Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe: Texas Hash

This is a dish Mom made for us growing up. I've surely modified it in some ways as I've prepared it myself over the years, but I couldn't tell you how Mom originally made it or which is better. I think the point of homemade skillet meals like this are that they're pretty basic, and you're welcome to personalize it--no hard feelings. :-)

Texas Hash freezes really well, and I like to have it in lieu of Meatloaf as comfort food as it's quicker & easier, and I don't have to worry about whether it's cooked through. It may heat up the house less since it doesn't have to be baked. Just guessing.

All measurements are approximate. Find your own happy balance. :-)

Deana's Texas Hash
2-3 cups of rice (cooked)
1.5-2 lbs ground beef
1 beef bouillon cube (optional)
1 bell pepper (optional)
1 medium onion, diced (or large or small or whatever. I like yellow or white onion for this)
Salt, pepper, & garlic powder (or cloves or whatever) to taste
1 12.5oz can green beans
1 12.5oz can sweet corn
1 12.5oz can diced tomatoes (or ~1.5cups fresh diced tomato, whatever)

If you don't have cooked rice on-hand already, cook according to package directions so that you'll wind up with 2-3 cups when it's cooked. You can use whatever kind of rice you want, but since this is mixed in, I like to use the long grain type that doesn't stick together. It's one of the few uses I've found for that stuff.

Brown the ground beef with the onion, bouillon cube, and seasonings in a huge skillet. Drain off the fat.

Drain the juice out of the canned vegetables (and the fruit, if you're going to be pedantic). Combine beef mixture with vegetables and rice in the skillet.

You can serve it by itself, or topped with shredded cheddar. YUM! I also like to top it with cocktail sauce and serve it with mashed or baked potatoes.

Enjoy! :-)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Twitter: New-Fangled Confessional Booth?

I love Twitter. I like it that people say there what they might not say otherwise, even if they delete the tweet within 30 seconds of posting it.

Twitter has also brought to my attention some people of note who suffer from mental illness, the most recent being Peter Serafinowicz.

Peter "is an English actor, comedian, writer, composer, voice artist and occasional director," who was the voice of Darth Maul in "The Phantom Menace," and played Pete in "Shaun of the Dead." For Anglophiles: he's also been in "Spaced," "The IT Crowd," and "Black Books." [IMDB entry]

Today, Peter shared via Twitter a blog post written by Amy Jane Smith (whose name makes me think she's the offspring of The Doctor & River Song) along with sharing that he, too, suffers from Depression and Anxiety. [For DW reference explanation, see: John Smith, Sarah-Jane Smith, Amelia Pond, River Song]

I wouldn't wish Depression and Anxiety on anyone, but it does me good to see that there are others battling mental illness and are still successful in life. Also, I am grateful that they are willing to share their experiences with us so that we can find hope ourselves.

So, a big thank you to everyone who chooses to share with the world that they've struggled. Hopefully someday the stigma will be gone.

Update: Turns out Peter wrote a load of tweets on the subject! Busy compiling them now.
Update 2: Here they are...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm Blue

Found this PET scan image by the Mayo Clinic very interesting (via Reddit).
Depression is a physical disability, a mood disorder. Not a personality flaw. Why can't people see that?

Here's an article by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, MD, to help detect Depression in yourself and loved ones. It addresses some of the more puzzling things about Depression, such as losing interest in doing the things that once gave you joy while being able to continue low-commitment things like surfing the 'net and gaming.

The past few days have been...bad. For me. Emotionally. Haven't opened the blinds in two days. Haven't been on the treadmill in longer than that. Slept a lot the past couple of days trying to escape intrusive negative thoughts. Nothing like hurting myself or anyone, but sad, anxiety-ridden thoughts, nevertheless. Bad news is: the sadness and anxiety is creeping into my dreams. Needless to say, that makes me feel somewhat cornered emotionally. I have an appointment with a VA psychiatrist coming up soon, thank goodness.

What set this off? Well, my mood was already sort of flagging, but then I made the mistake of reading part of the EEO Report of Investigation. That triggered lots of anxiety and tears as well as reliving being fired. I've relived that day in some respect every single day since April 2011. It's very frustrating, and it's hard to distract myself from it.

At the same time, I'm incredibly grateful for the friends and family who are lending their financial and emotional support. In that way, it's Thanksgiving in my heart every single day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Allie Brosh Sighting

Hey, guess what? Allie Brosh made an appearance on Reddit recently.

Once again, she does a better job of expressing what I've been going through than even I can.

I like that I have her words to help me explain what the heck is happening with me, but I'm so very sorry she has to experience it.

Please check out what she wrote.


Edit: I just ran across this blog post addressing the ending of Allie's "Adventures in Depression" post and found it interesting.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


You may not know who Allie Brosh is by name but, if you spend much time online, you are bound to have seen the meme her work inspired.

See more on Know Your Meme

The original image is from her blog post entitled "This is Why I'll Never Be an Adult" on Hyperbole and a Half.

I've enjoyed Allie's work immensely; it's easy to relate to, funny, and the imperfect drawings are a great silly complement to her storytelling.

What really gripped me, though, was her post, "Adventures in Depression."
It is an apt description of what people with Depression experience that needs to be read by anyone who doesn't believe that Depression is a medical condition and anyone who hasn't suffered it themselves.

Seriously. There are people who believe that Depression doesn't exist, that someone is just going through a self-induced, pessimistic sad patch in their life.

"Snap out of it."
"Get over it."
"Buck up, little camper."
"It can't be that bad."
"Shake it off."
"There are kids starving in Africa."

I told one coworker, "I'm on antidepressants for clinical depression." He said, "I don't believe in that. I'll pray for you." Nice guy. We're still friends, even though he is ignorant when it comes to mental health.

I have to say, though, that his reaction is preferable to the, "you have Depression; that's a mental illness, so you must have no intelligence, abilities, or redeeming qualities whatsoever," mindset.

Having a conversation with a supervisor once, I became frustrated and tears began to flow. I was confronting her about things others had told me she had done to basically ruin my career. She kept saying, "I'm sorry you FEEL that way," even though my words never said I felt anything; I was stating what had been reported to me. But she ignored that I was stating objective fact and tried to discredit my concerns by drawing attention and attributing my allegations to my "mental and emotional instability."

On the other hand, an ex once asked, "Why don't people run marathons for Depression awareness and research? I can't think of a worse illness."

I need your help to fight the stigma associated with mental health issues.

To facilitate this, I'll provide links here to mental health education and support resources as well as bring attention to sufferers who are in the public eye and open about their conditions.

Allie Brosh is the first.

Please check out her work and share it with others.
(Note: Allie has written articles for newspapers that I've read online, but I'm having a hard time finding them. Her blog is a good place to start. If you go through the posts, I think there may be links to articles.)

Thank you.

*Doctor Who (NuWho) series 3 spoilers, from "Utopia":

"When the Doctor hears about Yana's timepiece, a flashback sequence inter-cut with the letters of the Professor's name makes clear that "Yana" is an acronym of "You are not alone", the Face of Boe's last words to the Doctor. At the same time, Yana opens the watch, releasing his Time Lord essence."

Tolerable Work Outs?

Did 30 minutes on the treadmill today. Make no mistake: I'm still not running. Not because I don't want to, but because I'm not able to run for any amount of time yet that makes it worthwhile to change the speed on the treadmill (if you saw how my laptop is set up on it, you'd see why).

To compensate for not being at a fitness level where I'm able to run and being unwilling to change the treadmill's speed, I change up how I walk in time to the music. It winds up forming little intervals where I'll be out of breath, then I can return to walking normally to catch my breath.

(Also, I accidentally increased the incline while setting up my laptop a few days ago and just left it. Figure it's good for me. As a result, I've begun striving for 30 minutes instead of an hour. Anything over 30 minutes is gravy.)

Admitting to my silliness on the treadmill embarrasses me a little, but I feel some ridiculous need to prove to you that I'm not just plodding along at the slowest possible setting.

Since I've starting using the treadmill recently, I haven't felt happy to be there. It's like taking medicine--the endorphins (however small the dose) are drugs to help me improve my life.

Slogging through treadmill time made me think of something else I've wanted to get into, but I keep starting and stopping. I figured I'm not doing crap while I'm on the treadmill, so I might as well try to meditate at the same time. I didn't know if it was possible, but I knew the Internet would tell me how others had fared when trying.

So I googled "meditation while running," and it brought me to this Runners World article. I actually read the whole thing (took me hours, starting and stopping--I feel almost constantly distracted). I don't know that meditation on a treadmill would be ideal, as part of the meditation is mindfulness of surroundings. But I figured, "Hey, if I can do it on a treadmill, doing it on a track or in the neighborhood will be a piece of cake."

I intend to try tomorrow; I'll let you know how it goes.

Today I looked a bit into building a playlist that I give a crap about because I thought maybe the radio's commercials were bringing me down. I simply don't have the patience to cobble a playlist together. There are several available to download for free online (many in line with Couch-to-5K (C25K) training), but lots of them are just, like, rave music or something. I kind of need familiarity, otherwise the music's just irritating.

It may seem weird that I'm harping so much on this treadmill stuff when I'm not exactly sporty, it's not making me lose weight, etc. But it's the only part of my life and therapy I'm willing to share at this point. It's something. Maybe it'll help someone.

In other news, I've been reading some FlyLady and have set a timer to do a little something toward improving my environment every 30 minutes or so. In the course of this, I found a study guide I'd been looking for since it arrived via UPS. I'd left it in the box and put it on top of another nondescript box.

Heigh-ho, on we go.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Years ago I was subscribed to some motivational newsletter. Back when I used a Hotmail account. I can't remember what it was called. One thing I remember the writer saying is if you really want something, you should pursue it like a child does. Can you remember a time when you were a kid and wanted something really badly? I can. I would beg and scheme endlessly.

I'm not sure why I've lost that tenacity as an adult. Maybe I just don't have the energy for it anymore. Maybe it's too easy to think of all the reasons why something isn't instead of ways to make it so.

What reminded me of that point was waking up this morning and realizing my workout clothes were still wet in the washer. I aim to hop onto the treadmill as soon as I'm finished with my coffee so I can ride that caffeine-induced wave of energy. 

Knowing my workout clothes were wet and that they should not be put into a hot dryer due to potentially ruining all the stretchiness responsible for jiggle control (which--let's face it--I really value in activewear), I was annoyed. Then I realized: why do they have to be dry to wear them? I'm not leaving the house. I won't sit while wearing them. They're going to get gross and sweaty in the first 15 minutes. Screw it, I'm wearing them wet.

And I did.

I got my way because I was a stubborn brat who knew what I wanted and what needed to be done, and it worked. 

Now if I can just make that a habit and turn it into money...


The last few days have not been going well as far as feeling as if I've progressed or accomplished anything. It's like I'm repeatedly popping the clutch: lurch forward, then screech to a halt. Over and over.

I haven't been logging food and accomplishments like I said I would, and I haven't hit the treadmill every day. But I refuse to beat myself up about it. I'm just here to confess and move on.

On the plus side: I've been taking my meds every day and have been able to fall asleep at night. Now if I can just master Staying Asleep and Sleeping a Reasonable Number of Hours, I'll be golden.

One resource that helps me get off my duff sometimes when I feel like my brain is flat-lining is The FlyLady. Now, before you head over there, let me warn you: a *lot* of what is on the site and in the multiple daily emails is trying to sell stuff from her store. But, if you don't need products, just ignore that part. Take the motivation you need from the anecdotes, and tailor her methods to your own life. At the very least, she will teach you to delete unread email with no remorse.

I talked to a good friend about motivation; she says sometimes she has to make a point to congratulate herself on every little thing she does to get through the day. I totally agree that that's a smart way to go. I mean, I've been known to beat myself up about little crap that barely matters, why not congratulate myself on getting things done?

Why do I have "topics" available as a label/tag for posts? Dumb.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I've hit a bump in the road. It started around Sunday. I didn't want to do crap. But it was Sunday, so I didn't. Monday was the same, but I at least got on the treadmill. Yesterday I did an errand and put out the trash. And that's it.

I look around and see that my housekeeping is going down hill again, and my mind pretty much screams at me when I realize I need to get off the couch for anything.

I'm apathetic, and I'm not sure why. But I'm about to do the music/coffee/sunlight combo to see if it helps. Maybe I can be apathetic while in motion.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Happy March!

You guys, I just accidentally threw my dogs' ball over the fence into the neighbor's yard. So instead of going over there to retrieve it, I'm journaling to alleviate my anxiety.

I don't fiddle with the admins stuff enough to know what the heck I'm doing regarding following other blogs, but check out my followers in the sidebar over there. They have their own blogs, and they're smart peoples. To give you an idea how clumsy I am with this site, I just almost followed my own blog trying to follow theirs. So...yeah.

So, happy March! The winter weather here hasn't been terrible, but I'm loving 70F-ish, sunny, and breezy. I think it helps my mood.

I'm working hard on keeping my routines, but I'm admittedly falling short. Three things I've had to newly resolve to do each morning:
-Eat & have coffee as soon as I get up
-Open the blinds and let some light into my cozy cave
-Turn on the radio--up-tempo music wakes me up. Lots of bass is a plus.

Also, I've found that taking my antidepressant at night helps me sleep. Go figure. When the doc prescribed it, he said, "Ok, there are two that fit your budget. One mellows you out and should be taken at bedtime. The other has an energizing effect and should be taken in the morning." Since I have trouble getting out of bed, I chose the "energizing" one. So I've been taking that every morning and struggling to get anything done. But guess what? I missed it the other morning and tried it at night. It helped me fall sleep! I thought it might be a fluke, so I've continued this way for the past few days and...yep. About 2hrs after I take it, my mind gets quieter. Go freakin' figure.

I haven't been reading those books. The good news is: I can pinpoint why I've stalled on each one.

For Winter Blues, it's because of what I've learned about Transcendental Meditation (TM) via YouTube. Winter Blues includes ideas for beating depression; there's a new chapter included on TM. I ran across some videos on YouTube and went to the websites mentioned in the videos. Long story short, people espousing the benefits of TM insist that it's impossible to learn TM via book, video, CDs, etc. This is horrible news for people like me because there's no way to afford hiring a practitioner for lessons. It really just smacked of scam. I'm quite disillusioned. So it's put me off the book, and I haven't read any more of it since. I will read it, though, because I promised. Also, chances are there are other suggestions included that can help.

For The Nerdist Way, there's homework in Part One. It stopped me in my tracks. I'm having a hard time visualizing the system of points he lays out, for some reason. I haven't given up, I've just put it aside and am refusing to beat myself up about stalling. I have so much paper clutter in my house, I am hesitant to do things via hard copy, and I became annoyed trying to do it in Excel (the homework suggests using graph paper) when I couldn't even visualize it and my screen was too tiny to fully examine the examples from the website. But as I said, I haven't given up. I told my therapist I'm willing to try anything for progress, and I think what Hardwick has to say will be valuable to me.

Someone on Twitter just suggested that I throw the dog over to get the ball back. HA! :-D That's thinkin' outside the yard!

Yeah, so other major stuff:
-Didn't get the most recent job I was gunning for
-Dominated on cardio this week
-Kicked ass on yard work yesterday

What a boring life I lead! But it's all good.

Cardio--I'm practically breaking my arm patting myself on the back because I have done 20-60 min on the treadmill almost every single day since my last post! Wow! I did take Sunday off because my body said "F.U." due to the yard work I did on Saturday. But I even hopped onto the treadmill on Saturday after yard work! So, there! Put that in your pipe, etc.

So interesting that a certain entity requires a certain level of fitness but provides crap for training on how to achieve their standards. They provide no initial or recurring education, but they're quick to punish and belittle.

Here's what I've learned: to work on the speed of your running, you should run at a pace of 180 steps per minute. Since, as I stated before, up-tempo music helps me get moving, I've kept the local pop station blaring on my stereo while on the treadmill. It is hard to find music that's 180 beats per minute (bpm) but fairly easy to find music that's 90 bpm. I can't find the motivation to actually cobble together a playlist right now, but when I finally do, I'm going to use DJ BPM Studio's site to build it.

In the meantime, here are some songs I've heard on the radio that really help keep my mind off the drudgery of the treadmill.

I'll post more as I think of them.

And with that, I have to leave you to do my treadmill time right now. I've procrastinated far too long today, and I still need to shower and go meet my neighbors. :-o