I cannot believe the last time I wrote on this blog was May of 2018. It’s been…quite a year. The main piece is that we did two brutal rounds of IVF, which I would not wish on my worst enemy, and both ultimately failed, and I kind of went off the rails. I’ve never been able to write when I’m depressed, and those experiences sent me in a direction that fundamentally unnerved me and limited my ability to do much of anything in a healthy way.
I turned 40 in February, and could not shake feeling like I was both moving towards something and moving away from something else. The image I had for what my life was “supposed to look like” at this point isn’t what it is on a lot of levels, and that scared me. Within that, my emotional upheaval – which is something I’ve always struggled with – got worse. It was typically something I would write off, try to validate and justify, but the older I got, the clearer it became that I couldn’t keep doing this. So after a watershed moment about three months ago, I decided to take a hard look at some key pieces of my well-being and – among other things – quit drinking.
It’s amazing what happens when you get out of your own way. I’ve spent so much time trying to control and direct my life, usually with good intentions, and then being disappointed and frustrated when the end result wasn’t exactly as I imagined it. I’ve projected my own fears, insecurities and expectations onto the people closest to me with some disastrous results. I’ve tried to excuse bad behavior from both myself and others, made terrible decisions almost capriciously, and established patterns that pulled me down instead of up.
Sobriety brings a clarity I don’t know if I’ve ever had. It’s the healthiest decision I’ve made in my adult life, by far. I’m much more consistent and easygoing, and far less judgmental. The anxiety and depression I struggled with for probably 20 years are at the lowest levels I’ve ever experienced, including reducing the prescription medication I was taking to address this by 75% in the past three months. I work out almost daily, do a ton of activities I was too tired or hungover to do before, am training for a sprint triathlon at the end of August, and am just so much more present in my life. I can actually feel my brain and my body healing. And my skin is glowing (I should have led with this, right?).
I’ve read a lot about the damage alcohol consumption inflicts on your entire system, because the data nerd in me loves that kind of stuff. This Naked Mind is a book I read early on that gave me some takeaways I still think about on a daily basis, including how your neural pathways need time to reconnect, how long-term drinking can negatively affect just about every part of a functioning system and how much time your body spends trying to heal itself instead of operating at its healthiest.
Is this a mid-life crisis? It seems to be pretty spot on, right? Well, okay then. Things need to break down in order to be rebuilt and I’m all for being the healthiest I can be – both mentally and physically – to face it all head on. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but that doesn’t fill me with the anxiety and fear it used to. I’m growing into the best version of myself that I can be, finally, and as long as I keep that up I know I’ll be okay. August 5 will mark 100 days of sobriety, and let me just tell you that I am HERE for who I’m becoming within this.
Anyway, this is a cooking blog, right? Good freaking grief. Let’s get to it.
STEEL CUT OATS IN COCONUT MILK WITH BLUEBERRIES, CARAMELIZED BANANAS AND HONEYED PEANUT BUTTER (makes about 5 servings)
- 1 cup steel-cut oats (these are so healthy for you)
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 cups coconut milk, shaken well (one 15-oz can will work)
- 1 cup water
- 1 package frozen blueberries
- fresh blueberries
- 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 bananas, sliced
-Toast the dry oats in a little butter for about 2-3 minutes over medium heat. I’ve been using a cast iron pan for just about everything lately and I am *obsessed*. Set the pan aside.
-In a medium pot, bring the coconut milk and 1 cup water just to a boil. Add the oats, a pinch of salt and a couple shakes of cinnamon. Turn heat to low and simmer until water is evaporated, stirring frequently so you don’t end up with the gluey oatmeal stuck at the bottom of your pot.
-In the pan you used to toast the oats, add the blueberries, 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1 tsbp. water. Simmer over medium until the blueberries can be mashed roughly with a wooden spoon and the liquid starts to reduce. Pour blueberry mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
-Wipe out the pan and melt 1 tbsp. of butter with a health dash of cinnamon. Add bananas, sliced lengthwise, and cook for about 5 minutes on one side or until golden brown. Flip and cook on the other side for about five minutes more.
-In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, honey and 1 tbsp water. Stir well to combine until it’s a little runny and drizzle-able (is that a word?)
-When the oats are ready, add some of them to a bowl, then stir in the blueberry mixture. Top with fresh blueberries, some of the caramelized bananas and a drizzle of the honeyed peanut butter mix.
-Serve and enjoy. I had enough of this for about five days’ worth of breakfasts, which are so filling and so delicious I was looking forward to them every single morning.
Glad to be back on the blog!!