my favorite “food personalities”, and both are doing great things that need people to pay more attention to them.

It’s time to step into it, with action. And love.

My sister was there. She is home, safe. Again. She was also at Las Vegas when that happened.

There are very real things happening in our world. If you think they don’t affect you, or those close to you, you are wrong.

My phone is lighting up with texts and phone calls between family and friends. It’s good; we’re all communicating. We care. Screw these work conference calls.

I hate this helpless feeling. Even more so as I further accept that part of the helplessness is due to my own standing on the sidelines.

It’s time to step into it, with action. And love.

Get outside!

If there’s one thing that daylight savings time should remind us of, it’s that we need to take our breaks. The time outside, in daylight becomes even more valuable. Get out of your office (during the week) to take that quick walk. Or, just sit outside for 10 minutes to “recharge”.

It’s something I constantly need to remind myself. Get outside! Especially on weekends.