Some cats, some ramen, learning the “mailer machine” and more about childhood trauma and imposter syndrome

First, the cat picture of the day.

Misty and Oz, two of our cats

Next, let’s briefly do a Purple Carrot Update. Today I prepped the matcha overnight oats and made the ramen bowl. (Video of matcha prep here.)

The teenager vetoed the homemade miso broth and fresh ramen.

I had the leftover black pepper tofu for dinner and it was soooooooo good, even leftover.

And most Purple Carrot meals take 30 minutes to prepare, which in my kitchen has been translating to 40 minutes. Much better than the cooking marathon caused when a Hello Fresh box comes.

But now to the Bizzy Hizzy. I finally learned the “mailer machine.” It’s a folding machine. We used it to fold the postal service priority mailers that go in each fix.

We had trouble getting the machine to work— so we didn’t really get started until after first break. We folded 4401 mailers.

Basically we unpack the mailers, sort them so they are less likely to jam the machine, and feed/empty the machine. There is a zen to lining up the mailers on the rolling machine, fanning them and making sure they don’t curl.

I was sent to the mailer machine as part of Stitch Fix’s quest to know what tasks I perform best. I perform regularly at 96% in QC but unfortunately when I have bad day that plummets to 85-90%. They raised the pick goal so I only do 75% of that. Apparently I have shown both potential and inconsistency in inbound processing and returns. I apparently tanked in style carding (66%) which I would like to believe was a fluke but maybe not. And a shocking 29% in NAP binning. It was shoes. And it was very painful.

I’m told they want everyone to have two work centers they can perform 100%.

So now I’m at the mailer machine.

If I’m honest with you, and it is very hard for me to say this in public, what I hear is: “You’re not good enough for us, so since you suck at everything, let’s stick you on this machine back in the corner.”

I feel threatened. And like a failure.

And that is not what they said. At all.

But I have a disability that makes me insecure and makes me feel inferior, unworthy. And certain childhood traumas leave me feeling unwanted, and as if I am a burden to everyone.

So I am being honest. For one reason. In case someone else is fighting a similar battle and needs to know he/she/they are not alone.

Review: First Purple Carrot shipment and their black pepper tofu

Unboxing first purple carrot box

First I’ll let the photos and video speak for itself.

Next, a little back story. Some familiar to my readers, some probably new.

1. When other people go to Target, order weird lamps off the internet, buy clothes or troll yard sales, my version of retail therapy revolves around food. Wegmans is my happy place.

2. I spent my twenties as a vegetarian— even tried veganism for about six months. Back then, you had to go to the natural food store to buy non-dairy milk and you had two choices: rice or soy. Both came in aseptic boxes that were shelf stable. I don’t like the big business that agriculture has become, and I don’t like not knowing what is happening to my food via industrialized farming.

Why did I stop?

I got pregnant. The teenager has always been a huge carnivore. I had gestational diabetes while pregnant so I started eating turkey sandwiches to change up some of my proteins.

Then when the teenager was about 18 months old, I started craving bacon cheeseburgers (and I don’t even really like bacon). That was probably when my anemia started.

3. I am really enjoying this tour of meal delivery kits I’ve been doing this summer. Hello Fresh has flashy recipe cards, a lot of rice, a lot of prep and amazing sauces. Hungryroot has a nifty blend of “groceries” and “recipes” so if I just want that out-of-this-world snack cheddar, I don’t need to order the whole grilled cheese kit. The recipes are an easy blend of processed and fresh, so the fridge-to-table time is a fraction oh Hello Fresh.

Now we add Purple Carrot. It’s the plant-based Hello Fresh. Three things about them I liked as soon as I opened the box:

  1. They send a booklet of all the recipes for the meals and extras, regardless of what you ordered. I lost the Hungryroot recipes. And Hello Fresh gives you your meals. This is practically a little cookbook.
  2. Their bags and containers are all clearly labeled.
  3. The bags and containers are all clear. It’s easy to see everything.

Based on my initial impression— making one of the four meals I ordered— here are my thoughts.

Pro

  • The vegetables shine, instead of being a side dish.
  • I finally know how to make tofu crispy.
  • Even though they are plant based, they still have high protein options.
  • So delicious

Con

  • Takes almost as long as Hello Fresh

Review of Hungryroot Scallop Tacos and some somber thoughts

Recent events have me on edge and my feelings are not in a good place. I am so excited about 90% of my life, but that last 10% weighs on my soul like pure terror.

I say this… because at least, thanks to my Hungryroot Box I will eat well.

Last Hungryroot box I did not order recipes. This time I did. I got the scallop tacos and the tuna melts. Plus groceries. Read this to learn about my first box.

My initial impression, especially when comparing Hungryroot to Hello Fresh, is that Hungryroot is better at providing recipes that are mostly fresh and easy. If Hungryroot tells you a meal is ready in 15 minutes, it’s ready in 15 minutes. If Hello Fresh tells you a meal is ready in 30 minutes, that depends on how well you interpret directions and how fast you chop.

If you want to learn to cook, get Hello Fresh. If you want to throw something together, consider Hungryroot.

So THE SCALLOP TACOS.

First, the recipe is printed on the back of your pack slip and cut out to put in an old fashioned recipe box. That is efficient in my eyes.

For this recipe, there is a bag of corn tortillas, a tray of Peruvian scallops, a plastic container of shredded carrots, kale and red cabbage, and a container of green Chile sauce. That’s it.

Pat scallops dry. Sear. Flip. Cook 3-5 minutes until opaque. Set aside.

Toss a little more oil in pan. Sauté vegetables until cooked. (I added some fresh lemon juice because the teenager resists kale & red cabbage.)

Fry up tortilla.

Put veggies & scallops in tortilla. Add green Chile sauce to taste. I also added avocado and my homemade corn salsa.

Delicious. Simple. Nourishing.

I love the balance of whole and processed foods with Hungryroot.

My Purple Carrot box comes Aug. 24.

“Mom!” the daughter says, “Stop with the meal delivery services!!!”

In other news:

As many of you know I worked at Target 2536 in Lower Nazareth for almost a decade. They had a shooting in the parking lot yesterday afternoon and “we” made the Philadelphia evening news.

ALL employees were safe and hid the people shopping in the store. The front of the building is all glass.

It was a troubling afternoon and those of us who used to work in the store, those who had off, and those who were in the store at the time, were texting and using social media to verify people’s safety and offer support. #targetfam

Initial Review of Hungryroot

Greetings and good morning. When I was at the doctor last week, one of the questions he asked me during my mental health screening was if I was overspending or shopping more than usual.

I bought myself some fun tee-shirts for the gym. I subscribed to a self-care planner service (silk & sonder). And I’ve been trying out online meal/grocery services.

I tried Hello Fresh in June. Loved the quality, the recipes, the process. But they are expensive and I found it stressful to have to make the meals in a timely fashion.

I thought having the meals almost ready to go would make it easier to prepare them. Instead it pressured me to carve out time to make them.

I have heard Every Plate is the same as the Hello Fresh model but cheaper. Meals don’t look as fancy but they are very similar. From the web site anyway.

The convenience factor of these meal/grocery services makes them more expensive than going to the grocery store, but in my chaotic life, I’m finding myself depleting the nutrient dense foods and then slipping into bad habits instead of going to the store.

A lot of this is lack of time. That, in my opinion, is caused my poor planning.

So two weeks ago I placed a Hungryroot order, using their grocery option versus the meal option. I wanted to try foods I normally wouldn’t splurge on (Lightlife smoked tempeh) and get some proteins into the house now that I am strength training again.

For about $60, this is what I got:First Hungryroot Unboxing (The unidentified beige patties were the salmon burgers.)

I also have an urge to try Purple Carrot and their high protein menu. Without discounts that would be about $75/week for three two-serving meals. They also have prepared meals. Depending on the cost, I could try those for my work dinners.

But, as usual, I digress. This is supposed to be my review of Hungryroot. I tried Hungryroot because my neighbor was using the service and she fed me the items she didn’t like. I like some of the weird stuff.

Last night, lamenting the fact that I hadn’t had a real vegetable in a couple days and I was eating an uncrustable for dinner, I placed a second Hungryroot order.

This time, I ordered two meals and groceries. The scallop tacos — how can I resist that — and spinach artichoke tuna melt. I also got some tofu and some chicken bruschetta patties.

This box is supposed to arrive Saturday, so I should be here to open it.

Thoughts on my first Hungryroot Shipment

  • The first thing I opened was the Lightlife Smoked Tempeh, which I have always wanted to try. I was a vegetarian for about eight years and even spent six months as a vegan in the days 20+ years ago when you had to buy plant milk in cases from the natural food store. So l love to hear contemporary vegans talk about how hard it is to find a good coffee creamer. I used to drink rice milk. Anyway, I sautéed that tempeh up, smeared a hearty dose of Hungryroot’s lemon tahini on some 12-grain bread from my local Lidl and added a deli fresh slice of pickle and romaine lettuce. It was exactly what I was craving but got the anticipated “I don’t like it” from the teenager. I also used the tahini on a turkey sandwich and think it would make amazing hummus.
  • I opened Hungryroot’s cashew cheddar, another item I wanted to try since my old vegan days. I dipped it on some sort of snack food and more or less liked it. Again, the teenager labeled it weird. I wanted to make a dish with the remaining tempeh, the cashew cheddar, some sort of grain or noodle and maybe peas and kale. You also need to take the teenager’s input with this knowledge: her favorite food groups are bacon and fruit. She is the reason I am no longer a vegetarian.
  • We both enjoyed the salmon burgers. I served them on romaine with avocado, because we didn’t have buns. Did I love them? No. I found them boring. Would I eat them? Yes. Would I order them again? Not sure.
  • We both enjoyed the Chile limon chicken. I made a Mexican inspired tater tot casserole out of it. And I think I made chicken tacos too.
  • The free protein was pork canitas. I have not tried that yet. I put the beef tips in the freezer. I have yet to try the chickpea curry.
  • I devoured the cucumber black bean salad. The teenager, again, did not like it.

I honestly can’t recall if there was anything else… I don’t think so. I’ll be sure to do another unboxing when the new box arrives.

Advocate: A Difficult Day on the Health Quest

Well, if yesterday made one thing apparent… it’s that sometimes answers lead to bigger questions.

And questions often shake our foundations.

I have had an appointment every day this week before work. In the last ten days or so, I have seen my therapist, my personal trainer, my chiropractor (who has a background in physical therapy) and my primary care doctor and one of his new residents.

Yesterday was the latter.

This recounts why I was seeing my doctor. Later in this post, some of this info may be pertinent.

My heart was genuinely excited for the visit as I’ve made a lot of positive health habit changes and my primary care physician and I have a great relationship. Normally my care is a discussion and we work together to resolve my issues.

Since Covid, the practice has seemed much less organized and attentive as usual. They also recently took on some family practice medical residents. I waited in the exam room for 75 minutes.

I went into my phone to record my blood pressure on iHealth. And that’s when I noticed— iHealth has been recording my double support time and my walk asymmetry for a year. (This morning I compared my walking and balance statistics with my teenager’s and her walk is more screwed up that mine! My walk is consistent and consistently “off” but hers gets severely skewed every time she gets plantar warts. Turns out my neighbor has more issues in this area than I do, too.)

So, at 12:15 pm — as I am lusting for a glass of water and breakfast, I had nothing yet but a gargle of purple listerine— the resident enters the room and apologizes for the tardiness. I told her I was about to order GrubHub out of fear they forgot me.

I told her everything about me (as she had never met me before) and relayed that the doctor wanted to see me. I also mentioned that muscle relaxers might be a better fit to ease my periodic pain than ibuprofen or acetaminophen because it might be more due to the stress on my joints and the tightness of my muscles as a side effect of the cerebral palsy.

Now, remember, my anemia started more than 12 years ago with work stress, gaining weight and heavy menstrual bleeding. And I came to my current doctor because my former one refused to look into the source of my anemia. And that doctor made me cry. And I had started having panic attacks.

Now I am back in a similar symptom situation but I have better mental health and a way better doctor.

The resident goes and gets my doctor. I propose waiting several months to see if the anemia improves with the mesures I am pursuing now. He is worried about polyps in my colon. We agreed I will use some stool cards for a home test.

I didn’t feel heard about my request to find solutions for my body pain because then we discussed my mental health.

And he wanted me to visit their new staff psychiatrist to rule out any issues (like bipolar 2) that might require a mood stabilizer.

Now I complete understand why his said this: I had mentioned some dramatic temper incidents previous to some of my recent lifestyle changes, I had asked to restart the prescription for a very low dose of lexapro that had been prescribed for high blood pressure to see if it would even out some premenstrual mood swings, and I had mentioned some highs and lows in the past.

But I also said the isolation of the pandemic gave me the space I needed to deal with some heavy duty stress, and that good things were developing for me and I felt like this was one of the great years in my life. I talked about having rid myself of anxiety and being able to look back at that former period of my life with understanding of myself and pride. And that my therapist and I were finally looking at my childhood trauma as I scored 6/7 on the ACE test.

And he knows I have been in therapy for more than a decade. And that my therapist recommended him. Shouldn’t he let my therapist request that type of referral?

So I felt betrayed and it reintroduced feelings of anxiety and insecurity, not being sure if my medical professional was really paying attention to me and what I was saying. I had just mentioned delving into childhood trauma for the first time in my life. I am having other health issues that I need to address. So now, in my opinion, is not the time for questioning my brain chemistry.

So we agreed to discuss my anemia and my psychological state with my gynecologist (whom I see Monday) and my therapist and revisit the issue when I return in three months to discuss the follow up blood work.

This left me shaken and wanting to scream, “Stay in your lane.” I went to the doctor because he asked me to come discuss my anemia— how did a shrink come into play?

I often think this is how people get misdiagnosed, not by bad doctors, but by doctors trying to rule everything out and in the process convincing patients they need different help that they actually need. Like when people see a commercial for medicine and later “ask your doctor if (this expensive drug) is right for you.”

I emailed my therapist from my phone as soon as I got into my car. By 3:30 pm, he said he disagreed with this assessment— that I should be screened by a psychiatrist— but that we would discuss. Honestly, he is the only person I would trust with a decision like that. We all need to build teams we can trust. And this is how I advocate for myself.

When I got home, around 2 p.m., I finally had my morning coffee and made this— what I would call my “summer vegan sandwich,” courtesy of my stress shopping last week and a Hungryroot delivery. (See the teenager unboxing here.) Lightlife bacon tempeh, Hungryroot lemon tahini, romaine, deli pickle on 12-grain bread.

I didn’t take proper care of the animals (loosing almost four hours of my day to a doctor’s appointment that normally takes one hour).

I QCed 123 fixes, which is far better than the 116 the night prior. When my favorite Stitch Fix supervisor said hello, she asked how I was, I said okay. She looked at me askance and said, “only okay?”

She told me if I needed anything or if there was anything she could do to let her know. But she can’t fix the emotions in my head. So I thanked her and went back to some of my standbys— showtunes!

I listened to the soundtrack of Avenue Q as we used to in the makeshift temporary newsroom of Lehigh Valley News Group, and I can still remember one of my favorite young editors with her big headphones on, fighting her stress and her insecurities with a dose of “What do you do with a B.A. in English/It sucks to be me.”

Apparently this is the whole musical on YouTube. Check it out.

And if you just want the song… Here you go.

Speaking of the newspaper days, I’ve reached out to some Chronicle colleagues for help with promoting the FURR Pop Up Cat Café August 15. The man who hired me for that newspaper (the boss of my best boss ever) mentioned that my daughter has grown up in the blink of an eye (which he has seen thanks to Facebook).

And that brought back great memories as I think the teenager was the only baby born to a staff member during the run of those newspapers. I realized I was pregnant while planning a political debate sponsored by the newspaper in Phillipsburg, N.J.

So yesterday was hard, and I managed to avoid slipping into those old panic-prone mentalities. I am drained today but luckily only have a four hour shift.

Style Cards and the Soothing Sorting

Since starting work at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, my fascination for the company has not waned. When they began more than ten years ago, I remember reading about them in Vogue — they were the first subscription fashion service and how I wished to have the income to do something like that.

Subscription boxes were brand new then.

Now that I work in the warehouse I still marvel: at the miles and miles of clothes, number of clients, years customers have spent with the service, and the volume of mail in and out of that warehouse everyday.

With my interest in fashion and my curiosity regarding the business & warehouse specific logistics, I developed a new intrigue for style cards.

When you “style card” as a work center, you are supposed to print 900 sheets a night— each sheet has one personalized note and five style cards.

I asked my friends who get fixes to save them for me.

So I have been collecting them, reading them and now I have started to sort them by category and alphabetize them by brand. I find this organizing soothing. And they could be a great primary source archive of early 21st century fashion.

The teenager thinks I’m nuts.

Maybe I am.

Foster Khloe and sample style cards

Update on Silk & Sonder: Wheel of Life reflection and July’s courage theme

I ordered my first Silk & Sonder planner in May as a birthday present for myself. My June one got held up at the post office so July marks the first month I could fully use the planner to, uh, plan.

(To read about my previous Silk & Sonder experiences and their amazing customer service:

This month I have done less of the exercises, read less of the text and gave it less of my attention. Yet, I think the habit has rooted in making me deliberately cognizant of my routines and needs.

I’ve been slipping with making and tracking clear weekly goals for my mini habit trackers, and I don’t always fill out “one thing” or the weather, but I like seeing the monthly tracker as a method to chronicle what vitamins I take and studying the patterns of color on the mood page.

My friend and publishing partner Gayle mentioned last month that she had did a “wheel of life” exercise and in July’s courage-themed wellness planner I found the same exercise.

I was surprised by the results and what they show about me. My highest satisfaction level was in the adventure category. I thought about my travels, my fondness for road trips, my love of new cuisines and testing new restaurants. I love reading books about new topics, learning new skills, and stepping outside my ordinary routine.

My lowest rating fell in the relationships category. That’s where my biggest insecurity lies. I have troubling opening up and even more trouble trusting though I will answer any question you ask me. I’m fiercely loyal and very generous but can also be stubborn, brutal with my honesty and frugal. So with my frequent dips in self worth (probably the result of childhood trauma and life with a disability), I can be distant because I fear being left behind. The people I love and/or trust most are often the ones who are cruelest to me.

Meanwhile, education seems misleading because even though I have two bachelors and a quarter of the work done on a masters degree, I really want a Ph.D. in African Studies. And if I’m honest an MFA in creative writing. I want to learn everything and share what I learn with everyone through my writing.

Romance and family present themselves as areas of struggle. But I’m strong in my spirituality, finances and home environment probably because those are the silos of my life where I feel in control.

Health and Career are mediocre, but I do not strive to have a career.

I value my freedom and living more than my career. I have no desire to make my mark on the universe through my career.

Progression: A Discussion of Finding the Resources to Grow

I may have said this before, but even if I have it’s a message that can be said again: I am blessed to have a talented and caring medical team. In addition to this team, I have also been harvesting resources for my physical and mental help.

I am recording this week’s journey so others might consider different ways to find their own resources.

On Monday, the teenager resumed therapy with a new therapist who attended Moravian College at the same time I did and is loosely a friend of my traveling companion M.

I asked if she was comfortable treating my daughter, because we have circulated in similar arenas in the past and my 17-year-old daughter struggles to connect with therapists who work with teens and is too young for a therapist who treats adults.

From what I knew of her personality from the few interactions we’ve had over the years and the information on her web site my gut said she would be a good fit for the teen.

And in my teen’s eyes, I was right.

My daughter is far from a troubled teen, but she has two parents with disabilities, a mother with trauma in her background and an extended family history of addiction.

Her strong empathy and witchy powers can make her experience of the world intense. (Speaking of which— I gave her my tarot cards on her birthday and she cried. I knew she would understand the significance of the gesture but I didn’t expect her to get so overwhelmed she cried.)

On Monday and Tuesday, my work performance wouldn’t crack 88%. I was frustrated and in pain and just moving slowly. After mapping my pain patterns for years, I can say that my back pain is worst when I ovulate and when I menstruate.

Wednesday was, as mentioned in other posts, the teenager’s 17th birthday. I had a tele-appointment with my therapist of about 12 years. Coincidentally I discovered his birthday is the same as my daughter’s. That’s just another reason we get along.

It’s fun to have a professional in your life for a long time like this because I get to see his practice grow and develop, sometimes in parallel to my own life.

I recently took the ACE Childhood Trauma test, which gave me a different outlook on some of my experiences. My parents did the best they could, but they had their flaws and their own battles to fight. So between their own struggles and life events they couldn’t control, stuff happened.

I can’t explain why it’s time to face some of this now, but that’s the way things go sometimes. We all come to certain aspects of self awareness in our own time.

On Thursday, I visited my beloved chiropractor, Nicole Jensen at Back in Line, who leveled things out, told me I was stressed and talked with me about different physical therapy stretches I need to do to fight the pain. We both agree that the pattern of pain increases on those certain days in my menstrual cycle.

I came home and ate cake and ice cream for breakfast. Not the best decision as I have been 20 lbs overweight for a year.

I suddenly remembered that Stitch Fix offers employees access to the Ginger Mental Health app. So I made an appointment for an initial consultation for Friday.

My hope was to use Ginger’s coaching to set goals and recreate/spur my discipline and good habits regarding food and exercise. For instance, I haven’t lifted a barbell in a year. I miss strength training. I still think I could be an excellent body builder.

My Ginger coach is Kathryn, who has a master’s degree in social work. Our session, completely done over text, seemed to be two sessions in one.

The first hour, she asked basic questions about me. The second hour we set up a plan of the topics we’d like to address. This week we will start making and implementing goals. It doesn’t always feel like talking to a human, though the occasional grammar or spelling error reassures me that it is a person on the other end.

Some of her thoughts include: “Sounds like a great idea! So in your case, a plan I might suggest would be to start by addressing your feelings of stress, [being] overwhelm[ed], and lack of motivation by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, which can help bring some relief from challenging emotions and help you see more clearly how your thoughts and emotions are impacting your behaviors so that you can feel more grounded, intentional, and comfortable being yourself. This can also include exercises centered around relaxation techniques, positive distractions, mindful awareness, developing awareness of triggers (when feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed, taking time to notice what the root cause is and look for a pattern), pattern recognition, scheduling and time management, and identifying and building on your current strengths and resources. We can also discuss accountability/working with providers (i.e. therapist and coach) and explore sleep/exercise/diet as needed.”

A lot of that feels copied and pasted, but it’s okay in my opinion. Sometimes just having someone help you pick a direction or even commit to a new direction can be the change you need.

Also on Friday, our dog F. Bean Barker got spayed at Canyon River Run, a vet we really love.

On Friday night, I learned a new work center at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy— style carding. My colleagues cheered me on in learning this new role and I very much enjoyed it, even when my computer monitor broke and I had to use a computer on another line and lean way over to grab my boxes.

Basically, the associates who “style card,” grab all the completed fixes that come off the QC line and use the packing slip to print a style card that includes a personal note from the stylist and lists each piece in the fix and offers examples of how it can be worn.

Working with anywhere from 6-8 fixes at a time, the “style carder” folds the packing slip and style card and places them into an envelope before returning them to the box.

A quick check that the box is correctly wrapped and the style carder lines up the boxes and shoots them down the table onto a metal conveyer line operated by sensors. This takes the boxes to “OB1” or the outbound/shipping department which inserts the return envelope, tapes the box shut and prepares the boxes for mail pickup.

The pickers assemble 920 items a shift, which breaks down to 184 fixes. Each QC associate folds and packages 130 fixes a shift, each style card associate aims for 900 fixes a shift, and the Bizzy Hizzy itself ships about 6,000 fixes a day.

During this time, our tasks are fairly simple, automated and monotonous so we are allowed to listen to podcasts or music. I’ve used the time to explore a lot of topics via podcasts on Spotify.

Spotify is still a new platform for me and it’s slowly gaining exclusive proprietary rights to a lot of the podcasts I listen to. I heard on several news broadcasts that Spotify paid 60 million for Alex Cooper’s “Call her Daddy” where she talks about sex often with an emphasis on blow jobs.

I listen to her because she has some funny stories of the ridiculous escapades she has had: dating a professional athlete, offering blow jobs as a way to sneak into sporting events, etc. But she also sometimes interviews people— like a retired Playboy bunny who left the Mansion and points out the realities of such sexual exploitation. Alex can be really insightful but she also can misuse her vocal range to try and make the podcast more interesting to listen to and that hurts me ears.

In addition to Kristen Bell, Dax Shepherd, Mayim Bialik, and Conan O’Brien (and in addition to the news and fashion), I searched for cerebral palsy podcasts. From TheMighty.com, I learned that the name “cerebral palsy” is an umbrella term for several brain-related disorders. And I don’t really know anything about which CP I have.

I learned CP can interfere with the neurotransmitter GABA which is why our muscles and our brains don’t communicate effectively. I learned that muscles that don’t get used correctly and don’t get the right messages can stiffen and become spastic. This causes pain and lack of control.

The two main classification differences I have heard are hemiplegia and quadriplegia which you may recognize from the words paraplegic and quadriplegic. These terms explain the parts of the brain/body affected. I would assume I have mild hemiplegic CP, as I think it only affects my lower body. But sometimes I think I see it in my hands so I don’t know. And I think I am low spasticity as I seem to have fairly good muscle control for someone with this disorder.

But I don’t know. So I did what I like to do, on Saturday, I called Nan. If you don’t know Nan from this blog, she is often my partner in crime. She has been blind since birth. Like me, we were raised in able-bodied families and never knew life any other way.

Nan is older than I and, despite her disability, has lived independently for most of her life. She attended college. She married. She has a hobby writing career and attends poetry open mics. She was a teenager when NASA put a man on the moon, but despite having never seen the moon, she has been fascinated and following the advances of NASA ever since.

Nan is closer to my aunt’s generation than mine. My aunt has what would now be referred to as developmental delay, but what was called the now insensitive term “mental retardation” in her day. In school, she didn’t learn what the other kids learned. She had basic reading skills and could add and subtract but never learned to multiply or divide. I know because we used to play school, except I really taught her things.

My aunt, then a few years later Nan, and even a few more years later me, we were all part of 20th centuries advances. Medicine had found ways to help us survive, but technology and society had not discovered ways to help us thrive.

None of us have thick medical files that detail the specifics of what is wrong with us. You were thrown into the mainstream to sink or swim. And if you couldn’t swim, you were institutionalized or kept home. Therefore, families didn’t talk about disability as much as they pushed functionality— they urged us to act as normal as possible and pretend the differences about us were not even noticeable.

I mentioned some of this to my primary care physician when I transferred to his practice more than a decade ago (some friends and my therapist recommended him). At that time he guided me to specialists to explain what is wrong with my specific body, but I am realizing now that he might not know that I know nothing about what my disorder is.

So, also on Saturday, I emailed my doctor. I asked him to help me find someone who can talk to me about cerebral palsy. I know children with the disability in today’s world work with a pediatric neurologist.

And it hasn’t all been work and reflection. My daughter and I got mani/pedis for her birthday/upcoming trip to Cape May. It was our last appointment with “Nails by Bethy” at Hyperion Salon. Beth has a new full time career that should offer her more stability and room for advancement.

We met Beth 12 years ago on the same date she ended her nail career. And the teenager and I got to be her final clients.

And yesterday I tried the new strawberry popping bubbles at Dunkin. I had them in an iced matcha latte. I must say, this is the best matcha latte I ever had at Dunkin but the bubbles had such an artificial strawberry flavor it tasted like someone poured chunks of jello in my drink.

If Dunkin’ wants to capitalize on the boba trend they should stick to normal tapioca.

Silk & Sonder wellness planner: “mid month” update

This is (kinda) my first full month with a Silk & Sonder planner. I say “kinda” because it arrived a week into the month.

But I realized today, that even if some of my prompts are empty, and even if I stare at the same exercise day after day, that I am still performing the reflection actively and being present for/in myself.

The new July planner is, according to a tracking email I got this morning, out for delivery today. This is very exciting as I feel like now I can perhaps slowly ease into the upcoming them and actually use the planner as a planner.

I’ve experimented with various ways to log what’s important to me and honestly I still struggle with “what should be where.” I can’t determine what should be on my monthly habit tracker versus my weekly goal tracker.

I have quasi-decided that my monthly habit tracker reinforces habits I have established and the weekly goal tracker helps me tackle specific projects or establishing/renewing habits.

The other “problem” I have is using the weekly health planner— it’s been blank each planner I have received. I don’t meditate, never have and don’t intend to. I haven’t reliably reconnected with flossing. I haven’t lifted a dumbbell in months. Once upon a time I did yoga…

But that also brings up the idea of how many times can you list something as a goal and/or put it on the tracker and not do it at all.

This is indeed a journey.

#mysilkandsonder

Previous blog entries here: Silk & Sonder.

Week Three of Hello Fresh: delicious meals and quasi-final thoughts

Earlier this week we got our third Hello Fresh meal delivery. The teenager (I have reason to believe teenager #2 will be moving this week; as she has only been home a few hours in the last week, I hereby formally declare that teenager #1 is now, once again, the teenager) asked to try one of the discount offers provided in another of our subscription services.

They are certainly clever marketers. Box one comes at something like 50% off, then they scale back the discount until delivery four is eight percent off.

And box five, for four people, once you include the shipping, is about $40 per meal.

On my previous Hello Fresh posts (see Hello Fresh, Continuing Thoughts on Hello Fresh, and Hello Fresh Delivery Two)

Now, as I have mentioned, I am a good home chef and a very thrifty shopper. For the cost of one of these meals I bet I could replicate at least three of their recipes.

But that’s not the real point of one of these services, at least in my opinion.

These services:

  • Renew people’s interest in being in the kitchen.
  • Teach people to cook without the risk of randomly googling a meal on the internet, buying the wrong ingredients or admitting you don’t have any skill in the kitchen.
  • Offer the convenience of avoiding the shopping experience or running out of or forgetting a key ingredient.
  • Provide better choice and healthier options than restaurants.
  • Help people meal plan and stick to that plan which can reduce the chance of poor food-related decisions.
  • And my favorite, expose people to new recipes and new uses to standard ingredients, expanding a person’s cooking repertoire. That, in my opinion, is worth the investment and why, after next week, I will be converting to a two-meal, once-a-month plan.

Now for the “cons” of specifically Hello Fresh:

  • I am freaked out by the idea that my raw meat spends 24-36 hours in transit, and by the amount of ice packs in that box. The waste generated upsets me. I noticed that our cat foster godmother reuses the boxes as cat huts.
  • The ingredients sometimes disappoint. I bought their “chicken protein pack” and their chicken strips were tiny chunks— like popcorn chicken. I ordered an extra bag of Brussel sprouts and they were either $3.50 or $3.99, which is the going rate for fresh Brussels. Now they are my favorite and I thought Hello Fresh might have access to special sprouts. Maybe organic or a unique source. Nope. Green Giant.
  • Our schedules in this house are chaotic and finding the time and energy to commit to preparing several meals a week like this is more stressful than I anticipated.
  • The recipes assume you have a certain efficiency in the kitchen. I think we, on average, require one hour at least for a meal that should take 10 minutes prep time and 30 to cook.
  • There’s a lot of rice.
  • I’m not sure these meals fill me up for more than two hours.
  • There are cheaper meal delivery services available. One friend recommended trying Every Plate.

So what have we tried so far?

  1. Pork with Apple Dijon Pan Sauce over farro and wilted kale. (Photos above) I liked it. Teen found the pork scrumptious and well-seasoned but does not care for neither farro nor kale.
  2. Thai Ginger Curry with creamy coconut veggies, peanuts and lime rice. I loved their creative use of red peppers and green beans for the vegetables. They provided a fantastic, full-fat coconut milk. Teen did not care for it. She likes my curries, but this curry was not her thing.
  3. Tuscan Garlic Butter Chicken with creamy kale and paprika carrots. Amazing. All around. The Tuscan heat spice blend excites me. Teen still hates kale.
  4. Paprika Chicken in a Lemony Sauce with pistachio rice and roasted carrots. Not the rich Hungarian dish I was hoping for but very yummy. We both agreed. The pistachios in the rice seemed so decadent.
  5. Thai Shrimp with candied peanuts over sesame cabbage and arugula. I bombed this one. I loved the salad portion and the peanuts, but I’m not a fan of shrimp. The teen loves shrimp but is not fond of purple cabbage and discovered that she detests arugula. So I ate salad for three days until I got sick of it and she ate a lot of shrimp.
  6. Meatloaves with creamy mushroom sauce plus garlic mashed potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts. The teen and I might agree this was our favorite. But I didn’t eat my mushrooms.
  7. Creamy Cilantro Steak Bowls with garlic lime rice and charred poblano. I enjoyed this one but they were so generous with the steak portions that I got three meals out of what was listed as two servings. This was spicy. And that was good, but the vegetable was onions and neither the teen nor I wanted to chomp on a serving of cooked onions.

We have one meal left this week— apricot ginger chicken— and one more box coming this week. Hello Fresh offered a refresh of our taste buds, but hits hard on the wallet.