Desert Flour

A 20-Something's Musings on Life, Love and Faith


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Passive Aggressive Behavior – Dealing with Masked Hostility

In my work space and personal life I take on a number of different leadership roles. These are often team-driven positions that require an ebb and flow of sharing ideas and responsibilities.

My work life is a great example of how this can be done efficiently. We have open dialogues, respectful disagreements and know that when we ask someone to complete a task – we can count on them to complete it.  This is effective collaboration. This is how people act professionally.

Unfortunately some of my personal life commitments struggle with this kind of group cohesion.

This is where the ugly monster of passive aggressive behavior exists all while hiding behind the mask of a smiling everything-is-fine behavior.

PassiveAgressiveMonster

Everything is fineee…..See? Smiling?

First I’ll say – I don’t think it’s fair to call all passive aggressive behavior negative. At times it stems from a position of wanting to avoid unnecessary direct conflict and can serve as a form of compromise. “I don’t really agree with you – but I don’t want to make this a huge issue so I’ll just go along with it.”

Under this rationale, it is passive aggressive behavior because you aren’t openly acknowledging your disagreements – however there isn’t an underlying hostility in the action. While it may not be the best form of group work, it can still result in a workable outcome for everyone.

It’s the other traits you see with passive aggressive behavior that are rooted in actual anger or hostility that can completely derail a group’s momentum. These look like:

Sarcasm

Withholding any opinion

Being critical without solid rationale

Conscious or Unconscious Sabotage

Running Late

Not doing something that’s asked of him/her

These actions may not even be intentional – but they are predictable behaviors that come from someone who is dissatisfied with the group and is acting with a kind of tempered hostility. It’s really damaging to both the group’s productivity as well as the friendships or interrelationships amongst the members.

I am getting better at recognizing these signs within our group – when someone will smile and agree with a group conversation – but then never complete the task of sending out an email or making a contact call. They didn’t want to do it, and instead of saying something outright, they just “didn’t get to it” for whatever reason.

Or the times our group will propose an exciting new idea for growth and someone will tear it to shreds for no real tangible reason – perhaps other than it wasn’t their idea to begin with?

Or the person who doesn’t have prior work or family commitments, but still comes late to your designated meeting time, because they just really don’t want to be there.

It can be hard for me to understand.

I really care about our group and about being an effective leadership team. And whenever you are passionate about a cause or a group you really want those who are supposed to be on the same page as you, to show the same kind of dedication and excitement you feel.

And so I am trying to be patient and kind and loving to my friends, but it is taking a significantly greater amount of energy to self-check that I’m not responding in passive-aggressive ways to their initial passive aggressive behaviors.

When someone needs another reminder to compete a task – I’m trying to let go of my frustration and impatience and just be glad when it does get done.

When someone makes unreasonable demands or snarky comments on a proposal – I’m trying not to mass text other people for confirmation on just how unreasonable and snarky they are, thereby perpetuating these feelings of negativity amongst our other group members.

I think it especially helps me to understand that a lot of this behavior is stemming either from a place of indifference or insecurity on their part.

They are acting hostile either because they are so checked out and really need a break from some of this stress. Or they are acting this way because they feel their own power is threatened and they are doing what they can to assert themselves – in what they feel is a socially acceptable manner.

Especially as we turn to the end of this week towards giving thanks for all that we have and hold dear – I am trying to look at these petty squabbles as just minor irritations.

They will flow off me like water over stone.

(I recognize this simile also implies the water will wear the stone down eventually …. But I am finding it a nice meditational touchstone image for now…)

So I would encourage you to approach those passive-aggressive people in your life with some more patience this week. Don’t necessarily back down on things you really care about, but just try and gain some elevated perspective on why they may be acting a certain way or pushing your buttons.


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The Cost of a Healthy Lifestyle

Two weeks into our clean eating meal plan for “8 Weeks to a Hot Body” we have come to the same realization that many other healthy eaters have surely encountered before – it’s rather expensive!

Now this does require some consideration of perspective. What is “expensive” to me maybe reasonable for others, but I have never been one to spend significant amounts of my monthly earnings at the grocery store.  College loans sure. Movies and other entertainment you bet. Bars and restaurants – all the time.

But I guess I never realized if we stopped supplementing our meals with times we eat out, we obviously would buy more food. And particularly if we spent more time and care in buying healthy food – that cost goes up even more. I might eat out a bit – but I’m looking for those Happy Hour cheap menus or the 2 Dinners for $20 deals.

It’s tricky though, because when you are in the store it all seems necessary at the time!

Our Week 1 Grocery list was designed to just purchase the ingredients that we would need for two people to eat 5 times a day for 7 days. … Ok so 70 meals worth….  (Ok maybe that is a big number? That’s a lot of meals to prepare for?)

While circumnavigating the perimeter of the store we purchased what seemed like a lot of pretty cheap and necessary perishable items: Bananas, Apples, Tomatoes, Oranges, Grape Tomatoes, Avocado, Bell Peppers, Onions, Lettuce, Cucumber, Celery, Zucchini, Mushrooms, Edamame, Sweet Potatoes, Eggs, Laughing Cow Cheese, Almond Milk, Greek Yogurt, Ground Turkey, Deli Turkey, Ground Chicken.

All of this seemed totally reasonable! We also weren’t starting with a bare pantry so we had all of the spices and basics (peanut butter, protein powder, garlic, oatmeal, etc.) already stocked.

This first grocery trip came to $71.68.

Not too bad.

So cue next Sunday when we go grocery shopping for Week 2, with the same idea to get enough produce/protein to cover 2 people eating on this Hot Body meal plan.

We make our circuit picking up tomatoes, bananas, apples, pineapple, bell pepper, onion, carrots, celery, lettuce, sweet potatoes, broccoli, edamame, eggs, Almond Milk, Ground turkey, Salmon, Tuna – and this time we also head down the aisles for Low Carb Tortillas, Brown Rice and Apple Cider Vinegar.  (Gah writing this is making me hungry!!)

Total this trip = $80.29.

It doesn’t seem too bad. But for our previously meager grocery budgets it is starting to feel like a little much.

So far this month we have spent just under $152 on groceries. I anticipate this will remain a pretty consistent pattern so about $300 / month for two people.

Am I completely off base in thinking that seems like a lot to spend on food?? I’m struggling with this number as during our previous grocery runs:

  1. We didn’t have to go once a week – we just got to enjoy the more perishable fruits and veggies when we first bought them and then did without near the end of the cycle and
  2. Our previous grocery bills were only about $150 a month total.

I’m starting to question whether I have just been completely off-base in what proper food and nutrition costs. Or whether this all clean food meal plan is just more expensive? Or whether I really was only buying cheaper processed goods so didn’t notice the actual cost of real food? Or whether I am just shopping at expensive grocery stores and should be heading to more Farmer’s Markets?

I don’t know. But it is taking some budget reorganization.

Healthy food plans also demand quite a bit more of your time than our normal eating habits.

Normal lunch might consist of a PB & J Sandwich, Bag of Chips and an Apple. (No school like the old school?). This might take a max of ~10 minutes to prepare.

Healthy meal plan lunch calls for cooked meatballs, baked sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. Or ground turkey and mushrooms that have been cooked in chili sauce and garlic. These take time to prepare – maybe ranging from 15-45 minutes. If I am already cooking breakfast in the morning (another 10-20 minutes) I really do not have the time to also cook a complex healthy lunch.

But we are really serious about making this work – so you make the time. And for me – as I am already trying to fit in my workouts in the mornings – I accomplish the week’s worth of Breakfast and Lunch cooking on Sunday nights.

So we make our grocery lists, head out to the store, cart everything home and cook everything that requires advanced preparation for the week all in one big afternoon marathon.

This works really great!

If you have 2-3 hours on your Sunday to devote to getting it done… xD

Healthy food plans are actually quite a bit of work – beyond the working out and dedication to eating the food – getting it and cooking it has been a slightly unforeseen obstacle.

It also has been a very enlightening glimpse to what a privilege a healthy lifestyle can be. I am in the position where I can re-budget some of my entertainment money to go towards my groceries. I only have to give up social engagements or TV time to shop and cook my meals. I can wake myself up early to do Pilates or leave work on time to head to the Hot Yoga Studio without balancing carpools, kids, high maintenance pets, demanding jobs or other family needs.

It can be a lot of work – but it really is a privilege to be able to do what we are doing.

And I am trying to keep that in mind as we continue towards our fitness goals – that our struggles are really nothing compared to the trials standing in the way of other people. This kind of self-humbling perspective may not motivate you, but nothing shuts up my whiny complaints about having to skip buying a movie premier ticket to instead purchase more quinoa like a healthy dose of guilt at my first world problems.

fwproblems qinoa

Let’s not be this person while we work on getting healthy k?

We are still doing well on Day 10 of this plan, but I’m trying to remain humbled and still think of creative ways to make this more sustainable for us in the long run.

Do you have any advice on where to get more cost effective groceries?
How much do you typically spend a month on food? Are your numbers like ours?


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Self-sabotage: Hot Yoga and the Sniffles

Isn’t it always funny when you finally commit to something mentally and you are charged up, ready to achieve your goals, won’t let your laziness or other distractions get in your way – and then your body decides to give you the big nagging finger — nah, ah ah!

Fitness journeys are always complicated and bumpy.

But it’s just so frustrating that the day after we decide to start our 8 Week Hot Body Meal plan and to work out 3-5x a week – I come down with a nasty head cold.

It’s that self-handicapping behavior that drives me nuts!

It happens in other areas of life, but for me, my workouts and eating habits seem too often sabotaged by my own behaviors, health or moods. I’ll have had a really rough day at work and feel lousy so come home and eat chips and salsa and drink a beer instead of heading out for a run. I’ll sign up for an intense Pilates Caliente class the day I know I’ll feel bloated and have terrible cramps. (Ladies you feel me?)

So this time I refused to let myself get in my own way.

I woke up early and put on the MOVEmber Blogilates playlist for the day and started the first Youtube video — and couldn’t breathe and suffered miserably through the 10 minutes of cardio. Womp. Womp. (There is a reason most people don’t wake up sick and then break out in star jumps). I didn’t even play the remaining videos I just sat on my living room floor, guzzled water and looked at other people getting fit on Instagram.

But! I wasn’t about to call it a day after that embarrassment. This week, for me, is all about committing to my health again and that means motivating myself to get my butt moving in some physical exercise – no excuses!

So during work I bought 10 classes at Blissful Spirits Studio and made the commitment that I was going to take my sniffling, leaky head to the Hot Yoga class I registered for that night and get those Sun Salutations done!

While you have to admire that tenacity – probably not the best choice of workout.

Most of you know that when you are having a constantly runny nose (excuse me while I pause to go blow it again >.<) you need to drink a lot more fluids to avoid getting dehydrated. You are losing a lot of water. You may also be aware that Hot Yoga classes run at a pretty toasty temperature and cause you to sweat a lot. It can be a really refreshing detox as you flush out your body’s toxins – but you are also losing a lot of water.

Add Flushing Sinuses + Flushing Sweat Glands + Standard water intake = Light headed, dizzy and sweaty Caitlin stumbling out of the Yoga Studio.

Oops.

However. Despite how I felt pretty weak afterwards and that it really wasn’t my best practice – I felt super accomplished! I am still so glad I went!

We are only on Day 3 now of the 8 Weeks, my head cold is still rocking me full force, but I feel so charged about successfully committing to the health food plan and getting the workouts in one way or another.

While I may not suggest everyone try and kill their workout when they are sick – I do think you should examine how you are getting in your own way with regards to your fitness and try and find some way to remedy whatever obstacles you are putting in your path.

And I’ll be trying to remedy this cold before the next sweatfest.

Cheers!


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Graduate Application Anxiety

Applying for Graduate School programs out of state creates a lot of anxiety.

Not only the expected application anxiety as you try and create witty, representative essays that speak to all of your amazing merits vs. your actual desperation for acceptance. Or the endless rewrites of a simple paragraph describing your volunteer experience because you have to fit a lifetime of experience doing service into 150 characters (including spaces).

These challenges – while daunting – were expected.

Perhaps also expected was the anxiety caused by second guessing yourself.

It’s very easy to have all of these self-doubts when looking at the sophisticated rankings of these schools and the meager matriculation rates. I don’t think I am applying to any school with an acceptance rate greater than 8%.

So you really question – am I really prepared to beat out the other 92% of applicants trying to get into this school? Am I really the best for this school? Why should I even apply here if their average GRE scores are 20 points better than mine? What if during my interviews the advisor doesn’t like me? What if I say something stupid? What if I don’t even get an interview? What if I am just rejected from the start because they can’t figure out how to match my test scores and transcript with my new name change and just toss my application?

This stream of questions then leads to the advice that one should “cast a broad net” when applying for graduate schools.

Which in my case manifested into 9 different school applications scattered across the US. And this is a pretty conservative number of schools to apply for within my field.

But that range of diversity can also be quite distressing as it means we have no idea where we could be living next November. We could be in California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Florida or still in our same apartment in New Mexico.

Map Grad Schools

At least you can’t take us out of the Desert! Mostly…

These schools are also so diverse it’s hard to even paint a picture of what our life could be like once we get there. Will we be renting a house with a yard in Northern Dallas? Or will we be subletting a room in high rise apartment in Downtown LA?

No matter what happens it’s going to be a huge change from our current situation. Currently, we live by ourselves in a comfortable 2-bedroom apartment, with both of our families only a 15 minute drive away. We both have stable jobs that we enjoy and have surrounded ourselves with a multitude of friends and social support connections.

Moving to a completely foreign environment will totally disrupt all of this. Change is challenging for me and even more so for my Hubby.

I realize what I am asking him to do will be even harder for him.

If we move I will be looking forward to some kind of purpose – some program to fulfill; some new colleagues to meet; new classes and new students to interact with. But he will just be moving to a city, to be with me and not really have a sense of whether there will be a reasonable opportunity available for him there.

A great source of anxiety for us both is that I will be moving towards my doctorate degree and he will feel stuck in a city he doesn’t like and where he doesn’t know anyone and potentially where he will be forced to do some job that doesn’t fulfill or challenge him. (you know.. if he can get a job.)

And it will be on me if things go badly.

So in those moments of hope where I have confidence that I will be able to surmount this huge application obstacle and receive acceptance into some program – I could also be doing devastating harm to my husband and putting some severe strain on our new marriage.

No pressure.

Despite these relationship reasons – we also have a wonderful group of friends that we rely on and who rely on us. We will also be abandoning them here when we leave to go pursue a new life in a new state.

Honestly I can’t even really blame them for hoping my applications will fail. (Ok well maybe I can feel a little chagrinned – but not resentful.)

This is hard. The whole process is hard!

It’s an emotional rollercoaster of being excited at the possibilities and loving the programs I could be a part of for the next 5-7 years – but it’s also terrifying and stressful. This is one of those huge decision points in our young marriage that will change the course of the rest of our lives.

And this is all just the beginning. Setting our course all by clicking a hyperlink with red text: “Submit Application”


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Cooking Trials: Pumpkin Gut Stew

(Pumpkin and Black Beans)

Halloween has ended, but Fall is still ripe with pumpkins and the perfect time to warm your belly with soups and stews! This recipe is super easy and came out of a pantry raid for what we had available for a last minute potluck dish.

IMG_3384

The Set Up.

This was a bit of a hodge podge from a couple different recipes and some kitchen improve, so let me break it down for you.

Ingredients:
3 cans of Chicken Broth
2 cans of Black Beans
2 cans of Pumpkin Puree
1 White Onion
10-15 Cherry Tomatoes
½ Bag of Baby Carrots
1.5 Ground Turkey (not pictured)

Spices (Season to your taste – I just put a healthy dash of the following):
Cayenne Pepper
Herbs de Provence
Rosemary
Basil
Garlic

There are really only 3 main steps to this dish:

1) If you want to add some protein – cook your Ground Turkey on the stove first.

2) Chop up your veggies into small diced, bite-size pieces.

3) Open your cans and put everything in a crockpot on High for 4-6 hours.

For this recipe we used our large crockpot, which is really the best tool you can have for easy Fall cooking. It is so wonderful to just put everything into a big pot and come home to a house smelling super delicious. And dinner is all ready and waiting! Hurray for minimal effort!

This particular soup is also a huge hit at Company Potlucks

IMG_3385

Ta da! Even ready with it’s own serving bowl!

Hope you enjoy!
Would you add anything else to the soup? I really wanted to add some corn to it, but I forgot it in the freezer 😦
What are some of your favorite Fall dishes?


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My Delicious and Terrible October

It happens every time the weather gets colder – the candy, the baked goods, and the delicious party drinks are suddenly accessible and completely everywhere.

It doesn’t help that there are so many people with Birthdays in October (Oh yeah. We know what your parents were doing for Valentine’s day. Giggity! …Awkward…) And with Birthdays comes more parties and drinks and cake.

And come on – Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Not only are they delicious. But there is something so tantalizing about the seasonal, limited-time-only, get-one-now-or-you’ll-miss-your-chance-for-another-year advertisement that makes any plans to continue to eat healthily or to save that coffee $$ for more worthwhile causes just fly out the window. Because you need it! Just for the season!

For me personally there were two other factors to this October that completely weakened my resolve: Graduate School Applications and our Honeymoon.

Part one. The Honeymoon.
We went to Hawai’i for two weeks in the middle of September, which meant lots of flirty skirts, bikinis and apparently miles of hiking.  This following our July wedding by a bit of a gap meant that we have been eating clean, hitting the gym and getting into great shape really since April.

That was 7 whole months of killing it.

All for the goals of looking fabulous on our wedding day (Check!) and the grand goal of sitting on those beaches in skimpy clothes and thinking “Damn! We Look good!” (Haha maybe check?)

But all of that resolve and dedication really meant that when we returned from the islands and it suddenly became sweater season and we didn’t really have a large fitness goal to strive for anymore we took a little extra vacation from our good habits.

Part two. Grad School Applications
Currently I am in the process of trying to apply for Clinical Psychology PhD programs for admittance in the Fall 2015 semester.

For those unfamiliar with this long process, that means applications are due December, Fall 2014.

I knew I was going to be out for the honeymoon in September, so I had been working on preparing my Resume/CV, Personal Statement, Ordering GRE scores etc. in later August and early September. This was when a few people made these fatalistic comments about how far ahead I was in preparing – and didn’t I have a long time to worry about any of my applications?

Now when you are sitting in the August summer sun – December does feel eons away!

I thought – Hey! They’re right! What am I doing??

So I went on my honeymoon, but then returned completely derailed for the entire month of October. It just felt like – well we are taking a break from all of our wedding/honeymoon planning duties, workout regimen, food prep – might as well take a break from working on graduate school applications too!

I just let that stressful process sit in a binder on my desk for a few weeks.

The realization: Halloween Weekend

Now this past weekend marked the end of five weeks of living the slattern life.

I think a good example of how far we let things go was how we bought Halloween Candy a week early on Saturday the 25th to put outside our door on Friday while we were out at an event.  I do not believe we have had any candy in our apartment since last Christmas. We finished off the entire bag before Wednesday.

And then decided to just not put any candy out, turn our porch light off and not return until really late that evening. (Sorry neighbor kiddos!!!)

But I think the real realization that we weren’t doing good things to our minds and bodies came on Saturday when we were getting dressed for a Halloween Party with some friends.

We had spent the whole day lazing about our living room watching scary movies and eating pumpkin treats and then when it started to get dark outside the Hubs and I started to prepare for our Lilo and Stitch costumes.

You will recall from the eponymous Disney Movie – the Hawaiian theme of our costumes. Remind yourself too of the more revealing nature of Lilo’s hula dancing outfit I had chosen to wear that evening. Now add in the five weeks of poor dining choices and low levels of physical activity. It made for some great depressing jokes between the Hubs and I on how I was definitely going for costume accuracy – including the cute round belly…. :/

Lilo tummy

Now don’t get me wrong.

We still rocked those costumes. And I’d like to add a huge disclaimer here that I’m not trying to make any comment on Lilo’s weight. I am just trying to express that trying on my costume made me realize I wasn’t where I want to be with my body and my lifestyle right now.  I went from having a relatively defined 4-pack to being cute and round.

Now I know you can’t really destroy 7 months of progress and good habits with 1 month of bad choices. (Right? Right??)

But I don’t feel healthy. I miss the energy and soreness that come from a good hard workout. I want to check back into Grad School and really commit to having strong polished applications.

So I am making a commitment for the remainder of this year to get back on track with making some healthy life choices. I have already made some positive steps in this direction by:

  1. Ordering the 8 Week Hot Body meal plan and fitness journal from Blogilates
  2. Purchasing 10 classes at Blissful Spirits Hot Yoga Studio
  3. Moving that scary Application binder a little closer to the center of my desk (small steps here people.)

These are all things that will help motivate me, to get back to the better version of myself. But I know it’s not going to be as simple as just hitting the fitness switch to get back into my groove.This process is going to take some retraining and a little conditioning. It won’t be a seamless transition. I will falter and stumble on the way. But I’m starting with things that motivate me and have proven to give me some enjoyment in the past.

The only way I’m going to improve and see any change is to just get started — So! Here we go!