Sunday, September 30, 2012

[Heavy Sigh] From My Heavy Heart

Three weeks--to the day--after we buried my aunt Irene, I got a phone call early in the morning that my Uncle John had passed away overnight. Two weeks prior he had been given a prognosis of two months, but the day before he passed the hospice nurse estimated that he had only 24-36 hours left. Those of us who could, went.

So fast, we all said. So much loss. Donna, Ciocia, now Stryjek. So devastating. I'm so glad I got to say goodbye, I thought.

Over the next several days as we mourned together and consoled each other, I talked about the couple of hours I was able to share with my uncle and members of my family the night before he passed. They were two of the saddest, most heartwrenching hours of my life: crying with his grandchildren, praying as my aunt told him it was okay to let go, seeing my Dad kiss his younger brother goodbye.  "Dobra noc, Janek," he said. Goodnight, John. Yet I also knew there was something inherently blessed and wonderful about those hours, about being a part of a family that shares and loves one another so much.

I try to to hold onto that as I go through my days lately, as I try to move forward and be positive in the face of all this loss and sadness. We have each other, I think. I have an amazing family. 

And then, Please let us be done. No one else. Please. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


When I was in my twenties, and teaching wellness and balance to college students, I was much better at maintaining balance myself. But it seems these past few years I have gotten way out of whack. These days my wellness wheel couldn’t make it an inch down the street. There is nothing rounded or balanced about it most days.

So I’ve been giving that some thought lately, especially after starting back at school, at this job we are so privileged and honored to have (more on that in another post). And though not an epiphany of Oprah proportions, it occurred to me that PWOKS (People without Kids) like me probably have a harder time finding it. Balance, that is.

Parents have built in shut-off valves to get them away from their jobs and thinking about their jobs: their kids. And their kids' schedules. Without a daughter to pick up at piano lessons at 5 and dinner to get on the table by 6 so a son can make it to karate at 7 on time, it seems to me the stress of work can settle in and fill up the rest of your day.

And yes, I totally understand that parents would gladly give over their shuttling duties sometimes for a little peace and quiet and alone time….but my point is that alone time is not always peaceful for some PWOKs like me. And Amy. And Deanna.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go and have myself a kid. And I’m probably not going to offer to pick your kids up from practice, but I am going to attempt a little more balance, to try to do a couple things not related to school—or Zynga or watching politics on TV—every day. (Resume writing? Definitely allowed.)

This should be fun.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Crockpot Challenge

Early in the summer I decided to challenge myself to use my Crock Pot this summer--twice. I could make a recipe I know to be good, but one of them had to be something new.

I had heard a Food Network Star talk about the Crock Pot being an underused tool in the summer, and thought hmmm, that makes sense to me. Generally associated with roasts and comfort food, and relegated to fall and winter (guilty), it cooks without heating up the kitchen--a bonus in summer. And just as coming home to a roast dinner after school/work in the winter delights the senses, coming home to a meal after a day at the beach or the pool rocks. Right? Only thing between you and dinner is a shower. Maybe a fresh roll. No sweating over a stove or grill. Works for me.

Well, I got right on my self-imposed challenge and tried a new recipe. I made buffalo chicken and was happy with the results. So were Liz, Jim, Deanna, and Chris who all got a sample. (Unfortunately it didn't really photograph well.)

And then the summer got away from me. Fortunately, I am my mother's daughter and had a 3 pound shoulder roast in the freezer. (Get this: it was on sale for 1.99/pound, and had a $2 off sticker on it because it was the end of the sale week, so I only paid $4.63 for it!) Aware that I had not met my Crock Pot challenge and had only this weekend left to do so, I took the roast out to thaw earlier this week.

As I write, I'm less than eight hours away from a bbq pulled pork sandwich. So I'm off to the store for some fresh rolls and cole slaw and then headed to the pool with my hilarious book.

Challenge complete.
last time it looked like this

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