“Are you done yet?” ~ Blaze, the wonder pup

Hello, there. I’ve taken so much time off from the blog, that as time has gone on it has become more and more difficult to restart things. I also felt maybe I should explain where I’ve been, which slowed me down from posting as well. Some things that happened were just the business of life, some things were other peoples’ stories to tell. And some things…. well, some things are just tough to talk about on what I always think of as my safe, delicious place.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom that kept me busy. I was up to some fun things, too, while away. I had some great job opportunities. I had 2 kids graduate from high school. I wrote a couple cookbooks (a gluten free and a slow cooker one) and a dairy free one will be out in March. My oldest graduated from college and started being a full-time Adult (notice the capital letter). I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary, which just proves that if you can find that one special someone you can annoy for the rest of your life, you’ll be set. However, in the midst of all the good things, bad things got tangled together as well. Life can be like that sometimes.

My parents have lived with us for the past 16 years and last summer my dad was diagnosed with Espophegal Cancer. In fact, I had gotten the advance copy of my first book on the same day that his cancer was confirmed.  My book, which I had been dreaming about doing for who knows how long, suddenly didn’t seem important in the of scheme of things. Like I said, all the good and bad tangled up with each other. My dad’s cancer was pretty tough to treat and he did end up passing away this past March.

Yesterday I finally shook my head clear of the fog it’s been in, and decided that it was time to get myself in gear. I’m feeling the stirring of creativity again, the desire to share, the energy to put back into it again. Grief is a funny thing. It can really sap your energy on a deep level. I have suffered, what I can only describe as a grief relapse from time to time. While I know it is a perfectly normal thing to go through, when they happen they are hard on my productivity. Trying to push through grief is like moving through mud, where everything takes a little more energy, like something (or several things) has been added to my to-do list every day.  Have breakfast, miss dad, get ready for the day, miss dad, send emails, miss dad, start laundry, miss dad, go to work, miss dad, pick up groceries, miss dad… Grief just takes up so much time, like having a whole other job that wants all of your attention.

The fog is receding now, the work of it, anyway, and I’m settling back into a groove. I hope you’re all well, and sorry for the silence. To be honest, I had quite a bit of struggle around writing about this. When he was sick, I felt it was his story to tell, and he wanted to play it out pretty close to his chest… But now, well, even in my everyday life I find I edit much of my talk about it all. How I miss him and how much sometimes I am angry at the cancer or at him for not taking care of himself, but mainly how the whole thing was just hard. When talking about it with friends I find myself scanning their faces for signs that I should change the subject, or that I am not very fun right now, or that it is just too, too much… I do know I need to be honest with how I feel, but still worry about what the other person needs enough that I do try to keep it to myself as much as I am able. I am a person that is pretty good at sorting out my own insides anyway. But sometimes grief can have a way of leaking out, so be warned I may give in to the urge to write about it now and then. Don’t worry, I’ll try to balance it out with something delicious.

We have gotten through seven months so far, with the upcoming holiday season looming a bit. Easter was the first major holiday after dad passed, but we were still so shocked and freshly wounded, that we managed to get through it in a fog. We don’t yet have the practice at filling in the dad shaped hole in our world just yet, so I am heading things off a bit by planning. My thought is that if I have things in place, planned and pre-made a bit, by the time Thanksgiving and Christmas are here we can take the time to just be together, cry a bit if we need to, and have the time to laugh together, too. And maybe you are facing the same thing – a loss or a new circumstance that has made the holidays seem just a bit harder to face. My hope is that  writing out how I plan on moving forward will help you as well. Besides, there will be cookies. That always helps, right? 🙂

This weekend join me and I’ll show you how I plan for my holiday season. I like to spread the expense and the preparations of the big meals of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the week’s surrounding it with extra guests  by making things ahead of time as much as I am able. Every year this has given me the gift of time. Time the relax during the week with my kids, or to go look at Christmas lights, or to just take a well deserved night off from cooking before rushing off to an Orchestra concert at school. Time to enjoy the holiday and not just be tied to the kitchen. This year I am finding it even more important to take a little extra care of myself and my family by preparing ahead of time. I hope it helps you as well.
It turns out, even in the midst of what life throws at you, you still need to eat. It might as well be delicious!
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My menu plan for the week:
Monday: Gluten free spaghetti with meat sauce and broccoli
Tuesday: Chicken fajita bowls with cilantro lime cauliflower “rice” and seasoned black beans
Wednesday: Gluten & dairy free tuna melts with creamy squash soup
Thursday: Egg bake with a salad and apple slices
Friday: Pork dragon zoodles with peanuts and bok choy
Saturday: Pumpkin chili with salad and red grapes
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