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Isolation

I find myself in a peculiar position.

In a relatively tight-knit social group, I usually feel like an outrider... not necessarily an outsider, but not totally entwined there, either. I have a few people that I will attach myself to, people that I truly enjoy interacting with and feel close enough to walk up and sit next to at a meeting for instance. From time to time I go through periods of intense longing to be a more fully-integrated part of the group... to go out to dinner after meeting, to go to the parties to make those deeper connections, to go to the guild gatherings and craft nights. Get to know people better, especially the people I actually enjoy spending time with. Get more connected.

It's like sticky threads are being thrown at me, and I mostly stay just out of reach. Occasionally I let a thread stick, even though I usually end up removing it later.

Whenever I go through these periods of yearning, I have to remind myself that I choose this. If I get more involved with this, I can't do that over there. If I give all my available time and energy to get really connected in one group, that removes the opportunities to connect with that group or start that project over there. And all of these people and projects take me away from the garden. Which is truly more important?

I cannot do it all. It's a constant battle of priorities fighting amongst themselves for time, money, and attention.This tension is fueling a heartsick right now.
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Emotional eating

So my husband and I got in a huge fight at six o'clock this morning, and after he finally went to bed and fell asleep, I ate 1/3 of a 9x12 crumb cake.

What emotional eating? :/
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Fat

As I said in the last post, I've gained 20 pounds since I quit smoking. I have a very good diet. We eat tons of vegetables, healthy meat, and almost all of our treats are homemade and loaded with good fats, fruit, and whole grains. I just eat too much. My "full" sensation seems to be broken. I overeat to the point of discomfort at almost every meal, and yet I'm still somehow hungry. Lately this has been downright alarming.  I always want sugar as soon as I get home, then eat dinner, then have a "treat" later in the evening. I snack while I'm cooking dinner. I know this has something to do with sugar since my sugar cravings/overeating tapered off while I was doing the paleo diet.

My acupuncturist's theory is that other parts of my life aren't "feeding" me, so I'm using food to fulfill unmet needs. That's probably pretty accurate but other areas of my life aren't going to change and I'm really unhappy at this weight. My clothes don't fit and dammit, I have cute clothes. I feel unhealthy.

Yesterday I purchased a one-month yoga studio membership coupon to jump-start my only exercise love. Hot yoga, here I come! I still ride my bike to work and back as much as possible, even running errands on my bike on my days off. Between that and the fact that I'm working in the garden for hours and hours on my days off, I feel like I get a moderate amount of exercise.

I quit smoking after 20 years. Next to that, losing weight should be easy. Ideas, suggestions and encouragement welcome!
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Navel-gazing towards 39

So, I didn't get the grant. Long story short- I applied for a department of agriculture grant, and I didn't get it. I will get my scores, work on where the scores were too low, and apply for the grant again next year... but I'm remarkably disappointed. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get the grant but so many people told me that application was really good... I tried not to build up any hope, but I guess it leaked in a bit.

Anyways, so I'm having my typical reaction, which is to start on the "WTF am I doing with my life?" "Where are my priorities, really?" and to come to the conclusion, once again, that I'm heading in so many directions that I can't do any of them excellently but I can't face the consequences of cutting any of them out.
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Coping with loss

So on Saturday my son-in-law, the husband of my stepdaughter, was killed in action in Afghanistan. He was on patrol with four other men in his unit and they hit a roadside bomb. Everyone in the vehicle was killed.

My stepdaughter is 24. Their daughter just turned 4 years old.

My stepdaughter is on her way to claim her husband's body. She still hasn't found a way to tell their daughter. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, we'll be leaving later in the week for the funeral.

What is foremost in my mind in this moment is regret that I didn't know him better. He was often deployed or on maneuvers during their marriage and they lived very far away so we didn't spend much time with them. I wish I had made spending time with them a higher priority in my life. I wish I had worked harder on developing those relationships. 

All of our effort now will be supporting my stepdaughter and granddaughter and helping them go through this horrible change.
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As a parent of teenagers

I wrote this as a comment on someone else's journal, and want to keep it for my own record, so I'm posting it here.

Is it possible that she is putting effort into something you do not see?
I am asking because what you are saying here is basically what my parents said to ME as a teenager. I got below-average grades and made the barest effort at school. I didn't have many friends. I didn't play sports or join after-school activities.
However, I was putting extraordinary effort into my own self-education. I read ALL OF THE THINGS. Stacks and stacks of books, magazines, comics. I observed, and journaled about my observations. I listened to a huge wide variety of music and learned a huge amount about music styles and music theory, even though I wasn't interested in playing an instrument. I had a very hard time relating to people my own age so I spent huge amounts of time envisioning social encounters, playing them out in my head over and over and over, just so I could cope with people in real life. From the outside it looked like daydreaming perhaps. For a time my parents were fighting a lot and that drove me deep into my own shell. Just coping with my own emotions took a huge amount of processing space and time, there wasn't much left over for that ridiculous thing called "homework".
I came out of high school as a fairly well-adjusted person with my sense of curiosity and self-esteem intact. And that's no mean feat.
It's good that you can remember how much it sucks to be a teenager. I do too, and it really helps me be sympathetic/empathetic with my own teenagers (who are 18, 15, and 12). But I also try to remember all of the things I WISHED my mother would have said to me at that age, all of the things I WISHED she had done, and I try to do and say those things, too.
Hope this helps.
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Finding My Voice

I can't believe it's been two months since I've written anything here. And how much LJ has changed in the past 2 months.

Anyway.

It's been one year since I started writing in my blog "seriously" and actually putting work into it. In the past year my photography has improved, I've learned more about the technical side of writing and administering a wordpress blog, and I think my writing has improved. I've gone from 10 fans on my facebook page to 220. I have 38 blog subscribers. My average hits per day is 150. 

But I still feel like the blog is not *me*.

I keep reading everywhere that the most important part of blogging is writing from your authentic self. I am not doing that, not really. I do not want Green Basket to be a food blog. I write about food and I publish recipes because I love food and I love sharing recipes, but I also write about garden projects and cow pooling and every once in a while I write an opinion piece. These things are all nice, but I'm still holding back. I'm still holding back because I don't want to alienate my current readers by talking about pagan stuff, but I don't know if I'm "pagan enough" to be a "pagan blogger". I don't want Green Basket to be a pagan blog about local food and permaculture. I want Green Basket to be... what?

What am I writing about right now? The overlaps between growing your own food, permaculture projects, recipes using local food. Charcuterie and fermenting using local ingredients. I have a unique perspective on these things, but I've been the minority in the minority in the minority for so long, I'm so used to keeping my mouth shut in this group or that group... I'm too libertarian for the hippies, I'm too skeptical for the pagans, I'm too radical for the food security activists, I'm too down-to-earth for the feminist herbalists. I feel like this blog is going to keep limping along until I can find my unique voice and stop being scared of alienating everyone. I have a book in here somewhere, sometimes I lay in bed and write pages and pages in my head... it may be a book that no one wants to read, but aren't they all?

I have to figure out what exactly I want out of this whole blogging *thing*. What do I want to say? What are my goals? ARe those goals helped or hindered by the blog? Is the blog just writing practice?

Every month I know I'm having a PMS day when I think about deleting GreenBasket entirely for various reasons. That's irrational and I haven't done it (yet) but somewhere in there is a message that I need to listen to and resolve, some inner conflict. 
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Buses and Mothers

My van has finally died, and I'm back on the bus. The bus I have to take now snakes through many low-income neighborhoods and is often filled with very young mothers with small children.

The way these women treat their children makes me sick to my stomach.

Bus rides are both boring and distracting. The little kids are given nothing to do but then smacked or threatened with smacking for moving, speaking, or fidgeting. There is no positive, loving interaction between mother and child. They're either threatened or ignored. I spent the whole ride yesterday listening to a woman tell her small son how she was going to leave him on the bus if he didn't stay in his seat, over and over.

The child ignored her. He was obviously so inured to her hateful words and nasty tone that he completely tuned her out. He was probably 3 years old.

I got off the bus 3 stops early and walked the rest of the way. I wish I could say that she was the exception to the rule, but that would be a lie.

I'm mighty motivated to start riding my bike again.
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Update on Smoking

In a week or so it will be one year since I quit smoking. 

I'm still smoking in certain situations but those situations are so specific and happen so rarely that I'm not worried about it at all. Cigarette smoking *can* be like alcohol consumption- okay in moderation, but I don't want to do it every day. My definition of "moderation" means I will smoke when I'm sitting in a group of people outside and drinking. Usually there's a bonfire involved and I'm wearing funny clothes. 

I'm going to teach at a pagan festival next weekend. I'll be nervous and mostly with strangers plus camping with alcohol, so I'm going to buy an electronic cigarette with no nicotine and see if that will take care of the "must have something in my hand/mouth" craving. I no longer need or want the nicotine. I'll also bring the hookah since the ritual of setting it up, lighting it and sharing it with people is immensely satisfying but one bowl of tobacco lasts HOURS and I can just sit there and hold it, too. 

Not smoking on a daily basis is wonderful. I'm so glad I quit.
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Not even my subconscious is subtle

Stress and anxiety are two different emotional/mental states.

Anxiety:

1. A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
2. A desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease.

Stress:

2. mental, emotional, or physical strain or tension

Believe it or not, I never really separated or differentiated between the two words, never really paid attention, until just a few months ago when my acupuncturist asked me to rate my level of stress from a 1 to a 10 and I answered "nine and a half", but then the words he used didn't describe how I was feeling at all. We talked it out and realized that he said stress but meant anxiety, and while I was feeling a great deal of stress due to a tight schedule, large amounts of responsibility, and high stakes... I wasn't very anxious at all. I was confident in my abilities, I understood the parameters, and had a detailed plan in place. 

Anxiety for me is a huge blinking red neon sign that I'm not working hard enough or prioritizing well. So when I had a long dream a few nights ago about trying to organize a last-minute dinner and food burned, things tasted bad, no one showed up, etc... that was the anxiety dream kick in the pants I needed to get me going on this feast. Not even my subconscious is subtle.

So Friday I did almost all of the price shopping for ingredients, and tonight I tested 4 recipes and typed out about half the recipes for the entire feast. And now I feel much calmer.