Learning to relax.

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Mojitos: A sure-fire way to make me not care.

Over the weekend we opted to stay around the house and relax. This resulted in a trip to the planetarium, a fantastic cookout with friends, piles of puppies, ice cream (twice), sunbathing, cooking, gardening and reading. While doing all of these enjoyable things (supposedly stress relieving), I was learning how to relax. Oh, how I fought it. I don't know how to relax. I stress about lots of things. Specifically, I was fretting over puppy poops on the carpet, the miserable condition of our old stained bathtub, two closets overflowing with junk and a collection of bottles under the sink that toppled over when I opened the cupboard. Sounds silly, in retrospect. The source of all of this comes from my current biggest worry: Will we ever be able to sell this dang condo? It's been up for sale for months, and with every passing day, I am more likely to tell myself that a dusty window ledge or a hand print on the wall is deterring potential buyers. The place could be as clean as a whistle, but leave it to me to lay the blame on one stray dog hair stuck to a couch cushion.

Kurt always brings me down from these episodes. He said, "The worse thing that could happen is that nothing will happen." No one will call. There will be no offer. Nothing will change. And it's not really that bad, because I have him, Mule and Harold, a job, a place to live and a bowl of dark chocolate Nutella cookie dough in the fridge.

Did you know that I actually meant to write this entry about food? How did I get here? Oh, yeah ... before last weekend, my brain usually translated "weekend at home" to mean "take on several idealistic cooking projects, completely freak out and destroy the kitchen." Even my favorite pastime, cooking, could potentially wind me tight enough for my eyeballs to bug out of my head. But I'm giving up on lamenting over small deviations... no more stress, self pity or what-iffing myself into a hole. And to think, I actually believed that the house wouldn't be as clean, my pie crusts wouldn't be as perfect and my to-do list would be left untouched if I didn't obsess over them in a mad frenzy - as if neurosis was the secret ingredient in all of my favorite recipes.

The truth is, everything tastes better, feels better and looks better if I am enjoying myself. You'd think this would be obvious, but I like to brood and my skull is very thick. All this time, I've been wasting my worries on the most inconsequential issues. To simply stop feeling a certain way is easier said than done. Before reacting, I need to just think really hard. Think the stress away. "Is this a real concern? What is the most realistic outcome to the situation, and is it really all that bad?" Usually, I am able to conclude that a.) I am filled to the brim with bullshit, b.) I am on my period or c.) all of the above.

So. I imagine a comic strip version of myself, and all of my little worries are suspended above my head like thought bubbles ... and one by one, they are rationally challenged and gently burst and disappear. After thinking away all of the clutter in my mind, I am able to stay present in the moment and just let things happen. An heirloom tomato tart happened. A summer squash and cucumber salad happened. Those cookies I mentioned - those happened too.

And as far as work and chores go, an untroubled mind is so much more efficient. Ironically, by not worrying about completing the tasks at hand, I was able to complete them.

Here are a few things that I cooked, without a care in the world (unless it involved bacon, in which case Kurt was responsible):

heirloom tomato tart
Heirloom tomato tart with basil pesto and ricotta in a cornmeal crust. I must admit that
1/4 of the crust accidentally fell into a sink full of dirty dishwater
. I did not flinch. I did not cry.

summer squash, cucumber and dill salad
Cucumber, zuchini and summer squash salad with fresh dill vinaigrette.

bacon wrapped shrimp
Bacon wrapped shrimp skewers. (Psst! In the background, you can see our friend Heather's
amazing barbecue chicken legs.)

P.S. All of the vegetables and herbs came from our garden. Growing food is rad.

garden goods


  1. It was only one slice's worth of crust and it was a dream.

  2. Wow, I can really, really relate to this post. I think I could give you a run for your money in the Worrying Olympics. I would definitely win the hypochondria event. I'm finally starting to realize that it's not really, you know, normal to be anxious most of the time, and am trying to fix that. Thanks for sharing about your thinking method. I'll have to try the thing with the bubbles popping.

    Could you point me in the direction of the dark chocolate Nutella cookie recipe please?

  3. i may fall over if i don't get a recipe for the tart of awesome.

  4. Dayna, I used this recipe for the cookies (except I omitted the cinnamon): http://alpineberry.blogspot.com/2006/08/nutella-cookies.html

    Robiewan, I added the recipe to the photo description. If you click on the photo of the tart, you will be directed to my Flickr page. The recipe is listed in the description. I hope you like it! Let me know how it turns out.


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