Doing too much?

I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about how we all end up doing so much — to the point of are we doing too much?

We probably are, and I am definitely one that falls into that camp. I like to help, I like to solve problems, I like to make things happen. Sometimes when you have your hands in too many pots, what suffers most is your own personal life. I mentioned how I love the weekends because somehow I feel like a person again. It is my time to recharge, refresh, and relook at the world in new ways. Yet, I wonder if I really should be doing that every day? My first inclination is to say: “Who has the time?” Partly that is true, and partly it is about making the time.

One of the ways that I do that is in the morning. I am not a morning person. I would rather drag out starting my day in more ways than one. I usually leave for work two hours after I get up in the morning. Unless of course I have an early meeting in which I either have to get up crazy early, or I have to give up my me time. I like to slowly get out of bed (you know, have the alarm go off a zillion times and hit snooze each time) rather than wake up by immediately taking a shower. Chris (the amazing husband that he is) makes our morning green smoothie while I shower, then I take my time drinking it while catching up on personal emails, articles, and maybe a dabbling of Facebook. That quiet time can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and I generally push it as long as I can. It is my “me” time.

Eventually he drops hints that it is time for me to get ready for work. I do, but often want to just finish that next thing or to hold those last few moments for me before I give myself over to a day of back-to-back meetings often without even time for lunch. When I get home, if I am not incredibly wiped out, my hope is that I get one more hour back to me for my run and to catch up on the book that I am reading. Then dinner, catch up on more work, and finally some blogging. Not much time in the day for much else.

Chris and I had the conversation over the weekend — if I was going to cut something out, what would it be? A tough decision. I want to do it all. I want to love it all. I want more hours in the day. Since that is not possible it often means less sleep, which is also not always the best answer.

What do you do when you are doing too much and you either do not want to edit or you do not know where to edit?

Exercise, Veggies, and Writing

Three things that are constants in my life on an almost daily basis are: exercise, vegetables, and writing. An odd amalgamation of things, but all critical for a bit of balance and inspiration in my life. You might wonder how these three have anything remotely in common. Their only commonality is that they ground me. On the days when I have the opportunity to run, eat a good amount of vegetables, and take the time to write, life just feels better. It may not mean that I have had an amazing day. Lots of shit could have happened, but these three stable aspects of my life help me to get through the shitty days and make the good days even better. Call me crazy, but it is true.

The ironic thing is that all three require discipline and none of them happened for me overnight. Consistent exercise was a gradual habit that happened over many years. My craving to run each day is the euphoria of pushing myself to the limits, having an hour that is just for myself, and the feeling at the end of a run when I am dripping in sweat and knowing I got through it. There is nothing else in my life that gives me that feeling and my day does not feel complete without my run.

How I feel when I run matters and, often, I can tell that if I feel horrible while running it has to do with some crap I ate earlier in the day. I am usually an evening/after work runner, so what I had for lunch and any snacks or junk food I ingest during the day matters. Which is why I have become a fanatic of eating vegetables. I have them in my green smoothie in the morning (usually spinach, kale, carrots), a salad for lunch, then for dinner, a vegetable, protein, and brown rice. Some sort of yummy concoction, but there is always a vegetable go with it. How far I have come from trying to get away with no vegetables as a kid and little to none in high school and college. Why have I become such an addict? I can now tell the difference in my body when I do not have these natural nutrients. More sugar + less vegetables and my body shuts down earlier in the day. More sugar = more exhausted. Since I know this about myself I do all I can to eat my veggies.

Writing. The final aspect to balance in my life. I write five blog posts each week and used to write in a journal too. My journal writing has waned in the past few months. It felt like work and I was not inspired to do it so I stopped. I know I will pick it up again, as that has been the ebb and flow of my life. There have been times when I needed to write, and write, and write to figure out my thoughts and unravel my world. Writing random olio keeps my mind open and aware. When you know that you are going to write a blog five days in a row you look at the world differently. It makes me more creative, have more wonder, and investigate the world.

What is not to love about my three life disciplines? A random olio of balance that is the core of who I am today.

I heart SH: Food nostalgia

You never know if you are going to fall in love with the food in a new city, or if you eat and are always disappointed. During my two-week visit in Shanghai I tried to always eat as local as possible. I only had a few western meals, and other than trekking all over the city to find a good green smoothie (actually just a real green smoothie), I stuck to trying new things.

I have not been a fan of Chinese food in Portland. Most of the places we have tried have been too Americanized and are mostly bland options. For the most part Thai or Chinese food for us has been the quick “too tired, or too busy to cook” option. You do not really crave that kind of Chinese food, it is more of a convenience. So not really sure what to expect and knowing that I have definitely not really ever experienced “good” Chinese food, I jumped in head first. I thought I would share a few of my favorites.

photo 5Xiao long bao is a kind of steamed dumpling (or bun) that is made in bamboo steamer baskets, and filled with a tiny amount of broth. Xiaolongbao - Yum!They are usually served with slices of ginger, soy, and vinegar to dip in before popping in your mouth. I became addicted to the pork filled versions, although I also had some that had hairy crab inside. They have a thin, light exterior, and it is best to tear a corner and check the temperature of the soup, or just go for it and down it all in one bite, hoping not to burn your mouth in the process. They are little morsels of intense flavor and just so so so good.

Favorite location: Din Tai Fung (for those of you in the US, there is a location in Seattle). Roadtrip soon, Chris?

Sheng Jian BaoTheir cousins or siblings are Sheng Jian Bao (fried soup dumplings) and take a close second for me. My first Sheng jian baoThey are a breakfast speciality in Shanghai. Twice the size of the Xia long bao, also filled with pork and broth, but fried on the bottom. They also have a thicker exterior.

Favorite location: Yang’s Dumplings

I tried other local Shanghainese food, with differing opinions. Some dishes were bland, some just not the flavor I would crave. Junk food, street food, fine dining. More items with beans then I can imagine. By far my favorite were these two versions of dumplings. I have already started the hunt of where I can find something even close as to as good in Portland.

Dessert in Shanghai was few and far between. We usually were too full to care, but not in that ‘your pants are bursting’ kind of way. In more of a ‘that was amazing and I do not want to do anything to the flavors happening in my mouth’. However, we happened across a bakery selling a Cronut (croissant + doughnut), we could not resist.

CronutEver since we had heard about all the hubbub in New York City at the Dominique Ansel Bakery, we have always wanted to try one. While I appreciate that the fad has not blown up and been cloned all over the US, when you have never had one, and you see it in Shanghai, why not try it? They know that they are stealing the idea from New York City, but rather than completely steal the idea, we saw it marketed as “Cronut = Crack + Doughnut.” Whatever way they want to justify it, we found two bakeries that sold them. Worth it? Yes.

I enjoyed trying so many unique and local dishes and will miss Xiao Long Bao, but the adventurer in me will see if I can find them locally. Or, maybe Chris will play in the kitchen and see how hard they are to make right at home.

Naked Juice + Pound of Fruit = Fed Family

I grew up hating vegetables. It was not until at least the age of 25 when I started to eat them, and now I crave them. For the most part eating vegetables in my youth sucked. They were either frozen or canned, and many times microwaved or overcooked. All around gross. Now I am passionate about promoting vegetables. When I hear that parents have a hard getting their kids to eat their veggies, I think two things. That will change as they get older, and there are now creative ways they can get their kids to eat amazing green, leafy veggies.

Whenever I travel and have little to no access to vegetables, I defer to bottled green juices. There are many brands I have tried, but my favorites are Odwalla, Naked, and a few local brands. When I found out about Naked Juices campaign to help families receive fresh produce I thought – brilliant! Naked Juice states that there is an entire pound of fruit in every bottle of Naked Juice. Their green juice version has veggies too.

They have teamed up with Wholesome Wave, a non-profit that helps provide underserved communities with local produce. You can download a coupon from the Naked Juice website, that gives you $1 off any 15.2 ounce of Naked Juice. For every coupon downloaded from their website, they will donated one pound of produce to families in need. It is definitely a clever marketing campaign. It means more Naked Juice customers, which means more knowledge about their brand. It allows their consumer to be their customer evangelists, and families receive fresh produce. A win-win situation.

You can find out more details by going to the “Good Deeds” page on their website. You will want to be sure to watch the slide show. Naked Juice has started their campaign by donating 50,000 pounds of fruits and veggies.

If you crave kale, spinach, banana, and other nutrient rich foods, download a coupon, pick up a bottle of Naked Juice, and know you have helped to provide necessary foods for a family.

#winwin

Little Green Monsters

Back in February, I posted a blog about Green Smoothies. For the past few years I have started my day with a green smoothie.

Last week a Facebook friend posted a link to a blog about kids and green smoothies. I had to watch the video included in the blog a few times. Specifically I loved watching the little boy and his intense desire to have his green smoothie. He looks like a little gentleman in a toddler’s body. I hope my kids are as enamored with green smoothies as these two precious little ones. You will also want to try the “Green Monster Chocolate Smoothie” recipe posted at the above blog link. We made it yesterday morning and this morning and are enjoying it. It gives us another option to our usual green/fruit smoothie. It consists of spinach, kale, peanut butter, chocolate almond milk, ice, and a banana. (We did not have any kale so we doubled the amount of spinach).

For background click the above link, and here is a direct view of the video:

A note about green smoothies. Buy a Vita-Mix. We literally went through about 10 blenders in a short amount of time (all that eventually died through electrical smoking) and we finally dropped the money for a Vita-Mix. It is worth every penny.