My thoughts on “having a bad day”

chandler

– Chandler Bing, Friend

“When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in the paths of his deeds, so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent.”

– Meng Tzu, Chinese Philosopher

Hi 🙂

I have a really long commute. 2 hours, one way. It sucks, and some days seems unmanageable. Good news, I’m moving in with my boy! I have just 8 more days until those 13 hour days making $12 an hour will become distant memories.

Even though I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, some days until then might be a ‘lil rough. Some days get to you, they can crush even the best of spirits. I think it’s important to let yourself feel emotions, even the negative ones. It’s not possible to be completely detached from the world, because we are a part of it. The daily grind of life can be overwhelming –as long as you try to keep that feeling contained– not allowing it to spread too far into other moments or aspects of your life, I believe it’s beneficial to feel that negativity.

Yesterday was rough, today is a bit too because I have no sleep in me. On the commute I mediated on the beauty of the PNW. Every day, as I travel the 30 miles to work I get to see the most beautiful sights; the most gorgeous shots of Seattle, a clear view Rainer over the ocean.  Today these sights reminded me that I was here because I needed to be. I took the road less traveled by coming out west so abruptly, with little to no planning. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; even though some of my very worst times have been here.

There is beauty in suffering, but in order to find that beauty you have to feel the pain. It might be cliché, but it’s a compelling argument against detachment from feelings, and from a unique angle.

One of the selling points of stoicism and Buddhism is the ability to detach yourself from “bad moods”. Being able to step away from them so they can’t control you. The practice of meditation will help you accomplish this, after a long long while. Mediation has helped me so much with my anxiety and negative thoughts.

Occasionally I find myself at a road block with Buddhism, and today is one of those times. If I were in a “normal” non-tainted by emotion state, I’m not sure I would have had that very beautiful experience on the bus. Most of my road blocks come from when I’m feeling euphoric, I get the most incredible euphoria that I have a hard time wanting to meditate it away. This is the first roadblock, so to speak, where negativity has made a case for itself in my head.

The key is to separate the frustrating aspects of your “bad day” from all the other good stuff. So your mind isn’t clouded when really good things happen! Because a day can’t be 100% bad, ever.

Peace&Love–Molly Jo Sexton

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PMS Brownies (GF, Paleo): God’s Gift to All — Food

pmsbrownies

Don’t worry guys, my boyfriend likes these more than I do! I’m not a chocoholic, which is how I can tell that time of the month is near because I have the most intense craving for all things chocolate. During this week, I find it hard enough to just get through the day, let alone stick to this complicated healthy diet I decided to follow when my hormones were normal.

These also work fantastic for all broken hearts, lost jobs, and so much more! If you have had a long day, whatever kind it might be, let yourself have an extra square.

You really deserve it. 🙂

This recipe is taken from the Every Last Crumb cookbook with a few slight modifications: http://paleomg.com/every-last-crumb-book-review-pms-brownies/

Without further ado,

PMS Brownies

Ingredients:

 Brownies

1 (10-ounce) package chocolate chips, melted and cooled

140 grams salted butter or ghee, softened (1/2 cup/1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons finely ground coffee

140 grams coconut palm sugar (3/4 c.)

30 grams blanched almond flour (about ¼ cup)

30 grams tapioca starch (about ¼ cup)

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

Ganache

1/3 cup chocolate chips

4 cup coconut cream (from a can of coconut milk) or heavy cream

Additional toppings 8-10 Dark chocolate PB cups

Caramel

3 T. salted butter or ghee

1/4 c. coconut palm sugar

1/4 T coconut cream or heavy cream

pinch of salt

Directions:

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

Lightly grease pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the melted chocolate chips and softened butter.

Once incorporated, mix in the vanilla and ground coffee.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, almond flour, and tapioca starch.

Gradually add the dry mixture to the chocolate mixture, stirring to combine.

Add the eggs and yolk and beat until fully combined.

If you are adding the optional 1 cup chocolate chips to the batter, make sure that it is no longer warm before folding them in.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap on the countertop to settle the batter.

Bake @ 350 for 35 minutes or until the brownies have set and do not jiggle in the pan.

While the brownies are cooling, make the…

Ganache

Melt chocolate chips. Then add the coconut cream, stirring until it comes together.

Spoon the ganache over the cooled brownies. Then drop the chocolate PB Cups and chocolate chips on top. While that is cooling, make the caramel…

Caramel: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the caramel ingredients to a gentle boil over medium heat, sitting constantly.

Continue to boil gently, while stirring, until it thickens.

Remove from the heat and drizzle the caramel on top of the brownie.

A note on being privileged — Health & Happiness

Hello.

I wanted to talk a little bit today about being privileged. What I think it means, and what I believe my responsibility is with that privilege.

As most of you know, I’m a 22 year old white girl living in Seattle WA. I could complain about my life sure! Tell you it’s unfair that I get paid $12.00 an hour for the job I do, say that most of my friends make way more than I. I have student loans I think are unfair.

but.

I am blessed with an incredibly fantastic life. I’m a 22 year old living in Seattle WA for goodness sakes! I have a family who loves and supports me, great friends, the best boyfriend, a home to sleep. The rest is gravy, as they say. But I also have pretty great tasting gravy, the kind my Gammy makes at Thanksgiving!

I have beautiful clothes, awesome kitchen gadgets, a gym membership, Iphone and a laptop that give me access to the internet at all times.

I have time to pursue my dreams and passions, to better myself. I have time to watch “Friends” on Netflix every day. I am healthy. I have delicious food available to me.

I am also blessed just to be a human, I could be a bug or fish or something. I get to be one of the coolest species!

When I think about all the other people and animals in the world that suffer in order to provide me with a wonderful lifestyle…

…I don’t know about you guys but sometimes I get really sad and defeated. I feel guilty about what I have and the skin color I was born with. I’m completely overwhelmed with how to help people that don’t have what they need to live, when I have so much compared to others.

I’m not sure but I have a feeling I’m not alone. I’m pretty sure a lot of other people in my “privileged” and “white privileged” situation have a lot of the same feelings.

The thing is: one person who has another full time job and $0 worth of disposable income can’t singlehandedly take down sweatshops and child labor, or save all the orcas from captivity, etc. I have to realize that there are so many really smart people spending all the efforts trying to stop child labor that still haven’t done it!

I’ve also recently realized, through my years of living in a city, that you don’t have to feel bad for not giving to every homeless person. I’m not a cold hearted person, less than two days ago I saw someone on the streets who made me cry. But I have to realize I’m one person who can’t help even everyone who comes knocking on my proverbial door.

I need to give myself a break from this mental beating I seem to give myself every time I hear about horrible things happening to people, because just like they can’t help being born into their life, I can’t help being born into mine. I cannot help where my soul was sent to, and it’s unfair to keep apologizing for it.

It’s important to be grateful for the gift of privilege. I did nothing to deserve it, but none of us deserve anything anyway, in my opinion. It would be doing myself and others a dis-service to not be grateful for what I am given.

Now before everyone hates me for writing that, this is not where my train of thought has ended! I promise I’m not all like “well shucks I can’t do anything to help being white and rich so I’ll just live it up!”.  I believe in trying your best to be responsible for the life you live, and those you impact. The emphasis though, trying your best. You see, you won’t be able to do your best if you have unrealistic expectations of how you can help. You need to have manageable, attainable goals for everything, including altruism. Otherwise you’ll live in this world of paralyzing self hatred and guilt, or unaware naiveté. Both of which, accomplish nothing.

Everyone has their causes that speak to them extra loud. Mine are; animal rights, reducing my carbon footprint, women’s rights, & labor rights. At least they are right now. I’ve had a lot of exposure (through my various minimum wage jobs) of people desperately trying to live below the poverty level. I am a woman so I’m guessing that’s why the whole feminism thing. 😛 I’m in Seattle so the green thing must have rubbed off on me. I have always had the biggest heart for animals, I think I was one in a previous life. 🙂

My new, attainable goals to try and help these causes are:

1) Weekdays I am a pescatarian: only fish Monday – Friday

2) I am only buying clothes secondhand and will make an effort to do the same with all “stuff”. I will also be going on fasts every once in a while that will not allow me to purchase anything but food, and experiences; no things.

3) Instead of buying each other gifts, my boyfriend and I are going to give to charities every holiday, at least for the next few.

 These are nothing grand at all! I’m sure I will be able to do more as time goes on, but as I talked about in my “30 days of smiling” I believe starting small is the only way to see real change.

Peace&Love — Molly Jo Sexton

Berry Crumble — Food

crumble1
Berry Crumble (Paleo, GF, Vegan)

~15 minutes prep

~35-40 minutes bake

Serves around 10 people, 12 if you’ve all had a really big dinner already

Ingredients

Bunch of berries: I say 2 big tubs of berries or 4 small tubs of berries– very scientific I know. Fine, here:

4 cups Berries

3 T agave nectar, or honey –(I like nectar here, the flavor works really well, and keeps it vegan)

1 T cornstarch –(if you are ok with corn, if not its fine. It keeps the berries from being too liquidy)

2 T. Grass fed butter or coconut oil

1.5 cups almond flour

1 egg (omit the egg if vegan)

1/2 t. vanilla

1/2 c. chopped almonds

1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

3T. Agave nectar

2t. Cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Directions

Wash the berries

Dump them into the Pan. 11X7 works if you don’t have a casserole pan or a Dutch oven

Stir the agave and cornstarch into the berries

In another bowl combine butter, almond flour, egg, and vanilla into all uniform and crumbly

Put over berries

In yet another bowl, mix Agave, cinnamon and salt.

In a stainless steel skillet, over medium heat, toast the almonds and coconut until they are all toasty and smell incredible. Be careful not to burn them! It can happen pretty fast.

Remove them from heat and add to the Agave mixture.

Add to top of crumble

Bake @ 350 for 35-40 minutes or until crumble gets a light golden brown and hard.

30 Days of Smiling — Health & Happiness

smiles

Hello!

I want to talk about how I solved a problem that I’ve been struggling with for a while.

When I first moved to Seattle from my tiny Midwest town– everyone knows everyone’s name, USA– scary guys came up to me a lot. I asked my friends how to stop it, and without fail everyone told me I looked too inviting, too ready to help. I’m no more helpful than the next person, but I’m sure my face was saying something like “Sure, I can tell you how to get to the town’s ice cream shoppee”, it’s just the way I grew up! Sure enough though I found that putting on headphones, wearing opaque shades and looking stern drastically reduced my chances of being approached.

I was in a bit of a pickle though, because I don’t want to interact with the world in that way; one of fear and distrust. But I was defeated, so I walked on the streets for a year or so trying my best to look like a mean lean fighting machine.

Unfortunately –as you probably have gathered by this point– I’m not exactly the most intimating thug around. I can have the biggest scowl on my face, but it doesn’t really matter if I’m wearing my pink gauzy sparkly skirt that day.

One day, a couple of months ago, I stumbled upon this Ted talk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ron_gutman_the_hidden_power_of_smiling

There is one truly magical power that we are have: a smile.

turtle!

It’s something so easy to do, it has such dramatically positive effects on yours & other people’s lives, and there are zero negative side effects!

It inspired me to think that this could be the solution to my cat calling pickle!

I thought: Why not smile at everyone you make eye contact with for 30 days?

The theory was that I would be happier walking on the streets overall, so the occasional cat call wouldn’t bother me. Plus all that smiling would be making me happier, just by moving the muscles.

There it is then, my master plan!

Habits:

(http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/06/04/new-habits/

http://www.sparringmind.com/good-habits/ — some reading if you wish!)

If you know how to build/ break a habit it is my opinion that you can conquer the world. I’ve used the power of habit as a cataylst for personal development before: to lose 50 lbs, help become gluten free, and to stop drinking alcohol!

It’s been a couple months since I’ve made it. I’ve messed up a ton, by not smiling or getting upset at strangers. But, after a while, slowly & surely I’ve actually done it! I’m writing this post today because yesterday during my run, a random guy yelled some pretty gross things at me and it didn’t bother me at all! I think I even smiled at him. 🙂

It is really power to know that just a simple smile can make a real difference in my day to day life.

Let me know if you have had any experiences like this! Either with cat-calling, or finding out something really small that made a huge difference in your life.

Peace&Love – Molly Jo Sexton

Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan) — Food

Vegan-Chocolate-Cupcakes

^ This isn’t my picture, but my cupcakes looked very similar to this guy!

Hello Everyone! 🙂

Growing up with dietary restrictions, I know the pain of being a six year old at a pizza/ice cream birthday party and not being able to have anything. I believe wholeheartedly in food and the power of breaking bread with others…It is incredibly important to me that my loved ones, and everyone get to experience good food whatever they may be sacrificing.

I personally can’t eat these because I’m strictly GF,  but I love quite a few vegans, and these turned out to be really really good. I made them for a friend while I was at Chelan!

Vegan Chocolate Cake & Whipped Chocolate Frosting

Yield: 24 cupcakes (pans) / 2-9 in round cake pans / 13X9 pan

~ 30 minutes prep

~ 15-20 minutes bake for cupcakes ~25-30 for round pans & 13X9 pan

Ingredients:

Cake:

1-1/2 c. unsweetened Almond Milk

2 t. white or apple cider vinegar

1-1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce*

1/2 c. strong brewed coffee (or sub more almond milk)

2/3 c. melted coconut oil, or sub grape seed or canola oil

2 t. pure vanilla extract

2 c. + 2 T. whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

1-1/3 c. sugar

1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

Frosting:

1 c. (16 T.) vegan butter, softened

2-1/2 – 3 c. powdered sugar

2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 c. dairy-free semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

2 t. pure vanilla extract

~1/4 c. unsweetened Almond Milk

Directions:

Grease the cupcake pan (you can use liners, though personally I don’t care for them)

Dust with cocoa powder, shake out the excess and set aside

Mix the almond milk and vinegar in a large mixing bowl, and let set for a few minutes to activate

Add the oil, coffee, vanilla extract, and applesauce and beat until foamy.

Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a sifter and slowly sift over the wet ingredients. If you don’t have a sifter, mix dry ingredients in another bowl and add to the wet mixture while beating.

Beat until no large lumps remain. It should be creamy and pourable.

Taste and adjust sweetness as needed, adding more sugar if desired.

Bake @ 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes cool, prepare frosting:

Beat all ingredients until light and fluffy, adding the powdered sugar gradually

If it gets too thick, add more almond milk. If it’s too thin, add more cocoa powder or powdered sugar. Once it taste’s good to you, It’s done.

Once the cake is cool, frost and enjoy!

My friends 🙂

Phil (on the right) is vegan.

philchelan