December 3rd – “Sit alone at lunch and really relish your deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwich — to heck with all of them.”

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Had I read my horoscope 2 hours earlier, my banana bread might have been a peanut butter and banana sandwich. It’s starting to feel like winter, so it was time to bake again.

Sunshine is still in abundance here in the west coast. For a few years, I did live in the east coast where the winters were long, dark and gloomy. Before my move, someone did wisely advise that the east coast could be depressing and that I might want to think twice before moving. I didn’t listen found out the hard way!

Winter depression is a real thing. The clinical name is appropriately named Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). You can read more about it here.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to pick yourself up by doing things that require focus and creativity. If you like to bake and cook, you’re on the right track! To learn more, check out this Smithsonian article.

If you’ve never baked before, here is a super easy fail-proof banana bread recipe. It only takes 5 minutes to put together!

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Banana Bread

½ cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sour cream or yogurt

2 extra large mashed bananas or 3 small ones

Equipment Required: 1 bread or muffin pan

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla in a large bowl.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, salt. Stir until combined.
  4. Fold in sour cream and banana.
  5. Pour into pan and bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let it cool in pan for about 30 minutes before serving.

October 8th – “You’re focused on your home right now, so hang out with roommates or your spouse.”

My significant other was away for the day, so I spent some quality time with my cats. We spent the morning in the garden and the rest of the day inside.

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I ground up cat food in the food processor, asked the cats how they liked the new cat litter, and gave them lots of head massages. We even watched a couple of episodes of My Cat From Hell together.

My Cat From Hell follows Jackson Galaxy, a cat therapist, who helps people cohabitate with cats. In many episodes the humans on the show believe that there is something wrong with the cats they live with. By the end of the show, Galaxy usually successfully retrains humans to change their behavior which makes both cats and humans happy.  One of ideas Galaxy regularly uses is the challenge line.

The challenge line is what a cat’s limitation is. Sometimes it can be measured physically – i.e., by how close two cats can eat together without fighting. While Galaxy is talking about cats, the challenge line can be practiced by humans too. He asks some important questions:

Where is your cat’s challenge line?

Is it about people? Children?

Where do you feel sorry for them?

Where is that place where you say, “Oh, c’mon, you can do this”?

The third line, “Where do you feel sorry for them?” really hits home. I don’t ever want anyone to feel sorry for me! It’s a terrible feeling to be on the receiving end of pity. This has happened to me on a few occasions. Many people are surprised when I reveal to them that I suffer from depression and had an abusive childhood. I am highly functional at work, generally exhibit a friendly outgoing personality, and don’t walk around looking like I have a rain cloud over my head. The reaction is often shock, but with a sense of understanding/empathy. Most people have gone through their own hardships or know other people who have. On rare occasions, the reaction is shock and pity/sympathy. I don’t know how to best way to handle these situations yet, but I am working on it. Since I have such a strong aversion against anyone feeling sorry for me, I better work on moving that challenge line!

Writing has been a challenge for me over the past few years. I have successfully completed a 200 + page manuscript filled with footnotes, research, and lots of hard work. However, I have not been able to do anything up to that level. I would like to complete and publish a book project of some sort. It could be fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, or really anything that impresses me!

My journey so far:

September – 2015 – started writing short poems

January 2016 – completed writing short self-help book in poems and sentences

July 2016 – completed 1st draft of illustrations for self-help book; sent book out to 2 publishers, rejected by 1

September 2016 – started writing short blog entries

October 2016 – writing blog posts every other day

I thought I had done nothing this past year, but that’s not really true at all! My writing is going slowly, but it is going. I have pushed past my challenge lines before and will continue to do so.