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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Meltdown



Recently I had a meltdown. It was a full on, drag out meltdown, served up with a side of tears and a helping of Tammy Faye Bakker raccoon eyes when my mascara ran.

I’m a happy person. I smile a lot. Usually I can find joy even in some of the most trying situations. Every once in a while, though, this little gremlin sneaks in and turns my normal chipper mien into something wretched, and it feels as though the entire world is imploding on top of me.

When the man at the office supply store said, “Hi. How are you?,” I responded with the customary, “I’m fine. Thank you,” but inside I knew it was a big fat lie. There was nothing fine about how I was feeling. My muscles were weak, my belly ached, and my heart hurt.

I’m not sure exactly how what started out as a beautiful morning turned into such a dark and gloomy afternoon. While it was stormy in my internal world, outside it was a whopping 112 degrees, which may have had something to do with my downward spiral, though my emotions felt very real in the moment.

The day started like any typical morning. I caught up on e-mail in bed and then had my morning tea in the garden. But a small tiff with an acquaintance escalated and by the afternoon, I had spiraled so far down that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull myself out. Everything I could possible fret about came to the surface: love, career, money, health…you name it. 

Although the following morning when I awoke I was swollen and dehydrated from crying, I felt infinitely better than I had the day before. The sun was shining again in my inner world and the air was filled with birdsong. Not only did I no longer feel the intensity of emotion of the previous day, but also I felt revitalized and once again excited for the future.

Throughout my life I’ve needed ample downtime. Without it, I just can’t function at full power. However, lately I’ve been going from one thing to the next and haven’t had time to recharge my batteries. I pride myself on being organized and on top of things. For instance, as a teen, I used to write my thank you cards on Christmas Day right after the presents were opened. But lately I’ve been pulled in so many directions that everything is taking a backseat to everything else. It’s like treading water but barely being able to keep my head above the surface.

Summer Storm
Although it’s scary for me to divulge an event as personal as my meltdown, I wanted to share what I discovered about it once I had time to reflect. Although I’ve been riding pretty high lately, I’ve had a fair amount underlying stress that I wasn’t aware of consciously. You know that feeling right before a summer storm? You can feel the pressure building as the sky gets darker and darker. Then there’s a huge clap of thunder, a flash of lightning, and the sky opens up. As the rain falls, you can feel the earth sighing with relief. It can be that way with emotions also, and especially stress.

Although, of course, I would have preferred spending my day doing anything other than being curled up in bed wiping tears and worrying that my life will perpetually be in a holding pattern until I find love, have children, and know the direction I want to go with my career, the meltdown may have been a necessary step in moving forward. I needed to feel and express every possible worry, fear, and insecurity in order to step forward with increased ease and confidence. I can’t guarantee that I won’t have another meltdown, as I most surely will at some point, but I do know that right now I feel more relaxed, less stressed, and more excited than I did beforehand.

It can be overwhelming to give voice to every possible worry and concern that’s ever crossed your mind, but also it can be valuable. Until I started downward spiraling and yammering about all the things that didn’t feel right in my life, I actually wasn’t aware of the many burdens I was carrying.

Relaxing and enjoying downtime with friends post meltdown
Being vulnerable is not a natural state for me. Being happy, joyful, and confident are important to me, and it’s not easy for me to be so open about my moments of profound weakness. Admitting to a meltdown is embarrassing; yet, I also think it’s important for me to do so. There’s value in sharing not only my triumphs, but also my challenging times. If you’re having a rough time, know that it will get better. Perhaps we need the darkness in order to have more light. Just as a butterfly must first be in a chrysalis before spreading its wings, some of us need to acknowledge our pain, fears, and worries before we can grow into the extraordinary beings we were meant to be.


Brochettes de Crevettes aux Herbes
(Provencal-Style Shrimp Skewers with Herbs)

Lately I’ve been too busy to play in the kitchen, which is a Catch-22 since most likely that is the very thing that would bring me more equilibrium. A wise friend told me that her strategy for overwhelm is to simply delete 50% of her “to do” list. The moment I realized that not everything on my list was essential, I felt myself relaxing. I simply have to make time for the things I love. So, I jumped into the kitchen and created these delicious shrimp skewers.

Makes 15-20 skewers

Marinade:
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¾ tsp. sea salt
8-10 large basil leaves, minced
a few sprigs of Italian parsley, minced
1 shallot, minced
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. Dijon mustard

Skewers:
1 lb. large shrimp (20-35 count)
2 orange or yellow bell peppers, cut into chunks
½ red onion, cut into chunks
l lb. grape or cherry tomatoes

15-20 ten-inch rosemary sprigs

Finger-lickin’ Garlicky Aïoli:
½ cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil


To make the marinade: In a large bowl, combine the sliced garlic, salt, basil, parsley, and shallots. Whisk in the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and mustard. Add the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate while you cut the vegetables and make the aïoli.

Prepare the rosemary sprigs. Remove approximately ¾ of the greenery from the stalk, leaving the rest as a “tail.”

Cut the onions and bell peppers. Set aside.

To make the aïoli: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, and olive oil until full mixed. Cover and refrigerate.

Assemble the shrimp, peppers, onions, and tomatoes on the rosemary skewers. Preheat a gas grill to medium. Oil the grill. Place the skewers on the grill. Cooking times will vary depending on the heat of your grill and the size of your shrimp, though about 5 minutes per side is a good rule of thumb. Serve with the aïoli on the side. Enjoy!