Monday, April 9, 2012

Because It Needs Doing

It's been a rough week for me, mentally. There's many contributors, the main ones being upheaval at work with a major division reorganization - my usual work day is not supposed to change much, but we'll see if that really holds true (if I don't bail out soon for a new role I'm interviewing for in a different division). It's less than a week before the 5K walk/run and my sponsorship isn't what I'd hoped it would be - though I'm not one to repeatedly beg friends and family for such things, so it's out there - see a few posts back to sponsor me if you wish. The weight loss efforts appear to be going through my monthly slow-down. For 7-10 days a month I seem to come to a stand-still, and then suddenly it just starts up again. I'm sure it's related to the Depo-Provera (new for me, at the surgeon's request), but it dampens the motivation a bit when you've been working like a fiend and not seeing it in the numbers.

And finally, the Man took my car to work (since he was out of gas) on Sunday, so I took his grocery shopping. When I was loading my bags in the trunk I found the little monkey backpack/child leash that we'd bought for T when we went to visit the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. on vacation. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 2 years since we did that (late May, 2010). It shocked me, I thought it was long gone, but there it was - and it rooted me to the spot for a good 3 minutes, leaving me flustered on the way home. I couldn't think of anything else to do with it but put it in the garbage can outside the garage after unloading the groceries. Every now and then I unexpectedly find something that hasn't been packed away, and it always startles me. It's not that there's no sign of them around anymore - the pictures that were in the living room and hanging in the hallway are now in the spare bedroom - since we cleared all the child furniture and things out of there and turned it into a spare bedroom when my father came for my MBA graduation last fall, it's not been the black hole behind the closed door any more. There's still that silly smiley-face t shirt the Man bought for T that says "Imagine if there were no Liberals" on it, folded and tucked halfway under something else on the top shelf of his closet - I see it several times a week as I hang up laundry. The picture from J's 1st birthday party that the Man still has as his screen saver on his Droid phone. The baby gate that used to be at the end of the hallway going into the kitchen is still leaning against the dining room wall next to the water cooler. I've become somewhat immune to those things, it's the unexpected ones that really throw me sideways, like the little stuffed Winnie the Pooh I found in the center console of my car about a month ago.

Saturday we went up the mountain to put Easter flowers out on the family grave site. I'm afraid we're going to have to take the lead in getting a head stone for the Man's mother - BIL is certainly dragging his feet. But we placed flowers for her, his father, his uncle, his paternal grandparents, and his cousin. Too many graves in that tiny church yard belong to his family - but there's also a strange sense of place in having roots like that. We talked about perhaps buying a decent tract of land up there and building a house - we'll see.

I did 6 treadmill workouts last week, since the 5K is coming up so quickly - Saturday morning I did a full 3 miles to make sure I wouldn't pass out from the effort - and it actually went quite well. I was tired of course, but didn't feel like falling over. I gave myself yesterday as a day of rest, and planned to get back to it today.

As I sat on a teleconference just before lunch, all I could think about was that I didn't feel like doing anything today. It wasn't particularly a physical block - but definitely a mental one. When I'm having trouble with depression I just want to curl up, not go sweat in the basement.

But sometimes, you do things you don't want to, Because It Needs Doing. That was my workout today - it was a tad short - 36 minutes instead of my normal 45, but that was the length of the rest of the Battlestar Galactica episode I was watching on Saturday (ftr - Season 2.5 finale, Lay Down Your Burdens - Part 2), and it was good excuse to stop there.

There's been a lot of things that Need Doing lately - and it's been hard to just do them. Harder, it seems, than the things that I Just Did after the Event, in keeping up at work and still going to school, and managing to actually kick ass with my grades despite the betrayal of at least 3/4 of my study team. People have commented on "how strong" I was then, how they would have just curled up in a ball and laid in bed. Oh how I wanted to, but I couldn't. There was the battle, as the larger wage earner I couldn't risk my job, and of course I'd already gone into a small mortgage worth of debt for MBA tuition, so there was really no choice in that either. I did those things Because It Needed Doing.

Looking back now, I don't know how I did. I know my stamina isn't really completely back yet, but it's getting there (I'd say I'm at about 85%). But I still have a lot of hard things to do ahead of me - including finishing this journey to leave (somewhat more than) half of me behind. I don't feel particularly strong, or empowered, or anything else. But things have to be done.

So I do things - Because It Needs Doing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recipe: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

While we generally tried to avoid eating at chain restaurants when I was pre-op, one of my favorite items used to be offered at Chili's. It was listed as both an appetizer and a salad, and they simply called them "lettuce wraps". Sadly, they were dropped from the menu about 2 years ago - allegedly for low demand. That pretty much ended my occasional trips to Chili's. But, the offering was so tasty, that I've tried recreating them over the years, and this is my best rendition so far.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Mixture
  •    6 oz cooked chicken (I used thigh meat) diced or shredded
  • 1/2 cup diced water chestnuts (approximately half a can)
  • 2 oz dry roasted un-salted peanuts - chopped
  • 3/4 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp garlic (1-2 cloves), minced
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 12 large lettuce leaves (Boston, Bibb, Butter, Red-Leaf, or even Romaine)
  •  2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp less sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake 
  • 1/8 cup light brown sugar, packed

This recipe works best if you have all of your ingredients prepared before you begin cooking. First, make the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Mixture will be slightly thick and should have a slightly sweet note than a tart or salty note.

Dice the water chestnuts into chunks the size of peas. Run your knife through the peanuts several times, you just want to chop most of them in half - don't pulverize them.

If you are shredding your own carrots (vs. using a bag of purchased shreds), do those now.

Warm the sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When it becomes very fragrant, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.

Add the chicken, reduce to medium, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes. The idea is to only warm the ingredients, not to cook them so long as to dry out the chicken.

Add the water chestnuts and peanuts, warm for another 1-2 minutes.

Stir in sauce - there should be just enough to coat, it should not be soupy. Add the carrots and bean sprouts - I prefer mine slightly warmed, you may opt to top your wraps with these two items raw for even more crunch.

Select your lettuce leaves - look for broad leaves without holes. I chose red leaf lettuce this time, as it was the freshest at my market. Boston, Bibb, or Butter lettuce works very well and tends to be wider than my red leaf. Spoon 1/4 of the chicken mixture into the leaves - 3 worked well for me.


Nutritional information (gathered using the recipe builder at 1 serving = 1/4 recipe. Calories: 281, Total fat 16.3g, Saturated Fat 3.2g, Cholesterol 39mg, Sodium 484 mg, Carbohydrate 18.3g, Dietary Fiber 2.5g, Sugars 11.5g, Protein 16.7g