Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


4 Comments

Cider Bar Rules (And A Flashback)

My favorite thing to do right now is drink a cider with my twin. Luckily, I did this very thing last night.

life changing

cider time

While drinking a cider at a bar with your sister and best friends, here are the rules:

Laugh and cause a ruckus.

Eat an entire gluten free pizza in the process, because that rarely happens. ;)

Don’t think about life and don’t get serious. Save that for later.

I’ve been pondering life lately, which could sound deep and profound, but usually it’s small little thoughts that don’t amount to much. Like:

“Why did I say _____?”

“What do I feel about ____?”

“Why does ______ affect me this way?”

“When ____ said ____ I felt ___. WHY?”

“What am I doing?”

Your typical, run of the mill life questions.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about life changing moments. We both agreed that people can change quickly. I said, “An entire lifetime can happen in one day.” By that I mean, something so profound can happen that changes you forever.

You can age, so so much, in one day.

You can suddenly feel younger.

Your opinions can change, your entire outlook on life. Not even in a day, but sometimes in just one moment. All it takes is the perfect sentence to be read or heard… all it takes is a look in someone’s eye or a feeling of being cared for or something to strike you as so sad and horrible that a part of you is stuck in that experience forever and you now live life … just… differently.

I have been thinking about this a lot. I have been wondering who I was one year ago. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself and rarely do I want to go back, but sometimes I sit and ponder why I wrote what I wrote, why I said what I said, and ultimately, how was I justifying my actions?

Then I did something I rarely do (because once I write something, I have a bad habit of never wanting to read it again… unless it’s a manuscript that still needs work, which is all of them right now) and I looked at what I was writing here on Hey Lou Writes almost exactly a year ago. The closest date was December 8th. Close enough, right?

Me on Dec. 8, 2012.

writer, short stories, poetry, new writer, author

one year ago

How I feel NOW: (and my current FB profile pic, haha)

life changing

pensive?

Do I look older? Wiser? Is anything in a photograph real?

Here’s a link to that older post. I want to share it because it seems to be coming from a different version of Lou. Though I remember writing this post well, I am also baffled as to how I was that person. I can no longer stay up so late without some serious consequences (aka, being really tired.) I still carry around the same journal and others, but my notes are much more sporatic.

But I’m still having Too Many Thoughts.

I still love the Rumi quote. I still am haunted by a memory monster.

Yet I am a completely different person in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start.

If you take a look at the post from a year ago, I’d love to know what you think. Did you change as much as I did?

Is there a moment (or a more than one) in your life that changed you for good? Has a lifetime happened in one day?

Let me know if I’m not alone…..

Love, Lou

Advertisements


1 Comment

Ol’ Mark Twain is Right… Again

Here’s a fun fact about Lou!!!

I love Mark Twain. I devour his writing. I think Huckeberry Finn is one of the best characters ever written. His satires are genius. He pulls at heart strings. I already knew a few of his famous quotes and words of advice, but I hadn’t seen them all.

I’m sure this list is just scratching the surface, but I wanted to share it with you. It made my morning even better. Maybe it’ll inspire you, too!

I originally saw the list here, but I’m going to write my own thoughts to each quote. Sound good? Yes!

1. A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. 

I think this is even more interesting, given the women’s version, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” the one we all know and love by E.R. I’m all for women being strong, but perhaps we forget about men sometimes in that regard? Maybe? I’m sure this quote can be taken and “man” can mean “people.” I’m not really one to be bothered by the word man. Yet I really liked this bit of advice because it brings to light how uncomfortable anyone, men and women, can be in their own skin. You have to allow yourself to like yourself. Be your own biggest fan. It doesn’t mean conceit. It means being comfortable.

tie dye, road to rich's, writer, fiction

thumbs up to you!

You’ll find yourself going about your day with a smile or a small sense of pride and accomplish in what you do. If you’re going to “waste time,” approve of it and let yourself have a great day at home in your sweatpants. Then, wake up early, get dressed, and get everything done the next day.

2. Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve done this. I’ve griped about my age. I’m 24!!! I know this is SILLY!!! But we’ve all done it. I didn’t even want to turn 16 because 15 (half way to 30) was good enough for me. Crazy.

age 15... do I want to return? Not really.

age 15… do I want to return? Not really.

Let’s start a revolution. I almost wish that years weren’t charted and age was never discussed. After all, I’ve met people in their 50’s who seem younger than that 30 year old I just talked to. When I was little I imagined the age of 50 to be little old blue haired grannies. That is soooo not that case. Not anymore. When I was really into rock climbing I saw my boss from work there, and he kicked every young guy’s butts when it came to climbing hard routes. He can do anything. Being young at heart isn’t just a cliche, it’s real. I believe it’s real.

I think this is the recipe for being young at heart and not minding your age:

— laughing instead of fretting

–smiling rather than frowning (smile wrinkles look better!)

— talking and conversing rather than being trapped in your own head

— breathe some fresh air, see life happening around you (like planting a small garden. lots of older people who seem young are the type who love to be outside. not a coincidence!)

— loving rather than hating (forgiving rather than grudging)

3. Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.

  Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

Laughter is simply the best way to live life. Surround yourself with it. Laugh when you want to get upset. It is a blessing. Why did God make us into beings who do this weird breathing that sounds goofy and it’s uncontrollable? I mean, what IS laughter, really? I can hardly describe it. Sometimes my laughter is completely silent… that’s only for the very funniest of moments.

lobster, cooking, mark twin

YEAH MAN

mark twain quotes

us, imitating our chickens. you can’t imagine how funny he is.

I am one of those people who believes that laughter truly heals. Enjoy this blessing!

4. Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

Oh, man. Same with resentment, hatred and jealousy. This year was a big one for me when it comes to anger and forgiveness and the like. I forgave people I never thought I would. I was also forgiven in the most gracious of ways…over and over again.

And I realized: the happiest people I know don’t hold in anger. I rarely see them angry. It isn’t a part of their lives.

writing, mark twain, hey lou, farming, backyard

Forgiveness, 7X70…is huge for us <3

When I forgave people I’d been so glad to stay angry with, the weight was lifted off of my shoulders almost immediately. I felt lighter after walking away from a conversation in which forgiveness was a part. Being angry only affects one person… YOU.

5. Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

Damn, Mark. I’m so glad the world was graced with his presence. I love this. Don’t feel entitled to anything.

That’s it for that one.

6. A person with a new idea is crank until the idea succeeds. 

Has anyone ever looked at you with complete doubt after you’ve shared an idea with them? It’s probably happened to us all. There’s a good chance no one will believe in your idea. Not until it “works.” Here we circle back to #1. (approve of yourself!) 

7. Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.

Just DO IT! Not talking about Nike here. I’m talking about forgetting your trouble and moving on. Mark says to do this any possible way.

Boot straps might help.

mark twain quotes, coffee, flowers, roasting, chickens, marriage, writing

flowers!

I say, wake up one day and be better. Move on. Be stronger than what’s happened to you. You can do this. Even if you have to drag through the mud to get to the pretty flowers.

8. The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.

Here we go, #7. We found a way to pull ourselves up out of a slump. Help someone else! I think Huck Finn could give us a lesson or two on this. He was always concerned for Jim in ways no one had ever had concern for him.

Hint: This doesn’t have to mean just people. Focusing on a pet could work, too. For most people this is a dog or cat. For me, it’s chickens.

chicken coop, raising chickens, baby chicks

proud moment for this mom

Here’s a big secret: I was in a huge downer slump when we got our baby chickens. I was. But once we had little lives to take care of, I found myself trudging through that mud. I want to give my chickens the BEST life… I want them to be the happiest chickens on planet Earth. Through that I’ve found happiness in ways I never thought possible.

9. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Disclaimer— this does NOT mean YOLO and not giving a hoot about others. 

Going on all of those adventures will be a whole lot more fun if you have your friends and loved ones by your side. If you need to go off on your own, do it. It is a part of the adventure. But don’t throw all care away to indulge yourself. There’s a fine line.

mark twain, writing, tie-dye festival, music, new mexico, fiction

me at a hippy musical festival… a place I never thought I’d be in a million years!

But my all means, explore every single day. Discover something new. Allow your mind to be challenged. Let yourself be blown around, because maybe the wind (God) knows more about your own life than you do.

And that’s all folks! I hoped this cheered you up the way it did for me.

Good Old Mark.

Love,

Lou, the lover of Huckleberry

 

 


2 Comments

LIVE Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Want To LIVE)

If you missed my Eat Like Your Life Depends On It posts, you can catch up here:

ELYLDOT (Which It Does)

ELYLDOT (How I Used To Eat)

ELYLDOT (How I Began To Eat)

ELYLDOT (How I Got Overwhelmed)

life, organic eating, healthy, happy

Kate Burn Photography

I’m writing about all of this because food, health, local and organic growing has become a passion of mine in the last few years. I care about what people eat, how it’s grown, how the animals we eat are raised and the impact that big agriculture has on our environment and health.

But I never, ever, want to sound preachy or know-it-ally. That’s my worst nightmare.

Which is why, I think, I have avoided writing the next post. Yes, avoided. Can you believe it? Each day I thought to myself, eh, I can write this tomorrow.  Write WHAT tomorrow, though?

Maybe I’ll share what a typical week of eating looks like? Maybe I’ll write more about the books I read that led me to eating this way. Maybe I’ll mention again how I don’t have a TV and how much better I believe my life is for it.

Maybe I’ll write nothing?

Nothing wasn’t an option. Partly because I got an e-mail from my future novel. Partly because I’m home sick today and all I have is time, tissue, and hot beverages to distract me. I knew this day would come eventually, and then I got inspired by a friend (which always happens at the most poignant of times.) My friend Jenny over at JenEric Generation posted a blog about change and not being afraid to make your blog, or life, a little bit different than it used to be. I refuse to fall into the puddle of despair!

So maybe I’ll write about all of these things, and have fun while doing it. Here we go.

More than a few people asked me to write about what I eat. This was exciting for me because it’s not like I get a crazy amount of comments or concerns or questions revolving around Hey Lou… but the ones I do get mean so much to me that I could burst.

WHAT I EAT

Don’t be disappointed, okay? I have started cooking almost all of my food, but that doesn’t mean I’m some awesome cook. I’m often told I didn’t use enough salt. I’m often told to change it up a little bit. But here are some truths:

1) I am entirely content eating the exact same thing for up to three weeks (or more). If I find something I love, I’ll just get in a groove and make it every day. Some people need more variety. I am not one of those people.

2) I don’t need a crazy amount of salt or sweetener to enjoy something. I know a girl who literally brings a sweet potato, a tiny container of peanut butter, a slice of cabbage, and a hard boiled egg for lunch. She loves to taste each thing on its own. I think that’s lovely and amazing. I don’t do quite that, but I can also use the yolk of an egg to add flavor and texture, rather than make a dressing for a salad…

3) I love to do this. Some people don’t. However, I didn’t used to love it. I learned to love it.

Recently, I’ve been able to get tons of potatoes. I get my produce primarily from my harvest box from Skarsgard, where I’m doing a farming internship, and there have been tons of potatoes for pick up, and you can even double up on that option in most cases. (Bonus to anyone who understands that lingo. Double Up Option, anyone?) ANYWAY. I have tons of potatoes. What do I do with them?

Here’s what I’ve had for breakfast and lunch for about three weeks now:

(this is a recipe that I split up for both meals, so cut in half if you want this for ONE meal)

Ingredients:

4-5 potatoes, diced

1 onion, diced

3-4 chard, kale, or collard leaves (or throw in any green you want!) sliced or chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 zucchini, sliced (or bell peppers, carrots, or anything else I happen to have at the moment)

2 eggs

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

Heat up a pan with the EVOO and first add the “hardest” ingredients. I always add the onion first in any recipe. Then the potatoes. Then the carrots or bell peppers or zucchini, whichever I am adding.

***Here’s a very simple trick: You’re cooking this stuff in oil, right? A great way to “steam” these items and quicken up the softening process is to have your LID ready, pour in a small amount of water, and cover with the lid quickly. It will spurt all over your kitchen and you if you don’t cover. But with the cover on, the elements in your pan will kind of go nuts, and in the process, everything will get steamed in a way that turns out awesome. Just wait a minute until everything settles down. This doesn’t take too much water. 

I let these cook for a while. I like the potatoes to be black on some spots, I love for some onion to be slightly burned. I’ll use a fork to test the potatoes and carrots. Once everything is the way YOU want it, add your tomatoes and greens. These will cook and soften right away. 

Lastly, add your egg. I like to make a hole in the middle of the pan, add more EVOO, and throw the egg in and scramble it in the center, then eventually mix it all together.

Occasionally, I’ll add a pinch of salt or soy sauce or curry. Occasionally.

Seriously, that’s it. Want another one? Okay. I’ll give you another one.

Ingredients:

arugula, a giant handful

lemon juice, half a lemon

peas, frozen or fresh

1 egg

Directions:

Lay down your arugula. heat up the peas, pour over greens. Squeeze on the lemon juice. Cook your egg over easy and add to the salad.

It’s that easy! Folks, I ate this arugula breakfast for, NO JOKE, three months. I felt more energized than ever before. I noticed my thighs feeling a little bit… tighter. You know what I mean. To this day, I cannot eat oatmeal or cereal or a muffin for breakfast. I eat vegetables, and always with some sort of leafy green. And almost always with an egg (or two.)

Instead of just laying down a solid week of eating, I’ll give you a few recipes in each post (or every few posts, whichever happens naturally!) Sound good? Good!

On to other topics. Did anyone notice how I named this blog LIVE Like Your Life Depends On It, rather than Eat? That was due to good ol’ Jenny’s blog, and I decided to change it … just because it felt right. Eating is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to have a great life, but it’s the way we live out our days that matter most.

life, living, healthy, passions

Kate Burn Photography

If you start off your day with vegetables (preferably organic, because who wants to start off their day with chemicals?), a walk, or some sort of movement, how could you have a bad day? That rude customer won’t seem to vile. That guy who cut you off on the highway must be having a bad day, but you sure aren’t. See what I mean? These changes happened for me little by little until one day, I was just an all around positive person. I have my “bad” days but they are rare. For the most part I’d rather laugh at a stupid joke while eating a great home-cooked meal, while pondering my next writing adventure…

WHICH LEADS ME TO THE E-MAIL I RECEIVED FROM MY FUTURE NOVEL.

It might be because the online writing group I’m a part of sends out e-mails of this kind to inspire, but I prefer to think that How We Lost Our Minds actually sent me a message from the future. From: YOUR NOVEL. Message: PLEASE WRITE ME THIS NOVEMBER.

I’m almost done with How We Lost Our Minds, so maybe this is from the next project. I still haven’t decided. It could be from the much better, clearly organized and edited, version of the current one. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. After all, November isn’t that far away.

Even more than I cannot live without organic food and partaking in growing that food, I cannot live without writing. It’s why I have this blog. It’s why I’m trying to get published… and why I’ll never give up.

I want to live in this way because it’s the only way I know to be healthy and content.

You guys, if you don’t have a passion, that is probably what you need to change before you even think about what you’re cooking for your next meal. Without something to stay alert and active and healthy for, then a meal is just a meal. It isn’t charging you up for the life you want, is it? This is me trying to hard not to be preachy, but to be inspirational. I’ve shared with you all how unhappy I was before I changed the way I eat, but I realized that at almost the exact same time I changed my eating lifestyle, I also began to WRITE.

They went hand in hand. They are both such a large part of my life, that I’d be lost without the other.

I can’t explain why loving my characters and what they go through connects so strongly with what I put into my body, but it does.

What do YOU have that is worth staying healthy for? What changes have you made? Who do you want to inspire?

How are you LIVING like your LIFE depends on it?

I’d love to know :)

Love, LOU


12 Comments

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Began To Eat)

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It Part Two

Welcome back guys! I hope my last post, What I Used To Eat, was enough to get you interested in the changes I made to my diet and lifestyle. What I described as far as diet choices and workout choices (P90X!) may have sounded perfectly normal and healthy to you. You might be the rare type of person who was shocked by how unhealthy it actually sounded.

Either way, I’m glad you’re back. This is going to be a “blog series” journey that will take you through the journey that was the last 5 years of my life. The road has been challenging, but it’s mostly been:

FUN…EXCITING…INSPIRATIONAL…EDUCATIONAL and… LIFE-CHANGING

Five years changed me into someone who:

Doesn’t own a microwave

Buys minimal processed food (usually only for special occasions when I “don’t have time” to cook, which is rare)

Tries to know her grower/farmer

Reads almost as many non-fiction food books as fiction (!!!)

Interns on a farm

Owns chickens

Has a garden that feeds me at least once a day

chickens,garden, eating organic, eating, health

Don’t worry. I don’t want to overwhelm you yet. I also don’t expect everyone to go out and buy baby chicks, start a garden, or throw their microwave in their trash can. The microwave can wait a few more blogs… then I expect it to go. (Just kidding… kind of.)

I guess I’m just sort of fascinated by my own story, because so many people have reminded me that, “The Melinda you used to be would not believe the Melinda you have turned into. It’s crazy.”

I prefer the crazy Melinda, I s’pose.

Back when I was 20 pounds heavier, took three medications for acne and felt angry/frustrated/confused every single day, I decided to make some decisions. And those decisions, folks, were made quickly. One cannot put off change. I hate to say it, but it’s completely true. Stop putting it off. 

“To change one’s life:

Start immediately.

Do it flamboyantly.

No exceptions.”

-William James

I did exactly this when I made a decision to at least try to follow some of Michael Pollan’s food suggestions. Along with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I also read Food Rules, a very short and sweet book that lays out simple rules for eating.

A few rules that really shouted out to me:

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. I might even change this to great-great grandmother for some, depending on which generation you’re from. Think she would have recognized “yogurt” in a tube? Think she would know what to do with a box of mac and cheese (“What’s this package of orange powder?” She would say.)

Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Sure, it’s “just another sugar,” but it’s everywhere, and that makes it something to avoid. Really, just avoid food with loads of added sugar. (Another Food Rule is to avoid foods with some form of sugar listed as one of the three first ingredients!)

Avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients. The exception to this rule would be something with a long list of herbs or spices. I would go grab a cardboard package of food from my kitchen to tell you the ingredients list, but I cannot. I currently don’t have anything processed in my home.* (YAY!) The list should be short and sweet. It should contains words that sound like REAL food. A small child should be able to pronounce and recognize these sort of words. It shouldn’t look like a science experiment gone wrong.

Avoid food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low-fat” or “nonfat” in their names. These are gimmicks. Hoaxes. What happened when the low-fat ads began popping up in the 1970’s? Oh yeah, people began eating way more sugar to make up for this loss of fat. Just take in your good fats. (Olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocado… don’t act like you haven’t heard this before!)

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. I am a very visual person. I stopped drinking pop (soda?) when I was a senior in high school because one day I had this vision of sugary liquid in my brain, causing a headache, and I couldn’t get past it. I often feel dehydrated, even with all the water I drink. If I were to drink a sugary pop, I’d freak out. So….. this rule was very visual for me. Metal, steel, robots, machinery, surgical caps, lab coats, food running down belts and being splurted into jars… those are not good visuals. Think about what you eat, what sort of plant it was made in, and just how foreign and new it is, when compared to the generations before us who ate nothing that came from a plant. They ate plants.

Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. Or, in my case, just don’t eat cereal for breakfast. But if you do, choose a healthy one. And unless it contains beets, it shouldn’t be affecting the color of your milk. (Red 40 is definitely something your great-great grandmother would not recognize as something to EAT!)

Pay more, eat less. (the next rule: …Eat Less) Did you know that in France, people use up to 16 or 18 percent of their income on food? Here, the average American spends less than 10 percent of their income on food. We are always looking for the cheapest, fastest, and most convenient way to eat. Guess what? It should come as no shock that none of those factors equals healthy. I truly believe that it is affordable to eat in the healthiest ways possible. Not only does some produce for a quick stir fry cost only a few dollars, but there are other factors I’d consider important… and hopefully these will change your point of view. If anyone tells me that the food at the farmer’s market, Coop, or Whole Foods is too expensive to buy, or that organic or “specialty health items” in their regular grocery store are simply tooooo much, here is what I will ask them (I’m asking YOU right now. You can answer in the comments box, if you’d like):

How much do you pay for your TV? Cable? Dish? Ten zillion channels?

How much do you pay for your cell phone? Is it a smart phone?

How much do you want to pay for high blood pressure medicine when you are older? Or for that physical trainer to give you a meal plan once you realize that you are in too deep to get yourself out of this mess?

I have one word for you: PRIORITIES

You guys, I am rarely this straightforward or opinionated. Honestly. I’m just me, I’m positive and laid back, but this is my passion. I care SO MUCH about the health of others, that yes, I would ask this to your face. How much do all of those things cost? Add it up. And don’t forget to add up all of the other potential medical expenses that could occur, too.

If I had these things to pay for, guess what? I would not be able to afford the food I eat. I’m not rich, when it comes to money. (though I am totally one of those overly sentimental people who would tell you just how rich in love I am!)

Greg and I don’t have a television. 

We have the most cave-mannish cell phones that most children of today wouldn’t quite recognize as a phone at all (aka, not smart phones).

And I weaned myself off the acne medication because I didn’t want to use it OR pay for it.

We made sacrifices, which turned out to only be positive, and not really sacrifices at all, in order to eat the way we do. I understand what it took to get that cucumber onto my dinner plate. I will pay the price. Over and over and over again.

Will you?

Cook. It’s the last rule I’ll list here, but one that is possibly more important than all others. The question I would ask you for this round would be:

How much time do you spend cooking each day? And then… how much time do you spend watching TV? I’m not trying to demonize TV, but I don’t understand how people have time to watch it. So many people use “busy” as their excuse for so many things, especially what they eat or how much they work out. I’m saying that those are the least legitimate excuses in the book. IF you are doing something like watching TV. (As in… I am NOT talking about single parents who work three jobs and then come home to three kids. I am talking about an average situation. There are always exceptions.)

You guys, I spend a lot of my time cooking. I cook something for every meal. I wake up earlier than the old Melinda because I usually wash/chop/satuee/bake/cook something every single morning. During that time, I also make whatever I’ll pack for my lunch. Then, when I get home, I do the same thing all over again for dinner. We don’t need a microwave because we cook each meal, and usually in small amounts so there are rarely leftovers. If there are, guess where I heat them up? On the stove or in the oven. There are no “quick meals” here.

The “slow” meals taste too good to leave behind.

And they’re really not slow at all. I don’t wake up an hour earlier… just 15-20 minutes. That’s all I need for the prep time, cook time, and cleanup time. I’d add on maybe five or ten minutes if I were feeding children, too.

When I made these changes… I swear… the weight melted off. Melted. It just disappeared, and then another 5 pounds, because I was no longer a super muscular cheerleader like I had been in high school. In reality, I was close to 25 pounds overweight without even knowing it. I’m not stick thin now, either. I am comfortable and healthy. I feel good about my body because I feel good about what goes into it. I started taking less and less of my acne medication, and during that time, started to make more and more of these food changes. Suddenly, about a year and a half later, I threw the last of my tretinoin acne pills in the trash. I ate another salad. I no longer had to worry about breakouts. (I also cut out gluten. You can read more about my experiences with acne and finally getting clear skin here.) Notice how nothing changed overnight? The weight came off within the year. My skin changed, but there were days when I felt like nothing was happening. Our bodies are jam packed with junk. It DOES take time to get rid of it all and replace it with what it actually wants.

Our bodies want to be as healthy as they can be.

So many people (mostly woman) have talked to me about their body issues lately. They usually say something like, “I can’t control what I eat,” or “I have issues with my body and I feel so depressed because of it,” or “I wish I could eat healthy, but I always give in. It makes me feel bad. I wish I could change it.”

One of the things that helped me MOST in changing my eating lifestyle was having a positive attitude.

I formulated many mantras, all of which I still use to this day.

I CAN DO THIS.

THIS IS EASY!!!

THIS IS FUN!

MY FOOD TASTES GOOD!

Food doesn’t need to be purely fuel. Thinking that way might even backfire. (One of Michael Pollan’s rules is also: Break the rules every once in a while.) It is an experience. We should be salivating when we think about our next meal. We should be excited to cook and eat. Food should be something joyous, not something depressing or scary.

We have to eat to survive. But I’d say that even more than that, we have to be happy in order to survive.

Here’s my challenge for you:

Consider taking baby steps and adding a new “Food Rule” to your shopping list each week. These will accumulate, not change out. ;)

Wake up and force yourself to smile. This smile will eventually become a real one.

Wake up fifteen minutes early and have your meals planned.

Sit at a table for each meal and savor the flavors. These will eventually be flavors YOU decided should be there, and not some company trying to hook you into buying their product again.

Tell me how you’re doing.

This was a long blog, but I just couldn’t stop at one thing.

AND there’s more to come!!! (My detailed week of eating, prices, facts about subsidies and why the “rebel” in me cares so much about organic and local food, and moooooooore)

To say the least, I’m excited.

melinda short hair

So much love, 

Lou

* I lied!!!! I actually have a box of Larabars that were on sale at Whole Foods. I chose the Peanut Butter & Jelly flavor. Ingredients list: dates, peanuts, unsweetened cherries, sea salt. No added sugar, check. Under five ingredients, check. Real food items, check!!


10 Comments

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (Which It Does)

This made me cry. Twice. First, because of the truth this video represents and how sad, in my soul, these facts make me.

Then I had a real tear of joy… because there are people who are fighting the current food system… and they give me so much hope, I can hardly stop smiling.

This new blog series, Eat Like Your Life Depends On It, is something I’ve been contemplating for a long time. The last thing I want to do is push people away from healthy food choices. I know from experience that having a “hippy agenda” or a “radical point of view” can be a big turn off. I try to remain positive in my outlook and the way I share my passion for real food.

I, too, was once skeptical. I have said OUT LOUD (wish it wasn’t true…), “Who cares if it’s organic? It tastes the same.”

But now, I’d like to seriously take back those words.

Because:

A. Real food and “conventional” food do NOT taste the same

B. I care very greatly if it’s organic, but more than that… I care if it’s local, because sometimes small operations can’t afford the fancy organic labeling

C. That comment was made by a version of myself who had a lot to learn. And so I did learn. And I’m still learning every single day.

If you care about your health and the long term health of those you love, keep reading my blog series.

Find out why I believe in organic farming and local eating so so so so much. Find out why I could easily cry, for many reasons, at the thought of the video Chipotle has just released.

Find out why I care. 

Someday, you might just leave your microwave, food-like-substances, and “cheap food coupons” in the dust like I did.

You might also save money, both now, and later in life when you aren’t taking medication for any number of ailments.

I can promise you’ll smile with me, laugh with me, cringe a little with me, and continue to learn, the way I will never stop learning.

The best is yet to come!

real food, organic, gmos, gardening, chipotle ad

Kate Burn Photography

 

Love, Lou


4 Comments

7 Reasons Why I Smile

In lieu (lou?) of what The Lady Okie wrote about today regarding one’s lot in life, I decided to make a list of things that make me smile. A LOT.

I’ve had my moments where it felt tough to smile. Just like Amanda (The Lady Okie), I, too, have been jealous of others, wanted what others had, and failed to recognize that ultimately, I am a blessed person. In fact, if I really think about it… I am far too blessed. Reading her blog made me realize that. And just like most of life’s little blessings and messages, it came at the perfect time.  I don’t deserve an ounce of this happiness but guess what? I have it anyway. I couldn’t be more thankful.

It’s a simple list.

It won’t include:

-technology

-$$$

-anything you can buy with $$$

But it will include a lot of good ol fashioned happiness.

Here goes!

1) I have a husband who loves me for me.

We’re been together going on 7 years. We’ve been married 3.5 years. And he is still with me. I’ve been stubborn, messy, gross, laughed too much at my own jokes, selfish, smelly (uh…), emotional, worrisome, foolish…. and that list is never ending. Yet Greg has loved me for every imperfect moment. He never gave up on me. He makes me smile every day and tells me he loves me. He teaches me to be a better person. And most importantly, he is hilarious.  (Also, we may or may not both have consumed alcohol before the picture below. There’s just something in our eyes… but HEY it was vacation.)

lou and lou

2) I promised Greg that I would never, ever, ask him to get a job anyplace where he has to wear a tie.

(And guess what? That means I don’t have to, either! ha) Some people thrive in ties. They’re comfortable, they make money, they enjoy what they do, and they don’t mind (or even love) to get dressed all spic and span for work. Guess who is the opposite? Back when Greg worked at a bank for a few months, we found out just how that sort of “business” work attire affected us both. I hated, I REPEAT, HATED, dressing in “professional attire” for student teaching. Greg hated doing the same for his job. So what did we do? We switched gears. We took some risks. We changed our paths… together… and are now more satisfied with what we call work.

Christmas, 2011

Christmas, 2011

3) I get to read the comics.

Yes, they make me laugh out loud. Yes, my father-in-law saves them for me so I can catch up when we’re at their house…. And YES, F-Minus is my very favorite comic. Those writers know what they’re doing. (I thought, since the comics are in the paper, it would be cool to use the sketch edit icon on my free picture editing system. Hoooooray for that.)

thanks Frank

thanks Frank

4) I have five chickens.

And I’ll never tire of writing/blogging/talking about them. Some people have dogs. Some have cats. I have chickens.

chickens, happiness, marriageAnd a smattering of pictures of them. To show off at my ten year reunion.

Kate Burn Photography

Kate Burn Photography

chickens,

5) I have a new internship at a farm.

An organic farm. A place where I get to wear boots, non-skinny jeans, plaid button up shirts, hats that make me look like a boy, zero makeup and zero tie (or the girl equivalent… high heels.)

No picture yet. I just started today!! AND IT WAS AWESOME. I helped harvest crops, roast green chile, and get some pigs some milk from a local dairy. How cool is that?

6) I have a passion for a few things:

Writing

Fighting GMOs and the current food system…and the animals who are captured in the current food system

Supporting organic food and local farms

Reading

Laughing

and I get to do all of those things every single day. 

Yup. That’s right. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Because I love my family and friends and I want them to live as long as possible. Because I love sharing my ideas, whether fiction or non-fiction. Because I believe that we all have a vote… when we buy our groceries and when we put food in our mouths. Because reading defines who I am. Because I believe that laughter can cure any and almost every thing. Because what we’re passionate about should be a daily act.

7) And best of all, I have an awesome family. 

My parents have showed me real love. They’re one of the happiest couples I know. They never cease to amaze me. And guess what? They have never pressured me to do anything for money. They have always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I owe them BIG for that.

family, chickens, happiness, marriage

I have two nephews, Carson and Landon, who I couldn’t love more. They are growing up to be the sweetest boys who give me BIG HUGS AND KISSES and SHARE and say KIND THINGS to people. Emily and Brian have really paved the way as far a parenting :)

cochrans

Landon’s birthday…

cochrans2

And um…. what 4 year old poses like this… ON HIS OWN??? My amazing nephew, Carson, that’s who!!

cochrans 3

And my sisters have always had me laughing. That’s one thing I love best about having sisters (along with watching Little Woman and crying the entire time…)

This is us, 6+ years ago. (WOW!) (I was 18, okay? I think teenagers are still allowed to do the stupid duck face.)

family 4

This is us not so long ago… and still laughing. Thanks mostly to Meredith’s random moments of hilarity that make our abs hurt.

family 3

(it’s a balloon…..)

So think about what makes you truly happy. COUNT your blessings rather than counting what others have been blessed with.

And have a lovely evening!

Love, Lou


11 Comments

And That Makes 101

birthday, harry potter birthday, twins, one year blog I’ll say it again: The most interesting fact about myself, Melinda aka Lou, is that I share a birthday not only with my twin sister Meredith, but Harry Potter as well.

Because of this, July 31st just might be the coolest birthday ever. Just saying…. (cause what is cooler than HP?)

Also, being a twin is the coolest thing ever.

twin, birthday, harry potter, marriage, year, changes

 

Just like these pictures, I think the world looks better when Meredith and I are together. The first picture is great, but doesn’t the second one have just a touch more personality? (or a lot?) I have loved sharing every birthday with my best friend. I feel blessed beyond belief that I have had someone by my side for every day of my life… experiencing a lot of the same things… being my number one no matter what. It really hit me, just how much I depend on Meredith, when I was at my own bridal shower and basically felt like I was having a panic attack. The reason? It was the first time I had ever opened presents by myself. DO YOU REALIZE HOW SCARY THAT IS? When you’ve only ever had someone, usually opening a slightly matching gift, right beside you? Everyone’s eyes were on me, not us. It was weird.

But you know what? I’d rather have her beside me. It’s just a cherry on top of a great huge gluten free cake that my husband, Greg, and Meredith get along so well. I get to hang out with my two favorite people almost every day.

So, Happy Birthday to us. Happy Birthday Harry Potter. Love you all!

Today also marks one year for Hey Lou Writes. On my 23rd birthday I wanted to start something, but I wasn’t quite sure what. I wanted to write about writing, reading, and maybe share some tid bits about my life. (My VERY first post.)

One year flew by. Now I’m 24 and I’m a completely different person. I’d say that never before has one year changed me so much. Not even when I graduated from high school. Not even when I got married. Not even when I started writing. No, this year surpassed all of that as far as changes and growth. I feel as though the core of who I am was altered by people I met and things I experienced. I wasn’t expecting my 23rd year to be so …. important. But it was.

I…

lost more than I ever thought possible. 

gained more than I ever thought possible. 

made the biggest mistakes of my life.

was humbled. 

forgave and let myself be forgiven.

crossed something off my bucket list and became a chicken mama. 

had my marriage grow stronger… I thought I knew what love was… but now I know for sure.  (aka, I have the best husband in the world)

lost friends.

met new people who will be in my life forever. 

sang in front of people for the first time. 

got my biggest rejection letter EVER.

cut off my hair.

planted a garden, both vegetable and flower, and they are both providing us with beauty and nourishment. 

watched more sunsets and sunrises than ever before. 

cried.

laughed.

prayed.

spent time with my sisters.

watched my mom beat breast cancer.

realized that to live a life filled with true love, one ought not to be so selfish.

wrote 101 blogs. oh yeah, baby. 

There you have it. It was quite a  year and honestly, I’m not sorry to be moving forward. I think 24 will be a better year. Maybe not quite so eventful, but filled with growth all the same.

birthday, harry potter, twinsLove, Lou

 

 


3 Comments

Always Be True. Period.

Day 25, Saturday: Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget (good or bad)

It wasn’t so much something about me, as it was advice, that changed my life and stuck with me forever.

Always, always, be true to your husband. – Grandpa Bob

I had the very special opportunity to spend time with my Great Grandpa Bob in the last few years of his life. He was the most interesting man and let me tell you… I have yet to find someone with eyes that twinkle the way his did, a smile as contagious, and an outlook on life that was more positive.

To put it simply: I have yet to meet anyone as happy as Bob was.

I try to be more like him each and every day.

advice, grandpa, writing

might have been the most attractive human being to ever walk the earth, just sayin. is that weird? to have a crush on my great grandpa?

We sat together and chatted for hours and hours.

He sang, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” He was willing to answer any question. He ended most of his profound statements with a strong, “Period!” (“And that was how it was! Period!”) He may have had moonshine some whiskey in his fridge.

We discovered that he and I have the same hands. I used to dislike my thicker fingers (Meredith got the slender, skinny and delicate hands of my mother’s side) but when I noticed that each of my fingers were shaped exactly like Bob’s, suddenly I loved my hands.

writer, new writer, short stories, poetry

There’s that SMILE!!!! Please, God, let me be cool enough to still sit on santa’s lap when I’m 90 years old. LOVE THIS!!!

He told me he loved me. He told me that God would always be with me. He told me to always, always, be true to my husband.

Oh, and about his continuously positive outlook on life… one more little fact… he was blind.

advice, staying true, writing, young adult, short stories

when Meredith and I went to visit!!

Grandpa Bob had no problem talking about his own death, which he referred to as “crossing the threshold into eternity” and nothing else. We talked about heaven. He wanted his body to be donated to science, to help others with the same eye condition. He lived to be over 90 years old and his mind was sharper than a blade. (I hope I also get that gene.) Certain points in our conversation brought us both to tears. I suppose I get that strong emotion from Bob, too. We laughed hysterically and he told me outrageous stories from his youth.

writing, short stories, poetry

giving him a smooch!

He had Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye condition that worsens with time until eventually, you are legally blind. My grandmother (the beautiful one who I had mentioned here) and uncle also have this.

They, too, are the happiest people I’ve ever met.

How is this possible? How can these three individuals, who were robbed of something as precious as sight, still smile wider than all others? How can they laugh, cry, and show emotion that seems to radiate out from them without them trying? How can they see so much?

I’ll never know and I doubt I’ll ever be as wise or gracious or sparkle the way they do. But I’ll never stop trying.

I’ll never forget my Grandpa Bob, his hands, or his advice.

writing, new writer, short stories

my visit with Greg, the last time I saw Grandpa Bob

Love, Lou

(And I love you forever Grandpa Bob!)


6 Comments

Who, Me?

That Blog Every Day In May Challenge is almost over. Weird. And I’m kind of getting used to writing a blog every day.

Kind of.

Here is the topic for today:

Day 24, Friday: Your top 3 worst traits

And I’m not going to sugar coat a thing. Ready?

I’M MESSY 

This is Greg’s room in Nashville. We did long distance for 2 years and when I’d come to visit, his clean room would soon look like this:

writing, fiction, messy

Sorry Greg

In my defense, I’ve always said there is a huge difference between messy and dirty. This is the girl who changes her pillow case at least once a week and is sort of OCD about cups. I am like the little girl in Signs who leaves her trail of partially consumed cups of water all over the house. Clean, but messy. Growing up I always had a heaping pile of clothing on my floor. If there’s a surface to place something, it’ll get filled with random things. Greg and I are figuring out how to tackle this. We are becoming the most severe type of minimalists. Our bedroom now has two things: A bed and a tiny, 1 foot x 1 foot thing with drawers in the corner. Oh, and a tiny stand for the alarm clock. That’s IT. And that is the way it has to be, or the cute dresser/wicker basket/whatever-else-people-fill-their-rooms-with would wind up only has a placeholder for things that should be put away.

And I’m the exact same way with my purse. It’s like Mary Poppins. I can never find anything. Greg hates how I ruffle through it and seem to dig my hand two feet down just to find chapstick. This has been happening for years.

That same trip, 5 (ish) years ago. Greg named this picture: “Typical of how Melinda searches in her purse.”

writing, messy, fiction, short stories

 

I’M NOT AN “INDOOR ANIMAL” PERSON

Simply because I seem to be in the ultimate minority on this one, I guess it’s a worst trait. I’m sorry, dog lovers, cat lovers, and hamster enthusiasts. I simply do not enjoy being licked, shoved aside, walked on, surrounded by smells, and usually winding up crazy itchy all over my body. I can’t stand it when a wet dog nose touches my skin. I avoid it at all costs. When dogs “play” it scares the you-know-what out of me. I think cats are mean. (I’ve been slapped in the face by a hairless cat, give me some slack!)

This could be because growing up, we didn’t have a single animal inside the house. I never grew up with the dog that cuddled up beside you. I never begged for a pet and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.

I DO however, LOVE outdoor animals that can be classified as “livestock” rather than pets. I LOVE my chickens. They’re currently inside, but they’ll be living outdoors soon and they don’t lick. YAY!

NOTE: We did have a great dog for a short period of time. His name was Aksel and he was sweet and beautiful. He is now in Minnesota with a cousin of a cousin (confusing?) and he has a lot more space. At the time, Greg and I lived in a tiny apartment and all three of us were driven crazy. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are lion hunters from Africa and should be run one or two times a day … otherwise they get destructive. I was so allergic to Aksel, too. I got hives on my forearms every day.

writing, dogs, fiction

Don’t let this fool you, I was scared out of my mind when this photo was taken.

dogs, pets, messy, writing

a gorgeous hike we took, back in the Aksel days

 

I’M THE BIGGEST WIMP YOU’LL EVER MEET

I’ve said it before and I wasn’t exaggerating. I am so afraid of so many things. My fears don’t keep me from living a normal life, but they do sometimes keep me awake at night or a bit over-the-top when I’m home alone and I hear a noise (like holding a kitchen knife and yelling, “I know you’re here!” And trying to sound brave, should I meet someone around the corner or in the closet.) Call it an over active imagination… call it just plain silly. I can’t help it either way. I’ve had to get a refund for 3 movies in the theater because I started crying in the first five minutes. It was after that, and a few other movies that kept me up for ~ a month, that I wrote off anything scary. For good.

And I hate Halloween. Hate it. I still think of a show (probably on the Disney channel or some other “harmless” kids program) where a scary monster mask got stuck on a kid’s head and he was almost trapped that way for eternity. Plus, I think Halloween gives all the creepers of the world a glorious chance to do what they do best: creep.

In fact, this past Halloween of 2012 was the first time I even dressed up in years. It was kind of fun, but this photo was taken at a party three days before the 31st. Less scary, and do you see any monster masks? (though Meredith’s make up was pushing it)

halloween, scary, writing

the nerd, the teacher, the skeleton, the witch

And there you have it!

What are your worst traits? I think if we accept them and laugh at them, things will get better. Don’t you?

Love,

Messy, anti-domestic animal, scardy-cat

LOU

 


2 Comments

Poems, Laughter and {not} Swooning

Blog Every Day In May Challenge

 

{Today’s blog is going to be short and sweet after yesterday’s rant ;) }

Day 23, Thursday: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you

I’ve learned that poems don’t have to rhyme and boys don’t have to act macho in order to be strong. 

Case in point:

poetry, love, writing, fiction

PROOF that we do, for real, call each other Lou

Just in case you can’t read this, it says:

To my dearest sweet Lou,

How I love thee

You ARE my best friend

How I love sleeping in a twin bed

You ARE so warm and cuddly

I surely never want to leave

I love you so so so

You ARE the best Lou

Anyone can ever ask for

Enjoy your morning, love you so!

Lou!

*Yes, we do actually sleep in a twin bed. We’re cuddlers!*

Greg isn’t a super romancy guy. We never even went on a first date until after we were engaged. I can count with a peace sign how many times he’s gotten me flowers (um, that was my clever way of saying it’s happened maybe twice) and he would rather make me laugh than make me swoon.

I LOVE IT.

This poem is great for so many reasons. It doesn’t rhyme. He only left it for me to make me laugh. I used to have a saying that if any guy I once dated either got me a cheesy gift OR wrote me a poem/song, I would probably end the relationship. I guess I just can’t appreciate that stuff the way a girl should. There was one poem someone wrote me in high school that was so awful, I (naturally) told Greg about it as soon as we began to date. He’s been coming up with terrible poetry ever since.

Not that this was a bad one, but it did make me laugh when I woke up and saw it sitting next to my coffee mug.

Another thing I’ve learned that school never taught me:

Laughter trumps everything. 

poetry, funny, writing, laughter

give him a piggy back ride

writing, fiction, love

make pretty faces so he loves you

love, laughter, writing

no pda in this pool. just laughter

 

What have you learned that school never taught you?

<3 Lou