Cyclical Advice and Being Your Own Best Friend

It’s mid-February and I regret to inform you that I’ve contracted a totally harsh case of the drearies.

Normally around this time of year, the sky remains a dim gray overcast, denying everyone the essentail vitamin D and general, you know, colors that sunshine brings.

But the past few years the weather has become more unpredictable, and this year is a real show off in terms of fluctuation. One day, it was 40 degrees and the sun shone until warm rain melted away all the snow. Two days later, I could barely brave the cold.

I’m not sure which is worse… a predictable stretch of depressing gray sludge, or a bi-polar roller coaster (note: possible band name?) of icy-cold-stingy-needles-of-frostbite tag teaming with mild-goopy-mud with a side of DECEIVING sunshine? And then the full moon happens and LOOK OUT.

In short, quit frontin’ on us, nature!

It’s easy to become negative when you’re getting thrown around like this. Luckily for me, I have a level headed Alex who is great at keeping his cool when I’m melting down. He’s the best kind of partner, because he does this cool trick where he listens to me when I’m feeling my best, and then gives me my own words back when I need them most.

This is what I mean by cyclical advice.  It is so wonderful to have someone in your life who can remind you that you’re a shining light by using your very own words, be it a relative or friend. But what about when that person’s not around?

I often find myself giving advice to friends when they’re in a predicament, but feeling clueless when I’m in the same predicament later on. Why do we forget what we already know so often?

It’s easy to read a motivational quote when you’re feeling great and think “Yes! I get that. I can feel that and reach that and be that. I am this quote on Drew Barrymore’s Instagram.”

But then when you read the same thing when you’re feeling down, it just doesn’t break the skin and get in there like it did before. It might even sound dumb, or empty this time around.

Also, your favorite song sounds worse somehow.

Anything too cheery is just uncomfortable.

Does this sound familiar? Yeah, that’s me right NOW, you might be saying. Shoot, me too, girl.

I’m no expert on feelings, and I didn’t do college so good, but I’m going to try something and you can feel free to join me in this experiment. I am going to begin to treat myself like my own best friend.

You would never tell your best friend she looks ugly. You would never tell them things are only going to get worse from here. You would never tell them everyone thinks they’re selfish, or that they suck at the thing they love doing. So I suggest we treat that part of us that is saying all this nonsense like our best friend. OR a small, confused, baby animal. Tell it what you know to be true: It’s so cute. It’s still learning. It’s not the end of the world. It is loved.

This is that voice in your head saying “Man, I suck! I’m the opposite of fluffy! I’m never going to be as cute as that other bird. Everyone probably thinks I’m annoying.”

Here’s something I believe that you can take or leave:

(that sounded like lyrics from a 90s rap in my head)

The part of you that is spouting off janky crap isn’t the true you. You can actually, with some practice, take a step back and observe these thoughts as they come in from a separate consciousness.

This separate perspective is the true you.

Or… The Trou.

I’ve done this a few times. Something in my brain might be telling me, for instance, that I hate my apartment and how small it is. I do my best to actually look at that thought as something that doesn’t belong to me, and think “Focusing on this is making her feel worse and worse. She doesn’t deserve to feel bad! I’ll talk to her (taps mic) Ahem! Hey, Alison. Higher consciousness here. It sucks that your apartment is so small, yeah. Just wondering, though, what do you like about your apartment?

And then I look around and say “Well, I like that I live here with just Alex and no roommates.”

Yeah, that’s really lucky, not many people your age can do that! What else?

“I like that even though it feels cramped sometimes, it has an upstairs and a basement and attic… and I like that I decorated it with cheerful colors, and that there’s a bath tub, and I love the new fridge, and blah blah blah…”

And before I know it, I’m feeling a lot better. And my higher consciousness winks at me from the clouds and mumbles “Tricked ya.”

I think the key here is reaching for the best feeling thought at that particular moment. Whatever makes you feel a little better than you did. It’s like a ladder, with each step up, it will be easier to reach the next rung of the ladder. You don’t skip 4 rungs when you’re climbing a ladder!

Try it if you want. Let me know how it works for you.

 

Before I go, I’m going to share a couple pictures from the painfully cold, but suuuper pretty walk Alex and I took the other day. The sun was setting and throwing pink gold light over everything. The Moon had risen on the other side, and it was all duality-ish and symbolism-y.

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“Marco”
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“Polo”

 

Giving it the old college try,

Your Peacefriend

Turmerlemonlentil Soup with Kale

We’ve been having the best days. And the better it gets, the better it gets. I feel so blessed to be living a freelancer’s life. Alex and I have sacrificed the comfort of financial stability (for now, at least) for a free and flexible schedule. Our mornings are a sleepy yawn of “what should we do today?” and “where’s a cheap place we could go for breakfast?”

I’ve been working on a sewing project (that I’ll post about later) that was giving me grief, and today I was spitting and huffing and puffing about it. Alex was being very wonderful and reassuring, and he suggested I step away from the project for now and do something that makes me feel happier. So we decided to go find some more nature to walk in. And then he gave me a dum-dum he had in his coat pocket. I’m the baby.

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Blue raspberry dum and a red raspberry beret. Putting myself in time-out for this caption.
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Even though Alex has a cold right now and was feeling hazy, he still managed to make friends with a tree. Something he is good at.

When we got home I knew I had to rear up and kick my own butt into gear and cook an adult meal! We’d been living off of leftovers and snacks and our parent’s generosity for the past few days. I decided I would make more of a very popular soup that hasn’t lasted more than a couple days in our little apartment. I nicknamed it “Turmerlemonlentil Soup with Kale” …just now as I was writing this post. Because “Lentil Soup with Turmeric, Lemon and Kale” is a bit too on the nose for this moi.

I took two recipes and mushed them together to get this soup, and it’s always a little different every time because I use the palm of my hand instead of a measuring spoon, and sometimes we have 3 potatoes and sometimes we have 5.

So the “Turmer” in “Turmerlemonlentil” actually stands for Turmeric, believe it or not. This is something that wasn’t in either of the original recipes. I love turmeric, and from what I’ve read, it loves us too. It’s been used in India for thousands of years not only as a spice, but also as a medicinal herb. Turmeric has been proven to be anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anti-brain and heart disease, anti-depression, as well as cancer-preventing and Alzheimer’s-preventing! It’s pro-health, in short. So I add it to whatever I can. And it gives the soup a happy yellow tone!

I also like to use another F.O.H. (Food Of Health), bone broth. I didn’t have a batch made today, so this time I just used store bought chicken stock.

Turmerlemonlentil Soup with Kale

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs Ghee or olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 3-5 potatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4-6 cups bone or chicken broth
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 cup chopped kale, stems removed
  • salt and pep to taste
  • 1 med lemon

How to make:

  1. Rinse the lentils and pick out any stones. Soak them in cold water until you’re ready to use. This makes them easier to digest. You can even soak them overnight.
  2. Chop onions, mince garlic, peel potatoes and carrots and cut into small cubes (I like them to be fun-sized) and chop Kale and set all aside.
  3. Heat the ghee or oil in a large pot or dutch oven over med heat for a few mins.
  4. Throw in the onions, cook till softened a bit. Bout 4 mins, then throw in the garlic. After another couple minutes add in the carrots, potatoes, and spices. Season a bit with salt and pepper, but not all of it. I like to salt as I go. Sauté 10-15 to get the softening going.
  5. Add in lentils and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer about 45 minutes.
  6. Blow on a spoonful and taste to see where we’re at salty-wise. Salt to taste.
  7. Turn off the heat, add in Kale and stir to wilt.
  8. Now add in the lemon juice. I like it REALLY lemony, so I usually do a whole lemon’s worth, but start with half and go from there.
  9. Serve with some crusty sourdough
  10. Good job
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Bite sized cubes to soak up max flav
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Prepping these flat beanies for bath time. They hate bath time.

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Here’s Alex… “helping”. Look at the delicate grip he has on the spoon. Masterful technique. The key is to drag the spoon in a circle, just barely scraping the surface of the soup.

Take a peek at my messy little apartment kitchen, decorated for a joyful meal prep experience with bright colors, twinkle lights, and lots of fun trinkets that cheer me on and celebrate whatever I happen to be cooking.

It was real dumpy when we moved in. Painted sad, muted gray, which I’ll admit is a trendy color right now, but with only two windows in that room that get exactly zero sunlight, the results are DUMPY to the max. And the horrible, dusty boob-shaped single overhead light really gave it that authentic college dorm feel. I can’t stand single overhead lighting, it makes me emotionally Hulk out. Hence the happy twinkle lights. We also threw this chick up on top of our fridge.

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Yet another unrealistic beauty standard for women. Smooth, bare pits and an electric skull.

So here’s the final product, and I’m gonna be real with you, folks. It looks like Campbell’s Chunky barf with my phone camera. Soon I’ll be the proud owner of a glamorous camera, but until then, even my fancy yellow Cousances dutch oven can’t help a bro out.

But I can assure you it is a healthy, rustic soup with spice, salt and tang. Just what we crave after a long sniffly walk through snowy woods.

souppic

Tiddly pom,

Your Peacefriend

 

Meet Your Peacefriend

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading this brand new baby seed of a blog! My name is Alison. Above is a plain old phone picture of me the other day after my Mom cut my hair. It’s a scary thing to put yourself out there for the world to judge, but these are the kinds of worthless fears I’m working to banish. I’m a freelance artist, which is a very broad term that could mean any number of things. And it does.

I grew up with two freelance artist parents who made it easy to believe that I could make a living doing whatever I love the most. I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be an artist, because I was from the artist family. I remember in Kindergarten when the teacher told us to each say what we wanted to be when we grew up, and all the girls were saying “nurse”, and all the boys were saying “firefighter”, I felt I should be devoting myself to the future army of nurses our generation seemed to be cultivating, but I said “artist” anyway.
After high school where I was voted “Most Creative” AND “Most Vintage” in my class (thank you, thank you) I went to Pratt MWP in Utica, NY for one and a half years before deciding I didn’t want to go to art school anymore. My wonderful parents who support me in everything I do were toats cool with this. My Dad was actually so excited to get his tuition money back that he immediately booked us a family trip to Pixar in Emeryville, CA.
Since then, I’ve dabbled in illustration, caricature, portraiture, oil landscapes, greeting card design, as well as write music for Sesame Street and Fast Company Magazine, and most recently, cartoon writing, character design, story-boarding, and voice acting. As you can see, I was extremely certain about my path to becoming an artist someday, but upon realizing there are so many sub-categories within the that word, I can’t seem to make up my G.D. mind!
If you want to see my artwork, go to http://www.alisoncowles.com, because on this blog, I’m not going to talk so much about my work, but rather what I do when I’m not working. This is where I want to share how my creativity spills over to other areas of my life, because I have a lot of creative juice (ew) and it manifests itself in my cooking (creative juice recipe coming soon) my nesting rituals, my belief system and my visions for the future. My hope for this blog is to not only have yet another creative outlet for myself, but hopefully to motivate readers to find the special little inspiration fountain within them to create their best possible lives, just as I’m working to do.
Now I’ll bet you’re wondering where the word Peacefriend came from. The answer is: Mystery Science Theater 3000. My Dad immersed me in pop culture my whole life and I was watching that good good stuff when I was 6 or 7. There’s an episode where some kind of animal appears on screen, and one of the MST3K guys, as the animal’s voice-over, says “How’s it going, Peacefriends?” Sometime later, I was playing with an Aphid on a trampoline, and my Dad called the Aphid a Peacefriend. Brilliant! A small bug totally IS a Peacefriend! It soon became a household word. In 2nd grade, my friend and I called each other “Peacefriend”, and it kind of meant “best friend” to us. There were a lot of hurt feelings when one day I started calling another girl Peacefriend. Whoops.
The term got thrown around a lot after that, tossed and tumbled like a stone, edges smoothed until Peacefriend had one main definition: Well-meaning and adorable creature. To give you a visual, think about that sloth who hands that lady a flower. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please, please google it. It also would apply to a sweet old man who raises lambs and has memorized a lot of really cute wholesome limericks that he busts out when necessary. This is a hypothetical example. If anyone knows this guy, though, tell me where he at.
I hope you enjoy my posts to come, my Peacefriend. Much love and light to you and all the Peacefriends in your life.
-Your Peacefriend